Stories from the Road: The Flutes of Jodhpur

Stories from the Road is a collection of stories about my own photographic adventures in South Asia. Sometimes the stories are exciting and sometimes mundane and at times emotional. This section deals with vernacular photography and the way we all experience the photographs we see. What they meant when we took them and what they mean over time.

I am very frustrated today. The internet is not cooperating today. It is making it difficult to write. I had written two paragraphs and went to save the material. WordPress logged me out and did not save what I had written. Why are the computer gods being unfriendly today? I also added a plugin that is supposed to help me create posts that are more search engine friendly, however, it does not seem to be working correctly either. Ugg…

Anyway, Let me start again.

As I was looking through my photographs to decide what to write about this week, I came across the photograph you see above. The photograph is a detail of flutes being sold on the street in Jodhpur. Meropi and I traveled there back in January and you can read more about the trip here, here and here.

This whole situation is not going well. I just lost another two paragraphs, so I am going to take a break. I am tired of repeating myself.

Okay, for the third time.

Yesterday as I walked down the street I was thinking of flutes like the ones in the photograph above. I was thinking about the fact that my mom had wanted to purchase one for a friend back home. However, I have no idea where to buy one here in Udaipur. Ultimately, that is what moved me to photograph the flutes in Jodhpur. They were new and different, something not found in Udaipur.

The photograph is a close up of small wooden or bamboo flutes. The flutes are fixed to a long pole that has pegs sticking out of it. The flutes are hanging on the pegs. It is a simple solution. The overall structure resembles a stalk of grain. In the photograph you can see the light colored wood and the bright colors giving the instruments details. As I photographed the flutes I wondered how many the boy sells a day. In the end, the flutes were this passing fascination of a specific place.

I still wish I could find one of these flutes for my mom so I could take it for her friend. So funny that a flute can haunt my mind. They were just out of reach for me to give my mom something she wanted. Strange how a photograph can come to hold a memory or thought it was never supposed to. How it can cause grief.

And why is it we can never find the most basic, simple things we want? A photograph has never been a good substitute for something else as some would have us believe. A photograph is simply a two-dimensional representation of something else, a hollow stand in. In this case literally hollow because the object desired makes music. Ha!

Best wish in finding the hidden treasures you desire!

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By |2018-10-12T15:55:27-05:00April 11th, 2017|India|0 Comments

About the Author:

Betsy Williamson is an assistant professor of art in the state of New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico for this job she was an adjunct professor throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, teaching photography and art appreciation. Between September 2015 and May 2017, she took a break from teaching to pursue art, research and life in India. Now she is back to teaching and part-timing it in India.

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