Wednesday 23 January 2008

My space and yours - Irresponsible tourists

Irresponsible camera crew. They had no respect absolutely, just chasing their 'objects'. There were many moments when his video was literally inside the palaquin! pic © Jayakumar -

Full moon in Gokarna is simply unbelievable. Pristine sand, silver waves and absolute silence. It looked like everyone was just inhaling the nature at its best. View from the shacks on Om beach, it was picture perfect, Quite breath taking.

In the town though, the local communities were all dressed up in their colour Saris and Dhoti's waiting anxiously with prayers in their lips for the decorated palanquin of the temple to come to their doors. On any other day, Hindus go to the temple to worship the idol of Shiva. Full moon is when the temple palanquin with Lord Shiva's idol is taken in short processions accompanied by percussions.

Though we were walking through the main temple streets, we slowed our pace, maintained our respectful distances from the worshippers. I was especially immersed myself in the 'atmosphere', rituals and the devotion of the community. One of those magical moments one can find only in places like Gokarna.

From that distance I was all happy observing the young and the old, doing all they can to sustain their tradition of more than many thousand years. All of a sudden, there was a camera crew literally recording every single move , every frame as it was physically possible. The lady producer was giving commands to her cameraman in her South American accent, “not to miss a thing”! The camera man with his cowboy hat and a recorder started literally chasing the small group carrying the pallaquin on their shoulders. The camera was so close to their faces, violating all boundaries of personal space and social respect.

I don’t think I will ever forget the expressions I saw running through face of the locals. There was sadness, disdain, helplessness. They just wanted to be left alone; they wanted to go on with their rituals, their lives. The foreign crew was all over them, juggling, moving to get the closest shot as possible.

I just couldn’t take it any more and approached the foreign woman requesting to be a bit more responsible. “Please, show some respect, kindly keep a distance, let them do their prayers in their privacy and ask your colleague to take the video camera away from the face of the priest.”

Though her first response was “Shhh..You are interrupting the voice recorder”, she apologised a bit later probably for the sake of avoiding a verbal confrontation with a “local”. I explained that we were also travellers in Gokarna and its our responsibility to ensure that we don’t ‘encroach’ into their personal, religious or spiritual life as we feel like.

While the women (even after being irritated by my interference) was at her diplomatic best, the cameraman was at his peak of arrogance. “Whats your problem? None of these people have a problem in me shooting their idols or faces. You are the only one who seems to have an issue here!”

A typical OTS (One Tight Slap) moment!

Wish I had found out details of the organisation they represented and wrote to them about their crew behaviour. Too late I guess. In case any one knows the organisation the camera team in the picture represents, please do get in touch.

Gokarna © GP 2008

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