For his fifty-first birthday, Pablo Bartholomew gave his future a strange present: his past! He took on the taxing task of digging out and scanning his first 35 000 black and white negatives, “forgotten” for the last 25 years. A reputed, international photojournalist – and as such a survivor of all things past – he rummaged through his archives for us like a shy beginner. He did this neither out of nostalgia nor under the effect of a “middle age crisis” but simply because he had the hunch that his images would still “hold their own”. Still inhabited by the spirit of his father, whose many talents included photography, Pablo dug up grey, scratched treasures of a floating world emerging from his misty youth. Expelled from school at fifteen for insubordination, he discovers a far more fascinating world: bizarre people, drug addicts, white hippies. Hypnotised by lost paradises and chemical sub-paradises, he shares the lives of the incongruous shadows and languid beauties of a rebellious people. Like an incurable nomad, he wanders from parties to endless discussions, working as a photographer in advertising or “for an industry that was not yet called Bollywood”. And each h he breaks away, returning to his girlfriends and anti-heroes, from heroin to anti-conformism. In the riffs of early screeching pop-music, the revolt and the thunder of the monsoons rumble in stereo. In chorus, horses ride in the background like enigmatic messengers, like Adriane’s Thread drawing Pablo back to his first love: his OWN photography.
A STORIES OF THREE CITIES
TH 70's AND THE 80's
In the period from the early 1970’s to the 80’s, my teenage years really were a time of growing up. Changes within me and changes around me took me on journeys within myself and around me. In the streets and within the homes of people that I knew in the three cities I lived and photographed in, often drifting aimlessly with a camera. These cities too were at a turning point in their lives, where the old world still survived amid shifting, emerging new worlds.
The box camera phase had long passed: the Russian Zorki first, then a Pentax Spotmatic, and later my fathers Leicas. I had learnt to process film and make prints in the improvised darkroom at home. School was becoming a big drag. The outside world was beckoning
Delhi in the mid-70s: just out of high school, crisscrossing the streets of the Old Town, the crowded tourist ghettos near the Railway Station, hippies, junkies, eunuchs, street performers traversing these as part of my own familiar world, of life around me; my friends very influenced by music & drugs; and my parents’ circle, their socialist intellectual world of theatre, art and painting.
By the late 70’s I was feeling the need for a bigger city, I took to the road, moving away from my hometown, then a bureaucratic dump, to seek my fortune. The big city then known as Bombay attracted me, offered me opportunities in advertising and the film industry. 
Later on, from the mid 80’s, I got sucked into photojournalism which took up all my time and energy, changing my mind space and work context. The work I had already done was abandoned, buried, forgotten till now after a gap of a quarter-century. And here I am back in documentary photography, to continue with some of the dialogues that I left off then.
Looking back at this diary of work, I find that following my instincts – photographing my friends and family, engaging with the fringes of my society and scrutinising the urban landscape when no photographer, artist or filmmaker was working in these areas – has provided me with an important record of that time and period, one that stands on its own feet.
Pablo Bartholomew, New Delhi, March 2007
Exhibition produced with the support of HP.