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Getting out of Chennai, the city where I grew up, takes over an hour on my Enfield. Heat beats on my helmet and dodging traffic, screening noise, inhaling exhaust fumes forces my senses to overload levels. Finally, I feel I have made good on my escape and find myself on a relatively open stretch of highway from which I take the first exit.
I have arrived someplace new. I pass green paddies where lines of women, petticoats tucked up to the waist and bare legs sunk into brown water, bend to tender rice plants; I slow behind a rocking bullock cart, straw eclipsing the driver except for the calloused flat feet I glimpse between unbalanced wheels. I almost miss the unmarked carved stone bathing tank designed for a princess long forgotten. There are crooked lines of palms and in the spaces in between, keath-roofed shacks with mud yards swept bare except for children in afternoon-dingy uniforms chasing cycle tires with a stick.
My first borrowed Holga camera knocked something loose in me; now I have my own and it is helping me to wrap my past and my present into a future. This is a series on my home state of Tamil Nadu, India. It has come together over time from the end of 2016. It represents the every-day influences, dilemmas, contrasts, dramas and dreams out of which my identity must have evolved. As a kid I was told who I would have to be or what I would have to do; my choices for being who I wanted to be were repressed thus these images are reflections of my fragmented memories.
The distant ring of a temple bell hints something is there. The day stretches ahead, and the grass track leads me on towards forgotten memories. I explore as a foreigner in my own land. It is up to me to decide who I can be and where I will go from here.

IG: @aavanam_
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