Tag Archives: India

Window on the World

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live…we all have our own unique way in which we view the world.  If you have been fortunate enough to have plenty, it alters your view of the rest of the world and how people live in it.  The same is true if you were raised in poverty – you see yourself and life differently than if you’d been raised with an abundance.

Americans see the world one way – people from the Middle East, Israel, Russia, China, North or South Korea, Argentina, Haiti, India – though we’re all people, we have a set of experiences that color how we see life and the role we play in it.

In India last June, we were in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and we were walking down what appeared to be an alleyway when I came across a scene where there was a child leaning out of a window.  We must have made quite a curious sight because not only did this child find our passing of interest, but we attracted the attention of nearly everyone that was in the alley or the buildings that lined it on both sides.  After all, I’m sure it isn’t every day that they see a parade of well-off Americans wandering down their alleyway.

As I reflected on this picture today, I found myself wondering what this child did today.  Here in the United States we have been celebrating President’s Day, but I’m sure that this child did no such thing.  How did he feel today?  Did they go anywhere?  How much have they had to eat?  What does this child dream of some day doing?  Where would he live if he had a choice?  What does he think of Americans, if he thinks of us at all?  What will become of this little one, beloved by his family?

Pictures capture faces and moments in time that are frozen forever and sometimes we forget that the people and creatures in the pictures are never frozen in that way.  They live, move, breath…eat, sleep, and die…though the picture would try to tell us otherwise.  Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of being a good photographer (which I don’t claim to be) is to care about people and their stories.  To be able to capture them, for a fraction of a second, is a rare privilege that one should never take for granted.

WindowOnTheWorldON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1908, the first United States postage stamps were sold.  The price: one cent each.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Bermuda has no islands or lakes.  The inhabitants must use rain water if they are to use naturally occurring water.

 

The Way of Love

I have recently enjoyed seeing Facebook posts of some of my old co-workers who are experiencing the wonder of a grand child for the first time.  The look on the faces of the women I used to know as they hold their little grand children is utterly delightful.  The love oozes out of their faces and pours itself all over their little ones!

There is something special about the mother and child together.  It is perhaps the purest form of human love…this love of a women for another human being who grew inside of her, who was once part, yet separate, from her.  Mothers and children are beautiful.

Today’s photo is of what I assume is a mother and child.  I took this photo in Mud Fort Slum in Bangalore, India this past June.  The things that mothers do for their little ones defies rationality…but then, that’s the way of love, isn’t it?

MotherAndChildON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1876 in Eastport, Maine, Julius Wolf was credited as being the first person to can sardines.  Now, do you really care?????

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Pennsylvania has the largest rural population in the United States.

Let’s Go Shopping!

OK, this one is for all you out there who love to go shopping!!!  I can, at times, count myself among your numbers depending on what I’m shopping for and what kind of store it is.  For example, if my wife wants to shop for shoes, clothes, a purse or hair products, I’d just as soon visit the dentist.  But if it comes to electronics, my favorite store in the world is the chain in California known as Frye’s Electronics…it is heaven on earth!  I must also say, though, that I don’t really get complete satisfaction from shopping anywhere for one reason: those doggone stores always want you to pay for something you want rather than just taking it out of the store!!!  I’m such a penny-pincher that I hate to pay for things that I want very badly!

I’m not sure how popular shopping would be for many Americans if you were in India.  Sure, there are rows of small stores that have attractive window displays showing their wares on some of the streets in the downtown areas, but most of the shopping that the Indian people do takes place in stores like the one in today’s photo that I took in June in Mumbai.  All along the side of the streets and roads you see “businesses” like these that sell something.  Some sell fresh(?) fruit or produce, some are little restaurants (wouldn’t pass the health inspections here, I’m sure), some may sell bottled water, or matches, or bamboo leaves or chai.  And sadly, some also serve as the homes of the proprietors.

At all hours of the day and night, you see people jammed into stores like these.  India seems to be a country that never sleeps…at least not in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai.  There are always people out and about, moving, honking horns, talking with each other.

So, how about it?  Shopping, anyone?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: the second battle of Isanzo began on this day in 1915.  It was the first battle, and thus began the fighting, in World War 1.  A series of battles were fought on that river during the year with no gain for either site.  The cost for the battles: 280,000 men.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: from 1941 through 1950, violet was one of the colors of plain “M&M” candies.  It was then replaced by tan.  BAD decision, if you ask me…

 

Wade In the Water

There is an old spiritual that goes by the title of today’s picture post.  I haven’t heard it sung for years, but I always thought it was very soulful and emotive.

The song relates to both the Old and New Testaments, and the verses reflect the story of the escape of the Israelites under Moses and how they went through the Red Sea as well as the chorus, which relates to healing, based on John 5:4: “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”

Many internet sources and popular books claim that songs such as “Wade in the Water” contained explicit instructions to fugitive slaves on how to avoid capture and the route to take to successfully make their way to freedom. This particular song allegedly recommends leaving dry land and taking to the water as a strategy to throw pursuing bloodhounds off one’s trail.  It is said that Harriet Tubman, known as the “Moses of her people” for the help she gave to runaway slaves during the Civil War (she helped lead them along the Underground Railroad to the north) sang this songs to those runaways.

“Wade in the Water” was a popular instrumental hit in 1966 for the Ramsey Louis Trio, and later recorded by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and Billy Preston (both in 1967).

The picture today was taken at our hotel in Mumbai…rather, it was taken outside the hotel.  Do you remember the terrorist attack at on of Mumbai hotels a year or two ago where  many people were killed?  Well, because of that, we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside of the hotel that could have been used for “intelligence” purposes, but we were permitted to take photos outdoors.  So, one evening before dark, I went out in the back of the hotel where the pool was.  There were numerous statues on the grounds and in the pool.  What you see in the background is the Arabian Sea.

This picture made me think of that old spiritual…”Wade in the water, Wade in the water chillin, oh, Wade in the water, God’s a gonna trouble the water!”

Wadin’ in the water, Indian style.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1933, the US established the minimum hourly wage to be 33 cents.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in Sri Lanka, to say “Hello”, you should put your hands together under your chin in prayer-like fashion and bow slightly.

The Artsy Side of a Trip to India

I felt like sharing something more artsy than serious today, so here’s a picture I took in Mumbai when we visited a building that was used in a movie, Not Today (about human trafficking), which will be released next spring.  Actually, the building is divided into two parts: a family lives in one part, and they rent the rest of it out for filming in movies, TV shows, etc.  We were there the day before MTV was going to show up to shoot some stuff.

Even the peeling paint in India seemed to be colorful and interesting.  This was on the outside of the building.  I just thought it might make an interesting picture.I have other artsy pictures I took while there, too, that I’ll share in the future.

Like I said, something light for today…I’m not in the mood for serious stuff tonight.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1804, Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in their famous duel.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: historical accounts say the first Christmas celebrated in the Philippines was celebrated somewhere between 1280-1320 AD, nearly 200 years before Ferdinand Magellan “discovered” the country for the western world.

It Ain’t Mystic Pizza

There we were, tooling down the crowded streets on our way to either a school or a slum, when someone noticed a swastika on a building.  As time passed, we noticed more and more of them.  They didn’t look just like the Nazi swastika, but it was clearly enough a swastika.

Come to find out that the swastika is very ancient – it didn’t originate with the Nazi’s in the first third of the last century.  While there is no definitive answer to its origin, what is clear is that it goes way back in Indian religion.  The Sanskrit “svastika” means “to be good” (according to Wikipedia, which is not always the best source.)

There is one legend that it represents the four god-like forces that stood at the four corners of the world and managed the affairs of the world.  Who knows?

Here is a picture I took on our last day in Mumbai when we were visiting the location of a movie shoot.  Right next door was Swastik Hardware and Swastik Ply N Wood.  Didn’t really create a strong urge in me to go shop there.in

This was unexpected…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1872, John Blondel invented and patented the donut cutter, and we are glad he did!!!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: if you frequent Irish pubs and want a small beer, ask for “a glass”.  If you just ask for a beer, you’ll get a pint!

 

Hey, Mr. Sitar Man – Can you smile?

On our first morning in Mumbai, we were actually allowed to sleep in just a bit, which is good because it was near the end of our trip and we were all pretty worn out.  There was a buffet for breakfast so we could go down to the lobby and eat at whatever time we wished as long as we were ready to hit the road running by mid-morning.

I couldn’t sleep in much since I’d had a really bad night with my cold and cough, so I woke up fairly early, got on the Internet to catch up on some email, took a photo of the Arabian Sea out my hotel window, then showered, dressed and went downstairs.  I ate my breakfast (what a selection!), then went back upstairs to get my camera and notebook for the day’s journeys.

When I came back down, in the main part of the lobby, I heard Indian music…drums and sitar, in particular.  My first thought was that it was being piped in, but as I looked around behind me, on a floor pedestal were two men: one playing drums and the other playing the sitar.  I thought it was pretty interesting sounding, so I went over to sit in one of the comfortable chairs by where they were playing.  As they played, I asked if I could take their picture, and they were happy for me to do so.  I had my telephoto lens on (which wasn’t the best choice for this set-up), and I took some shots as they played.

I must say, I never did see the sitar guy crack even the tiniest of smiles.  The drummer was friendly, but I got the feeling the sitar player had been rousted out of bed earlier than he wanted to get up, and he seemed like a grump.  He was serious-faced the entire time, but he played well and I let them know I appreciated it when they were done. I couldn’t help but wonder why they sat so far apart.  Maybe it was because the sitar player really was a grump and the drummer didn’t want to get close to him!

Since it is Friday night and I’ve posted pictures that were about difficult things this week, I thought I’d share a shot of the musicians today…after all, you may be going out to party and dance tonight.  You might think about Indian cuisine and music…though unless you know what you’re doing, I think it would be VERY hard to dance to!!!

Mr. Grump and the Drummer

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1946, Allen Funt debuted “The Candid Microphone”on the radio.  A little over a year later, Candid Camera became a sensation and propelled Allen Funt to stardom.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in Greenwich, England, during the 1800’s, it was against the law to impersonate a retired person living on a pension.  Strange…those British….

Mudfort Slum

When you think of a slum in the United States, my guess is that your mind conjures up pictures of abandoned tenement buildings where squatters may live, broken windows, mostly empty streets with little to no landscaping.  It is not a pretty picture to think of, is it?  People just don’t choose to live in slums if they can avoid it.  Sadly, many cannot avoid it.

Today’s photo was of the most depressing place we visited in India.  It is called the Mudfort Slum and is found in Hyderabad.  While some of the slums that I showed earlier in my recollections of India were of places with cement floors and concrete walls, Mudfort was not nearly that nice.  I think you’ll get the idea when you see the picture.

The smell of Mudfort was not pleasant.  When you saw pools of liquid on the ground, or ditches with standing fluids in them, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was that I was seeing.  Bathrooms?  Didn’t see any…don’t know how that works in Mudfort.  I was afraid to ask.

Anyway, this is home to many Dalits from the city of Hyderabad.  The level of repression these people have endured for centuries is incomprehensible.  This sort of thing cannot be allowed to stand.  We must at least try to change life for the 250 million Dalits of India!

Mudfort Slum – a typical site in this Dalit slum in Hyderabad, India

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: a popular summer-time attraction was first seen on this day in 1946 when the bikini was worn in public by a model for the first time ever.  Guys have been watching ever since!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: by international standard, fog exists when visibility is reduced to 600 feet or less.  Visibility in mist may extend up to 3000 feet.

 

Public Restroom #1

We saw it often enough that it almost became a joke among the team that went to India together.  As we rode through the streets of the cities, invariably you would see the words, “No Toilet” and “No Bills” spray painted on the walls separating the streets/sidewalks from whatever was on the other side of the all.  The “No Bills” became fairly obvious: you weren’t supposed to stick posters or “bills” of any sort up on the walls.

Now in America, if you saw a sign in a store that said “No Toilet” or “No Restroom”, you’d know exactly what that meant: that there was no public bathroom available for the use of customers.  But that’s America…not India.

It didn’t take long at all for us to figure out what the sign “No Toilet” meant.  Every time we went out to go somewhere, you would see men relieving themselves against the walls or in a garbage dump or open field. What the signs were saying is, “Don’t go here!”  The signs were in English – maybe that’s why so many men seemed to ignore them!

One of the ladies on the trip was the first to really point this out this behavior to us…and it became a joke that she seemed to always be on the lookout for “violators”!  We teased her rather good-naturedly about that.  But here’s what was strange: I think there was only once or twice that we saw a sign for a public bathroom, and I began to wonder, where do all the women go when they need to use the bathroom?  Never did figure that one out…

So, a word to the wise should be sufficient if you plan to go to India: if you see a sign that says, “No Toilet”…it really means, “Don’t go here!  Find a piece of wall without that sign painted on it…and go there!”

When in India, read the signs…and TRY to obey them!!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1884, bull fighting was introduced in the United States at Dodge City, Kansas.  Thankfully, it never caught on here.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in hockey, the penalty box is sometimes referred to as the “sin bin.”

Indian Dance

I am NOT a dancer.  Just ask my wife.  She’ll be the first to tell you.  I can’t dance AT ALL.

I grew up in a very legalistic church, one where dancing was frowned upon.  I mean, dancing was the work of the devil if you believed what they told you, and at that time, I did.  It didn’t help that my dad was the minister, either.  Everyone knows that preacher’s kids are put under a microscope so I always had to be “good”.

So, maybe it is more accurate to say that I never learned to dance.  I suspect that I could dance if I ever got over being so self-conscious about it.  But I am convinced that I look like a total fool when I get out on a dance floor.  My wife hates that…she loves to dance, and she will practically beg me to dance with her when we go to a wedding or a high school reunion or such…but I just can’t get myself past that hurdle of being so self-conscious.

One of the things that I really enjoyed in India was the dancing.  The movement of the dancers was so elegant and precise…very exacting in the movement of their hands, feet, head, neck, faces, etc.  It was mesmerizing.  I could have watched it all day long.  That explains why I took so many pictures of the dancing when I was there.

This young girl was a student at one of the schools we visited in the Bangalore area.  She was really talented!  I believe I heard that she teaches dance lessons now to others.  I can believe it!  It was beautiful to watch.

A young Dalit girl performing a traditional dance in Bangalore, India

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1945, the first passenger car built since February 1942 rolled off the production line at the Ford Motor Company in Detroit.  Manufacturing of cars had ceased due to demands for wartime production of military vehicles.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: there are no rivers or lakes in Bermuda, so residents must use rainwater.