THAIPUSAM: 98.5% Indians 1% Law Enforcers 0.5% Photographers




Shooting events and festivals can be a pain.

You’ve no idea what’s going to happen and what to expect.

I  am a sucker for pain.

So, this year I decided to take a trip to Batu Caves for Thaipusam.
and why not? 

Especially when I’m known to take connecting flights, followed by overnight train rides and hours of rickety bus rides down and up winding lanes tempting fate at the same time just to shoot a festival which I pray to god the internet information on its precise location and date is accurate {which of course is as good as buying a used car in terms of reliability and truth}.

Oh ok. Might as well come straight with you.

The reason I decided to take Thaipusam – something in my ‘backyard’ so to speak is because my initial plan to head out to Arunanchal Pradesh to take a trip down the historical Ledo Road during an organised cultural festival that fosters better understanding and relations between the Burmese and Indians came to an end when:
  1. Board Meeting dates were revealed for 2011 just before Christmas, 2010,
  2. the cultural festival location {town/province} changed,
  3. Ledo Road can wait given 1.  and 2.
So with that I decided to shoot Thaipusam – a religious event that commemorates the birthday of Lord Murugan (aka Subramaniam), the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati, as well as the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a lance (vel) so he could vanquish the evil demon, Soorapadman.

Having not done this before I called the ex- and made the arrangements.

I as usual needed a chaperon. I’ve never done this alone; Travel –or– Photo shoots.
Naturally I was prepped for the worst … the people, the heat, the noise level, the sights … you name it.
But I was not deterred and adamant to get this done and one that became more resolute as I was unable to find solid facts (i.e. date(s), chariot routes, event itinerary, etc.) on the internet.
On Wednesday, sitting in the infamous Kuala Lumpur traffic, I panicked when the traffic signages read:  

My over-active mind launches into these thoughts:

The chariot is only suppose to leave the Jalan Bandar temple tonight and snail its way through Kuala Lumpur to Batu Caves … just in time for my shoot on the 20th.
What business does it have leaving early?
Why the heck are we having a public holiday on the wrong day?
OMG! The ex- had deliberately given me wrong info!!!
My fingers started its mind-numbing activity of sms-ing every photographer in town whom I know has some Thaipusam shots on their portfolio and/or website. Naturally no discerning photographer is awake at 7-ish in the morning. They simply don’t have to. They don’t have ‘official working hours’ or ‘company policies’ to abide to.
As it turns out, missy Perfectionist Penelope who hyper ventilates unnecessarily emitted more carbon than necessary {again}… but nonetheless insisted that we left at the wee hours of dawn on the 20th, which of course the ex- slept through while I waited at the pre-agreed spot for an hour restraining myself from depressing the “redial” button of the phone every 53 seconds.



The verdict?
98.5% Indians . 1% “Law Enforcers” . 0.5% Photographers
Definition of photographers?
Any ethnicity, nationality, gender and age, yielding an instrument with optical glasses fitted to a chip capable of storing pixels pointing at anyone with shaved head and/or pierced body parts.
Human density?

Seriously child’s play if you’ve been to any event / festival in motherland India.
But nonetheless, it’s still hopelessly frustrating to have a sea of people around you with varied purposes that involves staring into space and taking up space. Hence, the pain of shooting events and/or festivals.
How about getting up close and personal? 
errr… someone else is already there!
 .{and oh boy! no way am I gonna confront mr. grouchy even if its unlikely that he’s about to talk back or talk bad with the skewer pierced through his mouth.}


So thank goodness for my Mother India training … I did get some decent shots {to be reviewed in Penelope | Photoblog later}. Here’s one of the above shot that avoided the photographers (sort of, since the tourist in the photo below has a camera strap around his neck) … but still has the unavoidable sea of people.


 © p.{Haque}



5 thoughts on “THAIPUSAM: 98.5% Indians 1% Law Enforcers 0.5% Photographers

  1. @phil – thanks!@foto.grapher – yeah, he did. I got to shoot a bit as well, but these are all good ol' faithful Nikon.@phot {errr… ini saya tidak kenal/tahu sapa – mind emailing me? :) }GXFC (belated) to you too.

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