Monday, June 8, 2009

City Life

Children of the slums.
I walked through one of the nicer neighborhoods in Chennai the other day until the road came to a dead-end. The beautiful, freshly painted homes that lined the streets suddenly disappeared. With the disappearance of such modern buildings came the arrival of dirt paths, completely littered with trash. Where the road ends, the river begins- the stench of the river is overwhelming and I can't bring myself to breathe through my nose when I'm around it. Hidden behind a large pile of rubbish were these three kids, playing naked outside their homes. I don't know that they had ever seen a camera before.

Roof tops.
A small glimpse at what the slums look like- corrugated metal roofs, brick/mud walls, laundry airing outside...surrounded by waste.

Sweat and sun.
This man was hunched over a pile of bricks, hammering them until they crumbled at his feet. I couldn't really make out what the bricks were used for in this state, but can only assume it's for building material. He didn't mind having his picture taken, and smiled when I thanked him in Tamil.

Who the heck are you?
I spotted this little bugger waddling down the street like a penguin. I couldn't help but crack up as I watched her, about twenty feet in front of me, shuffle back and forth on her newly-discovered legs. I photographed her several times- the look in her eyes reveals her skeptic nature of me. Immediately after this picture, she burst into tears!

A woman with a story.
I met this woman while I was shopping in Spencers Plaza- a mall here in Chennai. What you see in the photo reflects the dimensions of her whole shop. I walked in, we exchanged smiles, and I asked if I could take her picture. She was more than happy to have her photo taken, and insisted that the picture to her right be in my photo as well. Turns out the picture beside her is of her daughter who passed away at age 36 from a motorcycle accident. This woman's shop used to be twice the size it is now- when her daughter died, she sold the other half of the shop to pay for her cremation. While she still has this small tailoring business, the other half of the shop is used for selling small gadgets, like Ipods and head phones. She said she wants nothing more than to die soon...having no family left, she comes to sit in the shop just to pass the time.
I hope I can visit her again soon...

A fortune-teller and his roadside business.
I ran into this man in a part of town I don't normally frequent. I was trying to figure out what he was selling when he asked if I wanted my palm read. As the sign indicates, he told me he could provide numerology, palm readings..the works. I told him I wasn't interested but would love to take a picture. Offered him 5 rupees to do so. He allowed me to take his picture and motioned me away when I tried to pay him. Really interesting eyes..


Callum Linton Esquire said...

Great collection of photographs. It still amazes me how 5 mins of walking in Chennai can take you from wealthy quiet suburbs to dirty, poor slums. You can easily imagine that in 50 years that same slum will be there, but the wealhy suburb will be even richer

Smaps said...

Dear Mr. Esquire,

A devastating reality but one which resonates in great truths. Thank you for writing!