Beyond the Riot of RGB

Features Issue 80 Jul, 2010
Text by Kishor Kayastha / Photo: Nandita Rana

Reality is an inescapable element of life. No matter what and where, no soul can escape a bitter truth. The differences in people, their values, traditions and circumstances breed separate realities among them. To be able to accept the peculiarities of life, born out of such differences, is a challenge in itself, and gallant are those who face-up to these affairs with an enduring fervor.

Like the street vendors seated behind the piles of commodities to be traded, they are prepared to confront the reality of life by all means they can. Acquiesced to the reality that the trades have to be done, come what may, these women go along with the tides of life facing the challenges with fervent compassion, never willing to give in to the trying circumstances. Reflecting on their faces, their diffident gestures and the crinkles of their tanned skin, you realize that their job is not merely watching the people pass by the array of their negotiable offerings. It takes much more than that.

The patience they have to endure for a single deal requires hours of waiting. Yet, they seem to accept this challenge as easily as it comes. Some welcome customers smilingly, while others give a dramatic disposition to the situation, but no matter what they are ardent at carrying out the responsibilities of their daily enterprise. They do not need fancy stores or sleek buildings as their trading grounds; they seem content being at the merci of the open spaces of the streets.

The gigantic grey boulders make backdrops for their display, which also serve as bastions to shield them against extremes of weather. The backdrop is dark and shady, yet, the contrast produced by their colorful, cheerful presence gives the mundane setting an interesting outlook. The hanging bunches of bright, yellow and green fruits add a dash of glamor, accentuating the already alluring spectacle. The green cucumbers stand out, maintaining an
illusion of singularity, while subtly blending with the natural outgrowths. The vendors adorned in saris in bright red and shades of purple, intensify the vibe of an ongoing drama. They seem to be the actors each waiting for a chance to perform. And all the elements around them work together to create a stage seems all set to unfold a play based on the real life of these vendors. Everything from the massive backdrop, the moods of the brightly dressed peddlers,
elements of the colorful merchandise, the fallen straw baskets and even the crooked bamboo sticks mix together to bring out hints of melodrama that the whole scenario seems to express in an unassuming yet interesting style.

The individuality endowed to each character, compliments as well as inspires all, as they hang by each other. ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players’ quotes the great poet William Shakespeare, and the repute of the vendors shown in the picture lives up to his rumination. They work, laugh, gossip and carry out their jobs as sellers. Together they stage themselves as a commune of five unaffected by the challenges of their daily pursuit.

Greatness of all things lie in the details. The minute expressions and textures make up the grandeur of matter. Even the inanimate matters seem to subsist if given deep thoughts and scrutiny. This is the magnitude of life that centers on details and expressions and all these elements have different stories to tell. Art and color materialize in every sphere of existence yet it is only through the eyes of deep contemplation and observation that the beauty and meaning of their presence come out. Take for instance a bunch of banana hanging in front of the vendors. It may only strike as a commodity for sale and nothing else but delving further into its natural trivia, there is more to it than that can be perceived. The natural arrangement of the clustered bunch weaves a definitive pattern somewhat resembling the nets of a straw basket even though both are completely separate entities. The budding projections give a layering effect denoting the essence of a budding flower. Even the colors show an apparent flow as the unripe greens cluster in the bottom with a steady rise of the ripe yellow ones ascending up the bunch. It makes a natural transgression of colors somewhat resembling a piece of an artwork.

As the stories unfold into details, the golden yellow of the bananas and the dark green leaves shield the ripe redness of the tomato that lay protected inside the shell of a white cover.  It looks as though the black spotty eyes in the yellow carefully scan the vicinity to watch for any danger. The yellow and green are alert and trying their best to protect the plump red tomatoes like protective guardians monitoring the safety of their infant. The coldness in the green wards off any danger coming from a predator  to ward off. With its fangs wide open, it exists in a state all ready for an unexpected assault. The red however lies pampered yet innocent. The little ones all cuddled up together inside the protective shell of the newspaper. It seems as if the infant tomatoes are finally breaking out of their cover and prying into the wilderness with curiosity yet hesitating to expose themselves fully to the unknown. They seem inert yet glow with a rich and gaudy redness and are supposed to be hidden yet appear to uncover themselves with lurid radiance. The colors are what gives life to these elements of red, yellow and green and brings out dramatic charm to their existence. They harmonize each other naturally and play their parts to perfection creating a chromatic illusion of a bonded family.

Even the cuts and scars in the giant, grey boulders betray the essence of what appears to be in reality. The shining rock looks more like a leathery skin of some ancient reptiles. The overgrowth of dry grasses gives it a bizarre look that resembles a droopy figure while its grey shades reflect darkness and a sense of exhaustion that beholds as it ages furthermore.  

Like incisive missiles waiting to be bombarded, the stacks of cucumbers seem to be fighting for their turn to get liberated into the air. Their green bodies give them life and their pointy ends seem to be on a lookout for a perfect target that they mean to stridently aim at. The same point generates stripes of white coloring their identities and making them sharper and more ambitious in their gamble. A lady in red operates the mission with a smirk and a pride that resonate the depth of desire for her victory. The red symbolizes her intensity and strength with which she assumes to lead the battle of life she fights everyday. It enlivens her determination to sell off one of those green missiles on target. Under the shadowy grey that shields her from the blazing ferocity of the sun, she seems to be unperturbed in her endeavor. With a poised expression and a mysterious smile, she portrays a sense of  anticipation in her. She seems to admire the quality of her possessions and inspects her surrounding in search of a bargain worthy for her trade.  Some come with heaps of cucumbers and bags full of tomatoes, while others only possess the dangling bunch of bananas. Yet they never fail to entertain and inspire each other amidst  the hustle and bustle, setting new displays on the stage of their own creation everyday. As we delve into the details, we never forget the essence of feelings because, though they are intangible, they are inescapable realities of life.

Photographer: Kishor Kayastha (98510.52.778) Email: