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!



ರಾಜೇಶ್ ನಾಯ್ಕ said...

Dear Ashwini Kumar,

I liked this post very much. Doing it for the sake of tradition is something new that I heard. The fact that they were hardly looking at how much money was given proves the point your mother was making. Good that you went out and took their shots. Thanks for this post.

Santosh bs said...

Very interesting, never knew they do it otherwise too (than money).