100 People. 100 Photos. 100 Stories

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Stranger #10 – The man who came from Nepal

The Stranger:

The man from Nepal

The Story:

The lines on his face caught my fancy. I went to him and he smiled again.
He is a rather frail looking man with a cheerful disposition.  He was smiling constantly. I wanted to ask more about him but this was a classic case of communication problem. He spoke Nepali and I none. But lucky for me, our guide Iksha spoke his language.

His son is working as a Security Manager at one of the resorts around Ooty. 5 months ago, his son brought him from Nepal so that he could make some extra money too. I asked him if he lived in the mountains in Nepal. He said yes. I asked him how are the mountains here, he said they are quite small.  He misses his wife and home but what can he do, he asks rhetorically. He intends to make some money and go back home in less than a year or two.

Meet Muniveer, he is from Nepal but he currently resides around Ooty, India.
That’s Avalanche Lake behind him.

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Stranger #09 – The stranger whom I met twice.

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.

Strangers # 07 & 08 – Naughty kids who played cricket with lemon.

The Strangers:

The Story:

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!

Stranger # 06 – The pretty lady from Kutch.

The Stranger:

The Story:

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.

Stranger # 05 – All Kids and All Smiles!

The Strangers –

Kids from Khaba

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. 🙂

Stranger #04 – The cheerful lady who could barely move

The Stranger :

The Smile

The Story :

Many of you would’ve known that I was in Rajasthan until a few days back and I hoped to meet lots of strangers there. But I did not meet many. Many of the people I interacted with didn’t feel like strangers strangely.

Getting back to this lady, we were in the remoteness of Shekhwati region visiting old cenotaphs of Parsurampur. It was a single dome structure with exquisite paintings from Ramayana and Mahabharata and more such Indian Mythology. We were wowed by it and as we prepared to leave, the local villager asked us to pay 200 bucks as the entrance fee. We were surprised for sure at the demand. We refused upon which he said why don’t you come have a look at the care taker and then refuse.

We obliged and followed him only to find this lady standing by the door of her home. She stood and greeted us with a pleasant namaste. She looked old but there was a spark in her eyes that you can see. We didn’t feel like denying the request and paid her the 200 rs. Her husband used to be the caretaker until recently but now she has taken over.

I suddenly remembered the 100 Strangers project and promptly asked her if I could take her photo. She nodded and looked anxiously into my camera. I was looking through the lens and she didn’t show any signs of easing up. I asked her how old she was. She laughed and she said over 60 years. I asked her name – she said Shanta.
I asked her to smile and there – A brilliant smile that showed her beauty come alive!

We bid adieu and turned to move when we noticed. The youth in her face does seem to echo in her body. She was standing tall alright but she could barely move.

Stranger #03 – The Man with the Red Turban

The Stranger :

The Red Turban Sadhu

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.

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