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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Enchanting India

India means different things to different people. For the first time visitor, it can all be pretty overwhelming: The heat and dust, the great unwashed, the perennial tumult. And yet, the discerning tourist overcomes these overpowering sensory assaults to make a deep connection with Indian culture (especially architecture) in all its magnificence.

Neville and Vivienne Poy are the kind of tourists who don’t get repulsed by the grime, and have the patience (and the wisdom) to let India reveal its many charms. Their experiences have been assembled into a photographic exhibition – Enchanting India – that was recently shown to the public at Toronto’s Innis College.

Neville Poy is a retired plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and Vivienne Poy is a former Senator, historian, and writer.  The Poys were in India in November 2015, and visited Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Varanasi and Khajuraho. And they were fascinated by the sights, the sounds and the people.

Unfamiliar with India’s history, and dependent upon tourist guides, who, as many know, are notoriously fanciful in their narration of history and events, generally making up stuff as they go along, the Poys nevertheless had a great time.

Neville’s photographs show the fun they had in India. The splendid architecture in north India, the ordinary people living their lives, doing their things, oblivious of the tourist’s prying eye, the tropical forests, birds, and animals coexisting peacefully in rapidly shrinking spaces.

Neville is a sensitive and non-intrusive photographer, always looking to find the different in the mundane. The beauty of his collection is that he makes even the familiar seem fresh. Vivienne is a gifted raconteur, adroitly mixing history with memories.

The University of Toronto’s Asian Institute was the main sponsor of the exhibition; the auditorium at Innis College was the perfect venue.

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