Old Doors. An Introduction

I’d like to talk about a Zine that I am
working on. It’s a Zine, or book, on doors. Over the course of my travels, I
have seen many doors. I am referring to doors across the world. It was only when
I left my corporate career and started to focus more on photography that I
started looking at doors more carefully
.





Most of my travels over the last years have been restricted to North India. Old doors have
character. Their designs vary, depending on the city.





When I started to put these images together, I
did some research on the symbolism
of doors
. One site I visited was https://dreamastromeanings.com.





There is a lot of symbolism in doors, and I
invite you to read the article. I did consult several articles, but I have
listed just the one here.





Anyway, I started to notice the doors. The British
era doors in Delhi. The British imposed their culture and sense of aesthetic on
a Mughal Delhi. Yet, they did it in a manner that seemed to harmonize with the
rest of the construction. It’s only in architecture where the Brits did not do
something that was out of harmony!





The doors in Benares are different from those
in other parts of the country.





As I walked around, I started to ask myself if
the doors were all old, or if they looked old. Most of them are quite worn out.





I also asked myself if the doors held memories
of the people who had lived inside. Did the doors remember some of the old
stories? Did they hold memories of tears, laughter, anger?





Have you read the books by Carlos Castaneda? You
will find paragraphs in which Don Juan talks of stones holding memories of
emotions. When people hurl a stone in anger, some of that anger is transferred to the stone.





We’ve lost that mystical connection to life.





On a different note, I used Exposure Software to
edit the photos. My affiliate link is
embedded here -
https://bit.ly/33Bkrsq , and in the word – Exposure Software.







The Fishing Village

The fishing village. We discovered the fishing
village quite by accident. We were wandering around like fools when we came
upon the fishing village. None of us was clear about what to do, so we
wandered around, shooting pictures like idiots.





It
was quite an unremarkable village, indistinguishable from any other fishing
village in India. The only difference lies in the detail.





The boats, the method of fishing, the traditions –
these vary from region to region. Their eating habits; the seasons during which they fish;
the type of fish that they catch and consume – all vary
.





I
think
that fishermen across India are almost always burned black by the sun. In my opinion, they all lead very simple lives - On average. They don’t have much
money, and definitely don’t have much bargaining power with the middlemen. We
often romanticize their lives, but I am convinced that they all lead difficult
lives.





The men go out and catch the fish. They use nets.
The women then dry the fish and prepare them for the market. This seems to
be the way that they have divided the work amongst themselves.





The fishermen don’t go out during the monsoons.
People have given me two reasons for this. One, the water is choppy and it is
unsafe to go out onto the waters. Two, the fish breed during the monsoon rains.
The fisherfolk respect nature. They respect the breeding cycles. This will
change in the future, as commercial pressures increase. For now, they do follow
sustainable practices.





We walked around. I took some blurry images of the
boats. A couple of boats on the shore caught my eyes. I liked their shapes.
Most of my focus remained on the people. There was a young kid, missing some
teeth, who seemed to find his way into my frame more often than I thought he
might. One chap probably considered himself to be a budding film star or model.
He was definitely the local hero, and I am quite sure that all the other young
chaps looked up to him.





Most of the kids were content to have a blast. Some
of the older men had a distinct paunch. It’s strange when you think about it.
Someone who has to do a physically demanding job like going out onto a boat
to fish should not have a paunch.





I would have liked to have stayed out until sunset.
The girls wanted to leave, and I figured that it’s best to leave with them.
With then, I was
assured
of an auto-rickshaw back to the station. Later, I would not find
one!



Bassein. An Old Portuguese Fort

Bassein
is an old fort in Vasai, a suburb of Bombay. It’s old and its ruins lie largely
forgotten, as the remains stand by a fishing village on the shores of the
The Arabian Sea.

I visited Bassein in 1984. Mr. Pillai, our photography
teacher had proposed that we go out for a day. He didn’t accompany us, but he
encouraged us to share the images once we had given them for processing.

One girl in my class was cute, and this motivated me to make
the trip. Later, during the day, I discovered she was engaged to be married. My
love for her died, but thankfully, my love for photography has stayed alive and
healthy.

The camera I used then was my Olympus OM-2n. I had my 50 mm
f/1.4 lens with me. I had also bought a 70-200 mm zoom. Today’s zoom lenses are
much better than the stuff we bought back then. My 50 mm prime still works
well, but the 70-200mm looks a little worn at the edges.

Those days, we weren’t particularly conscious of how the
light changes during the day. If we had been more conscious of this, it would
have influenced our timings. Apart from this, the girls wanted to leave early.

We reached Vasai around noon and took an auto-rickshaw to
the fort.

It must have been close to noon when we reached, and the
overhead sun created somewhat flat images. As the day progresses, the sun
slanted downwards towards Dubai, and the trees started casting long shadows on
the ground.

I remember feeling a dim sense of nostalgia when I shot the
image you see in this post. I was a practicing metallurgical engineer those
days and worked in a steel plant. History was beyond me. Nowadays, I look at
people and places through a wider lens.

In those days, when I was a callow youth. I looked at people
on the street (or forts) purely from a photographic perspective. Did the image
look good? Was it a good composition? Was the exposure good? I only asked
myself these questions.

Everything else was secondary.

Bassein is an old Portuguese fort. The Portuguese named
Bombay after the words that mean “good harbor” and helped to create Bombay. It
was a collection of seven islands until then. If you think about it, we Indians
were pioneers in the art of reclaiming land to build cities. In
1661, when Catherine de Braganza married Charles II, the English king Bombay

formed part of the dowry. That’s how it passed from Portuguese to British
hands.

History is complex, and I will not dive into that subject
here.

As I mentioned, everything became subservient to my
photographic intent. With age, you change, hopefully for the better.

Bassein, as I mentioned, is an old Portuguese Fort. These
days, it is lost and forlorn. People go there to picnic, or to hang around.
Like me in those days, they don’t care about history.

Old forts are full of stories, and possibly a few ghosts.

Not only do they hold stories of forgotten people, but they
form a part of our own heritage. We are often quick to ignore our past and to
forget our legacy.

If, for instance, we deny the Portuguese the role they
played in India, we will never understand the state of Goa, or its culture.

I will make a political statement—history makes us what we
are today. If we obliterate, corrupt or manipulate it, we will lose a part of
ourselves.

There is probably something of us in those stones. Don Juan told Carlos
Castaneda
that we impart something of ourselves onto the rocks and stones
that surround us.

There is probably some essence of modern-day Bombay and Goa
in those stones.

Hopefully, we will remember those old stories. Maybe we will
hear the voices that laughed a few centuries back. 



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