Thursday, January 21, 2010

Home of Hope

When my parents decided to name the orphanage Home of Hope, I wonder if they ever predicted how true to the name it would become. Hope is seen everywhere in this home. It's seen in Samuel, who's smile grows as we tell him about his designs on the shirts we are creating. It's seen in Raj Kumar, who helps our youngest boy Santosh put on his shoes. It's seen in David and Sylvia the caretakers of the orphanage, who are parents to the 53 beautiful children.

I wish I could accurately describe the experiences at the home, but I am always falling short. There are so many things on the horizon for the kids, it's so exciting. We are beginning to see their individual personalities grow into young adults. We are no longer strangers, but sisters, auntie and uncle to these 53 amazing family members.

On this visit, we brought kites for the children for Sankranthi. It was fascinating to watch. Their excitement when the kite finally caught the wind and flew into the sky. The disappointment on their face when the kite plummeted to the ground.

As we watched the children play, my dad put his arm around me.
"We really did something here."

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Action. Reaction.

Action.
Kite Success.

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Kite success is too great and the string flies off the holder. Reaction.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Little Sister

Talia needed some new headshots. I took some formal ones, and then I let her jewfro down.

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Talia 7

This photo is for Taylor Glascock, who wanted to know if Cedric was getting attention from the ladies.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Sankrathi in Charminar

Charminar is one of my favorite places in Hyderabad. The sounds of bangle salesmen, honking horns and the Islamic call to worship come together in a symphony of urban sounds. It's usually pretty busy, but more people were there because of the holiday. Right next to Charminar Gate, there is a small Hindu temple which was celebrating Sankrathi. The temple was serving lunch to people, while others waited to pray. With all of the different religions in Hyderabad, it's interesting to see how they manifest themselves in a national holiday.
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Power Problems

Electricity is becoming a problem in Hyderabad. The power grids can't handle the urban sprawl. So, it's not surprising when half the house fazes out for 3 hours. This happens when the electric companies try and distribute the power in the neighborhood. Efforts are being made to try and conserve the electricity, but it's difficult. There is a street in Charminar, known as Bangle Alley, in which hundreds of little shops selling bangles line the road. One of these shops, Kanahiyala Motilal Karwa, caught on fire when the shop experienced a power shortage. A crowd of people stood outside the shop, so I slid through to the front of the crowd. When I got to the store, one of the men asked me if I was a reporter, I nodded and said, "Yeah, I am a photojournalist." (With a huge smile on my face)

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Power Shortage

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cedric is popular.

Cedric's ego is getting a little big. When we went out to the orphanage, David had Cedric as his laptop background. Raj Kumar and Dad are also big fans. I'm trying to control the size of his head, before it gets too big.

Cedric's Ego

Cedric and Raj Kumar

Dad and Cedric

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Visual Treat for Sankrathi

Makara Sankrathi or Sankrathi for short, is the 4 day harvest festival celebrated this week. It is celebrated throughout the country, but is especially significant in Andhra Pradesh. Fireworks go off at night, children fly kites high in the air and bright Rangoli (chalk drawings) are made outside the homes. In my neighborhood, there are usually white chalk Rangoli outside the homes. For Sankrathi, bright colored chalk, flowers and other materials are used to create the special Rangoli. Walking around and looking at these beautiful designs was a visual feast.

Sankrathi Chalk

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It rained on the first day of the holiday, so many of the chalk drawings washed away.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Familiar.

Just 6 months after my last visit, I am back in Hyderabad. With this visit, I am experiencing a new feeling of familiarity. The same faces greet me in J.C. Reddy's Chicken shop and the meat stalls at Charminar. I am greeted by the same beautiful scenery that unfolds before me on the way to the orphanage. I was explaining my new feelings to a friend at home and she said, "Oh that's the best feeling. When you finally exist." I am now a familiar face. Not just another person passing through. I was walking through our neighborhood and recognized a few of the younger boys playing hide and go seek. Laughing interrupted their counting as a I joined in the game for a few rounds.

I am so happy to be back in Hyderabad.


Ready or Not

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cedric loves India!

Cedric got over his jet lag much faster than I did. He loves India. Here's a few photos of his travels so far.

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Hands.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Layover

I love layovers in Amsterdam. Cedric and I were hungry after our first leg of the trip. Clearly, you can see where my focus is in the photo...Next stop MUMBAI!


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Sunday, January 10, 2010

"If you deem it so, just cut the cord and go. You'll be fine; there are plenty of hills to climb"


Today, January 10th, begins my new year of adventures, learning, changes and loving.

I am struggling writing this.

I still can't believe this is all happening. When Machelle got back from Papua New Guinea last summer, I remember expecting laughter when I suggested that I come though India on my way to Denmark. To my surprise, she took me quite seriously and thought it was a great idea. So, when I said goodbye to Edwin in August and he asked when I was coming back I replied, "6 months." "So soon Madam!" "Yes, Edwin, hopefully so soon." It was in that moment I realized how much was at stake, India, Denmark and a backpacking adventure through Europe that I longed to experience.

I have wanted to study abroad since I was a little girl and listened to my brother's stories of studying in London with a sense of wonder and purpose. I knew that whatever I would study, I had to travel and experience my studies through a new perspective. When I began to look at study abroad programs my sophomore year, I fell in love with the International photojournalism program at the Danish School of Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark. It was the only program through the journalism school that was geared towards photojournalism majors.

I had an incredible opportunity last summer to go back to India and focus on photography before I applied to the Danish School of Journalism. Before my trip, I met with David Rees and he gave me an extremely important piece of advice. "When people go to places like India, they have this desire to somehow cover the whole country. Don't forget to look for the small stories that explain pieces of the country." I took these words to heart and focused in on several stories over my trip this summer. My trip made me realize so much about the world and how I fit into the giant puzzle as a citizen of the world.

I came back with a lot of images, ideas and doubt. Starting Advanced Techniques was intimidating by itself, without any of my other classes for the semester or the application process for Denmark. When I began the applications for the program, I was so nervous. I wrote everything out in pencil because I didn't want to make any mistakes and avoided the big question hanging over my head; "What photos am I going to submit?"

When I started going through my photos, I was so overwhelmed. I am so thankful for the words of wisdom that my peers, teachers and family gave to me through countless critiques and meetings. This experience reminded me how lucky I am to have a supportive community of photojournalists at Mizzou. Through these critiques, I learned so much about editing, toning and creating a sequence of images that becomes a story. So, thanks to all of you who sat by me while I showed you the same two images countless times, you have no idea how much this helped me.

David Rees helped set up the portfolio review and interview with Søren Pagter, the director of the photojournalism program at the Danish School of Journalism, and teased me about my superstitious fears. Soren met with some of the photoJ kids in the lab and had a presentation about the program. Listening about the classes, the projects and life in Aarhus, everything clicked. I knew this would be the program for me.

My time with Søren Pagter was a learning experience in itself. Going through all my images, he helped me see my photos in a different light. This meeting also showed me how important it is to follow your gut in photography. I showed my final selections to several of my peers before showing Søren, and many of them told me to take out one of my portraits. They all made valid points, but I wanted to keep it in as one of my strongest images from another story I had done. I am so glad I kept this image in. Søren thought that my story about the chicken shop in India lacked intimacy and wanted to see my other stories. He really liked the one that everyone had told me to take out, which led him to look at the story it came from. He liked this story much better than what I had originally anticipated. I am so grateful for the time he spent with me.

In the beginning, I thought the portfolio process would be the worst part, but it was the waiting. After submitting everything, there was nothing I could but wait. Gmail became my painful addiction as I would refresh my inbox and cringe. By the end of October, Taylor Glascock and Alex Browning would monitor my Gmail use. Words of encouragement from my teachers, parents, foto family and friends helped. But it was never enough to make me forget about it for a long period of time. October was the longest month of my entire life.

I don't know what caused me to wake up at 4AM on October 29th. But I checked my phone, and the email was waiting for me. As it loaded on my phone, I reassured myself of being at peace with not getting into the program. I read the email, and had to reread it about 5 times before I could actually believe that I got in. I called my parents at 4:30AM and celebrated with the people who understood how important this moment was for me. It has been a bit overwhelming the support I received that from that day on.

So, here we are. The last 3 months have flown by more quickly than I could have ever anticipated. It feels like just yesterday that I was celebrating my 21st birthday at Rob Bratney's house or enjoying the crunch of the leaves under my feet around campus. The last week in Columbia was physically, emotionally and mentally draining. Finals, little sleep, a bloody nose in front of my entire HOJO class, and packing up my entire room and shoving it all into Sheldon (my car) wore me down. I have basically been recuperating at home by sitting on the couch and zoning out. I kind of expected a few goodbyes when I left Columbia, but to in a sense, leave silently in the night without anyone really noticing. Oh, how my expectations were blown out of the water. Between the surprise going away party (with a tacky Christmas sweater theme, my friends know me so well), hugs and a few tears, I left Columbia never feeling so loved before in my entire life.

8 months didn't sound like a long time, until recently. I think it's the little things I'll miss the most. My father's radio announcer voice, Shabbat dinners, and my favorite spot in my house back in Minneapolis. But, as I explained to my little sister last night, sometimes we have to trade the things we love the most for important and life changing experiences.

I am so excited to go back to India. As my trip approaches, my longing for lemon rice, dodaci fry and masala dosa has exponentially increased. I can't wait to see my friends and family, and most importantly the kids at the orphanage. We now have 53 children and I know there will be new smiling faces for me to meet. When I was at the orphanage this past summer, I kept asking for permission to do things and David, one of the caretakers of the orphanage kept laughing and said, "Eve, you don't need to ask permission, you are not a guest. This is your home." He couldn't have been more correct. Sitting on the floor, eating my dal and rice with the kids, laughing with them as I spill on my shirt, I felt at home. I have been fortunate enough to see the orphanage in all of its stages from the beginning. In the past decade, it's been a difficult world for NGOs. As the economy struggles, people are less inclined to give money. But somehow, they did it. They gave children who had never had their own bed, a place to call their own. It's really a test of my parent’s commitment to tikkun olam (Hebrew for repairing the world) to see how strong their non-profit and the orphanage have become. We are also stopping in Mumbai for a day on the way to Hyderabad. Since I was at the transformation center over the summer, they have started a micro-finance project in which the women are harvesting honey from beehives. Apparently the bees are very docile and you can put your hand in the hive without the fear of getting stung. At least they aren't butterflies.

I wrote this letter a few days before my departure, because knowing me, I'll be packing up until the car pulls out of the garage. It hasn't hit me yet that my adventure is about to begin. I don't think it will hit me until I am on the runway at MSP looking out my window at the frosty scenery. Maybe it won't even hit me until I leave India, saying goodbye to my step-mom as I continue on to Denmark. Or it could be like my family driving away freshman year when my Dad and Talia drop me off in Aarhus. Whenever it happens, I'm ready to start embracing the reality.

All right, Cedric and I are off to see the world.

Sincerely,

Eve Nora Edelheit and Cedric the Gnome

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P.S. The lyric in the title is from Death Cab For Cutie, "I Was Once A Loyal Lover".

A little info.

My Photo
I am recent graduate of the University of Missouri, majoring in photojournalism. Right now, I am a photo intern at The Dallas Morning News. Last year, I attended the Danish School of Media and Journalism in the International Photojournalism program. I love the journey of working on a photo story, the destination is never what was predicted.

ALL PHOTOS ARE THE PROPERTY OF EVE EDELHEIT, The Dallas Morning News, The Peoria Journal Star, The Chautauquan Daily. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. © 2008-2012 EVE EDELHEIT, THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS, THE PEORIA JOURNAL STAR, THE CHAUTAUQUAN DAILY.