At the Slim River market, Sabri the grocery shop owner, is doing his accounts. His daughter Mina, 5, is doing her kindergarten homework alongside him.
I wanted to capture a candid of both concentrating on their respective work but the kid does what she does best upon seeing a camera. Automatically pose without prompt. What a sweet smile.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f8, 1/100 sec.
Went inside a grocery store in the suburbs of Slim River to get some info and a drink. There I met Nurul Izza behind the cashier counter. Her stern-looking mother was keeping a watchful eye from the back of the shop. Heh.
When another customer came in, I went to chat with the mother. Sounding a bit perplexed, she said her daughter is a university graduate but chose to run a provision shop instead.
I told her is nice to see a young woman succeeding in a trade mostly dominated by men. Nurul can drag a cooking gas cylinder, talk terms with gruffly suppliers and discuss local history with me, all at the same time.
She’s not just like a boss, she is the boss.
Yet she blushed and giggled when I invited her outside the shop to photograph her. She said she’s shy. The interior of the shop is really too dark to do justice to her sweet smile, I explained.
I even asked the mother’s permission and aunty approved with a smile. After more coaxing, the daughter finally relented. So here’s a portrait of a local entrepreneur.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 320, f4, 1/320 sec.
Still in Behrang, I walked into a vintage Indian grocery shop to get a soda. Met a friendly and sweet old lady there. She’s the proprietor, is in her seventies and operates the shop by herself.
The surroundings seemed deserted and she appeared delighted to see a new customer. Delighted not so much for the sale but for a chance to talk, I guess.
After the initial chat, I asked if I can photograph her as we speak and she agreed. Glad I asked because she was very natural in front of the camera. Depending on the subject we broached on, her facial expressions changed quickly from that of amusement, fear, excitement to sadness.
We spoke about the decline of Behrang town, the floods that hit her shop and life in a small town. I asked about her children. She turned her eyes away and paused for a little contemplation.
With a heavy sigh, she explained they left for the city a long time ago and no longer stay in touch.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1600, f4, 1/250 sec.
In an unofficial mini-township where almost everyone is a Muslim from Myanmar, Man (pronounced Marn) used to feel like a fish out of water. He is Indonesian.
A survivor and ‘greener pasture migrant’ himself, Man’s story is remarkable. Living in Acheh in 2004, he narrowly escaped the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami. The disaster killed more than 130,000 people in his province alone.
Settling down here, he built a successful grocery business that now serves the Burmese migrant community. He said his escape and survival taught him humility and greater respect for hard work .
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1600, f4, 1/200 sec.