body guard

About 50% of all the Kashmir pictures on this blog following this one, will be courtesy of this man’s kindness.

Drenched in the frigid waters of the Lidder river as I leapt off my whitewater raft, my eyes caught a small pivotal detail…a man stood on shore shooting the action with a camera labeled Nikon. Having been turning the Kashmir Himalayas inside out for just one fellow Nikon shooter without any luck, I was overjoyed! What was with the Canon invasion all around? A Nikon in action meant battery charging possibilities couldn’t be far away! Timidly with anticipation, I approached Asim as he paced the shore, grey track pants, a body guard vest, fat rubber chappals, armed with the equipment that I lug around to shoots with a familiar dynamism that comes with chasing moments that typically evade capture.

Photographer to photographer. Man to…soaking girl…can you see beyond my guise, I am a photographer too, albeit caught this moment as a tourist, a daughter, a borderline reluctant participant in an orchestration.

I explained in fewer, simpler words. I’ve been looking for a place to charge my batteries for two days (that’s a lifetime in missed photo-op world when in the most exquisite of Earthen landscapes). You shoot with my own, could you help charge my batteries? My chargers are either in the trunk of my car in a country I can’t call home, or in a closet of one that has the origins of me, but somehow can’t contain my present. I understand you have a business and I can pay for the service, of course.

Smiles. Nods. Takes my batteries and disappears without a word. I watch him go. Less than ten words of English (mostly trade related), fluent in photo-editing, up on current camera models, no degrees to show. Thank you globalization, thank you technology.

Returns, sees the joy in my eyes, feels my gratitude, folds his hands and squatting on the threshold of his humble studio in the back-quarters of a little tea stall, says, “It’s nothing. Don’t embarrass me.”

So I didn’t.

Instead, in the time it took for batteries to charge, rafting gear to dry, the chai-wallah to make us all chai and Maggi (consumed with glee on red plastic chairs lining the scanty grove on the river bank), I convinced Asim to sit for a phone-cam portrait.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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