I have devised a system where I nestle the camera between E. and me while riding the scooter into the villages, so I can press the shutter, wave and smile, and not fall of the machine, all of that simultaneously. It’s the scooter equivalent of “shooting from the hip”. I have a lot of photos of people from the villages, and since we have been going to the same area quite a few times, I now remember them and know where they live. Last week I printed them, and tonight we went on a mission looking for these people.
It usually goes like this: I see someone whose picture I have with me, tap E. on the shoulder to stop on the side of the, let’s call it “road”. I get off the scooter, walk toward the person with the picture and hand it to them with both hands, signaling that it’s a gift. There is a second of hesitation. They take it, look at it, with a bit of apprehension. Once they recognize themselves, it never fails: they look up at me, laugh, and call for someone else to come and look (Indians are never alone, there is always someone close by), they all laugh, and then I hear “something something photo something something”. None of them so far spoke English beyond “thank you”. Which I don’t really need, the smiles and the laughs are enough.