Women yapping in the veranda, giggling children asking to be photographed and solemn men in the courtyards of public building staring into infinity to brood on world changing events together characterize bulk of Badami’s population. I wrote about them in bits and pieces in earlier posts. Here is putting them together in one post.
Most of the houses have some women or children sitting outside and killing time. When I heard two such kids pleading for a photo, I was glad to oblige and pulled out the camera from the bag. The next was the turn of an old lady, who was equally eager as the kids. She was with a group of 3-4 women on the veranda who had spread some grains around them for cleaning. She laughed jovially and asked to be photographed. I was happy to oblige again. There was a bit of excitement among the ladies when I took out the camera. They barely spoke first, but got chatty as soon as they realized that I speak Kannada. In these parts, they still think you are from a faraway country if you are hanging out with a backpack and a camera.
If I remember correctly, the lady’s name is Eeravva. She tried to pose and became stiff when I pointed the camera at her. I pulled back, smiled at her and said ‘you are supposed to smile’. The women around laughed, and Eeravva joined them too and said ‘I have a very big mouth’, indicating that she may not look very good smiling. The ice broken, I took a few pictures as she smiled. I was invited for tea soon after the photo session, but I politely declined. The conversation that ensued between us on the street was very typical – I was asked about my whereabouts, my family and what do I do for a living. Eeravva blurbed her story and about her children, unasked. I was invited for lunch that afternoon before I continued further towards the lake.
In Badami, women tend to sit together in front of the house, do some work and yap with their neighbours. Kids, restless that they are, keep going back and forth on the narrow streets, more often than not in their school uniforms. The younger men go out of the house to work. Old men have a difficulty in spending time. They gather under the ficus tree, in front of the temple, or wherever there is some space to sit. They discuss about world changing events, gaze at people walking on the street, try to strike conversation with anyone and everyone, play something silly, gamble or just continue to stay bored.
One evening I spent time taking pictures of a few of them, and naturally a conversation or two followed. Somehow the first question that pops up in everyone’s mind is “where are you from?” Subsequent questions can vary, but still belong to a small predictable set. ‘What do you do?’, ‘Are you a tourist?’, ‘Can you speak Kannada?’, etc.
Children hardly differ from one tourist town to other. ‘One photo,’ is a popular phrase with Badami’s kids too. They are delighted to see a stranger with a backpack. They come running, raise the index finger and repeat those well worn words with great delight. When I get one such request, I smile at them and move on if I am in a hurry to get somewhere. But when I have time in my hands, I pause for a quick chatter, take a picture and show it to them. It makes then dance with delight and makes me feel good. But I have to move on before their friends, and friends’ friends come along and build an army around me.