Gulmarg, Kashmir (1999) by Steve McCurry. From Steve McCurry: India
Gulmarg, Kashmir (1999) by Steve McCurry. From Steve McCurry: India

Steve McCurry on being shelled in Kashmir

The Magnum photographer remembers a fateful night-time taxi ride on India's dangerous western border

<!--[if gte mso 10]>

<![endif]-->

Steve McCurry loves India, though there are some moments he's spent in the subcontinent he would prefer to forget. “In Kashmir, I felt there was always tension,” the Magnum photographer told the Indian news agency IANS, in an interview to promote his new book dedicated to the country. “The time I felt my life was in danger was one time in a taxi from Srinagar to Kargil. There was a convoy at seven or eight at night on a very precarious mountain road in Himalayas. We were told to switch off our lights, because there was shelling from the Pakistani side. It was a very alarming experience.”

 

Bicycles hang on the side of a train, West Bengal (1983) by Steve McCurry. From Steve McCurry: India
Bicycles hang on the side of a train, West Bengal (1983) by Steve McCurry. From Steve McCurry: India

McCurry has been in plenty of war zones, though he’s never grown entirely used to being under fire. “I don’t think you ever get used to it, or get comfortable with it,” he explains. “The way you deal with it may change, but I don’t think you ever become desensitised. It’s never routine. If you’re telling a story or reporting a situation you have to manage the work you send in and manage it in the best way possible. But no, I don’t think you ever get used to it. I think violence and war is always horrific.”

 

Reflection of the Taj Maha, Uttar Pradesh (1999) by Steve McCurry. From Steve McCurry: India
Reflection of the Taj Maha, Uttar Pradesh (1999) by Steve McCurry. From Steve McCurry: India

Nevertheless, McCurry still appreciates the country, not only for its visual opulence, but also for its tolerance. “India has been very dear, through the conversations I’ve had with people on trains, or being a part of the festivals, and many regional characteristics each state holds,” the photographer asys. “Although the whole world is getting globalised, India has a very strong and diverse character, which I don’t see anywhere else.”

 

Young Child dressed as Shiva, seeks alms, Uttarakhand, India (1998) by Steve McCurry. From Steve McCurry: India
Young Child dressed as Shiva, seeks alms, Uttarakhand, India (1998) by Steve McCurry. From Steve McCurry: India

“Secularism and inclusiveness are one of the greatest things about India,” he says, adding that it remains a country where he feels able to express himself freely – and that comes from a globetrotter who speaks from experience

 

Steve McCurry in the Monsoon floods, Porbander, India, 1983
Steve McCurry in the Monsoon floods, Porbander, India, 1983

For more on Steve McCurry’s Indian adventures get a copy of his new book, Steve McCurry: India, here; to see more of his work, consider the other Steve McCurry titles here.