The city of joy is how the locals repeatedly referred to their hometown as I was chatted up by friendly Kolkatans. Some refer to it as the city of firsts, for pioneering a number of achievements in India, or a city of palaces, for its wealth of architectural beauty. Kipling described it as a “city of dreadful night”, “magnificent”, “the many sided”. I can’t remember visiting a city with so much characterization attached to its name. Kolkata is probably all those things to different people.
During the day, its streets are filled with constant hustle and bustle, smells and car roars continuously compete for attention – often against the backdrop of architectural awe, creating a scene rarely replicated elsewhere. Buildings too, compete for attention. While some are nursed to withstand the perils of the city’s humid climate, others – full of history and culture – stand crumbling, waiting for better days. Some streets provide a moment’s rest before spitting you back out. Amidst chaos and the high-paced environment people always found ways to gracefully slow down, eager to strike a conversation – tell a story about a neighbourhood, their job, a cultural event, and of course, no conversation is complete without a mention of cricket. If couple of days is anything to judge by, Kolkata is all those things they call it.
Earlier this week I went on a work trip eastward to Kayin (Karen) State. A significant chunk of it was spent in a car, about 6 hours each way. Apart from being reminded of how big and diverse Myanmar is, traveling on land is also a good reminder of how dangerous roads can be. Myanmar is the only country I can think of where the majority of cars are right-hand drive (steering wheel on the right) driving in a right-hand traffic. So whenever someone attempts a takeover on a 2 lane highway, it isn’t really supported by the driver’s view of the oncoming traffic.
The drive nonetheless was scenic in parts, especially as we got closer to the capital Hpa-An. It’s surrounded by grandiose tall beautifully shaped mountains. We were crossing a bridge during sunset on the approach to the city when a view opened up with great colors and mountains stretching across the river. People weren’t allowed on the bridge, however, so I had to shoot out of a moving vehicle, across the seat through a window with the camera aimed in between window stickers and bridge support columns. To my own surprise a decently framed shot showed on my camera screen as I looked down expecting a picture of a blurry metal columns. Next time I hope for more time on foot.
It’s been so long since my last post I almost forgot this website is still up and running. There’s been plenty of material to post, though unfortunately not as much in motivation or discipline to do so. As I’m starting a new adventure all of the mentioned should be in large supply.
I took this photo on an old train line that wraps around the city of Yangon. The train travels at a leisurely pace, not in any rush to get anywhere fast. That doesn’t seem to bother the passengers who are all smiles, and some even peak out the window for a light breeze.
I’ve realized that over the years I’ve become a little less trigger happy for several reasons. I know there are lot of photographers/bloggers whose advice is to keep pushing the shutter button. I can’t say I share the same opinion for various reasons, one of which is probably because I’m terrible at sorting hundreds of my photos afterwards. Still though, occasionally I find myself in a place, like Hong Kong, where I just keep taking photo after photo after photo.
I’ve arrived to the city fairly late and without an accommodation planned for that night and much change in my pocket I made my way to the Chungking Mansions, where I knew I could get an ok bed for the night. It’s by far not the most glamorous place in the world. There is a book based on Chungking Mansions called Ghetto at the Center of the World, which is an indication of what kind of a place it is (though I wouldn’t quite call it a ghetto). I’ve never actually read the book, however it’s on my to read list so feel free to drop me a line about the book if you’ve read it. Anyways, these photos are random shots from my night stroll on my first night in Hong Kong.
I took this in one of Beijing’s hutongs, They are sort of alleys or backstreets of modern day Beijing. In my experience not too many foreigners seem to be interested in them, I personally loved spending my time there. Some are usually empty and residential but some are full with different activities, a lot of which include delicious food. As usual, click on the photo to enlarge and press like 🙂
I had a friend visiting over the weekend. In a matter of days she’ll be moving to China which got us talking about my time there. It brought up a lot of memories and details which seemed lost somewhere in the back of my brain. Naturally, I grabbed my old hard drive to explore the hundreds of pictures left untouched since the trip. I barely made it through a dozen when I stopped on this one. This is from my first day in Beijing. There’s nothing like the first impression a place can make on you. These don’t always hold but they always seem to make their mark. After having spent weeks in the gobi desert that whole day in Beijing felt like an overdose of colours under a dirty and polluted sky. A little bit like this photo.
In large cities in China you can come across people transporting lots of different things. What’s striking is not only what is being carried but by what means. Whether it’s a fridge on a bicycle or a painfully heavy load of who knows what, it had never ceased to amaze me.