Friday, May 23, 2014
These are beggars hailing from Mushidabad West Bengal they live in the distant suburbs but come to beg in the slums of Bandra West .
Those living in the slums here are better off and have better living conditions , they have in their hard times seen bad days , so they are generous to these migrant beggars of Bengal .They give them money old clothes and left over food.
Most of these beggars come to Mumbai during the holy month of Ramzan.. make sufficient money and head back to their hometowns .
Most of the migrant beggars pay protection money to the local hoodlum it is alleged , and theirs is a tough life and honestly who really cares about beggars .
Photography made me see the other side of the spectrum of pain , photography made me a writer and a word juggler of sorts , humbly making me a beggar poet..
And do these beggars know why I am shooting them, earlier when I shot beggars my detractors thought I make money selling their pictures this was the general opinion otherwise why would one shoot beggars .
I got absorbed into the world of beggars accidentally , and I am showcasing this Gods tribe on the run.. seeking green pastures of hope and a bit of respect albeit ..
And I am at home comfortable shooting the Muslim beggars ,, the lowest of the low the untouchables of our sanctimonious Muslim society.
This was shot when he was painfully alive , his lifeline was the hooch shop near my house that I told you about , he begged to drink and drink he did , you can see his silent unspeakable artificial leg .
I once had a fight with him , he was creating nuisance I went to hit him but than cooled down , later I tried to beg forgiveness from myself .
We never talked he would see me mutter inanities sitting on the garbage mound ,I dont know his name , but he was an iconic beggar cum drunkard of Bandra Bazar Road .. and I archived his existence and his death .. he just died into oblivion never to be seen or heard again.
His last days were very bad and it was about three years back when my friend Glenn shot him too I felt guilty giving him money but I did ,,I did not want Glenn to oblige him..
Having been an alcoholic myself I understood his urge , his withdrawl and the after effects of his surging dependence on hooch..he never bathed
at all, he was ugly as hell he came to my area imprinted his last moments , forgotten , unsung and I ket him alive as an image a memory and today I let him go from the captivity of the broken bottle of life .
And this is the poetry of his life .he touched my life too and I pass by everyday at the same spot where he played dead and than actually died .
And my grand daughter Marziya Shakir saw all this was she shooting the same images in her head without the camera .
the mind is a camera visiion or no vision , some things we are shown , some things hidden from us deliberately.
“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”
what was it i stood mesmerized
what had i captured a moment
on the shores of time capsized
now trying to introspect i realize
i shot his past present future
hidden behind veiled eyes
his mothers agony his mothers
angst her sufferings her sacrifice
her faceless sorrow tears dried
her humility her religiosity
her humanity ..to suffice
pictures return as stories
though elusive hope flies
a reworked art of living
giving from my archives
the flesh was unwilling the spirit strives
“The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind.”
from a mothers defeated womb
into a defeated world i was born
when i opened my eyes the nectar
of mothers womb was gone
a darkness enveloped hope
as my mother helplessly
clutched the dying dawn
begging hands she had
battered beaten scorned
hiding her inherent shame
in veiled captivity ..a breathing
rose clinging to a thorn ..
as she moves on and on
from one door to another door
on my cheated fate she mourns
“Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises”
standing at the market place
like a wave kissing the rock
she wonders about her life
she takes stock....she falters
in silence her pain she hawks
she has not eaten her child
is hungry pleadingly knocks
on the shut doors of humanity
that you have suddenly locked
in the name of Allah the Great
his mercy she seeks she talks
One among many of his lost flock
When a man cannot put up a fight , when his world crashes , when he loses it all , the earth beneath his feet slides away than comes the pain of unliving ..
Begging is not easy as one thinks it when the soul of self respect is usurped snatched away leaving behind the fleshy husk at the mercy of nature and its surroundings.
A lot of beggars I shot have disappeared into oblivion , most of them afraid of the last breath of life take to drinking and a hooch joint close to my house and the garbage dump and this wall is soul searching ones dreams.
This guy had artificial legs drank hollered but was once said to be from an affluent family ..he begged at the bazar and the drug addicts robbed his artificial leg , he was left on a mound with stumps..
I shot him a lot , as this was in front of my old workplaces .. here too I was visited by hijra impostors beggars dressed as women with one eunuch in their group to add to their impersonation..
And Bandra Bazar road the market area is the ugliest place thanks to the Cong satraps who neglected this place completely and are paying the price of their political inaccessibility arrogance and conceit and they will disappear from the Indian road map if they do not reconnect with the public..
Blaming the leaders on the top for their defeat is an eyewash, it was these guys our local representatives who lost track of reality , they kept their sycophants and chamchas who took the general public for a ride..
Sadly Mr Sunil Dutts hard work legacy has been lost forever ..he touched us all he was kind considerate human , he knew the pulse of the people of Bandra riding his cycle he stopped at the Bazar talked to the shopkeepers the vendors the residents something none of his successors could ever do.. it would have soiled their clothes and Gucci keds as our Bazar is muck filth personified.
I used to altar Mr Sunil Dutt Saabs clothes , he would call me to his office and smilingly interact, he would write personal notes to us he was the spirit of hope that wont ever come back again,
He came to our weddings , deaths in our family and stood by us solidly , the greatest insult to his wife is naming the filthiest dirtiest slum as Nargis Dutt Nagar..
Yeh Bat Such Hai Is Bar Ya Agli Bar Janta Apko Maf Nahi Karegi .. and this is the reply to those who play vote bank politics , why dont the politicians keep a letter box in their constituencies where immediate private feedback can be given to them but they left us at the mercy of their henchmen..
And I write this without malice I am a traditional Congress voter but not anymore ..I use my vote to vote for a capable sound corrupt free candidate ..
So sometimes a sleeping beggar can let out a flow of emotions that were lying dormant ..such is the holistic anger of a blog in pain.
Yes I am confident Acche Din Anewale Hain if not for me at least for the Beggars who cant be choosers ..
If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
This was shot many years back during the holy month of Ramadhan and the title says , the Holy Month of Ramadhan Has Arrived
And for the beggars it is the advent of spring soaked in the seasonal spirituality of faith and hope.
It is this month that charity reigns supreme , only this month sadly , the most significant month of introspection piety and all good things on earth.
Beggars look forward to this holy month and the offerings are good , people give , and they give generously.such is the nature of mans spirituality..
Early morning the roza or fast begins and this is known as sairi late in the evening the roza or fast comes to n end known as the iftar..
And it is this iftar time the local mosues the markets bazars see a horde of beggars
waiting for charity , people buy the iftar fruits dates etc , ,,and some handover a bit to them.money or in kind.
The rich take care of the poor the poor take care of the very very poor..
The air during Ramadhan is fragrant laden with overwhelming joy of living and giving.
Forgiving too if I may say so, and Ramadhan in Muslim localities like Bhendi Bazar and the slum pockets in Bandra is a moment delirious in hopeful sanctity..
Earlier I took Marziya my grand daughter to JJ Colony where the iftar items are sold and the pungent aroma of tanduri chicken , made her shoot a few street scenes .
Now it is the turn of my 2 year old gran daughter Nerjis more gifted and more adept with the camera than her sibling..
Nerjis shoots beggars , and she does it fluidly than pinching me to give the beggar some money on her behalf , or she will hint I take her picture with the beggar a lesson in innocence and humility.
And the girl in the picture is showing me the stuff she got to take home all the gift of Ramadhan..
Ramadhan touches everyone Muslims non Muslims and Christians too ..in my area..
We send the home made stuff to our Christian neighbors which they return with a plate of kal kal and guava halwa..
Ramadhan Eid is a topic that needs to be elicited as a separate blog, and I will delve on it later , the chicken dum biryani and sheer korma and Eidi for the kids ..
Of course for the beggars the Muslim beggars there is no such joy, they work overtime after the Ramadhan morning prayers end they congregate in clusters outside the Bandra Station Road where the namaz is held or outside the various Bandra mosques.
And as I am not shooting pictures I am taking you back into my archives , reliving the life of the beggars as the poetry of life on the streets of Bandra.
a beggar she was
destined to be
robbed of her
right to education
right to smile
to play enslaved
held in captivity
will she ever be free
no -early matrimony
to an old man or
a few kids divorced
on the road she will be
like her mother
her cosmic pain
a few coins
they call it charity
being a poor
is carrying the
birth to eternity
her haunting image
as words to my poetry
her silence the soul
of my street photography
ke yeh bhi auron ki trah hame
bhul jayenge . ma kab tak yeh
hath ham phelayenge ..
kab tak ham bhikari kehlayenge
ma bolona acche din kab ayenge
Knock, And He'll open the door
Vanish, And He'll make you shine like the sun
Fall, And He'll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, And He'll turn you into everything.”
I am not a face reader , nor do I read books I once did voraciously deliriously , chimeric-ally maybe reading all those books helped ..my pictures in introspection are Dickensian , they tell you the garrulous nature of life and the struggle to remain afloat.
I hardly talk to the Muslim lady beggars I shoot , I shoot and than the poetry of Life fills in the blanks.
Perhaps if I was a woman I would have sat with her asked her about her pain her tribulations ..why was she begging what went wrong how did the wires snap.
While shooting Men Muslim beggars I keep my distance never try to get curious I just shoot and offer them help if necessary .
I a good at reading body language so I know a professional beggar from a mile and having shot so many beggars I know the vocabulary of their angst and pain.
Beggars are human that is the basic premise ..they hurt and they try not to cause hurt ..the impoverished ones are incapable of hurting a fly .
Now what is her story..I leave it to your imagination ,,her child narrates it better than her in stolid silence .
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
The season of beggars is not spring or autumn , it is Ramzan our very holiest month , a month of piety , introspection and much more .
I used to fast , shoot the street scenes the Iftar , Sairi at my house but than my gallbladder stones put stop to my rozas its been two years now.
Ramzan is a very soul satisfying month and it is a lucrative month for beggars , finally God answers their prayers through the kindness shown to them by the people at large ,Ramzan touches the non Muslim too in more ways than one .
And Ramzan in the Bandra slums is a month of happiness despite sufferings and their impoverished lives , the poor serve the much poorer ..
I shot all this as sets , than clustered them together for easy access at Flickr ..the aroma of food , dates , the awakeners who wake up people to begin their fasts .
And Ramzan is Hope beggars from far flung areas , even Uttar Pradesh come to Mumbai for charity , and as I live in Bandra , the area gets beggars from Mumbra and other places .
But than there are those who come with big fat receipt books and con the naive I call them the white collar beggars.
Crimes are less during Ramzan negligible as it keeps the Muslim crooks gangsters in check..this is a fact..
And the Muslim beggar kids are like buds in a garden of hope waiting to be touched by Gods Mercy..
And read her face penetrate her eyes hr soul as my camera did and here was the story of struggle suffering maintaining the nobility of Gods Grace .
Rest can be volubly read in silence ..
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
I shot this a long time back, most beggar children irrespective of their caste color or creed are fascinated by the camera , it is as though they give you access to enter their souls and if possible steal it too.
Her mother must have been around and I have myself come a long way since I shot this picture , the milk was given to her by the Nagori Muslim milkshop next to my old workplace ..a workplace that was a stopping place for beggars , naga sadhus , hijras and urchins from Turner Road.
I was generous too , gave them money , took their pictures and they would enter my workplace too see my old camera collection , all displayed instead of textiles and later sold for a measly sum when bad times came ..
The Naga Sadhus strangely came to see me before going on a pilgrimage and to bum me for beads and bangles ..some cheap stuff that I kept to use in film work.
I shot a lot including the serial train blast at Bandra Mahim Matunga .. and came and posted the same from my workplace in the wee hours before the news could hit the newspapers.
There was much adventure , zest and I was hooked to my camera my visits every Friday to Chor Bazar and Kamatipura flea markets .
I shifted from here to two other places and as I was hit by more badtimes misfortunes , I began shooting less .
And now it is negligible in a way I made my wife happy she would always sat what do you get by shooting all this and shooting the same thing every time ..I had no answer but photography soon metamorphosed into blogs ..personal rant if you may need to call it ,,
From Buzznet to Fotothing Blogspot Webshots Xanga Wordpress I moved my blogs till I finally settled for Flickr 10 June 2007 ..and the gift of pro kept my membership alive thanks to my good foreigner friends like Glenn and Jack Crawford .
The discontinuation of the Gift of Pro was a sad thing I sent a message to Ms Marissa Mayer I got no response ,,, and I have taken the New Flickr in my stride.
I have in the past tried out Ipernity and other blogging sites I prefer Flickr all my blogs originate at Flickr and I would cross blog it to Blogspt but that too was deprecated as Flickr puts it , so I have to manually post my stuff from Flickr to Blogspot.
I deleted all my Word Press blogs .. Word Press is not what it was when it started out..
So now I cross blog in 140 words to Twitter or Tumblr and pimp my blogs on Google+
I dont use Facebook.
So back to beggars , shooting them is a catharsis for the soul getting depleted of pain and the poetry of Life .
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