1982, Kashmir, India
Plate 19, 27x18
This man had a rope business in Kashmir. I took this picture of him in 1982. Here was a man that seemed to have truly found his destination. I went into his shop to ask if I might take a picture of him with his rope inventory as background. First, he wanted me to see his entire stock, and it was most amazing. It was a vast variety of both new and used rope of every kind and description. He knew each rope and how it would be best used. He was proud, and he was satisfied and wanted very much to share his world with me.
It reminded me of another time south of Paris. I had stopped to buy a bit of local cheese for lunch, and the woman that owned the shop, which contained over 100 different varieties, stopped to tell me their stories - where they came from, the name of the cheese maker, the name of the farmer. Both the French woman and the Kashmir man seemed to have found their dream and with it a contentment.
After we looked over the total rope inventory, he did something that subjects seldom do. It was he, not me, who checked over and over again where he should be placed in the photograph. At first, he placed himself further back in the store more together with his stock, but it was too dark so I asked him to use the spot you see in the picture. It was a great experience of Kashmir, a country that knows neither time nor urgency.
In this remote and ancient kingdom, this merchant knew to have a large inventory, to know the use of each item. Yet where did he learn this, and what urged his curiosity to create this style of business?