Posts Tagged ‘kids’

The type of things I like to look at

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

December 16 was Victory Day in Bangladesh, which is a pretty huge deal. It celebrates the same day in 1971 on which the Pakistani army surrendered, finally granting Bangladesh their hard fought independence. AUW students put on a huge parade around our neighborhood, but I’m leaving photos of that to another post. After the parade, I spent some time with my camera meandering around the neighborhood. I didn’t think it possible, but I was actually even more popular with Bangladeshis that day than usual, due no doubt to my Bengali face paint that one of the students had been nice enough to do for me in the morning.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)

Photo taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on December 16, 2009.

There wasn’t anything especially spectacular going on outside, but (as is always the case in Bangladesh) there was plenty to see, begging to be made into images. I suppose the title of this post could serve as a (rather lame) subtitle for my entire blog… I’ve just noticed that while I was in South Asia, I predominantly took a large number of just a few types of photos, and I think the sampling in this post is a rather representative slice. I like Bangladeshi men who quietly revel in giving the camera solid inexpressive faces, and I like kids who ask for pictures and then carry on the tradition by imitating those men. I like people at work. I like dogs, and shadows, and I love splashes of bright color.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on December 16, 2009.

Children of Chittagong, and more

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Near the beginning of December, right after the big four day AUW special visitor event that I photographed (which I think for now I’ll just let slip into general unmentioned obscurity), I had the opportunity to once again go out into Chittagong with Mow (the student who took me to some of the slums and other interesting locations around the city). She had the goal of talking to some child laborers, and also revisiting the refugee camp that we had been to once before. We did both, and combined with a short walk I took afterwards around my immediate neighborhood, it all made for an interesting and colorful day. I think I’ll leave it at that for now and let my images do most of the talking.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on December 6, 2009.

Wandering around the neighborhood on Eid al-Adha

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Back at the end of November there was an important Muslim holiday called Eid al-Adha, known in English as the “Festival of Sacrifice”. It is called this because it is traditionally celebrated with the slaughter of an animal: usually a cow or maybe a goat. Catie and I had been told that when this holiday occurs in Chittagong that “the streets run red” with the blood of all the sacrificed animals. Upon hearing this most people at AUW decided to get the heck out of the city for a few days or at least shut themselves up in their apartments temporarily, but quite on the contrary I was very excited to go out and see (and yes, photograph) the festivities for myself. Catie and Denise were up for the experience as well so on the morning of the day of sacrifices we wandered out into the streets to see what we could see.

We started off quite early (around 8AM) and there weren’t very many people out. Rickshaws and CNGs were scarce and all the shops were closed. There was more activity and prayer than normal at the nearby mosque though and we saw a number of men heading that way. Eventually we wandered into a somewhat upscale neighborhood in the hopes that we might be able to see some decorated cows there before the sacrifice. This turned out to be rather easy as on every street there was cow after cow (after goat) after cow each tied up in front of individual homes. We kept walking deeper into this bovine maze until we hit something of a dead end, at which point we were greeted by a large number of people who lived along that street. They were happy to see us but also curious as to why we were wandering about that morning. We communicated to them that we were interested in the holiday and had come out early to admire the cows. We were about to say our goodbyes and continue our aimless wandering, but a couple of young girls got excited about our quest and took it upon themselves to be our guides in finding all the biggest and most impressive cows in the neighborhood. (And I must say, they were most satisfactory guides indeed!)

What with a group of three tall white people and two young Bengali girls strolling about gawking at and taking pictures of cows, it didn’t take long for the snowball effect to occur so that we had an immense following of local Bengali people walking around with us. The kids would amuse themselves at our interest in the cows and the men would beckon us over to photograph them with their particularly impressive animal (or with their family, friends, and neighbors at large).

At one point a boy of about 10 years excitedly waved me over towards a car parked on the side of the street. I wasn’t sure what he wanted but I followed him to the front windshield of the car where he had started to point at something on the dashboard. It turned out to be a little toy dancing flower, and the boy was gesturing at me to take a picture of it. I happily obliged and showed him the image on the back of my camera, and he looked, smiled, and laughed before running back to the group. That moment felt so pure and positive; it reminded me of being a kid and getting my hands on a camera for the first time and promptly “wasting” a whole roll of film photographing my ninja turtles and matchbox cars. I wish I could have followed that boy to all of the other things in his world that he thought would make good photos.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)

Photo taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on November 28, 2009.

This post contains general photos from our exploration throughout the day – of some of the people we met and things we saw – but does not really include any images of animals (living, being killed, or dead). I’m going to save those for another post or two. (Consider this your first fair warning of some imminent violent imagery to come…)

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on November 28, 2009.

Exploring the back-alley Chittagong markets

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Near the end of November on the day before the big sacrifice of Eid al-Adha Catie, Sarah, and I went out looking for cows that had been decorated for the holiday. Earlier while in a CNG we had seen – amongst many others – one that was absolutely covered with pink glitter and flowers, and Catie obviously needed to go back to see it again and take a picture. We wandered about the New Market area of Chittagong for a while, and although we didn’t come across many cows we did stumble upon a giant hidden labyrinth of back-alley markets filled with all sorts of fruit, vegetables, sugarcane, fabrics, clothes, spices, meat, and an unbelievable number of fish (both dead and alive). We were a little intimidated at first but it was a great part of the city and of course in true Bangladeshi fashion everyone was extremely nice and happy to have us come through.

Closer to the center of New Market I also saw the same blind man I had photographed and written about previously. He was in almost the exact same spot, wearing the same clothes, and had the same bag although it looked he had collected some new things as well. But when you look at the pictures side by side you can see that his appearance has changed considerably. His clothes look older and dirtier, and his beard is longer and his hair mussed up, but he’s also noticeably skinnier. The photos were taken just barely over a month apart; I wonder if he had more trouble getting things to eat in November. And I wonder what he looks like now, another month and a half after the last time I saw him.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Oct 23, 2009)

Photo taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on October 23, 2009.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)

Photo taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on November 27, 2009.

As I’ve been photographing in Bangladesh I’ve been thinking about ways that I could give back to the people I’ve taken images from, and one of the most immediate ways I thought of was trying to find the people again and give them prints of their photos. I’m not sure whether people here would find much value in such a gift. Unfortunately I’m quite sure that this blind man on the street probably wouldn’t for obvious reasons. Perhaps if I could sell his image I could bring him back money from the sale, but who knows how far in the future that might be and if he’ll still be there then, or where that money would end up going after I gave it to him, and if it would be safe if it were a large sum. Perhaps I could give it to him in installments, or in the form of food. Maybe I could bring someone who spoke Bangla to explain myself to him…

I don’t know… I need to continue to give these things more thought. I just want to be sure that I am always giving back to the people that I am taking from.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 27, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on November 27, 2009.

Playing cards in the afternoon by the docks

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Recently I got to explore a bit more of Chittagong with Mow (the student who took me to the slums a while ago). This time we went to an older part of town along the Karnaphuli River. There was a small group of us and we walked around together for a bit checking out the scene along the waterfront. On our way back onto the streets I saw a group of men playing cards in the shade of a small hut constructed of bamboo poles and rain tarps. As my companions continued on down the street I drifted towards the men, excited about the photographic opportunity but also very curious at the first trace of games I’d seen in Bangladesh. They smiled at me as I approached and despite their not speaking a word of English and my speaking about four words of Bangla they seemed perfectly happy to have me hang out and watch. I couldn’t figure out what game they were playing, but often when someone would play a card he’d throw it down onto the pile with some serious gusto. (Perhaps this was a bit of showmanship on my behalf, but I actually think they were just really into the game. At one point it looked like a fight might break out between two of the men after a rather contentious round.)

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)

Photo taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on November 15, 2009.

I actually ended up hanging out there for a good half an hour. Mow and the others had long since continued on (only after my convincing Mow that I would be fine there alone and that I’d call her mobile to meet back up with them later). I would have stayed even longer were it not for a strange miscommunication between myself and a boy who had been watching me. He eventually came over to me and suggested that I should leave, and I thought it was because he was trying to tell me that I was bothering the men (which seemed quite odd since they had been so friendly to me the whole time) but the boy then walked down the street with me and it turns out he was just trying to get me to leave so that I would come with him into what I presume was either his home or most likely the place where he worked. I was a little annoyed at this but I just said no thank you, walked off, and called Mow to reconnect with the group. We found each other and spent a few more minutes wandering about before we left for the day.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 15, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on November 15, 2009.