Things We Learnt From Each Other
Gaurav Datta is a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at the University of North Dakota. He’s from India, and joined UND in 2017. Apart from biomedical sciences, he has also been trained in Transcultural Psychiatry and Narrative Medicine from McGill and Columbia University respectively, which takes shape in the form of ethnographic research among people with HIV/AIDS and those recovering from substance use in India. He is particularly interested in the use of visual methods for research and representation.
These photographs represent the exchanges between the author and people from the unhoused community in Grand Forks, North Dakota. “It was the numbness that I remember,” the author recollects about his first winter here for which he was totally unprepared, “the numbness that started with the hands, and ultimately began to cloud my thoughts; the sheer desperation to find a warm place. At that time, it was the people I met in the bus shelters who showed me the tricks to survive this cold, and perhaps that was what bonded us together”. Together, as they explored the town, and the author learnt as much about the reality of being unhoused in America, as he did about the nuances of Midwest American existence. In return, he told his friends about his life in India and the ongoing struggle for independence in Kashmir – a region between India and Pakistan. By overlaying images of the Gospel booklets distributed to the unhoused community and that of the Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali on photographs made in and around Grand Forks, the author hopes to communicate a more sensitive and meditative perspective on the notion of home, and expanded awareness of the community in North Dakota.