My parents live in Bangalore, India where they're working as missionaries for three years and in the 14 months they've been there they've traveled to Nepal, Dehli, Mombai, Chennai, Vizak, Hyderabad, Goa, Sri Lanka, Coimbature, Rajahmundry and dozens of other places in between--they're hardly ever in one city for more than a few days.
We talk regularly and exchange letters and they're always sending me pictures of the amazing things they see.
Last week Dad sent me 59 pictures which I've whittled down to fifteen before presenting them to you along with descriptions in his own words (and one or two editorial comments of my own sneaked in here and there in brackets). So say hello to my Dad . . .
1. Snake Charmers. Yes there really are snake charmers in India. I hear they defang these cobras for safety purposes. I have no interest in getting close enough to a cobra to check if they still have fangs are not. Just like a gun, all cobras should be treated like they are loaded.
2. Power Wires. We have a lot of power outages and brown outs [I can only assume that's the Indian version of a "black out"?] Sometimes the power will go out over a couple of dozen times in a day. Maybe this picture explains some of the problem.
3. Waiting Hospitals and Funeral Pyres. This is one of the more amazing sights I have seen. Along the banks of this sacred river in Kathmandu (the same thing happens in India) there is a “waiting hospital" where dying persons are brought by their relatives or friends to die. As they expire their bodies are prepared and placed on these concrete altars built out on the river. A wooden pyre is built, the wrapped bodies are placed on the pyre and lit. It doesn't take long to consume everything--these men know what they are doing--and the ashes are swept into the river before the next body is brought out. This goes on all day.
4. Holy Men. This is a Hindu Holy Man. However, if you try to take his picture he has a high opinion of what it will cost you to take that picture. He seems to have no other means of support.
5. Indian School Children. I love taking pictures of Indian children, particularly in their school uniforms. They are gorgeous.
Even the Muslim girls wanted to get in the act. All but one even dropped their veils. I wonder what their fathers would have thought? After the photo the remaining holdout finally dropped her veil too after some peer pressure from the others.
6. Men Hanging by Their Skin. Some young Hindu men show their religious devotion by piercing their skin with steel hooks and then allowing themselves to be suspended in the air. They are then put in a parade and displayed. This photos was taken in Colombo, Sri Lanka but the young men are Tamils from Tamil Nadu in Southern India. This type of thing, along with walking on hot coals and piercing cheeks with long steel pins, is common.
7. The Homeless. Many people in India live on the streets or in makeshift shelters composed of scrape material they have scavenged. Particularly popular is the omnipresent “blue tarps” so popular in Alaska. This man had simply gone to sleep on this concrete wall. Sleeping on concrete or hard surfaces is common in India--most Indian beds are about as hard as concrete anyway. [Notice how he slipped off his flip flops before lying down?]
8. Carrying Loads on Your Head. Seeing something carried on the head happens frequently and you see many more women carrying loads on their heads than men. It is remarkable what they can carry and for such long distances. I have seen loads that obviously weighed more than the woman who was carrying them and I haven't been able to figure out how she got the load up there in the first place. In the countryside the women are often carrying sticks and branches for cooking fires which are often longer than they are tall and obviously weigh more.
9. Beautiful Faces. The young women of India are generally very beautiful. I have never been anywhere where there so many pretty young women and the young men are equally handsome. You see marvelous, wonderful “National Geographic” faces wherever you go. This woman was reported to be over 100 years old. [I think she's beautiful too--like someone's favorite grandmother].
10. Street Sweepers. Six days a week from 6:00 am until about 11:00 am there is an army of women street sweepers on the streets of most large Indian cities, often in horrific traffic. They all use these brooms that require them to bend over in a terribly awkward and tiring position. They make 100 rupees a day or about $2.50 and they are always working--you never see them resting.
11. Monkeys Everywhere. The only thing I hate more than monkeys are snakes and monkeys are everywhere in India. They are nasty, dirty, aggressive and will bite you if given any chance to do so which can be bad as they carry disease. We had a senior woman missionary who had a monkey take her keys out of her purse while she was walking on the streets of Bangalore. [Sounds like she's lucky he didn't nip her ear off].
12. Green Coconut Snacks. Green coconuts are very popular, these street vendors are everywhere and a green coconut costs about 12 rupees. The vendor cuts off the top and sticks a straw into the coconut and hands it to you. Because the coconut is green, the milk is clear. I'm not sure why they are so popular--it's an acquired taste.
13. Bollywood Movies. Bollywood and its influence are everywhere. Movies are immensely popular and billboards are ubiquitous. This is a shot from a Bollywood movie being filmed on location in Hyderabad.
14. Elephants for Riding. Elephants are common in India, both domesticated and in the wild--no one should come to India without riding one. Of course if you are going to offer rides on an elephant you'll need to set up an Elephant Booking Office.
15. Amazing Motorcycles. On motorcycles the women often sit sidesaddle on the back and once I saw a mother with twin babies, about six months old, in each arm. She was not hanging onto anything and the babies were fast asleep. It is quite common to see the children asleep on the cycles with their parents. Once I saw a motorcycle with three live goats balanced on it and on two occasions I've seen full length mirrors being transported this way.
Sponsored by MomAgenda.com--Enter to win daily planner giveaways from Mom Agenda.
Technorati tags: India, photography, travel