Monday, January 28, 2013

Good morning

Good morning!

I haven't sent photos for a while now as I've been quite busy and not really able to keep up with the blog.  By day, I've been visiting temples, palaces, towns and countrysides, photographing as much as I can, and in the process making many new friends.  My evening schedule has been overlapped with Eastern time, allowing me do my real work late into the evening hours as though I had never left home.

I am finally headed home from India today.  I will start my journey in a handful of hours. In about 36 hours (four flights totalling 18hrs in the air), and a little over an hour of car travel, I'll finally be home.  

I thought I would share a couple of photos before I leave.  I hope these put a smile on your face!

This is a wild baby monkey that I shot in an ancient temple just two days ago (Sunday).  Though wild and somewhat unpredictable, these monkeys are accustom to humans and are quite tolerant of a photographer getting close.  In some cases, they will actually come right up to you (as my friend Sahil discovered when a monkey was practically on his shoulder).  This little fella is so cute that I can't help but smile when I look at him.  Somehow I'm sure that this is the reincarnation of George Burns.

And of course, how could I complete your smile without showing you what I look like now!  :)
I have been converted! I am coming home as an Indian Warrior.  

Hoping to have many fun photos and stories posted when I return home.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Monkeys of Rajasthan

The Indian province of Rajasthan is in northern India and borders Pakistan.  The province is quite large and travel is slow; many roads are rough and quite congested with traffic.  One thing that amazed me on my first day here and still holds my attention is the population of monkeys.  Practically anywhere you go, there are monkeys.  Swinging from the tops of buildings, stealing fruit from vendors in markets, in the palaces and forts, and of course, in the jungle.  During my travels here, I have captured some photos of monkeys in various places.  These creatures are curious but not aggressive.  They approach people only to snatch a piece of food, but otherwise seem to keep to themselves.  Monkeys are so common here that they largely go unseen, like seagulls do at home.

In this blog post, I'll share a few photos of the playful, adventurous and loving monkeys of Rajasthan.  Be sure to click on the image for a larger view.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jaipur, India - Inner City (part 4)

In a back alleyway that extends the market from the main street, a young lady smiles as I walk by.  I turn and offer to photograph her, and like many other, she nods as an offer of permission.  I quickly capture a few shots and then show her the preview on the camera.  She speaks no english but lights up when she sees the pictures.

From talking with others here, I discover that a new law was just created in India that makes it illegal to photograph a woman without her consent.  This is an effort on the part of the government to protect women.  The law is designed to protect from harassment and was brought on in response to the recent Delhi gang-rape that brought international attention and local outrage. 

In a very small alley, a young boy works at a clothing stand.  It is quite normal to see children working to help support a family.
He runs up to me with a huge smile and his hand extended.  I shake his hand and offer to photograph him.  
Minutes later, I have forever captured his magical smile.

A young man cooks snacks in oil for passers-by.  I wish that I could try this food without the fear of getting sick.  Their immune systems are developed differently and this food might well send me to the hospital.

A man pours a hot cup of chai at his tea stand.

A group of young men sit, enjoying chai in the setting sun

Another vendor prepares a batch a chai.  It's fascinating to watch them as they pour the chai from one bucket to another in what appears to be a performance for spectators.

The friendly face of an elderly man seated on the edge of the street welcomes us as we pass by.  He looks our way and offers a traditional Indian greeting of hands together and spoken, "Nemaste", meaning "I bow before you"

Sitting on the side of the road, a mother and daughter smile at me.  They are both beautiful and I ask to photograph them.  The mother offers a welcoming nod as to say, "yes, please do!"  I snap off several frames and capture this beautiful little girl and her mother.  Raaj tells me that they are often in this same place and so in the coming week I will find a place to print these images and offer them as a thank-you.  

In case you are wondering, the red line at the base of the mother's hairline is a symbol of marriage.

A street man poses for me.  I offer him a small donation in return for his talent.

A rickshaw operator smiles as I offer to photograph him.

Jaipur, India - Inner City (part 3)

A passing woman shelters her face from the dust and smog.

On the street corner a man smokes a cigarette.  I expected to see much more of this, but I have witnessed very few people smoking tobacco.

As we walk down a side-street, we are greeted by many street vendors. Most are seated on the ground and their produce is spread over blankets or in baskets and crates.

A woman boards a rickshaw for her journey home from the market.

As I walk along, a young man reaches out to me and calls me over.  He gestures to me, "Take my picture!"  When I agree, he playfully poses for the camera while the lady beside hime pretends to strike him with a pan.  
We all laugh and then he provides me with his address so that I can send him the picture.  I ask, "email address?" and he responds, "no email... mail address."  So, I will now be printing and sending this to him as a thank-you for the experience.

A woman looks through clothing at a vendor's stand

A elderly man stands in the back of a truck, resting before further unloading.

Colourful fruit is everywhere!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jaipur, India - Inner City (part 2)

As Raaj and I begin our walk around, I stand for a few minutes just trying to orient myself in the sea of chaos.  For what seems like 10 minutes, I simply observe my surroundings while trying to avoid getting run over by a bus or a camel.

A businessman stops in his car, looking back at a fellow driver while talking on his cell phone.

Looking up, a man is busy doing repair work on the side of a building

People are passing in front and behind me, negotiating their way around me as just one of thousands of obstacles.

People in the streets carry heavy packages on their backs, and some on their heads.

A colourful woman looks through her recent purchases

One block over, a long lineup of vendors offer the eye a sea of colour with fresh flowers made into decorative gifts. 

Jaipur, India - Inner City (part 1)

Jaipur (the pink city) is located in Northern India.  The city was founded in 1727 and is home to over 3.5 million people.  The original city is surrounded by a huge wall, nearly 20 feet high and 10 feet thick.  Seven gates allow passage in and out of the city and at one time, they were locked each night and reopened in the morning.

Inside the gates, the city takes on a unique flavour.  I don't think words can quite describe the energy of this place. It's overwhelming; like standing in the eye of a tornado.  Cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, motorcycles, goats, camels, cows, people, you name it ... all moving at different paces, horns blasting, jammed between one another, swerving in and out, like salmon swimming upstream.  The air is thick with exhaust from a sea of vehicles and the sounds levels make conversation challenging without raising your voice.

Motorbikes and scooters are one of the most popular modes of transportation.  The roads are filled with them and I have seen street vendors sell helmets like they are an everyday item.

Here, a family shares a scooter for transportation.  I have seen an entire family of five on a single motorbike!

Despite the noise and chaos, people seem genuinely happy.  When people notice my camera, they smile and quite happy to have their pictures taken.

The streets are very crowded and it's difficult to move about.  One might expect that kindness might be the first casualty in a society so densely populated, but that is not the case.  I make eye contact with almost anyone, smile and they light up with a genuine return smile;  it's really quite incredible.  In all of this chaos, people are walking up to me and struggling to make contact, communicating with broken english, or speaking in Hindi with many hand gestures.

A young girl in a Rickshaw style taxi looks at me with curiosity as I point my camera in her direction.

If the chaos below isn't enough, the city above offers more!  Wires strung in ever direction serve as a jungle for wild monkeys that swing from cables like trees in a forest.

Raaj and I arrive in the market area and begin our walk around.  The market is a sea of colour with vendors selling fruits, vegetables, gifts, jewelry and clothing. Seen here is a vendor with his cart of assorted nuts.

Stay tuned for PART TWO

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

First few photos from Inda

Hi folks,
I arrived safely in India Monday night with my good friend Raaj.  We flew from our respective home regions (Ottawa & Detroit) to meet in Amsterdam, and then flew together to Delhi, India.  A very long journey spanning 10 1/2 hours of timezones. With layovers, an exhausting 24 hours of air travel.  From there, we stayed the night in the outskirts of Delhi and then had a car take us 5 hours across the northern India countryside to Jaipur.  This is my first time to India and I am somewhat without words to describe this place.  A magical experience filled with beauty, life, incredible food, warm sunny weather and plenty of traffic chaos.  There is no frame of reference to describe this place and so I grasp at words to share the experience.  Over the coming weeks that I am here, I will share images that I capture.  Though these do not do any justice to the experience, perhaps a collection of them will paint a picture that is worth sharing.


Miles of bright yellow, flowering fields line the sides of the highways for as far as the eye can see.  As the colour might suggest, these are mustard plants, the seeds of which are ground and turned into mustard oil.

At a roadside stop, a young girl performs a traditional Indian dance for me while her father stands behind playing music.  I hand her a 100 Rupee note and she smiles.  All around, the brilliant colours of women's clothing glow like neon lamps in the afternoon sun.

In the more densely populated city setting, chaotically busy roadways are shared by a sea of motorbikes, scooters, cars, trucks, camels and yes .. elephants!!