Sun Jan 20th, 2008 at 11:45:53 AM EST
This is I hope the first part of photodiary covering my current journey over Indian subcontinent. Any travels are tiresome, especially if it's a kind of business trip so we had to admire much-maligned journalists of MSM who used to produce and transmit results of their travels immediately.
Promoted by Colman for a wintery afternoon in the western islands. More news and pictures from our Indian correspondent!
I did not want to post any words here, but after some consideration I decided to keep them at minimum.
A journey has to start somewhere and sometime. The date was fixed when I learned that one known for me Indologist from Moscow would arrive in Delhi on 12 jan so we agreed to meet in one of city restaurants. On the way I visited holy city of Sikhs Amritsar, it's 6 hrs journey by bus from my abode in Dharamsala.
From hundreds of photos I chose these 5:
Clockwise: In Amritsar new bus stand, billboard feat men with characteristical turbans; few pics from Parikrama, marblelaid pathway around lake of heavenly amrita, nectar of immortality, family of Surjit Singh (with his son and father), school principal and teacher of Punjabi language, he came to Amritsar because his son and father are sick and need treatment(interesting 3 years ago when I visited Golden Temple I also befreinded one family from Jammu, a farmacist with sick niece, it seems many medical institutions are located in Amritsar); Harmandir.
In overnight train to Delhi I talked with one German guy Merco, he looked at my photos and wondered how I made lots of photos of naked men taking ritual ablutions. He was too shy and excused himself by strict non-interference in other's beliefs and rituals. I said when one needs photographs for publishing he (she) had to do some intrusion in other people privacies so in a way all published photographers are papparazzis, the rest are amateurs. He laughed but did not seem to agree.
Mrs Gazieva, a prominent Indologist, professor of Hindi in Moscow's University of Patris Lumumba and author of many textbooks arrived to meeting in Metropolis restaurant with a horde of her students. They immediately started to click me for memory, I felt like celebrity for a moment. Seriously speaking she brought me one document from my previous publisher and agreeing to meet up in Darjeeling later this month we parted ways.
In train I was talking with my neighbours, actually with one neighbour - Mr Murty of Krishnamurty Foundation (a bearded old man in downleft photo). Other neghbours, two mahrattas, barely could speak English but I understood they are petty businessmen, the guy on the left runs a general store, the one in the middle - sells kites. I remembered how many kites and kitists I have seen in Amritsar, this sport seems to be popular especially around Makar Shankranti, a holiday when India meets springtime. Curiously the guy on the left seemed to me similar with one of Indian freedom fighters, (Sukhdev or Ramdev in traditional maratha caps) fellows of famous Bhagat Singh, whose portraits are everywhere in Punjab (the downright picture). With Mr Murty we had long detailed discussions on religion and philosophy, comparing his and mine views on these subjects, if possible I'll try to write about them later.
Last selection of photos dedicated to streetfood. Clockwise: lunch of sweet rice and dhal with two chappattis in Guru-ka-Langar of Golden Temple (visit there is obligatory for Sikhs and very interesting for foreigners, they have to fold hands like begging the Almighty for favors only then they will be given free food, this enourmous charity institution runs on donations and employs devout volunteers); alu samosa (a kind of fried dumpling with mashed potato inside) and fried potato medallions; fresh juice of pomegranat, - both taken on streets of Amritsar; then my dinner in train, socalled thali, typical Indian set of food, consists of rice, dhal (peas or beans puree), sabji (vegetable curry), chapatis (unleavened bread), water, chutney and dahi or curd. Usually I like it but this time it went down rough - in the middle of the night I woke up and vomitted the whole dinner. Terrible experience but it's also usual side of Indian journeys. Two photos from Nagpur railway station in the end, Nagpur is biggest city in Eastern Maharashtra, the country of oranges: vendor sells orange juice and fritters, kinds of Maharshtrian snacks, similar to samosas.
To be continued...