Street photography in a sea of faceless Indians

On a visit to Orissa in search of the elusive Dongria Kondh tribe, I chanced upon a weekly market in a remote village called Kakriguma. I was curious about what a flea market in a village populated with mainly tribals would have on display. I knew it would be a difficult experience, what with the summer heat beating down in a place I had no previous experience or limited knowledge of. I was at once captivated by the ladies in their brightly colored sarees and bovine nose rings. The men were nowhere near the charm the ladies exude in these parts.

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Perhaps it was her unintended sense of fashion or maybe the sheer ‘Africanness’ in the mood of the frame that drew me to this lady. It’s hard to judge a tribal from a non tribal especially in a terrain known for its political unrest.

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The weekly market has a large chunk of tribals engaged in agriculture and fishing. There was a sense of contentment on this old lady’s face. Her personality apart, I loved the cheerful contrast offered by her magenta saree.

I was captivated by the tattoos on this lady's feet. Women are decorated and have a great sense of color in these parts.

I was captivated by the tattoos on this lady’s feet. Women decorate themselves with a great sense of colour and style.

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I’m not sure if this pretty woman represents the Dongria Kondh tribe. The nose rings and hand-woven saree seemed to suggest so. Much to my disappointment, there wasn’t a single vendor selling woven fabric or clothing.

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This second generation of tribals prefers to wear blouses with their sarees most of which come in from Surat in Gujarat. Sadly, they seem to have given up the traditional blouseless drape so unique to this part of India. It classifies them as a backward class you see.

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I was hoping to see some authentic tribal jewellery here. The beads seemed commonplace with hardly any copper, brass, or white metal jewellery I so strongly associated with this region. Locals prefer plastic unfortunately.

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Turkish evil eye necklaces on display in this market! It seems to have replaced the original tribal symbols that I had come in search of. The bead necklaces are synonymous with the local culture here.

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This picture proves my theory that ladies with blouses are economically better off than the ones without! Frankly I saw a higher sense of aesthetic in the poor woman in the foreground. So much more fashionable and sensible in the hot summer sun.

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Dry fish is indigenous to Orissa. It’s salted and dried over 4 days ending up with a strong, cheesy odour. To the less hardy, the odour can be obnoxious in a market like this. The curry made from it with mustard is a delicacy is what I learnt.

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Kakriguma has a famous pottery village nearby where tribals make every kind of earthenware for home use.  Sadly, there were no takers for this lack lustre vendor. Most buyers these days prefer Aluminium pots to terracotta.

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This was the seconds stall where a poor man was selling old worn sarees to even poorer folk. The lady was happy with her find.

The fast, cheap, easy and fake has found its takers even in what was until recently a remote part of India. No matter where we live the cultural symbols of progress seem to be consumerism.

The fast, the cheap, the easy and the fake have found their takers even in what was until recently a remote part of India. No matter where we live the cultural symbols of progress seem to be consumerism. Tobacco and soaps are best sellers here.

I was under the impression that barter was the way the weekly market functioned in this village. It was all about the money, honey.

I was under the impression that barter was the way the weekly market functioned in this village. Nope, it was all about the money, honey! The new economy does not appreciate the idea of exchanging goods.

On the spot tailoring is one of the features of this market. Stitching blouses, shirts and bags at breakneck speed made for this picture.

In case you thought this happened only in Thailand, on the spot tailoring is one of the features of this market too. Stitching blouses, shirts and bags at breakneck speed in the hot sun, that’s different.

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The weekly market affords timeout with friends from neighbouring villages. The land has a history of Maoist attacks and dissent among tribals.

Posted in Photo essay, Portrait, Street Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

Love. Laughter. Care. And a life turns around.

This is Icha Foundation. A young charitable trust my sister started less than 4 years ago with a lifetime commitment to raising abandoned children, particularly ones with disabilities from abjectly poor backgrounds. At the core of her calling lies the belief that every human born on this earth has the right to live in dignity besides being given an equal opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. A life can turn around with something as little as love, care and genuine affection is what I thought, on my visit to the foundation last month.

It’s a tough project that runs mainly on her passion and compassion for the destitute. Tough because there is nothing normal or predictable with the kind of challenges these children present on a day-to-day basis. There are no benchmarks to refer to. Doctors are at least 50 km away and so are the supplies they need for sustenance. On my visit here, I was full of admiration for all the hard work that goes into making such a pleasant and wholesome life possible for these kids.

Over the 4 years Madhu Tugnait has founded a beautiful ashram (orphanage) facing one of  the largest fresh water lakes in Andhra Pradesh, mostly on her own life savings. 7 abandoned/rescued children with various disabilities such as mental retardation receive care, education and therapy at no cost to either them or the government. If she had the resources she says she would handle more. “As many as there are to be found” she says emphatically. “But it’s hard to do it by oneself, without donors and volunteers” she adds.

She has been blessed with supportive friends and family who have been instrumental in making this project possible right from the time she decided to build on what was dismissed by most as marsh land. Her circle of contacts have also helped her garner support from overseas in the form of donations that just about pay for the running expenses such as salaries for caretakers, therapists and food supplies for the 7 kids. As an extension the foundation also takes care of 3 normal kids; those of the caretakers.

Ramakrishna is the resident physiotherapist at Icha Foundation. He is much loved by the children even though he makes them do some tough exercises.

Ramakrishna is the resident physiotherapist at Icha Foundation. He is much-loved by the children even though he makes them do some tough exercises. The peaceful surroundings and the love he receives from them are a big bonus. The practice is helping him prepare for higher studies he says.

Caretakers main job involves feeding the children. Fussy eaters with disabilities makes this seemingly mundane task an everyday challenge.

A caretaker’s main job involves feeding and maintaining the children like they were their mothers. Fussy eaters with disabilities makes this seemingly mundane task an everyday challenge.

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This boy is not only paralysed in his legs, he also has pain if he closes his jaw. Simple tasks like drinking water become a trial for those who feed. Half the water goes trickling down the sides of the mouth.

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These children may evoke your sympathy in a photograph, but in reality their zest for life evokes a very special kind of happiness. This child with all her problems manages to crawl as fast as a battery operated toy car. Full of energy and an infectious love for life, like any normal kid.

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With medication and physiotherapy the staff is hoping this child’s epilepsy will be controlled and she may walk someday. At the moment she cannot stand and rolls on the floor to go from place to place.

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Nursery rhymes help a mentally handicapped child to behave. One does not expect them to remember or respond to instruction in a linear way. There is no reward other than the pandemonium a child with limited mental functions brings to a class.

In severe cases of mental retardation as I was told by the teacher handing this child, many cannot learn any subjects but may be capable of learning basic self care habits.

In severe cases of mental retardation as I was told by the teacher (handing this child), many cannot learn any subjects but may be capable of learning basic self-care habits. This child’s mental condition includes severe ADHD.

This boy cannot speak but has the ability to express himself besides the will to learn and overcome his disability. He loves Johnny Johnny yes papa!

This boy cannot speak but manages to express himself with an eagerness to overcome his disability. He loves Johnny, Johnny, yes papa.

Though she is 12 years old this child behaves like she was five years. She lives in a state of extreme excitement and disappointment speaking her own language which is gibberish.

Though she’s 12 years old, this child behaves like she was five. She lives in a state of extreme excitement and disappointment speaking her own language to herself which is gibberish. She likes being in class but not the teacher.

A mentally retarded person is slow to learn and may be slow or limited in the development of physical skills. Additionally, physical handicaps may be present, such as speech impairments, visual impairments, hearing defects, or epilepsy. In this case the child sleeps most of the time.

A mentally retarded person is slow to learn and may have physical handicaps such as speech impairment, visual impairment, hearing defects, or epilepsy. In this case the child sleeps most of the time and is incapable of moving her body much. She responds positively to whispers in her ear and eats very little. Care taking requires patience and hope more than anything else.

The girl in the middle is an intelligent one except that she has multiple deformities. In the company of normal kids she has learnt how to use her one arm and leg to accomplish many a task.

The girl in the middle is very clever except that she has multiple deformities. From a cleft lip and palate to a single arm and deformity in her legs; in the company of normal kids she has learnt how to use her disabilities to her advantage and thus enjoys the status of being everybody’s pet.

Not all the causes of mental retardation are known; however, more than 200 have been identified, and many others are suspected.  It has been a challenge for the founder of Icha to access medical health for each of the children in her shelter.

Not all the causes of mental retardation are known; however, more than 200 have been identified, and many others are suspected. It has been a challenge for the founder of Icha to get access to medical health for the 7 children in her shelter. The boy in the middle is mentally alert, he is not dumb, he just has a speech impairment.

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The cook who provides nourishment for these children maybe an illiterate but she shares the same compassion as the founder and does her job with zeal, keeping track of what each of the children likes or dislikes. Most of the food is organic and the kids are getting used to this acquired taste as is the staff which is used to eating spicy Indian curries.

The man who wears many hats left his high paying job in city to live amidst nature and clean up every kind of mess the kids leave behind. He ensures the garden is nourished with all the organic waste from the kitchen and that the children have fresh clean clothes to wear everyday.

The man who wears many hats, left his well-paying job in city as gardener to live amidst nature and clean up every kind of mess the kids leave behind. He ensures the garden is nourished with all the organic waste from the kitchen and that the children have fresh, clean clothes to wear.

spend time with these children who have only love and curiosity to give. They love visitors.

Volunteers will have a crucial role to play in the forthcoming years of Icha Foundation. From teaching, painting, cooking, building, gardening, cleaning, healthcare, marketing and fundraising besides care taking, a volunteer can make his/her own itinerary of help based on his/her skill and interest area. As for the kids, they love visitors.

This child is one of the caretakers kids who helps her friends to learn from her. She enjoys learning nursery rymes and hopes to be well versed in English while living with the disabled at Icha.

This child is one of the caretakers kids who helps her friends to learn from her. She enjoys learning nursery rhymes and hopes to be well versed in English while living with the disabled at Icha.

Caretakers are mostly salaried staff (women with kids) who have chosen to do this job rather than migrate to the city. Though the foundation does not have a school (for want of funds) the caretakers children are learning in the classes currently being run in a room in the premises for the children with disabilities.

Caretakers are mostly salaried staff (some with kids) who have chosen to do this job and not migrate to the city to work as domestic help. Though the foundation does not have a school for want of funds, the caretakers children are learning in the classes being run in a room in the premises for the children with disabilities.

With support and visits from well wishers all over the planet, perhaps the vision to see a proper school will come to fruition. That way not only will the kids from Icha benefit as would the villagers from the nearby Kondakarla as well.

With support and visits from well wishers all over the planet, perhaps the vision to see a proper school will come to fruition. That way not only will the kids from Icha benefit as would the villagers from the nearby Kondakarla as well.

A view from the patio where volunteers and senior staff stay. The rescued dogs are also permanent residents here who keep a watch on the property.

A view of the fresh water lake from the patio where volunteers and senior staff of Icha foundation stay. The rescued dogs are also permanent residents here who keep a watch on the property and the kids besides entertaining them.

A donation of as little as Rs.500 ($8.25) a month pays for doctor’s visits or vitamins required for a child with disabilities. If you wish to help please do get in touch with Madhu herself. You can find her contact details here or you can email her at madhutug@yahoo.com

This is my gift to her for doing an amazing job. Respect, that’s all.

Icha foundation is a charitable trust registered under the registrars office Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India, on 4th april 2010. The registration number is: 166/10/bkg. All donations to Icha are tax exempt since it is also registered with 80g of Income Tax. The home ministry of India has recently granted Icha Foundation with the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010 ) registration, allowing it to receive direct foreign funding from an individual or company.
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Bird watching in a place called Kondakarla

I’m not much of a bird watcher, but when there’s nothing else to do, I tend to lift my camera to find something interesting. On a visit to see my sister’s charitable foundation on the outskirts of the city of Vizag in South India, I was at once struck by the lay of the land. This was last month, when it was a blistering 42 degrees celsius (107.6 fahrenheit), far from the season to be in these parts. Though fascinated, it was way too hot and humid to do anything meaningful other than find oneself the closest fan to air all that streaming sweat. An air conditioner in a remote village where its hard to find electricity? No chance. We had two nights and days to spend and I was almost done with the book I’d been reading on my other hand before I reached into my camera bag. Why kill time when you can shoot it!

Icha Foundation (more about that in my later posts) is built on elevated land overlooking one of the largest fresh water lakes in Andhra Pradesh. Suffice it to say that the lake surrounded by green mountains and coconut groves attracts many a migratory bird. Frankly I had no idea until I was back in Mumbai with these shots and informed by Google about this amazing fact. The place is also being promoted as an eco tourist spot.

A friend who is a professional bird watcher came across this site and very kindly sent me a list of birds in these photos. Have added them into the captions for bird lovers who want to know the species in this series.

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A male purple rumped Sunbird enjoys the view: The best time to visit this lake is anywhere between November and February when rare migratory birds flock in large numbers from all over the world.

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A green bee-eater prepares for take off: I’m not too familiar with bird types but my online research suggests this may be the blue tailed bee eater! Maybe this one flew in from Penang or Singapore, maybe it just lives here.

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A black Drongo looks to pick up a fight: I had just opened my new Tamron 75-300mm out of the box and it’s amazing how the lens made me aware of the birds around me. Perfectly compatible subject for this lens I thought.

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A Pied Starling calls its partner back to the nest: What concerned me most was how these beautiful birds were perched on electricity wires running pole to pole through various plots on the land around the lake. They were oblivious of the danger to their lives. Sadly so were the villagers and the government that installed them.

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The black Drongo surveys its habitat: I have not post processed these images, other than crop them for interesting compositions. The rural mud house and the bird provided me with plenty of inspiration to forget the heat. I know I have travelling in common with birds. I love visiting places, though its far more convenient if one has those wings.

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A juvenile bee-eater takes a brief respite from the heat: This capture makes me want to return to the village in November when I may be granted even more colorful sightings. Strange what a lens can do to alter your life choices!

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The red whiskered Bulbul prepares to sing playfully: I shot most of these from the comfort of my room facing a paddy field behind the lakefront. You need plenty of time and patience to capture these speedy wingers. A speedy camera and lens can help though, if kept on silent mode.

This bird had an exotic look about it. It took me a whole day and a night to figure out its path. It was very fast and not very still anywhere on the landscape for too long. Quite a beauty I thought.

The red whiskered Bulbul is not very camera friendly: This bird had an exotic look about it. It took me a whole day and a night to figure out its path. It was very fast and not very still anywhere on the landscape for too long. Quite a beauty I thought.

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A red vented Bulbul: I suspect this is the grey winged blackbird commonly called Bulbul. The one that sings when the Mayflower trees bloom, just before the monsoons.

Could this sparrow have flown in from Africa. I wanted to see if it had a red eye but given the hectic activity this family was involved in this very tall tree with foliage I was lucky to even capture this. Maybe its the common Indian sparrow.

A baby Baya weaver: Could this sparrow have flown in from Africa? I wanted to see if it had a red-eye but given the hectic activity this family was involved in, in this very tall tree surrounded with foliage I was lucky to have captured this. Maybe its the common Indian sparrow after all. It’s rare for me to see a sparrow with a yellow crown.

The lake is full of lilies and storks. I will have to make another trip when its not this hot when a boatman is willing to take me down on the water in his palm tree trunk boat.

An egret basks in the sunshine: The lake is full of lilies and storks. I will have to make another trip when it’s not this hot and when a boatman is willing to take me down into the water in his hand-made palm tree trunk boat. That way I hope to get up close and personal with this new-found subject, with hopefully more dramatic and exotic fare.

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An Egret walks like an Egyptian: This one was completely one with the human element in the paddy field where it was strutting away quite comfortably and confidently. It didn’t look like it had lost its way from the lake on the other side.

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Another green bee eater flies into frame: The lens gave me pretty good sharpness on the eye of this beautiful feathery friend.

The view from my room that provided me with the opportunity of  capturing the birds without having the sun beat down on my head at 42 degrees celcius.

The view from my room that provided me with all the opportunities to capture the birds without having to bear the sun beating down on my head at 42 degrees celsius.

For more pictures of the lake I was unable to shoot due to a flat dull summer sky, do see some interesting ones in peak season on https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.240379072723476.56515.225418204219563&type=3 

Posted in Landscape, Photo essay, Travel | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

Dark, dingy but full of hope

Ride a local train in Mumbai and you can see the best and worst of living conditions in the city at one go. The spanking glass and concrete high rises contrast with the old crumbly Mumbai in a haphazard tapestry of modern shapes and makeshift rooftops. At least that’s what I was thinking on my way to the Yusuf Meherally Vidyalaya, a school run by a charitable trust by the same name. The much touted skyline of our city may show the face of a new India being rebuilt, but also has within its innards, the hunger, greed, lust and ambition of its slum dwellers, eager to cash in on its continuously rising real estate prices.

I was on a volunteering job for Yusuf Meherally Centre when I reached this sprawling school compound in the prime locality of Tardeo in South Mumbai. As I gathered from the secretary of the NGO, builders have eyed this property besides lobbying for its demolition. The school provides much-needed space for children from nearby slums to get away from their oppressive home life. Here, they receive free education besides a space to play and dream about a better life. The trustees of the school have successfully opposed moves made by builders with political connections. The school provisions such as computers, furniture etc are supported by donations made by corporates so far, but its far from enough.

I wouldn’t dare send my children here but it’s there for the very same reason: to nourish and engage the minds of kids. The worn out spaces in these images seem to hold the aspirations of many generations of underprivileged children in a timeless warp. They’re a reflection of what I understand as the parallel reality of Mumbai. I was drawn by the interiors and the silence of an otherwise noisy space on a day off for the school.

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The school has a ghetto like feel, though it was founded on the principles of friendship, freedom and equality as envisioned by its founder Yusuf Meherally.

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It’s understandable why the soft board is devoid of life. Either the kids are irreverent or it’s too worn out to be useful.

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The school appears to be in dire need for funds that don’t seem very forthcoming in an economy grappling with tedious issues of inflation and slow growth.

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The lessons are discharged by a bunch of teachers who are familiar with the politics of teaching slum kids.

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The art teacher who had his arm in a sling was a proud man telling me of the many talents of his pupils.

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A picture of hope in the form of an info graphic about the tasty and abundant Indian coconut. Hand crafted!

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The office at the entrance of the school is full of memorabilia from another age.

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The hand painted portraits of Indian freedom fighters lend a old-worldly charm lost to most private schools. It’s rare to see portraits of pioneering Indian mathematicians and not Mahatma Gandhi.

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The kids and school admin seemed quite indifferent to the waste that surrounds their back yard.

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The administrator who maintains the records of children is happy to be employed. She said I should be careful as there is an element of rowdiness and drug abuse after school hours.

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The watchman was visibly happy to be photographed, “My job here gives me self-respect” he said to me. I asked if he liked kids more than his uniform. “I love being in school” was his response.

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Shadab Ansari lives nearby, loves life but doesn’t like it when adults and teachers shout. His mind is full of brilliant ideas he claimed, and wants to go to America to study further someday.

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I want to learn to fly.

If you’re interested in extending support in any form please do visit this website to find out about the various ways in which you can. Thanks for taking a look anyway.

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On the move

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A gregarious camel on the move near Giza, Egypt. Seemed kind of funny when we came neck to neck on the road.

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On a cold wintry ferry ride of the Bosphorus, Istanbul, with seagulls moving coast to coast.

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A woman on the move on a Sunday morning by the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

This is in response to this week’s photo challenge ending today!

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Meenakshi Temple Madurai: Did someone say they would bomb this place?

Picture this: A man called Johnson has an illicit relationship with a woman. Another man called Satish objects to this. Irked by the objection, Johnson informs the police that Satish has planted a bomb in the famous Meenakshi Temple. The 3000 year old temple attracts 15-25000 visitors a day so the bomb squad is on its toes as soon as they hear this news.  After a thorough check on the temple premises, they say it’s a hoax. Satish & Johnson are arrested for allegedly threatening to blow up Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. Johnson says he had meant the call to be a prank and did not realize its impact!

For the past two days the temple has been in the news for this flippant prank. I was amused; it’s that weird kinda stuff that can only happen in India. This story prompted me to dig into my photo archives from a visit to the temple in 2009. Since then I’m told security has been increased at the temple following bomb blasts in Hyderabad and various other bomb scares near the site in recent times. I believe cameras are no longer allowed inside the temple, although phones with cameras are permitted. I was lucky to be able to shoot with my DSLR then. However, I had a time trying to convince the priests (in vain) about my being Hindu, leave alone Indian. I was granted an Indian ticket (which is a lot cheaper than the one for foreign nationals) after much persuasion (in Hindi) but was prevented from entering any of the shrines as they were not convinced about the Hindu argument.

Meenakshi temple in Madurai dates back as far as 3,500 years! Apparently, the city was built around the Shiva lingam that's inside its sanctum. The temple complex covers 15 acres, and has 4,500 pillars and 12 towers -- it's massive!Meenakshi temple in Madurai dates back 3,500 years! Apparently, the city was built around a Shivalingam (Lord Shiva’s phallus) that’s inside its sanctum. The temple complex covers 15 acres, and has 4,500 pillars and 12 towers, its massive!
Though the temple dates back to 1216 AD, its a 'live ' space brimming with devotees, worshippers and priests shoulder to shoulder with tourists from all over the world.   The temple is a ‘live’ space brimming with devotees, worshippers and priests shoulder to shoulder with tourists from the world over. Without a guide and no via language, it can be overwhelming with so much to see.
Every night, a deity of Lord Shiva (or Sundareswarar) is carried out from his shrine by temple priests in procession, to his wife Meenakshi's shrine where he'll spend the night. The goddess's gold feet are brought out from her shrine, while Shiva's chariot is fanned to keep it cool.In a procession every night, a deity of Lord Shiva is carried out from his shrine to his wife Meenakshi’s shrine, where it will spend the night symbolic of conjugal bliss. 
His gold feet are brought out from her shrine, while his chariot is fanned to keep it cool, and a puja (worship) is performed, amidst much chanting, drums, horns, and smoke.I was here in the morning where various pujas (worship) were being performed, amidst much chanting, drums, horns, and smoke. The light and atmosphere were beautiful but very little time for me to get the settings right on my camera.
The sacred elephant inside the temple chooses to bless a few visitors by lifting its trunk over the visitors head. I was lucky to be chosen, an experience of a lifetime. The sacred elephant inside the temple chooses to bless a few visitors by lifting its trunk over the visitors head. I was one of them. The action around me notwithstanding, I was using available light on a wide open aperture with slow shutter speed on really high ISO setting. The effect as you can see was how I felt: a bit shaken and stirred!
The temple's four main towers and entrances each face one of the four directions (north, east, south, and west). The tallest one, the southern tower, stretches nearly 170 feet (52 meters) high! Inside, there are two main shrines -- one dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi (also known as Goddess Parvati) and the other to her husband Lord Shiva. Meenakshi's shrine, which is green, houses a piece of emerald that was brought back from Sri Lanka in the 10th century.The temple’s four main towers and entrances each face one of the four directions (north, east, south, and west). The tallest one, the southern tower, stretches nearly 170 feet high! Inside, there are two main shrines – one dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi (also known as Goddess Parvati) and the other to her husband Lord Shiva. Sadly, I was unable to see the shrines.
The sheer size of the temple means that it's easy to get lost inside. I went in there without a guide and was at once intimidated by all that there was to see, I noticed a constant stream of couples waiting to be married in its corridors. I was deemed a non-Hindu and allowed to wander around inside the temple, but could not enter the shrines.The sheer size of the temple means that it’s easy to get lost inside. I went in there without a guide and was at once intimidated by the crowds milling about. I noticed a constant stream of couples waiting to be married in its corridors.
The bottom part of the temple is made from granite, while its towers (gopurams) are made from limestone. On them is an astonishing array of sculptured and brightly painted gods, goddesses, animals, and demons.
The temple also contains a 1,000 pillared hall, temple art museum, holy golden lotus tank, musical pillars, stalls, and many smaller shrines. This is the pillar hall where every pillar is in a straight line no matter where you stand in the hall. Quite a feat in Geometry to think of the minds that designed it 3500 years ago.The temple also has a 1,000 pillared hall. The outstanding feature being that all the pillars stay in a straight line no matter where you stand in the hall. Quite a feat in Geometry from 3500 years ago.
Sculptures on columns everywhere. There is so much to see and understand about Hindu mythology, you need more than a week to soak in all the tales of the love that bound Shiva and Parvati.Sculptures on columns everywhere. There is so much to see and understand about Hindu mythology, you need more than a week to soak in all the tales of the love that bind Shiva and Parvati in this enormous temple.
Another gorgeous view of a sculpted column in one of the corridors leading to the shrine of the goddess Parvati.Another gorgeous view of a sculpted column in one of the corridors leading to the shrine of the goddess Parvati.
These figurines not more than a few inches in height are sculpted lovingly out of ivory, maybe marble. Such exquisite craftsmanship was rather shabbily displayed on stale faded velvet with spot lights burning out random parts of the sculptures.These figurines not more than a few inches in height are sculpted lovingly out of ivory, maybe marble. Such exquisite craftsmanship was rather shabbily displayed in the museum section; on a stale faded velvet cloth with spot lights burning out random parts of the sculptures.
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Altogether elsewhere on a day at Avalanche lake, Ooty.

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Avalanche lake is situated at bikeable distance from Ooty, in the Nilgiris. It is a popular campsite for students and tourists alike. This is shot from a resort facing the picturesque valley. Nice!

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A short walk through the thicket and you can dive into the pristine, cool waters for a dip if you are the adventurous type. Away in the distance I spotted some locals fishing. There are trout in these waters.

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A flower blooms on a pathway surrounding the area. No it was neither fallen, nor photoshopped!

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A mountain crow takes a breather soaking in the atmosphere. It is very quiet around here. A day is good enough to view the picture perfect landscape. After that it may get a bit tiresome unless you are a bird or trekker exploring the surroundings.

Shot with a 50mm lens on Nikon600, wish I had my macro handy for these designer spiders!

Shot with a 50mm lens on Nikon D600, I wish I had my macro handy for these designer spiders! This had to be cropped close so I ended up losing some detail.

This tiny reptile opened his eye preety much in sync with the shutter, was uite terrifying the way the white of its eyes opened up like a fan!

This tiny reptile opened its eye pretty much in sync with the shutter, was terrifying the way the white of its eyes opened up like a fan! I ran as fast as I could soon after the shot but he could’ve followed suit and beaten me on speed as well.

Posted in Landscape, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Weekly Photo challenge: Spring

Thanks to the photo challenge theme, I now know that this is red flower belongs to the  red cotton tree and appears in the spring. This photo is from an album from 2008 shot on the very first digital camera I owned the 10x zoom Kodak easy share P7.

Thanks to the challenge, I now know that this flower belongs to the Red Cotton Tree which makes an appearance in the spring mostly in Hong Kong and China. The photo is from April 2007 in Mumbai though, shot on the now defunct Kodak EasyShare P7, 10x zoom. Not bad for an affordable compact digital camera.

For most of my life spring was never a designated season in India. It was always Summer, Monsoon & Winter. Spring is more of a Himalayan experience I suppose. In most other parts of the geography its already summer before you know it. This is my concept of Spring in Mumbai though I'm sure it looks more like summer!

For most of my life spring was never a designated season in India. It was always Summer, Monsoon & Winter. Spring is more of a Himalayan experience I suppose. In most other parts of the geography it’s already summer before you know it. This is my concept of spring in Mumbai though it felt more like summer when it was shot in April 2007!

spring-flower6

In South India its no different. To the unsuspecting western eye this may look like spring but this sunny photo is actually from October which marks the end of Monsoons.

In South India its no different. To the unsuspecting western eye this may look like spring but these sunny photos are actually from October, nope not Autumn, nor winter, more like post monsoon as per local parlance. These are shot on the pricey Nikon D600 50mm 1.8g lens.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/spring-2/

 

 

 

 

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Religion: does it unify or divide this world?

Does faith in god really heal us or simple human bonding is enough?

Two nuns walk down the street just before sundown on a rainy evening. Though Christians form a fraction of the entire population in the Nilgiris, churches are omnipresent in Ooty.

The bloodiest wars in history have been religious wars, you would agree. Though on the surface religion appears to bring people together, to me religious sentiment seems to arouse mostly anger and intolerance among people of different faiths.

As India goes into electing its next leader to steer the country towards development and growth, the minority classes that include Muslims and Christians seem to be worried. Last weekend I was subject to the most frantic sermons from various members of the church in my neighbourhood. For me who is deeply private about matters such as faith, the speeches delivered on loudspeakers seemed to amplify the political aspect to religion more than the passionate faith in Christ of those purporting his cause. It is not easy to be a passive listener for 12 hours a day if you happen to be anything other than a die-hard Christian. Hence I’m hoping that the new leaders who form the government in May will help quell this anxiety among non-Hindu communities all around the country.

I like the simplicity in Dalai Lama’s thought on religion when he says there is no need for temples, or complicated philosophy. I couldn’t agree more when he says our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

Why then is it so hard to practice something so simple?

Posted in Fine art, Street Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Living in a void

Are we all living a giant dark energy of the void?

Are we all living in the giant dark energy of the void?

For the moment this quote from Ezra Pound says it better than any attempt I make to explain what it means to be living in the null and void.  I must admit though, that I have little knowledge of Ezra Pound’s works or life beyond this found quote and what Wikipedia has in store about him.

“All my life I believed I knew something. But then one strange day came when I realized that I knew nothing, yes, I knew nothing. And so words became void of meaning. I have arrived too late at ultimate uncertainty.”  – Ezra Pound

As for me, I try to embrace the void by filling it with photographs of just about everything perhaps equally null and void.

The image above was particularly mundane, at least that’s what I suspected when I shot it. I had no idea what attracted me to it. Maybe it was the perspective and the endless walk leading from one space to the other, a sort of statement for the human condition. After almost a year of ignoring it, this picture seemed to speak to me. Of something incomprehensible. I relented and only after the post process, it silenced. I think a sense of the void best describes the long arduous dialogue I had with this mute photograph. Go ahead, call me mad!

Posted in About, Documentary, Street Photography | Tagged , , | 14 Comments