Posts Tagged ‘anniversary’

A Full Revolution (Around the Sun)

July 17th, 2010

This is a special day. Today marks the one-year anniversary of my website and blog!

One full revolution around the sun completed!

In that time, some 9,000 individual visitors have checked out my website and blog. :)

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support over this last year. I’ve learnt much in that time.

Today I want to share with you photographs by a master whose work I’ve recently gotten introduced to and fallen in love with. Those of Yousef Karsh (December 23, 1908 – July 13, 2002).

That shot of Churchill glowering at the camera? His. Taken just after Karsh had plucked Churchill’s ever-present cigar from his mouth.

Another of my favourites is his portrait of Pablo Casals.

You can check out Yousef Karsh’s official website here. :)

Thank you again for all your support. Stay safe. And check in often. There’ll be much more coming soon!

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The Gurupurb

December 22nd, 2009

I forget where we were headed to one day when we got stuck in traffic which was worse than normal (for Bangalore). Traffic was backed up a good few hundred meters and it didn’t seem like we were going to be headed anywhere in a hurry. The reason for the delay appeared to be some procession at the intersection in the distance. I grabbed my camera, climbed out of the car heedless of the driver’s protests, and made a dash for it.

Turns out there was a several-thousand-person strong Sikh procession in celebration of the anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. The actual date this year was to be the 2nd of November, 2009. But it is not uncommon for celebrations (or Gurupurbs) to be held in the two or three weeks prior to that date.

Standing there, alone, at an intersection and with the chaos of random traffic and stray motorbikes that miss you by mere inches, chanting people, suspicious policemen, whiffs of smoke fumes and the scent of food – it felt like my first real taste of India.

So far, everywhere I went, I had been for all intents and purposes led by the hand. We were spoilt by our hosts: everything had been provided for us – food, shelter, transportation and a pretty full program. Everything we experienced felt like, and for the most part was, part of an intricate, well-organised and well-executed Plan. There was very little room for error in this Plan.

This was not part of the Plan. This was unbridled. It wasn’t muffled behind glass windows, nor seen from the comfort of a hotel terrace, or car seat. I was no longer looking out at India. I was in the middle of the action. And this was pure chaos. It felt like anything could happen. It was a revelation.

As I watched, I chatted away with the family on the motorbike next to me, and tried to get some decent shots of the Gurupurb without getting run over by stray motorbikes or further arousing the suspicions of the 3 policemen who materialised beside me when they saw my camera.

I got treated to a mildly suspicious interrogation by the senior policeman. He seemed to be worried that I might be a journalist of some sort. I assured him I was in Bangalore for a wedding, and when I told him whose wedding it was, he appeared to relax a tad. Amazingly enough, everybody in Bangalore seemed to know this wedding was on. Unfortunately, he was only pacified for a few minutes and soon enough he was again interrogating me. That meant that I wasn’t as free with my movements as I’d otherwise have liked – and had to take the shots I could from where I stood. I felt I should stay put where I was and make small talk with him so as not to get myself carted off to the nearest police station.

I was eventually saved from his questions by two things. The first was that one of my friends joined me to take a look at the procession as well. The second was one of the Sikh revellers. I stopped to ask him some questions about the procession as he seemed to be an authority figure.

He was, like most Bangaloreans, exceedingly friendly, and adopted us immediately, telling us a little about Sikhism, about Guru Nanak and the Gurupurbs in general, about the prayers and the Panj Piare (or Five Beloved Ones). He even went off to collect reading material for us and some of the food that was being distributed.

Below you can see the long line of people making their way down the highway, with vehicles waiting patiently for them to clear. Interestingly, none of those waiting seemed upset, or annoyed at the delay. All waited patiently. Well, except for some people on motorbikes. At one point there seemed to be a small break in the procession, and suddenly tens of bikes were in the fray, zipping left and right in a mad dash for the other side.

The Procession (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/640sec)

Revelers (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/500sec)

This water truck came along at one point in the procession, pipes behind it spraying water on the street. It was followed by tens of barefoot people with makeshift brooms, who proceeded to sweep the street ahead of five sword-bearing figures in bright yellow robes – representing the original Panj Piare.

The Water Truck (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 38mm, f4.2, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

This man was one of those who came immediately after the truck. The poor guy had the unenviable task of trying to sweep while dodging bikers.

Dodging Motorbikes (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 105mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/1250sec)

The men were followed by the women, protected by men cordoning them off with bright yellow ropes.

The Sweeps (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 40mm, f4.2, ISO 200, 1/320sec)

Sweeping (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/100sec)

Oddly enough, I was unable to take a picture of all five sword-bearers. I have no idea why that is. Each picture I took had one of those on the fringes hidden from sight by a passerby. A little frustrating it was.

Framed Pani Piare (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 62mm, f4.8, ISO 200, 1/250sec)

Pani Piare Partial (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 56mm, f4.8, ISO 200, 1/250sec)

Food and blessings were distributed from garlanded trucks:

Food, Blessings and Garlands (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 65mm, f5, ISO 200, 1/400sec)

Even schools were participating:

The School Banner (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, f4.8, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

More pictures coming soon!

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The Emir's Palace

August 27th, 2009

The Palace FacadeOver my last trip to Beirut, I attended the 50th wedding anniversary of a very good friend of mine and my family in Chtaura in the Bekaa valley.

It was a fantastic event and a heart-warming reminder of the joy two people can find in, and keep bringing, each other over the course of a lifetime well-lived. Oddly enough, it’s something we as a culture seem to be steadily discarding by the wayside and replacing it with… something else entirely.

The Wedge

Now, getting to the Bekaa valley from Baabdat means taking any number of roads. One involves a very long and oft log-jammed road (via Zahle), and another one or two less well known and rather windy road (via Hammana). You can also find out more on Hammana here.

As you may have guessed, we took one of the windy roads via Hammana. We spent a pleasant hour and half passing through quaint little villages clinging desperately to the mountainside, peppered with hundred-plus-year-old homes built of traditional yellow stone. This was great for me as we travelled through areas of Lebanon that I hadn’t had the opportunity to explore before.

At one point on the way out to Chtaura we passed through Salima. It’s a small and very old village dominated by a large abandoned 16th or 17th Century castle. Salima was the seat of power of the Abillama Emirs (hence the castle). Salima is a fantastic little gem, and in a country peppered with beautiful little villages that’s saying something.

Stairs

Many of the houses and other buildings seem to date back to the 17th and 18th Centuries. A disproportionally large number appear to be abandoned today. The sheer number of missing roofs made for an odd sight. Find out more here and here.

Strangely enough, the village seemed to be largely empty. Perhaps this is fallout from the Lebanese Civil War, but I’m not so sure. The village does sit on the road linking some rather key, perhaps strategic, locations. A number of different factions may have driven through it on their way in or out. That said, it bears noting that the war ended in 1990.

I fell in love with the village, with its beautiful old church sitting by the town square, dwarfed by the ruined fortress which sprawls across from it. A quaint school sits by the road above the fortress. I was dying to explore it, to spend a day there and make photos to my heart’s content.

Tunnel Vision

Three problems: 1) I had an event to attend; 2) I was with my parents and couldn’t really abandon them to be bored to death while I ran around in search of a good angle or the light and generally getting lost in the belly of the palace or in the village; and 3) I didn’t have my tripod *sniff*.

So basically, all I got was five precious minutes to take a quick look around the palace on the way BACK from the event. In all fairness, that wasn’t so bad, as the light was a tad softer by the time we’d returned to Salima.

I’ll be making sure to go back there soon to explore it properly.

Bonus points if anyone can spot the glaring *gasp* error I made in one of the shots.

Welcome to the Other Side

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