An unexpected day with unexpected photos.
Updated: May 14, 2019
An organised day out for foreign tourists that resulted in us being paraded around a local village with celebrity status.
We were travelling through Rajasthan with the intention of ending our trip in Chittorgarh, a place famous for its fort, but on advice from a fellow traveller we decided to make it a day trip, as apart from the fort, there isn’t a great deal to do there. Much to our delight we were made aware of a tourist day trip to Chittorgarh for the premier of the Chittorgarh Fort festival with free return transport, ideal!
It was 7:30am and we were on a minibus filled with 16 foreign tourists all with the same expectations, that we would be dropped at the fort and collected in the evening, however this was as far away from what happened as possible. After a 2 hour bus journey we had arrived in Chittorgarh and with a local driver who was telling us little, we were all a bit confused, especially when we stopped in the town and were informed that we would be taking a ‘village safari’.
The first giveaway that this wasn’t going to be the day we expected was the fact that we were walking with a police escort, through the narrow village streets, being waved at from either side by locals who appeared to be extremely excited that we were there. As we were walking down the road, all looking a little confused by what we were experiencing we started to hear music playing, people shouting and then we saw the hordes of people waiting at the end of the road, “they can’t be waiting for us can they? No, surely not?! Oh, wait, they are indeed waiting for us”.
One of the cart drivers
This is where it all started. Within minutes we were drowning in flower garlands that had been placed around our neck, before being ushered onto the back of a cart so we could be paraded through the streets. We were met by flashing cameras, people singing, dancing, wanting selfies and shaking our hands. After having traditional hats placed on us and being served what seemed to be a milk-based drink, we soon had lifejackets on and were being rowed around a little lake being watched by a big crowd, and filmed by what we think were local news. After our quick circuit of the lake, we were back on dry land, being led through a market where local tradesmen and women were exhibiting their incredible talents.
The crowds that gathered to watch our private boat ride
One of the local craftsmen
Then before we knew it, we were sat down in the roaring sun amongst the other as equally confused tourists about to tuck into a vegetarian thali (a selection of sweet/savoury snacks) consisting of much more food than any sane human being could eat in one sitting. The day had quickly flown by, the sun was setting and we were finally exploring the fort that we had all made this journey for. After a private tour, the sun had set and communal yawns showed we were ready to go home... or not.
One of my favourite shots from the fort that night
We had been informed that there was a famous Bollywood singer with an Instagram following exceeding 1 million, performing at a local arena - worth a visit we thought. I would say this next bit was extremely unexpected, but at this stage that’s all we were expecting. Again, we were chauffeured through the crowds, but this time to a VIP area, made up of sofas, which we were shown to so that we could enjoy the show. Surely this was how we would see the night out, and it was, until our guide had a conversation with a lady and before we knew it we were on stage, as back up dancers for this extremely famous Bollywood singer in front of thousands of paying guests. To this day, it still doesn’t feel like it happened.
About 20 hours after we had woken up, the weirdest 20 hours of my life, we were back at our hostel. So that was the unexpected day, but how does this relate to photography? It does, and I promise I’ll be quick (if you’re still reading, thank you, I won’t keep you much longer). The amount of cameras, both film and photography that day were insane, as was the number of people present. This could only mean one thing; street photography was on the cards - a day of refining my portait photography. The thought of asking someone who can’t speak your language if you can take their photo can be quite intimidating, but when they’re taking pictures of you without any attempt of gaining consent, it appeared fair game. So here is a selection of some of my favourite portraits taken on that day.
A very obliging policeman
Another very obliging policeman
An extremely happy chap
Thank you so much for reading, I promise to keep future blogs a lot shorter, but I thought this deserved to be explained in full.
Thanks again, until next time,