Now I take a quick hop back to India. Although my recent Return to India series was fairly extensive and sometimes intense, I focused it almost entirely upon the preparations for Sujitha's wedding, the wedding itself, and the search to try to come to terms with the tragedy of my muse, Soundarya and her husband, Anil. Yet, after the wedding, I toured a section of north-leaning western India with Murthy and Vasanthi. I have not yet touched most of those photos.
Towards the end of that tour, we were walking through Jaipur when we came upon this man who wanted to take our picture. Normally, I turn away from Indian street vendors who approach me, because they can be very aggressive and unrelenting and I don't like to buy anything from someone who is putting pressure on me.
But, in this case, when I saw his old, wooden, box camera... I had to go for it. Murthy and Vasanthi, too.
He was a very friendly fellow and he said the camera was 97 years old, and it had belonged to his father who had taken photos of people not only out here on the street, but of and for the Maharajas in the nearby palace. He was very proud of the camera, and the fact that he was keeping the tradition of his father alive.
He takes our picture.
He did not make his negative on film, but on paper. Then, reaching into the camera from beneath an apparently very light-tight blanket, he developed his paper negative.
I was very curious as to how he was going to print his positive.
You can see how he did it... attached this little stand to rise in front of his camera and then took a photograph of the negative.
Again, he developed this print inside the camera body, but pulled it out while it was still fixing so that he could demostrate how he agitates the fixer - just as he had agitated the developer inside the camera.
He went through this process three times to make a print for each us - Vasanthi on the left, Murthy in the middle and me. Our tour guide is in the picture, too, but I guess he didn't get a print. Murthy and Vasanthi always paid for everything, but this time, I made them hold onto their money. I insisted that I pay. It seemed only right, since I am a photographer.
But now I feel bad about the oversight with our tour guide. Somehow, it did not register on me that he did not get a print until just now, when I looked at this picture. Or maybe he did a print and it just did not make it into this picture. I can't remember. I hope so.
Shortly thereafter, our cab driver took us back to our hotel. Along the way, I decided to take a few pictures of our picture against the backdrop of Jaipur, as seen through the cab window.
I was a bit startled when, even as I was still taking the pictures, we came to a stop at a crowded intersection and suddenly these faces replaced ours in front of me. The lady to the right lifts her hand to her mouth in a common gesture meaning, "I am hungry."
The traffic jam soon cleared. We continued on. I resumed my project to photograph the four of us against the Jaipur street. I could not quite get the photo in focus.