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Some notes on Indian culture: photography

Although our trip was primarily a wildlife-orientated one, it would have been impossible to visit India without being affected by the people and culture. India is nothing if not vibrant and warm. I once read in a photography book warnings about photographing the local people in some countries, for fear of being arrested or worse. It said that in India, the risk was of being squashed by all the people crowding to get into the picture, and this was certainly my experience, particularly in the village of Junia. As more and more people crowded to get into my camera, I backed off dutifully to get them all in, but they just came forward towards me - all in good spirit! I started with the compact camera which I was carrying. It was late afternoon and the flash was going off. When the film ran out, I reached for my SLR, with faster slide film in it, and a faster lens. The crowd seemed upset that it didn't have a flash! When they felt I had done them proud, I was taken to see the local weaver in his workshop, to make sure I took his photo too!

Sikh Festival

Another experience was in Bharatpur town, when we were heading towards the reserve. We were held up by a large Sikh festival parade, which was obviously going to take some time to pass through. So I got out of the bus, and went over to see if there were any photos to be made. An older man signalled to me not to take photographs. Disappointedly, I complied not wanting to cause offence. But when the main 'float' of the parade came closer, the man split the crowd to let me through and stood me right in the middle of the road in front of the approaching 'principals' to take my photos, to the cheers of the very large audience!
Panj Pyare
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