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Blog - Raminder Pal Singh Photography

Himachali Nati meets Punjabi Ishq - Gunehar 2019

When Himachali Nati meets Punjabi Ishq - Gunehar 2019

Closing celebration of ShopArt ArtShop-3 in Gunehar Market Square on 15 June 2019.

Look at the enthusiasm of the villagers, especially kids who had a gala of a time! 

Faces of Gunehar - June 2019

The 3 days spent in Gunehar are etched in my memories for ever. Sharing some glimpses from the concluding day/celebrations of the ShopArtArtShop festival, a unique and brilliant concept by Frank Schlichtmann.

Indian Parliamentary elections 2019

 

Well, the 7 phase Parliamentary or general elections of India which began on 11 April 2019 came to its culmination with polling held in 7 states and one Union Territory, including my state, Punjab on 19 May 2019.

I started the day early at 6 a.m. when I left the Amritsar city to visit some villages near the Indo-Pak (India - Pakistan) border and to see what I could get there.

 


SHAHOORA

The first village which I visited was village Shahoora which is just 5 km away from the border with Pakistan. The famous Attari -Wagha border is approximately at the same distance from this village. It was about 7 a.m. and people had started to gather outside a school which had been turned into a polling station. Quite contrary to what I had expected, there were not many people, present there to cast their votes. In fact, at the end of the day it turned out that Amritsar district had the lowest percentage of voting at 56.35 per cent, in the entire Punjab state. 

Some pictures which I took at Shahoora village:

 

First time voter Navpreet Kaur shows her inked finger after casting her vote

 

A voter shows his ID card before casting his vote

 

A voter signs a document before casting her vote


MODE

Second village which I visited for the photographs was village Mode which is very close to another important historical monument from Maharaja Ranjit Singh's era, Pul Moran or Pul Kanjari. The school there had also been turned into a polling station and people were dropping in, in small numbers to exercise their right to vote. here are some glimpses from people voting in village Mode:

An elderly villager shows his ink-marked finger after casting his vote

 

 

A voter carries her child as she comes out after casting her vote

 

 

A child stands near his mother as voters stand in a queue to cast their votes

 

 

Villager voters stand in a queue to cast their votes 

 

 


BACHIWIND

Bachiwind, the third village saw me rushing out of my car to talk to two young girls who had just come out of the polling station and were holding certificates. These I knew were the appreciation certificates that they had got as "first time voters." Election Commission of India (ECI) has instructed to present these certificates to the youngsters who vote for the first time to encourage young voters to cast their votes. Here they are 

First time voters Poonamdeep Kaur (L) and Komaljeet Kaur show their inked fingers after casting their votes

 

Some other shots from Bachiwind:

Aman was laughing like anything before getting herself photographed as she was not used to this sort of attention. She made me laugh as well while I unsuccessfully asked her to pose for the camera till a polling official who was watching all this from a distance and was also smiling, came forward and told her how to pose.

First time voter Amandeep Kaur shows her inked finger after casting her vote

 

 

An elderly Indian woman shows her inked finger after casting her vote

 

I was looking to shoot something different from all these voter queues and posed shots while an idea struck my mind to find someone who could be working in his farm after casting his vote. I thought that could make a good picture as it would represent the true image of a farmer from Punjab. I asked a couple of people who I came across in farms if they had already voted and their answer was a "no" .After meandering through the village roads and unsuccessfully trying to ask a few more people, I came across a gentleman Jagira Singh and I was glad to know that he had cast his vote. I explained it to him that why I wanted to photograph him and he happily posed for me and here is the result:

This is the best shot, in my view that I got from the entire election coverage on that day.

 

 


ATTARI

Fourth village on the route was Attari village which is the last village you pass through while travelling towards the famous Attari border which has been known more popularly as Wagha border.

Here, as I came across some senior citizens who were sitting at a market square and I asked them about the directions to the school turned polling station. As they told me about the same, I happened to see the ink marked finger of one of those "wise men." I immediately got out of my car and asked them if I could photograph them and as expected, they obliged. Here is the picture that I took there:

 

Another image I made at the school errr... polling station was a woman carrying her child as she waited in the queue to cast her vote and the child curiously looked at me (well not in this picture though) while I took this photograph:

 

I would close this post with one more photograph that came to my mind from the word curious. The image was made at village Bachiwind where a woman asked me to photograph her as well as I was photographing around.  As she was posing for the camera, the child looked confused as he first looked at his mother's finger and then towards her face and repeated this for at least three times.

Don't worry kid, you'll get to experience this feeling when you grow up and vote for the first time and get a certificate of appreciation from the ECI :) 

Images All Rights Reserved EPA-EFE

www.epa.eu

www.raminderphotos.in

American Prefers Indian Roadside Dentist

He has set up his "clinic" under a tree, on a very busy roadside and often you could see his patients asking him to fill up quickly as they do not want to miss their next bus, passing nearby, to their village back home.

Baba Gurdeep Singh is a self-styled dentist and he has learned this 'dentistry' from his father, as he told me. Even most of the best dental surgeons in Amritsar, he says are minting money and not treating the patients as they should.

He was reluctant to start with as he doubted that I could use these pictures to show his "illegal" clinic, which in turn could mean an end to it. I am the one who does not dive in straightaway and starts taking pictures. I was calm and genuinely wanted to know about this curious "clinic" of his. I talked to him and after about half an hour or so he added that whatever someone does, he does it for himself. If you do bad, the bad will happen to you and if you are good to others then only good happens with you. He was indirectly telling this to me and I am also a believer of this philosophy of his.

I talked to his "patients" as well and they all seemed to be highly satisfied with Baba's treatment. One of them said that he and his family were visiting Baba Gurdeep Singh since many years, to get cured by him of any dental problems they had.

Most of his patients are from villages and a few and regular ones are from Amritsar city and from nearby areas as well. "Low fee which he charges and good treatment, both make him the excellent dental doctor", said one of his patients.

Baba Gurdeep Singh said that he charges his patients nominally. Some, he says, tell them that they do not have money and would give him the fee on their next visit and he says he lets them go. Most of them pay back in some time. He says, "Even if someone does not have money and is very poor, I tell them not to worry after treatment and ask them to give me the fee whenever they have or even if they can't, its alright," says the roadside dental "expert."

Eventually, I did that photo feature on roadside dentist, Baba Gurdeep Singh.

The interesting thing that I came across was on NBC News Photoblog which featured this photo feature of mine, titled, "Roadside dentist carves dentures to order in India." They published a few pictures in this article along with the text. In comments section, below that blog post, I was going through some comments to see people's reaction to this story when I came across a little story shared by an American reader Warren S. Levine there. I was surprised to read what he had put in comments section there! He said, "I'd rather have Gurdeep Singh work on my teeth than the "licensed and accredited" American-"educate son-of-a-bitch &%#$ who almost killed me." He had written there, how he almost lost his life when he underwent a dental surgery. You can read that comment and his full stroy on NBC News Photoblog on Indian Roadside Dentist.

Here is a video I did on that roadside dentist, for EFE, a Spanish international news agency who are the video partners for European Pressphoto Agency, the agency I work for.

The Golden Temple

This is the place which never ceases to amaze me. The holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple attracts more visitors per day than the Taj Mahal. You may see some of my Golden Temple Images collection here. The sacred place bears some dark memories on its history pages as this was the place who's premises echoed the sounds of gun shots and canons back in the year 1984 during Operation Blue Star and again in 1988 during Operation Black Thunder II

 

 

Aged, 8 years, I was not living in the Amritsar city at the time of Operation Blue Star as my father's posting as an engineer in irrigation department was at a small town called Kotla near Anandpur Sahib, another one the most important Sikh pilgrimage places. We were back again in Amritsar when Operation Black Thunder II took place and I remember the sounds of fired shots and watching the "light bombs" fired by security forces, exploding in skies over the Golden Temple at night to catch the hiding separatists off guard and to trace them.

 

The tourism suffered a lot owing to the effects of these operations and an era which affected thousands of families in Punjab and families related to Punjab, living abroad or otherwise living elsewhere in India. The things started to get smooth and it took a long time for normalcy to return to the state of Punjab.

 

Its now very safe and secure to visit the city and roam around as much as you can. I feel that if you have to get the real taste of the city; plan on spending at least 2 full days here.

A large part of your memories about the city would be overpowered by the street food of Amritsar which is just awesome! I will keep on posting pictures related to all the aspects like the street food which I mentioned and would describe in as much detail as I could about every picture. ...and yes, I started the page with the text saying, "This is the place which never ceases to amaze me." I will touch this topic in my next post. Bye for now :)

--Raminder