Sunday, June 25, 2006

Pictures


Tons of Photos Have been posted Here! Check them out tell me what you think. Ask questions :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Road Trip 2

Well back from another road trip this one was about 8 days and focus mainly on music of the Bauls. The Bauls are some really laid back people. They are orange grab toting virtuosos of West Bengal. They have long hair, sing songs about Eternal love and Krishna, and some of them smoke a fair amount of weed from what is called a Chillum. A small clay smoking device. Their music and philosophies are incredible!




Day one we arrived at home base, a friends of the Ghosh’s house in Shantinikean. It was a beautiful and peaceful place. We received a call on our way there that the house had been robbed. We got there and the only thing that had been stolen was a small stereo system. We ran to the store and bought some extra locks for the house. After a day the water stopped running. We had to borrow water from the neighbors well. It was a group effort and extremely fun. We filled like 10 gallons worth of small buckets and all fought about who got to pull the bucket from the well next. We had to bath with buckets which was different for me but, normal for many in this country.

A couple of interesting cultural nuances.




India has unbelievable tea people are constantly breaking for tea. Tea is here is called Chai. You know the stuff Starbucks sells? That is the Hindi pronunciation from northern India. Here in Bengal Chai pronounced Cha. Chai just means tea. So just remember next time when you order a chai tea that your ordering tea tea. Kinda silly right? There are many types of tea and west Bengal is famous for it. Don’t worry I will bring back some.

People sleep in the streets but it doesn’t mean they are “homeless”. Many of the working class sleep in the street or on top of their taxis.

Men keep their distance from women. There is a women’s bench in public transportation.

Women don’t smoke in public because they are regarded as the mother.

People are not to smoke in front of elders it is seen as a sign of disrespect.

It is rude to point your feet in the direction of elders.

Men are more timid then women in this culture and in fact the woman takes care of the household and all the bills usually. She also is the one to yell at the plumber if he isn’t doing his job.

It isn’t rude to stare here. It’s curiosity. When people crowd around us and stare we call it the circus.

Men shouldn’t wear shorts in public because it is considered a boyish thing to do.

It is disrespectful to not finish your food here. Food is eaten with your hands. Make sure you eat with your right hand because here in India people don’t usually use toilet paper and instead they use their left hand and a bucket of water.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Village






I am back.

Internet connection has been nil. So sorry in advance for spelling errors.

Team roots went on a ten day road trip through West Bengal. It was a long, hard, interesting and beautiful trip. I will try to do justice to my experience with pictures and some stories from the places that we visited.

The first thing we had scheduled was an interview. we were supposed to meet this old man in the city with the two cars we rented, a Qualis and an Ambassador. When we went to pick him up he was with his wife and son he forgot to tell us we were giving them a ride as well. To say the least it was a bit cramped for a couple hours. I made good friends with the stick shift especially when it was in 2nd gear.

When we got to the man’s house it Reeked of moth balls and the weather was about the consistency of a steam bath. Filming was a bit chaotic, I caught each crew member in my frame at least four times as the old man feverishly moved around excited to show us all of his different scrolls. According to the translators, for a majority of the interview he talked about himself and the book that he had written. The man had about 3,000 Patua scrolls, one of the biggest collections in the world, well worth the peek.

We stopped off for lunch at a roadside then made our way to our first village, North Southern Chalk. This was our first experience of what we came to call “The Circus” Crowds and crowds of children and curious villagers greeted us with wide eyes. In this interview we decided to include ourselves in the filming. The man we interview proceeded to tell us that film was dying and that it was the medium which had spun his art form near extinction . It was very Ironic. We continued to interview the man on a rickshaw. Hundreds of people followed us.

We made a little pit stop for some dinner. We experienced Our first Taba, kicked back a couple Indian beers. A taba is an Indian truck stop café that has either decent or disgusting food. Beer and taba food was our fuel for the duration of our travel. Once we had our fill of taba we made our way to our first sleeping arrangements.

We got directed to the house the government of India was going to put us up in. The roof was caved in and the entire complex was filled with stacks of bricks. We knew something had to be wrong. We went to the PDO block office down the road. The man in charge showed us another place where we could stay. It was a town hall where CPI (Communist Party of India) would gather. There was rotten food on the floors and chewing tobacco on the walls. The bathrooms looked like something out of the Holocaust. We affectionately named this sleeping complex “COMMIE INN”. We gathered our things and continued to search for a hotel for the next four hours. Finally we found one in a sleepy little trucker town called “Debra” The accommodations were rough around the edges but, definitely sleepable. The three days that we were here we got to know our drivers very well. Raj the driver of the Ambassodor and Ram the driver of the Qualis. Awesome guys. We got drunk with them almost every night. They both can speak about a sentence of English. Raj’s Sentence was “My car, best car” Ram’s was thank you so very much” a true couple of characters. We all became very close to them.

Next morning we drove to Noya about 30 minutes away. We stayed there for three days and became part of the village while filming. It was awesome. One of the founders of the village took us in and feed us every day. Children surrounded us every minute but by the end they left us alone because we had become a part of them. I even got a name and so did Ronnie. The children called Ronnie Caca which means uncle in Bengali. I was named Shada Bhooth which translates to white ghost. Where ever we went the children would chant our names. We were treated like rock stars. One of the women who took care of us told one of the translators that she would do anything to trade for my skin. I told her light skin is over rated. Raj one of the drivers had to leave because his wife and baby were sick. Raj got switch for a nineteen year old a man who could relate with the scarecrow from the wizard of OZ. Luckily Raj will be joining us again on trip two.

Ronnie set up some amazing field recording set-ups for all the all-Star Patua singers. It sounded great. One day we shot in a rice patty. I hung out and snapped some photos of the entire thing. One of my favorite things that we filmed in Noya was this woman’s union of singers. About fifty women sat outside singing songs as a quire at night. I lit it with two sets of headlights and kerosene lamps. The sight and sound was breath taking. Time at Noya quickly passed and before I knew it we were leaving with a couple of beautiful art pieces and tons of memories.

Next we were off to Purulia. Each place was much shorter visits two a few small villages and not nearly as much of a hands on experience as Noya. We stayed in a government housing called the chemical house for two days which was very nice and they treated us like rock stars. It was rainy, which enhanced things . amazing red dirt and interesting buildings everywhere. Emily got sick for two days and couldn’t stop throwing up. She slept almost two days strait.

The last place we went to was Bishnupor. There were these 600 year old temples of Krishna. We shoot some 16mm film of these awesome structures. They were extremely detailed. While at the temples we stayed in this giant bungalow the space was shared with tons of exotic and strange looking bugs. I am pretty sure the mosquito nets saved out lives.

Angshuman, Ronnie and I went to go film a giant festival called Ayodha which celebrated Manosha a Hindu snake god. There were Fireworks food and thousands of drunk people. It was the biggest festival I have ever been to. Ram was our bodyguard and an amazing one. He was peeling people off of us and throwing them to the side. People would come to talk to the “White Folk”. Everyone thought we were the big television station Z T.V. Im not going to lye, we played it up. We came across some sparkling fire works, which looked harmless at the time until they exploded on us and shattered our eardrums. We were wondering why every one cleared the space while we sat there and recorded the fire works. Embers flew on my foot but I got them off before they could burn me. It’s sorta funny looking back.

The last day we interviewed a Baul singer and then made our way back into the city. There was a giant truck that broke down in the middle of street so Ram the driver thought it was a smart idea to go against opposing traffic on the other side of the highway to shave some time. After a couple near hits, disasters and fights, we are back in the city all in one piece and happy to have a small break before we have to go out again for another week.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Going to the villages in the morning. We are going to the village of Noya. I will keep you updated in a little with pictures and other good stores. communication will be limited as they have no electricity or running water. I will be there for 10 days. So far we have interviewed two people about the Patua artform a curator and a anthropologist.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Preparing for the film. 05/26/06

Went to a dentist today. My tooth was killing me. It was a really interesting experience. He was very rough, used his bare hands, to be quite honest the whole experience scared the piss out of me. My tooth is infected, but he cleaned it up and prescribed about 6 different prescriptions. Antibiotics and pain killers. It was amazing to me that after all done and said, medication and dentist with out insurance the entire thing cost about five hundred Rupees. ( about 12 dollars). I figure I better take care of all this before we venture into the villages.

Were test drove all of our equipment today. There are still kinks to work out. We also went out to a Indian club and I have managed to stay up till 4:30am. We have an interview tomorrow morning with a curator of a museum that specializes in Patua Folk art. Night.

We test the waters. 05/25/06






Second Day in Kolkata we wake up late. A good nights sleep considering the humidity. We make our way to change our American Dollar to the Indian Rupee. I felt like P-Diidy with all my hundred dollar and five hundred dollar bills. Every one stared at use as we put away our giant wads of foreign currency. We went shopping with some of our money. I bought two pairs of linen pants. 1100 Rupee about 20 bucks which is expensive for pants here. By the time we were done shopping and eating lunch it was night. I took some pictures of men digging drains near downtown kolkata.









Later at night we went to a man named Buba’s house to talk about our post production funding. He is ex accountant of a television production out here in Kolkata. When we arrived at his house he was extremely intoxicated. He lectured us for hours. By the end of the night he drove us back drunk and in the end agreed to take care of all our post production funding.

We arrive to Kolkata 05/24/06





Travel To the city of Kolkata took roughly twenty four hours. A 6 hour flight into Heathrow England for our eight hour layover. Free alcohol on the airplane held us over until we found a nice little pub in Heathrow at 8 am GMT. I was to tired to continue the drinking. Angshuman the director and Ronnie Rose, sound extraordinaire indulged in a couple Stellas, well more then a couple actually. We boarded our plane to Kolkata a 9 hour flight. When we arrive to the airport we had a relatively easy time getting out of customs considering how much gear we traveled with. 10 pieces of luggage between the four of us. 2 primitive Bolex 16mm cameras, 2 Panasonic DVX100s and a boat load of Ronnie’s sound equipment.


We took a jeep ride from the airport to what will be home base for the next month and a half. A crazy ride that consisted of honk and avoiding oncoming traffic. Angshuman’s parents have put us up in their apartment in the city. A great place to call home for a while in a place that seems like another world not just another country.

We went for a walk around the city. Naked babies, dogs and people sleeping in the streets, vegetable markets, live chickens. Many eyes were glued to us walking down the street. Intense staring. Naturally I stared back just as curious as they were. My nose, ears and eyes have all been flooded with new sights sounds and smell. It’s almost overwhelming but to exciting to be overwhelming. T-Minus 7 days until we go into the Patua Villages.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Last Photo In america for a while.



Well, this is going to be my last photo in America for a while. Hopefully when I get back my photos will be somewhat different then they are now. As I absorb India and the experiences become a part of me my work. My Photos, films and writing will be changed. Next time I blog in this thing I will be on the other side of the world. Cheers everyone and have a great summer.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Project.



"The most significant fact of modern days is this, that the West has met the East. Such a momentous meeting of humanity, in order to be fruitful, must have in its heart some great emotional idea, generous and creative."
- Rabindranath Tagore

TrueRoot films’ production of Songs from the Little Road featuring renowned UK DJ State of Bengal will begin production on May 27, for a 50 day shoot in West Bengal, India.

OBJECTIVE OF FILM:
To observe the fruits of cultural interaction.
Capture the spirit of Bengal and Bengali culture.
Combine Eastern and Western forms & ideologies, while assuming
our own visual and commentary aesthetic.
Utilize film, the medium which led to a decline in folk arts to
reinvigorate artists and the artforms.

The filmmakers are storytellers
traveling alongside a way of life
they have never before
experienced.

This documentary will be following
the Hindu folk traditions of
Muslim scroll painters (Pataus)
in regions of West Bengal, India.

ONE FILM FOR TWO AUDIENCES

Songs from the Little Road:
In English, for Western audiences, reflecting what the foreign crew
learned from their interaction with an alternative culture
and philosophy.The filmmakers are storytellers
traveling alongside a way of life
they have never before
experienced.

Ananta Jebone (Life Eternal):
In Bengali, for folk artists, illustrating the crew’s understanding
of their artistic philosophy and the future of folk traditions.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Journey Begins




This is my first post in this journal that I will be keeping for "Songs From The Little Road", a film I will be shooting in India. This is all so overwhelming. I am moving away from Boston my home of three years and packing for India all at the same time. While I wait for fed-ex to ship away my life's possessions I can't help but reflect on the three last years of my life and how lucky I really am. So this is my fair-well to Boston and all the memories it has lend to me. Summers, Argentinean's, some best friends, some enemies and a hole in my pocket. I will miss Boston, dearly.