Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Hyderabad: Of Men and Wares

This is about the people around Charminar on a late Sunday afternoon and the myriads of wares they sell. The photo record chronologically what we saw from Chowmahalla Palace's to the Mecca Mosque and Charminar, then northward towards the Musi River.

Balloon seller on a bike.

Colorful fruits the size of tennis balls.

Cinderella would be spoiled for choices here.

Colorful combs.

I wasn't sure what these folks were hammering away at. Looks like some silvery paper to me.

Just some stranger asking to be shot.

Accessories and fruits were common sight.

You've got to train'em young, no?

More shoes, decorations and even packets of drinking water.

An alleyway sandwich between the kaleidoscope stores, tempting us to see what was beyond.

More wares of any and every kind. The thronging pedestrians and merchant carts sent the traffic to a near standstill. For that stretch of the road outside the famous old bazaar, it was faster to walk than to ride or drive.

Silver colored wares were the most consistent thing in all the restaurants we had been to. Barring the more expensive buffets and posh dinning places, no matter how humble the eatery was, from a disheveled shack by the roadside, to the local flavored fast food chain and the canteen within the IT park, all of them uses the same multi-compartment plate.

A seller of antique (or analog, as in this case) things.

While the nuts and bread looked delicious, I was sure I lack the stomach for the generous amount of extra 'dusting' offered by the passing vehicles and crowds.

and of course auto drivers to take us back.

Bustling vitality permeated those ancient streets. The colorful plastic combs and squeaky toys may be modern, but I wonder how much has really changed from decades ago? Did the old men hammered the silvery papers the same way they did when their fathers were young? Your goods on a simple wooden cart on four wheels, powered by none other than your paddling feet, was it any different in your grandfather's time? Did beggars of old not fish for pity with clinging children upon their breast?

Is this what we as foreigners came to see and experience? What is the implication of this for someone living here? Between modernity and history, this place seemed secure yet was renegotiating its place with each passing day. Perhaps it was better to say that the new had merely trickled into this stronghold of tradition as raindrops through a hairline crack on venerable roof.

Hyderabad: Charminar Streets

We emerged from the cool, spacious and private palace grounds into the starkly contrasting streets around Charminar.

Under the sinking sun, the streets were abuzz with activities. You can find countless hawkers peddling as many kind of wares as you can imagine, to haggard looking women slinging yearlings upon their grubby shawled shoulders and gripping passer-by's arms, while making the universal gesture of a cup palm pointing mouth-wards with their free hand.

Under multicolored signage and advertisements, as well as uniform green flags we passed.

Beneath mighty stone arches and beside the autos and cars that inched forward, we slipped between the crowds.

Through the rich smell and cacophonic sound, wisping smoke and deepening shadows, between the people living their everyday lives, we saw and shot.

Despite touching elbows and knocking shoulders with the locals, there was never a moment of mistake that I was foreign. This was not a world I could be a part of. I was ever aware of our difference and our cameras further marked us so. Every so often, we would run into strangers asking for their photograph to be taken as if they would derive pleasure from being captured. That would be the subject of the following entry.