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From BBC / Travel / Where a simple photo changed a life

A white-haired beggar sits outside the 13th-century Konark Sun Temple in Odisha, India, a wide smile spread across his face. His hands, deformed by leprosy, cradle the first photo of himself he has ever seen.

Swapna, a young mother in Kolkata, lives in a grass hut without electricity or running water. She has no photos of her wedding, but thanks to Hollywood film editor Bipasha Shom, she owns a portrait of herself and her five-month-old son, Neeladri.

These two are among hundreds of impoverished Indians that Shom has gifted with a photograph. “Many of these people are surviving on a dollar a day or less, and a photo is a luxury item,” she said. “They do not have the means to buy cameras, let alone afford to make prints.” Some have cell phones but they are very basic models, with no photo capability or with extremely low resolution images.

Born in Kolkata, but raised in New Jersey, Shom, 47, was in her teens when she first began giving away photographs while visiting relatives in India.

Does "give away" mean shoot or just present something?

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    Give away as gifts. – deadrat Aug 29 '16 at 7:32
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    I think the term giving away photographs here refers to the practice in some Asian countries, where a girl, when she reaches marriageable age will have a set of photographs made. These will be given away in what are considered the right social circles (often by her parents and others) in an effort to attract potential bridegrooms. I do not believe the practice is unique to females. – WS2 Aug 29 '16 at 7:33
  • Many thanks. What do you think of the "while" here? A time conj. or others? – H. Sophie Aug 29 '16 at 7:59
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    @WS2: In context, it actually seems likely to me that "giving away photographs" refers to taking photos of the relatives and giving these to them. The preceding passage: "These two are among hundreds of impoverished Indians that Shom has gifted with a photograph. 'Many of these people are surviving on a dollar a day or less, and a photo is a luxury item,' she said. 'They do not have the means to buy cameras, let alone afford to make prints.' Some have cell phones but they are very basic models, with no photo capability or with extremely low resolution images." – herisson Aug 29 '16 at 16:54
  • @H.Sophie Perfectly normal use of while, introducing a time clause. – WS2 Aug 29 '16 at 21:24
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I think the term giving away photographs here refers to the practice in some Asian countries, where a girl, when she reaches marriageable age will have a set of photographs made. These will be handed out in what are considered the right social circles (often by her parents and others) in an effort to attract potential bridegrooms of the 'right sort'.

I do not believe the practice is unique to females.

Nowadays it forms part of a rather modernised system of the ancient custom of arranged marriages. The following Wikipedia article refers to it.

See Arranged Marriages on the Indian Sub-Continent on Wikipedia

... The matchmaker identifies a set of potential matches and, based on mutual agreement between families, it is customary for an exchange of photographs and some documentation of the factors being considered (for instance, astrological charts or a resume/biodata) to follow. These items are usually returnable if the match does not proceed: In those scenarios, families customarily cooperate to eliminate any trace of a matchmaking conversation between them. The son/daughter reviews the information and photographs, with input from the family and friends, and shortlists a few for in-person meetings.

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    @NVZ I am very glad to have my answer endorsed by someone with local knowledge. But I don't believe it to be unique to India. I have seen it used by the Japanese middle classes, and among the Overseas Chinese. – WS2 Aug 29 '16 at 8:32
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    Thanks for everyone. But I think you'd better read the original news. It doesn't talk about blind date. haha... – H. Sophie Aug 29 '16 at 10:17
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    This is interesting information, but I don't think this meaning fits with the context of the sentence, so I'm DV'ing for that reason. – herisson Aug 29 '16 at 16:56

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