Passage to India – Colors Part One

Since there are  so many books on India that relate to cultural differences, I’ll not go into much of that here. I’d like to comment however on the things that strike me personally as unusual or significantly different.

One surely notices the vibrant colors, everywhere. Here are a few examples shot in Mumbai, Fort Cochi and in Jew Town (yes, really, it’s on the map).

Women on Platform

Women on Platform

These women are also showing the various clothing styles from skinny jeans to saree.

Poster Saree

Posters Everywhere

The high end shops always advertise the saree in their posters.

Seat Cover

Seat Cover

Street in Jew Town

Street in Jew Town

Pink Saree

Pink Saree

I’ll have more of this later on.

The internet here in Pondicherry has been intermittent so my postings have been few. Things will be worse for a couple of days until I get back to Chennai (Madras) later in the week.

Safe travels everyone,

Grover

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Passage to India – Tuk Tuk Heaven

There are many small delights for me in this great country and one of them is riding in a ubiquitous tuk-tuk. Small and breezy, their easy availability and low cost means that a short ride is a pleasant if rather noisy experience.

Tuk Tuk Ride

Tuk Tuk Ride

I went for a morning walk in the Juhu Beach district, which is where my hotel is located, and after about two kilometers in the heat decided I’d had enough exercise and hailed a tuk-tuk for a ride to the Santa Cruz railway station a few more kilometers away. The cost for the ride was only about thirty cents. The taxi ride back by comparison was a beastly dollar. Although where in the U.S. could you ride for a few miles in a taxi for that price?

The tuk-tuk is a small two or perhaps three passenger, three-wheel contrivance power by a small two-stroke engine and driven up in front with motorcycle handlebars. In Mumbai all taxis and tuk-tuks are powered by CNG so the pollution is nearly nonexistent.

http://youtu.be/LAG7T_Wd0s0

That is not to say that there is no pollution since the main item of safety in Mumbai and elsewhere is the horn. And the horns do blow constantly; sometime I think it is a recreational activity. The brakes are another safety item in this madness of traffic where marked lanes means nothing at all. Cars, tuk-tuk, bicycles, motorcycles fit in wherever they can. “Tailgating” is a word unknown here. There was a sign on the causeway that said, “Lane Driving = Safe Driving”.

Overall, once the fear of immediate death has passed, riding in these remarkable machines is a pleasure.  I learned on the Great Interweb that someone is actually importing them to the U.S.A. which means that they will now have to comply with our safety regulations. It would certainly be fun to own one.

Safe travels everyone.

Grover

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Passage to India – The Joys of Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic

In the world of Virgin Atlantic what most would label “First Class” is called in a particularly British way “Upper Class”. The question under discussion here is whether or not it is worth it for long-haul travel.

After a crowded and cramped coach flight from Sacramento, California to Chicago, Illinois, followed by a rat-maze through O’Hare, I was ready to relax. Enter the lounge experience. Although Virgin does not have a lounge of its own at O’Hare, one is kept happy at the Air France lounge. Complimentary food and beverages as well as comfortable chairs are enjoyable, away from the noisy concourse.

On boarding the plane, I found I was the first of the first-class and after finding my seat/bed I went forward and was invited into the cockpit. That just doesn’t happen everyday. A good start, I thought to myself.

Cockpit of A300

Cockpit of A300

The seats on Virgin and some other airlines convert into almost real beds. I don’t mean just recline; they fold over and become a flat bed with pillow and duvet. I slept for several hours of the eight hour trip. Traveler’s note : one thing I will do next time is use the provided earplugs, since even up front the noise of the plane can be disturbing.

Bedtime

Bedtime

The lounge at O’Hare cannot compare to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow. It is simply beyond words. I enclose here some shots of the facility from the V.A. website. For one thing, and I believe that it may be unique to Virgin, is that one is made to feel welcome by a really polite and informed staff. There is a full bar and food service. And showers! Yes, even showers if you need to freshen up. Massages are also available. Whew! Check the link above.Clubhouse

The flight to Mumbai from London was also excellent but I found that I was asleep from the moment we were airborne until somewhere north of Baghdad. It was interesting to note that due to the current regional conflict, the route diverges northward into Turkey for more than it normally would so that at no point are you flying over Syria or Iraq.

I arrived at Mumbai’s new international terminal, completed only a few months ago, just after midnight on the third day of travel, but that is a tale for another time.

Mumbai International

Mumbai International

To answer the question, “is it worth it?” Heck yes, and I would go as far as to say if you can wangle any flight that will let you visit the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow, then that alone is worth it. My overall experience with Virgin Air so far is Two Thumbs Up.

I purchased discount tickets online so it wasn’t nearly as expensive as it might have been. But beware and check the reviews for some of these discount vendors though. In the end it cost me only about twice of a full fare coach ticket. There is also a Virgin Atlantic category called Economy Plus which should be fine a a short trip that is not overnight. Not just extra legroom but real, wide, reclining seats that are comfortable.

Save travels everyone – the Indian journey continues.

Grover

Cockpit of A300

Posted in Airline, India, Mumbai, Virgin Atlantic | 1 Comment

Passage To India – Packing less and enjoying more

Two weeks from today I take off to India for a two-month vacation. I was there seven years ago on a rushed, guided tour. Now I’m going to take my time and travel solo.

I am trying to do this with just one carryon based on the principles One Bag Travel so that nothing gets lost, my stuff is never out of my sight, and it’s far easier to move around. I urge you so take a look at the site underlined above and think about what you really need. One traveler noted that if you can pack for a week, you can pack for a month. I’ll purchase clothes and whatever else I might need in India.

One big effort has been to avoid taking a lot of electronics. I have whittled down that stuff to what you see here:

Less Stuff

Less Stuff

Here is what is going:

It made sense to leave all the lenses and camera bodies at home.  Actually I sold all my big Nikon cameras and gave some others to the local college, since I have been following the trend to small, mirrorless cameras, although I already have some micro four-thirds gear and love it. The images from the little Nikon point and shoot have proven to be amazing.

I’ll be updating the blog as I go along. I also hope to meet a few of the Indian photographers/bloggers I have communicated with.

More later,

Grover

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Travels With Beasley on the Lincoln Highway

Those who have followed my trips on the Lincoln Highway will know that my traveling companion Mr. Beasley is always along.

Last night I had a delightful time as the guest speaker at the Sierra Writers group in Nevada City and Mr. Beasley was mentioned, more than once.

Beasley in Ely

Beasley in Ely with Guidebook

Mr. Beasley is now about thirteen years old.

I found a photo of him as a youngster which I thought you might enjoy.

Beasley Pup

Beasley Pup

How they do grow up!

Safe travels, with or without your dog.

Grover

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In the Sierra Foothills – Malakoff Diggins State Park

At one time in danger of closing due to budget shenanigans at the state level, Malakoff Diggins State Park remains open although still drastically underfunded.

The view of the remains of hydraulic mining are easily viewed from the main (dirt) road into the park. It is a photographer’s delight and although not that easy to get to, it is well worth your time to visit. The park is twenty-six miles north of Nevada City, California.

Malakoff Diggins

Malakoff Diggins

“Diggins” was the term used to describe mining operations in the early days of the Gold Rush era.

Safe travels everyone,

Grover

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A New Mexico Excursion – Santurario de Chimayo

Santuario-ed1

Santurario Entrance

The Santurario de Chimayo is in northern New Mexico and is visited by thirty thousand people during Holy Week each year. Sometimes called the “Lourdes of America”, the church is on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a National Historic Landmark. The present church was completed in 1620. Claims of miraculous cures are the reason for the pilgrimages but it is the adobe that calls the photographer.

Santurario de Chimayo

Santurario de Chimayo – rear corner

The day I was there motorcycles were being blessed and I captured the front of the church in this Harley’s headlight.

Harley Church

Harley Church

If you choose to visit, you can join in the hustle and bustle of Holy Week or try for a quieter time. There will always be a few visitors, although when we were there is was nearly deserted.

Safe travels to you all,

Grover

 

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A New Mexico Excursion – Organic Forms

If you never get out of Santa Fe, as a photographer, you will still find plenty to delight the eye. Here are a couple more, rather ordinary, but nonetheless interesting shots from my workshop some years ago.

The first is a late afternoon photo of the rear of some government buildings right downtown. The camera was a Mamiya 645 and the film was Ilford HP5.

Museum P

Again in Santa Fe proper on a Nikon N90 with Ilford HP-5:

Wall-pot-PBlack and white is an ideal medium for the monochromatic earth tones in New Mexico.

Until next time, safe traveling,

Grover

 

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A New Mexico Excursion – Santa Fe

What strikes the visitor to Santa Fe is the organic nature of the architecture: massive adobe walls on all fronts, delicate archways, ancient churches.

San Miguel Mission Church is the oldest church in the U.S. (yes, look it up) and whilst not a huge building, has its own charm, in part because it has survived so long.

As a photographer I was drawn to the sunlight and shadow on the north wall at late morning. The texture of the adobe fascinates me. Just like the church in Rancho Taos, the flecks you may see in the walls are not spots on the negative but pieces of straw poking out through the adobe.

San Miguel Mission Church

San Miguel Mission Church

More Santa Fe coming up.

Grover

Tech notes: Ilford HP5, Nikon N90, 24mm. Exposure not noted.

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A New Mexico Excursion

 

San Francisco de Asis

San Francisco de Asis

Rancho de Taos, not Taos itself but a little south, centers around the famous San Francisco de Asis church which has been photographed by everyone in the world who has passed by. It was painted by Georgia O’Keefe and photographed by Ansel Adams and I was  privileged to see their juxtaposed images at a show in the art museum in Santa Fe.

The light in the late afternoon and into evening is wonderful for photographers but frankly, even at high noon, there are views to admire.

San Francisco de Asis Contrails

San Francisco de Asis Contrails

San Francisco de Asis at Night

San Francisco de Asis at Night

Built between 1772 and 1816 the church is on the National Register of Historic Places and is well worth a visit. It is constructed of adobe and is re-plastered every year by volunteers and parishioners.

More from New Mexico is coming up soon.

Safe travels to you all,

Grover

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