I worked with Mr. Joseph Johnson who is South Asia Bureau Chief of Financial Times as local assistant and translator. He came with a photographer named Tom Pietrasik. They were looking for 24 years old character, specially Mushahars. The age 24 is because the average age of Indian people when they enter in professional life is 24 and Mushahars because Mushars are still considered as untouchables in rural part of India. They survive by picking up the long pepper’s (Pipal) leaves, make bowl of it and sell it to market. Since the Mushahar community we wanted to interview was near Coke plant, they were effected by problems caused by Coke also, which made them idle people to interview.
Mr. Joseph and Tom were supposed to reach Taj Hotel, Varanasi at 11’o clock but their flight was late so I had to wait there for more than 2 hours. Finally I met Joseph and Tom at 1’o clock and we decided to go to Mehndiganj since we were already late. Mr. Nandlal Master, who runs movement against Coca-Cola in Varanasi was supposed to meet us but he had to go to Ballia for some urgent work, So, we couldn’t meet him. We called him and said to send someone local with us at the Mushahar’s village. And he send Urmila Didi with us to show us around and help interviewing people.
First of all we went to a village near Mehndiganj and interviewed a 24 years old male character. We met him at his farm but decided to go to his home so that we could get better idea about his livelihood. After interview was done Tom wanted to take his pics. He took few pictures of interviewee at his home but later he wanted to take pics at the place where he works. So we went to his farm again and took few pics. Tom would make him sit, look at his face for a while, change the angle, see the background………. He was a perfect photographer. But interviewee was not happy with all this kind of work. He told me that these foreigners are treating him like a cartoon. But somehow I was able to make him do what Tom and Joseph wanted.
Then we went to a Mushahar community. We were asking for the people who are 24 years old but nobody knew their date of birth. Finally a family said that they have a 24 years old girl so we interviewed her. After interview was done Tom wanted to take pics and did the same thing as he did with last interviewee and again it made her and the community a little bit angry because Tom was looking at her face and telling her to change the pose. Finally first day was over and we came back to home.
Next day I met Tom at Assi Ghat and did a boat ride from Assi ghat to Manikarnika and back. He took a lot of pics and asked me about funeral. After boat ride Tom went to hotel and I came back to home. I met them again at Taj Hotel but they didn’t want to interview anyone today because they were so happy with the last day’s work and decided to stop interviewing people in Varanasi. So they just decided to hang up around the city. Tom still wanted to stay in Varanasi for one more day and do some photography at the Ghats. Mr. Joseph wanted to see the Ghats so I came with him to the Ghats but he wanted to go alone so I left him at Assi ghat and came back to home and started looking for a hotel for Tom. Since it was touristic season all the hotels were packed so I couldn’t get a hotel near the Ghats. After going to more than 15 hotels I found a hotel near Shivala where they had a AC room so finally I booked one room for Tom there.
Next day I went to Dashashwamedh ghat with Tom early morning. I met him at his hotel at 4’o clock. We spent about more than 7 hours there and Tom took a lot of pics along the Dashashwamedh ghat. Today Tom also left to Delhi and my work with Financial Times was over.