Morning tea and twilight photography with stove makers
Did you ever wake up at 4 am to knock at the doors of someone for an early morning shoot ? Well, There was practically no door, since we were shooting nomads who made a temporary home for themselves by the road. But we reached there before dawn, when most of the people were still were under the blankets and some were warming themselves by firewood . The reason for an early shoot, we wanted to get the right tones of blue and red in twilight and also to capture how does the morning starts for the nomads of Gujarat.
The settlement was on highway in Somnath, Gujarat and it was a family of approximately 10 members traveling together to sell the iron stoves. It always amazes me the variety of jobs people do in India and they also make a decent living out of it. My work as a Travel photographer seems much more mainstream when I meet such people. And this business is not new for them, it is being passed over the generations. There could be a time soon, when people stop using these iron stoves or called ‘Chulha’ when LPG reaches to every household, but I guess it is going to take a couple of more decades or more.
Being a woman, I always get an advantage of easy access and being close to women and children. Thankfully, I look harmless to people,and they welcome me in their homes and lives , at times invite me for tea and lunch. It also gives me access to interesting stories and deeper insights in the life of women. And some times a typical scene of most of the households in India; the women cook, and the men watch and wait.
What kept me engaged throughout the shoot is their unique features, traditions and jewellery. The women are extremely conscious about beauty, their tattoos surely have a story to tell peeping out from the colourful dresses. And what kept me worried more is the smoke coming out of their stove. I always wonder how harmful it is for the women, and also children who are mostly lingering with their mothers.
Also read about the bull seller nomads of Gujarat- Have bulls, will travel
The grandfather is still in bed, and enjoying his morning smoke while I sip my tea. This picture reminded me of my childhood days when I had to gather all the courage to go closer to grandpa and make a request about something. There is a hesitation, a mix of fear and respect in the gesture of this little girl which we all would have felt at some point of time if you belong to a middle class Indian family.
Their traditional ways of life are reflected in the tiny details, from utensils to their tooth brush. These are sticks of neem, called ‘datoon’ in local lingo which are supposedly very effective way to keep your teeth clean, if only you can tolerate the bitterness.
And finally the morning tea, which is a common drink keeping Indians united. I remember I had tea almost 4 times while shooting this family. They don’t use cup or glasses for drinking the tea, It is usually a plate of steel. And they would keep pouring as soon as you finish the first serving. Can’t get better than this in a cold morning.
Grandmother felt extremely shy when the daughters and daughter-in-laws insist her for a picture. If you notice her golden tooth, which is again a common trait among Gujarati nomads.
Well, not just the tooth, they also wear designer golden chains. Don’t assume that they don’t have enough money if they are sleeping by the road; they are definitely rich with an unique life style which seemed interesting enough to photograph and write about.
Did you get the chance to peep into lives of nomads? I would like to hear.