Most of my time in Bangalore wasn’t spent sightseeing, rather wandering the streets which allowed me to interact with the locals. I hear a lot of people complaining about not being able to immerse the selves in India’s culture and lifestyle – the best way to experience a country and meet locals is to act like a local; if you only do ‘touristy’ things such as solely seeing monuments, going to westernised restaurants etc. you’ll just end up meeting other tourists.
Whilst walking around in my mum’s baggy orange salwar kameez from the 90s (she swears they were fashionable at the time) with a dupatta completely shrouding my hair, I got several laughs from young women and teenagers (favourable to the constant staring from the entire male population), but the slum children I passed were much more interested in the camera around my neck.
They begged me to take photos of them and loved seeing their faces on the camera screen – I suppose they never really got to see themselves much as I doubt they had many mirrors or cameras around the little shacks they lived in. I spent almost an hour here as one of the older boys kept bringing his little brothers and sisters out and asking me to take photos of them too. The children couldn’t speak much English but they kept asking for ‘together’ and ‘single’ photos.
These kids had so much joy at simply meeting a new person and getting their photo taken, and worked hard to ensure none of their siblings missed out. They seemed a lot happier than the technology obsessed children in Australia (and even the well off ones in India), I really enjoyed spending time with them…I went back a couple of days later and they wanted more photos and to feel my hair…