Back in the sixties when I grew up in India, we lived in a small apartment in a town near Calcutta.
Across the street was a tea-stall, a smaller one on the other side of the Grand Trunk Road, and yet another one beside it. The tea-stalls were serviced by groups of boys about my age, ten to twelve year olds. At four in the morning they would be awakened by a loud banging on the iron gate by the owner. Sleepy boys would slowly open the door and shuffle around in the dark. The day would begin by fetching water from the municipal water tap across the street, which they would do two iron buckets at a time, straining against their weight. Shouts of abuse would ring through the still air, prodding the reluctant boys into a frenzy of activity. Serving of tea, washing dishes, and more fetching of water would continue through the day until nearly midnight, when the boys would lock themselves in the shop for the night.
The gulf between them and me seemed only as wide as the street.
One of my fourth grade classmates, whose father had died suddenly, had to leave school to get a job in one such tea-stall somewhere down the road.
Then there were the coal depots, which sold fuel for coke ovens. A layer of black soot enveloped all the boys who worked there. Younger boys would only move the counter-weights around and keep tally in a dirty bound book. Somewhat older boys, and some girls, usually much older and stronger, enveloped in coal dust, their hair hidden under a piece of cloth, would hammer down large chunks of coke into smaller pieces and shovel them into piles or put them into wicker baskets. Then they would haul them to the neighborhood households, the black fuel piled into two baskets hanging from the ends of a yoke.
Some forty years later is his dream any different from those who had preceded him?
Critiques | Translate
christian_v (846) 2007-04-07 16:46
Sorry, I don't have any word to express my felling...
I just like it...Very simple
Thank you very much
mesutilgim (96730) 2007-04-07 16:48
Great capture, wonderfull pov and compo.
prantik (1136) 2007-04-07 18:12
The title, the note, the picture; not sure it can get better than this. It goes straight to my favourites. The flare on the right is a metaphor of his dream which however is entangled by those ropes, the bondage of ill fate that he will have to break , the background is pitch dark symobilzing a bleak past and his only hope is to move forward. He is sitting on the door sill that separates the world of darkness and the world of light, and where will he end up? The gibberish in Bengali on the left does wonders as if the world which already has sealed his fate is mocking at him.
KevRyan (22956) 2007-04-07 18:37
This has all the makings of a classically stunning image Animesh and I can well understand the value people will place on it - however for me it is an image that either needs some work or might have been framed better at the time of taking - there is this distracting light to the right - the overexposed sack and the perhaps less disturbing angle of the door to the left - but what is in there clearly and sharply is this beautiful portrait of the boy and one of the best reminiscent notes ever to grace TE........
best wishes KEv
vagabondtravels (6511) 2007-04-07 20:46
My eye is really pulled to the light in this sharp b&w. Good tones. Nice choise with the vertical format. Great capture of daily life. Well done.
csavery (172) 2007-04-08 3:44
Lovely atmosphere. And fine use of empty space to accentuate the feeling of timelessness frozen. I also get a sense of the smallness of the boy in his surroundings.
Wietse (568) 2007-04-08 3:47
I found this one of your best
Furachan (0) 2007-04-08 6:10
Animesh...India...and the 50 Summicron, let me tell you, that is a winning combination. Superbly composed along the vertical - there is mystery here, and layers of depth. Great tnal transfer from your scan by the way. An image that stays in the mind...
nerve (10231) 2007-04-08 8:15
oh, its such a shame for this light leakage really, i thought it was a light coming out of the window, then i realized that it was just the door and some weird light rays on it.. oh well, still though, it is a great pose of this kid Animesh, beautiful tones, and a clear, sharp image overall..Best.
ramesh_lalwani (3211) 2007-04-08 11:28
very toching story.We in India have similar stories about claa mates who could not make it through school.About photo I have similar coments like Kev.Cropping on right can do wonders to this photo.
photographer123 (6246) 2007-04-08 11:47
very good shot..good use of bw..placement of material r very good..well done...SUBIR
partha (14023) 2007-04-08 12:28
Its just a terrific shot.Brilliantly pre visualised and wonderfully executed shot.
arnabchat (7233) 2007-04-09 4:34
... as i am, looking at this work of yours.
Animesh-da, I love the contrast tones here, just enough to bring out the feel in the image.
designsoul (21492) 2007-04-09 17:53
There are times when a seeming imperfection actually benefits the work. I am one who loves the overexposed glow on the right, Animesh. I find it well placed within the moving note and the shot with the child. THere is darkness, and there is this fantasy or hope of light... the glow just fits in with that. Wonderful Leica shot... beautiful, very strong impact.
kajspice (4542) 2007-05-06 5:51
There are times when a (perhaps) standard image changes in one's opinion when the note is as touching as this one. Your note brings a huge lump to my throat, even as I read it quickly...
The photograph might have been better composed, but it carries the emotions you felt. You did not fail to evoke similar emotions in me...reminding me of my father's stories, which will ring in my ear until my dying days. Feelings, which can only perhaps be backed up with photographs such as these...photographs such as these, which I will show to my children one day...
scalerman (26900) 2007-05-17 4:01
A: certainly among your finest. Just enough Bengali on the wall to set the place. This is some really emotive BW work. regards, c
diafani (1143) 2007-08-31 7:50
India in Black& White. You are a brave contrarian. Marvelous shot.
pracas (511) 2007-10-24 7:37
Yet another picture thats more than a picture... Raises a lot of questions... As type this... I suddenly feel a withdrawl deep inside... Will it ever stop?
- Copyright: Animesh Ray (AnimeshRay) (9089)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Black & White
- Date Taken: 2006-12-31
- Categories: Daily Life
- Camera: Leica M6, Summicron 50mm/f2.0, Kodak TRI-X 400
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): Second Cut, Children Poverty, My Stylesheet [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2007-04-07 16:35
- Favorites: 3 [view]