Railway stations are one of the best locations to shoot pictures – not only are there always many people around, but most of them are actually quite bored waiting for a train to arrive and depart. So they make for great subjects. And they are so friendly, I chatted to so many people and had an amazing time at railway stations in India (I also been to railway stations in Delhi, Jaipur and Pushkar previously).
I actually went to the Jodhpur railway station four times, always in the early morning, as the light was best and this was the location where I could be sure to always encounter people (the markets were still closed so there was no point in visiting the clock tower).
I chatted to the tea vendors (who were also selling fried samosas and other snacks) and always drank a chai masala or two. Sometimes I did not even have to pay for my chai masala, as the tea vendor was just happy to chat to me and have his picture taken. This vendor, on the picture below, became my friend over the four days shooting at Jodhpur railway station. I took his picture on a Thursday, got it developed and brought it to him on Sunday morning – and he was so happy that he gave me cookies and more chai masala for free. What a generous guy!
I just love all the characters that you meet in India – for example this guy below, he does not look too friendly but once I showed him the picture, he smiled and laughed. He could not speak English, so we could not communicate verbally, but I know that he was happy that I noticed and interacted with him. Especially as I saw him about 30 mins later still sitting at the same spot and the train had not moved…
… that’s one thing I noticed in India, many trains arrive quite early and stand at the tracks for a long time. In fact, enough time to eat a proper meal and that’s why there are so many vendors around – not just selling tea and samosas, but if you care for different snacks or a curry, this can be prepared on the spot and sold to you through the windows on a train!
There were so many travellers, old and young – coloured in bright clothes and very friendly. Here is a granddad with his grand child, he’s travelling to meet the child’s parents in a town further away. I wish that my knowledge of Jodhpur’s surroundings were much better! I kept asking people where they were heading, and when they were responding I often had a blank look on my face as I was not familiar with the cities in Rajasthan or the neighbouring states!
Some people were travelling to weddings, others were coming from a wedding – I saw several beautifully dressed women with elaborate henna markings on their hands and sometimes feet.
And so many curious kids… everywhere I went along the platform, a kid was waving or smiling at me. If one kid noticed me, another quickly came to the window and they were all curious! I loved that so many of them were traditionally clothed and so patient – I had lots of time to take different pictures!
After a while, I got tired of taking pictures of people on trains (there are only so many shots you want take with the window bars as a frame) so I walked around the platform and looked at the travellers, those three were reading papers eagerly until they noticed me and waved me over, so I could take a picture of them! Clearly I was a nice distraction during their wait for a train!
I’m sure it has been done many times (just look at Steve McCurry’s India railway travel pictures), but it would be great to publish a book just on Indian railway stations…