A night in Khao San

In September 2014, I travelled to Bangkok for a few days. During my stay, I managed a visit to Khao San Road with a couple of mates. According to Wikipedia, Khao San translates to ‘milled rice’, a reminder that it was once a rice market. It has come a long way since then. Now it’s a backpacker haven with cheap accommodation, great street food, restaurants, pubs, discos, hawkers selling clothes, books, and DVDs just to name a few. Ping Pong shows, laughing gas, and vodka buckets are some of the other things on offer. It has a vibrant night life with tourists flocking from far and wide to party the night away. I don’t think one night is even remotely enough to photograph this spectacle. I managed a few images that hopefully gives readers an idea of what Khao San is like when the sun goes down.

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Hampi – Poetry in Stone

To me, Hampi (or Hampe as we call it in Kannada) is ‘Poetry in Stone’. It is one of my favourite places on earth. Hampi is truly awe-inspiring. The magnificent boulders that glisten in the late afternoon sun, the mighty Tungabhadra river on whose southern banks this city was built, the architectural wonders that are the temples, monolithic statues, and ancient markets, the palm trees and green fields that contrast with the rocky terrain – all make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Hampi.

Hampi is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, which flourished between the 14th and 16th centuries but the city in itself is quite ancient. Present day Hampi is located in the Indian state of Karnataka (http://www.karnatakatourism.org). It is around 350kms from the state capital of Bengaluru. You can either drive to Hampi from Bengaluru or take the train to Hospet junction (13km from Hampi). We stayed at the Mowgli Guest House (http://mowglihampi.com). We had a wonderful view of the sunset from my cottage. The cottage was reasonably good although the light in the room that I stayed at wasn’t very bright. There are a number of restaurants dotting the lane leading to the guest house serving all kinds of cuisine. Hampi is quite popular with tourists these days and this is reflected in the cuisine on offer. What pained me was a lack of local cuisine in Hampi. There was only one restaurant serving anywhere close to a semblance of local food. If there were others, my brother and I failed to find them.

The best way to get around is to either rent a two-wheeler or hire an auto-rickshaw for the day. If you are good at haggling, you can find a good bargain. We hired an auto-rickshaw. I spent 2 days in Hampi and managed to visit some of my childhood favourites. The monolithic statue of Lakshminarasimha, the Krishna market, the Virupaksha Temple, the Vijaya Vitthala Complex, the Stone Chariot, Purandara Mantapa, Pushkarni (step-well), Mahanavami Dibba, and Hemakuta Hill are among the many attractions. Lest I forget the two Ganesha statues – KadalekaLu Ganesha and SasivekaLu Ganesha. I highly recommend a walk to the top of Hemakuta Hill to witness the sunrise/sunset. It is absolutely stunning. The other  sunrise/sunset spot worth hiking to is Matanga Hill. The vistas that greet you during sunrise or sunset are something you’ll remember for a long time. They are also a good way of getting away from the crowds. It also gives one a sense of how magnificent Hampi still is and you can only imagine what it might have been like in its heyday.

But life still goes on in Hampi. People still carry out rituals and ceremonies on the banks of the Tungabhadra. Shepherds graze their sheep and goats in the ancient markets. Boats ferry people across the river and I saw a barber plying his trade in what is possibly one of the most scenic barbershops in the world. If you are thinking of going to India, then put Hampi on your itinerary. You won’t regret it. Here’s a selection of images from my visit – not of the stunning architecture but of the people of Hampi.

Hampi_6

Hampi 5

 

Hampi

Hampi 3

Hampi_2

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Christchurch Street Art

Oi You! is a Street Art movement and RISE is their first foray into Christchurch. The idea is to transform blank city walls into works of art. In doing so, the organisers hope to bring some colour and life to a re-emerging city. I must say, I was really pleased to see the art work on city walls. It gives the Christchurch city centre a bit of a facelift. All those empty spaces and blank walls now have gorgeous street art gracing them. If you are in Christchurch or visiting, make it a point to travel around and look for these. There is an App which can guide you to all these places – both on Android and iOS.

Canterbury Museum also has a big Street Art section as part of RISE. It includes works by renowned artists like Banksy – his famous ‘Man Throwing Flowers’ is also on display. A must-visit exhibition.Here’s a collection of a few of the street art around Christchurch. Check out the festival website here – http://streetart.co.nz.

Lichfield StreetMadras StreetLichfield StreetLichfield StreetCashel StreetCashel StreetColombo StreetColombo StreetTuam StreetManchester StreetCanterbury Museum

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TSS Earnslaw – Queenstown, New Zealand

According to Real Journeys, the company that runs the lake cruises, Queen Elizabeth and Bill Clinton are among the famous people who have experienced the old-world charm of TSS Earnslaw. Sadly, when I was down in Queenstown with my wife recently, we couldn’t join that elite list. However, we did fall in love with the Earnslaw.

TSS Earnslaw

She made for a wonderful sight steaming in at sunset.  Can you believe TSS Earnslaw turned 100 on 18 October 2012? And she has aged beautifully. Apparently, she is the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying, coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere (Wikipedia).

TSS Earnslaw

Here’s a bit about her history from the official website (www.tssearnslaw.co.nz)

“Launched by New Zealand Rail in 1912, the TSS Earnslaw is the last surviving and grandest steamship to have ever graced Lake Wakatipu. Named after Mount Earnslaw (the highest peak in the region), she is 168 feet in length, 24 feet across the beam and weighs 330 tonnes.”

TSS Earnslaw

If you are ever in Queenstown, do not miss out on taking a cruise aboard the TSS Earnslaw. I am sure it’ll be a wonderful experience. The next time we are in Queenstown, I will definitely be queing up to get on board this timeless steamer.

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New Year, New Images

It’s been an eventful year with lots of travelling and photographing – not to mention my wedding. I have updated the existing galleries and added a couple of new ones. You will find a number of new images as well. As 2013 draws to a close, here’s hoping 2014 is just as fun.

I managed to photograph my own wedding even though we had official wedding photographers. I just felt the need to photograph our wedding from my perspective. I must admit it was a lot of fun. I leave you with one such image of my lovely bride.

Wish you all a great festive season and a wonderful New Year 2014. As always, I welcome any feedback or comments on what you come across on this website.

The Bride

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Holiday Season

Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful Holiday Season. I made this image at Orewa in Auckland, New Zealand. The Pohutukawa tree is often referred to as New Zealand’s Christmas tree.

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To document or to assist

Recently, a man was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York. This incident was captured on camera by Mr Umar Abbasi, photographer for NY Post. This sparked an old debate about whether Mr Abbasi did the right thing by photographing the incident and not stepping forward to help the fallen man. NY Post was also criticized for publishing the photograph.

So when does a photographer stop documenting an event and start assisting/getting involved in what’s unfolding in front of him/her?

BBC ran this article yesterday – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20616635. Legendary photographers like Steve McCurry and Stuart Franklin (of the ‘man infront of tank at Tinanmen Square’ fame) weighed in on the debate.

A friend on Facebook, Camus Wyatt (www.camuswyatt.com), alerted me to a photograph of Don McCullin  (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=132659920115516&set=a.127596477288527.15712.109238772457631&type=3&theater) taking an elderly woman to safety during conflict in Cyprus, 1964.

I suppose we (photographers or not) have a moral duty to help those around us in times of need. But things like the subway incident above happen so quickly that its unfair to criticize the photographer without understanding whether he was in a position to actually help the man lying on the tracks. Like Stuart Franklin said, “the ethical responsibility for running the picture lies not with the photographer, but with the New York Post’s editors.”

The image on the left by Kevin Carter caused a similar uproar about a photographer’s ethical responsibilities.

The Guardian UK ran this article after an incident in India earlier this year where two journalists were under fire for recording and not intervening in a sex attack – http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jul/28/gutted-photographers-who-didnt-help. A quick read of the comments about the article is enough to realise that this is quite an emotional subject for a lot of people and one that’s not going to be resolved anytime soon.

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Evolution of me…

Why do I photograph? I have asked myself this question many a times. May be it’s the need to hold on to my memories in some shape or form. And someday when my memory fails me, I can look at my images and reminisce. To quote Henri Cartier-Bresson, “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”

I started paying serious attention to what I was photographing sometime in 2009. It took me a year to figure out what I wanted to photograph or rather how I wanted to photograph. I was told that you don’t take photos, you make them. I tend to agree with that.

My influences are many and I probably need a few pages to list the names of all photographers past and present whom I follow and am deeply influenced by. I suppose my father was my primary inspiration. I still remember an image that my father made that got me curious about photography. I will put it up on this blog soon as I can get a digital copy (the original must be at least 20yrs old).

But suffice to say, street and documentary photography including reportage holds a special place in my heart. I guess I am more comfortable making black and white images but I am learning to use colour too and often.

I welcome any feedback or comments about the images you view on this site. Thanks for stopping by.

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