Sunday, 23 August 2009

India Seen Through Tinted Glass

I've just returned from a ten day trip to India. Sounds exciting? So it was. It was also rather unreal.

The trip was for business - and as such, more work than play. That wasn't the bad part, 'though (I've been on worse, hopping in and out of cities in the blink of an eye).

What made this trip so unreal is the fact that it was one of the most sheltered I've ever been on. I spent most of my time in air conditioned rooms or in air conditioned cars, being whisked through a dusty, noisy city teeming with life; reduced to a spectator observing the real life through the tinted glass of office, hotel or car windows.

So, if someone asks me, how was India, I have a hard time answering. India was out there - I wasn't.

My time in India - the real India - was reduced to two days - a Saturday and a Sunday. One day to explore Bangalore, the other to see old, historic Mysore with its palaces and temples. Two days wasn't time enough to get a grasp of the place - to come to terms with the newness or to see patterns. So all I glimpsed was chaos. A chaos that works somehow, I'm sure, but I didn't have time to find out how. I got but a sense of the colours (a good many of them, and the most cheerful aspect of India, I found), smells (again, a good many, many of them pleasant) and noise (most of which reduced to the constant honking of cars - not the most pleasant, but I did have time enough to get used to that). And people, of course; again, a good many, and again, mostly pleasant.

I've come back with but four rolls of films. I haven't had them developed yet, so I do not yet know how they turned out. I know that some will be terribly boring. I always take time to warm up to a new place - going first for shooting the obvious sights (in this case, above mentioned palaces and temples). I eventually turned to photographing people, something I enjoy doing, but I need to know first that it is ok with the people. When people stopped us to take photographs of us (even handing us their toddlers to pose with them), it was pretty obvious that being photographed was pretty much ok.

What I haven't photographed is the misery that is seemingly inherent in Indian life - the beggars, or the people living in hovels beside the shiny glass palaces. I've never felt comfortable with this sort of photography - it work for others, but I do not see myself as a photojournalist. I do like shooting the everyday situations, 'though, and I do hope I managed to capture some of this in the few pictures I took.

Meanwhile, while waiting for the Holga and Diana+ to be developed and scanned (which may be a while yet), here are a couple of pedestrian pics taken with the cell phone.