For a change, I have a post with no photographs – because I couldn’t get any.
I usually go on a photography trip over the weekend. While trips outside Hyderabad are with friends, if I go somewhere within Hyderbad I prefer going by myself – mainly because photography is a sort of “I need to be involved in it” activity, which doesn’t always go down well with other people in the group, plus it’s easier to think of photographs when I’m on my own.
Today I had planned on going to this place called “Badshahi Ashoorkhana”, a 16th century building located in Afzalganj. I booked a cab to be there at my place at 3:00 in the afternoon, so that I could be there by 4:00 pm – giving me enough time in the sun for my shots.
As luck would have it, the cab reached my place only at 3:45 pm – apparently the driver was held up due to some election rally (Hyderabad has GHMC elections tomorrow). Anyway, all was not lost yet, I thought even if I reached by 4:30pm, it should be ok. It’s just a single building anyway, how many shots could I get? But life isn’t that easy. The driver had not heard of Ashoorkhana. He called up 1 million other people and they hadn’t heard of Ashoorkhana either. It was 4:00 pm, sunlight would soon start fading, and I knew that Ashoorkhana was a lost cause. I then asked my driver to take me to “Lotus Pond”. It’s a garden sort of place I’d heard of. But of course, the driver didn’t know where that was either. Are you kidding me?? What the hell was he doing driving a cab if he doesn’t know half the places in Hyderabad!!! The second round of phone calls ensued, to find out the location of Lotus “Pind” as he called it. After what seemed like ages, he finally go it and we started driving towards “Lotus Pind” at 4:15 pm.
Have you ever experienced that feeling, when you’re in a car, and you need to catch a flight or a train, and every single moment is so precious, and the stupid car seems to be moving so damn slowly, that you just wish that you could get down and push the car yousrself to make it move faster? Or maybe push the driver out and drive there yourself (I didn’t think that, I don’t trust my driving skills so much yet), but you get the point. I needed to get to Lotus Pond, well in time while the sunlight lasted, and here was this guy driving at 30 kmph. Grinding my teeth was all I could do to refrain from really really really shouting at him.
We finally reached Lotus Pond (after a number of wrong turns in between) – only to find it was literally a pond (more like a marsh), not very big either, with a path running all around it. Yep, obviously I’m not supposed to be taking any photographs today. Anyway, I tried to make the best of what was available. A good photographer can make anything look like a photograph after all….or so I’d heard.
Barely 15 mins might have passed when a bunch of wannabe guys on a bike, stopped outside the garden wall and whistled. I’m no “brave woman of the modern world”, I ignored the guys and made my way towards the gate where the car stood. This incident was enough to make me call it a day, and go back home.
As we drove back, I wondered how hard it is for a girl to pursue hobbies that require travelling – many times alone. And it’s so unfair that just because it’s not safe, she can’t do what she likes. I’ve always known that our societal setup is not very “lone girl friendly”, but it has never really been a hindrance so far. Yeah we had hostel timings in college (and guys didn’t), and ya I can’t stay out alone till late, but today I really felt how much freedom can mean, and how, even though nothing happened, I’ll always think twice before doing something like this again.
I recently finished a book titled “The Idea of Justice” by Amartya Sen. I won’t get into the details of the book, but it’s unjust if some members of the society (men or women), may have the opportunity, but not the capability to do what they reasonably can. My taking photographs should be purely a function of what I can do with my camera, and not of whether I’m a girl, and whether I can go out safely alone. But apparently it is.
I have no adequate ending to this post. I’m now back at home, pissed off at the stupid driver who didn’t know his way around, and at the guys who had strange ideas about macho-ness. I did get some photographs of Lotus Pond which I’ll post eventually. But India, and I guess the world in general, has a long way to go before we all can truly believe that we can pursue our dreams wholeheartedly. And that those dreams getting fulfilled is purely a function of our own abilities and hard work, and not of the system and society we live in.