Continuing from last weeks post, about the unique places of Assam, this week as promised i would like to feature the people of assam, particularly the people and culture of Jatinga.
A land of Diverse Cultures
Assam has been a state, which is the epitome of diversity. At one part, is the big city of Guwahati, whereas on the other lies the small village of Jatinga, so remote a place that you start to think are we really living in the 21st century? Due to this vast diversity the people of Assam have varied cultures, each unique in its own way.
The little shopkeeper
I made this picture, just after alighting the connecting train from Lamding to Halflong.This little girl was sitting inside the shop at first. I got attracted towards the bright blue colors of the shop and just when I was about to make a photograph, I noticed that she came out of the shop and stood in front of it. It was like she was protecting something which was so dear to her heart. I thought in a split second of making the photograph around her, so I recomposed and took the photo. Later when I went up to her and showed the picture she was overwhelmed with joy. She called her mother and showed how she could see her own-self in the camera. I wondered to myself has she seen her own photograph taken by anyone? Knowing how remote the place Jatinga is, it is highly possible that she has never been photographed before, let alone she seeing herself in a digital SLR.For me making a photograph and showing it to the person of whom I took the photograph is not enough. Only when I get that sweet, heart felt smile from the person whom i photographed, do I think that my job as a photographer is complete.
During my stay in Jatinga I noticed a few things which were unique only to the people of this part of the world. Here small kids are more comfortable with their fathers, and the father takes care of them. Infact to carry the youngest kid a special kind of robe is wrapped around the father in which a pouch is made, where the kid can be kept. This picture above is one of my favourite from the trip. They were on their way to their house when i was praying that, only if they would turn i could get a really nice photograph. May be i had done my fair amount of good deeds, they turned to look at me(someone carrying a camera like thing) and i snapped a few shot. I specially love the fact that they are their and in the background their natural environment is present too.
When you do come to these parts of the country is when you start to realize how backward these cultures still are. Having said that it is not only a cultural issue, but a social and financial issue too. Child labour is quite common in Jatinga. The younger kid was playing while the older one was collecting wood for fire. It feels sad to see that they are losing their childhood which they will never get back.
Here men and women work equally hard to earn their lively-hood. In the morning they pack their lunch and go to the rice, pineapple fields. They work for the entire day and while returning, they collect some wood for fire. This technique of carrying the basket on their back is used, so that they may climb the forest slopes, with the assist from the hands.
A nice relaxing evening beckons them
One thing i did notice, was that even though, they could barely manage food for themselves, their hospitality was better than any good hotel. The love with which they cooked the food, and served was second to not. Our guide, Jonhy, cooked food with copious amounts of love. What they lack in wealth, they make it up with loads of love. The warmth from their side was literally worth the trip.
This blog would be incomplete, if i do not mention of the caretaker of the watch tower. From the moment I met him, I wanted to photograph him, his features so sharp, rusted by the sands of time. But even though, i wanted to shoot him, I never could felt that he was comfortable being photographed. It was during the last two days that he really started interacting with me, and i took that oppurtunity to strike a chord with him. This first shot i took, when he was telling one of his famous stories of his childhood. He barely knew, that in the midst of the conversation i had taken his photograph. On showing the above photograph, he liked it a lot, and i further asked him to look at the camera directly, if that was okay with him. The moment i took the picture, i knew, it would be my favourite portrait of the entire trip. The age marks, the intense look, he has so many stories in this eyes.
Photographically speaking this was a good trip for me, got some good pictures both landscapes and also few travel shots. But the one thing i came home with, was not photographs, but a part of this small village in me. The love, the care is beyond my limited vocabulary. If any day i visit this place again, i would definitely go and give these people a photograph, for they showed me the real culture and heritage of Jatinga, with love.
Share your travel experiences in the comments section. Share, like tweet and help spread the love of these wonderful people of assam.
Till next time, cheers 🙂