Thanks to everyone who found me on Freshly Pressed and was curious enough to click! Before yesterday, I didn’t even know about Freshly Pressed. Today I am the tiniest bit wiser and (temporarily at least) more popular. And you all, with your likes and comments, are kind, inspiring and inquisitive…so I’ll try to address your questions and offer a little context.
I was in Pakistan for nearly six months on a journalism fellowship. You can read more about my experiences on my tumblr blog. Be warned–this blog was largely a place to process and vent, so I was less than cautious about what I say and how I say it.
I have tons more Pakistan photos, and they’ll slowly make their way online. Still wading through Karachi, Lahore and some flood camp shots, so beyond a few on tumblr, these photos aren’t up. I’ll probably try to post a couple of Pakistan shots every few days here, once I have regular internet access again. For now, the ones that are up are largely unedited and live on facebook, in albums that are publicly available. You need to sign in to your account to view them. Here are links: Gilgit, Hunza, Thar Desert, Chitral, Kalash.
The northern areas do seem timeless to me, but my camera settings added to the faded effect of these photos. I shot with the saturation dialed down. I’ve just started shooting this way, and I like how it highlights only key colors. Also, in Gilgit the sky was a bit overcast because it’s a mountain town. This made for easier shooting. But in Sindh, where I spent most of my time, the sky is eternally white. The light is harsh (except for in Monsoon season), and it’s difficult to get clean shots.
Someone mentioned the single female—if you look at my other photos, there are more females, but in general women are less represented in the Pakistani public sphere, and the ones that are out often seem reluctant to have their photo snapped. This is particularly true if they cover themselves. I found the Pakistani women incredibly beautiful and fascinating and would have photographed them all if I thought I could get away with it.
About the hats—Kashif mentioned that they’re called topi. I think in Pashto-speaking areas they’re actually called pakul, but I’m not sure. Shopkeepers just kept calling them “Chitrali hats” to me. They’re wool, mostly worn in the chilly mountain areas in the north. In Pakistan only men wear them, but I thought they were super-cute and brought a few back for girlfriends that live in the frigid northeastern US.
Pakistan is full of different ethnicities, tribes, myths, traditions and religions, including dozens of variations on Islam. Pashtun people of the northern areas are often light skinned and have light hair and eyes. Kashmiris are often light skinned with dark hair and eyes, and Sindhi’s are often dark skinned with dark hair and eyes. Sheedis (who live in Sindh) have African ancestors, so they have dark skin and curly hair. These are generalizations, but they’re generalizations to illustrate how impossible it is to truly generalize. Pakistanis look like you and me. Or rather, we look like Pakistanis.
And Kashif, I have been to Hunza—I think it’s my new favorite place on earth. Didn’t make it to Skardu, but I plan to return at some point and trek to the K2 base camp.
Again, thanks everyone. I’m traveling a bit now in the US, and my internet connection is sporadic, but stay tuned for more on Pakistan.
**all photos in this post taken at Indus floodcamp, near Karachi, in early April 2011.