While wandering around aimlessly in South India with my camera in tow, on the look out for my next subject, I walked through a parking lot where many Hindu pilgrims had settled. They travel in large groups with lots of baggage. Usually they are very excited and happy. Maybe it is their religious fervor or just being on a holiday that gives them this air of enormous pleasure.
From afar I spotted the woman with the bold white mark of Shiva on her forehead. I was instantly drawn to her. Smiling, I walked toward her. It’s very likely that she never had an interaction with a foreigner and she, too, smiled back. Using sign language, I asked if I could take her photograph. Before I knew it, her female entourage surrounded me. All of them eagerly allowed me to photograph them.
The people of India are very friendly and almost never mind being photographed by me. I do struggle with the dilemma of being photographed by them! Today, everyone has a cell phone with a camera and is click-crazy. I resent their intrusion into my quietude and the manner in which the picture is “stolen.” I am rarely consulted. Sometimes it feels like a hunted animal with a gun pointing at me instead of a camera, usually in the case of groups of young men. Have you ever experienced this sort of taunting? How do you handle it? Naturally, I walk away and forget about it as best I can but it leaves a bitter after taste.
For the most part, a smile works wonders. It has the power to break down barriers and create instant friendships. Smiling feels good too.