A Snack-Maker In Jaipur
Watching a snack marker in Jaipur, asking permission to take some photos, and getting closer created memorable photos and a memorable experience.
While recently in Rajasthan, I found myself walking the streets, quite literally looking for something to photograph. I was in a corner of town laden with clothing stores, mostly selling wedding attire and jewellery shops that seemed to cater to the wedding and gift trade. Walking around nothing caught my attention and I started to feel like a lost tourist. I was wondering whether to just walk back to the hotel.
Then, on a corner I spotted something more interesting, as a man laboured over a large, hot pan.
He was working some bright coloured dough on a metal dish, suspended over the hot oil below. As it transpired, he was rolling out crunchy little snacks, Namkeen, a spicy Besan (Gram Flour) snack. These days many Indian snacks, like my favourite Kurkure, are made on enormous production lines. But, if you look around markets and small towns, you can still plenty of this kind of artisanal food production.
I used to frequently buy hand-made snacks in Delhi and you can hunt out brilliant snacks like these all over Asia. I’ve sampled some amazing potato crisps in Chiang Mai, Thailand bristling with chilli and lime flavours and quite extraordinary peanuts in LiJiang, China, rich and sweet with a hint of peppery heat.
Trying out these places also gives you a chance to meet and chat with the people who make them, which of course connects you more deeply with the place you are exploring. Understanding the people who live in the places we see is perhaps the most important part of the experience of travel, it’s the thing that changes us, changes the way we understand our place in the world and changes the way we see the land we call home.
I could’ve taken the first photo, from across the road, and walked away. But, asking for permission to photograph, stepping closer to the work, then asking a few questions, not only taught me something about a local snack, but helped create some memorable photos of the snack-maker.