Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Delhi? I can’t find a Deli in this place.

In Deeta Von Teese, Delhi, Documentary work, Giving Back, India, UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women on November 27, 2012 at 10:42 am

I would love to say the jet lag is wearing off but the truth is it’s not. I’m very tired and just starting to figure it out. Lucky my hotel, yes the Vikram was close to the lawyers collective offices or at least that’s what everyone kept telling me. So I wake up to get to the offices at what I think is around 9am (can’t remember, still jet lagged) This is my first daylight ride in Delhi in a car, not counting the night ride to the hotel from the airport when there was next to know traffic. I know I touched on the traffic but it’s not only traffic it’s also the streets and their names or lack of them.

Human game of “frogger”


Morning commute


Maybe they are there but I can’t see them. The next 20 min was a a crazy ride while my cab driver assured me over and over again that he knew where we were going. Yet he kept asking to see the address on the Iphone. He would take it and then say something in Hindi. Drive for a bit then ask for it again. Eventually he stopped at what looked like a place for homeless people to sleep on the street and asked a guy if he knew the directions. The guy pointed across what appeared to be as wide as a highway. Next thing you know we just start to play frogger with the car and my life. Inching across the 8 lane road. With his arm out the window stopping traffic the whole way. I’m in the blood seat is all I can think. We cross the road ask a few more times the way and next thing you know we arrive at our destination. I’m introduced to the women I will be spending the next day with and then we jump in another car for a ride to the outskirts of Delhi. It’s morning so it’s slow going with all the traffic, our car lurches forward and back as the driver accelerates and then brakes, it’s some odd dance through the congested and crazy streets. Eventually we get to our destination. We can’t actually drive the car down the road so we walk a few yards where kids and adults alike stare at me, what you’ve never seen a white guy? Turning the corner of an alley I see a bamboo ladder that leads up to a very small balcony and a room with a door or I should say a half door since it’s been broken by the in-laws downstairs.

Stairs to a home

I am introduced to a woman who has been kicked out of her home because her husband decided to get a new wife and did not want to take care of her anymore. He would beat her to within inches of her life. When the law said she is allowed to stay in the marital home he claimed the home was his brothers so she would not be able to stay. The Lawyers collective was able to stand up for her and prove him wrong. Now she stays above the family home in a 10×10 room without light. She lives their with her disabled son and younger daughter. The husband is no where to be seen and his second wife constantly harasses her. Yet this is a victory since she has her own place and cannot be kicked out. The police are often called to stop the fights between her and the husbands family. In fact while we were there the sister in law was up yelling at her and trying to stop me from photographing the room. The woman is a slight looking lady that probably does not weigh more than 85 pounds. She is 35 or so but looks like she is 50 and that’s a well worn 50. Still I’m told that today she is proud and stands tall compared to when she showed up with bruises and scared as a mouse.

This is her home.. All of it!

Our next visit of the day was to a woman who was married off to a man. Apparently it all started off fine until the husbands family decided they wanted more of a dowery but the girls family simply did not have any more to give them. I guess they wanted money for a motorcycle. So since they were not getting what they wanted even though they had originally agreed on an acceptable dowry they decided to not feed her anymore and made her stay outside and not let her in the house at night. If she needed water she had to go back to her parents house! This is totally crazy to western culture but it’s not that odd here. They would verbally abuse and harass her. Lucky for her that her parents were understanding and supportive and allowed her to move back with them. Often the parents give up on the kids saying that they are now with the man and it’s down to the man to deal with it or for them to work it out. Thanks to the Lawyers Collective she is able to have support in court. Often the lawyers these women find if they find them at all are not really working too hard for them and just find ways to delay the process and essentially take money from the women. I must say that these woman although a bit shy have been so nice and welcoming of me and what the UN Trust Fund is doing. This family insisted on feeding us cake and tea. I’m super worried about getting a bit of a tummy ache so I have been declining most offerings but I had a bit here.

Cookies and chai (Chai means tea so if someone offers you a chai tea, smack em in the head!

Our bellies and bladders full we headed back to the Lawyers collective head office to meet one more young woman who would be coming with her two year old son. I’m not sure if this one bothered me the most because she was so pretty and somewhat helpless or what but I wanted to go and find her “husband and kick his ass” After lunch I met this next woman who told me that again she was married to a man that expected more from her family in the form of a dowery but since her family was very poor they could not afford to give any more. So the husband beat her very badly and would lock her outside at night.  They would make her stand under the sun in summer and in winter made to stay outside without warm clothes. When she got pregnant the man did not support her and has not even seen the child. I can tell you this is a cute little guy! The interview was actually difficult because we shot it on the roof and the little boy kept running all over the place and close to the edge so we had to keep stopping the shoot.

So that was my two days in Delhi with the Lawyers Collective, if you have time to check out their website you really should, they do amazing work!

Here is a photo of  Indira Jaising she is the founder of Lawyers collective and an amazing woman. Read it you will be impressed! of course what would a trip across the word be without a shot of a “celebrity” I was at a final event of the day and I see Deeta Von Teese walk by. You just can’t get away from this stuff, as she walks slowly touching items for sale with her publicist running around her making sure all is good for the cameras. absurd!!


Deeta Von Teese

JFK>Dubai>Delhi Seems easy enough!

In Delhi, Documentary work, India, UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women on November 23, 2012 at 8:02 am

3pm Friday Nov 18th, I finally got my visa so the trip that was feeling like it might not happen was definitely going to happen. I raced home from the Indian consulate at 52nd and Madison back to Brooklyn to finish packing and charging batteries etc.

I got some sleeping type pills but they were so small I thought how could they ever deliver the punch I was so desperately in need of with 17 or so hours of flying ahead of me.

At the airport I do my usual smile and undo my shirt to try and get an upgrade to business, I say “but I’m working for the UN to help women” but it seems Emirates is not interested and the flight is full, they would help if they could but they just can’t. Okay no worries but a bulkhead would be appreciated.

This is a big flying bus, it’s one of the new airbus 300’s (I think that’s what it’s called. I’m in seat 65 and I feel like I’m walking for about 10 min until I get there. I take my seat and prepared to take off. The little girl next to me does not appear to want me to enjoy this flight though. She is in the seat, out of the seat and back in. Seatbelt on then off, then on then off. You get the picture.

This plane really seems to lumber down the runway and when it appeared we were going about 60 mph it slowly starts to get some air and then just goes up up and away.

I would love to tell you that I can remember watching a move, I’m sure I did but at this point I’m not sure what I saw on this particular flight. I will tell you that in the many hours I was flying I watched two movies. The Woody Allen movie about Rome and some movie about a kid that grows out of the lawn in the backyard, that is it….I think.

Here is why I can’t remember, so remember that little pill? Well it sure packed a punch. I took it about an hour into the first flight from JFK>;Dubai and with about half a glass of wine next thing I know I wake up and we have about an hour and a half till landing. What the Garsh darn! How did that happen? That has never happened to me before, I was sure I was out for about 45 min tops in fact if someone had asked me and I had to bet on it that is what I would say. I felt good, a little groggy but not too bad and very grateful that I missed most of the flight. Of course I did miss all those great movie options.

Dubai was really just a change of flight. By the time I got to the gate they were already boarding so now I’m on the flight from Dubai to Delhi. This is about 2.5 hours if I remember correctly.

With all the time changes by the time I landed in Delhi it was Sunday morning at 4am or maybe it was Saturday morning at 4am. Okay confession here, I have no idea what day it is. I think it might be Thursday today but I am honestly not sure what day it all began on and that has a lot to do with some jetlag as well as a lot of 4am wake-ups but I can get to that later. I should say that I’m writing this in a small little hotel in a little town called Mudhol it’s about 12 hours by train (overnight) from Bangalore but that’s not important right now. I just wanted to let you know that it’s taken me about 5-6 days to finally get on top of the jet lag to start writing so it’s catch-up time.

Back to the airport in Delhi, I made it through customs and it was at this point that I noticed my long awaited Visa was only a single entry even though I had requested a multi. This means that once I leave India I am not able to return on this trip and that kind of suck but oh well.

I go to the carousel and quickly realize that my tripod that Foto Care has so graciously loaned me was broken and this I might add is the first time I have any equipment broken. I think I will take some responsibility for this but only a bit. I had essentially strapped the tripod to the side of my backpack luggage. It was all locked on tight and not going anywhere. When I picked it up the tripod was still there but the head was missing. Turns out it was just in my bag. They had somehow managed to break the bolt that holds the head to the main body of the tripod. I was pissed since I was really on the fence about bringing it and now it was looking as though I might need to drag a lame tripod around India with me for the next three weeks. I tried to complain to the officials at the airport but after wasting about an hour I had enough I was now tired as hell and could not see straight. I also had to contend with finding a hotel since the one that the UN had told me to contact was already booked and there was no way I could find another one with the few hours I had to pack and leave NYC. (Great story coming up about how I managed to fix the tripod. Better, stronger and well just better and stronger!

I found a travel desk and book myself a room at the Hotel Vikram, Do you know it? It’s a lovely place in Delhi on the ring road in Lajpat Nagar. Check it out if you get there sometime.

The cab ride to the hotel was fun. It’s always amazing those first few minutes when you emerge from the sterile environment of the airport to the city that awaits you and Delhi is certainly a city unlike just about any. I was lucky since it was still very early and traffic had not really begun to happen yet. Even without traffic good reader I can assure that driving in Delhi and I would soon find out everyplace I have been in India is very similar. I can only describe it as an almost slow motion version of chaos. There appear to be no rules of the road and yet there also seems to be very few accidents and if they do happen they are all slow speed at best. Lanes are only suggestions speed limits are rarely reached and honking is the norm but unlike the west when you honk here it’s more of a gentle excuse me I’m here and coming through vs. in the west it’s more like “garsh darn you get out of the way. Horns in the west are often accompanied by a single ginger from ones hand in India It’s more defense and in the west it’s more offense. Once you can accept that then you can really get into the flow. Of course the constant horns do become a bit annoying. I find myself wondering why all the honking since we are all going in the same direction but then I remember they are just letting the other guy know they are there.

I check into the hotel for the two and a half days. The half day was since I arrived at around 5:30 am and check in was not until noon so I had to pay a bit extra and I was fine with that since I was dying to lie down for a bit. When I awoke I called a few contacts but they were busy so my next goal was to try and fix the tripod. Aha I just figured it out, this must have been Sunday since most places in the city for photography kinds of things were closed. I was told by the hotel there was a bunch of photo places that could perhaps fix the tripod near. So off I go with camera in hand (Fuji X-100) thanks FotoCare. I thought this would be a good time to test drive this little camera that everyone has been raving about. I walk down the dirt road all the while dodging the constant buzz of 125cc Hero Honda motorbikes, imitation Vespas and a whole host of other cars, truck, rickshaws, bicycles’ and busses. Place after place I go and ask if they could help me but nobody can. They are happy to give me directions to the next market or store down the road. Eventually on the way back I come across a little camera store where a kind man took it upon himself to try and fix the thing. We walked all the way across the street (8 ft) to another guy working on some propane looking tanks and some other things. He seemed like a good possibility to have the tools needed. He did manage to get the setscrew off so I could re-attach the head to the tripod. They told me that it was permanent and that it would not be able to be removed. I thought “great” I don’t need the trouble of it coming off and now I can use it.

My next project for the day was to go to the Chandi Chook market. To get there I would need to take the subway/train system. I’ll let you know how that went on the next update.

In the mean time here are a bunch of photos from the first week.





Working for the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women

In Bangladesh, Documentary work, Giving Back, India, Travel, UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women on November 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm

India Visa in hand



This is the first of hopefully a bunch of new posts to my blog, I have been hired to go to India and Bangladesh to shoot four projects for the UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Woman This is a huge project that is going to have me crisscrossing India and then on to Bangladesh. There will be Planes, Trains and Automobiles and I’m sure some crazy stories, amazing photos, incredible people and knowing me some laughs as well. It’s almost 6pm and my flight is at 11pm tonight. I fly from JFK (NYC) to Dubai United Arab Emirates (12.5 hour flight) then on to Delhi in India (2.5 hours) Then it’s off to work to photograph the Lawyers collective who have helped to bring into law the protection to women. I’ll be working with sex workers, indigenous people as well as migrant workers. All of theses woman deserve to have equal rights and be treated with respect and not fear for their lives. I hope to show how the Trust Fund is helping to make sure that happens.

Oh by the way I’m finally relaxing after finally receiving my Visa for India at about 3:30 pm today. It was touch and go for a bit. Flights were booked and shoots were scheduled and yet there I was without a visa. Exhale….. All is good now