By Vivek Prakash
Where I live is not the India of most people's imaginations or memories, and it's hardly the India I once knew as a kid.
My Mumbai has easygoing cafes, organic markets, swish malls, expensive restaurants serving great food and wine, fabulous nightclubs and raucous house parties. The idea that this India is any less "real" than bad infrastructure or the world of Slumdog Millionaire is misguided.
India has many crosses to bear - I acknowledge that. I'll be the first one to complain about crumbling roads, horrid traffic, corrupt politicians, impossible bureaucracy and the gulf between rich and poor. But you'd better get used to the idea that slowly but surely, generational change is taking place. My Mumbai is probably the India of the future.
When I'm outside this country and I tell people I live in Mumbai, their first response is usually a mix of bewilderment and concern - I assume this is from the reputation it has as a glorified dump with quaint colorful traditions, best cliched in popular movies like Slumdog and Monsoon Wedding and books like Shantaram and Beyond the Beautiful Forevers which mostly deal with life in the slums. The initial reaction is usually followed up with something like "you must love it as a photographer." Yes, I suppose I do - it's a magical dump of over a billion, easy fodder for lazy pictures of beggars at car windows and smiling street kids.
The so-called "real" India. Guilty as charged - my archive contains more than its fair share of these pictures. But they tell only one part of an incredibly complicated story. And it's not easy to have access to shoot the other stuff.