Somewhere in the heart of India, I realised that even the most introverted child loves the camera. It works as an ice-breaker and as a charming conversationalist.
While staying at Kings Lodge in Bandhavgarh, we made a quick visit to Rancha. Barely a kilometre away from the rustic property, we entered the quiet and dusty village with not a soul in sight.
First our guide took us to Munni ji’s home, where we saw incredible artwork above the doors. After initial confusion, we were told that the stucco work was done by the male members of the house. The use of colours and the designs were impressive.
The men of the house step out to the fields for the day while she stays back with her grandchild and finishes daily chores around the spacious mud house.
Walking away from her house, I met a few others in the village. Even though the village appeared sparsely crowded, I realised it must have been the afternoon sun keeping everyone indoors.
I then met a lady who runs a small shop here and lives in the adjoining extended room with her husband. Even though she misses her hometown Manpur (about 20 kilometres away from Rancha), she is happy to be here and keep shop running, which her father-in-law had started. Her main patrons are the kids from the nearby school, who stop by to buy a few sweets with their pocket money. When I met her, her niece from Manpur was visiting, whose examinations had just finished and Rancha meant holiday.
The shy Gond children only stopped by once they saw me photographing the lady and her niece. First, they inspected my camera (if it enabled a preview) and on confirmation, they sat down to pose for me. Every image I took had to be approved by them!
As I hastily made my way back to the jeep, Bhabi waved at me. From her kitchen garden, she gestured for a photo. And even with our language barrier, she candidly told me that she’s uncomfortable in front of the lens but nonetheless, one must try. After a few satisfying test shots, she called some members of her family and they all shyly smiled for me.
Has the camera allowed you to make new friends?
Note: This village visit was made possible by Pugdundee Safaris.