Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Of Men And Flowers

Say it with flowers, an adage says. The saying stands true for Jakartans who are currently in the middle of the War of Flowers between Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahja Purnama's supporters and Anies Baswedan's supporters (for example, this news). 

But let's get away from the humdrum of Jakarta's politics to Kolkata, India. I have a soft spot for India, perhaps because D has the facial features of South Asians (ha!).

National Geographic photographer Ken Hermann was on assignment in India a few years ago, and he decided to go to a flower market on his day off. He was drawn to how the male flower vendors carried their goods. So he came back to make a portrait series.

Flowers are used for everything in India, from festivals and parties to religious rituals. The variety is enormous, from brightly hues hibiscuses and vivid crimson roses to jasmine bouquets, fragrant lotus and magnolia flowers. The photographer decided to photograph the species that he saw the vendors carrying.

The photographer originally thought about including both sexes in the series, but the women were reluctant to have their pictures taken. So he focused exclusively on the male vendors. To get these guys to take a break from their work and pose under the midday sun, he wound up paying for many of the bunches he photographed.

These stoic, masculine men put on a macho face when they get their picture taken. But you can see that they carry their flowers -- their livelihood -- in a very gentle way. You can see more here.

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