Featured here are some portraits and musings by Merin Paul, a former Content Manager based in Bangalore. She captured these scenes while travelling within the country- some photos evoked a chain of thoughts or an epiphany and some just spoke for themselves.

Merin also enjoys writing in her free time, when she is not capturing people with her camera.

From a Locus of Power

She was in power; in the power of her freedom and soul.

Battered and abused all day, every day – she grew up in a household suffocated by intoxication, negligence, patriarchy, and all that’s wrong with the world. In the deep dark belly of Kolkata, she grew up dreaming to be different from all that overpowered her.

I can’t quite recollect her name but I could never forget the sparkle I saw in her eyes when she talked about how she was an instrument of change in her setting. A change that allowed young girls to attend school, a chance at education.

She did what she could, and she is the proud caretaker of a Girls’ Government School in one of the most remote areas in Kolkata.

I often criticized why marketers back in the day advertised cigarettes as a tool of empowerment for women. But when I clicked her she made sure that she had the smoke because it embodied the length of her freedom – her thug life, if I might say?

Describe ‘Alone’

Picture this:

A young boy living at the eye of the spiral, near the latrines, because he was simply born to a family which never had the resources. This is used against him his entire life – kicked to the curb by boys of 6 or 7 – his age. Who is poisoned by the very ‘concept’ that they are superior because they were simply lucky to be born a certain way?

Alone – A word which is thrown around so much today that it’s never about the state itself but a ‘mood’. Sometimes, it’s a privilege of choice, an adjective to a title, or for the darker times – a ramification of depression.

I’m never to downplay the emotion – it is a dark feeling, be it a choice or not. Imagine, if the world around you is fundamentally structured to thwart you from being a social being, from making friends.

But wait, he’s got a friend. He’s got a friend with whom he laughs and talks to all night on the roof of his asbestos house. His safe place, where he soars and lives.

Now tell me. Are we truly alone? Surely our thoughts get the best of us, but can we all soar if we could think like him?

Is alone a luxury?

Blood, Sweat & Tears

I recall a conversation I had with a random affable unknown who owned a record store in the middle of nowhere. He told me, with a sullen look – “The idea of children going to school gives a stomach flip, not because they didn’t want to, but they couldn’t.”
He continued to say that they understand that education is important, but when you throw it in the faces of parents who work hard just to get by – it aggravates them – sometimes fate is inescapable.
I don’t have a solution and I’m no preacher. I’m simply stating that you don’t see a thirteen-year-old boy tired from playing hide and seek in the picture; you see a young man tired from the 9-to-whatever grind he does to put food on his table.

Kids Ain’t Kids Anymore

I know we’ve all thought about it. Our Instagram scrolls constantly remind us that the spell of innocence in a child is short-lived these days.

Remember the good old pictures with braces, clothes that didn’t make sense, and desperate attempts of parents to make us look presentable with makeup….ahh, the embarrassment.

Strolling the posh street of Tagore’s native, I ran into her. And like any wannabe photographer, I sneaked a click, but she saw me. Caught me, to be accurate because as soon as she did, she paced towards us and ‘told’ us to buy her balloons.

“I saw you taking my picture, and I want you to pay for it. Give me a hundred or buy my balloons.” Her wit was commendable. We asked her name. She went blue, her eyes became wild with fear, and she said – “Fast, they’re coming.”

I don’t know if it was another play, or if her eyes spoke the truth. But she was young; so young that at her age, I was busy mining boogers and dumb as a rock.

Speckle of Yellow

It’s never black and white, life has always been about the grey. Only that, some hold a darker shade of obscurity.

But once in a while, you come across that speckle of yellow in the twilight, and it’s like finding a needle in a haystack – you just have to look close enough. That spurt of pure high shoots up your dopamine through the roof, and it could be anything from a puppy video to being the reason for someone’s smile.

He stood there with a graceful smile and what I presume to be hope in his eyes for a better tomorrow. Now, even if it wasn’t, I think that’s the way to look at it because – “Hope is good.” Right?

The Eyes that Smile

The Green Lady of the Greens

The Gaze

Sharing the Load

Water Games

Lost in the Length of Time

Capture My Smile

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