Some experiences stick with you forever…….or I hope they do.
One of them happened to me on a Jim Cline Photography Tour in India in March. We traveled to Anandpur Sahib, Punjab near Pakistan to photograph the Hola Mahalla Festival. This is a really big deal for the Sikhs and specifically the Nihang people who are the members of the army known for their distinctive blue traditional robes and dumala turbans.
I will share more about the Hola Mahalla Festival and the Nihangs in a future blog post.
This post is about a special moment. We were hanging out in an area where the Nihangs were camped. We called them “the blue guys.” They were the soldiers who gathered once a year to show off their military prowess making wonderful subjects for photography.
I learned on this trip that as a street photographer, a technique for getting good images is to find a place with a great back ground and then wait for something or someone to happen in front of it. Kinda like this.
I wasn’t very good at it. Whether I have a painfully short attention span or too much curiosity about what might be happening close by, I found it hard to stay and patiently wait for the “decisive moment” as the famous photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, often called the father of Photojournalism, called it.
And when someone did show up or something happened, I sometimes got rattled and rushed my shots, making the mistake of cutting off heads or feet or not positioning the subject following the rule of thirds, one of the photo techniques I was learning. Frequently I missed the correct focus spot or a framing opportunity.
Hopefully, I will learn from this and get better. Fortunately I had a great time and enjoyed the experience of learning and improving.
Let’s get back to the special moment.
So, while we were hanging there, looking for the perfect shot, angle and light, this very old man kept touching me on the shoulder and pointing away from the group, around campfires and the trucks that people we sleeping in.
Being a fairly cautious person and a little nervous in a place here I didn’t speak the language and at that point neither of our Tour Leaders were in sight, I was hesitant to wander off, but eventually I followed him.
I did think to myself, “Well, if I’m being lead off to the sex trade, it will at least be a new experience I’d never forget.”
But soon I discovered what he wanted to share with me. My new Indian friend lead me to the entrance of an Ashram and gently made motions with his hand and mouth indicating I could eat there.
So sweet. The Sikhs are known for their kindness and for their practice for feeding people (more about their massive kitchen in Amristar in an upcoming blog post). They operate free kitchens in their temples and ashrams.
He wanted me to eat. This dear man was inviting me to share a meal.
I was sorry I couldn’t communicate that we’d be eating when we got back to our camp, but that I really appreciated his kindness. I smiled and tried to thank him for his kind offer.
This is what I love about travel. Whether on a special photo tour like this one or on a normal vacation trip, opportunities exist to interact with and share kindnesses with people in a variety of cultures. In a troubled world, these special moments are to be treasured.
For more images from the trip, go to trip Photo Leader’s blog. http://karlgrobl.com/blog/
Stay tuned to DesignDestinations.org for more of my experiences.