So much of the places you go end up being the people you meet.
On my most recent trip out of the Valley, I was excited that people were willing to let me photograph them. A group of young boys who were busy with a game of football left their play to tag along as I wandered about their village. Within minutes the pleas of “didi mero euta single kichdinuna” began, and where at first I tried to take the single shots they requested it became impossible due to their large number and the fact that they were unable to keep still or stand at a distance where photographing them was possible. A group shot of a few of them, and a blur in a photo is all that was worth keeping.
At another time, two beautiful women, a generation apart, sat and while I asked politely if I could photograph them, they complied but posed in the most serious of facial expressions. “Didi haasnussna!” I asked, and when they did smile they radiated joy. After I was done, the younger woman looked and me and said, “aba tapai,” I wasn’t sure if she wanted me to take a picture of myself or if she was offering to take a photo of me, but then she held her mobile out and in a minute there was a red-faced and not very flattering image of me staring back from her screen.
Other times in tourist wanderings, if children don’t laugh and bounce by your side offering an enthused Nameste, they stare, and if you’re lucky, they’ll pose and offer a smile when you peer at them through your viewfinder. It’s like a game without rules but where you can still err.
My favorite photo of people is without a doubt, a grandmother and her grandchild. When I walked by she was yelling at her nati trying to scare the tears out of him, but as she pulled him on her back and tied him in, I asked to take a picture and her entire mood changed. So now, what I have to remember her by is the winkles on her face and the wear and tear she’s born taking care of generations on her back.