The BBC recently featured a number of noted photographer Pablo Bartholomew’s stunning black-and-white pictures of Mumbai (then Bombay) from the ’70s and ’80s, a time long before steel barons and call center magnates began erecting tall glass homes and whole neighborhoods were transformed, making room for the country’s burgeoning middle class. A time also long before digital cameras and photo-editing programs could make even the worst pictures look good, and when a grainy black-and-white shot could help tell a better picture than a finely tuned Photoshopped image ever could.
One of my favorites is an image that features what is obviously an out-of-place ex-pat nonchalantly smoking a cigarette and talking with what appears to be a small boy among a group of locals reading the paper. The disregard to his presence seems to hint that the existence of a long-hair, bearded hippy in their midst was not an uncommon occurrence during this time period — and also indicates this traveler’s successful integration into an unfamiliar culture. A great shot any backpacker can be proud of.
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