Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ganja Boys

At the stroke of midnight, one day last week, these cyclerickshaw-walahs were smoking kaya on a Madras pavement. The one on the left was in a particularly boisterous mood and started whistling and dancing a jig when I started making photographs…

For thousands like them, the pavement is their universe. You can see several generations of several families in clusters all over North Madras (where I grew up) and other poor pockets in the rest of the city. They live in the open and when it rains they huddle under the awnings of nearby shops or public buildings like schools and marriage halls.

The one defining characteristic of their lifestyle that springs to my mind is the periodic, high decibel, ganja and booze fuelled quarrels that break out between families. The protagonists are usually the women folk and the main topic of discussion during these quarrels is the sexual history of various members of the feuding families.

I learnt all the really colorful parts of my Tamil by listening to them as a child…

Monday, April 14, 2008

This too shall pass?

This regal octogenarian was quietly watching the world go by last Sunday at Ulsoor, Bangalore.

I approached him and asked if I could take his photograph. He looked at me for a few seconds and then with a wave of his hand said “Take as many photos as you want…”
After I had taken the photo he quizzed me about (1) Where I lived (2) Where I worked (3) Whether I was married (4) Where my parents lived and (5) My caste.

I provided a verbal, 5 minute resume and was bidding goodbye to him when a young chap ran up and asked “Uncle, why you taking my grandfather’s photo?”

“Coz’ he looks good,” I replied, with a smile. “In fact, he looks better than you do!”

“Then you take one photo of me also with him!”
He commanded his grandfather to pose with him, and after the photo was taken, pointed out his house to me and made me promise to bring him copies of the photos.

Purveyor of Destinies

This guy has been purveying dreams and destinies with his sci-fi assistant for about ten years at this spot on Mount Road, Madras.

The board in Tamil reads “Computer Astrology Rs.5”. (“Computer” has been transliterated.)

You pay him Rs.5 and name your star sign. He hands you a headset which you put on and you can listen to a recorded message detailing what the future has in store for you.

From the look on the face of this young customer, the message is probably inspirational. If it helps him face the rest of the day – or the rest of his life – with a spring in his step and a song on his lip, then why not?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Friendly Neighborhood Bespoke Tailor

Internet Banking, Cheap Airfares, Million Rupee Paypacks, Chilean Wines and Italian Cheeses, Lifestyle Diseases and Aspirational Angst...seem to have left this guy unscathed, though! Harrington Road, Madras.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Random Images from Bangalore

This cobbler from Tamil Nadu told me that he had been plying his trade for the last 30 years at more or less the same spot on CMH Road. I intend to do a small video of his manual magic someday.

This was near Ulsoor. I believe that the cart is a ceremonial "chariot" used for temple processions. The able bodied gentleman and a couple of his friends had "borrowed" it for a little moonlight transportation service.

I love dogs.

I also love tigers and hawks and sharks, I guess. But dogs, man….. I simply LOVE the creatures and I think they love me too. I have made friends with weird, neurotic canine bastards at 2 in the morning on strange deserted streets, I've met totally lovable ones and dainty doggies and haughty ones too. And I do believe that I communicate at a special level with dogs. Look at this Bengalooru St. Bernard looking at me, for example. I met her off Bannerghata Road…..Tia is her name, her seedy looking ‘owner” told me. May she live long and live happy.