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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The People-Pictures Problem

I admit, I'm a bit "backward in coming forward" when it comes to taking pictures of strangers.  I've missed out on so many great images because I'm helplessly British and don't want to intrude.  Yes, I'm one of "those" photographers, the ones who pretend to be taking a picture of something other than the stranger they really want to capture, the ones whose lenses swivel away at the slightest flicker of eye contact.  There's a pretty high ratio of backs to fronts in my people pictures.

It's compounded by me not liking to have my own picture taken.  Nearly every single picture of me has me sporting a rictus smile and an I'd-rather-be-anywhere-else attitude.  Hence "random pictures with white people" is a bit of a nightmare for me and I must be projecting that dislike of being photographed on the people I don't capture.  Of course, I'm wrong about that, some people love being photographed.

I enjoy taking pictures of people and my workplace is full of portraits and candids I've captured, but I know the people and I'm taking the pictures in an official capacity.  I also stand at the side of the road taking pictures of people on motorbikes and bicycles.  Moving targets are fine.  See, I'm working on my problems bit by bit.

So how come, given my debilitating condition, is this post full of pictures of people happily posing for me?  Simple really, they asked me to take their pictures so I was "official".  I was traipsing about the streets of Pondy when the two girls above shyly asked me to take their picture.  They were part of a group about to board a ramshackle tourist bus and they wanted their visit documented. Since there wasn't a camera or cell phone between the lot of them I was the next best thing and so the photoshoot happened.  We attracted a crowd and literally stopped traffic.

They were a grand bunch and we all had a good time, I'm only sorry I couldn't get an address out of them to post them some of the pictures.

Now to work on asking permission...

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

There's something very Vietnamese going on in Pondicherry

I went to  Pondicherry to scope out a bit of French influence and found it along with a surprising Vietnamese flavour.  I was working on two way influences, in the way that India brought Britain "shampoo" and "pajamas" while Britain left potatoes* and Gothic buildings.

Really I shouldn't have been surprised, after all the French Colonies stretched all the way to Vietnam but I hadn't banked on the cross pollination within the Colonies. I spent four years in Vietnam before moving to India and here I present my little slice of VietnoFrancoIndo Pondicherry:

Pondicherry French style street signs
 Typical street signs, very French and seen all over the old IndoChine empire.  The one on the left made me laugh a lot as it's a very rude phrase in Vietnamese.  This specific shade of yellow matched with white is also common in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia but did it come from France or was it adopted by the French?

Show this picture to anyone in Vietnam and ask them to guess what country it was from and I guarantee they would say "Vietnam".  Reclaiming the streets with ranks of plants is almost the law and not something that I have seen much outside of Vietnam.

The Lotte Choco Pie is so popular in Vietnam that I know some people who believe it IS Vietnamese (it's Korean),  it seemed right to see them on sale in Pondicherry.  British readers, think "wagon wheels".  Of course the Indian version has the green vegetarian dot on the packaging.

You get pretty used to the usual range of things for sale in tourist shops so it comes as a bit of a surprise to see the usual kind of thing offered in Vietnam on sale in India.

This is a Vietnamese house.  It could have been picked up in Saigon complete with the paint finish and dropped in Pondicherry.  It's four stories tall, narrow in front and deep.  It takes up the entire plot with only a tiny yard at the front, there are balconies on each floor a roof terrace on top and, to make it undoubtedly Vietnamese, parking for motorbikes on the ground floor.  I would put money someone who lives in this house being named Nguyen.

Now this could all be because I've spent a lot longer in Vietnam than I have in France but it's got me wondering about the Vietnamese influence on Pondicherry and cross influences in general.  I feel a google search coming on.

EDIT ; an interesting little article appeared in The Hindu newspaper looking at connections with Vietnam and Pondicherry.  Read it here

*I'm taking a guess at the potato but it does seem likely... or was it the Portuguese?

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Postcards from Pondy

Pondicherry is a beach town with a town beach and where you get a beach in a town you get couples getting a bit of private time and an ice cream seller ready to be woken and sell his wares.

pondicherry, puducherry, lighthouse, blue sky
A lighthouse and blue skies on the promenade.  The weather was hot and dry as the monsoon starts about a month later than in Mumbai.

The street dogs look as though they're having a good laugh at something but are just panting to keep cool,  I could relate.

I enjoyed Pondy, it has a laid back atmosphere and yes, I could see the French influence and cross pollination from other parts of the Inochine empire.  There was good food and coffee and friendly people and cheap wine too.

There are more pictures to come but I'm working on a dongle at the moment and subsequently slowed down so it'll be little and often on the blog for a wee while longer.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Beautifying options

menicure and penicure in Indian beauty salon
Not the best quality picture I've ever taken.  It was snapped from a moving car on a camera phone in the rain but I couldn't miss the opportunity of capturing the fabulous range of services available in this saloon.

Friday, 5 July 2013

The view with Woo

In order to fit in as many people as possible Mumbai is a high rise city. Typically modern buildings are seen either from a distance as part of a skyline or by looking up at them.  The look even taller when you see them from the top down and since I'm temporarily in a position to do that I thought I would share. 

I couldn't quite fit in the entire building but this is what we call the "Woo View"