The Stranger :
The Story :
I walked in to the thatched hut and smiled at him. I saw a hint of smile and recognition in his eyes before his face went blank again. His wife came to me and I smiled at her too. She asked me if I was well. I told yes and asked her to make dosas for me and my family.
Curiosity gets the better of many, he got up and walked upto us. I couldn’t speak his language much but my driver could. I asked the driver to explain it to the man standing next to me that I am the same girl who came a month ago in pouring rain to have these very same delicious egg dosas.
There, that glint was back.
He can’t see very clearly. Him and his wife run this small hotel in a village called Mannavanur near Kodaikanal , Tamilnadu. If you ever go there, look for him and eat the egg dosas his wife makes. Last month, it was pouring like crazy. Two friends and I landed at this place in the night. We camped for the night and returned back the next morning to have more dosas, they are delicious, trust me! He was talking about pre – independence days and said I am too thin to be married. He also said that these days people have appetite of ants and in those days they ate like kings. He was quite an animated person which you can make out from the photo above. We asked him to stand with his wife for a photo and they blushed and stood together.
When I pointed my camera in his face, this is the expression he gave.
He still does hardwork, cuts wood and carries it comfortably.
Meet Sukradeavara. He is over 60 but doesn’t at all act his age. He is a jumpy character full of life.
The lemon hit the floor and bounced up. He hit it hard enough.
I am still staring at them. It is yellow for sure. Is it a tennis ball or is it a lemon?
It was a lemon. The next kid hit it really hard. The lemon cracked and the end of the game. They were playing cricket. The ubiquitous game played almost everywhere in India using anything and everything as bat and ball. Now that the game was over, the kids found some time to stare the weird strangers who apparently came to look at the village.
Three of us were wandering around the village called Arekal Hosahalli. It was a Sunday and the kids were making good use of their school front yard. We asked if they’d like to be photographed and they started posing without a smile on their face, blatantly staring into the cameras. The frames weren’t that impressive and I gave up. But soon two more girls came and I went up to them asking if they’d like to be photographed. You’ll see them next. They obliged, meanwhile the rest of the kids came by and were more relaxed around us now.
The guy in the right, Tanush, I like his stare. There was sunlight falling on their faces and I liked it even better. I looked through the viewfinder and two things happened simultaneously – I clicked and meanwhile Yashwant, the naughty kid on the left with a cute smile, leaned in towards Tanush. The photo was perfect! Happiness and cuteness – the two things that kids personify!
Meet Yashwant and Tanush, the kids from Arekal Hosahalli, Hassan.
Yashwant has a cute dimple too.
They like cricket and their favorite cricketers are Dhoni and Sachin, no surprises there!
It was a riot!
A riot of colors, her attire I mean. She is about one of the prettiest mom’s I have ever seen. She was tall, shy and dainty. Her smile was striking and I decided she has to be one of the 100 strangers. Only problem being, Kutch does not see a lot of tourist crowd which means the people here can be quite apprehensive about strangers coming with huge black boxes and following them around to take a picture.
I was continuously grumbling “I want to take her photo, I want to take her photo”. Arti was pushing me to go and ask if I could, but like I said, I am not too comfortable asking strangers for photo. With great difficultly I managed to get the words out of my mouth – “Ek Photu?” “One Photo?” *accompanied by a stupid looking grin hoping she would fall for that*. What did I know I was about to get another smile in answer. She smiled and smiled but said nothing, not even a slight nod of her head implying she is okay about me taking the photo.
Royally confused, I went back sulking to sit next to Arti and sulk more. Meanwhile her husband came to show us around the place, I asked him if I could take her photo. Either she doesn’t seem to understand Hindi or she was too shy to say anything. But anyway the husband called her. And she truly is pretty as hell.
She was preparing tea for us and I didn’t want to start shooting with the camera in her face immediately, so I was taking photographs of another shy little girl whose name I forgot now. Once the tea was done I sat in front of her pointing my camera in her face considering I had an 50mm prime on. She wouldn’t look at the camera. She got very conscious and looked here, there and everywhere but not in my direction. She is the mother of three children. She also helps her mother in law in making those brilliant mirror work and kutch handicrafts.
She is Bharma.
She lives in Hodka, Bhuj, Great Rann of Kutch.
The Strangers –
The Story –
Suspicious eyes were following our every movement. We were three girls lugging around huge cameras in our hands. It was remote and about sundown. We were camping in a school and there is not such thing as a lodge or hotel around. In such remoteness of Rajasthan which rarely sees a tourist soul I wasn’t too sure how the villagers would react to three strange looking people.
After much deliberation and with great courage few kids started following us around. One even came to me with a sly look asking me to take a photo. With almost all of Rajasthan familiar with this tactic of asking to be photographed and then asking for money, I shied away with apprehension. But they persisted, the asked to be photographed and soon I realized it was not tactic but these kids were genuinely amused by us. They asked us many questions about our lifestyle. How different it was from theirs, they were surprised.
They were shocked to know that three girls of marriageable age were roaming in the far corners without husbands around. They took us to their homes, showed us around and I promised to send them back their photos.
It has been two months and the photos have been just printed. Hopefully they will reach Khaba in time.
And forgive me for deviating from the rules of the game but my memory fails me here with the names of so many kids. And the best thing I like about this photo is as you stare into their eyes, it is impossible not to smile. 🙂
The Stranger :
The Story :
Okay I have to tell you I have no great story this time. But in few cases such as this, isn’t the subject striking enough in its own right without the need for a story to make the portrait interesting?
Well it so happened that the morning was misty and it is a great feeling to wake up in a sleepy little village perched on some mountain slope in the Himalayas. But the thing is, the small pretty village with apple orchards was a far cry from being anything but sleepy. Bharmour was once a sleepy village as the old men told me. Being the starting point for the Manimahesh Yatra so stringently undertaken by thousands of devotees every year, the village has been the victim of the tourist influx and blatant commercialization that we know of. A small room can cost you anywhere between 500 – 1000 bucks. And at times the same small room will be shelter to more than 20 people at once. Well anyway someone is making a lot of money here and I should talk about how I met this person instead.
Srini and me went up to the famous 84 Lingas temple. It sure looked crowded enough leading us to believe this temple does hold high reverence in the local community here. The architecture was distinctly different from what we see down south and quite a few Sadhus were found around. While I scouted for some interesting capture, I spotted this man with this huge red turban. I was hesitating. Should I go ask him or not.
Now this dilemma also arises because of the equipment I have. I own a 18-55 kit lens and a 50mm prime. So if I want to take someone’s photo, I have to be literally standing in front of their nose to take the capture. Srini suggested me to go ahead saying he is an interesting subject. So i dared and went to him and I asked if I could take his photo. He did not budge neither did he seem to bother, just a slight nod to let me know it is okay. And I was still uneasy. I just took this one shot and fled from the scene. 🙂
Good thing I asked him right?
Location – Bharmour, 7000ft, Budhil Valley, Chamba.
The Stranger :
The Story :
She was the smallest kid around among the bunch of school kids surrounding me but there was nothing childlike about her glance nor her stance. She made a powerful subject and she was gone just as she came – swiftly, a stranger in the truest of senses.
I was happy to see kids curiously looking into our guest-house for they are so full of fun and spontaneity which is especially good for a shy photographer who cannot summon enough courage to ask an adult for a portrait. So I started chatting up these kids and asked them if I could take their photos. Cheerful and carefree that they were, they posed willingly while the mother of one was not so happy about me clicking their pictures. She sent them away to school while I was left disappointed that I could not get good portraits of any. But curiosity took the upper hand when these kids went away only to come back with many of their friends. I started clicking again when I spotted this young girl with a piercing glance. Everyone else was quite happy to be around me and get photographed while this young lady showed no such inclination. I was intrigued and while she stood apart I took this image. One look through the viewfinder and I knew instantly that here was an opportunity to create a stunning portrait. I looked at the LCD and was pleased with the image of her on the screen. But the next moment she was gone. I asked the rest of the kids but no one even noticed her coming and going. I couldn’t even find out her name.
This whole incident happened in the remoteness of Suru Valley, Ladakh. Parkachik is a small village that falls on the Kargil Zanskar route and the place is as remote as it can get. The school here had hardly more than three rooms and that day the teacher had not come it seems, the kids told. Flanked by giant mountains on both sides, the river flowing between them, the school lies on the gentle slope above the valley overlooking the vast meadows and the village. Carefree life, hard life, beautiful life, cold life or no life – I don’t know what kind of life these kids experience here.
To see such remoteness and be awed is one thing but to live in such remoteness is a completely different thing.
Well this portrait was taken few months ago when I didn’t even know of the 100 Strangers Project. And please share this post if you like it. 🙂
Meet more of the cute kids from Parkachik, Ladakh.
Also I am posting the same picture with different processing. Tell me which one you like better.
The Stranger :
The Story :
He is smiling alright but he made me cry. Cry big time!
They were all amused. Tears were rolling down my cheeks uncontrollably. Arti was standing next to me and her eyes were teary too, but unlike me her tear ducts seemed to be in better control. I was trying hard to resist from crying but to no avail. This fellow and his help were smiling sheepishly. Since the tears were not stopping, I did the next best thing. I was wiping away my tears with my palms like kids would do. There was a truck parked nearby and the people standing by it also found the situation to be highly amusing and funny. I ran to this bakery in front of us and frantically tried to pry open the refrigerator. Nevertheless the fact remains that we were both crying standing on the street near Belandur Junction
Before I delve further into the story of how I took this portrait, let me tell you few things. I am from Andhra Pradesh and most of you would know of our phenomenal love towards spicy food and also our uncanny ability to handle such intensity of spiciness.
That being said, after an eventful day of good shopping we came by this mirchi bajji stall at Belandur Junction. It goes without saying I wanted to eat some and consequentially me and arti asked for a plate of bajji. They were made of Shimla mirch, the huge light green ones which are not very spicy but they tasted delightful with the tasty pudina chutney. Happy with the first round, we thought it is only fitting to have another one. So we were gladly served another plateful of mirchi bajjis. Only this time two of the bajjis were not made of the usual Shimla mirch, but instead we found the spicy green chilly used for cooking curries. I ate one while Arti decided to pass on it. I liked the hotness of this chilli but the last bite did it for me.
The spiciness was inexplicable. I was running frantically for water. And then we went into the bakery to have a pastry. And yes, the tears were still rolling down. 🙂
I mean imagine the situation. It was so funny as we were running here and there after that spicy encounter.
After the craziness subsided, I thought what an interesting evening and what a memorable event. I thought I should capture something to remember this story and also I had read about the 100 Strangers project that morning. It all seemed to fit together. We went to him with my camera out in my hand and asked him if I could take his photo. He was flustered as I asked him. He seemed to be embarrassed but obliged. He wasn’t laughing fully at first but his friends did good in teasing him saying he is the star et al which is when I captured this portrait where he smiles.
Just incase you are still wondering who this person is, he was the one making the bajjis. 😉
There goes my first portrait for the 100 Strangers portrait. Keep a watch on this space to see how my portraiture evolves over a 100 encounters.
Here’s another shot of him. I forgot to ask his name. If you ever have a mirchi bajji at his stall near Belandur Junction, find out his name will you? 🙂