Consider this photograph of a young girl with sea green eyes. Her eyes challenge ours. Most of all, they disturb. We cannot turn away. There is not a single family in Afghanistan who remains unaffected with the war. The sky bled terror, when she was six and her parents died in war bombings. At night the dead were buried. And always, the sound of planes, stabbed her with dread. She remembers being married at 13. Here is the bare outline of her day. She has three children and fourth died in infancy. Sharbat has never known a happy day, her brother says, except perhaps the day of her marriage.
Steve McCurry, photographer from National Geographic magazine, remembers capturing the face of the ‘Afghan girl’ on a morning of 1984 when he spent documenting the ordeal of Afghanistan’s refugees. In June 1985, the cover of the National Geographic magazine featuring the picture of the girl with sea green eyes seared the hearts of many. 17 years later, hoping against all odds, Steve Mc Curry went back to Afghanistan in search of the girl.
The reunion between the woman with green eyes and the photographer was quiet. Faced by questions, she retreats into the black shawl wrapped around her face, as if by doing so she might will herself to evaporate. The eyes flash anger. It is not her custom to subject herself to the questions of strangers.
On the subject of married women, cultural tradition is strict. She must not look—and certainly must not smile—at a man who is not her husband. She did not smile at McCurry. Her expression was flat. She cannot understand how her picture has touched so many. She does not know the power of those eyes.
Such knife-thin odds, yet she would be alive. That she could be found. That she could endure such loss. How, she was asked, had she survived?
The answer came wrapped in unshakable certitude.
“It was,” said Sharbat Gula, “the will of God.”
Depth interviews are one-to-one encounters in which the interviewer makes use of an unstructured or semi-structured set of issues/topics to guide the discussion. The object of the exercises is to explore and uncover
• deep-seated emotions
They are most often employed when dealing with sensitive matters and respondents are likely to give evasive or even misleading answers when directly questioned. Most of the techniques used in the conduct of depth interviews have been borrowed from the field of psychoanalysis. Depth interview are usually only successful when conducted by a well trained and highly skilled interviewer.
Other instances when depth interviewers can be particularly effective are: where the study involves an investigation of complex behaviour or decision-making processes and where the interviewee is prepared to become an informant only if he/she is able to preserve his/her anonymity.
He/she must provide an atmosphere that encourages the respondent to speak freely, yet keeping the conservation focused on the issue(s) being researched
Depth interviews involve a heavy time commitment, especially on the part of the researcher. Interview transcripts have to be painstakingly recovered, if they are to be accurate, either from terse interview notes or from tape-recordings of the interviews. This can take many hours of often laborious work. The transcripts then have to be read and re-read, possibly several times, before the researcher is able to begin the taxing process of analysing and interpreting the data.
Depth Interviews can be nerve stimulating and may also turn out to be a life time experience for a researcher. After all, it all boils down to how much you believe in your subject and tactfully you can handle your candidates.
Other Members: Amrit Jain, Ankit Saxena, Gugan N, Nitin Sonkar, Sonam Supriya, Sumit Ranjan,Yogesh Sham Gupta