Posted tagged ‘Police’

“May I take a photograph please??” – Encounters of a Photographer with a store manager and a few dozen cops!

May 28, 2014


Photography not allowed

Photography not allowed

“May I get an interest free loan for Rs.10,00,000?” is what I suspected the store manager heard me uttering, judging by his facial contortion that presented incredulity and insult mixed with an expression that I’m sure was last seen in the faces of French aristocracy before 1789.

“What in the god’s green earth did you ask then?”, you may wonder. Before I tell what I asked, I advise reader discretion. Kids below 8 yrs, pregnant ladies, people with heart conditions are advised to stop reading and go back to indulge in activities that are soothing to the senses, like viewing my photographs here.

So here is what happened. It was a lovely evening with the sun slowly retiring for the day in the areas that fall 5 and a half hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time, behind the towering east gopuram of Kapaleeshwarar temple in Mylapore. I couldn’t but resist exploring the multi-storey buildings for getting a better view of the sunset for the sole purpose of clicking pictures. After much analysis, I zeroed in on the top floor of a shop nearby the temple from where I could get a decent view of the entire temple complex with the setting sun behind. Being the “Rules Ramanujam” that I am, innocently stepped into the shop with a Camera in my hand to seek permission. Not less than 1/3rd of a second passed, I was surrounded by atleast 3 people throwing suspective glances. I’m sure the authoritative figure amongst them was wondering if he should call the cops. Better sense prevailed. But even then I saw no sign of his stiff facial expression easing out. He asked me ” What do you want?” in a tone that I’d rather preferred he called the cops. I gave him a quick background on my motive, presented my credentials and requested permission to shoot the temple from their premises. Being a supervisor with no prerogative to take independent deicisions apart from stopping random strangers entering the shop with a camera, he decided to check with his boss, the store manager. After multiple calls to multiple departments in multiple floors, the supervisor got hold of the manager and requested him to come down over.

I greeted the manager with a wide smile, shook hands and asked him “Can I take pictures of the temple from your premises?”.

What happened next is what is described in the first paragraph of this post.

After he comprehended that such a request could even come and after the initial pang of anger subsided, he regained his composure and said “No. No permission for such things will be given.”. Taken aback by the bluntness (idhu vera mokkai..not this), but happy that I didn’t get his palm and finger prints on my cheeks, I showed him my portfolio on temples and requested to re-consider. He proudly said, “We have never given permission for photography and we will not give in the future also.” in a manner that exceeded the stiff upper lip ‘begaviour’ of the British aristocracy. Persuasive pest that I am, I asked him “Is there any specific reason you don’t allow photography from your premises?”, for which he replied “There is no reason. We just won’t allow.”.

Considering the consideration that I’m a man of self respect, I turned around in slow motion and walked towards the exit while my mind played this music .

Angry Chennai thatha preventing photography

Angry Chennai thatha preventing photography

Doing a bit of Googling (I’m not one of those that use the fancy word “Research” as a substitute for Googling), I found that this is a common problem all over the world. Post 9/11 everyone is a bit jittery about being photographed. Especially the police.

Some Police Quotes I’ve personally heard:

You can’t take pictures after 10 PM

You can’t enter the beach after 10 PM

You can’t use a tripod

You can’t take pictures in the park

You can’t take pictures of people

You can’t take pictures of landmarks

You need permission to take pictures in public

What do you achieve by taking pictures?

But the following one takes the cake:

You can’t take pictures of the war memorial because if you publish this in the “computer”, the terrorists will note this down and bomb this

Idhukku mela naa enna solla!! But indeed there is a positive to this. If I roam around the city for one more year, with all the laws I hear from the Police, I may end up as a lawyer!

Disclaimer – This post is merely a sarcastic attempt in explaining the low tolerance levels in India for street photography. Although the events mentioned are as real the Chennai police’s lathi.

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Etymology of “Uncle”

January 16, 2011

Etymology: It is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.

The word “Uncle” was originally coined by native speakers of an island called Britan in the 13th century. They just conceived this word to refer a male member of the family. No way would the native speakers have predicted the indiscriminate and variegated usage of the word “Uncle” in India in the 21st century. Perhaps “Uncle” is one word that has served as an elixir, a tree of knowledge, for the Indian youth.

Buddha had his Bodhi tree to attain enlightenment…but the Indian kids have the word “Uncle” to attain enlightenment.

Let me explain why…When the teenagers world over are confused about their identity (if they are men or kids), the Indian teenagers never face such identity crises. Coz we rely on our neighboring kids to solve the identity problem. We know we are no more kids and we are adults right when the neighbor kids start calling us “Uncle”. Till that day, we were being called as “Anna”, “Bhaiyya”, “Annaiya”,”Cheta” etc. But I got to be honest. It’s never easy to hear being addressed as “Uncle” for the first time. We infact give the kids 5 bucks and tell them not to call us uncle. But we can only postpone the inevitable until the kids realize they find joy in seeing us mad and seething in anger rather than buying candies for 5 rupees. But I got to credit the kids. Though they call the boys as uncle, they are wise to never address a girl as aunty. My sister is still an “akka” though she is 3 years over the “Uncleing/Auntying” age.



The word “Uncle” is also a special word. The reason being, the word can be used to address someone in an affectionate as well as a derogatory term. For example:

Addressing a stranger: “Uncle what’s the time?” – General courteous way

Addressing a Cop: “Uncle what’s the time?” – Soooo derogatory that the cop may arrest you on false charges and make sure you are getting hanged by the neck until dead!!! (And I don’t think there is any KuttiChuvarite youth in the city who wouldn’t have called a Cop as uncle from a distance of atleast 137 metres and ran away before the Cops’ brain realizes what just happened and made an attempt to catch the KuttiChuvarite.)

We will not turn until you stop calling us "Uncle"

We will not turn until you stop calling us "Uncle"

The subtle sarcasm that can be achieved from the word “Uncle” is quite evident for people in Tamil Nadu. To explain to an outsider, “Pimps are called “Uncle”…and so are the cops.”

We love this word so much that we call our First Prime Minister of Independent India as “Uncle” Nehru.

Uncle Nehru

Uncle Nehru

Btw, Wouldn’t it be logical to celebrate Uncle Nehru’s anniversary as “Uncles’ Day” instead of “Childrens’ Day”???

We celebrate Dr. Radhakrishnan’s anniversary as Teachers’ Day since he was a Teacher. So logically speaking, Nehru’s anniversary should be “Uncles Day” since he was an Uncle!!!!

Critical and Original Thinkining apart,  the most favourite Uncle of the whole of India for an entire generation, until a while after the Indian economy opened up, was..

Bole Mere Lips...I Love Uncle Chips!!!

Bole Mere Lips...I Love Uncle Chips!!!

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