Monday, January 23, 2012

When the circle completes, (but) in a wrong way!

Scenario 1:

It was July of 2007, when I became a member of a small expedition group to find an elusive bird - Laterite Rock Bush Quail in the scrubby and plain areas of Marikanive, near Chitradurga. Subbu sir, Sudhir Shivaram and self were there for three days looking for a bird which was sighted last time by Dr.Salim Ali in the 1940s. That particular sub specie of Rock Bush Quail was always believed to be living around that place but there was no recent evidence for its existence in the present time. We were there to bring a photographic evidence for its existence and some preliminary data about its present state.

The area was largely consisted of brick red or near maroonish soil - laterite soil. Along with rest of the photographs of some of the bird species found in the area, I had made some images of the landscape of the region which included the laterite soil to give the image a context. It was purely from the documentation perspective. After coming back I had shared that image on India Nature Watch (INW).

It was July 2007.

CLICK HERE to see the image on INW.

Scenario 2:

It was on Jan 14th, 2012. I was in a school in RPC Layout where I had been asked to be one of the persons to judge a photography competition conducted as a part of an annual event of Havyaka people in Bangalore called Pratibimba. We were given a classroom where we arranged all the images on desks before we started evaluating them.

After deciding on the winning images, I was looking around in the classroom as there were few charts hanging on the walls which were done by some of the students. They were interesting and made me remember my schooldays when we were also used to prepare these kinds of charts and posters to decorate (!) the walls of the classroom. It was an in-explainable pleasure at those days to see our charts on the wall. Nice feeling it was. I went nostalgic looking at some of those charts in the room.

My eyes went to a chart on 'Types of soils in India'. Hmm...Interesting one, I thought. I started reading the chart and that's when the photo of the Laterite Soil gave me a feeling of deja vu! I stared at it for quite some time and it took me really some time to believe that it was my photo, which I shot during my Marikanive trip and subsequently shared on India Nature Watch! Wow! (not an expression for this moment though)

The picture was pasted there on the chart after cutting it from either some book or some chart which is available commercially somewhere. It has been put to use for commercial purpose by some one who just doesn't care about intellectual property and looking for free source in the internet to make their living!

My friend Harsha Bhat, who was with me while I was staring at the picture was totally dumbstruck when I showed him the original photo in my mobile.

The image has completed a full circle - from being in my mind before I tripped the shutter, then to my camera, then to my hard disk, then to the internet, then to some print media (with some revenue to it) and finally here I was standing in front and staring at it in total bewilderment!

The circle was completed, but in a very wrong way.

Thanks Shreenidhi for the photograph.

Sad and no cheers,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Two men

When I heard them playing a harmonium and tabla along with the song, I was having my lunch. It was 2:15 on a Saturday afternoon and the heat was intense outside, very unlikely for a winter afternoon. I had come to home by taking a small break from a function and to take my mom.

The duo was going to each home in the street and singing a couple of lines of a song with a near perfect music from the equipment that they were carrying. I observed them for sometime and they seemed not bothered about how much money people were giving. They were hardly looking at the coin or a currency note. They were just stretching their hands, if at all anyone came outside the home to give them something. Otherwise they didn't bother to call anyone and were moving forward.

I couldn't resist myself from jumping out of my dining chair to grab my camera. I hate stopping people just to pose for me. When I am doing people photography or travel photography I prefer to work silently and do not prefer to ask people to pose for my photograph. Hence I wanted to be there near my gate before they get past my home.

When I went to the gate one of the guys with a blue face was just turning around from the home opposite to my home. A silent smile passed by on his face and he greeted me in an elegant manner and said "Namaskara". I dont know why but his smile and gesture touched me. It was very hot outside. The tar on the road was equally hot and here was a guy, in thick makeup and bare foot, who seems so oblivious to all these external uncomforts and smiling and greeting me in a dignified manner as if he was performing in a drama and I am his co-actor on stage! I was deeply moved!

By seeing a camera in my hand the other person also joined this guy and before I telling them anything they silently stood there. I clicked exactly 5 frames before I gave them some money and walked back to home. It was a silent affair. Within a minute everything was over and they were on their way ahead and so was I.

Back at home my mother told me that she has been seeing these kinds of makeup-men during some festival time and told me that doing such things are part of tradition in some community. She told that she will not get surprised even if they both were having a job or doing some business and doing this at this time of the year (around Sankranti) just to keep the tradition alive! I had heard stories of people going like this singing to keep their age old tradition during some particular time of the year but seeing someone fully dressed up as if he is about to go on stage was something which shook me completely. By looking at the way they were treating the people who came forward to give something, in fact, indicated that what my mother was telling may not be wrong. And she was confident about that!

Three days after the event when I looked back at those five photographs today and think, I really find some unknown feelings in myself. A little more thinking with their perspective of the whole act made me realize that what my mother was telling could actually be true. The two men were there to continue their tradition, which was not born out of any superstition but out of a sheer motive to beat the greatest enemy of man - the ego.

They were fighting a battle and I was seeing all the indications of them winning it!