A Gateway to Kesinga: A Photo Essay of Life in Rural India

Today we are so excited to feature the work of Katherine Hofer, a photographer currently living in Kesinga, India. She has a true knack for capturing the essence of people and place in her photos – enjoy!

 

Beautiful Indian Baby

Girl With Attitude

 

Kesinga is a town in the Kalahandi district in the state of Odisha, India. Odisha’s name used to be Orissa not long ago, and that is what people still tend to call it, at least the ones I have spoken to. Kesinga is best described as a town because it lacks the infrastructure of a city, but it is certainly established enough to not be called a village. People in trucks, cars and motorcycles travel along its main road or highway constantly, passing from the rice paddies to the marketplace where customers buy produce in outdoor venues or examine expensive jewelry in independently owned stores.

There are certain geographic features of Kesinga which you will certainly notice after spending any length of time there. These are mainly the River Tel, where people fish with large nets, and the mountain called Budhadangar, rising out of the horizon. The mountain is unmistakable, on one side of the highway, and the Tel is not too far away on the other side. Cows meander on the road and cars consistently honk at them and the other cars coming the opposite direction along the narrow paved road. There is an unusual balance between the bucolic scenery and the general frenetic energy of the people inhabiting it. One hears about the relative chaos of urban life and also of the rustic quaintness of the countryside, but seeing these merge defies expectation.

 
Boy and Baby in Kesinga Praying in India family in India fishing

 

Besides the market, mountain and river, Kesinga is made up of an abundance of green fields, many of which are rice paddies. Now that it is the monsoon, or rainy season, theses paddies glisten with the abundance of water that has filled them. Raised walkways made of grassy earth let farmers traverse the fields without becoming soaked, and divide the fields into a patchwork of rough squares. Those who do not work in the fields or in the market often labor in factories, one of which is a denim pant factory. The windowless dank room is lined with sewing machines where the workers manipulate the fabrics. A cesspool of smelly blue chemicals is a byproduct of the denim production, and congeals in a walled-off man-made pond. It’s just another sign that life here in Kesinga is a sort of collision of man, machine, and nature.

Another major feature of Kesinga is the train station. Trains carrying people arrive daily at the station, so much so that Kesinga is a sort of gateway to the rest of the Kalahandi district. There are many trains bearing sleeper cars, where people can rest during longer journeys. Train stations are full of more people, many sitting on the ground, or lying down, trying to get a bit of shut-eye before their next stretch of travel. It would be a great place to people-watch if you weren’t trying to catch your train.

Also off of the main highway is an area of cleared ground where a gypsy camp has taken residence. They are in town for at least two months for a wedding. The hair of some of them, specifically the children, is different from other Indian children in that it often has streaks of light brown or blond. Their skin is slightly lighter in color, too, which illustrates how set apart the gypsies are from the rest of society in India. They are friendly people when approached with genuine respect, especially if you have a knack for playing with the children.

fresh produce india gypsy woman India Photo Essay Indian Man Train in Kesinga Twilight in India

 

At New Life Ministries’ home and school for children, the school bell rings, signally a change of classes as teachers make their way from one class to the next, educating children from standard one through eight. Children shout and squeal at lunchtime, the little ones spilling their rice in the narrow hallways where they eat because there is no dining hall. After school, boys play a rough-and-tumble form of volleyball while the girls play little games drawn in the dirt under their feet.

Life here is considerably peaceful and joyous, given that it was just in 2008 that persecution of Christians rocked Odisha. Churches and Christian-owned schools were burned and many Christians were killed by Hindu extremists determined to preserve the influence of the major religion in India by ridding it of a lesser. Today, it is still clear Hinduism dominates the landscape, if the many Hindu shrines and temples are any sign. Yet places like New Life Ministries still exist, contributing to the community and adding still more diversity to the already diverse country that is India.

vivid eyes young child

young girls India

Bio:

biophotoI’m Katherine, an Ontario, California native currently interning with Global Hope India as part of an Intercultural Studies degree at Biola University. I’ve always dreamed of a life of adventure and photography. I love capturing the little instances in people’s lives that make travel so memorable. I am particularly interested in portrait photography – so much can be said with just a look. I hope my audience may one day increase so that I can help illuminate the lives of people around the world. Next stop: Romania.

More of my work can be seen at my photography website: http://katherinerhofer.wix.com/frumosphotography or my blog: www.intoindiaajourney.blogspot.com

Meet: Dan Moore


Dan is the photographer, social media strategist and second half of the A Cruising Couple team. He has been living and traveling full-time in various countries since 2011. His award winning photography has been featured on National Geographic, CNN and New York Times Travel.

6 Comments

  1. Wow! I’m speechless, these photos are fantastic and really make me want to jump on the first flight to India. I always wanted to go there for the food and to learn how to cook their specialties, clearly there is so much more than that and you proved it.
    Franca recently posted…Five Tips and Pics for MadridMy Profile

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  2. Stunning photos, guys! I don’t think we will make it to India for the next couple of years but your pictures really make me want to go there NOW! :)
    By the way, it would be great to see your shots in our Travel Photography Competition again soon :) Take care & have a great weekend!
    Hitch-Hikers Handbook recently posted…Travel Photography Competition – week 97My Profile

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  3. Hey guys. These images are absolutely stunning! I lived in Nepal during school, but never had a chance to make it to India. But it’s definitely on our list!
    Lance recently posted…Victoria Falls is Gorges (and Wet)!My Profile

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