Sharing some more general impressions from my neighborhood. I go walking around for 15 minutes and every time I come back and feel like I’m about to start reciting “And to Think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.” Today’s post is nowhere near as dramatic – but this is literally 15 minutes’ walking, and I come home with stories to tell.
I went to see this man down the street to pick up some jasmine – the pile of white flowers on the left. Molly likes them. Some people drape them over something because they smell nice – either in their house, at temple, or even the rearview mirror, and some women put it in their hair. Older people sit along the street with flowers they brought (see his bike cart in the background) and put the flowers on long strings. I should go out and see where they are grown. But that’s another day. So I held my arms out shoulder width to indicate how much I wanted, and not speaking a word of English he seemed to be asking if I wanted “one or two.” To explain, a “unit” of these flowers is the length from the vendors fingers to his elbow, which is how he measures it. So I gestured that I wanted “two” and he snipped off a length he measured by going from his thumb to his elbow twice. I gave him 100 rupees – about US $1.70 or so – and he very deliberately counted out four worn ten rupee notes. When I gave two back in exchange for this photo he grudgingly allowed me to take, I got a big smile.
I made a wrong turn and found this temple at the end of a dead-end street. The temple keepers wear a skirt-like garment of white linen plus a sort of shawl over the shoulder. They will often prepare the temple bare-chested. You can see his garments hanging to the right of the temple. So I’m walking down the street and the temple’s keeper passes me on a big motorcycle, with his upper garment flapping behind him. He was happy to let me take a photo of the temple, but did not want to be photographed himself.
Keiler has met these guys – I call them Ebony and Ivory. They are always asleep when I pass by – and the black one has the tip of his tongue sticking out. Lots of dogs running around the neighborhoods, but you rarely hear barking, none as far as I can tell are aggressive, and they’re all about the same size.
In addition to dogs, there are cows. There are no meadows. This is literally a somewhat upscale suburban neighborhood, and the cows just lie around where they want. This one was in what appeared to be his owner’s driveway (the guy was just out of sight) and two driveways farther was another. Do you think she looks better in black and white?
So I’m headed homeward, and a guy spots me with my camera and points excitedly at a billboard – not completely friendly, but not unfriendly. Just pushy. I had just taken a photo down the narrow walking street of a working-class neighborhood and he wanted me to go back. It seemed he wanted me to take a photo – not of the billboard, but of something else. “Left, left” he kept saying. A couple of teens who had greeted me asked “Why are you coming back?” “No idea” I responded, and followed.
Just around the corner he directed me to a small temple and made clear he wanted me to photograph him and the temple. He directed everyone to their places, and pedestrians walking by all had to stop while I snapped photos. Ironically, he is hiding behind the temple keeper on one photo, and just barely visible on the other. The temple keeper doesn’t look comfortable with the whole thing either.
We have arranged that I will drop off prints later in the week. But the whole episode, and some others today who really wanted copies of their pictures, has me thinking about picking up one of those “new” Polaroid or Fuji instant cameras for occasions like this.
I should comment more about the offering they encouraged me to photograph separately. If you’ve been checking in, you’ll recall something similar last week. The bulk of this is made of tiny flowers:
As a final thought I’ll share the billboard that started this discussion. After we left the temple, he brought me back to the road and had me photograph that as well.