Posts Tagged ‘sweep’

The Gurupurb

December 22nd, 2009

I forget where we were headed to one day when we got stuck in traffic which was worse than normal (for Bangalore). Traffic was backed up a good few hundred meters and it didn’t seem like we were going to be headed anywhere in a hurry. The reason for the delay appeared to be some procession at the intersection in the distance. I grabbed my camera, climbed out of the car heedless of the driver’s protests, and made a dash for it.

Turns out there was a several-thousand-person strong Sikh procession in celebration of the anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. The actual date this year was to be the 2nd of November, 2009. But it is not uncommon for celebrations (or Gurupurbs) to be held in the two or three weeks prior to that date.

Standing there, alone, at an intersection and with the chaos of random traffic and stray motorbikes that miss you by mere inches, chanting people, suspicious policemen, whiffs of smoke fumes and the scent of food – it felt like my first real taste of India.

So far, everywhere I went, I had been for all intents and purposes led by the hand. We were spoilt by our hosts: everything had been provided for us – food, shelter, transportation and a pretty full program. Everything we experienced felt like, and for the most part was, part of an intricate, well-organised and well-executed Plan. There was very little room for error in this Plan.

This was not part of the Plan. This was unbridled. It wasn’t muffled behind glass windows, nor seen from the comfort of a hotel terrace, or car seat. I was no longer looking out at India. I was in the middle of the action. And this was pure chaos. It felt like anything could happen. It was a revelation.

As I watched, I chatted away with the family on the motorbike next to me, and tried to get some decent shots of the Gurupurb without getting run over by stray motorbikes or further arousing the suspicions of the 3 policemen who materialised beside me when they saw my camera.

I got treated to a mildly suspicious interrogation by the senior policeman. He seemed to be worried that I might be a journalist of some sort. I assured him I was in Bangalore for a wedding, and when I told him whose wedding it was, he appeared to relax a tad. Amazingly enough, everybody in Bangalore seemed to know this wedding was on. Unfortunately, he was only pacified for a few minutes and soon enough he was again interrogating me. That meant that I wasn’t as free with my movements as I’d otherwise have liked – and had to take the shots I could from where I stood. I felt I should stay put where I was and make small talk with him so as not to get myself carted off to the nearest police station.

I was eventually saved from his questions by two things. The first was that one of my friends joined me to take a look at the procession as well. The second was one of the Sikh revellers. I stopped to ask him some questions about the procession as he seemed to be an authority figure.

He was, like most Bangaloreans, exceedingly friendly, and adopted us immediately, telling us a little about Sikhism, about Guru Nanak and the Gurupurbs in general, about the prayers and the Panj Piare (or Five Beloved Ones). He even went off to collect reading material for us and some of the food that was being distributed.

Below you can see the long line of people making their way down the highway, with vehicles waiting patiently for them to clear. Interestingly, none of those waiting seemed upset, or annoyed at the delay. All waited patiently. Well, except for some people on motorbikes. At one point there seemed to be a small break in the procession, and suddenly tens of bikes were in the fray, zipping left and right in a mad dash for the other side.

The Procession (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/640sec)

Revelers (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/500sec)

This water truck came along at one point in the procession, pipes behind it spraying water on the street. It was followed by tens of barefoot people with makeshift brooms, who proceeded to sweep the street ahead of five sword-bearing figures in bright yellow robes – representing the original Panj Piare.

The Water Truck (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 38mm, f4.2, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

This man was one of those who came immediately after the truck. The poor guy had the unenviable task of trying to sweep while dodging bikers.

Dodging Motorbikes (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 105mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/1250sec)

The men were followed by the women, protected by men cordoning them off with bright yellow ropes.

The Sweeps (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 40mm, f4.2, ISO 200, 1/320sec)

Sweeping (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/100sec)

Oddly enough, I was unable to take a picture of all five sword-bearers. I have no idea why that is. Each picture I took had one of those on the fringes hidden from sight by a passerby. A little frustrating it was.

Framed Pani Piare (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 62mm, f4.8, ISO 200, 1/250sec)

Pani Piare Partial (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 56mm, f4.8, ISO 200, 1/250sec)

Food and blessings were distributed from garlanded trucks:

Food, Blessings and Garlands (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 65mm, f5, ISO 200, 1/400sec)

Even schools were participating:

The School Banner (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, f4.8, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

More pictures coming soon!

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Bangalore – Slices of Life – Part I

November 28th, 2009

Bangalore is a busy and bustling place. It’s a city that has grown enormously in recent years to become the IT heart of India.

I tried to capture as much of the life and spirit of the city as I could in the short time I was there. Unfortunately, time was very limited and traffic was so frustratingly bad it took forever to get from place to place. The end result was that what I saw of  Bangalore was mostly what zipped, or crawled, by a car window.

I spotted this mother and daughter as they were heading home from school:

Heading Home From School (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 65mm, f5, ISO 200, 1/640sec)

Seen off a side street leading onto Commercial Street:

Moped Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/400sec)

I wonder what he’s got in that sack of his…

It was interesting seeing how Hindu neighbourhoods were followed by Muslim neighbourhoods. The differences between the neighbourhoods tended to range from the subtle … to the less subtle. Take the shot below, for example:

Hubby & Wife (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/1000sec)

Seems the sun does occasionally shine in darkened places. Seen in an underpass:

Sunny Side Up (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/2000sec)

This was taken from the car, while waiting our turn at a junction. The tuk-tuk/auto driver and I rolled our eyes at the traffic and exchanged smiles before I took this.

Drag Racing (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 70mm, f5, ISO 200, 1/80sec)

I spotted this man sweeping the streets on the other side of the road:

Sweeper Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/125sec)

A fruit stall on Brigade Street:

Fruits! (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 75mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/125sec)

I loved the brightness of the colours.

We met these friendly people around the bustling entrance to Cubbon Park, by the exit to the courts:

People Outside Cubbon Park (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5, ISO 200, 1/80sec)

This woman was sweeping away dead leaves in one of the small gardens just off Cubbon Park:

Sweeper Lady (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 68mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/320sec)

This is probably one of the odder sights I saw in Bangalore. I have no idea why this man why carrying a dummy…

Dummy-On-A-Stick Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 56mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

More pictures coming soon!

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