Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Do You Know This Man?

A fellow Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation member, Paul Burnore, a fellow Indian traveler, shared with us his experience of the genuine appreciation people here have for having their photo taken. Equipped with this information, we have been faithful in snapping, printing and then returning photos of just ordinary people doing ordinary things. We have become known to a tiny fraction of the population of Bangalore as “the snap people.”

Finding the subjects of the captured images is often a tricky process. We open our collection of photos and slowly find someone here… a few others there. The easiest way to find the greatest number of people is to find a kid who recognizes someone in the photographs, and he leads us right to them. A smile of appreciation is exchanged with the photo.

The City Market in the old section of town is filled with snap-rich targets. The market is a bustling center of activity. The market is also filled with wonderful colors and packed with ordinary people doing ordinary things. When taking a picture of tall, colorful cones of powder used for making the ritual mark on the forehead called a bindi or tikka, the flash of the camera brings a small entourage of youngsters who begin to surround us. Despite the broken English and improvised hand motions the communication is unmistakable. “Take my picture!”

So the camera is trained on one small face…only to have other faces fill the view finder. Snap. Snap. Then we are lead by the youngsters to parents or relatives for more picture taking. You get the picture (ha!)…soon we are handed off from one group to another for a photo session.

People are very keen to have their pictures taken showing their profession. Flower sellers, for example, will hold up a string of flowers. The man featured in the photograph at the opening of this blog tracked us down outside the market and stood very stoically, plane in hand, requesting a photo. There he stands holding his tool. Will this be the picture passed down for generations, showing great-grand in the opening part of the 21st century? Millions of countless moments go unrecorded for these hard-working people. We are honored we can preserve a sliver of their lives.

City market is not the only place where slivers of life are captured. We have photos of workmen along popular M.G. Road, repairing a drainage canal not too far from the location of Winston Churchill’s old bungalow. As is the custom, all stand tall and smileless and wait for the snap.

For us, we have a wonderful collection of faces we can look at any time, faces we see each time we open the Picture folder on our hard drive, and remember when and where we were for a moment in time.


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