Copyright © Utsavi Singh
I went to a discussion by Award Winning National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths today. Even though I have loved taking photographs ever since I touched a camera for the first time and I have loved watching other people’s works…something which I never thought of before struck me while Griffiths was showing her photographs to us.
Beautiful as they were, each picture had a story to tell. It seemed like every pixel on the screen was itching to jump out and start telling us the mystery behind the photo. Even though Griffiths would explain what happened before and after every photograph that she took, I felt there was hardly any need to do so.
Every picture exuded an energy. After watching each picture on the slideshow, glimpses of life stories would come up in my mind. I would think of the many stories that were possible behind every face, every snapshot of a horse, the clouds, the American prairies, that picture of a man with a gun standing with a rabbi.
There were some pictures that aroused me….to do something for the earth, for the people on this planet. There were pictures of women in a line for water; there were picture of poor, but happy children going to school. There were pictures that made me think of the futility of my life on this planet and how there could be so much more that I could be doing to help others. That happened especially when Griffiths started telling us about her organisation ‘Ripple Effect Images’ which uses photographs as a medium to propagate awareness.
A picture thus, can stir emotions, memories, cultures, the motivation to do something worthwhile in life.
Then, there are pictures that make you want to jump from your seat in excitement. When you see a beautiful photograph of the sea and feel like diving into the picture itself…as if that alone will give you the sensation of swimming in the deep blue waters. When you see a picture of the land taken from a height or from a helicopter, you feel like you are flying. That lump in your throat when you see a picture of a crying baby and you feel the urge to move forward to wipe his tears and stop him from crying.
Pictures have a power that even the strongest words don’t. That still image of a man walking alone in a desert can bring so many thoughts to the mind. Is he lonely? Is he going for work? Is he going home? Is he about to meet a lover? Is he on an adventure? So many questions, each unanswered. Yet, complete in itself.
That’s the power of a photograph.
At this point, I am reminded of a song by Nickelback called ‘Photograph’. It tells you more about the magic of a photograph.
This little girl, was so engrossed in her school books that she didnt even notice us clicking a picture of her. While she studied, her mother and brother continued to sell trinkets in the street market. Now this is what gives me a little hope and indication, that the future of women’s education is a little brighter than a decade ago.
On my vacation to Lakshadweep, I saw more girls going to school than boys. What’s more? They were happy to go to school and learn about the world outside their little island.
At the servant quarters near the apartment complex where I live, one can find that most families send their children, even their little girls to school right from the beginning till they complete 10th class. Some hard working girls have even gone on to study further. Now they have respectable jobs in banks, or housing firms, etc. where they enjoy a good salary, and most importantly, a sense of self-pride and self-respect.
For the rest of the families which won’t send their girls to schools….I have to show to them this picture. I hope they take some inspiration from it.
After our trip to Kerala, next in line were the islands of Lakshadweep. Initially, I didnt want to go there as I was scared I will miss out on valuable preparation time for my exam. Little did I know what I was about to miss??
Lakshadweep- meaning a lakh islands….is a place where one forgets that a world exists where one has to struggle every moment to stay ahead and active in life, where all kinds of tensions: family, work and personal growth is a pain in the neck. Lakshadweep is a place where you think of angels on Earth, where you LIVE that filmy image of sitting peacefully in a bikini, on the white sands ….sipping on coconut water and thinking about how beautiful life is. Lakshadweep is a place which takes you away from real life…..!
The moment we got off the boat jetty on the island of Kalpeni, all we could see was clear, blue water and lush green coconut trees ALL around us. We were driven to the beach,in a small tempo on a road that was only wide enough to accommodate that particular vehicle. On both sides of the road were trees and more trees, and small huts of the inhabitants. Once every few metres, we would see a concrete single/double storeyed building. Beyond the trees, on all sides, was the sea!! (remember, its an island!!)
And the colour of the sea? A clean, clear, shiny blue whose surface glistened when the sun’s rays fell on it. It was so clear that we could see the floor of the sea so well, as if we were standing right on it.
After reaching the beach, we promptly changed into our swimsuits and went for snorkeling. India’s only coral islands, Lakshadweep has to offer, a variety of water sports like scuba diving, kayaking, glass boating, snorkeling, sea bathing, etc.
I wonder if we even needed to go into the water to see all that coral….as I already said, the water was so clear we could already see everything from above. However, how could we resist the temptation to get into such brilliantly blue, clean waters? Where the sun was just warm enough while we were in the cool water. Add to that, the B-E-A-Utiful corals that we saw….red, green, blue…in the most wonderful shapes imaginable: cactus like, starfish-like, brain corals, capsicum and pumpkin like (!)…….it was sheer bliss.
At both the islands, Kalpeni and Kavaratti (the capital island), we were welcomed by the locals and offered coconut water which immediately set the mood for some beach fun! At both the islands, we did kayaking and a bit of sea bathing which was a delight, even as much of the salty sea water went into our mouths.
After enjoying the water sports, we had a lunch of tuna fish and then went back to sit on the sand to make sand castles. My friend and fellow blogger AN, her brother and me, even though we are mature adults now, sat like kids in the sand and threw it over each other as we made our lovely little castle (and fixed a little flag on it!). The unique and best thing about these sands was their super-fine texture and their bright, white color. Thanks to the limited tourist population (one has to get a permit to come, foreigners are allowed only on certain islands), the beaches are relatively clean and still a treat for the eye. Although some people were inconsiderate enough to throw paper cups in the water. The local population, respects their natural surroundings and helps keep it really really clean. No wonder we fell in love with the place!
Speaking of the people of Lakshadweep, one would expect the locals of these small islands to be like the adivasis of Andaman and Nicobar. But they are pretty much the opposite. Lakshadweep has undergone a considerable amount of development, and development in a positive direction. Even though there is a 100% orthodox Muslim population, we could see school-going girls prancing around in their uniforms. There were posters of family planning and polio drops on the walls of the buildings indicating a good level of education-both literary and civic.