The nose is also a full protagonist in Indian social stories, adorned with a nath (nose ring) to signify a married woman. “Isn’t it intriguing that a horse has to wear a nose when it’s broken in, and a woman dresses her nose when she gets married?” mused Gurmeet Sangha Rai, a conservation architect and the subject of her daughter’s camera lens for the day. “It’s the idea of the control and the nose ring that I find quite interesting,” she tells me over the phone, as we shine the light on the Indian nose.
Sangha Rai didn’t always like his nose. It wrinkled when she smiled, widened with her laughter, and looked more manly than she would have liked. “My nose is very similar to my father’s. That’s what I was told and it always makes me happy. The paternal side of my family had very distinct Punjabi traits – heavier eyelids and smaller, twinkling eyes – and my father was known for his great sense of humor and being naughty as a youngest son. . I was very aware of this nose that I had inherited from my paternal side, ”says the 55-year-old man. The half-lines in his native language that were used to put someone down didn’t help. “I remember my younger sister, who also has a nose like mine, dilated her nostrils before she started crying, and everyone was laughing at her: ‘Look at her nose, it’s coming back, it’s swelling. Now she’s about to cry,” and she began, as if at the right time, to bawl. So I diligently pressed and pulled my nose to make it thinner and covered it when I laughed, but over time, especially after putting a nose pin on when I was 20, my perception of my nose finally changed.
When 20-year-old Sangha Rai moved from Chandigarh to Delhi, it was a coming-of-age experience, which she signed off with an embellishment. “It was 1986 and I had come to Delhi to do my architectural internship, and suddenly I felt older. I was in college, out of my comfort zone and having work experience as an intern. I wanted to go back to college and look like I had finally arrived. She visited a jeweler in Janpath where she had her nose pierced with a point-sized gold and diamond pin, for the very first time. Over the years, as Sangha Rai took more control of his life and added more experiences outside of his comfort zone, the diamond on his nose grew to include a few more stones to catch the light.