My friends often ask me how I composed this shot. While trying to answer their queries accurately and giving them an elaborate description of ‘behind-the-scenes,’ I always forget to tell them why I truly love this picture. This is why I want to share these unverbalized thoughts here.
Like other pictures I shared with you all on the blog this week, this picture is also taken in the Old City of Kashgar. I met these boys playing in one of the narrow alleys outside their home. The boy on the left is of Han descent—the major ethnic group in China that make up about 92 percent of the population—while the boy on the right is of Uyghur descent—a minority Turkic ethnic group concentrated almost exclusively in Western China. The Uyghurs often align themselves with other Central Asian populations due to their Turkic and Islamic heritage, and I even found many households watching Turkish soap operas (without subtitles!).
The accounts in Western media and also in mainstream Chinese news often paint both these ethnic groups sharing an acrimonious relationship. Even several of my clever and thoughtful urban-Chinese friends fearing for my safety, warned me against traveling to Xinjiang.
By contrast, on my visit I met the most warm people, who welcomed me into their homes, and I often found a multitude of ethnic groups living together amicably. And when I see the playful togetherness of the two boys in this picture, I am always reminded of the harmony I found in different corners of Xinjiang.
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