Every Saturday, Jamkhed holds a cattle market with traders from all of the surrounding villages and towns sending their best and most colorful livestock. Around 10 am, I climbed into the car with a few of the students and four men who work with CRHP to go see the market. Jamkhed was even busier than usual — I knew it would be, but it was hard to imagine before seeing it. When we arrived and got out of the car, we walked among lines of cattle, some standing, some laying down and turning to look at us over their shoulders, their enormous heads swinging slowly so they could peer lazily up at us. We picked our way carefully past mounds of dung and cars with loudspeakers playing music, following our guides who, every so often, grasped a cow trader’s arms in greeting and laughingly explained our presence in Marathi.
We next went to the vegetable market, which turned out to be so much more than that. My eyes were shocked with colors, so many reds and oranges glowing from round bowls full of spices, peans and peas, and the greens of vegetables and early fruits being hawked by grandmothers sitting cross-legged upon a mat on the ground. Colorful tarps looped in triangle patterns above our heads, moving ever-so-barely in the breeze and breaking the worst of the sun to allow us to witness the explosion of color. Two young boys grinned at me and pointed to my camera, and I snapped a picture of them as they posed together. I showed them the photo, and they did the typical head bobble which means something different every time, but was unquestionably positive in this case.
Afterward, we attended a wedding. All of us students dressed in our best clothes and piled into the car again. As we neared the wedding we saw a group of young men dancing wildly behind a bus with speakers on top of it, with traffic stopped in a long, honking line waiting for the men’s celebration to move on. I saw a white horse, and leaned toward the window, peering at the groom sitting elegantly in gold and red garb, riding the horse like a prince. We soon parked, and walked toward a large cement building. We women were given red flowers for our hair, while the men’s foreheads were decorated with a vermillion streak. Rice was dripped into our open palms when we sat, cross-legged, among the audience of the wedding. I had my camera slung over my neck and took photos at the urging of Ratna, who works with CRHP. A little girl wearing a black scarf followed me, shyly watching as I took photos of women who repeatedly motioned for me to come take their picture. Ratna pushed me to take a photo of Jayesh, her son and our teacher, as his head was adorned with a large orange headdress.
When I finally moved to sit down and watching the procession, Ratna told me to go up on stage with the wedding party. I was incredulous, wouldn’t that be rude of me? No, no, she shooed me up the stairs and into the chaos of tossed rice and hues of orange and red. When members of the wedding party saw me with my camera, they gently pulled and pushed me to stand at perfect angles to take portraits of the bride and groom. I felt chills when the couple looked at me, taking a moment from their wedding to give me a flawless moment to snap.
The little girl with the black scarf followed me on the stage, watching as I took photos, standing on my tip-toes to get the best shot. When we left, she looked at me, touching my hand. “Bye,” I told her, and she bobbed her head back and forth.