I was (somewhat) prepared for the persistent touts, the overfriendly fellas who just wanted to ‘help’ and the subsequent dogging, but in the end, despite a few hair-pulling incidents, the people of Madhya Pradesh won me over.
I found the villagers living off the main road to be friendly and eager. More than once, a few elderly grandmothers stopped me just to fuss over my face and hair, and were thrilled to pose for a photo op. When we rode bicycles through the old village of Khajuraho, children would run after us yelling for prizes: “10 rupees?” “pen?” “photo?” The women would look up from their hard work of patting smooth a thick layer of cow dung in front of their doorways and beam beautiful smiles at me when I waved as we pedaled past.
Whenever I stopped to take a photo of this house or that alley, people would crowd around me asking the usual curious questions and more often than not I’d walk away without the photo I stopped for in the first place, but with a few more gorgeous portraits.
And when we were at the Western Group enclosure, we were asked to take photos of people no less than a hundred times, many of them children who would run back to us and ask us, “again!”
Interestingly enough (and unfortunately, for me) every single one of the subjects were all smiles–gorgeous teeth included– until the camera was focused on them then they’d shut their mouths and pose solemnly, despite our prompts for them to show their biggest smile.
It is a pleasure for me to introduce to you the people of Madhya Pradesh.
Photos from the Western Group enclosure.
The photo that launched a thousand. There were a lot of people crowded around, waiting their turn. After I took photos of them all, the word spread and for 15 minutes after, people were stopping by to ask for a photo op too.
this one followed us around a temple–pretending to be awed by the carvings–too shy to ask for a photo but when I asked if she’d be willing to pose for a picture, she beamed as she nodded a silent yes.