Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My Tryst With Street Barbers Is Cosmically Attached To Their Being




There are a lot of friends who always grumble there is nothing to shoot in Mumbai .. and than it depends on what you want to shoot ..I mean there is more to Mumbai than Mahalaxmi Dhobhi Ghats or the over stated Dharavi slums ,,

Luckily in my case I decided to shoot communities , religion culture rituals hijras and beggars garbage in my backyard.. now I create videos more than a single frame ,,

I can go on shooting Dabbawalas , I know most of them in Bandra , the moment they see me they stop their cycle and start chatting with me ,, more than shooting them I created a human bond with their work and their existence.


I once shot the whippers that beg whipping their bodies , I sometimes take their whip and lash myself too.. so I created a bond of humble humanity with them.

I shoot barbers is an understatement ,, I prolifically shot barbers,

The hijra community I dont shoot as aggressively or insanely as I did in my early years but I do shoot them on video..I give them a lot of respect and they respect me too.


I stopped stalking them but instead they stalk me on the roads in the trains I cant escape them at all.. if I dont have a camera I shoot them on my mobile phone.

Photography is seasonal depending on the feasts .. the next big one is Chehlum 40 days of the Martyrdom of Imam Hussain and I am waiting for my wife to return from Karbala in a few days than decide where to go ,,,maybe to Delhi where my daughter stays nothing is final it happens cosmically ,,

I shoot a garbage video almost every day close to where I stay at Bandra Bazar Road ,,and the Municipality with all the phoren trips that their members take still dont know a shit about garbage management , the only time garbage in my area will disappear when our PM ji Modiji pays a visit to Advocate Ashish Shelars house ..also at Bandra Bazar Road ,,all the BJP volunteers will see that not a single speck of dust meets our PMs hawk eyes ,,,

And here in Bandra where I stay I am sure that the Congress Party will find it very difficult to win the Civic Municipal elections ,, for 15 years they did nothing and the garbage has come home to roost .. I have been shooting Garbage for over 15 years now at Bandra Bezar Bizarre Road.


So these are stray thoughts on photography , people  and street photography...my grandkids too think they have shot so much of shit in Bandra that they have lost their enthusiasm and passion for photography ,, but they look forward to the photographers that visit my house ,,,impressing them with their camera shots rather than poetry or any other subject.


They have not got over Manuela Nesci who was at our house a few months back..




A Barbers Tale




Once a client who was a good friend and from a well off traditionally cultured family , took me into confidence he was very disturbed , he had one son , he wanted his son to get into his business expand it ,, but the truant son had other plans he was hell bent on learning hairdressing ,, which in terms of my friends family meant hajam barbers down the lowest order and social stigma .

I told my client to allow his son to do what he wants to do provided he continues with his higher studies too, his son called me and thanked me ,. and was going to be apprenticed to a  celebrity salon stylist ,,

After that I lost touch with the family ..and for many years my childhood friend Corrie Walia worked on my hair , he never took a dime and did some of the weirdest designs that had my mom freaking up the wall.

So perhaps all this adds up to my fascination of shooting barbers , I cant resist shooting street barbers , their simplicity , humility and their softness of tone ,,unlike some social barbers who go on chatting gossiping and dropping names of Bollywood actors ,

The street barber is an enigma ,,and there are times I have seen him sitting under a tree dejected no client no work.. and I felt sad form him and these selfless souls dont take charity.,.


Near my house a salon guy kept young boys and I called this young genius of a kid Biloo Badshah he was 11 year old and a master at shaves and haircuts including the best tel malish,,
He left the salon never came back to Bandra Bazar Road,

I shot him prolifically all his pictures in my barberism set ,, and there was another barber very good , he worked at Rolex a lot of people got their hair cut styled by him , but than he took to heavy drinking and last I saw him begging on the road ,, he later died unsung..


Some Pictures Simply Remain As Memories ,,




I shoot people with a smile , I dont get into conversation , and I dont ever take notes I dont carry paper or pen just my camera , and if I shoot a video than I take the details as I interview the person I shoot ,,

Of late I am shooting video to capture the street angst , street life I know immediately whether I should take a video or shoot a still sometimes both ,, I was tired the day I shot this at Pitru Paksha though I did shoot a few videos ,, I shoot barefeet  and after sometime the feet burn horridly ,,

I came to Flickr as a traditionalist photographer till late Fred Miller reminded me that I was a street photographer ,,, though I was emulating Tom Andrews those days at Buzznet ,, Tom was my first street photography experience , one of the best photographer magicians of Hollywood ,, silent , a non conversationalist I learnt a lot reading his pictures as a photography text book.. he was very young in 2004 2005 but I learnt ,, to unlean photography thanks to him.

There have been many street photography Gurus in my online quest .. but none like Tom Andrews ,,

I mean you could post a picture get some great comments ,, but you can post a picture and talk a lot about it and get no comments but someone somewhere was reading it as silently as you had shot it is all I could think positively ,, even crap is read ,, and even crappy pictures are seen ,, there is a lot to learn from crappy pictures too ,,

Another strange part of street portraiture I hardly meet some people I shoot ,,, they conveniently disappear ,, and just the image remains ,, a moment lost in time ,,

I think I will be shooting more videos now is the gist of my rapidly running thoughts .. I have shot over 600 videos at my You Tube Channel.. and all as raw footage I still have to learn video editing I will when I have time and money too.. money comes from clothing .. dressing lambs as wolves ,, most of the time ,,


The Street Barber Holistically Heals You With His Scissor Hands




However at Banganga the venue of Pitru Paksha and religious tonsure where the North Indian Brahmin Bhaiyya offers all this along with the pind to his dead departed ancestors ,, parents ,, it is more razor hand than scissor hands ..

And they remove the hair on the head , the  moustache beard and even the eyebrows and arm pit hair , they clip the finger naiils too.

After the puja by the Pandits and the ingredients for the puja bought from Maharashtrian ladies at the Banganga Tank complex the devotees enter the tank, earlier they would place the leaves etc in the tank now it is placed in a huge cauldron..and the immersion of the pind is more symbolic  to save the fish fauna in the tank.

Most of the guys who come here as barbers may not be barbers , they could be tailors or carpenters or chaiwalas too , and they come to make a fast buck and you can see guys scalp with cuts and bruises and no detol no safety measures ,, but than faith moves mountains ,, and the Indian believes in Faith more than he believes in his own wife ,,

This man was in a trance while his head was being tonsured and I shot many frames ,to prove my point of holistically healing .. this man was in some other planet away from Banganga .

And this memory card I had left in my camera of 377 images and discovered it when I went to shoot Moharam Ashura in Lucknow ,,

Most of my images are shot on Canon 60D ,, as the Canon 7 D is very heavy with the vertical grip I never use it but I like it and it has been with me a present from my ex boss since 2011 ,

And both my cameras have two ingredients ,, Ganga Jamuna Tehzeeb.. Hindu gulal of Ganesha Immersion and my Shia blood of my Kama matam.. and time has come to get them cleaned ,, soon..


Both reds the Hindu red and the Shia red refuse to leave my cameras ,, and maybe mystically and holistically both these reds that create the magic in my pictures ,,I merely press the trigger I think.. I have no time to compose think of the shots I will shoot I simply shoot intuitively and think what I shoot even accidentally is the Hand Of God ,, like Maradona Lol


Nobody Would Call The Street Hajam A Hair Stylist




And yet he does a good job , working the magic of his fast moving fingers on a mans head ..he is humble and does not have the eminence or prominence of those that work in high end salons ,, but he is a force to reckon with and I have been fascinated with his work his humble origins , he is mostly from UP .. maybe Badayun or Meerut ,, but a North Indian migrant none the less .

There are those that move from street to street with their metal boxes in Bandra , than there are those that sit at the Lal Mitti Bandra Reclamation corner ,, or at St Peter Road sitting on a concrete block opp Baba Nagar Bandra.

There are many places you will find them at Parel Dadar and Hindmata .. but I shoot them at Bandra or collectively at Pitru Paksha Banganga ,, I love shooting barbers and mundan and religious tonsure ,, I have not yet shot a Khatna ,, male one lol .. circumcision.. but I will one day .

Almost all the street barbers at Banganga Pitru Paksha know me as I am the only one shoots them demonically ,, and regularly year after year and though the newer ones may act tough with me but than they realize I mean no harm..

I have shot a few videos too  this time at Banganga of the barbers .. and it is the only time you will see lots of bald heads , lots of hair strewn on the tony end of Jain populated 3 Batti Walkeshwar area and lots and lots of street barbers and a crazy man dressed as a sadhu in leopard pajmas shooting them..

I know young kids who come to get apprenticed at smaller bakdas or street shops , and gradually move out to open their own.. many make it some return dejected disheartened back to Bhaiyyaland .

These are my barber blogs that I call Barberism a set on Flickr ,,I have shot barbers for a very long time now ...

As my granddaughters have gone through the Akika or Mundan ceremony that have never forgotten barbers and love shooting them at Bandra Reclamation.

I believe and you can add this to my heresy that barbers have mystical powers they gather ethereal strength from peoples hair they cut ..almost emasculating them till their hair grows again...something like Samson and Delilah..

I had dreads nurtured by a tantric English jogan called Lady Diana,...I dont know what extensions and amulets she put in my hair that I was going insane till I had them chopped of ,, I became normal ..but now once again I am growing my hair and once again searching for Lady Diana,,,she lived with a guy called Slash in Goa..

I have shot religious tonsure during Maha Kumbh on the banks of the Ganges ,, and the esoteric group of mystical barbers seem to know me and gave me a lot of respect.. they were willing to tonsure me for gratis .. but I told them I was growing my hair .. with so many years of head cutting my head has more furrows and ploughed field than hair ,,,

And Anees at Rolex Bandra Bazar Road does the trimming of my growing hair ,, I havent colored my hair for many years now I loved going blonde .. simply because I was crazy about Blonde American females the wiser ones when I started of as a blogger at Buzznet ,,

So this is in short my hair raising story as a blog.. totally original content ,,,and I can procure it through my mobile phone too as aesthetically and as poetically like my Canon DSLR..

I dont know the finer aspects of commercial blogging but as a photo blogger ...I let the camera do the speaking .. I merely add a footnote to its humanity and humility .

Street Portraiture



I met him while returning from the Pitru Paksha shoot on 12 October at first he thought I was a Sadhu too.. I introduced myself to him and spoke to him about my Naga connection and my Naga Guru.. than I asked him if I could take his picture , he did not mind I shot a few frames .

There are some very interesting faces I meet on the streets that I shoot as candid s or take their permission before shooting them..

But the ones I meet almost every time I go to town are faces from the hijra community and I shoot them even if they dont like to be shot ,,and so I have over the years built a collection of over 20000 faces of the transgender from every walk of life .

I also shoot dabbawalas .. if I see them I stop them and shoot them, most of them know me so I hardly have any problem shooting them.. I took my camera to town this afternoon and shot some intriguing faces ...

108 Year Old Syed Masoom Ali Baba Asqan Madari..

Loved revered by his followers held in high esteem by the Hindus of Panihar where he stays he has built clinics schools f...