On my recent trip to the south of India, I managed to get hold of a bicycle and pedaled through villages outside of Pondicherry, to a great excitement of local population. Children and youngsters, especially, seemed to be taken by a sight of a tourist on a bike with a camera. “Picture, picture!”– this cheerful and insisting call I would hear again and again. At first, I thought the villagers wanted to get paid a little for posing for the shot. This presumption proved wrong. Far from expecting the tip, they were sincerely surprised at the offering of money. Even though normally I am hesitant to take pictures of people, here I ended up with a small portrait gallery.
These encounters, so characteristic of India, are a curious phenomenon – like a souvenir in reverse. The Westerners always try to take something from a journey, to get a possession of something local for a good memory. Those Indian teens, on the contrary, wanted to give away, prompting me to capture their images to bring them home with me. I remember one group demanding to see their digital picture, and once they were certain I had it in my camera, they seemed greatly satisfied. They got their souvenir!
Here is this image from the world’s most photogenic country, the gift from a fishermen’s village, the name of which I do not even know. I’d like to share it with everyone.