Finding the magic

Thursday, April 14th, 2016
  • Indian wedding

    On the winding back streets of Jaipur between the Nahargarh Fort and the picturesque Jal Mahal water palace my curiosity has me looking for the source of loud Indian music that is echoing through the narrow dusty lanes and floating into the haze that hangs over the old city.

    Eventually, I find a small temporary structure from where the music is booming. I peek through a gap in the canvas wall and see women in vibrant colorful dresses dancing. It’s a wedding celebration, or at least, I think it is.

    The people inside see me and beckon me to join them. Clearly, they’re not going to take no for an answer as they open the gap in the wall and pull me inside. It’s a vibrant scene bursting with color and joy.

    I snap today’s picture and attempt to ask someone next to me if this is a wedding, but of course, none of the smiling faces around me can hear me, let alone speak English. Instead they all nod enthusiastically then literally drag me onto the little dance floor taking my camera from my hand and motioning that they will take pictures of me dancing!

    A round of applause erupts as a man, the father of the bride perhaps, appears and begins dancing with me much to the delight of everyone who laughs and claps to the rhythm of the music. I’m no dancer for sure, but I’ve jumped into this situation so now is no time to be bashful.

    I do my best at dancing, mimicking the others and throwing in a few ‘Indian style’ moves; hands above my head, moving my head from side to side. It’s clearly hilarious for the guests and mobile phones appear snapping pictures and maybe videos of this strange foreigner who has appeared from nowhere.

    Of course, I love moments like this, when curiosity takes you to somehow magical that you know will stay with you forever, filed away among those memories that become the stories we tell. I dance for a few minutes with the villagers, enjoying this joyful and fleeting connection. As I look around me, I have one of those moments where you see yourself as if in a movie, the camera panning across the scene slowing it down, capturing the laughter and smiles of this most random of moments.

    It was a fantastic day, the kind that is so eventful, so vibrant and busy, that picking just one moment to share as my ‘picture of the day’ is difficult. I’m a little disappointed not be able to share the photograph of the proud camel herder, or the lady smiling at me from an auto-rickshaw as she holds her baby. Then there was the photograph of the blind beggar singing for passing tourists at the gates of the spectacular Amber Fort, or the portrait of the young boy who followed me around the night market quietly begging for money (and yes, his persistence paid off).

    That’s the nature of this project though. Sometimes the photographs and stories are everywhere like fallen leaves in autumn, but other times you need to go out and find them. The thing is, there are stories and moments all around you, it’s just a matter of having the curiosity to engage with your day, to look around and see where you are as more than just the passing scenery on the way to wherever it is you think you’re going.