After the long series of posts on Goa, we’ve been back home again for a few weeks, and I’ve been able to join another photowalk. This time, it was to the part of Chennai known as “Triplicane”, which is one of the oldest parts of the city. Much of the city that became Madras and is now Chennai was established by the British; however, there were villages here long before the city, and Triplicane shows evidence of being one of the oldest, with a temple that dates to the 8th century.
What does a photowalk “look” like? Basically it’s about a dozen guys with cameras walking down the street snapping photos of nearly everything. I’m not sure why it’s always guys, but it is. Here are some images from the photowalk itself (another participant made the video):
I managed to get a lot of great shots (in my opinion, anyway!) and will share them below in this (rather long) post.
This first photo, the eyes of the two main subjects seem to tell a story that I’m not entirely sure is accurate. Nevertheless, the workers (both men and women) are involved in a construction project wherein the main task of the women is to carry heavy plastic bins full of stones and cement to the worksite. It’s backbreaking work, and note that working barefoot is quite common.
I don’t claim to know what is going on in this photo, other than this is a woman pouring milk over a religious statue while a cow looks on. I have never seen a female Hindu priest, but know that they exist; and offering milk to deities is a common practice. I just thought it interesting with the cow looking on.
Poverty in India continues to be a problem even as the country’s middle class grows. The elderly and disabled are frequent reminders of that poverty. All over Chennai, people have to find a place to sleep – often under “flyovers” (overpasses) but sometimes just on the sidewalks. Disabled people can be seen pushing their spouse around on a low cart from time to time. India is making huge progress, but some are inevitably left behind.
Everywhere we walked, there were men sitting on steps and ledges along the road, which looks generally like this:
It was explained to me that many of the men are day laborers hoping for work. I was told if they don’t work, they don’t eat.
Begging is not nearly as pervasive as one sees in other countries, though there are exceptions:
Walking along the route offered many interesting “street photography” candids of people doing what they do on a typical Saturday morning in Chennai.
I wonder about the young woman below. Women are often seen selling flowers strung into chains, near temples. Is this the life she faces for the next 30-40 years?
The woman below struck me because she was in a packed “diner” but was sitting on the floor having her breakfast, as there were no more chairs.
This woman runs what appeared to be a thriving vegetable stand. She has shaven her head, which can be a ritual for widows, but is also occasionally undertaken for other reasons, as described in this website.
The importance of the bicycle, in all its forms, cannot be underestimated in India. This fellow appears to have just purchased a load of hay from what appeared to be a residential location just behind him.
Bicycles also make a good subject for photography, when they’re just leaning against the wall. Or maybe this is just my Dutch blood. The others in my group were unimpressed. But a bicycle leaning against a wall is a story. How long has it been there? Where has its rider gone?
I spotted this guy on the way home. He had two “bundles” of chickens, one tied to each handlebar, for transport somewhere. I thought they were freshly killed as they were not struggling, and was horrified to see that they were all still alive, looking up at me! Makes you think about eating chicken in a whole new way…
Finally, I’ll leave you with this goat. This pink goat was tied up in front of a shop I didn’t immediately recognize as a meat shop – I just saw a pink goat. Because Diwali season is started, I asked my fellow photographer if there was any meaning associated with the pink goat? His response was, “Nope. It’s just a pink goat.”
To see a few more photos from this photowalk, you can click on this link.