Mother of Bangkok

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Bangkok street at around midnight near Soi Cowboy.

F2.2, ISO 2500, SS 1/15th sec – we were walking at midnight after a few beers and I didn’t realize at the time that my Canon 6D could have handled ISO 6000 giving me a faster SS / more clarity.

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Jack

Jack

I met “Jack” in Bay Terrace Point, Durban where he was begging. He happily posed for a number of photos.

Canon South Africa 6D from Orms, Canon EF 17–40mm lens , F5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 100. Taken in full sun at 07:56 and later darkened in PP. — at Bay Terrace.

India 2014: Two Faces of India

It’s been two months since we returned from India and the last five weeks or more have seen very little of the multiple photos that I took. I suppose what sparked my interest on Thursday, 12 February 2015 was a chat I had was a local/South African Indian businessman who was off to Dubai and Malaysia. I asked him if he had ever been to India and was sure I knew the answer before he gave it. He replied in the negative confirming my suspicions.

I asked him why he had never visited India, the country of his roots, and he told me what a number of other local persons have told me “It is very dirty and poverty stricken isn’t it?” Once again I went to great lengths to explain all sides of the coin as I know best from having visited India on three occasions during the past six years or so.

The first photo that caught my eye, one I have previously presented, was taken at night in Colaba outside Leopold Café. I named this photo “Blue Nights”. In this photo a mother or perhaps grandmother is seen holding a young child and asking for money.

On two occasions whilst walking on the streets during the day, we were approached by a mother with a young child who pointed at a nearby store and tried to convince us that she did not want money but baby food from the store. She followed us into the store and the shop owner even confirmed her story to be true.

Blue Nights

 

We suspected that this was a ploy to relieve us of our money, a portion of which would be returned to the mother once we left the shop and the shop owner would keep his cut. Of course our suspicions could be very wrong.

The second photo that grabbed my attention the next evening was taken early morning shortly after sunrise on the side of a canal on the Kerala Backwaters.

The green rice fields of prominent in the photo and the large long backwater canal is out of the picture, raised a metre or two above the rice field, to the left.

Kerala Dawn

The two photographs are collectively called “Two Faces of India”, but should perhaps be called two of many faces of India.

India 2014: Day on the Run

It was one of our days in Mumbai that I pulled a fast one and ask the ladies if they wanted to go shopping the entire day and not be disturbed; they replied in the positive and were very excited. However, there were two rules: use your own money and I’m not joining you.

I set off on foot to explore the length and breadth of Colaba armed with my Canon 6D. We walked passed chaps selling books on the pavement and I made a mental note to return the next day (incidentally I did and purchased three Jack Reacher books secondhand for about ZAR 20 each).

My mission was to go to Camera Gulley, a small area littered with many camera shops. I found it but kept my money for Orms (orms.co.za) back home: nothing really grabbed me. However, some of the shops had really ancient cameras hanging in the window on display.

After that it was Bel Puri from a very busy vendor on the side of the road. My attention was drawn to this vendor as I witnessed students trying to climb over each other to get a dish. I stood up against a wall and ate my lunch trying hard to not drop curry gravy onto my camera.

I then trundled off for coffee at the nearby Starbucks where I ate up the free WiFi and drank a cup of coffee. On the way home I met up with the gentleman in the inserted photo. Like most persons begging on the road he was friendly after a small donation and fully supported our impromptu photo shoot.

This is the first post from my Lenovo tablet, a present that I bought for myself. It has proved super useful in getting me reading books again (free online reader).

image

India 2014: Christmas Cheer Dharavi

It is Christmas morning and I am full of cheer. The irritation has passed.

I don’t know whether it was people asking really silly attention seeking questions on some Facebook pages (where they could Google the answer in the time it took them to write their drivel), the seemingly higher percentage of beggars in South Africa compared to Mumbai or Apartheid still being blamed for everything presently wrong in South Africa and up until doomsday, that has irritated me the most in the past two weeks. On the other hand it could just be that I’m becoming a really grumpy old man.

Was it the “converted” beggar at my neighbourhood traffic lights (now selling goods instead of begging) or the joy of the people I passed in Dharavi (large slum in Mumbai) a few weeks back that countered this irritation and strengthened my hope?

I’m not sure but I am very sure that not one person asked us for money when we casually glided around Dharavi. I never saw any beggars but saw loads of smiles, joy and many people getting about their daily business (work and study) with much vigour. On at least three occasions I was invited to take persons’ photos.

Wikipedia advises “Dharavi has an active informal economy in which numerous household enterprises employ many of the slum residents. It exports goods around the world. Leather, textiles and pottery products are among the goods made inside Dharavi by the slum residents. The total annual turnover has been estimated at over US$500 million. Dharavi has a high population density, and as with other worldwide slums, overcrowded. It is mostly low rise structures surrounded by Mumbai city. There is a disagreement if Dharavi is the largest slum in Mumbai. Some sources claim other slums in Mumbai have grown to become larger than Dharavi. Other sources disagree, and rank Dharavi as the largest slum in India.

Dharavi has experienced a long history of epidemics and natural disasters, sometimes with significant loss of lives. The first plague to devastate Dharavi, along with other settlements of Mumbai happened in 1896, when nearly half of the population perished. A series of plagues and other epidemics continued to affect Dharavi, and Mumbai in general, for the next 25 years, with high rates of mortality. Dysentery epidemics have been common throughout the years and explained with the low population density of Dharavi. Other epidemics reported include typhoid, cholera, leprosy, amoebiasis and polio, through recent years. For example, in 1986, a children cholera epidemic was reported, where most patients were residents of Dharavi. Typical patients to arrive in hospitals were in late and critical care condition, and the mortality rates were abnormally high. In recent years, cases of drug resistant tuberculosis have been reported in Dharavi.

Fires and other disasters are common. For example, in January 2013, a fire destroyed many slum properties and caused injuries. In 2005, massive floods caused deaths and extensive property damage.

Given my knowledge of South Africa and particularly Durban some of the facts above do not make sense.

Should Dharavi’s residents rather not be sitting back and only playing the blame game instead of going balls to the wall to do what they can with what they’ve got right where they are?

Or maybe the people are mostly doing what the one resident stated in the National Geographic article link below “You see. The Ganesh is undamaged. This is our talent. We deal with what is.”

Perhaps dealing with “what is” instead of “what should have been” makes the difference.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/05/dharavi-mumbai-slum/jacobson-text

To end off I read another article by The Guardian which stated “Dharavi, at the centre of Mumbai, is a world in itself, a treasure of skilled labourers that the outside world is largely unaware of. Among the clusters of beehive hutments are about 20,000 small-scale manufacturing units.”

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/nov/25/dharavi-mumbai-mini-factories-slum

The inserted photo was taken at the foot of the railway bridge leading over the lines into Dharavi where they deal with what is and not what should have been! This is a huge part of my Christmas cheer this morning.

Wishing all of you a very merry Christmas.

#inspiredbydharavi #workhard #dealwithwhatis

Christmas Cheer Dharavi