Happy International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day, today.

Re-posting an image of Bonda Emma in conjunction. She’s the very successful woman lemang entrepreneur, mother and matriarch of a big extended family. Yet she behaves with humility and is down to earth always. She giggled like a bashful teen when she saw me walking in

Original post : Motherly Emma.

Bonda Emma appeared genuinely happy and excited when she saw me walking towards her. I was surprised she didn’t do a double take nor was there delay in recalling or recognising me. She has thousands of repeat customers, after all.

She giggled like a teen and asked me what I like as she will give me a treat. I last met her during Hari Raya and she told me subsequently she will treat me after seeing her lemang pics and the ensuing publicity.

I normally don’t accept free stuff from places I reviewed as a matter of principle and ethics. Nevertheless, receiving lemang as a festive gift is a tradition like how we give lemang to relatives, friends and neighbours during festivals. I accepted it in that spirit.

The Malay word Bonda in her moniker is old world, palace usage and an affectionate term for mother. Bonda Emma may be motherly but she is no ordinary woman. She runs a very big operation with 20 or 30 staff and her turnover is higher than that of many other sole-proprietorships.

I complimented her on being active on Facebook. She comes to like many of my daily posts and not just of those that featured her. She blushed and said it is to kill time after work. She even remembered my recent Penang trip posts.

So much humility and ‘humaness’ from a very successful and busy entrepreneur. Awe and respect.

Behind her in red shirt is the chain-smoking, firestarter. chef and family friend Hamdan who I interviewed during the Hari Raya feature.

When I was leaving and as parting words, Emma told me she will share my upcoming posts when it is published 🙂

To be continued…

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 4000, f4, 1/60 sec.

#streetphotography #documentaryphotography #lemang #lemangbonda #bondaemma #emma #harirayahaji #eidaladha #eid #festival #stall #entreprenuer #candid #night #sonyalpha #a7r #zeiss

The Rohingyas On Land – Street Portrait Of A Lady

Women in the community are enterprising and contribute income to the family where they can. Many can be seen selling food, betel quids and other stuff.

Besides revenue, the corridor kiosks play an important social role. On any Sunday, it is Ladies Day. Girlfriends and female relatives socialise or connect. The street meetings are part of an informal bonding and support system.

This lady was selling the Rohingya version of ‘nasi campur’ (mixed rice). She’s holding a fly swatter. I was photographing an adjacent subject from a distance, when she covered her face with one hand and waved her swatter with the other.

I approached her and she told me she didn’t want to be photographed. Told her I wasn’t even taking her picture and I understand her concerns.

Ended up chatting with her as a result. Her name is Mariam and she is in her 40s. At the end of our conversation, I asked her if I can photograph her. She consented without hesitation, to my surprise.

Moral of the story: You can’t just waltz in and out with a camera, especially in an area where people are wary of outsiders. Spend time getting acquainted with your potential subjects, first.

When you are already acquainted and have explained your intentions, people will share their stories by themselves. Plus; when they are at ease, they look more natural and beautiful in pictures.

PS: The white dot on her eyebrow is remnant of traditional thanaka paste (bedak sejuk). It is a cultural tradition practised by both Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1000, f4, 1/200 sec.