We got to know about Raison thanks to a chain of introductions. Kalpana told us to meet her uncle Gautham, who’s a film maker, who put us in touch with a painter in Delhi – Kunal Batra, who told us to land up at the Johnson’s cafe in Manali and meet an old college friend of his, Pia Johnson. That’s her in the photo below. We were so busy enjoying the banter and laughing away that we forgot to take photos. Until the very last minute that is, and then came up with this pathetic excuse for a photo.
Pia grew up in an orchard in Raison (an hour by bus from Manali) and has lived all of her life in the Kullu Valley. For the last decade she has been running the Johnson cafe out of a piece of land that their family had in Manali. She sat with us for an hour and told us story after story about her fascinating family, and then sent us on our way to meet her mother, who lives in the family house in Raison, and runs a school nearby.
We met Bala at her school and I could immediately see where Pia gets all of her warmth and charm and energy. With pia we remembered right at the end, but with bala we totally forgot and spent all our time talking to her and playing with her dogs and eating yummy food.
At 55 Bala decided she needed to do something new and started learning Hindustani Classical music. A few years later, she started a small school for children from villages surrounding Raison and in searching for a music teacher for her school, she stumbled upon Chandra Kiran – a state level volley ball player who was from a family of musicians.
We spent an evening with him and his family, filming with them. This is Chandrakiran outside of his house.
They have a house that overlooks the Kullu Valley. Besides teaching he is also a farmer and most of their income is from walnuts. They gave us a bag full =). And this is what a raw walnut looks like
The next day we headed back to the school and filmed with Chandrakiran and the kids from the school Bala Johnson runs, the Tara International School. Here are a few photos of the colour coordinated anushka shooting photos and videos.
After spending a few hours we headed off to Kullu, which is another hour or so from Raison. There were no buses out that day so we were forced to stay the night. We decided to walk around a bit. That’s when a dust storm hit and then it started raining. As is we found the town to be not particularly very exciting, plus we had a bus out to Rampur the next morning at 5 am. So we decided to just head back to the hotel and crash.
Here is the only interesting image that we got out of Kullu.