Friday photo: Golden

The last few weeks have been one long crazy travel spell – but I am not complaining, since winter is the best time to take off from Delhi to these nearby weekend destinations.

The last weekend was a quick trip to one of my favourite places, Amritsar. It turned out to be more of a food journey than anything else (post coming up soon). But we also spent a lot of time at the Harmandir Sahib, just watching people and being moved by the strength of their faith.

This week, an image from the temple at night…

Amritsar

***
Also see: Friday photo series

All that flutters: at Wagah Border

This is the second part to All that glitters: Amritsar photoessay

A photoessay on the Wagah Border circus – or ceremony, if you will.

Flag-sellers at the main gate, 7 and 8 year olds talking of comptisun between India and Pakistan… The feeling is like that of being in a mela in any town in India, stalls selling snacks and cold drinks, DVDs of the ceremony, whistles and drums, plastic knick-knacks…

01flag

Squeezing myself into a tiny (non-existent) gap in the “ladies gallery” while the husband remains standing at the back till the end… Thousands visit Wagah border everyday, and on weekends and holidays, the crowd is unmanageable…

02women

Kid playing with her tricolor flag, and proud mothers in the background…

03kid

The show at Wagah – hysterical emcee and Bhangra dancing included… nothing like the sober, dignified ceremony I had imagined…

04run

05dance

The parade finally begins – and what an anti-climax it is, after all the fun and games…

06mike

07army

The gate closes for the night… this side India, the other Pakistan – and what is the difference?

08end

09india

A thousand hands break into applause at the end of the ceremony – for the viewers, a sense of exhilaration at having watched something spectacular (if bewildering, for the likes of me) and for the soldiers at the border, it is all in a day’s work.

10hands

All that glitters : Amritsar photoessay

A few memories from a visit to Amritsar almost a year ago. I usually like to write a lot even in photoessays in this blog, but this time I am going to cheat and just put in images (blame it on bad health)…

The temple at Amritsar must be the most peaceful place of worship I have ever been to, and certainly the cleanest. We visited twice during the day and again at night, especially to catch the reflected glow of the temple in the pool…

So, here goes – all that glitters…

At first sight, the temple is everything you imagined it to be – impressive, peaceful and bustling with life at the same time…

Gold framed

People were friendly and everyone we made eye contact with, smiled at us, and my bulky camera evoked a lot of interest.

He first glared at me, and then posed with a smile for my camera…

Standing guard

The temple at night

Aglow

This is one of my all-time favorite images – it was not unusual to see people sitting by the pool, by the walls, either meditating or in silent prayer – somehow adding to the atmosphere of quiet and calm.

Devotion

Peace

And in the market outside, this, and many interesting sights…

Off with his foot!

Off with his foot!

***
To follow soon : All that flutters : Wagah Border photoessay – watch this space!

From Jalandhar

Jalandhar is a small town in many ways – nice friendly people who want to know everyting about you and invite you home for garam khaana (hot food) right after the first meeting…

And small enough for people to commute by cycle rickshaw… Five rupees can take you a long way in this city. And people bargaining with the rickshaw puller – paanch rupaiye kyon? paas hi to jaana hai – teen rupaiye le lo (why five rupees for such a short distance – take three rupees)

I guiltily think about how little five rupees means to me. I wave away the rickshaws who stop near me and start walking…

What is worse – to ride on one of them, with another human being pulling you? or walking away and depriving him of this opportunity to earn his living? I never know…

****
Another thing is the number of travel agents and ads for airlines – in the half kilometere stretch that I walked between my hotel to my work place, I counted nine travel agents, one one side of the road, that is… Japan Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Slovakia Airlines, Gulf Air. You name it.

Ad most of these travel agents offer an additional service too – filling up of visa forms. One of them says that they make a lot of money this way, apart from the regular service of procuring the visa for their customers…

And many old people who say that families spend between a lakh to three lakhs on this business of sending a young relative abroad year after year. Families which cannot afford it but manage it somehow…

Each family has one or two young people abroad – among whom many of them have disappeared – there is no news of or from them… for many years now.

Yet people want to go… and keep going. And many never come back…