“If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India” – Max Muller. I read that quote on the eve before my maiden flight to Delhi, or popularly referred to as the City of Djinns, by the famous Scottish historian William Darlymple.
The Fujifilm X-Pro1 in hand sporting a 35mm lens, this was going to be my first time visiting the magical land of Hindustan, so you could understand how excited I was. My excitement magnified to level higher because of my history with the country.
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, I grew up like many other Afghans my age, entirely absorbed by India’s biggest export to my country: Bollywood. Here was this absolute carnival of colour brought to our screens from a land far away that I had no connection to. Indian cinema’s stories of love, death, honour, disgrace and everything in between were my first ever exposure to film and storytelling which is why India has always had such a special place in my heart.
But little did I know that I was far more connected to India than I thought, and that cinema was not its greatest achievement. It paled greatly compared to what I discovered when I explored Delhi, the legacy left behind by my Afghan forefathers, The Mughals.
The Mughals, originating from Afghanistan, were the Muslim dynasty who ruled over Delhi and India from 1526 to 1857. Theirs was the rule that poets were made to write about.
Like many dynasties, the Mughals were born from the ashes, lifted to the heavens before crashing back down to the earth. But unlike other dynasties, the Mughals left behind their footsteps that would do what they couldn’t do; survive the cruelness of time.
Mughal architecture is still scattered around India, drawing millions of people to it like the words of Romeo drawing Juliet to the balcony. The buildings left behind by the Mughals aren’t just architectural marvels, but poems written in marble.
The Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore, said this of the Mughal’s greatest poem:
“The Taj Mahal rises above the banks of the river like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time”.
I know it will take a lifetime to capture the glory of this country, but I tried to take a glimpse at the tapestry that is Hindustan, through my little Fuji camera. I had travelled to India determined not to be weighed down by anything more than was necessary, which is why I only took one lens with my X-Pro1.
Before this, I had only ever used the X100s (see another post) and thus I was quite used to being locked into one focal length, that of the 100s’ 23mm in built lens. Which is why the 35mm on my X-Pro1 was quick and easy to adopt within my style, usually using my feet to either frame out or frame into a shot.
Like all my experiences with the Fuji, the X-Pro1 didn’t disappoint. It was a trusted friend throughout the trip although its only frailty was a problem that plagues almost all Fujis. The battery life. But being the wise Fujifilm owner that I am, I also made sure to carry more than one battery at all times.
This is a series taken entirely on the X-Pro1, a solid little machine that in my opinion could give a run for any Leica’s money. It’s small, light and as always, a beloved friend.