When one of the girls in a small Andhra Pradesh town noticed I carried a
camera, she asked me to take a picture. Other girls saw her making this
break for stardom, and rushed to be included. Soon their mothers got wind of
it and ran out, hysterically calling their daughters home. I assumed it was
because photography was some sort of breach of modesty and they weren't
about to have any child of theirs involved in such a thing.
Ashamed, I put my camera away and wallowed in my cultural insensitivity.
A few minutes later, however, the girls began to emerge from their houses,
big smiles and ounces of makeup caked on their faces. Their mothers had
called them back to make sure they were wearing their most colorful dresses
so my photograph could be as beautiful as possible.
I must admit that I've seen nicer dresses, but the perfect continuum of
faces from the guileless smiles on the left to the concerned grimace
on the right make this photograph all I could ask for.