12 May 2021

The Field, the Border, and I

Prince Tomar

Crossing the border was anticlimactic, a 10-minute walk through the old, dusty, and broken road on the Maitri bridge that connects India and Nepal over the Sirsiya river. This was one of many routes that connect the Indian state of Bihar with the city of Birgunj in Nepal, but as the only one with a concrete road, it was the most important. My first steps outside my country were not exactly as majestic as I had anticipated. It was not a big infrastructure that I had to go through to enter the other side. Nor were there any big imposing ‘welcome to Nepal’ or ‘welcome to India’ boards. In a short walk I and others around me moved between the two countries. There were people walking toward India and Nepal on two wheelers, rickshaws, autos, and horse carts. The only time anyone noticed me was when the auto-wallas looked for customers. Otherwise, I was invisible, at least to the borderland. I didn’t look, speak, or move differently and no one cared about me. I was too familiar for them to care, too familiar to pay attention to, and too familiar to worry about. This made my field work unadventurous, far from the spirit of the colonial anthropologist…

28 April 2021

“On the edges of the Arauca river”: an ethnographic story

Francisco Sánchez

“The Arauca is like that: it can give or take all from you; that is life here on the border. On one side you can find everything, on the other everything can be lost. It has always has been this way for us.” These were the words of Ramiro, a local who guided me across the border between Venezuela and Colombia in the state of Apure, near the Arauca River…

20 March 2021

My autorickshaw rides: a smorgasbord for the senses

Anandi Mishra

The internet describes an autorickshaw as a motorized, three-wheeled rickshaw for public hire, but that doesn’t justify what all it means to me. The definition is bland, perfunctory even, excluding the warmth, mood and comfort that an auto brought to my life. Whenever I took an auto ride amid the rains, the bokeh print of the city, visible through the windshield would be my antidote to all things beyond control. It added a bounce to my step each time I saw the city lights coalesce with the evening sky through the visor of an auto in any part of the country. Listening to a particular love ballad on the earphones, riding in an auto, while watching the world whizz by was my way to relax after a day of long, tiring hours. Everything made sense, once I sat in an auto and looked out at the city presenting its best self to me through it. In this essay, I write a paean, a clichéd love letter if you will, to autos and how they electrified my mundane commute…

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