Book Talk: Backpacker-photographer shows China through unfiltered lens

Feb 01 2013, 11:11 IST
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SummaryTom Carter found himself homeless, jobless, with little money and 6,000 miles rom home.

in poverty out on the other side of the country. Meanwhile, people are driving Ferraris down the street in Shanghai. These aren't rich people. These are middle class people who can afford a Ferrari ... You can't have that much economic disparity and regional disparity without consequences."

Q: From your travels, how do India and China compare?

A: "I think that India is about a century behind China still as far as infrastructure and modernization. I think I can say that with relative authority having traveled on the ground all over - north, south, east and west. It's a really, really magnificent country. The culture and the religions are just amazing to witness and to see. I love it ... But politically and economically, I can honestly say that I do not believe that India is any kind of competition for China."

Q: Why the disparity?

A: "I believe it's a combination of rampant corruption, and just a kind of defeatist attitude. I'm not talking about the average Indian person. I'm talking about the government itself ... People say Chinese leaders are shameless about their corruption, but I think India's on a whole new scale."

Q: How did you get so immersed in photography?

A: "The camera was really a gateway into introducing me to people, ways of life I otherwise might not have had an access to ... There's a realism that you feel in the book that you don't get with other books about China, that are really glossy, and have been Photoshopped and are really pretty to look at."

Q: What else are you working on now? What are your goals?

A: "My head is just exploding with ideas ... I've got about five different book projects on the burner as we speak - in addition to teaching full time, which I do in Shanghai, and in addition to starting a family."

Q: Why have you only returned to the United States once?

A: "I don't feel there's anything in America for me right now. I see myself as a citizen of the world and I'd rather just keep traveling and seeing as much of the world as possible. And I think actually more people need to do that. I think travel and immersing yourself in new cultures - that's the key - that's the secret to world peace. War's not actually working."

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