Photograpy, India, Portraits, Anglo Indians, Family and me

Tag: the beautiful people blog

Reena at the water tank in Kolkata

Almost directly opposite the Oberoi Grand, that is by far the most beautiful hotel in the Chowringhee lane area of Kolkata, there is a water tank. That water tank is used by most of the poorer people in the area who do not have access to clean running water.

I first spoke with Reena at that water tank in November 2002. Reena was and still is stunning. She was twenty one years of age at that time and she had very long straight black hair and when I saw her for the first time, she looked striking.

I felt compelled to take her portrait, I asked her if that was ok  and although she was shy she said yes. She was laughing for most of the time. I guess she was totally embarrassed.

Over the years of travelling across India and because I have passed through the Chowringhee area of Kolkata a number of times now I have bumped into Reena on many occasions. I usually bump into her when she is at the tank and she has just finished washing her hair, which I guess must be a daily routine for her.

I have watched Reena change from the shy young lady I that first encountered nine years ago  into the confident  woman that she is today. I photographed her when she became pregnant and I have photographed  her children. Reena is always happy and smiling and when I pass her in the street these days she always stops me and asks me to take her portrait and it is these portraits that are special as they are given as gifts.



Abdul Hannan Kolkata 2002

It was in December 2002 whilst I was walking through ‘The Maiden’ when I first saw Abdul. The Maiden is the huge Park in central Kolkata where hundreds of people meet to either watch or play cricket. I didn’t know his name then but Abdul was sitting close to the press pavilion and he was counting his coins. Abdul was begging by the side of the curb and as I walked passed him he smiled at me and I smiled back.

Over the course of the next few days I saw Abdul sitting in the same place and each time I passed him we acknowledged each other. One morning before I was about to leave Kolkata I went to find Abdul and I asked him of I could take his portrait. He said yes.

 Kolkata 2005

Three years later, I was walking along the busy road that leads to Park Street cemetery and I came across a figure that I recognised asleep on the pavement. It was Abdul. I took one photograph of Abdul and woke him from his sleep, when he recognised me he wrapped his arms around me. After this meeting I kept bumping in to Abdul from time to time and we would go and have a drink, him a cup of Tea and me a glass of beer. He told me his full name was Abdul Hannan and he was married with five children but as he had no work he begged on the street and he sent the money back to his family.

He told me that the police had eventually moved him from his spot in The Maiden and he was now sleeping rough, he told me that he really didn’t get on to well with his wife, so he preferred not to go home, though if he wished to go home, he could.

The very last time I saw Abdul was in 2008, I bought him a pair of shoes which he was very grateful for and in return he bought me a beer. I always look for Abdul when ever I am in Kolkata.

 Portrait Jason Scott Tilley

The laughing fishermans wife

The woman laughing is the wife of a Keralan fisherman from the small village of Vizhinjam just two kilometres south of Kovalam. Kovalam is famous for being the first Indian beach tourist destination for travelling hippys in the early 1960’s. One of the jobs of the fishermen’s wives is to set the price of the days catch before the fish are sent off to market. One of the other and more unpleasant jobs for these women after a mornings fishing is to collect the live jelly-fish that get caught up in nets and bury them in deep pits in the sand so that the many western tourists who still flock to  this coastal Keralan resort don’t get their precious feet stung. Not to worry too much about the pain and the itching from the stings of the jelly-fish to these womens hands!

Portrait by Jason Scott Tilley