“I noticed that besides curiosity, there was a sense of apprehension in their voices, a freckle of insecurity, a tinge of fear,” writes Tuhin.
“In my dream I’m always
in a massacred town, its name
erased from maps,
no road signs to it.
Only a wrong turn brings me here
where only the noon sun lives.”
— Agha Shahid Ali
A friend often frowns that since I come from a place as serene as Shillong, how it is that I’m beginning to like Bangalore. I might’ve mentioned to her that I intend to live here for the next few years at least, so her concern is only logical. Often, our conversation would end with her question always being the same, although her tone more urgent each time. “Why? Why Bangalore?” And most times, I’d hang up without answering.
The theme of last month’s photo-walk I went on was supposed to be Abstract and Patterns. But I’d resolved to capture the sentiments of the people rather than the focusing on the structures around. I decided my itinerary. I started from Abhinay Theatre slowly moving into Avenue Road to the Sunday Bazaar and finally returning from the Chikpete Metro Station.
As usual, as I began to capture the streets, eyes ogled back at me like a myth at its civilization. “Are you a journalist?” “What are you shooting?” “Why are you shooting?” “I saw a group of people there at the square clicking pictures together. Is there something wrong?” While I kept answering their questions politely with a wry smile on my face reassuring them that things were absolutely fine, I noticed that besides curiosity, there was a sense of apprehension in their voices, a freckle of insecurity, a tinge of fear.
As I kept clicking, I kept wondering how grave are our times? How hopeless? My thoughts, though, were soon shoved away by the energetic demeanour of the people swarming on the streets, the shopkeepers, hawkers, peddlers. Everyone was trying to make the most out of their Sunday Bazaar.
I was offered watermelons, mangoes, and bananas just to click a nice photograph of them. While I kept saying no, I did gladly accept a glass of fresh sugarcane juice; the noon sun was approaching. After all, the best part of street photography is the life in it, its people with their predicaments and stories. On my way back as I was skimming through the pictures I had taken, one line by Susan Sontag kept striking me –
“To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed.”
I haven’t had another conversation with that friend of mine, not after the photo-walk anyway. But I think the next time I do, I won’t hang up without an answer, “Because Bangalore feels like the only urban city I can live in and not go mad.”
Tuhin Bhowal is an aspiring writer and photographer.
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