Heat and Dust in an Indian Village


Three weeks ago, I was in India sitting on a Bihar train reading the headlines:

“Maoist rebels attack a train in Bihar”

“Serious outbreak of Malaria in Bihar kills 72 people.”

Just in case I still thought the assignment would be easy, I was told to drink plenty of of water — because a villager in the area where I was working had fallen asleep in the shade of a tree and died of dehydration as a result of the heat.

On the way to the village, we were held up by bandits who demanded money. At another crossroad near a sign that read “Anti-corruption office,” the police stopped us and demanded money from the driver because his lights weren’t working. How they knew this I don’t know, because it was midafternoon in bright sunlight and there was no reason to have the lights on.

Anyway, we paid the fine, and the driver received a receipt — for half the amount.

I was working on my “Villages around the world” project, and I was in a village that was a four-hour drive away from any reasonably sized city, and sometimes difficult to get to in the rainy season. But this was the dry season — and also the wedding season — so there was plenty of activity and many picture opportunities.

When I returned home, I thought it would be a good idea to have Nikon clean out my cameras because of the dust and particles from the desert and the cement factory I had visited. I handed over my camera to a Nikon Centre technician and asked her to book it in for service.

She took the lens off the camera and pointed it directly up to the light.

“I can’t see anything in there,” she said.

No, I thought, but there certainly will be muck on the chip now that you have done the one thing you should never do with a digital camera, which is to take off the lens and point it directly upwards.

I took the equipment to another camera technician, who cleaned all the dust off the chip.