Tuesday, February 10, 2009



When I was going through the photographs I took during my 'Calcutta Walk' in January,2009 ,I thought of writing a blog, a photo-feature on male-bonding , as captured during street photography.

Young man, staring at his friend through
a mirror
of road-side hair-cutting saloon

My friend K, his nephew and I were out on the streets of Calcutta last month to visit a few churches and Synagogues of Central/Business district of Calcutta and do a bit of street photography as well. It was a Sunday... roads were empty and the we could have relaxed stroll through the footpaths of otherwise busy area. Food-stalls which remain busy throughout the week were empty.No carts on the roads.Shops with their shutters down.People sleeping, chatting, getting a hair-cut and strolling idly. On close scrutiny, we could realise that these people are mostly from our neighbouring states who undertake the menial's job during the week, earn their wages which go for the distant families' upkeep.

One thing that the photos bring out is the open expression of male-bonding. I read an article the other day in a newspaper where a Westerner has been quoted saying how often in India we find men strolling in public places holding hands! In Calcutta, there is another public expression of male-bonding : conduct of men bathing in public water faucets is somewhat similar to locker-room bonhomie !

Man scrubs his body and crotch while staring at that of his mate.

Well, Calcutta is unique among other metropolitan cities of India in this area. Calcutta has a river with numbers of ghats on its western fringe, numerous water-bodies and always-flowing road-side faucets. Scenes of half-naked migrant labour taking bath in public is a common scene. Bathers assemble in twos, threes as well as in groups , have fun and sometimes behave a little lewd.

A bather looks at his hard-on while his mate reaches inside his crotch for ablution!

Hmmm... may be Eve Sedgewick ( writer of Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire ) can evolve her theories on homosocial behaviour of migrant workers of Calcutta. She believes that that the term 'Homosocial' predates her in occasional usage, with a generic meaning: "'Homosocial' is a word occasionally used in history and the social sciences, where it describes social bonds between persons of the same sex" . Sedgwick's contribution, however, is the notion that the boundaries between the social and the sexual are blurry, fuzzy; thus homosociality and homosexuality are connected and can never fully be disentangled. She acknowledges that the nature of this boundary varies from society to society and from era to era, and even within one society. ( reference matter - wikipedia) .

Two persons sleep cozy in a make-shift bed through the lazy Sunday morning.

I post here a few photos with my observations and comments. I felt that some of these photos need a bit working through Photoshop , adding a bit of drama. Others are in black & white.

This subject is interesting to a street photographer . More of this in future.

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