Thursday, August 14, 2008

When A Picture Is Not Worth All the Thousand Words

As further proof that time stood still during Mom's annual yatra Down Under, I entered the kitchen to realize that I had not changed the calendar since June...so I rip off the page to "bring in" August...now the calendar has snapshots from around the world, so I was pretty chuffed to see Pakistan for Aug...major serendipity..it being "Aug 14" et al. So we have this toothy Chitrali in a tea shop fixing a tea pot held between his toes, so after I ooh and aah about the "perfect timing" I step back a bit and wonder about the whole "folksiness" of it and the write up..yes yes its all very interesting. I potter around preparing the morning cuppa as the Chitrali watches me with a twinkle in his eyes, while I try not to be put off as I see that the tea pot is held between grimy toes and miles of gnarly, grubby nails.

But Im just wondering is this all that the photo journalist could "get" out of my community. stapling tea pots with metal pins..for Gman's benefit I scan through the pages and find India...yup Punjabi Sardar, "exotic" market place...listen Im not getting into the whole "show us as modern industralized states, in science labs, perched over super-microscopes"..I dont want to replace one kind of cliché by another. But Im just wondering why shades of Orientalism still linger when it comes to telling stories for our part of the world...like the other entries are pretty much about university students...wine making...economic reforms..fisheries...different stories for diferent communities..why is it left to the desis to provide the "masala"? Im not insulted, just irritated that when it comes to the South Asian story the world has not moved beyond the "friendly native". What is your take? Is my angst about the Chitrali tea-shop wallah just a -ahem- storm in a tea cup?

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