How a small farm in Gujarat became curator Siddhartha V Shah's sanctuary


How a small farm in Gujarat became curator Siddhartha V Shah’s sanctuary

He tells us why it’s his spiritual home

By Neville Bhandara  April 17th, 2019

There is a pristine farm in the village of Pardi in south Gujarat that has belonged to my relatives for nearly fourteen generations.

IMG 20170527 111603

The farm in Pardi, Gujarat

My mother went there as a child, as did her mother, and many ancestors before her, and we all share memories of its incomparable beauty and palpable power. I was born and raised in the US, and our annual trips to India were always filled with social visits in and around Baroda, which I often found exhausting. But whenever we travelled to this farm, I felt instantly connected to the land, to my ancestors, and to a way of life so very different from my own.

DSC 2894

As a product of the Indian diaspora, I have a very disjointed sense of home: I belong neither here nor there, always somehow different and out of place. But to watch the mango trees on this land transition from flower-laden to fruit-bearing, to feel the sweltering heat rise and finally break when the rains come, and to watch the sun rise over a vast field of lush orchards and palms has always helped me feel that I am a part of this land and its vibrant ecosystem, as well as a larger collective identity.

IMG 20180203 095243

I have lived in many places throughout my life. And while I am grateful for what they have taught me, they have not helped me feel any greater sense of belonging. This farm in Pardi always embraces my spirit as a welcomed guest and a longed-for friend.

SIDDHARTHA V. SHAH is the curator of Indian and South Asian Art, Peabody Essex Museum. 

Photographs: Bob Packert (Siddhartha V. Shah), Aditya Shroff