#EverydayNEIndia's Geetanjali Pegu on documenting North East India, and why the region doesn't get its due

Geetanjali Pegu's hashtag #EverydayNEIndia aims to portray the beauty of North East India, and has received stunning submissions from photography enthusiasts on Twitter

Payal Shah July 16, 2018 14:39:39 IST
#EverydayNEIndia's Geetanjali Pegu on documenting North East India, and why the region doesn't get its due

Amid the sea of trends that dominate social media, #Everyday movements have stood out because they are windows into cultures across the world. Social media users suffix the word 'Everyday' with the name of a place which could be a city, village, state or even a country, and use the hashtag to present visuals which capture its beauty. Each hashtag and each post tells a unique story, cutting through mouldy stereotypes that the world may have about a place or showing a side of it which the world may be unaware of.

Usually operating as free-for-all forums, #Everyday movements have roused the interest of photographers and wanderers across the globe. Geetanjali Pegu is a Twitter user who recently started a movement of her own called #EverydayNEIndia on Twitter, an initiative to portray the beauty of North East India.

Pegu spoke to Firstpost about creating the hashtag, why so many #Everyday movements aren't genuine and what she hopes #EverydayNEIndia will achieve.

What inspired you to start this movement?

The North East has so much to offer and so little is known about it, as compared to the rest of India. I thought, why not start something that can project the actual North East, which is very different from people's perceptions, and help change their ideas and thought process about the region? I have been around the region, mostly the offbeat places. This made me realise that there is so much more to it than just the popular places that are highlighted on social media.

Why did you choose Twitter as the platform for this hashtag? 

Honestly, I have more friends from outside the North East on Twitter than any other platform. And the main purpose is to showcase the beauty of the region to the outside world. Plus in a fast-paced world with so little time to dedicate to things, what better platform than a microblogging site like Twitter, which helps me portray everyday life in the North East, in a nutshell.

What sets #EverydayNEIndia apart from other #Everyday accounts?

First of all, it is about the day-to-day and regular life of the region. It doesn’t have any QRs; all that is required is the photo should be able to project the unexplored North East with the right perspective, to those who are clueless about it. It isn’t binding on anyone and is a purely voluntary contribution from friends, followers and anyone who is genuinely interested in the region.

Do you filter the submissions?

It is an open platform. Contributors are permitted to tag anyone and everyone, no embargoes and no censoring.  

Do you hope to expand it to other social media platforms like Instagram or Pinterest?

I didn’t plan to, initially. But after looking at the enthusiastic response from well-wishers, friends, and followers and even your interest in the series on the North East, maybe I will expand to other platforms, because it will help me reach out to more people and in turn showcase the beauty of the region to a larger audience.

What are your thoughts on the #Everyday accounts on Instagram? Do you have a favourite? 

Most of them are profit-oriented. They are usually backed by some travel agency or the other. I am yet to find a handle posting pictures purely for the love of the North East.

What has the response from Twitterati been like towards your hashtag? I have received a phenomenal response, and more and more handles are sending in their contributions every day. What do you think is the role that #Everyday accounts play in how we get to know places in different parts of the world? The handle needs to take a genuine interest in the place. These days, all handles are backed by travel agencies. People on social media are more interested in blogging, and thus there is more emphasis on that than in the beauty of everyday life.

 

What are your aspirations for #EverydayNEIndia? What change do you think it will bring about?

I want to continue #EverydayNEIndia, and I will continue with it. It will help people see the real beauty of the North East, and not just view it as a tourist destination.

Why do you think that the North East's natural beauty does not get as much attention as the rest of the country?

That's the saddest part. The foremost and primary reason is projection, the second is connectivity, the third is insurgency and the fourth is hassles with regards to documents, even for Indians who wish to visit these places. Though things have improved a lot, we still have a long way to go.

As a photographer yourself, where do you usually find inspiration?

Firstly, I am not really a photographer but more of a photo enthusiast. Being a photo enthusiast and an Assamese, I look for things that instantly bind me to my roots, my true self as a person from the North East. As an impulsive clicker, I find solace in day-to-day pictures, which are simple yet unique.

What is a must-see spot in any of the North Eastern states you have visited? 

The list is endless, and one year or one lifetime is too little to see all of the untapped and unexplored beauty of the North East.

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