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.
Random skyskape at sunrise.
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 πŸ˜‰ 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.

29th of July

Why Do Things By Halve? Return to India

I guess one thing that I realised about myself in the past few years is that I don’t like to do things by halves. What this has to do with India? Well – I will get back to that shortly.

But let me start by saying, If I want to do something I go all in. It might be slightly obsessive, but I have come to accept it is part of who I am. If I want to climb a mountain I go all in with crazy training, and eating like a rabbit, if I want to learn a programming language I disappear from the surface of the earth and bury myself in front of my computer, if I want to learn how to print in the darkroom I order a mountain of chemicals and become the mad scientist (by the way crossing the border between England and France through the euro tunnel with a suitcase full of darkroom chemical makes for some very stressed looking border police – true story!)

This obsessive nature can be rather productive at times, but there is also another side of the coin when things do not work out as I want them to. After my mountain adventure last winter I have been struggling with some bad ass knee problems, also known as patellar tendonitis, which has hindered me from training as hard as I would have liked to. Two things has come out of that – firstly my mood has become darker and I flipped 100% in terms of diet – no more eating like a rabbit, more like eating like a pig (followed by a fair bit of weight gain), and secondly I have become greatly fascinated by anatomy. Again my obsessive nature has kicked in and I have been in “body debugging” mode, studying human anatomi, and training specifically to improve my knee situation (in my case ankle+hip mobility + strengthening my glute region – also known as the bum). I have become crazy flexible and my buns has become considerable stronger – slowly progress is being made to provide myself with a more healthy knee situation.

Another thing that I have become obsessive about the last few years has been becoming very mobile, and cutting my living footprint down to a minimum. Most of my things has been sold, given away or thrown out. I don’t own a TV – well I do but it is permanently lend to the wonderful couple Dorthe and Dennis, I only own a few boxes which also resides in the basement of Dorthe and Dennis, a computer and a bunch of outdoor stuff. This month I moved to Norway to live with the wonderful woman Michelle Ortiz. I love the fact that from the time I made the decision to move here, to it being a reality just took a little more than 3 weeks. Its a very freeing feeling to be able to do things like this on such a short notice.

One of the latest things I have been working on in this more mobile lifestyle is to make the move from bulky DSLR cameras to tiny mirrorless camera. The technology has been moving fast the last few years, and now some affordable solution exists which provide outstanding quality. Currently I am busy testing the Fuji x100s – an amazing cost efficient camera weighing only a little less than one pound. I love that such a tiny little camera can provide me with such amazing quality – it really brings back the joy in photography. It is a great tool that does not come in my way, it is light and well performing, and allows me to focus on the subject matter without worrying too much about technology. It is dead silent and very unobtrusive – ideal for my passion of photographing people.

Now you might ask what all this has to do with India, and not doing things by halves? Well the answer is quite simple really. I want to put this camera to the ultimate test, I want to put it through it paces and see how it works on the streets of incredible India. So tomorrow I will put myself on a plane and go to India during the monsoon to do nothing but photograph for two months. If it can take the abuse of two months of photography during the heavy monsoons I know I have found myself a real gem. Needless to say I am excited to be visiting India for the 7th time in my life, a land of startling contrasts. I am sure a lot of human stories are there waiting to be reported by my Fuji x100s.

7th of December

You Cannot Hide From Who You Are


I haven’t really posted here for a while – to be honest I have been too caught up in
climbing, and after returning to Kathmandu, hanging out with friends and walking the streets photographing for my little book project “Colors of Kathmandu”

Today I leave Nepal, after almost 40 wonderful days here. There are so many impressions from this trip to Nepal – I hope I will manage to materialize them soon, and share them here!

All I can say for now is that this has been an amazing trip. I prepared for this adventure for a year. I managed to loose 15kgs of body weight finally getting under 100kg as part of the preparations. First time I visited Nepal in 2009 I was 128kg heavy, next time (in 2011) 115kg. Now I am slightly less than 100kg. I think it is safe to say that the quest for the mountains has been good for my health!

Summiting Imjse Tse, 6189m was an amazing experience. Preparing for something for that long, and making the dream become a reality was nothing short of amazing. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and it motivates me and gives me the confidence to prepare for further adventures (next trip to Nepal is already in the making).

When I left for this trip, some part of me was struggling coming to terms with my way of life – maybe it is time to settle down, maybe it is time to live a “normal” life?

I think if it is one thing I have learned from this trip, it is you cannot hide from who you are. There is a reason that I keep coming back to this part of the world.
There is a reason that I keep hitting the streets with my camera. There is a reason that I keep seeking out adventure. It is simply just who I am.

I have realized that when I do what I love, I put out a lot of positive energy, and “good stuff” just happens in return. New opportunities arises. I meet new like-minded people. New projects appear. A fellow nomad and photographer friend Flemming Bo Jensen – who also is a great writer, wrote something on his blog a while back, that I can really relate to. As he said – “I am not running away from something – I am running towards to something”! The last few years has been filled with me running towards my dreams.

I left England after living there for 4 amazing years – even though I was enjoying it immensely there. But I had dreamed for long to try to work for my dream company Miracle A/S in Denmark. After having fulfilled that dream – having a great time, learning a lot, working with some amazing people, I quit my job to pursue my dream of traveling the world, for an undefined period. It was an amazing journey! It ended up with me returning to Denmark to start my own company, which was a new adventure indeed. At the same time the preparation started for Imjse Tse.

Now having fulfilled the dream of Imjse Tse, I realize that stopping with pursuing my dreams, and settling into a life that society calls “normal” would be silly.
I don’t see the point of trying to be something that I am not, and trying to want something that most people want. I realize that living a different lifestyle, is not always a dance on roses – but life will always be a bumpy ride no matter how you live it. I think the best we can do is to go for what we want, and own up to the consequences. And I have never been more ready to do that, than I am right now.

Of course I realize that doing crazy and sometimes dangerous things worries the people that I care about. And for that I am truly sorry – and I appreciate their effort to try and understand me. And thereby on a finishing note – thank you for all the support from my friends and family – it means the world to me!

So long Nepal, and thank you for all the daal bhat. Hope to see you again come May!

26th of May

One Adventure Ends Another One Begins

Life has been rather hectic during the past two months – but in the good way πŸ™‚
April 5th I returned to Denmark from Thailand and 7+ months on the road, to embark on a new adventure. Boxing and exercising in Thailand was a great experience, but I will write a seperate post about that πŸ™‚

The day after returning I rushed off to Norway to spend some quality time with the lovely woman Michelle Ortiz!

After a happy reunion and some days packed with fun together with the Filipina mafia (aka the au pair gang), I rushed off back to Denmark to start work for my first client – no time for resting.

Yeah my first client – you heard right πŸ™‚ I started my own company – Pragma IT at your service! My dream is to work focused for periods as an independent IT consultant, put aside some cash and then at other times pursue other adventures in life. The next adventure is definitively going to be climbing Imja Tse, 6189m in Nepal (also known as Island Peak). So besides being busy with work I try to spend a fair bit of time training for this expedition (hoping to be able to go in November this year) πŸ™‚

Plugging back into society has gone rather seamlessly actually. I spend the first month sleeping on Dorthe and Dennise’s sofa – bless their souls and their hospitality. As of May 1st I have been living in a lovely little room in the middle of Copenhagen just a few minutes walk from the Queens palace – I don’t think I will ever get the opportunity to stay this central anywhere in the world again πŸ™‚ The place is perfect for me. We are six people living here – 2 Greeks, 1 Swedish, 1 Polish, 1 Bangladeshi and myself being the only dane here. Very nice people, and it makes everyday life a little more fun when you have interesting people from different cultures around you πŸ™‚

And the best part about my room – it has a bed loft! Sure you might think I am 16 again, but I love it! Sue me πŸ˜‰

Besides being busy getting plugged back into society, working on the business, and training for Nepal – there has still been time for a few adventures – including a few trips to Norway to visit Michelle, and an epic trip to Russia together with Dorthe and Dennis (with a few days being spend in Estonia as well) to see Peter wed the wonderful woman Constanta, from Moldova. That trip involved me falling a sleep at the statue of Lenin at 3 am, but thats a story for another time πŸ˜‰

11th of December

Traveling Blues and Hospitality In Kalkata

I have fallen a bit behind with updating this blog, so forgive me but this post should probably have been posted a few weeks back πŸ™‚

The day after I reached Kalkata, high on being back in India, something new happened. I got the blues – the traveling blues. I think the emotional roller coaster of saying goodbye to the very nice Bangladeshi family really got to me.
For my whole stay in Kalkata, I didn’t want to do anything. I tried to push myself to photograph, but gave up after one day, and spend my time mainly reading and studying some IT (which I actually enjoyed quite a lot).

But this was a very new emotion to me, having the traveling blues. I guess I had gotten tired of saying goodbye to people, and I made no effort whatsoever to interact with anyone in Kalkata, as I really didn’t want to meet some more nice people and have to say goodbye all over again.

At the same time something very nice happened. I think Indian hospitality was trying to compete with Bangladeshi hospitality πŸ™‚ I got a phonecall from a Indian family living in Kalkata. Now, I had done nothing to get in touch with this family. What happened was the my Indian ex-wife (living in Germany) got to know that I was in Kalkata.

So what happened was that she apparently called her Indian friend living in Denmark. And this friends sisters lives in Kalkata. So my ex-wifes friends sister called me and said that i HAD to join them for dinner here in Kalkata. Now that is Indian hospitality for you πŸ™‚ That was quite a nice experience to soothe the travel blues I must say!

Anyhow, the blues is now gone, and although not very enjoyable I think it is an important part of traveling. You can not always be on a high. Yin and Yang and all that… This is one thing I enjoy about traveling for an extended time period. You can have rough times, and take them for the experience that they really are – without getting stressed out about it. If I had only been on a three weeks holiday, I think I would have found myself rather stressed out about having the blues.

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Categories:  Thoughts Travel
2nd of November

The Joy of Doing Nothing

I have been hanging around in Kathmandu for a week or so now. In the time I have been here – I have been doing absolutely nothing.

It has been a great feeling! Although in the beginning I had a tough time doing nothing to be honnest. I felt that I “had to” go see things you where “supposed” to see. I met many other travellers, who where busy going to various temples, attractions around the city, travelling to other cities as these places where supposed to be really nice, basically doing whatever is popular around Kathmandu.

But somehow I really didn’t feel like doing any of that stuff. In the beginning I was actually feeling guilty about this. I guess I have become so used to being busy doing stuff. Actually – in some way, being busy has become a bad habbit.

The first few days I just roamed around, spend time finding low key cheap places to eat, and read a lot (currently reading the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). After a few days something really great started happening. I started getting curious.

I work in IT, and it has been great having a break from my professional field. But here I was, in the capital of Nepal, doing nothing, and all of the sudden I got interested in IT again. So for the past 5 days I have been busy with my computer, studying new things (I will not bore you with the details). But it has been quite a while since I felt like learning something new, for the sake of learning something new – and not for solving a specific task at work.

I think I will have to do more of nothing sometime in the future… πŸ™‚

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Categories:  Nepal Thoughts Travel
18th of July

What Really Matters

During the past few months I have been getting ready for the rather big lifestyle change ahead of me. As part of the preparations one of the major issues have been deciding what to do with my stuff.
Originally I wanted to clear out stuff that I didn’t need any longer and put the rest in storage. But once this process started, I began thinking about what it really was that I wanted to achieve with this change in my life.

I’ve experienced 30 summers so far in my life. I’ve travel to a lot of interesting places. I’ve lived abroad for almost 4 years. I’ve been married – I’ve been divorced. Had the privilege of being able to study at university (it is free here in Denmark – actually you get paid around 700€ a month by the government to study here!!). Many experiences – some good, some bad, some sad, some happy – all contributing to making me who I am today. And I find it the more I experience the more I realize what really matters to me. What makes me happy is experiences. Relationships with people. Eating great food. Climbing mountains. Doing crazy things.
Material goods are not of great importance for me to be happy. The only few things that I really feel that I need is a laptop, my camera, a photo printer and an internet connection. All the other stuff to me is just luxuries. Oh yeah and a bed and some warm dry clothes might also go on the list of essentials πŸ™‚

Therefore I decided to part way with pretty much most of my belongings, cutting down to only possessing a few boxes that will be stored with friends and family. Furniture, electronics – gone. I sold these. Clothes, various household stuff – gone – donated it to charity. Lots of various crap – gone – I fed the container with this. Left are just a few physical memories (postcards, photographs, etc), my favorite books and nothing much else.

Throughout my whole life I have been conditioned by society that in order to be successful you need to get a good education, have a career, make money, build a home, settle down with a family, and once you retire you can enjoy the good life. I know that things are not really this black and white, but often I get the feeling that this is what my culture and society expects of me. A fair amount of times I have been wondering – what does it mean that I only have a few boxes to my name and a couple of coins on my bank account at the age of 30? But I have to say it is at this point in my life that I feel the most free. I am of good health, I have great people in my life and rather importantly I am full of hopes and dreams. And I am doing what makes me happy.

As the departure date gets closer it is not my things that I think about. It is people – the people that I will miss back home in Denmark. The people that I will meet on the road. Of the experiences to come.
Things are and will always just be things…

β€œThere is something perverse about more than enough. When we have more, it is never enough. It is always somewhere out there, just out of reach. The more we acquire, the more elusive enough becomes.”
– Unknown

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Categories:  Thoughts Travel