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By: Rajiv Chopra

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Sunday, 25-Sep-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
The Great Wall at Badaling

Highway Snaking
People On The Wall
Into The Distance
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I return to the scene of my crimes, as it were! I went to the Wall at Badaling at the end of June. This is about 70 km from Beijing and, is the most touristy section of the wall. It's been redone and, is meant for tourists. People don't go to the steeper sections, which is where we finally went. We, is a few friends and, me.

First, we climbed up.Then, we started climbing down and, I climbed all the way down. Then, I discovered that they were at the top. So, I climbed back up and, we came back along the really steep sections. Which means that you go down slopes that are about 60 degrees, go up slopes that are 70 degrees and, down again and up again and then, down again! And, it was hot, hot, hot. You do this and, you know how hot hell is. I drank up 3 litres of water. I resembled a puddle at the end of it all. Even my underpants were wet with sweat!!

Monday, 19-Sep-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Changchun. September 18. Wei Huang Gong

The House
The Office Block
The Throne Room
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Yesterday was the Mid Autumn Festival. It was also September 18, the anniversary of the day that the Japanese invaded North East China or, the DongBei Region. They came in from the North East, because the Last Emperor of the Qing Dynasty brought them in. Remember the movie, The Last Emperor. Well, Pu Yi, that was his name, brought them in because he wanted to resurrect the Qing Dynasty. And, in doing so, he lost his freedom.

He lived here from 1931. The Palace was/is called the Wei HuangGong or, the Palace of the Emperor. Pu Yi was the Puppet Emperor so, it fits.

I went around the house where he lived. I saw the room of his concubine. They even kept her shoes. also, the room of his wife, Wanrong. She had no freedom so, she spent her days smoking opium and, she developed schizophrenia because of the loneliness. They have a life sized figure of her, smoking opium. And, one of Pu Yi, with the generals. I did'nt take pictures of the bedrooms. Why? A sense of respect for the dead? The famous dead who lived sad lives.

I did take pictures of the office block and, the small throne area where Pu Yi would sit. Also, the office of the Japanese general who controlled Pu Yi. Pu Yi had the big rooms. The general had the power.

It was the anniversary of the Japanese invasion. So, the ceremony and, the celebrations of Chinese nationalism. Then, my camera batteries died on me.

But, man. This is a place with history steeped in it. The last Qing Emperor. The end of a line of 500 + years. And, a transition to a modern state. This is history. This is real human drama and tragedy. You can sense it in the place.

Well, I did buy Pu Yi's autobiography. And, Chairman Mao's book of Quotations. I have read so much about Mao but, never anything he actually said. And, the history of the two is interlinked. The passing of the baton, from dynasty to a modern communist state. Think about it.

Monday, 5-Sep-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
This is India - 1. Bombay VT Station

A view of the dome
A detail.
The Lion At the top
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This is the start of a new series, about India. I will, of course, dip in and out of shots of India. The start of this series is dedicated to Fazizaid!!

These pictures were taken many years ago. When the world was a simpler place. When I grew my hair long, wore torn clothes and, had a bright, innocent look about me!

Bombay VT Station is a landmark of Bombay. The full form is Bombay Victoria Terminus Station. Victoria is Queen Victoria of Great Britain and, this structure was built in the 1800's. Nationalistic people now have renamed the station as Chhatrapathi Shivaji Station, after an old Indian Hero. But, for old timers like us and, for the young folk of today, it is still called Bombay VT Station or, VT. It can't be anything else.

It's the place from where people catch suburban trains and, long distance trains. And, long ago when Bombay (or, Mumbai as it is now called) was the only commercial city in the country, VT was the first glimpse of Bombay that migrant workers from other parts of the country got. And boy, what a view it was! It still is a great view but, I am not too sure if too many people are aware of this (more recent) part of our history.

Friday, 26-Aug-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Faces Through The Ages 12 - Bangkok. At Night

At The End of The Day
Before I Go Home
Combing My Hair Before I Go
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This ends the two part series on Bangkok. I took these photos this year, in May. On the same street that I took the photos last year in August. Coincidentally, I was about to catch a plane both times.

I walked around and, took these shots using a tripod. The people knew that I was photographing them but, I think that they were just too tired at the end of the day to give a damn. I did not use a flash, as I did not want to be too obvious. And, intrusive.

What you will see is that the colour only makes the scenes and the photos more depressing. The black and white shots of the morning are, in my opinion, cheerful pictures. The end of the day, standing at the open stall all day, with unsold inventory and, the prospect of going back to, what is probably not the most cheerful home can be a little sad, I think.

Saturday, 20-Aug-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Faces Through The Ages - 11. Bangkok. Morning Shots

At The Stall
Lady In Waiting
Making The Morning Tea.
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I do feel sad about not taking pictures in India. Next time around, definitely. But, I must share this. One day, I walked back home from the market, in the middle of the afternoon, in the blazing sun. And, I devised the 6 Rules Of Walking in The Hot Indian Sun:

Rule Number 1: Do not walk in The Hot Indian Sun. If you ignore rule No 1, follow Rules 2,3,4,5.
Rule Number 2: Wear A Hat and Sunglasses.
Rule Number 3: Walk in the shade, even if you wear a hat and sunglasses.
Rule Number 4: Use plenty of sunscreen.
Rule Number 5: Drink plenty of water.
Rule Number 6: To be followed in case you ignore rules 1,2,3,4,5. Get yourself checked into the nearest mental asylum.

Anyhow, to these pictures. They were taken in the morning, in Bangkok. Around the 20th August last year. I walked out of the Shangri-La Hotel at about 7 am to click people on the street. I had to leave the hotel, at 8:15 to catch my flight so, I hung around near the hotel. These were shots of people going about their daily business, street vendors and, the lot. It's lively at that time of the morning.

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