Saturday, 30 June 2012

Running With Books

In India, signs that appear to be standard graphics can still carry subtle variations. Hand painting means freedom of interpretation.

Here's a typical school zone/crossing sign. Or maybe a handbag stealing area?

Another school sign. Looks the same, right? Well...not quite. Check out the puffed chest and there's more spring in the gait. Maybe this sign is for a high school?

Friday, 29 June 2012

A Few Of The 30 Million

With 30 million Indians riding the trains everyday, there's a bounty of wonderful faces. Waiting for the 6 pm train in Tirupati:

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Men Waiting

Hanging out in India can mean, well, just hanging out. And as luck would have it for one of the sexes, the men get to do it a lot. Walk down any street and the men are gathered around a tea vendor, a bus stop bench, any location that looks like a logical gathering place.

Outside a barbershop, one of the universal guy gathering places. And James' homage to this famous Paul Strand photograph.

Sitting, standing, hanging out. But don't get too close!

Warning, this photograph has not been color corrected! Waiting for a train. Amazing color.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Rail Rations

Whenever we return from somewhere else, everyone always wants to know about the food. "You went to the Taj Mahal? How was the food?" So why not the train?

It was a food free-for-all. Forget a bland dining car, how about a dining platform, vendor stall, wandering samosa men, tea fellas, tiffin meals and anything else you can imagine.

While waiting, how about an impromptu platform picnic with the family?

Didn't bring your own meal? No worries, just wait for one of the many guys selling whatever can be transported on a tray. Everything deep fried, chips and soda, tea, even ice cream. Not hungry? Then you can get a deck of cards, among other items.

Now you're on the train, time for some traveling and chowing. Why skimp? It's another picnic!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Riding The Raj Rails

James and a friend hopped the rails recently to see what train travel is all about in India. Second class sleeper, here we come!

A typical train, rolling down the tracks. The conductor, punching our tickets, checking his list.

Inside some sort of cargo/crew car with the men of the railroad. Second class sleeper: a bunk for everyone, even bedding and a privacy curtain.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Train Waiting

Everyone knows how big the railway system is in India: more than 70,000 miles of track serving 30 million people a day; 1.36 million employees. Time to check it out.

A typical platform, busy as always. Or, sometimes, not so much.

There's a never-ending parade of vendors selling snacks and drinks, in this case, bags of water.  Looking down at the action.

In addition to people, plenty of other stuff goes by rail. There's no such thing as excess baggage. If you can haul it, it can ride.

Another busy day, time to wash up, using the water supply lines in the middle of the tracks. The throngs disembarking. Another day in India, another 30 million people.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Pop Top Play

Sometimes in India, you have to create your own fun. Not a problem: grab a handful of bottle caps and let the games begin.

A group of guys on the sidewalk, deep in competition.

The playing board and someone out to win.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Bald Is Beautiful

Once the tonsuring is done, time to show off the new you. There are plenty of people milling around Sri Venkatesvara Temple with clean domes. A sample:

A pair of friends and a guy going solo.

The kids aren't exempt, even babies. "Look ma, no hair!" (She probably knows).

Of course, a bit of razzing from friends is inevitable. And a nasty sunburn - time to pay a visit to the hat vendor.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

James' Tonsure Turn

The blade waits for no one. And then it was James' turn. The process is quick and painless. Have a seat, the tonsuring begins and a few minutes later, you're left with a cranium bowling ball. No need for a barber for about five months. Fantastic!

The blades come out and the hair is prepped for shearing.

We don't recommend trying this at home. For demonstration purposes only: before and after.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tonsure Time

Who needs a haircut? If you make the major pilgrimage to Sri Venkatesvara Temple, a wish and a tonsure, or head shaving, is an everyday activity. Hmm, "When in India?" James went with his fellow photog friend, Paul, and they had to have the full pilgrimage experience. And the blade comes out....

Paul, settling in for the big hair cut. "Really, it all comes off?" Start your prayer, make the wish and watch the hair tumble.

On the left, a little boy getting his hair tonsured - for the third time! A little off the back? Nope, all of it.

The hair collects and is saved, cleaned and sold. Almost done.

How'd we do? Before and after.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A Hair Collecting Adventure

At Sri Venkatesvara Temple, tonsuring translates into big business. The temple processes thousands of folks a day and saves every lock of hair that falls its way. The temple moves tons of the stuff a year, raising millions of dollars for its various causes. From a humble Indian villager's head to a Beyonce wig, it's the global economy at its finest.

Maybe you remember the temple being featured in the Chris Rock documentary, Good Hair. Enough Hollywood hob-nobbing, time to get cutting.

Ten rupees for a cut = about 20 cents. Deal! The scene at one of the typical cutting facilities: basically a large, wet room with a dozen or so tonsuring stations.

The hair piles up quickly, but is just as rapidly collected and thrown into big tanks, saved for spinning into money.

A barber wielding his tool. Another customer, almost done.