Monthly Archives: November 2010

bicycles at dawn…

Get up at 5.30am for a bicycle ride, by 8 it will be too hot to be pleasant.  Can’t capture the true nature of the sun, it is a giant ball of diffused, fuzzy orange, there is mist in the air and a heavy dew on the ground.

At that time in the village and surrounding countryside folks have been up for a while already, the request for portraits come thick and fast…even as i am speeding by on a bicycle…

We cycle to Tulip Gardens another orphanage 6 or 7 km away. It is a smaller affair, some 60 or so children all with HIV. The kids come here in a horrible state, often unused to any kind of affection due to the huge taboo that still surrounds their illness.

The place is run by a rather remarkable Dutch couple who have been in India since ’76. They show us around…i don’t take photos as yet again i find myself facing the dilemma of whether or not to photograph…it seems a little sensationalist to photograph these HIV kids so i don’t. The kids do well here and their illnesses are managed, a bus brings them every day to school where i teach at Daddy’s Home…

Map from HIV/AIDS charity Avert:

Map of India showing the worst affected states for HIV/AIDS

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indian beauty hint…

The ladies round these parts make a hair treatment from fenugreek which they pound and add to curd, they then apply it like a hair mask and leave it for an hour or so. It is very good for dandruff and your hair smells lovely afterwards.


classes…

The orphanage kids go their own purpose built school from kindergarten all the way till they leave or go to college. There are around 1000 kids in total, 500 from the orphanage, and around the same from local villages.

Anyway, my classes started and they were huge in number, i was shocked to see around 40 kids trooping into my class room for the first lesson.

Impossible to deal with so many or even to hold their attention (10 – 13 years old) so then i had to do the horrible thing of getting them all to do some drawing for me and then made a selection of around 15 per class based on enthusiasm and some ability….arghh it was horrible, i felt like the grim reaper walking round making my selection. In the end its for the best though as with smaller classes i can give much more attention to the students individually…god the anxiety…what if i knocked back a budding genius…???anyway, went through this procedure with 2 groups…2 more to go…

This afternoon photography class with the older group, only 3 of my former students from last year are in it, lots of new faces and this year many more girls than boys (there is a reason for this which i will go into later). Already a couple of pretty decent shots were taken…

Students work:

the red barber…

I photographed him last year, a young barber who plies his trade from a tiny hut at the edge of Buddavaram* just outside the orphanage, i hope do a series of photographs on him and his clients this year if he lets me…The inside is papered red and bathes him and his customers in a glorious red light… His black clothes mean he is following a Ayyappa Deeksha** (see also Bhavani Deeksha previous post for similar religious behaviour, the devotees clad entirely in red). Anyway he gets a post to himself because he looks rather splendid…

The Red Barber’s Hut – a genius use of a small space…

* Buddavaram means “Wednesday” in the language of Andhra Pradesh, Telugu

** Ayyappa Deeksha is an offering on the part of an individual as part of the Hindu religion, there are many many rules but what it boils down to is that the devotee must live a very austere life for 41 days preceding a visit to the Temple. During this time, the mind is made to withdraw from the worldly objects and is slowly directed towards Ayyappa.

The black clothes symbolise a mind withdrawn from all material  objects. The black cloth suggests devotee is dead to the world of perceptions, emotions and thoughts and he is immersed in the thought of Ayyappa.

babies home…

Right now there are 29 children in Babies Home (part of the Daddy’s Home orphanage )and always more girls than boys ranging from newly born to 3 years old. They are sent here by Childline India where any immediate medical problems are taken care of. Then the child’s presence at the orphanage is advertised in order to try to find relatives. After a certain period, if no one comes forward, the child stays with Daddy’s Home. The majority of children will be adopted, but not the ones with HIV, the medical bills are prohibitively expensive, thought they do have a decent chance here of a long life, they will be given the relevant medicine and looked after. Next week around 6 adoptions will go through so the population will drop, but more will come.

I come here sometimes when i have spare time. Am not at all maternal, but here you find yourself doing things you would not normally do, so i come here to play with the babies just to help give them some stimulation. The place is well run and well staffed but of course it’s impossible to dedicate all the time that would normally be dedicated to a baby for play and contact…so any bit of extra attention helps.

(my feet – Patricia pointing, Stella in the foreground)

Stella (above) – i was shocked when i found out she was 3 years old, though apparently she has made huge progress from when she first came here, with malnutrition and covered in heat boils. She is nearly walking now but she doesn’t talk yet.

(Jamini – 2 months old and gaining weight…)