Sunday, January 25, 2009

Horse Cents

Sorry, Sir, Could I Use Mastercard Instead?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


In late 2006 we found ourselves in India unexpectedly, on a completely unplanned trip. I was only in Calcutta for little over a week, but managed to devote some carefully chosen hours to photographing the city where I was born.

It was the third week of October and while the humidity was still high, the early-morning mists were just rolling in, heralding the onset of cooler weather.

I was shooting a series of dawn shots along the Strand, by the banks of the Hooghly River, when I decided to make my way to the racecourse nearby.

The Royal Calcutta Turf Club was one of my father’s favourite weekend haunts and to honour his memory, I was compelled to walk across the road to shoot some scenes from a venue he knew so well. I shot the grandstand, the straight, the wooden rails, the final bend – and then I noticed that a couple of racehorses had completed trackwork and were being walked by their handlers towards the Hastings stables.

In the distance was the Victoria Memorial, one of the greatest symbols of this 300-year-old city. (You can view some of my other photographs of the wonderful building here.)

Would I be able to shoot the VM (as the splendid marble edifice is popularly known) over the saddle of one of the racehorses? One short sprint later, I was able to convince the horse’s handler that I was not daft (Mrs Authorblog might not agree) and that all I wanted was an unusual photograph.

All of sixty seconds later, I was done. But the handler was in no hurry. I thanked him a second time and put the lens cap back on my camera. Then I realised he wanted a tip. I rapidly computed the value of the rupees in my wallet and realised he would get an infinitely good deal because I had no small-denomination notes.

Money changed hands. Honour was restored. Handler and racehorse departed towards the stables.

Dad, if you were alive, you would smile at this closing line – but let’s just say I was the second generation of our clan to lose money on the thoroughbreds here at the Calcutta racecourse.


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53 comments:

squawmama said...

Great picture David and a wonderful story... I am sure your Dad was smiling down at you...

(((HUGS)))
Donna

richies said...

Anything for the shot. In one way or another photography often costs us. On a trip to Mexico with friends we came upon some guys in very elaborate costumes. I realized they were looking for tips, but my friend Troy did not. After he took their picture and did not tip them, they chased him down the street. If he hadn't given them a tip, i think things would have gotten ugly.

An Arkie's Musings

jinksy said...

Odds on this last photo will be everybody's favourite.

Bruce said...

Very beautiful & special post. Love your photos & love your story!

Rhea said...

I wish I could find myself "unexpectedly" in India. no fair!

Very nice photos. Sorry you lost money. :o(

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Such beautiful photos David, as always!
And I loved the finishing line! I'm suire your Dad was there with you.
I've travelled to many countries but I've always wanted to go to India... it's my dream.

Carolina said...

Lovely story, lovely photos!

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Wonderful composition David and yes I have had a few strange looks in the past too! Nice to read a bit oif your family history too.

the eternal worrier said...

I'd love to visit India. Great shot and well thought out.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Dad's are special aren't they. As always some great photography.

CJ xx

Braja said...

Great shots David...I love the VM at this time of year, with the morning fog giving it such a beautiful soft look. That saddle shot is somethin' else :)

viennadaily said...

We have the same entry today! Enjoy the weekend!

Karen said...

Wonderful photos and a great story. Love the last line that is dedicated to your Dad. Bet he was watching and had a good chuckle :-)

Maddy said...

A thoroughly worthwhile adventure.
Cheers

SabineM said...

I have been to India a few times... so I can so relate to your story! Fabulous!

Merisi said...

Brilliant shots and a great sense of humor! :-)

aims said...

Sometimes it's just worth handing over a little extra isn't it?

fishing guy said...

David: What beautiful captures of the horse and city.

Les Becker said...

It's a great shot, David! And nice that you just handed the money over to the guy that deserved it, rather than lost it on a race, anyway... :-)

Steph said...

It looks like a moment out of the past, before there were cameras. How wonderful!

Skittles said...

It was certainly worth it. :)

Tammy said...

Gorgeous pictures as always!

Willow said...

One of my favorite stories, David.

Tink *~*~* said...

Wonderful, spur of the moment inspiration, resulting in a couple of neat perspectives. Me likey! I have cows today -

Southwest Florida Rent-A-Cows at My Mobile Adventures *~*~*

Tink *~*~*

Misty Dawn said...

"...the early-morning mists were just rolling in, heralding the onset of cooler weather."

Hmmmm... I really don't remember being there. And, I'm certainly not a 'early-morning' Mist, and if I WERE there, I certainly would have nothing to do with cooler weather. just sayin' ;-)

Mr. Authorblog-McMahon... I always love your posts and your way with words. That last line though, was perfect and beyond special.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

David, you deserve the blog award for today! Such a sweet story and excellent photo!

Dianne said...

I love the over the saddle shot!!

simon said...

done the big tip thing to.. in paris. i had no small notes, so the taxi driver had a win.
great shot btw!

Grammy said...

I enjoyed your post. And loved the photos.

Hilary said...

Excellent shots.. and endearing ending to your story. Thanks for sharing that. :)

Maggie May said...

Great picture and story! Not a bad way to lose money!

Vic Grace said...

Glad you had a good memory of your Father and something you can shared

Barbaloot said...

Those are great pictures! Looks like a fantastic place to visit.
And as for your comment on my blog---so is that the same kind of advice you're giving to your daughters?

Grammy said...

Thanks for stopping by. When you said "You would love the amazing colors in our Australian sky." My comment to that is I would love Australia! I have several blogs I follow and watch there garden grow. See the cockatoos free in there yard. I have always dreamed of a visit to see the roo. You are very lucky to live in a wonderful country. I have also learn of people having to hall water. I did not know about that till I started bloging.
Have a great week.
Grammy

Norm said...

what a beautiful and fantastic photos you have. Check out my lizard here and thanks for the visit.

theArthurClan said...

I think this had to be worth the cost of the tip ~ your photos are fabulous and you have a funny memory now. :)

AppleDebbie said...

Wonderful photos. Definitely money well spent!

i beati said...

so much depth in these shots sandy

Babooshka said...

The tale recounted and accompanying image are wonderful. Do you consider yourself a photographer or writer first? One does not outweigh the other, gifted in both, which is unusual. Sure your dad is smiling down at this one.

twobarkingdogs said...

Thanks for sharing.

Debbie said...

Looks like you got your money's worth. It is a wonderful photograph.

Sandi McBride said...

I'll bet he'd be proud of the return, though David.
Sandi

b13 said...

I love the composition and back lighting on the first picture.

Marites said...

i imagine your Dad would be happy to know that you got to experience the same thing with him :)

I remember a trip with a friend wherein she was suspected for taking pictures of the locals (she did not, actually) and she was confronted by it:) After a lot of explaining, they got convinced but it could've gotten nasty:)

Lilli & Nevada said...

Great photos and i too think your dad must of been smiling on that

Woman in a Window said...

Great picture but I daresay, better closing of the circle.

Deb said...

I agree that this is the POTD. Great pictures, perfect words. Thoughtful writing - straight from the heart.

Tessa said...

Not only an exceptionally talented photographer, but a wonderful story teller, too. Fabulous shots.

Funny thing is, my Papa was also involved with racing. (He was Chairman of The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club....) It is very likely that he went racing at The Royal Culcutta Turf Club at one time or another - and quite possibly rubbed shoulders with your father!

JenReg said...

Beautiful photos - thanks for sharing them!

Please check out my Camera Critters:
http://eightymphmom.blogspot.com

Baino said...

Love horses, love skylines and you've done them both justice. Trust the handler to want a tip - Only in India!

Louise said...

Beautiful photo. Clever photo. Fantastic story!

Tootie said...

Nice photo! A beautiful background as well.

Wanna Reading said...

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