The Grand Trunk Road - Behind the Scenes
Crowd Control and Chaperones
Many people in India and Pakistan still regard being interviewed and photographed as something of a status symbol. People were refreshingly curious and we drew a (male) crowd whenever we worked in a public place. There was rarely a shortage of people willing to be interviewed or photographed, and spectators were in ample supply.
I often acted as translator because Tim didnít speak the local language. This included crowd control duty when he was working, to ensure that spectators didnít inadvertently step into his shots. At times like this, I would ask spectators to stand either side of Tim (images 1 and 2) or behind him if possible.
India and Pakistan have male-dominated societies, and local custom expected me to have a male chaperone. Therefore, Tim often had to sit in on lengthy interviews, even if he didnít understand what was being said. Image 3 shows two elderly brothers seated to the left of frame. They related their memories of travelling along the Grand Trunk Road from Pakistan into India during the 1947 Partition. They travelled with their family to Panipat when they were only 9 or 10 to escape the violence that erupted during this turbulent period. As they recalled their journey, they were surrounded by several generations of their family. There was pin-drop silence as I recorded this remarkable interview in a very crowded room. All the observers remained completely still and respectfully listened to their story. Apart from the family members visible in this picture, there were more standing in the doorway.
In cities like Peshawar in Pakistan where the male-dominated culture was even more acute, it was even more important for me to keep a low profile. I didnít want my behaviour to offend anyone. I therefore watched from the car while Tim stepped out to take some photographs, and I took the picture of Tim standing on the roof of a bus in Peshawar from the car window (Image 4).
See where Peshawar is.»