The Big Picture: Passage through Indiahttps://indianexpress.com/photos/picture-gallery-others/the-big-picture-passage-through-india/

The Big Picture: Passage through India

A journey is usually defined by the destination, but this one, along Latitude 20°15’, cutting through four states across India’s waist.

A journey is usually defined by the destination, or even by the route you take. But this one, along Latitude 20°15’, cutting through four states across India’s waist, searching for people and signboards to understand Year 2015, fell into context even before it began. From a “spooky” path to a “smugglers” road, from apartment blocks to cock fights at local fairs, from Liquor Off Shop to Dutta Roy Mention, journey across Latitude 20°15.

Orissa’s Paradip coast, the starting point on the east, was still a few kilometres away, when four images slid past the taxi window on the right, all within a few seconds: a half-built shopping complex with a giant board advertising email, scanning services; an old woman in a small yard outside her shrub-fenced hut, wearing a torn, fading sari wound around her bare chest, trying hard to build a fire with a stick. (Source: Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Even in the fading light, after the dark sludge on the “city road” leading out of the port, it’s clear Paradip to Cuttack is a postcard in fast motion: paddy fields, a tributary of the Mahanadi on the right, brick kilns on its banks, and the scent of coal wafting in as you pass Kujong, once Ground Zero of an agitation by farmers against the acquisition of their land for the Posco plant. (Source: Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Raipur to Kanker, on the outside edge of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, begins with a blur of big city wanting to be a bigger city: blue signboards to the airport, the cricket stadium in New Raipur, some familiar destinations — Dantewada, Champaran — Mintu International School, and Yash Spoken English Class. (Source: Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

The kick-off from Kanker, which is in the midst of a local fair with cock-fights, colourful beads and more colourful language, happens at an unlikely site — a palace. (Source: Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

On the road from Khasgaon in drought-hit Jalna district, the final destination on the Gujarat coast still nearly 500 km away, the overpowering theme is white — pyjamas, kurtas, shirts, shoes, Gandhi caps, the pale sky, all white. And then, some brown from the dried cotton fields, and a dash of bright green jowar. (Source: Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Soon, it’s Welcome To Gujarat, a different world. Well, not exactly because the checkpost guards ask you to switch off the camera while they take “something extra” from Tahake. But yes, NH848 in Gujarat is a world apart — smooth roads, trees on either side marked neatly in brown and white — and it’s almost as if you were passing through a typical military cantonment area. (Source: Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Minutes after we cross the border into Gujarat, about 30 km away from Saronda village in Valsad district, the last stop on Latitude 20°15’. (Source: Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)