Thursday, December 25, 2008

Seen again!

The thing about much seen places, especially small cities like Cambridge is that it's a challenge to see them anew. Almost every pub & restaurant has local scenes framed on it's walls.
However, reflections on the Cam on bright fall afternoons are hard to ignore!

Cameras used: Canon Digital SLR Camera EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EOS 400D Digital SLR Camera (incl. EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Kit)

Lenses used:
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM Lens

Monday, December 15, 2008

The 10 minute ride.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have buddies live so close by you can be at their place in less than 10 minutes in your pajamas! I'm kidding about the pajamas but now that I'm on this whole other continent, I wished I hadn't whined about the 'long' 10 minute ride.
See you guys soon. Hopefully in India. Then the UK. And even more hopefully in Canada ;)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Brass and strings. Cambridge, UK.

A friend of mine at Cambridge asked me to cover part of the Szeged festival, I couldn't pass it up. I mean, who says 'no' to a wide angle zoom perched on the edge of the stage? (Note to myself: must buy wide angle prime. British churches are dark enough with lighting. Zooms don't help much when the lighting doesn't turn on).
Anywho. I'm a sucker for people with musical instruments. You couldn't get me to theater if you paid me (unless I was allowed in with a camera. Even one I have to muzzle with a thick scarf).
(Another note to myself: maybe British theater is better than the over-simplified, Hollywood-esque musical crap I had to suffer in the Southern USA).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shobha & Mithoba.

Shobha's a farm laborer. One of many in Maharashtra (India) that live in small huts on the farms they and their spouses work on.
She keeps her parrot in a cage so small, his tail grows out crooked. It's the best she can afford. The parrot (Mithoba) imitates the calls of the farm peacocks and laughs raucously afterward. He loves peanuts and green chillies & makes straight for Shobha's modest kitchen each time he's released. She's the only one who can hold him. He keeps the neighbors entertained.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Dhangars (shepherds). The poor little rich community.

I've never seen their riches personally, but all over Maharashtra Dhangars (the shepherding community) are notorious for hoarding large amounts of wealth & evading taxes since they don't own property. There are tales of them having whipped out hundreds of thousands out of their hats to buy tractors and other frivolous items on a whim.
I ran into one group while visiting my grand parent's farm in Ahmednagar. The men are much easier to approach. The women are shrews to the bone. And they wont be captured on film (willingly at least) without promise of hard cash. There's no point in arguing with them because they'll either walk off or set their dogs on you.
Women in the community are married off very young & the kids hardly attend school. The schooling bit maybe improving some but these folks seem to have a big hand in bringing down the national average literacy rate.
The men & sheep move separately from the women, children & dogs. I knew this as a young girl & always wondered about the safety of the women. Till I met them. No sane male with half a brain would take on these ladies. One Dhangar woman was accosted while stealing guavas from my grand parent's farm (yes, the Dhangars believe in helping themselves liberally from farms along the way). Before the orchard keeper could say another word, she had pulled off most of her saree & started to scream assault. The keeper had run half a mile before he realised what had just happened. When he returned, the woman was gone with the fruit.
Barbed wire doesn't help because they cut through it, take what they want & then sell the barbed wire they cut. Even the police realise that it's next to futile to tangle with them. Other than that, they're a hugely interesting lot.

Cameras used:Canon EOS 400D Digital SLR Camera (incl. EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Kit)

Lenses used:
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM Lens

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mid fall. Alexandria 2007.

The small apartment in Alexandria, VA, that we chose to move into in early 2006 satisfied 2 very important criteria. It got direct sunlight (important after 2 years in a North facing flat) and we could see trees from the windows (important after 2 years in a North facing flat surrounded by woods). In fact the tree outside our balcony was so close that many toys the kids from the floor below threw at it, stayed there. The only things I don't miss about that place were those kids and their chain smoking mother.
    Right. Where were we. The tree. It looked gorgeous in fall. The already warm sunlight that streamed through it in at sunset turned a richer gold by the time it hit our living room walls and flooded our endorphin deprived brains. I loved that tree.
    One fall evening, when it was too cold to go shooting on the streets, I stepped out onto the balcony and got the images above. One was back lit & the other was barely side lit.
     Out here (in Cambridge, UK) all we see is the block of flats opposite us and the windows in which students dry their underwear. And this flat faces North. Suburban America never looked so good.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Staring at windows.

The great thing about being in a crowded, busy and public city like Cambridge (I'm talking downtown here) is that you're unlikely to get arrested for staring long and hard at windows. Of course, it helps to be a woman. Other than the fact that I may have made the facilities manager at one of the colleges very nervous, I live to tell the tale.
    Windows. They make great reflections of the outside world that we tend to ignore. Unlike water, they're vertical. Go stare.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Child monks: youth in exile.

I spent over a week in Sikkim early in 2008. A lot of my time was spent haunting the surrounding monasteries. Of everything & everyone I saw there, what struck me most was the detached quietness of the young novice monks.
Some, I found, were as young as 3 or 4 & had been brought by their parents from neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet to study Buddhism. Many rarely saw their parents since they lived far away and travel is expensive for poor families.
There were 2 very young monks that drew my attention on the day I spent in Enchey. They spoke only Nepali but understood Hindi. Amazed at how innocent & quiet they seemed, I asked them if they got to meet their mothers. One nodded 'yes' & the other slowly shook a 'no'. They had a part time female nurse who played with them at the monastery during the day but no female was allowed in after closing time.

Cameras used: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)

Lenses used:
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Canon - Lens - 50 mm - f/1.4 USM - Canon EF

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Potters of Pune.

The potter community in Pune has been around since the time of the Marathas. 'Kumbharwada' in the city of Pune is where many sell their pots but the community continues to fragment & disintegrate.
Their business lives are open to to public. Potter women relaxing on the edge of their shops, 2 feet away from a very busy road don't flinch when you make eye contact. They watched my back as I bent & squatted next to the road to capture their environment & faces.
Many of their children will be forced to enter the family business & many will leave to enter unrewarding jobs.
This was one of the most engaging communities I've ever had the pleasure to interact with.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Saraswati bai

Saraswati bai is a masseuse who travels long hours from her village home to Pune city to massage women clients. She supports an aged husband & 2 grand children. Her massages are often accompanied by folk tales and songs upon request. She speaks Marathi & Hindi & understands basic English. She trained at the Urali Kanchan Ayurvedic center, where my mother discovered her close to 17 years ago. She makes a weekly appearance at my mother's place for an hourly massage.

Her massages are 'desi' & old school ayurvedic & she structures them for each of her clients' individual needs. Some of her clients have been women athletes who need a deeper tissue massage & some who are recovering from strokes & injuries and need a lighter hand. She's also great with new moms & moms-to-be.
She's one of the best masseuses I've ever known. I can hear her village, her people and life in the songs she sings for me.

She does not provide massages for men but is aware of male masseuses who can travel to Pune. 

Saraswati bai is able to travel to pretty much any place in Pune for an at-home massage appointment. 
She needs a day's notice, your phone number and an accurate address. She is available to answer calls regarding appointments & pricing at her cell phone which is 839 079 6495.
Please be respectful when you call :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Painting our walls red.

While passing by a butcher's shop in Sikkim, I noticed the wall where he'd hung his instruments. No fancy panels - just a slat driven into the wall with nails & painted red like the rest of his shop.
Waiting to do their job were his instruments. Their contrast with the wall & their visible sharpness was ominous. The meat hook actually had a piece of the goat he'd just cleaned still stuck on it. I couldn't let it pass.