21st of September

Memories From the Indian Himalayas


After a month in the south of India, in blazing heat and moisture I was in need of an escape. And the best place for me to escape that I know of is the Himalayas. Until recently I had never given it any thought that the Himalayas also spans India – but it turns out it does. So I decided to travel 3500 kilomters north and visit Kashmir – more specifically Ladakh.



I fly into the capital of Ladakh – Leh, at an altitude of 3524 meters. Flying in from Delhi I gain more than 3200 meters of altitude in an about an hour, first time I have tried such a massive altitude gain. But the body seems to manage fine. I spend most of the day doing what I know needs to be done for the body to adjust – resting! I just sit and read my book, and drink massive amounts of tea. I did a bit of rough calculations, and during my first day in Ladakh I consume more than 8 liters of liquid. The climate is extremely dry in Ladakh, so this giant body needs all the hydration it can get its hands on.

Originally my plan was to rest all of the first day due to the altitude gain, but after a while my itchy feet kicked in, so I decide to push the body further and gain a few hundred meter going up the hill checking out Leh castle. From here I view the sunset, and feel a sense of adventure and trill that I have not felt since last year when I climbed Imjse Tse in Nepal. For the first time during this trip I feel “home” somehow. There is just something about the high altitude, the cold fresh air, the simplicity of this life that makes me feel at ease. I smile to myself and take it all in.

After a few days of acclimatisation I travel into the mountains with my guide and spend a little less than a week hiking in this region of the Himalays. Having been sick for a week before going to Ladakh I was a bit worried how my body would take it, but the fresh mountain air seemed to have a healing effect. And all the healthy mountain food was very nourising indeed.

The feel of Ladakh is very different from what I have experienced so far in my other Himalayan adventures in Nepal. Firstly the air is much drier, and the altitude hits harder. Secondly the landscape is just completely different. Very stark – it is like an high altitude dessert. I hardly see any vegetation, just rocks and sand. I quickly realise that it makes no sense to take photographs when there is no clouds in the sky. The photographs simply will be too flat to look at.

We travel light, carrying no sleeping bags – just sleeping at local houses. Some of the bigger cities it almost feels like a hostel experience, but the deeper we get into the mountains the more “local” it gets. Sometimes I just sleep in someones kitchen. A very authentic Ladakhi experience indeed – loved it!

In terms of people, Ladakh feels like nothing I have experienced before in India. The values of people here are simply different. It is all about survival. Some very nice, soft, hardworking people, reminding me in many ways of the Nepalis, but with different facial features. I think there is some similarities between mountain people around the world – this life seem to promote some similar values.

After returning to Leh, the first thing I do is to get myself a hot shower. The next thing I do is to book an oneway ticket for Nepal the next day. There was no way that I could return to the non-Himalyan India after this experience. I need the soft, gentle, kind Nepalis around me. So I head off to Kathmandu to rest, meet friends, do some business, some yoga, and eat some great food. So long India for now!

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Categories:  India Nepal Photography
3rd of September

Memories From Rameshwaram


I arrive late in the afternoon at Rameswaram, just around sunset time. I head to the shore which faces the east, meaning there is not any sunset to be viewed here. This is definitely a sunrise kind of place. I notice a religious structure, and remember hearing somewhere that Rameswaram is considered the Varanasi of the south. I make a decision to get up early the next morning to check this out.

Sunrise
Sunrise
Man enjoying his holy morning ritual during the early morning hours.
Sunrise
Family Fun
Family Fun
Family enjoying their holy morning dip.
Family Fun
Ladies in Red
Ladies in Red
Women dressed in red traditional Indian clothes during their morning ceremoni.
Ladies in Red
Morning Rituals
Morning Rituals
People doing their holy morning rituals, bathing and praying.
Morning Rituals
Refreshed
Refreshed
Man enjoying his refreshing holy morning shower.
Refreshed
The Holy Dip
The Holy Dip
Wife pouring water on her husband.
The Holy Dip
Puja
Puja
Husband and wife enjoying their morning prayers (puja).
Puja
A Touch of Holy Water
A Touch of Holy Water
Woman bathing herself.
A Touch of Holy Water
A Morning Smile
A Morning Smile
Two friends smiling and enjoying their holy dip.
A Morning Smile
Play
Play
Sisters playing in the water.
Play
Play
Play
Sisters playing in the water.
Play
Family Play
Family Play
Daugther resisting while father drops his child into the water.
Family Play
Family Time
Family Time
Boy posing for the camera in front of his family.
Family Time
Splash
Splash
A man having fun jumping into the water.
Splash
Morning Scene
Morning Scene
Typical scene at the Rameshwaram shore, Chai wallah looking for customers, cows hanging around, people enjoying the view.
Morning Scene
Chai Time
Chai Time
People enjoying their newspapers and chai.
Chai Time
Hindu God
Hindu God
Womam showing figure of hindu god.
Hindu God
Cricket
Cricket
Children playing cricket. Rameshwaram tv tower can be seen in the background.
Cricket
Ramar Paadam Temple
Ramar Paadam Temple
Women selling food in front of Ramar Paadam temple.
Ramar Paadam Temple
Portrait of a Cow
Portrait of a Cow
A tender moment of sunset light touching a cow.
Portrait of a Cow
Chai at the Edge of the World
Chai at the Edge of the World
Chai stall next to a demolished building.
Chai at the Edge of the World



I get up around 5.30am – I do not want to miss this sunrise! And I have a feeling that the best pictures will be have to be taken inside the water. So I make the logistic preparations, by leaving my stuff at home, putting a bit of money in a plastic sleeve and I head off. The moment I reach the shore I feel that things are happening here. Already the water is full of people. I stand and watch a little. Feeling shy. This is a holy moment for these people. Is it OK to go into the water?

The photographer inside me takes over, and I leave my shoes on the shore and go into the water. I am well received by the people – mostly they are amused to see this white boy with his tiny little camera. The light is amazing. But moody as always. After a few minutes in the water, I simply fall in love with this place, and I know that this is the place where I will take the majority of my photographs in Rameswaram.

I spend three days in Rameswaram, and every morning I go to the shore to photograph people during their holy dips. I have a lot of interesting conversations with people, and I feel very relaxed. It is great to see people who have travelled from all over the region to enjoy this special place. I have a little incident with a man that thinks that I should definitely be showered in this holy water. I say no thank you, but he insists and starts pouring water on me. I have to run away to escape his misguided hospitality. My body do not mind the holy water, but my very electronic Fuji x100s camera for sure is not a friend of the water!! The camera spends a good few hours in a bag of rice soaking out the holy moisture. Luckily it survives this incident.

Rameswaram has a lot of temples and religious things to offer, but I do not spend much time with this. I keep being drawn to the water. This is where I want to make my photographs. A special experience with amazing light.

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Categories:  India Photography Travel
26th of August

The Kind Police Officer


Just wanted to share a little moment that made me smile. A moment which is one of the reasons that I so much love travelling.

I am currently in Chennai, Tamil Nadu a city of a little less than five million people – it is a big place. Feeling a little under the weather. I am feel saturated with South India, and my feet are itching to go somewhere else. I am craving the mountains, and dreams of going to Kashmir and Ladakh are starting to form. Also the mixture of 36 degrees blazing heat and intermediate periods spend in air conditioned rooms have made me slightly ill – nothing big just a sore throat and all that.

Being in a large city does not help with my current state of mind. I think when anything gets very big it has a tendency to become a little impersonal. Be it a city, an organisation, an enterprise (do not get me started on large enterprises,human resource management, key performance indicators, processes, etc – I will burst!). I can smell people being nice in a fake way miles away. I feel the hunger for money, and people on the street trying to sell me things that I don’t want, rickshaw drivers calling me their friend etc. So to be honest in large cities I get a bit cynical at times.

Now back to the topic of this post – the kind police officer. It all starts with me hitting the streets early this morning with the mission of finding some chai to make everything better. Thats always easy. Chai is everywhere. Also I wanted to buy some raw ginger that I could chew on the help soothe the sore throat. I must have asked a dozen people on the streets, and they simply did not understand what I meant with ginger. For some reason they kept thinking that I wanted to change money (??).

My luck changes and a man dressed in shorts and running shoes asks me what I am looking for. I explain him my situation and that I want to buy some ginger for the throat. He tells me where the nearest market is, and asks if he should take me there on his motor bike (it is less than 100 meters away and its nothing more than a few minutes of walk). I think before I started enjoying the adventures of traveling the world, if I had met a strange man asking me to get on his bike and drive off with him to the nearest market I would have felt shy and said no no it is fine I will walk there myself. But I immediately feel that this is a genuine act of kindness, and I do not waste the chance for a few seconds drive on his motorbike in the middle of the hectic morning traffic in Chennai.

Half a minute later we are standing in the market. The man at the market refuses to take payment for the ginger as he is a friend of the motorbike guy. Happy about this little moment of human kindness I invite the motorbike guy for a chai (even though I had just had a chai a few minutes ago – you can never have too much chai!). We spend a few moments together just finding out what we both are doing in life. It turns out that he is a traffic police officer. I ask him why he is dressed in shorts and running shoes, and he tells me his big passion is playing hokey. So he is heading off to the beach to do a bit of running practise.

When we have finished the tea he is about to pay for it, but I insist that I want to pay – it is my treat. That was the whole point – I wanted to give something back as a gratitude for his help. We say our goodbyes and I walk back to my hostel for some rest and to chew on my ginger. Feeling happy that genuine kindness exist everywhere.

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Categories:  India Thoughts Travel
23rd of August

The Moment You Realize You are Screwed


I am currently in Pondicherry in India feeling a little bit uninspired. During moments like this I find it stimulating to look at other photographers work. One photographer that has been on my radar in the past year is Daniel Milnor, particularly because of his great visual story telling skills along with his passionate use of self publishing media (in his case Blurb).

Happy Father
Happy Father
Father enjoying a happy moment with his child in front of the Ghandi statue.
Play at Sunset
Play at Sunset
Children playing at sunset in the French neighbourhood.
All the Space in the World
All the Space in the World
Lady walking in the sand dunes.
Skyskape
Skyskape
Random skyskape at sunrise.
Haldi
Haldi
A local lady showing a piece of haldi (tumeric), used in food, and also for colouring the face yellow.
Religious Symbols
Religious Symbols
A religious symbol commonly found in front of peoples houses in Tamil Nadu.
On the Journey
On the Journey
A random moment on the bus.
Holy Man
Holy Man
A group of locals hanging out while a holy man passes by.
I am Fond of My Cycle
I am Fond of My Cycle
A couple of ladies out for a bikeride in the early morning.
Band Practise
Band Practise
A group of local men practising their instruments.
Portrait of a Cow
Portrait of a Cow
A tender moment of sunset light touching a cow.

A lot of his work is black and white (the good old time honoured combination of Leica M6 and Kodak Tri-X). Browsing his photographs I am now in deep trouble, as I found myself going through some of my latest photographs looking for black and white interpretations. The moment I started doing this I felt this cold shiver in my body. Something I had suppressed for so long would not be suppressed any longer. Originally I fell in love with photography because of black and white. I had purchased myself a fancy digital SLR, but the images that I made with it did not really speak to me AT ALL. When I found myself a local darkroom, purchased some Ilford HP5 film and a second hand camera a love affair started. I simple loved the magic of the darkroom, and the quality of a well crafted silver gelatine print. Not to mention the excitement of making a contact sheet and exploring the photographs you had made. No LCD for instant feedback on analog cameras!

Throughout the years I have tried to print black and white digitally and although the technology has come very far, nothing compares to a silver gelatine print. So every time I make a black and white photo, and print it digitally it hurts me a little. However good the photograph might be I know that it could have been printed nicer in the darkroom. I think exactly therefore I started suppressing black and white photographs and focused more on colour work.

But now I opened an old can of worms. I love how black and white strips away the colour, and focuses your attention. The emotion of the scene, the textures, the geometries, they all become clearer. No colours to take away the attention from that moment. I am afraid I have opened a door that I closed many years ago, that simply will not shut itself. I see myself purchasing a Leica M6 again in the near future, even though I had just sold it. Thanks Daniel!!…. Actually I think for inflicting this suffering on me you should donate me one of your Leicas ;) But also I realize that I am screwed because I cannot stop making digital black and white photographs, well knowing that I will hurt a little bit inside, every time that I print the image.

I have included a bunch of completely unrelated photographs, that all really did not work in colour, but I feel that they come alive once you strip away the colours. No masterpieces in any sense, but still little moments that deserved to be remembered.

22nd of August

End of the Line, No Further South


I have come to the end of the line of my journey in south India. I have travelled to the southernmost tip of mainland India and reached Kanyakumari.

Braving the Waves
Braving the Waves
Teenagers having fun braving the waves at the beach. The Thiruvalluvar statue can be seen in the background.
Braving the Waves
Family Fun
Family Fun
Locals enjoying the water in front of the Thiruvalluvar statue.
Family Fun
Fun at the Beach
Fun at the Beach
Children having fun at the beach in front of the Thiruvalluvar statue.
Fun at the Beach
The Pink Bucket
The Pink Bucket
Boy with pink bucket enjoying a moment of play in the morning.
The Pink Bucket
Fishing Nets
Fishing Nets
Fishers getting their nets ready in the early morning.
Fishing Nets
Morning Rest
Morning Rest
Fishers relaxing in the morning. Thiruvalluvar statue can be seen in the background.
Morning Rest
Market Time
Market Time
Boy carrying fish to the market for sale in the morning.
Market Time
A Moment of Calm
A Moment of Calm
Man resting and enjoying a calm monent in the fishing village.
A Moment of Calm
Cricket by the Beach
Cricket by the Beach
Teenages enjoying a game of cricket by the beach.
Cricket by the Beach
Band Practise
Band Practise
Children enjoying a short break from their band practise.
Band Practise
A Spiritual Place
A Spiritual Place
Man walking under statue of hindu god.
A Spiritual Place
Clothes Drying
Clothes Drying
Families drying their clothes in the wind.
Clothes Drying
Clothes Drying
Clothes Drying
Families drying their clothes in the wind.
Clothes Drying
Fixing the Hair
Fixing the Hair
Family enjoying the sunset at the beach, while father is fixing his hair in the mirror.
Fixing the Hair
Watching
Watching
People hanging around at the beach, enjoying the view of the water.
Watching
Gita
Gita
Gita a mute woman, doing the classic pose with the Thiruvalluvar statue.
Gita
Little Girl in Red
Little Girl in Red
Girl enjoying the sunset and view of the Thiruvalluvar statue.
Little Girl in Red
Sunset
Sunset
Homeless enjoying the sunset at the beach.
Sunset



It is a tiny place with a little less than 30.000 inhabitants. When I get off the train, the first thing I realise is that the tracks go no further – this is literally the end of the line. The second thing I realise is that this is one windy place! Kanyakumari is popularly believed to be the point of convergence of three seas: The Lakshadweep Sea, Bay of Bengal and The Indian Ocean, but apparently – technically it only borders the Lakshadweep Sea. None the less you feel the presence of powerful natural forces, the giant waves crashing agains the rocks at the beach, and at night in the hostel you hear windows and doors banging – falling pray to the forces of the wind.

My first day in Kanyakumari is not so good. As a photographer I am a slave to light, and the first day here everything is so grey, and I feel miserable. I don’t know what to do with myself. My feet are itching to hit the streets to photograph, but the light is simply just not there. Fortunately by day two it clears up a bit, and day three a little bit of magic shows it self, but not for long though, so I move quickly and try to capture the story of the place.

But where the weather is lacking in warmth, the people here more than make up for it. People seem so curious about me, and for the first time ever in India I have someone pay a photographer to take his portrait with me, so that he can get a print of him and the white boy(!!) I meat Gita, a mute woman, who proofs that you do not need to be able to talk in order to communicate. She has such a warm personality and lightens my mood every day when I run into her at the beach.

I visit the nearby fishing village, which I think is the very definition of colourful. It is an explosion of colours, almost too many colours to capture in photographs.

Finally my ice cream addiction is replaced with an addiction to coconuts and fried cauliflower. Oh my god the fried cauliflower is nothing short of amazing. I consume an inhumane amount of cauliflower, while waiting for those little rays of sunshine.

All in all I had a very good time in Kanyakumari. It is a special feeling reaching the tip of India, and it is such a joy to see people relax here, play and enjoy themselves. I think it is a universal human trait, the need for unwinding and playing. We all spend so much time being serious and working hard, so it is inevitable the need for some release of all the tention.

And I see a lot of playfulness here. In the children playing cricket in the streets, in the business man getting his feet soaked in the water. I see it in the teenagers playing on the rocks far out in the water trying to resist falling of the rocks when the giant waves hits them, in the families throwing water at each other, in Gita posing in my photographs making the Thiruvalluvar statue look like as if it fits into her hands, and in the little boy playing by himself at the beach with his pink bucket.

I leave Kanyakumari feeling refreshed, slightly sentimental, wanting to return one day again.

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Categories:  India Photography Travel
12th of August

Surrendering to Kochin


I fly to Kochi, Kerala to experience the end of the monsoon. According to people it is usual for Kerala to end the monsoon season with some massive showers. The weather in Tamil Nadu was moody, and I had gotten tired of grey overcast days so I thought an escape to Kerala to experience the wrath of the monsoon would make for a nice change and for some interesting photographs.

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Seems like I just missed the monsoon. Apparently the airport in Kochi had been shut down for three days because of the heavy showers so I was lucky to get there in the first place. But it seemed like this was the end of the monsoon. I stayed in Kochi for 5 days, and I only experienced very brief showers for 5 minutes or so.

Kerala is a very unique place in India. It is probably the cleanest and most calm place in India. Kochi is a melting pot of different religions, muslims, hindus, christians, you name it. Walking the streets you see churches, synagogs, temples as a testament to this mixture of religions. Although during my stay here I see a majority of muslims. I have arrived at the end of the Ramadan and lots of muslims has travelled here to celebrate Eid al Fitr. Everywhere I see muslims relaxing and enjoying, wearing their festive clothes.

People here are extremely nice. Overwhelming so. Last week I was in New Delhi and the difference in mentality is staggering. I stay at Fort Kochi, and it is such a relaxing place. Actually it is too calm for my liking. I am here to make photographs, hunting for multi-layered photographs capturing some of those peculiar little moments that I find very Indian. It is all too idyllic here for my liking somehow. I make a few photos that I enjoy, but not a lot. In Old Delhi I felt so stimulated. I was briefly in Chennai and I felt the same there.

In this sense of photography I don’t find Fort Kochi very stimulating. It is a place people come to relax. To enjoy each others company. And I am here alone. At first I get frustrated. I am itching to make photographs. I am waiting for the monsoon that never come (or rather the monsoon that I have apparently just missed by a hairline). I don’t want to rest. I don’t want to relax. Relaxing makes me loose momentum, and when I am not busy roaming the streets then there are no distractions for me to not miss Michelle so badly.

After a while I give up on the monsoon and wonder what to do. Then at last I admit defeat and realise Kochin just wants me to relax. I do the ayurvedic body massages, I eat an insane amount of ice cream, and I do something I haven’t done for a long while: I read a novel.

Having finished the novel, and with no heavy monsoon apparently wanting to show itself, I will be heading back to Tamil Nadu soon. But I have decided since I am so far down south, I want to go to the very south-most tip of India: Kanyakumari. I want to have this experience since I am here, before heading up through Tamil Nadu again.

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Categories:  India Photography Travel
7th of August

Memories From the Farm


Having just escaped from the busy life in New Delhi, a city of more than 16 millions citizens, the experience of arriving in South India is at stark contrast. It is a total different world from North India. The people here are much softer and less aggressive. People on the street trying to sell me stuff, actually takes no for an answer (ok, after two-three no’s then), people greet me and smile at me randomly. I even had two muslim women wearing their chador outfit walk up to me at the beach, and strike up a conversation with me, as they where so curious about me.

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A little bit south of Chennai lies “the farm”, an 70 acre integrated organic farm that was started in 1974. It is run by my friends Shalini, and Arul. The Farm has cows & water buffalo, poultry (free-range chicken & turkey), horses, fields (rice, fodder & vegetables) and plantations (coconuts & eucalyptus).

Their aim is to bring the farm and hospitality together, thereby allowing for more people to enjoy the space. They currently run a restaurant that can seat 50 people and also a Bed & Breakfast.

I found the experience of staying at the farm so refreshing. Such a peaceful, fresh and organic place. You really feel the effort, care, love and passion that goes into making this place. It is a quirky universe of its own. You see old automobiles, restored classic motorbikes, merge with nature itself. You see the animal walking around by themeselves. You see the house dogs having a ball scaring the visitors that let themselves scare (if you pad the dogs you have a friend for life). You feel the respect that Shalinia and Arul have for nature, and you feel that they really want people to get a different experience when they visit this place- different from anything you can find in Tamil Nadu.

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The farm was a great escape from the chaos of India. I spend more than a day just roaming around, trying to capture little moments at the farm. Tomorrow I am of to Kerala – hunting for the monsoons. I want to feel the rain! But for sure I will return to the farm soon. I even left some of my luggage there – to make sure that I come back.

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Categories:  India Photography Travel
5th of August

Little Acts of Kindness


I start my day visiting the wonderful momo lady. She is popular, and her stall is full of children having their lunchtime snack. “Auntie auntie one more one more”, they beg – one more momo please.

I wait patiently in line and when my time comes, her face lights up – a returning customer. I smile at her and say: “Abke momo bahut acha hain” (your momos are very good!) She has one of those faces that you just know that this person is very kind at her core, her cheeks showing that she smiles a lot. But somehow after my comment, her face lights up even more. I pay for six momos but she gives me three extra for free. All for the price of a little less than 30 euro cent.

I like going to her stall. It is so obvious that she enjoys what she does and giving her gift of cooking delicious momos to hungry people. She takes pride in it and she does it damn well.

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I escape back into Old Delhi, where I feel free. New Delhi is all too much business and greed for my taste. I venture into the small back alleys looking for shortcuts and adventure. I find my way to a muslim area. Some stern looking man looks at me with a hard face. He is unsure of what I am doing there. I nod at him and say “Salam wala I kuum” (muslim greeting), his face lights up and he answers “Wala I kuum asalam” (response to the greeting). The ice is broken.

I take a side turn into a very narrow street. The light is beautiful, and I want to photograph the wall of one of the houses but I am too close, I need to go further away. Also I want something to frame the composition. I ask a man if I can enter his house to photograph the street through his door. Respectfully I tell him “Dhanyivad” (Thanks). I make a gesture that I feel hot and say “Garam” (hot), trying to do some small talk. He agrees, and urges me to please sit down under his fan to cool down a bit. “Pani?” he asks (want water?) – “Nai nai bimar hain” I politely respond (no no sick). He thinks I am trying to say I am sick and genuinely he looks concerned. I correct myself – “nai nai sirf bottle pani, local pani bimar hain” – (no no only bottled water, local water makes me sick”. Ahh ok – he looks relieved.
It turns out he is an envelope manufacturer, and we spend a bit of time looking at his products. “Sundar hain” I say (beautiful). I shake his hand and say thank you and head back into the streets.

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I find a corner with amazing late afternoon light casting wonderful shadows, and start looking for stories to tell with my camera. I smell something nice. I ask the man “ye kya hain?” what is this? It is some kind of beef ball. I actually always found this a bit funny about India – muslim and hindus living besides each other. For the hindus the cow is holy but not for the muslims. Doesn’t that mean that the muslim are eating the hindus god? Me being a foodie with no religious orientation I eat anything and I am glad to try some beef again – “kitna hain?” How much? He quotes a price per kilo and I tell him I only want to try a few. Ah ok – no need to pay then. No no I insist. Ok 5 rupees then. They are delicious.

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The next day I check out from the hotel – heading off 2000km south to visit an Indian friend that is living in Chennai. I haven’t seen Shalini for far too many years. When I check out from the hotel, the owner gives me a call and shows his true colours and does everything to squeeze me for more money than what we had agreed on. I am cornered and in a rush to go to the airport, and after a lot of fighting (India is the only place in the world that can make me truly aggressive), I just give up and pay the bill. Upset I enter the taxi, and ask the driver – “ab kaise hain?” – how are you. He smiles and sais “tick hain” – good! A little small talk and I mention I am angry with the owner. He tells me that the owner is a very greedy man, not a good man. The driver is afraid that I will not come back to India because of my bad experience. “No no – Hindustan mera dil kepas hain – acha log hain” – no no India has my heart – great people I ensure him. Forgetting about the road and the traffic ahead of him, nearly knocking over a cyclist, he turns and shakes my hand – “thank you thank you sir!”.

I ask him to quickly stop by at the owners office (I know where he hangs out, nearby the hotel) and I go and yell at him. It is small money to me, but it is about the principle. I hate dishonesty and greed. I tell him about Karma, and let him know that I will do everything in my power to give his business bad reviews online. A scam in the airport to bring me to his hostel, and then cornering me for money when I was in a rush. It is not ok. Back to the taxi. On the road again. I ask the driver – “shadi shuda?” Married? Yes of course he is married he replies. “Kitna bacce?” how many children? One child – a daughter. What about you he asks – are you also married. No no – girlfriend. Ah ok. How many girlfriends? “Sirf ek” I laugh (only one). “Sex karte hain?” (you do the sex?) he replies. Yes yes of course! How long? 1 hour he asks? 2 hours? 3 hours? How many times? I smile and disclose little bits of details about my private life to this man I have only met a few minutes ago. Men will always be men.

A lady I once met in Nepal (Didi oh how I miss you and your gorgeous face!) once described me as “Naive but kind”. I believe in karma. Do good things and good things will come to you. I see a lot of unnecessary friction and tension in this world – particular in these anti-islamic days. I think at our very core we are all the same, and I have shared many great moments with muslims. Actually I find it ironic how some atheist passionately are against religion, it seems like they are fanatically worshipping science – isn’t this just another form of religion, with the exact same arguments as other religion? Their god (science) being the one true god. I think we all want to be respected, and we want to share our gifts/talents with each other and be appreciated for what we do. Wherever I go I always see the same traits in women: softness and kindness and need to care for others. It doesn’t matter whether they are muslim, hindu, catholic – it is universal. I see the same traits in men wherever I go: warriors, systematic thinkers, task oriented. It is always easy to break the ice with men, by talking about work, sports, gadgets and of course women.

When we don’t understand something – be it some new challenge at work, another culture, or anything for that matter, it seems common that we get tense and aggressive – afraid of hurting our egos. We all have our different ways of coping. Personally I prefer being naive and willing to look silly and loose my face. Little act of kindness and appreciation, and genuine interest always goes a long way. Sure, I might be taken advantage of a few times, but life is just more fun smiling. So long New Delhi, and hello to Chennai. Momo lady I will always remember you…

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Categories:  India Photography Travel
3rd of August

About Borders


For the first few days during my stay here in Delhi, I roamed the streets of Old Delhi so yesterday I decided to go to New Delhi for a change of scenery. Where Old Delhi is full of narrow little streets, chaotic, organic, messy and wild, New Delhi is quite the opposite. It is very spacious (not something you see very often in India!), it is clean, organised, fairly quiet, considering this is India, and somehow tamed.

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I feel different here. Where life seems more free in Old Delhi, it seems like the world is full of borders in New Delhi. You smell that this is where the money is, where the power of the city is. The streets are full of the ambassadors (an Indian car used by government officials), business men and expensive shopping opportunities.

I walk the wide open boulevards and pass expensive houses, with giant walls and armed guards. I go to the Khan Market and see the rich people shopping. For the first time during my stay here I see a lot of western people as well. I feel restricted and not at ease here. I don’t feel the freedom I feel in Old Delhi. I don’t want to be judgemental, but it seems that once people get money and power, their behaviour changes. It feels more cold here somehow, constrained. There are rules. I look for an escape and head to the parking lot where the workers hang out. Ahh a fresh breath of air, here the chaos of India and the feeling of an organic approach to life (a nice way of saying chaotic) returns. I have myself a cup of masala chai and stand and watch from afar.

The rich people arrive and hand over their keys to the staff on the parking lot, who somehow manages to keep hundreds of cars parked on a tiny area the size of a stamp. This is the India I know, where everything is possible. At the same time I cannot help but feel a bit sad about what I hear in the loudspeakers – a prerecorded voice urging the clients of the market to exercise “extreme caution”. The cold female voice in the loudspeakers proclaim: “Please take the ID of the person parking your car, exercise precautions and do make sure that this and that.. do not encourage beggars, do not do this…”. I find a parked Lamborghini, the first time I have seen such an luxurious car in India, but once I try to photograph it the armed security guards look at me with great suspicion.

Even when I go to India gate (a national monument), searching for people smiling and enjoying life, there is only a few people here. And once people start arriving, and I am ready with my camera to document, we are ordered to leave the site for some unknown reason by armed guards. Not sure what is going on today – I guess the monument is closed for whatever reason. I had a lot of feelings of being closed off today in New Delhi.

In a moment of self reflection I realize that one of the things that bothers me in this place, is that I do not know how to take pictures here. I do not know how to tell the story of the rich. And I realize I am every bit as selfish as the people in the Khan Market. I am here to take something as well. Photographs. Without paying a dime for it. Ashamed of my own selfishness, I escape back to the area where I am staying, and visit the kind momo lady. She always gives me one extra momo for free and she always serve it with a smile. She was there in the morning when I took the metro to New Delhi, and she is there faithfully waiting when I return in the evening. Hardworking and taking pride in what she does. I think we could all learn something from the kind momo lady.

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Categories:  India Photography Travel
1st of August

Yes Sir! Yes Sir! Where Do You Want to Go?


Yes Sir! Yes Sir! Bazaar? Spice Market? I will take you there. Only 10 rupees! New Delhi – With a temperature well above 30 degrees Celsius, and a humidity close to liquid – I roam the streets. Everyone wants to sell me something, or take me some place. Hallo sir! HALLO!!! Where do you want to go!?! Cheap price!

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How do you explain someone that I want to go and capture the soul of a place? I don’t think it is for sale for 10 rupees, and last time I checked it is best reached by foot.

But none the less that is what I am here looking for – the soul of India. And how do you find it and communicate it through pictures? Such a chaotic place – how do you tell the story in an aesthetic pleasing manner? How do you capture the noise, the smell, the mixture of people? How do you focus?

To be honest I don’t know. I am still searching. Trying to tell the story by collecting small fragments of time. Fuelled by masala chai (spiced tea) and armed with my fuji x100s I roam the streets looking for the story.

But when the drivers asks me where I am going, I always answer: Nowhere.. I hope it is not entirely true ;)

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Categories:  India Photography Travel