On The Streets
(Commercial Street, Bangalore/India)
It is hard to describe just how different places can be. Some lands are like warring giants and some are as calm as ice, only the wind tells you stories. Sometimes I forget that I come from a land of Chaos. England can do that to you. The grey, rainy landscape of Order for months on end can make you forget that life on the streets of your homeland was filled with colour, adventure and unexpected happenings. India taught me how to watch and observe, and often times the best way to watch was when you were stuck in a traffic jam as long as it probably takes you to go to your nearest corner shop.
Patiently (another quality taught from a young age by the land) I would usually be sitting in an auto-rickshaw, often in comfortable silence with the auto driver having already exchanged life stories early on in the journey home. We were like ants, waiting for colours to change from red to green, all small and insignificant but together there were millions of us trying to scurry forward. In the mean time, we would look out and see what new enterprise was taking place in the streets. We were never disappointed.
I remember sitting in an auto one day and looking out at a bright pink towel hanging on a washing line caught my eye. There were three boys playing hide and seek. The boy in the yellow shirt was going to be the seeker and he sat down on the steps to begin counting. His two friends started running in different directions to hide; the boy in the red shirt jumped up the ledge and the boy in the white started running towards the house when suddenly the shrill voice of who I assume was his mother started yelling at him.
Hide & Seek
(Swamy Vivekananda Rd, Bangalore/India)
It was clear his friend was getting close to the end of his counting and he was stuck in the middle of the yard trying to whisper an explanation, to no avail. The other boy in the red curiously peeped from his perch, interested in the commotion but then thought he was better off hiding before he was caught. It was at some moment in-between all of this that I decided to capture that moment forever. Just like that, the traffic cleared and my auto sped forward and I never saw them again. Sometimes I would pass that street and I could see the whole scene unfold, as though it lives eternally inside me for as long as I remember the details of it. Sometimes I see a pink towel blowing on a washing line in Leeds or kids playing in a park and I remember the 3 boys.
The last past week I have thought about the 3 boys a lot. Them and a number of characters I remember from watching the streets from the inside of autos and cars. I have spent a lot of my time waiting this past week, a common thread I see for the next 8 weeks. The commute from Leeds to Derby and back offers much more transit time than expected which means as I wait, I usually watch. And as I’ve been watching- outside the coach station in Derby, a bench that has become my bench in Sheffield Station and the 56 Bus Stop outside Leeds Coach Station- a strange thing has started to happen.
These vivid memories and colourful happenings that I have watched years ago are slipping into the grey streets that I am watching now. Suddenly across the empty, dark road there is the image of a young lady in a red sari and a bamboo basket filled with orange marigolds on her head, crossing the road. As she crosses me, we are in Albert Square, Derby and I am walking to Artcore as I pass the image of a fruit cart with 4 bicycle wheels filled to the brim with fruits, mostly the biggest mangos you could imagine pilled high and a man selling them the way they do back home.
(Kamanahalli Main Rd, Bangalore/India)
Instead of Marigolds
(Indiranagar Metro Station, Bangalore/India)
Wouldn’t it be curious to create these stories of an Indian street, placing them in the context of an urban English landscape? It would seem that they would create a whole new hybrid space. But more than anything I think what interests me is to see how they would withstand it. Would they disappear into the grey or stand out in a strange, unprecedented colour. Watching Bierkampf (1977) last week which is written, directed and starring filmmaker Herbert Achternbusch chronicles Herbert’s drunk adventures after he steals a police uniform and begins to create hilarious, intrusive scenes at the Oktoberfest in Munich. He is so drunk that he genuinely believes he is a real detective inspector. But what made me draw similarities was the surreal absurdities of situations- planned or otherwise that fringes on the realm of reality and fiction.
In some way, this idea of re-constructing or rather re-creating these events is quite surreal in the sense that the impulse comes from the disassociation of two things that don’t fit into the same space. Yet being set in real-time to real people on the streets of Derby these occurrences will insist on a pretense of acting but yet no pretense of illusion. Perhaps these strange, foreign scenes will be so absurd that they will just have to go with it. Perhaps they will be undoubtedly offended in things they do not know or understand. If I can construct these situations with a fictional and spatial narrative in mind, a script of sorts, maybe it will affect the way in which people navigate through these constructed events and spaces.
Candy Cotton Traffic Lights
(MG Rd, Bangalore/India)