By Nayanika Chatterjee
Humans of Pune is a tribute page to Humans of New York that was started by Brandon Staton. Ever since, there have been thousands of “Humans of” pages all over the world.
Mukta Joshi, a student from NLSIU had started the page by the end of 2012. However, the page wasn’t very active then.
I moved to Pune from Delhi in 2013 in order to pursue my graduation at Fergusson College. I was always fascinated with the Humans of New York page and loved reading the stories behind the people of New York. Soon, the idea to create a Humans of Pune page dawned on me. Since the page already existed, I contacted the administrator, Mukta, as she and I had some mutual friends. Mukta was glad that someone wanted to take the page further as she had to move out of Pune. I began clicking and interacting with the people here and eventually a friend of mine, Isha Chitnis, who used to accompany me during these photo walks, became an administrator of the page as well.
It has been a brilliant experience ever since then. Interacting with so many people and listening to their life stories makes you wonder how ironical the term “ordinary lives” actually is. Each person has something to share something that has the ability to connect people from totally different walks of life, say; even a dhobiwaala in Pune to a businessman in Delhi.
By knowing the stories behind the people of Pune, one definitely becomes less judgmental and more considerate and open minded about strangers around them. The page is not only limited to social media but has established several collaborations with organisations such as Pune Model UN by being their life moments partner, organised events which include a collection drive to aid the victims of the Nepal Earthquake, a photo walk that provided an opportunity for people to submit photos to the page as well.
Isha and I recently gave a lecture at Symbiosis School of Arts and Commerce as part of the College’s Social involvement Program. We have a lot more events lined up, including a photo walk with the Cultural Centre of Pune, a collection drive for an animal shelter, etc. We also did a photo series in association with Prayatana- For People With Special Needs.
Our work has been published by Pune Mirror and the Bayside Journal. Photos from our page are continuously shared by pages such as The Logical Indian and Buzzfeed India.
When it comes to clicking, the two of us don’t select the people we’d want to click. We simply choose an area, get familiar with the place and start interacting with the people. We face a lot of rejections as well but that has never demoralised us. As photographers, rejection is one tiny factor in the learning process. However, each story takes time. Everyone doesn’t open up easily, while some do (rarely). Many find us intimidating as well and often question our motives.
All in all, we do this because we have learnt and hope to learn a lot more from the people we meet in the future.
(Nayanika Chatterjee (20) and Isha Chitnis (20) are students of Fergusson College, Pune. They are the administrator of Facebook page Humans of Pune.)