Friday, April 5, 2013

My 20 favorite photos from India (and stories too)!

Here are the 20 photos that i am most happy with from my last trip to India, 
with some little bits of info or story about each.

Baba smoking a chillum, near Khajuraho

These two Brahmin Babas followed me and a couple of buddies as we hiked up to a mountain peak near Khajuraho, in central India. They hung out with us, showed us some parlor trips that they said were works of God, read our palms, and then asked for 500rupees (18ish euros) contribution from us in return for the pleasure of their company. (One of my Indian buddies explained that we didn't have any cash but that we would go get it and be back in an hour. The Babas actually began calling insistently from their cell phones an hour later, to our great laughter!:-) Check out the teeth of the one in the background. My original idea was to just fake photographing the smokey baba to surreptitiously get a shot of his completely-blackened teeth, but then i realized how cool the foreground was too!

New Delhi Grand Bazaar alley

My friend Kristian and i flew from Rome to New Delhi. On our first morning in New Delhi, surely because of the change in time zones, i woke up at 5am, and went out for a walk in the dark. The quiet was eerie, this alley was storybook.

Pidgeon swarm at The Red Fort, New Delhi

These huge flocks of pidgeon were storming all over the place there, sometimes even much more dense than you can see in this shot.

Workers hand-painting a fence in New Delhi

i was pretty thrilled that i managed to capture this moment just as it happened: the Indian lady sponge-painting the wrought-iron fence while her children watch my friends and a pair of random rifle-armed military guys stroll by with pedal-driven tut-tut-taxis on the oddly-wide streets of this capital city in the background!

Two roofs.

Indian yard cricket

i can't believe i captured this, and on my first shot! The pitcher has already thrown the ball, the batter has just begun his swing, and the ball is actually visible at the dead center, within the shape of the tree in the background, JUST to the left of the head of the kid with his hands in his pockets!

Relaxing in East-West Cafe, Rishikesh, India

i loved everything about this place, East West Cafe, in the Laxman Jhula neighborhood of Rishikesh. The art was trippy and wonderful, made entirely, so i heard, without curation or plan, done by friends and customers. The food and drink were good, there was wifi that sometimes worked, and everything about this atmosphere was 100% relaxed and chill:-)

At the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, near Rishikesh

Family participation at this Shiva temple
Sex Temple in the Western Temple Group of Khajuraho, India

i loved the contrast of man-made and natural here, and how the shapes not-quite-but-nearly echo each other. The temple is about 1,000 years old. 
Click here to learn much more about this amazing World Heritage Site.
Detail from Khajuraho sex temple

This 1,000 year old art was more than 500years ahead of anything in Europe. And, having spent so much time around Roman and Vatican art, this was a comforting view of heterosexuality and sexual pleasure. The guides and books there in Khajuraho struggle and, i think, fail to explain why these images were made. i think it is just because it is cool, even wonderful. This one is now tied for first among my favorite temples in the world!:-) (The Pantheon in Rome comes in a close 2nd).
You can see many more of my photos from these temples and learn more about them here.
Five-passenger motorcycle!

i took this shot while i myself was riding on the back of another motorcycle, in Khajuraho! i love the colors, lines and obvious motion. It might be hard to make out at first, but there are in fact 5 passengers on that motorcyle: the guy driving it, wearing black; the baby in his arms, wearing red; a woman seated immediately behind him, wearing purple, with her arm over his right shoulder, another woman, covered in white, who is holding another baby in her arms, whose forehead we can barely see, looking at us over the woman's right shoulder!!

Getting chased by a water buffalo!!

i found this herd of water buffalo hanging out in this meadow between the lake and the road in Khajuraho. i went over to get some photos and this one got curious. Start trotting at me as he chomped his grass. i got curious if he wanted to play or if he would attack, but i didn't wait to find out because then he started running, and then i started running, and that was that!
Click here to see more of my pics of cows and buffalo in India.
Gypsy dance dancers in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India

On our first night in Pushkar, my little group of traveling buddies found out there was going to be a gypsy dance show in a restaurant. And it was amazing and beautiful and impressive! Here are a few of the dancers taking a rest, with some of the band in the background.
Old lady and the birds, Pushkar, Rajasthan, India

Pushkar is a famous pilgrim destination for Hindu tourists. There is a big ghat where they all like to go dunk themselves, but this lady had to fight through the pidgeons to get there!
Indian beggar children love pens.

As i was walking down this quiet street outside of Pushkar, this tall child on the right came up to me begging for change. i ignored her. Then she said, "Do you have my good pen for school?" (She didn't speak English, but she had this phrase memorized.) i did in fact have a small package of pens i'd brought to India specifically to be gifts, so i started handing them out. They were pretty thrilled at first, but within a moment a bunch more children started arriving to get pens too. The taller girl here began smacking the other ones and chasing them away from me, which, ugly as it was, worked out okay as i was out of pens and they were swarming me. i started briskly walking away and they started chasing yelling, "School pens! School pens!" like it was the chirp of some weird species of mendicant bird.
Young monk, old monk, in the Dalai Lama's temple, Dharamsala, India

i was in town to hear the Dalai Lama give a teaching from the Jakata Tales in late February. The day before there were many ceremonies that the monks took part in, and some of that was open to the public. i got this shot during a long ceremony with lots of long, deep-bass Tibetan chanting.
View in Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj

The wind whipping through that Tibetan banner and the snow covered mountains nearby begin to indicate how miserably cold my time in Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj was this time!
Mountain and moon view, Dharamsala, India

This was taken from the porch of the Dalai Lama's Buddhist temple in McLeod Ganj/Dharamsala.
New Delhi school children

TWELVE school children on this pedal-driven taxi, in the Grand Bazaar, New Delhi!
In the jungle of Rajiji National Forest, near Rishikesh, India

Nothing like the Indian jungle in the morning! Known to be the home of many elephants and a few tigers, among all the many other members of the jungle family, Rajiji comes right up to the edge of Rishikesh! My friend Kristian and i arrived in January and found the entrance to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram ("The Beatles Ashram") not only closed by locked with a padlock. i assume the Baba that usually takes a bribe to let people in was away at the Kumbh Mela. So we hiked through the jungle, walking along this dry stream bed, to get to the back of the ashram where i knew a place to climb through a hole in a wall to get in. And it was well worth because, in addition to the normal thrills and views of the ruins of this great ashram, i also discovered for the first time the brand new Beatles Cathedral Gallery!!!

Hari om :-)

All photos by the author.

1 comment:

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