By the time I made it to Varanasi in 2010, I had been travelling in India for almost two months and was rather exhausted by it all. Perhaps more pertinently, having just come down from the cool and peaceful heights of McLeod Ganj, where I had found an oasis of awe-inspired equilibrium, Varanasi seemed unpleasantly hot and crowded – something I’ve written about elsewhere. Despite this, however, in the moments when I was refreshed and energetic enough to engage with the place, I came to enjoy wandering the narrow, crowded streets with their close-pressed holes-in-the-wall and contemplating how like an ancient city it seemed to be.
This particular street – on which I had a haircut later that day – contained the entrance to an important local temple (I forget to which god) and a long queue stretched from both sides of the entrance, which is roughly where the loudspeaker can be seen in the background. There was a surprisingly positive atmosphere amongst the crowd and people were smiling and enjoying themselves, which made it all rather fun. I got briefly stuck and stood to the side, from which position I grabbed this shot.
Apart from the general subject matter, I’ve always liked the neat vectors in this image, snaking from the elderly lady in the bottom left corner and running through the generations of the family on up the narrow laneway. There seems to be a neat progression from what I assume to the grandmother in the foreground to her daughters, sons and grandchildren. The angle of the heads, with their beautiful hair, adds dynamism and movement, leading the eye to the turning, smiling boy in the very centre of the image. It is always pleasing when a momentary snapshot pays off like this and randomness conjures not merely an order of sorts, but also a mini-narrative.