When we stop and take stock of what is happening throughout the world today with all the economic pressures and the mixture of recent disasters, including earth quakes, flooding, unique and extreme weather conditions, we may excuse the gloom and doom we see every day in the faces of our fellow human beings. As I sit and watch the global news channel on my television, my heart goes out to many of these people and before long I feel myself engulfed in their tragedies. Then I get myself ready and step out of the door only to encounter a beaming smile of a young woman……..
Why is it that the people I meet in India can rise above challenges and still find the time to smile and have fun, if only many of the other cultures I have encountered could learn from this fun loving enchanting nation.
As I walk down the street I find the laughter and smiles infectious and before long I find it easy to temporarily forget about the troubles elsewhere in the world. Is joyfulness inbred in the whole of the Indian culture or am I just fortunate to stumble upon positive and exultant individuals?
Throughout my extensive travels in India I have had the opportunity to capture images of people through my camera lens regardless of age, gender, or status, many having fun. While in Mumbai I watched some young boys riding their bike across the beach into the sunset, ignorant to what was happening elsewhere in the world, the most important fixation at that moment being who could do the best ‘wheelie’ on their bike. The two monks in Coorg enjoy their precious spare time riding round the town on their motor scooter, a huge smile dominating one of the monks face, what a prized moment to capture. I watched the boy playing happily chasing a spare wheel with a stick, along the river side, not even aware of people around him, totally lost in his own game. I stopped to reminisce about the children back home, no longer did we see children playing with make shift toys but youngsters on sparkling new bicycles or with expensive toys, still keeping themselves amused but were they any happier than this young lad with his makeshift toy? I doubt it!
So now I was on a mission to capture those fleeting moments and tell the story and emotions through my photography. As I strolled along the beach it was impossible not to get pulled into the enjoyment that surrounded me. I became as equally amused when watching the young man experiment with his bubbles as he was blowing them. The group of youngsters laughing at each other’s jokes as they strolled along the edge of the beach had not a care in the world. The young girl laughing out a loud at the jokes and tales the family were sharing bought a smile to my face. I watched the young couple in love walking hand in hand the tranquillity surrounding them obvious for all to see.
The young man wore his sunglasses with pride not aware that the reflections of the gaiety surrounding him were visual on his lens. So here I was capturing the atmosphere of this fun day using my camera lens by photographing the boys lens on his sunglasses……….. It was easy to find such emotions walking along the beach, a typical place for everyone to let their hair down and enjoy the freedom of merriment. Was I going to find the same emotions in the more remote regions of India or would some of the hardship that surrounded some of these people shadow their happiness and quell their high spirits?
As I looked back over some of my travel experiences I soon realized that regardless to where you were in India you came across the enchanted smile. On visiting Araku Valley and the tribal people I felt that smiles were a permanent fixture. Having finished a hard day’s work the man was relaxed and happy to share a drink with a special friend. The women working in the coffee plantations displayed a continuous smile. The excitement in one of the tribal villages was fascinating as they prepared for the village dance that was taking place that evening. The whole village was alive with happiness. It no longer mattered to the villagers if they were doing mundane or heavy physical work; they had captured the spirit of the forthcoming event and were cultivating it during their daily work.
Although a young woman was battling against the traffic on her bicycle she still could not conceal a smile that lit up her face. Lost in her own thoughts she was still able to reflect on happy times. The wide smile across the Rickshaw drivers face only added to my amazement of again how rich and amazing this incredible country really is. Darjeeling was no exception to the rule, the women working in the tea plantations were full of fun shouting and bantering between themselves. The females I encountered walking along the road side carrying their heavy bundles, still found the strength to smile, making their load look much lighter than it really was.
It is all too easy to put a smile onto your face to please others but how many times do we try and smile but it never reaches our eyes? What I have observed during my travels is the genuine emotions that are exposed for all to see if you look carefully and closely. To capture these emotions takes time and patience, but is well worth the wait. You can read more about my perceptions and experiences and why I choose to capture the images that I do in my travels, in further editions of Asian Photography. Please visit my website www.ellejephotography.com to see more of my portrayals.