Smiling for alms

Had plans to visit the trains one more time. We were encouraged by our last visit, by the freedom and by the opportunity to capture a moving world through our lenses in peace. We had too many people simply willing to pose.

This time however, it was different. Our luck wasn't as good. Firstly, I missed the alarm and woke up late. As a consequence, we had to miss the first train. The weather was fine and the journey interesting, but once we got down and took some shots in the platform, the police commisioner asked for us. A "hobby" like this was likely to be misinterpreted as terrorism, they said. Rather stereotype notions I would say. I mean, they had no clue what they were talking about. Perhaps they had seen something on television linking photography to terrorism, I guess. If someone would see our photos and was willing to explain how they could aid terrorism, I would be glad to listen and would be careful while taking our shots. Apparently, we were supposed to take some permission from some high commisioner of the Indian Railways for this part of the country if we were to take photographs. And this being India, such permissions are hard to come by. A lot of harassment and little results are quite inevitable.

During our conversation with the Police, they even raised a question of what our salaries were (which of course we would not talk about). And in doing so, clearly gave themselves away. I guess there is a resentment against "us", who apparently earn more than the average Indian (legally). There is always this divide, this us-and-them feeling which creates a rift in society. They do not even speak the national language well and English is out of the question. So, getting them to empathize with what we were doing, or at least having them understand was almost an impossible task.

So what started off as a promising day ended on a sour note. Our friend T, was visibly shaken. We were asked to delete our photos which we tried to avoid doing.

This was followed by brunch, which was an attempt to cheer us up as well. And after a long time, we took a bus back home. It was interesting indeed. A flippant conductor, and rather pushy passengers, that is what it was about. Amid it all, Adda even managed to grab a wink or two.

Last 18 shots in this album are from today.

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