Fleeting Encounter

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In a forgotten village, far from the city’s tumult, the encounter was as spontaneous as it was moving. In Pondicherry, India, an unplanned stop led me into the midst of a hundred children around a school, all barefoot, whose joie de vivre and curiosity brighten everyday life.

That day, as I left Mysore to visit a temple, my journey took me to the edge of a village where I spotted six schoolchildren near a low wall. Intrigued, I asked my rickshaw driver to stop. An hour later, over a hundred schoolchildren surrounded me, nearly tearing apart the pens I tried to distribute. Some parents even came to help organize the distribution so that each child could receive one.

Eventually, I spent several hours with them. They showed me around their village, invited me to climb onto a sacred cow, and we took photos together. It was wonderful to see them laugh, smile, and bombard me with questions: “What’s your name?… Where are you from?…”

When it was time to leave, my rickshaw couldn’t start because the children were affectionately encircling it. I took this opportunity to pull out my camera one last time because I wanted to capture the candor of their faces and especially the expressive gaze of four of them. Although balanced and seemingly posing, this photograph is not staged. Behind them, many other children were doing the same thing, but these four were serendipitously in line with my lens, capturing a moment of pure spontaneity.

This photograph is a testament to these fleeting yet intense moments, where a child’s gaze can tell much more than words. A window into their world, a snapshot of a day full of life and laughter.

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