Behind the lens: Baba G

[words & photograph © Ingetje Tadros]

 

I was staying in Varanasi, India, when I shot this image. One day I decided to go for a very early morning walk along the Ganges, as I felt this place was magic.

Even in the day time the light was just wonderful, and I was curious to watch day break so I went for a walk, alone, at 4am. It was pitch dark and there was not a soul on the streets; yet somehow, I felt very safe.

I had seen a few sādhus (holy men) the day I arrived and hoped to engage with one and get some shots. After an hour or two I saw a plastic tent and some men sitting near a small fire; one of them was a sādhu called Baba Mehand Bidjegri, or Baba G, as he calls himself. We chatted for a while (we connected really well) and I asked Baba G if he would come on a boat with me and my husband in the afternoon, so that I could take a few photographs. He was happy to.

I spent the next day with him, too, and we visited the Kumbh Mela. It was a really interesting experience to spend the whole day with Baba G.

When he was nine years old, Baba G (who is now 43) lived in various ashrams where he learnt to read and write. He is celibate, and has vowed to leave everything – although he says he has no objection to alcohol and drugs. Baba G lives everywhere and has no belongings; the only thing he always carries with him is a plastic bag containing babud (human ashes), which he rubs over his whole body to protect him from the cold.

Photo data: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; aperture f2.8; shutter speed 1/1600; ISO 800; focal length 28mm

Dutch photographer Ingetje Tadros is the newest member of The WideAngle. She left her small hometown of Bleiswijk, The Netherlands, to travel the world when she was 17, and over the past 30 years has travelled to more than 45 countries. Along the way she has photographed tribal people and “places that exist in relative obscurity”. Ingetje currently lives in Broome, Western Australia, and is available to shoot assignments all over the world.

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