I was near the edge of a drop taking this picture in one of the nicer areas of town when five boys appeared near me. They looked like they did not study accountancy, did not go to church on Sundays, and at that very moment did not have my best interests in mind.
Of course I knew that here one was not supposed to “show your devices”. Other travelers, guidebooks and even the locals constantly said the same. This is why there are so few real pictures of this place – Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar – even by other blogging travellers, including some whose hardiness is not in doubt.
But I was fed up, I felt the place deserved a better record. If anyone was ever old enough and ugly enough to take care of themselves, it was unimpeachably me. So here I was, somewhat unwisely on the edge of an unpleasant drop, taking pictures. The plan was obvious and elegant: bump me over the edge, which would disable me, then collect my stuff.
I quickly moved around them before they got into place and put them between myself and the drop, and then mild mannered-ly and almost accidentally, moved toward them. So now they were vulnerable.
Having established clearly that this wouldn’t be going to go quite according to the original plan, I then smiled, pointed the camera at them and offered to take their picture. All but one evaporated with the haste of fellows know to the authorities, and who were not looking for further recognition.
But this last one, the only cheery one of the lot, perhaps just along for the ride, didn’t seem to especially care whether he did me ill or got his picture taken. Bless his heart.
So, after this start, for the next few hours that evening, and the next day, I took hundreds of pictures, documenting what I felt ought to be documented. More will appear in the next few posts.
These chaps (the next day) had shadowed me for a while, perhaps with only the most impeccable of motives, perhaps even just for their own amusement. So I faced them, took their picture, then went up to them and showed them. Thanking the Lord for LCD screens. Caught somewhat by surprise, they thought the picture was insufficiently flattering and now insisted on posing for a few more:
And these chaps, who also did not seem like taxpayers or churchgoers, also responded well to an offer to take their pictures:
Sweethearts all of them. A tough life has made them all look so much tougher, and older, than they probably are.