What on earth would I do with an expensive camera like D200 howled my son Ranil. Well, no logical reason at all, specially as my bank balance is never that good. But, then I haven’t let logic dominate this last part of my life. It has largely been the untravelled other road and as they say I’ve gained on the swings what I lost on the merry-go-round! The highs were there from the first day onwards…
I’d played with the camera at home but the first time I took it out so to speak was when I was on a field visit in a hill country town. Nice crisp chill in the air, bright morning and I woke up all excited and strolled out nice and early as all good photographers do I am told.
Street sweepers were out on in the main town centre in their brightly coloured sarees. People were just gathering at the bus stops to go to work, to school or had brought bread, or was just having a smoke and reading the day’s headlines in a newspaper. An everyday morning we see in every town in Sri Lanka, but oh ever so gentle on the eyes. Fresh faced children in crisp white uniforms, brothers holding younger siblings, mothers dragging some reluctant ones to kindergarten and some kids sitting side saddle while a father’ peddled at a leisurely pace. There was a huge sign that said in Sinhalese “No Violence.”
A gaggle of Muslim schoolgirls with a solitary brother came into view and was just right for a piece on education I was thinking of writing. I stopped them and asked if I could photograph them — they smiled shyly and nodded and I tentatively tried to take a few photos.
And then, whoosh a blue Police jeep pulls up, three guys jump out and I get to take a ride in the official buggy for the first time in my life to the cop shop.
I am told at the invitation of the big boss. And also for the first time too I get to taste what it was to be a photojournalist on the wrong side of the law. Well, to cut a long story short, I didn’t get to spend a night in the royal boarding house as various friends and colleagues rushed to my rescue – just in time too.
It was a citizen’s complaint I was told. … for photographing school children. The boss still in a track suit after an early morning jog, apologized and we shook hands. I left shaken but not stirred and non the worse for the experience.
Welcome to the club said a professional photojournalist friend. …