~ It’s Personal: Reflections on covering my community ~
“Oh my child, you have a lot to learn.” It was one of the first sentences that pierced my consciousness days after I arrived in India. It was in the home of Dr. Shernaz Cama, a well-respected professor at University of Delhi and director of the PARZOR Project. She had taken the time to fit me into her busy schedule for a brief meeting on all things Parsi. Sitting amongst a pile of scholarly books, biscuits and tea, Dr. Cama rattled off in warp speed facts, figures and intimate details of the Parsi community in India. I eagerly nodded and smiled as she spoke, thinking to myself – you must concentrate, soak this in, get it all down, don’t forget. In the middle of our meeting, she paused and asked me a question. I didn’t know the answer but even worse I don’t even know whether or not I should have known the answer. She could tell by my glance that I was in over my head. She looked me in the eye, smiled and gently placed her hand over mine. “Oh my child, you have a lot to learn,” she said, not with pretension but with an honest excitement from all I have to discover. I looked down, smiled and said, “Believe me, I’ll be the first to admit that.”
In choosing to cover my own community, all the lines which were once in place, nicely, neatly written in the sand, have washed away. Photojournalist. Friend. Cynic. Believer. Listener. Lover. Documentarian. All emotions converge in every breath, in ever word, in every action. The anxious energy that comes with every new experience can be exhausting but well worth it. I know not what this year will bring, but one thing is for certain: I have a lot to learn.