India fifty years apart: Photographs by US Ambassador, father on view

New Delhi


 When American architect Howard J. Juster visited and photographed India in 1966, he never thought that 51 years later, his son Kenneth I. Juster would photograph it too, as the US envoy to India.

Mounted at The American Centre here is a photography exhibition, "Reflections of India", that captures monuments, temples and people of India, 52 years apart. It opened on Thursday.

A series of photographs by the ambassador, who assumed office in November 2017, recreate those taken by his father.

They capture the Roosevelt House, US Embassy, Humayun's Tomb, Safdarjung's Tomb (all in Delhi) and a Jain temple in Kolkata.

"When I was getting ready to leave for India, I saw these slides that my father took of India. In my introductory video here, I included some of these photos, and my public affairs team said you must develop these photos.

"Then they said I needed to go and track the same places, so we could see the changes. So I started to do some of that," the US Ambassador said in a speech at the opening ceremony of the event.

"The US Embassy was built in 1961-62. As an architect, my father was able to get in. I'm sure he never dreamt that 51 years later, his son would be living here," he said.

Calling the photographs a work of love, the 63-year-old envoy said his mother, who also visited the country in 1966, is now 91, and saw some of the landscapes, she saw five decades ago.

He said that he has inherited his father's love and eye for photography.

It is noteworthy that there is a striking visual difference in the quality and the detail of the photographs of the two eras, despite the same subject and framing.

The works, captured in 1966 and 2017-18, also capture the "features, expressions and emotions" of the Indian people.

What is interesting is that in the background of one of the recent photographs, a group poses for a selfie, something that was unimaginable in 1966.

More photographs on view show a marketplace in "Benares" (now Varanasi), a Bengali shopkeeper, Indian paparazzi with their cameras, and Jodhpuri people giving the envoy a "fond farewell".

Other monuments captured are Agra Fort and Chandigarh's Palace of Justice.-IANS