Saffron

08/16/2011


Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
April 30, 2010

“As if enchanted, I felt as though a coiled spring was unwinding inside me, taking me to new heights or into an abyss…” -Ernesto Guevarra (Motorcycle Diaries)


Tamron 28-80mm lens – f/3.5 1/130s ISO-200
Agra, India
May 31, 2010



Sharing an archived photo of a free-roaming langur monkey in Amber Fort and the “reworld” sound of Telepath (Breakbeat/Dub/Electronica)
http://www.telepathmusic.com/
Tamron 28-80mm lens – f/6.3 1/125s ISO-200
Amber Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
May 1, 2010

Found Situation

04/30/2011


Tamron 28-80mm lens – f/5.6 1/100s ISO-200

A good portrait is one that says something about the person. We usually see parts of ourselves in others… so the good portrait should also say something about the human condition.
-Steve McCurry


Tamron 28-80mm lens – f/8 1/200s ISO-200
Delhi, India
April 28, 2010

April 27, 2010

04/27/2011

Exactly a year ago today, India changed me.

Strapped in a 16 kilogram backpack and a heightened common sense, a 12-hour flight and transit from Singapore to Chennai to Delhi, a prepaid cab ride, and an unforgettable rickshaw experience, I found myself in Pahar Ganj in its 47 degrees of ‘slumdog’ heat.

In this ultimate hippie trail stop, I checked-in Vivek Hotel after an hour of heated (both literally and figuratively) argument with the receptionist. The 600Rps room was a ticket bound for 6 feet under. It only had one switch for…everything. And yes, had to sleep with the lights on to keep the breezer (because to call it air-conditioning would be an overstatement) running.

Even with two months worth of travel research and preparation, fear still got in the way. Solo travel can indeed be a brutality if you find yourself with no one to face these fears with. (Cheesefest right there, bear with me.) Sitting on the edge of the bed, I remembered something I read from the NG Store in Vivo City:

“One never seduced by a foreign culture can ever appreciate the fetters of his own. Life, after all, is a journey – a voyage of discovery. Why not take the high road?” –Thomas Abercrombie of National Geographic

So…. take the high road, I did. (Plus the fact that that room was giving me claustrophobic attacks.) I went out to take in some fre… air – whatever particulate matters it may have had.

India, on a silver platter, serves a diverse experience of visual, auditory, and of course, olfactory sensations.

It was 7 in the evening and I resisted the temptation to purchase out of impulse and lust. I went to a photo studio instead so I could have my picture taken. It was a requirement for getting a new sim card.

If you would have wanted to contact me a year ago, my number was +919953966812.
I was waiting.

Moving on (a slap of subtext here)… I was wandering along the long stretch of Pahar Ganj, eating a part of what this silver platter had to offer.

Sporting an unintentional dishevelled hippie look, I stopped by at one of the shops when an Indian guy offered me a seat by the road. I don’t remember exactly how and why but I accepted. He started asking a lot of questions about my travels, about home and family. I would have been somewhat hesitant to reveal these things about myself (more so to a stranger) but then I saw and felt a spark of genuine interest. The conversation transpired from basic information to matters of love.

His name is Bhabha, 24 years young, ready to have his heart opened again.

He asked me if I’ve tried chai masala. I would’ve said yes if CBTL’s chai latte counts. And then he asked, “Would you like to have a cup of tea with me?” It was his Aladdin’s version of “Do you trust me?”

And so I gave him my hand and jumped (or just really got out of the seat, still in doubt and fear). It was already 10 in the evening and the chai shop was a few blocks from where we were.

Not to sound overly dramatic but I seriously wanted to turn back and run for my life. I was in a new place, I barely new this guy, and I didn’t even know how to say “Help” in Hindi if things went awry. Every survival instinct in me had been urging me not to take a step further until I heard Leonardo de Caprio’s voice narrating these lines from The Beach:

“So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience.”

It was dark and we had to pass through dingy alleys without the slightest idea where this stranger could take me. That’s me sucking in the experience… and it was worth it.

You see, it was only then it dawned on me that when Bhabha said he wanted to have tea with me, he meant it. He said he was glad that I accepted his नमस्ते Namaste (welcome). He welcomes foreigners without asking for anything in return. He only wants people to have a good and lasting impression about his home. That is why a person’s first day in India is the most crucial.

It has always been said that India is a country of contradictions and extremes. Yet it is in the contrast of things that India has found and changed me. It has sharpened my senses and my instincts. It has blessed me a lifetime of humility. And most importantly, it has stripped me bare from all my fears. If I say anything more only limits India. It is a place someone has to experience firsthand because India allows you to create your own interpretation of it. And it is at its best with another round of tea.

If I hadn’t taken the high road, I may have not fully tasted everything that this silver platter had to offer. And I am more than glad I did because I met Bhabha along the way. Although I know I will never see or hear from him again, I do believe that that our 3-hour friendship is the kind that is set in time forever. The kindness of this stranger welcomed me to what is now – and ‘til the cows come home, my India.

Chasing the Light

04/20/2011


Canon 50mm lens – f/7.1 1/800s ISO-200
Daanbantayan, Cebu, Philippines
April 3, 2010


Photos of राजस्थानी समाज / Rajasthanis taken during a sublime walk inside Jaisalmer Fort
Canon 50mm lens – f/4.5 1/250s ISO-200


Canon 50mm lens – f/4.5 1/250s ISO-200
Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
April 30, 2010


Canon 50mm lens – f/7.1 1/640s ISO-1600
South Indian Tamil Hindu Temple
South Bridge Road, Singapore
April 25, 2010

Ache For Distance

03/10/2011

‎”Paradise was always over there, a day’s sail away. But it’s a funny thing, escapism. You can go far and wide and you can keep moving on and on through places and years, but you never escape your own life. I, finally, knew where my life belonged. Home.”
— J. Maarten Troost (Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu)

Music: Lonely Planet – Rain Dreaming

Canon HF100
Sony DSC-L1
Canon Digital Ixus 900Ti

Tây Ninh Holy See

02/28/2011

Caodaism is a unique and syncretistic religion. Established by the people of South Vietnam, this religious movement manifests a nationalist political character.


noontime prayer service at Cao Đài Temple

Cao Dai draws upon ethical precepts from Confucianism, occult practices from Taoism, theories of karma and rebirth from Buddhism, and a hierarchical organization (including a pope) from Roman Catholicism. Its pantheon of saints includes such diverse figures as the Jesus Christ, Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, Pericles, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, and Sun Yat-sen.”

Canon 50mm lens – f/2.8 1/125s ISO-200
Tây Ninh, Vietnam
February 26, 2011