Skip to main content

India: Friendly Faces

Something unexpected but wonderful about travelling in India, or certainly the southern regions, was the genuine interest shown in my mother and me as tourists. For the vast majority of the trip, we were the only Westerners we saw, even at very famous historical sites filled with Indian tourists. It was also interesting that the local people, certainly the women, mainly wore Indian-style clothing rather than western outfits; one of our guides pointed out a school trip of North Indian teenagers at a site in Mysore, and after 3 weeks of saris and salwar suits it was quite strange to see so many jeans and t-shirts.


In many places we were approached by families or individuals who either wanted us to take their photograph, or who wanted to take photos of us, almost always with mobile phone cameras, and often including shots with them posing next to us. Once the bizarre experience of being treated like a celebrity wore off, it just felt lovely to interact with people, and enjoy a bit of mutual culture shock.
I think wearing Indian style clothing acted as a bit of social lubricant- I noticed people doing double-takes when they saw a white face inside a scarf and salwar kameez; my nose piercings also got many thumbs up and questions about UK fashion.

As you'd expect, many children were keen to check us out and pose for photos, always immediately wanting to see the result on the camera screen.

Children in Badami. The two boys on the left were busy scrapping and the girls told them to pose.

Two boys who were among a group playing with sticks and tyres at a historic site (Summer Palace) south of Bidar.


Group of boys at Bidar outside an old mosque.

But also older individuals were keen to have pictures taken, and whole families too, sometimes causing blockages in the street as everyone took turns to stand next to us while others snapped away on their phones.

Photo riot starting in the street outside a temple. It took a good while for everyone to get the shots they wanted on their phones.


Posing for me after he had asked for a photo, at Sravanabelagola Jain site.


This man was crossing a busy roundabout through traffic, and came right up to the car window wanting to be photographed. The guy in the background carrying chickens thought it was funny.
 
A proud father at Badami cave temples with his beautiful baby.


A family group at the Vijayanagara sacred city, otherwise known as Hampi.


The family below were at a Sufi shrine we visited in Bidar: the girl on the right was especially intrigued by us and followed me about while we both giggled. She eventually ran off to find her friend's mobile phone and asked for a photo, so I asked for one back and she got her family to pose with her, while my mum took one of us together.



 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Wherefore Art Thou, Neanderthal?

Adventures in Silcrete: "It's flint Jim, but not as you know it!"

Something that everyone who works in the archaeology of deep prehistory has to get to grips with is the technology of stone tools, or lithics. This includes thinking about the ways in which people made their tools, which techniques they chose to use, etc. It also means that Palaeolithic archaeologists, alongside needing to know stuff about climatology, palaeontology, and ecology, need to delve into the science of geology. People in prehistory might not have understood the origins of different kinds of rocks, but they certainly appreciated the diversity in stone qualities, not only between very different rock types but also within geological/mineral categories.


These two Neandertal tools that I studied for my PhD, called handaxes, are both very finely worked, but made from completely different rocks. The one on the left (Castle Lane, Bournemouth) is made from Cretaceous flint found in the south and east of Britain, and the one on the right (Coygan Cave) from rhyolite, a volcanic stone…

Geological Road Trip: Volcanic landscapes of the Massif Central

Geology and geography are fundamental to archaeologists in understanding the landscape contexts that people of the past lived within. While climate and environments have drastically altered over the time span of the Palaeolithic, the topography often, on a broad scale, remains relatively similar. Erosion can be extensive, river systems can change course (the Thames used to flow much further north than it now does for example), and the great depth of sediment accumulation in some areas changed local situations. But the big stuff made of rock like plateaux, mountains and watersheds have remained relatively static over the time hominins have been around. There are exceptions to this however, primarily in the form of volcanism and tectonic action, and the region I'm working in is a textbook example. Here in the Massif Central, there is a long history of volcanic action of many types, the most recent of which occurred less than 5000 years ago- well within the history of human settleme…