She is India’s first woman photojournalist. In the 1940s and ’50s, her sari-clad figure is said to have been a familiar figure in Delhi, bicycling from assignment to assignment. She was paid one rupee (2 cents) for each of her first eight pictures published in The Bombay Chronicle in 1938.
Today, Homai Vyarawalla is 96 years of age. She was born in 1913. She met husband-to-be Maneckshaw when she was 13. Her first car’s licence plate was “DLD 13”. She sold her 1955 Fiat, her partner for 55 years, two months ago to lay her hands on the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano.
Tata Motors put her name on a priority list for the delivery of the car. Central Bank of India sent its clerk to collect the deposit amount of Rs 95,000. The first Tata Nano was delivered to a customer on July 17.
Ms Vyarawalla, who lives in Baroda, waits in eager anticipation:
“I stay alone and do everything on my own. I get things for myself from the market, and it is easier when you have a car. It is good on the company’s part which realised my urgency and came forward to offer it.”
Ms Vyarawalla still takes a few pictures, but as she said in a 2006 interview:
“I am busy getting old. Though I like to take general photographs of streets and common people, I am not into political photography in a milieu where dignity and discipline are no longer a virtue.”
Photograph: Homai Vyarawalla poses with her Speed Graphic Pacemaker Quarter Plate camera (courtesy Frontline)
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