The F.E. Choudhry Gallery: Personal Hygiene

Posted on April 21, 2008
Filed Under >Nadeem Omar, Photo of the Day, Society, Women
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Nadeem Omar

In this, the first in our series of photographs from the F.E. Chaudhry Collection, we want to feature this remarkable photograph taken on a Lahore street-side, probably in the 1950s.

Women hygine Lahore lice

A group of four young women unabashedly sitting in a row on a road side in Lahore, picking each other’s heads for lice and so very focussed on the task at hand that they are oblivious to the passersby. The children (probably their own) squatting around and hiding in their laps, captures an age old family ritual that is no longer to be seen, even in the private, lost forever to the glamorous new world of branded soaps and shampoos.

The photograph shows F. E. Choudhry’s penchant for novel sights. The public performance of personal hygiene was not an uncommon sight, even amongst the more affluent. But usually not so for picking lice. Although it was a common practice for women (sometimes men too!) to pick head lice for each other, especially in summer, when head lice breed in great number, it was usually done in the privacy of home. This is clearly an example of poverty forcing people to “live” in the public space and conduct what would otherwise be private acts, in public. This, as we shall later see, was a recurrent theme in F.E. Choudhry’s portfolio.

There is so much that is striking and worth thinking about in this photograph. Do tell us what caught your eye and attention.

Click here for the evolving F.E. Choudhry Gallery at ATP.


25 responses to “The F.E. Choudhry Gallery: Personal Hygiene”

  1. Rafay Kashmiri says:

    @ Really great photos, very nostalgic for many,
    I can see on the photos some personalities of
    Geo Free Channel in their sheltered childhood.

    Guess which one ?

  2. Aisha says:

    This picture seems to capture not so much poverty as it does obvious ignorance of or intentional separation from social appropriateness. Who do we blame for such ignorance and uncouth public street display? My first thought when I saw the picture was that the scene mimics what I have seen numerous times at the zoo with the monkeys lined up one behind the other grooming each other of lice. It’s cute when the monkeys do it but it’s sad to see humans behaving this way without a thought for outward appearances. It makes one wonder (even if for a second) are they human or animal or a combination of both? However, is this public lice picking really any worse than seeing women or men today squatting in public to relieve themselves? I think not. Regardless this picture supports the theory that instead of being decendents of Adam and Eve we evolved from apes!

  3. You can safely and effectively kill lice with salt water or a sauna – learn how to kill lice without killing yourself or the earth……

    Pediculicide POISONS do not remove nits and are dangerous. Among the reactions to poison shampoo or lice “treatments” are seizures, mental retardation, many different allergies and respiratory problems, strange tingling, burning, itching, attention deficit disorders, brain tumors, leukemia, cancer and death.

    I have used a sauna and/or salt water to safely and effectiely kill lice (but the nits remain).

    I have also used

  4. BelligerentPacifist says:

    Uh oh Darwin was right!

  5. QURBAN says:

    This is a captivating photo. I find the sense of purpose in the women captivating.

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