The Alma Mater Gallery opened its doors to present the works of graduate students from the St. Kliment Ohridski University in Sofia who had earned a one-year cholarship in the Central Hindi Institute in Agra over the last 15 years. The ezhibition titled "My India" collected photos, collages, videos and texts in Hindi and Bulgarian. They tell hidden and personal stories and some of them turn into intimate confessions: "India - cows. You do not have to be an expert to have this sustainable combination in your mind.... Yellow and hot. Interesting and dusty... Before you go there, you do not know. You are not prepared. It comes over you and changes you.”
The exhibition could be seen as jigsaw pieces, as the camera is not a distant observer, while the texts carry personal emotions touched by the philosophy of a distant culture. "The photos are very exciting,” one of the visitors says and adds:
“The exhibition goes under the slogan: Communication between the ancient and the modern, but what made me a big impression was the presence of tolerance between people, between religions, even between animals and humans. For them this is something natural and we lack this, unfortunately.”
In 2016, Indology lecturers and students created a documentary showing the difficulties during the first years of the program. Footage can be seen in the exhibition, and some of those seen in the film are also participants in the exhibition. "Although the film and the exhibition are not directly related, the exhibits show part of this process of interpretation of India, which inevitably happens when students have the opportunity to visit this country," curator of the exhibition, Alexander Bogdanov, says.
He is a lecturer in the Indology program and also a participant in the exhibition. "The emphasis in the exhibition is on the experience of India, not the one that is the subject of scientific papers," Mr. Bogdanov says and continues:
"My India" should not be perceived in terms of ownership, but as sharing and connectivity. The exhibition shows India, which has a special deep connection with each of the students. On the other hand, when something feels close to you, expressing your feelings becomes more difficult. Texts do not cover the full significance of India for the participants in the exhibition."
Words could hardly express the whole meaning of a culture for those who touched it, but the journey through the contrasts reveals more of the personal relationship between Indologists and India. While watching the photos and immersing yourself in the reversed image of the Taj Mahal, looking at the beach and roaming cows, one can read: "For the first time, the sounds of the new language take shape ... As if memory and present are housed in the same body ... Let's hurry to live! Let's hurry to love! Let's enjoy the little things! .... A friend ... a memory, a photo... A smile, the rain... This is India that remains in one's heart! " You can call these "emotional confessions" or "just pieces of the world," but in some mysterious way they bring you closer to your own worldview. And if you are a little bit more lucky, you may feel old desires and dreams reviving and taking into your heart a piece of "My India."
English: Alexander Markov