Fond farewell to India!

It is ironical, how life often maps out a plan for us. When three years ago French photographer Marie-Caroline Senlis started documenting the portraits of expats who were on the verge of leaving India, she didn’t know, she would be one amongst them when her exhibition gets showcased. 

A fortnight ago, she flew down to Delhi for only 10 days, to present her exhibition ‘Before Leaving Indian Snapshots’ at Alliance Francaise. 
 
Sitting at her desk in the gallery, she smiled pleasantly at passers by, answering their 
questions about her photographs, mentioning, “I will be here throughout the 10 days.” 
Inching towards her 50s, her beaming face welcomes you as she tells, “I started making photos when I was 16 or 17 years old. Otherwise, I am a French 
language teacher.” 

Marked with a sense of equanimity, her portrait is the last in the series of photographs annotated with an excerpt from her stay in India.

The reflection of a garden shines upon the pictures that deck up the wall behind her, as she holds onto a book on Indian literature.
 
The excerpt reads: “India shakes you up, more or less, depending upon the stage where you are when you arrive here. It shakes up the senses, the spirit and lifestyle and 
it’s good to be shaken up sometimes.” 
 
Describing her impression of India in a few words, just like she made her interviewees do, she says, “It’s the physical impressions that continue to impact you; what you see, smell or hear, and the sense of heat in the body as you walk around the city, stays with you when you leave India.” 
 
Amused by the black and white portraits that were hand painted in India, before colour photography arrived in the subcontinent, Marie made use of ink pens to highlight the 43 portraits she clicked for this edition of her exhibition. 

While she did get to hear a few ‘no’s’ from the expat community, she says, “I think just when the expats were changing their life, the fact of confessing, of laying bare their experience was a way to put it behind them.” 
 
The circle of confessions seems to be complete as Marie’s picture and excerpt end the photo series. 

Catching up on her life in Delhi, she leaves for an evening walk around Amrita Shergil Marg--- the place where she stayed during her time in India, Lodhi Garden and Humayun Tomb to recapture her India, once again. 

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