Thursday, June 30, 2011

Windmills

The modern:
Although the modern windmills are useful for producing clean electricity, they could never be said to be beautiful. The view from the top of this one, however, is quite nice. Located in Tvind, near Ulfborg in Denmark, this was once the tallest electricity-producing windmill in the world, at 54 metres.


The old:
The old grain-grinding windmills are fast disappearing, so it was a pleasant surprise to come upon one while driving along a section of the Marguerite Route in Denmark. I remember it as being located somewhere in Fyn, but I can't find any confirmation of it.



Both are located in Denmark. Scans from film.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Amphitheatre at Epidavros

The amphitheatre at Epidavros, Greece. This is a composite of three photos. I first tried stitching them automatically together in Photostitch, but the structure came out banana-shaped, so I ended up doing it manually in Photoshop. As you can see, there is a "scar" from the stitching in one place, but otherwise it turned out pretty good, considering.


From my collection of photos taken on film. Taken on a school trip in 1989.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Baby giraffe meditating

I have always found giraffes fascinating. Like other ruminants, they seem to get a very philosophical look on their faces when chewing the cud. This baby looked very thoughtful and just a bit aloof:



This is from my collection of photos taken on film. It was taken in 1984 or 85, at Longleat Safari Park in England.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back to posting random photos, and see my latest toy

The India photo tour is now over, so back I go to posting photos from Iceland and other places more or less randomly. I have been going through the photos I have uploaded to Photobucket over the years and checking the list against my blogs, and I have found a number of orphaned photos that I have never posted anywhere. Here‘s one:
Female mallards fuzzing around a domestic duck like servants around a princess.

By the way, meet my new camera:

Ever since my small digital camera started burning through batteries like there was a prize involved for most energy consumed, I had been thinking of taking the plunge and buying a DSLR. The cost of home ownership keeps decimating my savings fund (5 expensive repairs in the last 7 years, and one more coming up), so I was planning to buy one of the cheaper DSLR models.

For my last two birthdays and one Christmas I have asked my relatives to give me money which went straight into a camera fund. I figured I wold buy a nice basic amateur level DSLR, but then my grandmother died and my mother generously shared part of her inheritance with me and my brother, earmarking the money for my camera fund.

The week after my last birthday I took a look at the fund and at my savings, and realised I had enough to buy a semi-professional camera and a kit lens and still have money left over to pay for the upcoming house repairs. A thorough web search of camera review sites narrowed it down to three cameras: the Nikon D7000, the Canon EOS 60D and the Canon 7D. I am not going into why I chose the Nikon, but will let it suffice to say I am happy with it and still learning how to use it. The manual is over 300 pages long, and I am on page 119.

This makes my camera family officially a collection. I now have one DSLR, three SLRs (one completely manual, one manual with an autowinder, and one autofocus) and a collection of lenses, two smaller digital cameras and at least three fixed-focus cameras (including a Kodak Brownie I have never used).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Goodbye, India

I'm ending this photo-tour of India with a final Ganesha photo. The next time I post it will be a return to my regular exploration of the photogenic aspects of Iceland and etc.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mysore: Mobile temple

This little temple or shrine on wheels was situated in the middle of the pavement of a busy shopping street near the market:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mysore: Sleeping in the street

You see scenes like this everywhere in India. This man was unusually well-dressed for someone sleeping in the street.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mysore market: Perfume bottles

Mysore is famous for its perfumes and incense, and it is difficult to avoid being accosted by incense and perfume sellers in the market and in the streets. They are, however, not as persistent as their brethren in north India.

The perfume stalls look lovely:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mysore market: Fruit and vegetable stalls

One of the things I love about shopping in markets like these is the personal service. I bought some fruit at one of the stalls, and the seller asked me when I was going to eat the fruit and selected them for me based on that information.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mysore market: Flowers

The enclosed market in Mysore is an experience. If you can avoid being ambushed by the perfume vendors and incense sellers who trawl for tourists near the main entrance, it can be an enchanting place to visit. Here are garlands of jasmine, presumably meant for a puja.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mysore: Temple near the Maharajah's Palace

Photography is forbidden inside the palace and all cameras must be checked before going in, but by the simple expedient of doing my tour of the palace and then reclaiming the camera I was able to snap some photos inside the gardens, including this one of a small temple, the Sri Shvetha Varahaswamy Temple:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy 17th of June!

Today I interrupt the India photo tour to wish all my viewers and all Icelanders everywhere a happy 17th of June. On this day in 1944, Iceland severed its ties with Denmark and became a republic.

The Icelandic flag flying over Lögberg, Þingvellir

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mysore: Seller of sacrificial gifts

Another stop on the tour was the Chamundeshwari Temple. Click on the link to see a photo of the temple, because the ones I took were crappy.

Here instead is a photo of a woman who was selling coconuts for the devout to take into the temple as offerings for the goddess.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mysore: Kids on a school trip

Across the street from the palace I noticed these kids, all dressed in school uniforms. They were probably on a school trip. I saw a lot of kids on school trips everywhere I visited some important place from Indian history, and while they are delightful in small doses, I would pray and hope there wasn't a school group where I was going on any given day, because the classes seem to be huge and they were often more interested in having their picture taken with a foreigner than looking at the exhibits. They were always polite about it, but after a while I began to grow tired of hearing the same questions over and over again. I estimate I ended up in at least two dozen digital photo albums before I developed a strategy to avoid school groups.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mysore: Outside the Maharajah's Palace

The tour was not an all-inclusive one. We paid all entrance fees separately and since I knew we had limited time inside the Maharajah's Palace I decided to pay that visit another day when I had all the time I needed for a relaxed exploration. Meanwhile, I had an hour to kill. I roamed around the small market outside the palace, which fortunately didn't just stock souvenirs, but also food:


Not that I bought any of those tempting papayas - I didn't want to risk another stomach upset so I had a soft drink and some biscuits instead.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mysore: Chamundi Hills

On the way back from the temple we stopped at a small Shiva temple located lower down on the hill. The attraction there was easy to see: this huge Nandi, which I read somewhere is one of the biggest in India. It dates back to the 17th century, is carved out of a single block of granite and is venerated as a deity in its own right:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mysore: The Zoo

I decided to become a bona fide tour-bus tourist (as opposed to an independent tourist, sorry: traveller) for a day and took a guided day tour of the city. Some of the stops I would have bypassed had I been travelling on my own, such as the zoo and the Brindaban Gardens, while others I wouldn't have wanted to miss. Taken altogether, it would have taken me a couple of days at double the cost to explore all of them independently, so it would have been silly not to take the tour.

The first stop (as I remember) was the local zoo. It is large and clean and located in a lovely park, but it was downright disgusting to see how the local visitors acted around the animals: grown people shouting and banging on the glass or rattling the cage bars, even throwing twigs at the animals to get them to react. Whereas such behaviour is the exception rather than the rule in those zoos I have visited in Europe and the USA, it seemed to be the other way around here. I felt in full sympathy with the chimpanzee who adamantly turned his back on the viewers and refused to look at them. I did see groups of well-behaved school kids who were just looking at the animals and not behaving like idiots, and I hope they retain this respectful attitude towards the animals when they grow up. Rant over.

India is the last place I would have expected to come face to face with an African elephant, but there he was:


The bull elephant was receiving what sounded like a scolding from the keeper when I approached, but the man stopped shouting when he saw me and with an order made the elephant pose for a picture.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mysore: New Statue Circle

On Sunday nights the palace is illuminated like a Christmas tree - according to my guidebook with some 5000 light bulbs.It's a sight to see, and this was the only time during my trip that I missed not having brought my camera tripod with me so I could do a longer exposure and completely blur out the traffic in this photo. Taken just outside my hotel.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Mysore: A place to stay

My friends dropped me off at New Statue Circle, a large roundabout located at the northern end of the park that encloses the Maharaja's Palace. I still had a weak stomach and wobbly legs after my bout of gastroenteritis and decided I wanted creature comforts wherever I stayed, especially air-conditioning and the possibility of room service. Fortunately there was a hotel nearby that fulfilled both of these needs and also those of a clean, quiet room, soft mattresses and a private bathroom. Plus the location couldn't have been any better: a taxi stop outside, the market within walking distance and the palace just across the square. The only drawback was that it had that dreadful neither-here-nor-there air of business hotels the world over, and could in fact easily have been located either in London or New York, Indian staff and all, except I can't see myself bargaining for the price of a room in such a place in London.

I made a friend of the doorman the very next morning when I asked him where I could get an Indian breakfast, and he guided me to an excellent no-frills eatery just down the street, where I had my first taste of idlis, delicious south-Indian savoury cakes, served with coconut chutney and a spicy dipping sauce.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Mysore: Chamunda

My friends dropped me off in Mysore on their way home to Bangalore. This was to be my last stop before going back home.

The eight-armed lady below is a representation of Durga, in the incarnation of Chamunda (also known as Chamundi or Chamundeshwari), who slew the demon Mahishasura who had taken on the form of a buffalo. The slaying is supposed to have taken place in the Chamundi Hills that overlook Mysore, and she is revered by the people of Mysore and worshipped at the Chamundeshwari temple in the hills.



I photographed the statue in the Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Puja

On the way to Mysore we stopped at a roadside café that had clearly opened that very same day. This offering had been made to the gods to ensure good luck with the business. 

The owners had clearly decided to cash in on the popularity of the Café Coffee Day chain and had closely modelled the appearance of the place on the Coffee Day cafés, only missing one very important point: staff training. The staff of all the Coffee Day cafés I entered during this visit were always efficient and courteous, whereas at this imitation place the service was late and they didn't know how to operate the cash register. The coffee, however, was okay.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Bylakuppe: The Golden Temple

From Dubare we drove back in the direction of Bangalore, stopping for lunch at the Tibetan settlement in Bylakuppe. We enjoyed a lovely meal of momos before going to the Namdroling monastery, which is a religious centre of Tibetan Nyingma Buddhism. The temple is fairly new, built in 1999, and very gaudy in appearance.

Going inside, I did not get any sense of holiness like I have gotten inside various older religious buildings in different corners of the world, the overwhelming feeling being one of awe over all the bright kitschiness and gilt. I am certain that as it acquires a patina of age and wear, it will start to look more dignified and feel more holy, but right now it just looks pretentious and feels superficial. I am sorry if this opinion offends anyone, but rest assured: it is not meant as a slight to Buddhism but is merely an observation by an outsider. I have gotten the exact same feeling when visiting other new religious buildings, including mosques, churches and Hindu temples. It think it has something to do with an accumulation of faith, if that makes sense to anyone.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Coorg: Dubare Elephant Camp VIII

Finally the mahouts decided the elephants has been scrubbed enough. A single command was enough to make this elephant lift its leg to aid the mahout in getting on its back.



I didn't see any of the mahouts beating the elephants like I saw when I went on an elephant safari in Kanha National Park in the 1990s, but I don't know what happens on the safaris in Dubare. I hope that violence is not used. These lovely animals deserve better.

Most of all I would like to see all Indian elephants being allowed their freedom, but human habitation encroaches more and more on their habitat as the Homo sapiens population grows and conflicts between humans and elephants are becoming more common. It may well be that in a not too distant future, places like Dubare will have become the last refuge of elephants in India, although I should like to hope that they have a brighter future ahead than that.