Ed Hanley from Toronto, Ontario sat down for the longest train ride in India which departed from Dibrugarh at 10:45 PM on a Saturday, and arrived in Kanyakumari at around 11 AM the next Wednesday – totaling three days and four nights. A journey not many have the heart to take.
Train number 15906 if the Indian Railways, the Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari Vivek Express, travels 4,273 kms as it winds its way from the north-eastern corner of Assam to the southernmost tip of mainland India which is Kanyakumari on an 85-hour journey which has given it the prestigious title of the longest train route in India, by both time and distance. And one man decided to embark on this journey.
A multi-dimensional artist, Ed’s recent work marries videos and photos together as he documents of the journey on Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari Vivek Express.
On his travels to India he says:
India is such a culturally rich, vibrant and diverse country that every day presents something new. India can be challenging for sure, but it is when we are challenged that we learn. India can also be, and often is, beautiful, and that teaches us different lessons. The learning I was seeking on this trip was of a more personal nature. I was coming out of a difficult time, and needed to travel, focus on a project and get my head together.
Train travel is a great way to see India, and to meet people. I like the relative slowness of it, as opposed to flying (and all the frustrations of airports these days), or cars (with the worsening traffic), and it’s somehow more personal… people are more inclined to talk, hang out, and exchange stories than on a plane. I had read that the Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari Vivek Express was the longest train journey in India, and thought that it would make an interesting documentary photography project. I knew it would not be easy…85 hours is a long time to spend on a train, and photographing only within the confines of the train would be a creative challenge, but creativity thrives within restrictions, so I had to take the journey, and try to tell the story.
This was my first attempt at long-form storytelling through photography, and it gave me confidence. The confined space of a train car doesn’t allow the photographer to be invisible… everyone sees you pointing the camera at them. I think one of the most important things a creative person can do is to finish projects. So often we start things, then allow our inner critic to trash it, and it never gets finished. So, even though I had no experience doing a project like this, it was important not only to start it, but to complete it, and publish the piece, even if it’s not ‘perfect’.
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