History lessons

History is the sexy word of the decade," says Anusha Yadav, founder of the Indian Memory Project, a Web project that collects memories and history from across India. Lounge has previously written about, and always been a fan of, the Indian Memory Project but last week we saw the website going viral on social networking sites and remembered how much we love it all over again.

Despite having started in 2010, Yadav saw the site’s busiest day last week, with 12,000 clicks on 12 July when she reposted a photograph of Anupa Nathaniel with her closest friend Shalini Gupta, who formed India’s first known girl rock band. The photograph of the two friends was sent in by Nathaniel’s daughter Anisha Jacob Sachdev, who wrote in to say that her mother and a group of friends had formed Delhi University‘s first girl rock band, Mad Hatter, in their first year of college at Miranda House. “My mother was the lead guitarist and singer. Because of that status, when The Beatles performed, albeit privately, in Delhi in 1966, the Mad Hatters were given front seats priority," Sachdev writes.

“I see about 600 visitors every day, but this went crazy," says Yadav about the post that she had originally posted in April 2010 in a Wordpress.org version of her project. “I tweet about old posts when there isn’t any new activity happening and that was picked up. The Internet is unpredictable," she says. As a result, Sachdev received emails from cousins she has never met.

The Indian Memory Project came into being after a publisher rejected Yadav’s ideas for a book. She created a group on Facebook asking friends to share wedding photographs. “The book didn’t happen, but the idea of the Indian Memory Project was firmly set in my mind," recalls Yadav, who took less than 48 hours to put the site together. “People don’t take instructions well, they sent in old images from their albums that had nothing to do with weddings," she laughs. Yadav realized that this was a unique way of looking at history. “Images just make my world better. The older they are, the more they lend themselves to fantasy."

If you have an old photograph that you want featured on the site, you can submit it online on www.indian memoryproject.com, along with a narrative. “A few people send in their own family pictures, but more often recommend that I look at a friend’s album," says Yadav.

Take the story of Bert Scott (born in Bangalore in 1915) and his first love Margurite Mumford, an Anglo-Indian girl. Jason Scott Tilly from the UK discovered negatives of the young couple holidaying across India and sent the images to the memory project. “There is something so obviously personal and intimate about the images," writes Tilly in his note.

“People love drama and the more personal it is, the more they love it," says Yadav.

Images and stories should be pre-1991. “After that, people started using hotshot cameras. I feel there was more deliberation in photographs taken before this time," says Yadav.

Close
×
My Reads Logout