In Africa we have a saying “it takes a village to raise a child”.
In Asia I have a saying, “it takes a village to raise a photographer.”
We found that village, this morning – Anegundi. It’s but a small hamlet about 5km outside of Hampi – a riverside town in Karnataka that draws as many climbers to its bouldering landscape as it does travellers to its laid back atmosphere.
Garth and I were on our usual morning-light mission. We had been failing badly the past few days and really needed a reward for our early morning efforts. Cloud cover had become enemy number one. Our own ineptitude silently slid into second place. But, to be fair, it was probably a close tie. We were feeling despondent and a bit down. We really needed this morning to work for us, not against us. So you can imagine our speed and delight when we saw pink wispy tails cutting through the pre-dawn sky. This was it. The Gods (and there are many in these parts) were smiling down on us travellers.
Or maybe not. Our motorbike wouldn’t start. No amount of kick-starting, petrol tank shaking or hair pulling seemed to do the trick. After 10 minutes, our sense of humour was failing us, but not our stubbornness. We only had the bike for another 2 hours and we still had petrol in the tank. We weren’t about to give up. We’re thrifty like that.
But as we watched the red sun switch on the electric green rice paddies, we started to question whether the Gods had been smiling down on the early morning climbers instead.
But Garth wasn’t giving up. He was putting his back into it, but I could see he wanted to put his fist through it. As it happens in India, his persistence paid off and we were suddenly off, chasing the sun and pushing our petrol gauge and to its limits.
But when we got to the Monkey Temple, we realised that the sun wasn’t where it should be, or at least where we wanted it to be. So we pushed on, in the hope of capturing some early morning routines on the road and in the passing villages.
And then on a whim, we decided to take a short right and go into a bigger village for a chai (tea).
We found a great spot in the centre of the village, where a beautiful woman made us delicious ginger chai while her 3-year-old daughter “my name is Krishna Kamari” disappeared and reappeared from beneath her sari skirt.
The stage was set for Anegundi to come alive with morning routines in front of our lens and under the gentle gaze of the golden morning sun. As it turns out the people were as gentle and generous as the sun. They waved, smiled and returned as many greetings as they offered them.
We couldn’t believe our good fortune. In this beautiful setting, where bold colours, rough textures and proud villagers were working together like a good curry and rice, we were welcomed and treated like the official village photographers. The generosity of this small, humble village was raising our spirits and photography to a higher level. What they gave us was more than just their time, better than just strong poses into our humble lenses. They gave us access into their lives and routines, albeit briefly or in a small way. It was generous and we were grateful. We left with a lighter heart and a camera, heavy with stories we caught but a small glimpse of.
Our thanks to the people of Anegundi…
Merry Christmas one and all….