Soon after I was born in Delhi in 1990, my family immigrated to Melbourne, Australia. The child of two Indian parents trying to leave India behind, I had decided the west was superior and our annual trips to India felt like a burden. I was embarrassed to speak broken Hindi with my Australian accent and each trip I spent the majority of my time indoors, complaining of the dust and heat whilst watching VHS recordings of Play school.
Back in Melbourne, it was hard to connect to my brownness while constantly surrounded by blonde hair, freckles and wonder white sandwiches. Each lunch time I would trade my aloo chutney for Vegemite and butter; and for half an hour I was able to disguise myself as an insider.
It was only when I was 19 and returning to India alone as an adult that I began to see things differently. Something shifted inside me and I was ready to embrace what I had been rejecting my whole life. Four years ago I started taking pictures in the streets surrounding our family home in Kavi Nagar. With my aunt as my guide, I would appear shyly from behind her after she had gained permission from a passer by to take their picture. I knew if I was to open my mouth they would label me an outsider; a reality I was not ready to face feeling recently embraced by India. I knew I didn’t belong anywhere, and that scared me. Taking pictures had become my ticket into a world I left behind: a way for me to understand my Indianness, and explore the life I could have had if we never left 25 years ago.
These images were taken in my home town of Kavi Nagar in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.