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  • Gautam Kulkarni on finding connection in the remotest parts of the world

    Published on November 24, 2021

    Many of us may have never heard of the Nenets.  They are Russia’s nomadic reindeer folk, living in extreme weather conditions in Siberia’s Artic landscape.  Every year they travel over 1,000s of kilometers, sometimes crossing frozen rivers in temperatures as low as -50°C (-58°F). They still practice their ancient herding customs and have an unconditional love for their people, land, and culture.

    Gautam Kulkarni, Indian by nationality but global citizen at heart tells us about living with a Nenet family in their ‘chum’ which is the hut that they build and use for their accommodation.

    “I had been wanting to go to Siberia for a while and when I found an opportunity to live with the Nenet family, I immediately said yes.  I travelled to Moscow from Dubai and then flew into Salekhard, a small Siberian town. From Salekhard, the only way to reach the Nenet home was by travelling in an old Russian made vehicle that looked like a military tank.  This was because the drive to get to the nenets was through the Tundra swamps.  I have travelled to many continents and countries and seeing something new is always fulfilling creatively and emotionally for me.  The Nenet family lived alone with nothing for hundreds of kilometers around them, and had 12 members consisting of the parents and 9 children. Their oldest was married and him and his wife lived with the family and their youngest was 1 year old.  The love they had for each other was impossible to miss.  They were so kind, loving, and supportive of each other and every member of the family would participate in the daily chores from herding to chopping wood, cooking, and cleaning.  Even their 5-year-old son, Gabriel would chop wood for the fire.  I found them to be hardworking and exceptionally kind and simple people, determined to preserve traditional customs and practices.  I can only describe my stay with them, inspite of the discomfort of sleeping in freezing temperatures with four layers of clothing on and barely being able to sleep for 3-4 hours, having no other facilities or means of communication and very limited food (as I am a vegetarian and their diet is mainly reindeer) , as one of the most incredible experiences of my life.”

    Gautam has put all his wonderful adventures and photographs in his book pictureforapicture which is a must have coffee table book for every traveler, adventurer, and explorer.  In his book he not only takes us on his journey through different continents but also shares with us his stories of the people in his photographs.

    Pictureforapicture is a unique concept where Gautam gives a photo print to the people he photographs, and he always manages to bring a smile on their faces.  Gautam started a charity called the Kara Foundation with his wife Kanchan who is a mental health coach and who also provides free online relationship coaching sessions to men and women all over the world.

    Picureforapicture is available on Amazon and Kindle and is published by Notion Press.   Gautam’s Instagram handle is @hobograph and his social media is managed by Groundwork.