All things happen for a reason… so i’m in chennai and my camera is so far miraculously working, so I go out to shoot a bunch to field test it. – fyi, you can double click on all the images in these blog postings to see larger versions – sorry some of these were blurry, it was night and i had to manually focus, and the camera was kind of sketchy – oh and the shift key isn’t working so no caps for this writing. anyway. a driver offers to take me around to the beach and other places for an hour for 50 rupees, and after a lengthy clarification process i agree. i wanted to head to the beach/fishing village area so we started there. i had him drop me off and i walked along the stands of women selling fresh caught fish. i paid them 10 rupees generally to let me photograph them. i finally had my fisheye lens to work with (since it’s perspective didn’t really work with the loaner camera i had).
i ended up meeting a man named samuel who is an “untouchable” and is a social activist on the behalf of the downtrodden as he put it. very interesting man, and kind. worked a lot with the tsunami victims from that area as the entire fishing village there was destroyed and many killed. he fought on their behalf and got many of them successfully resettled. we walked around and he introduced me to many people, all women actually, and all of whose husbands had died (5 of them), some in tsunami, some in fishing accidents. it was all very sweet. he offered to show me around by auto (their word often used for motorized rickshaw) but i had my driver waiting for me and i hadn’t paid him yet. i went back to him and he wanted to be paid in dollars. when i told him i’d be going with my new friend he tried to extort me for 500 rupees! i gave him a hundred and walked away. i’ve learned now when the deal is a little too good to pay in advance so there is no room for misunderstanding. before samuel walked me around, another local woman wanted to chat so we talked with sam as interpreter for about 15 minutes. so sweet. they acknowleged that although life is difficult that they are happy. although her husband died, she managed to raise 3 kids, 2 of whom went through 12th standard as they say and one of whom is now in multimedia computer training. she was very proud.
so samuel drove me around and showed me the church of mother mary. many many shrines to mary, all with the 2 year old baby king jesus on her left knee. and they all wear really tall crowns, as if bethlehem were the crown manufacturing capital of the land of judah. tons of people around, some sleeping on the ground there as it was 9pm, many walking to the main altar and touching the glass and then their heads and hearts. in all there were probably about 8 altars. a lttle strange. he knew many of the people selling things around there and one woman gave me some flowers – jasmine like scent – for free and offered me tea as well.
we drove on and he stopped for food for me. it was a younger wealthier area and next to our vehicle was parked a beautiful young lady in her car. we all ended up talking for an hour. she’s from dehli and her husband is a programmer here in chennai. it was one of the first conversations i’ve had with an indian woman in english here, and this one decked out in dolce gabbana gear with jeans cropped tightly around her upper calves. i had forgotten what women look like a bit here as they are all so loosely clad in general. a treat. she was very sweet and was telling me how lucky i was to have found someone like sam since good people like him are not very easy to find here. i agree.
anyway, i may meet up with samuel again today as his office/sleeping place is just a few doors down from where i’m staying. my camera had stopped working again nearer the end of the night so i didn’t really get a good picture of them, but here’s the best i could get. i offered him money for petrol and he turned me down. he’s really a crusader for people and their rights. what a treat of a man he was. i feel honored to have met him. wish i had a working camera here as i’d like to spend some time going around with him and meeting people who are special to him. we’ll see what i can pull together.