#GetLocal: Inside Modi’s constituency: Maninagar, Gujarat

The scars and dirt on her legs reflects on how much a day of surviving in this world has cost her.

I’ve been going to Maninagar, a small area in Ahmedabad, since I was a child. My ancestral bungalow is there, and even though I grew up in Mumbai, this place has a special spot in my heart. It’s replete with Gujarat history and, for me, childhood memories.

As I said, it’s a small area, but Maninagar is a place with infinite complexities. It’s one of the most hotly contested political seats in Gujarat, and perhaps even an interesting metaphor for the State. It’s really divided along various lines of religion and economic status. It is filled with migrants from Sindh and has many communities living there including Christians, Muslims and Marathis. In order to capture this diversity, I decided to focus not on the monuments and architecture, but the people of Maninagar. This town has seen a lot, as have its residents. People’s faces here are filled with stories.

The Maninagar women

I was grateful to this woman for letting me capture her likeness. It wasn’t just the interesting patterns and colourful design of her sari that caught my attention, it was the wisdom that wells in her eyes.

DSC_0471-01

Her old, twinkling eyes have captured a world in them

 

The scars and dirt on her legs reflects on how much a day of surviving in this world has cost her.

The scars and dirt on her legs reflects on how much a day of surviving in this world has cost her.

This woman was sitting by Kakaria. It’s a big lake in the area. Her name was Sheetal and she was waiting for her husband over there. She did not have any money or baggage. She just had a bottle of water with her. Her husband never came. I love her picture much more because her face is brimming with emotions… every wrinkle on her face is another story in her life, which I find beautiful.

She was waiting for her husband. He never came.

She was waiting for her husband. He never came.

Book Market

This little guy doesn’t like going to school. He says this way he’s bought school to me.

Knowledge is something that is infinite and always craved upon. Why depend on a limited curriculum to imbibe it?

Knowledge is something that is infinite and always craved upon. Why depend on a limited curriculum to imbibe it?

Shah Alam

This photo was taken in Shah Alam, one of Maninagar’s Muslim areas. Everyday he wakes up and comes to this market to sell his wares. If you see the picture there are folds: those are basically coal, which he sells for his living. He was done with his life. He was tired, he was like, ‘I just want to give up everything and leave my life.’ It was noon and he was waiting for a friend to bring him tea, so he was also hungry.

He's hungry

He’s hungry, and not just for food. He’s hungry to be recognised as an equal citizen of the State. Maninagar is often used as an example of the two faces of Gujarat. Local leaders say, people who are not Modi-voters do not get the same amenities and preferences as those who are.

 

The Maninagar men

 Lighting his own pyre

Lighting his own pyre

 

His machine is his companion. They've been working side by side for over a decade now.

His machine is his companion. They’ve been working side by side for over a decade now.

 

EAT, SLEEP, WORK, TWIRL (handlebar mustache) , REPEAT

EAT, SLEEP, WORK, TWIRL (handlebar mustache) , REPEAT

 

Age isn't a number; wisdom isn't earned through time, it's experiencing the worst life has to offer and still finding hope enough to laugh like a child.

Age isn’t a number; wisdom isn’t earned through time, it’s experiencing the worst life has to offer and still finding hope enough to laugh like a child.

Akshay Rajgor
Written by

Akshay is a Bombay-based photographer in his 20s. Born and bred in Mumbai, he has deep roots in Gujarat: the home of his ancestors. He loves to travel across India capturing the country's many countenances. You can follow his work on Instagram: @the.shutternotion

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