In a city of 7 million, if 3 million people spend a period of 10 days shopping after sunset and feeling great, it must be a place with a lot of good vibes and energy. I decided to visit the Charminar during Eid in 2016. I called up Ravi and Avinash, a couple of Hyderabadi friends, who decided that they would also learn a bit about photography, and also help me navigate through the maze of roads leading to the Charminar. We parked the bikes on a lane far away from Charminar, and took note of the place, sending between us the geo location of the place, since every road looked the same. There was a charm and beauty in an old city where the houses looked similar.
As we walked down the road, we could see the Charminar from a distance, but there was a huge sea of humans thronging the place, walking across streets. The charminar was glowing, from all the lights in the distance. It was beautiful to see the city so alive at 10 pm in the night. The ladies were thronging by the perfume shops, and I decided to go have a look, instead of standing by the sugarcane shop, or the tea cup shops or the cloth shops. On closer examination, and through the bokeh of my lens, I found a colourful world further enhanced by the aroma of the scents on display. I was asked to spray some scent and try it on. I found the scent too strong, and decided to watch others try it out.
The scents in the glasses and outer covering on a 50 mm lens, were decked up to the T. The shop keeper’s son came forward and noticed that I was not quite trying out, so decided to ask me, what I do, and when he knew I was a travel writer and photographer, he uttered those 3 words that most people do-” Ek Photu Please”. I did a few shots to humor him, noted his email ID, and promised to send him his pictures in a couple of weeks. I had a glance at the beautiful golden shade of the perfumes and decided to move to some of the shops that seemed to have a list of perfumes.
While I could not quite pick a winner to recommend a perfume, I liked the way the perfumes were shown with different names. The earlier shop that I passed by had no names. In that way, a little colour and character over random items.
There was a throwback to a yesteryear world, in the way the fonts were, and the way they communicated. Intimacy is indicated by a simple font. They haven’t used any model to convey their communication or used any skimpy clothes to show passion. Show a bit about how we folks express our love in this part of the world. I’d love to see such local flavour retail at experience stores at the Hyderabad Airport. I am quite blind to these foreign brands that are sold at the airport, with the only real local item being the Karachi biscuit store. Maybe these perfumes being sold as is at the airport makes a case? What do you think? Do let me know in a comment below.
Exotic Perfumes at Charminar
By the time, I walked down the street, despite the light rain in the air, there was a lot of heat from all the lights. I managed with frequent stops for juice, but when I saw the spicy samosas mid way, I stoppped by. There were other people too, who were admiring it like the way, I was.
Just like an oarsman, who is delighted after seeing the shore, after a while at sea, we were delighted at seeing the Charminar. We admired the monument, and walked around it and proceeded to walk to the other side and we saw a group doing a photo walk. You’d find a bunch of people with cameras trying to stop at this very place to try and get a good composition of the Charminar.
The Charminar stood silent there, while vehicles zipped past the monument leaving trails of light. I too tried staying as still as the Charminar, but I figured out that this was a huge challenge. I could not stand there and feel completely safe about it. The Hyderabadis have a funny way of driving extremely fast on these crowded roads and then applying brakes just to get attention. I have a 30 X 15 cm area to stand on, with my tripod and making sure that my camera bag is not jutting out. My hosts Ravi and Avinash, help guard me on either sides, requesting vehicles to avoid getting close.
In between these shots, I had a person come over to me, and abruptly say “Bhai Meri Photu Lo” and he started posing right in the middle of my composition. I was perplexed and decided to smile at what happened and asked him what frame did he want. He asked to take whatever I could. I took this shot, and showed it to him, and then he walked away happy, even before I could ask him his phone number(Whatsapp) or email ID. Reminded me that maybe next year, I should look at buying a portable printer to pass a shot to all those people who ask me a photo. Its just another JPEG file for me, but for them, it could be a window to expressing themselves and be wonderstruck. That’s the power of a photo in print!
And then some time later, a vehicle passed passed by, and whizzed past us, and when we looked back in the camera, it looked like we had spotted a UFO in Hyderabad, but dont worry, that’s just Long exposure trails being applied to the frame of the Charminar.
And then it occurred to me, how beautiful it would be if the vehicular trails of light could be captured around the Charminar. We had to choose a spot high enough that would allow me to a semi-panoramic view of the Charminar. We moved to a nearby coffee shop, and then found this view from there. It was almost 3 am, and the Charminar still had a steady stream of auto’s raging through the limited spaces, while it stood glowing amidst its surroundings. Slowly people started to retire for the night, and we found ourselves mentally tired. We knew, our time was up. Our senses and vision had just seen a beautiful array of people and objects, and now after 4 hours and many conversations, we decided to respect our bodies, and maybe come back again next year.
And then, my hosts Ravi and Avinash, decided to end it up digitally with a selfie against the Charminar! Maybe that’s how we say “All’s well that end’s well” in these times of digital narcissm