Monday, July 6, 2015

Ajmer Can Be The Number One Spiritual Destination of India

I would normally place my scarf or sometimes a paper beneath my feet to shoot the streets of Ajmer as I walked barefeet and Ajmer can be really hot in April during the Urus time.

Beggars fascinated me , living in penury , the frugality of their meaningless existence .. did the beggars have dreams ..would they ever become rich overnight ,, and here I must tell you there was a beggar at Mahim who was a police informer and is now a flourishing businessman in the construction trade but than Ajmer is not Mumbai.. In Mumbai you have gods at every street corner .. but than one thought hit my mind if the Khadims and the residents and Rajasthan government wanted Ajmer could be the most modern pilgrimage city ..and I hope this is fulfilled when Ajmer becomes a Smart City ,,

During the Urus there is no vision foresight or planning ,,, the hardships  the pilgrims face the laidback Indian Raiilways , the Ajmer Municipality all destroy the peaceful ethos of Ajmer .

Even around the Dargah , the dirt unhygienic  conditions , the open loo people urinating and I have not seen a ladies toilet in this stretch.. I mean its time Ajmer is given a special status , could be as holistic as the holy cities of Mecca and Medina .

But the will of the people in high places is lacking.. I live in Mumbai I only come during the Urus but the surroundings of abject surrender sadden me ..

I think  if the  rich moneyed Muslims built more vocational schools and less Madrsas there is hope for the Muslim poor ,, we need skilled workers artisans and not skull capped Mullahs ,,Beggars too can be rehabilitated, if the government and society come forward with positive plan and its holistic implementation.

Ajmer Beggars And More

On this stretch I found beggar handlers , only interested in making money , and the beggar child on the wooden hand cart looked at the world with vacuous eyes ,,,I have shot a lot of them , there might be some genuine beggars but their head count not as large as the professional beggars ,,year after year they come to supplement their income as they know the devotees of the Holy Saint Of The Poor Garib Nawaz wont let them down..

Even the cops go easy on them , as the Urus is time of compassion piety and kindness to the unfortunate who are also followers of the Holy Saint ,,

There were times I just wanted to stand in a corner and shoot people passing by ....did they really care for the beggars or where they interested only in their salvation.

Most of the beggars would wait outside the Mandi vegetable market of Moti Katla where the hijras stayed , overtly dressed and scented perfumed like peacocks they walked this ramp of life and some did give generously to the beggars ..

The hijra gharana of Mumbai served food known as Niyaz to everyone , the beggars were called in last to eat without restriction , some took parcels home for their families ..and food is easily available to the beggars that come to Ajmer nobody goes hungry in Ajmer ..The Holy Saint provides round the clock...I documented all this ,, year after years since 2005 .

As I walked barefeet despite an expensive camera round my neck, simple folks would kiss my rings give me money and plead with me to pray for them.. I gave the money to the more poorer beggars than me .

My credibility as a photographer or as a humanbeing got a spiritual boost because of my connection with the Dam Madar Malangs ,..partaking of their humility .I met a lot of folks connected to the Madarriya order ,  the helpless needy wanting to be blessed by Masoomi Baba .. my Malang Guru.

I connected with my old band of Chancawalli Rafaees an order I had documented since last 10 years , Masoom Ali Baba the Murshad  of this motley group.. Hassan Ganda Sai and Farukh my oldest  Rafaee contacts .Zanjiwale Baba , the Hijra babas like Rashid Bawa and I would sit with them shoot them , this was the genre of my pictorial thirst.

Noubat Ali Baba the head of Jalali Chowk Rafaees allowed me to shoot without being stopped by any bawa here , and there are many crazy bawas who hate cameras and photographers hurling abuses ..threatening bodily harm.

There was no escaping the beggars ...and I impulsively shot them , some offered me tea or biscuits and I humbly took their offering ..respectfully .

But most of all many of the beggars knew I stayed with Peersab Fakhru Miya  hujra no 6 , and so they always held me in kind regard ..and all this documentation would have not been possible without Peersab and his sons Farid Miya and Qambar Miya.

Bandra Bucolic Mornings

The Art Of Loving

“Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself.” ― Rumi,

Please Dont Ask Me Why I Shoot Muslim Beggars ?

I shot beggars in Ajmer as an holistic exercise trying to understand the pain of living and slow dying on the streets ,, I actually did not go out to shoot beggars , but they were there part of my measured steps that were taking me to meet the Malangs at Jalali Chowk or the Hijras at Moti Katla..

And this series I am re posting as BW ..was the last lag of my trip heading towards the station to catch my train for Mumbai.. beggar husband with his crippled wife , mother with a sickly  child , so many painful scenes ,,I was leaving all that behind back to Mumbai Bandra and my backyard.

I shot what others would never shoot in Ajmer I shot human degradation , impoverished state of health , diseased  children wandering on the streets like maggots in the rancid flesh of a rabid dog.

I saw Ajmer ..away from the Dargah .. I shot the miserable bylanes of Ajmer , beggars groveling at your feet , whining , crying pleading ,,and some of these were drugaddicts facing withdrawal system..I shot darkness of despair as a silhouette on withered human faces ,,there was a moment I wanted to cover my face sit next to a beggar and beg..understand his proximity to pain as a reality and as an illusion.. this was hardcore begging .. but the coward in me held me back..I decided to shoot beggars as a photographer as a poet and as a mystic.

I now wonder and am ashamed the number of times someone in the crowd in Mumbai insulted me for shooting beggars to sell their pictures and bringing the country a bad name ,, and in the words of Warren Hastings I am astonished at my moderation ,,I am only shooting beggars , not killing innocent people by selling spurious drugs and booze   ,I am not cheating robbing the exchequer I dont rape molest kids , I dont throw acid on faces of hapless women.. Fuck I only shoot beggars as is where is , I dont photoshop their pain , but I do try to show beggars in a more arty way ,, for those connoisseurs of photography living in ivory towers ,,

I dont shoot mountains running streams , birds , sunsets I shoot the life of man and his consort as beggars ..and their children semi naked running after the Muslim man to give them a coin or two..I could take a sabbatical from shooting beggars , but than my poetically aligned beggars soul wont let me take such a step.

I dont try to prejudge beggars ,whether they are really beggars or merely posing as beggars to make money , whether the lady behind the hijab is really a Muslim or a Hindu.. does not matter ,, a beggar is a beggar .. there is no escape from this vicious cycle ,,,  I have yet to find a man who married a beggar on the streets and changed her life and his own.

So in short Ajmer is my cosmic tryst with Muslim beggars .. yes my documentation is restricted to Muslim beggars ,,I shoot  other beggars too without blinkers but I shoot Muslim beggars as a slap on the soul of Muslim society , they talk ridiculously about Yoga , convert subvert any subject under the sun to give it a ugly definition , they will spend ostentatious amounts of money buying goats camels dumbas as charity they will give the skin of the animal to the mosque , but will never give a goat to an orphanage or a widows home.

I have seen the stingy miserly attitude for  the so called sanctimonious rich Muslims ....Muslims begging from Muslims this end of the spectrum and further beyond our shores Muslims killing Muslims even in Ramadan.. and the Salafi minarets deaf and mute so called custodians of our Faith ,, that is why the disillusioned are joining the ISIS.. to create a Caliphate in blood rape and enslavement of innocent women..decapitations crucifixions and mass ethnic cleansing .. this is the New Holocaust in Islam.

My Vision Got Virtually Distorted Shooting Beggars

"We are all just beggars here, of our own device"

"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "

Smothered Motherhood


Sometimes I Hate My Camera More Than My God Given Camera Vision

I Dont Know If God Created Beggars ..But Beggars Are Gods Representatives On Earth

You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” ― Rumi

Only The Fool Shoots With The Camera

Beggars Made Me A Photographer

Shot From Carter Road Bandra

Why Do You Shoot Beggars He Asked Me..I Said God Has Multi Tasked Me

through the hidden 
cosmic eye behind 
the camera he 
pulled me out
unmasked me

My Tryst With Muslim Beggars At Ajmer

When I first visited Ajmer in 2005 .. my first visit to Ajmer I was about 50 years old ,, and I was fascinated by this spiritual Sufi city of the Holy Saint Of Ajmer .

I was shooting everything that came on my camera s vision , Malangs Rafaees Monks Hijras and ubiquitous Ajmer beggars ..
I shot documented what others would hardly shoot in Ajmer ,, and as years passed I had shot so much , that I began to shoot selectively I shot the Malangs and beggars , I shot the Hijras as most were connected to my Malang Guru .. but I had lost my passion and drive .

And now I hardly document their picture publicly ,,I missed shooting the beggars of Taragadh . the rarest form of burnt out humanity ,, and I tried to spend some time with my friend beggar of Dhai Djinn Ka Jhopda begging along with him .. erasing my self my ego .. trampling it under my beggars bowl.
I finally gave away to my beggar friend he needed it more than me .

I have shot over 5000 images of Muslim beggars all over India , places I visited , I did not meet Muslim beggars at Maha Kumbh at Allahabad .. but I met them everywhere else ..

Muslim beggars is my journey into the dark souls of these Untouchables of Muslim society ,, they are kept at arms length , means to do charity and sadly in Muslim society I saw lot of charity but no heartfelt compassion.. Fuck give a few coins and move on.

Muslim beggars will never be rehabilitated by the Government or Muslim society and most of them become professionals and are absorbed as foot soldiers of the powerful politically well connected Beggar Mafia ,,it is alleged even cops go soft on this group... for monetary rewards and returns.

Beggars Dont Vote ...They Have No Representative In Parliament Please Note

Sometimes Its Better To Be A Beggar Than To Be A Cop

When I Died God Asked Me You Had A Camera What Did You Shoot

i told him i did not
shoot the kala ghoda
festival i did not shoot
the standard charted
marathon race but it
was beggars mostly
muslim beggars ..
i shot as my pictorial
tribute children of
you lost race in a
world where muslims
love killing muslims
where puritanical
muslims shias yezdis
christians minorities
persecute evil within
the soul of peace
brotherhood they
dilute ,,treacherously
resolute memorize
the holy koran a
woman slave they
will gift you as the
salafi minarets watch
all this in eunuch silence
mute ..this is misplaced
martyrdom with suicide
bombers they distribute

shooting beggars
was my only pictorial
pursuit adding words
their resilience i salute

sometimes i did shoot
the redlight area womanhood
selling their withering flesh
forced by society as prostitutes

Perhaps I Was The Only One Shooting Beggars In Ajmer

muslim beggars of every size
shape deformity contortion
disillusioned depraved
long beards socket less
eyes wanting to be saved
to a cosmic fate of beggary
born to be enslaved ,,
they pleaded shouted
invoked the holy saint
they raved ..trying to
resurface from their
dark dingy living
graves ...rains
heat humidity
hunger they
dont shoot
me dont rob
my soul his hands
in desperation
he waved ..
but yet for
my money
he craved

i am a
muslim beggar
on his soul engraved

I Shoot Muslim Beggars As Fine Art

on the soul of deadpan
Muslim society treated
as leprous warts broken
misplaced muslim hearts
begging for the salvation
of other people richer
well clad and smart
when a beggar dies
neither heaven nor
hell to beggars only
purgatory he departs
leaving behind his
humility his wooden
cart ..besides this
nothing else left
to impart ..body
soul torn apart

Muslim Society Made Me A Beggar He Said

in his deep piercing eyes
his anger i read i almost
nodded my head forced
to beg from an early age
his future all dead sadly
he earned his bread
if he did not earn more
beatings was his dread
left overs he was fed
starched attar scented
kurta pajama clad miyas
gave him few coins
this was charity minus
compassion as they
nonchalantly walked
ahead ..the soul of
poetry watched
helplessly  into
the doors of the holy
saints dargah in
haste they fled