The Art of Making Roti (રોટી ) + The Wedding Invitation Arrives – My Return to India: Day Four

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Entry #4

Instead of running this morning I decided to walk instead. It gave me the chance to shoot more and to take my time communicating with the locals. I carried a stick to fend off the dogs that were destined to chase me. Yesterday when I ran a man asked me why was I rushing and I simply pointed behind me at my entourage and he laughed. My chin and neck have started getting itchy because I haven't shaved in a few days. I searched for an electronics store during my escapade to find a pair of trimmers. No luck yet.

I've become more comfortable around the house now since I know everyone's name by heart. Through my interactions I have developed a fondness for Samir's cousin, Sadhana, and although we do not speak much in English we still manage to get our points across. She's been so helpful to me thus far and realizes that I drink about 8 glasses of water a day. So she always has a bottle of water for me every time I see her. I told Sadhana that I wanted to help with the house chores but she quickly declined my involvement. Then I asked if I could help prepare dinner as I have noticed she starts in the morning and sometimes cooks all day. Another kind rejection. On my last attempt I asked if she could teach me how to make the bread I love so much: roti. She accepted!!

I observed for a few minutes and then tried my hand at rolling the dough. She popped my hand with the stick and told me to watch the master in action. Ok, she didn't really say that but she did pop me : ). Finally, I figured out the consistency that she wanted and I won her approval.

I was happy with the result and I felt that the family could sense my genuine interest in immersing myself in the experience. She opened up more and told me her own wedding story. I asked if I could see her wedding album and she obliged. I refused her daughter's help to translate as we viewed the album together and by visual cues I put the story together as best I could.

You could probably guess what happened next? Yep, I took a nap but not before downloading and backing up all of my images from the last four days. Akshar, another cousin of Samir, informed me that a family member from the bride's side will be coming soon to deliver the official wedding invitation. I set my iPhone alarm to make sure I have at least 30 minutes to prepare.

I've seen that Samir's mother, Shakuntala, is totally in her element and ready for the next days of the wedding to unfold. This is her first son to get married and she wants to make sure that everything happens according to plan. Up until now I have still been embedded with the groom's side so my perspective of what's to come is mainly affected by what I glean from different people in the house. This is probably the 10th or so Indian wedding that I have photographed but I begin taking notes on more differences between North and South Indian festivities. Also, this is the first time that I have been completely engulfed in all of the preparations. I'm in heaven!! The last time I was in India was 2009 in Chennai when I shot a Haitian/Indian fusion wedding. I've already forfeited the opportunity to visit there again on this trip since I want to broaden my encounters.

I got to meet more of the bridal party/friends tonight when we went to a Chinese restaurant. Instead of ordering separately, we ordered family style so that we could enjoy more flavors. Everyone was very cordial and I delved into my investigation of relationships. This is something I always do for weddings to make sure I know how to photograph and honor connections.
Amruta beckoned the group of friends to stop and have frozen ice (like a snow a cone) and I was skeptical. The water is purified so that is not a problem but I have formed a habit of not consuming high fructose corn syrup. She let me taste one spoonful of her frozen ice and I couldn't resist eating more. I ordered one for myself and soon lapsed into a sugar high before crashing in the back of the truck. It was time to head home.



1i_Studios said...

Thanks so much for sharing this journey with us, Ross. I look forward to your posts. I am anxiously anticipating the wedding! The roti looks delicious.

Kimberly said...

Another great story. What is the mother doing with the red powder when the invitation arrives at the door? What is the tradition?

Bae said...

Ross I am loving the entries. I eagerly look forward to seeing what is next...As usual LOVE LOVE LOVE...

Darcita said...

how can u not love Roti... great as always.. eagerly awaiting next chapter!