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.