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By: Rajiv Chopra

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Saturday, 31-Mar-2007 14:23 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Global Warming or What?

January 2005
February 2007
This is a new series? Or, should it be? Okay, I have been to Harbin in North East China several times now. The first time I went, in January 2004, the day time temperature was -16 degrees Centigrade and, the night time temperature was - 30 degrees Centigrade.

This time, in February 2007, the day time temperature was - 5 degrees Centigrade and, the night time temperature was -16 degrees centigrade. A full 10 degrees Centigrade warmer than it should have been. It was positively pleasant and balmy. Okay, I like the cold! I really do.

In Jan 2005 ( my second visit) , I took a picture as we were speeding along the highway to the airport. Look at it carefully. The landscape looks positively frozen. Look at the picture taken in in Feb 2007. The landscape looks positively green. And, brown!

In Jan 2004, we were driving from Harbin to another town to ski. A good three hour drive. We stopped at a petrol pump to pee and, the piss of many foreigners and Chinese had frozen to form a yellow block of ice. It reminded me of the Frank Zappa song about Nanuk and the Yellow Snow. Guess Nanuk would have been pretty unhappy this time around!!

And, the weather has been a bit strange this year. I was up on the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall on Mar 18. It was zero degrees and, snowing. Eight days later, on March 26, it was 18 degrees centigrade on the Wall. Bizarre, ya?

The policy wonks had better wake up to the fact of global warming or, Nanuk will not see too much yellow snow!!

Tuesday, 6-Mar-2007 23:27 Email | Share | | Bookmark
The One Boat. The One And Only Boat

The One And Only Boat
Here's the last entry from the Elephanta-Gateway-Taj Hotel series. As said earlier, I took this photograph when I was three years old, so you know how old I am now!

Anyway, I love this shot. This is one of my all time favourites. Now, you don't have to like this shot simply because I do. Really, do don't.

But, you must. You must like and love this shot. You must, you must, you must .

How many of you have read "The Wind In The Willows", and remember the early sequence when the Water Rat was describing the joy of floating down the river, to the Mole? And, how many of you remember reading the elation that the Mole felt when he was making his maiden trip down the river with the Water Rat?

Well, this is what this shot reminds me of. Whimsy. Relaxation. Being one with nature, letting your mind roam free.....

Saturday, 24-Feb-2007 03:35 Email | Share | | Bookmark
The Taj Mahal Hotel In Bombay

Corner View
Pigeons Flying
View all 6 photos...
This almost rounds up the series on the Elephanta, the Gateway and the area around the Gateway. But, you cannot finish off a series on this without a look at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. This was built in 1903 and combines, amongst other styles, the Florentine. It's housed presidents, kings and all manner of dignitaries and, is a superb piece of architecture. They actually have two wings - the old wing and, the new wing. The old wing is beautiful. Built in the classical style. The new wing is pretty faceless, built like any old new modern hotel.

Most people, not surprisingly, prefer the old wing. Nostalgia for an age gone by? Nope, I don't think so.

Appreciation for a building that has a character and personality all it's own? I think that this would be closer to the truth.

Don't attempt to stay here, unless you have deep pockets. Hotel rates in India have been spiraling and, I think a night here could set you back by over 400 USD. Closer to 500, I would think. Hotel rates ave more than tripled in the 4 years I have been away from India. I think that, if I do move back to India, a holiday outside my home country would be cheaper. What we will gain in business travellers, we will lose in tourists. And, it is tourists who, more often than not, explore the real beauty of a country.

Even though the shot was taken over 20 years ago, I remember taking the shot of the pigeons flying. I saw them, swung aroung quickly and, clicked. And, this is the result. Manual focus camera, by the way.

Saturday, 17-Feb-2007 15:59 Email | Share | | Bookmark
At The Gateway

Gossiping At The Base
A Boat To Elephanta?
Sleeping At The Base
View all 6 photos...
This is turning out to be a longer than intended series of shots of the Gateway of India and, the area around it.

As I mentioned in the last entry, you can catch boats to the Elephanta Islands, from the Gateway of India. Two of the boats that were used all those years ago are captured here.

And, also as I mentioned people come here to spend the afternoon. Generally people in the lower middle class, for whom a stroll, a gossip, an afternoon nap are all in the nature of the game. You'll also find the occasional hippy.

This is also the place where drivers wait for their bosses who are sipping their whiskey at the Taj Hotel, opposite the Gateway. Or, for the madams sipping their afternoon cuppa.

Photography is like a balance sheet. It captures a moment in time and, it can capture the perception / emotional response of the photographer had to a scene at a moment in time. What he/she sees in the mind's eye.

Quite like the balance sheet. Captures the state of the finances of a company at a point in time. The state that the top management would like to perceive and, the state of the finances that they would like the world to perceive. Ha!Ha!

So, here are the pictures, with my own home spun analogy thrown in for good measure..

Wednesday, 7-Feb-2007 14:24 Email | Share | | Bookmark
The Gateway Of India

Sleeping At The Base
The Gateway
Another Detail
View all 6 photos...
I am going backwards. You catch the boat to the Elephanta Island from the Gateway of India. This is in South Bombay, and a pretty nice structure. The entire area is nice, with loads of classical buildings from the days of the British Empire. A nice place for an evening walk, actually though many folks would prefer to go to the Taj Hotel, which is next to it. But, more on the Taj Hotel two entries from now.

These shots were also taken way back in 1983 or so. Even though I have been back many times, I have never been back for a photo shoot. Crazy, huh? We take these things for granted, and then they are gone.

Normally, you would see the Gateway, as it is now generally called, if you were to approach Bombay by sea. This was built, or commissioned in 1911 and, was to have welcomed King George V and Queen Mary to India, prior to the start of the Darbar in India. The design was finalised in 1914 and, the structure was finally completed in 1924 and, was opened by the Viceroy, the Earl of Reading.

This was built to Gateway is a basalt arch 26 metres high. Behind the Gateway steps lead down to the waterfront, where boat trips can be had to locations such as Elephanta Island.

The Gateway is built from yellow basalt and reinforced concrete. While Indo-Saracenic in architectural style, elements are derived from the Muslim architectural styles of 16th century Gujarat. The central dome is 15 metres in diameter and 26 metres above ground at its highest point. The whole harbour front was realigned in order to come in line with a planned esplanade which would sweep down to the centre of the town. This was never built. No money!

This was a symbol of the British Raj in India and, finally the place where India bid farewell to the British Empire. The end of an Empire!

The last British troops to leave India, the First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, passed through the gate in a ceremony on February 28, 1948.

One of the photos in this entry, shows a silhouette of a statue of an old Indian king, Shivaji. Shivaji was a king who fought against the last great Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb.

Shivaji seems to be riding against the Gateway, against the British Empire in this shot. Ages past. History.

History, when viewed as the story of men and women, is fascinating. When viewed as a bunch of dates to be memorised, it is dry.

When the men and women of history ride on, it is fascinating....

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