Gateway to the Soul 2

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Fort Cochin

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“India has always had a strange way with her conquerors. In defeat, she beckons them in, then slowly seduces, assimilates and transforms them.” ~ William Dalrymple, White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India

The dusty, tarred and paved alleys / roads of Fort Cochin especially in and closer to the old town / harbour entrance can be explored at a leisurely pace for hours on end. On my first visit I ended up getting lost and walking with a heavy backpack for an extra few kilometres. Some great little snack bars and restaurants can be found in this area, which is mostly alcohol free (I did find one official bar doing limited sales). Late afternoon through the road network ending with an ice-cream is a must-do. Morning walks are also great and present some lovely photo opportunities with golden rays striking through the alleys and trees. Think… relaxing lazy days, market buzz in the distance, dogs napping nearby, the odd fly buzzing around and crows waiting for a titbit: I love India! Further along the dusty, tarred and paved alleys / roads of Fort Cochin is the promenade where people gather at the waterfront to exercise, socialise and or just watch the sun go down. I said earlier that Fort Cochin could be described as the cutest little town I have discovered this far in India; it’s maybe also the most “innocent”. The photo below is of two bicycles parked off while their owners watch the sun slowly go down. A gent is seen reading in the background with two passers-by heading along the dusty sand pathway.

Canon South Africa 6D, F4, 1/250 sec, ISO 320

Merry Christmas

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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Early Bird Catches the Worm: Early one morning, before sunrise, I arranged for my tuk-tuk taxi man to fetch me. We shot some sunrise photos on the edge of the lake and it was then time to explore some of the narrow alleys on the edge of the lake / waterway.

The fisherman below had no doubt woken up a short while before me and had already retrieved his catch of small fish from his net. I met him in an alley that heads to the main road.

About 30 min before I had met another local who, like the fisherman, was also a smoker. I thought it would be a done deal; offer him a few packets of Beedi (thin, Indian cigarette filled with tobacco flake and wrapped in a tendu or possibly even Piliostigma racemosum leaf tied with a string at one end) and then he would allow me to take photos of him.

The fisherman declined the Beedi deal but through the translator explained that some Rupees (cash) to buy a 07:30 refresher in the morning from the toddy shop (coconut wine / beer) would seal the deal!

Wikipedia: “Palm wine is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, date palms, and coconut palms.

In Karnataka, India, palm wine is usually available at toddy shops (known as Kallu Kadai in [Tamil], Kalitha Gadang in Tulu, Kallu Dukanam in Telugu, Kallu Angadi in Kannada or “Liquor Shop” in English).

In the Indian state of Kerala, toddy is used in leavening (as a substitute for yeast) a local form of hopper called the “Vellayappam”.

Toddy is mixed with rice dough and left over night to aid in fermentation and expansion of the dough causing the dough to rise overnight, making the bread soft when prepared.

In Kerala, toddy is sold under a licence issued by the excise department and it is an industry having more than 50,000 employees with a welfare board under the labour department”.

Canon 6D, F4, 1/400 sec, ISO 640, NL – 24/105mm L

Beedi V2

Wikipedia: “A beedi (/ˈbiːdiː/; from Hindi: बीड़ी; also spelled bidi or biri) is a thin, Indian cigarette filled with tobacco flake and wrapped in a tendu or possibly even Piliostigma racemosum leaf tied with a string at one end. The name is derived from the Marwari word beeda – a leaf wrapped in betel nuts, herbs, and condiments. A traditional method of tobacco use throughout South Asia and parts of the Middle East, today beedies are popular and inexpensive in India. There, beedi consumption outpaces that of conventional cigarettes. Beedi smoking tends to be associated with a lower social standing, and these tobacco-filled leaves are inexpensive, when compared to regular cigarettes. Those with a high social standing who do smoke beedies often do so out of the public eye.”

I met the chap below near the Chinese fishing nets at Fort Cochin in Kerala. He was smoking a beedi and gladly allowed me to snap a few photos much to the delight of him and his friends. I’m not a smoker but couldn’t resist getting “low down and dirty” with many of the locals during the recent trip – communication jumped a few levels when I lit up my own beedi, sat on the ground, smoked and shared a few stories. Faces lit up, including my own, and we gossiped in half-English as best as we could. If you are ever in this area go stay at Heavenly Homestay,Fortcochin. Enquries: Patrick Bernad – highly recommended!

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Canon 6D, 24-105mm, F4, 1/160 sec, ISO 320 – PP LR PS

Fort Cochin, India

“Indians are the Italians of Asia and vice versa. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks to the shop at the corner. For them, food is the music inside the body and music is the food inside the heart” ~ Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

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Photo taken on the streets of Fort Cochin in India not far from Heavenly Homestay,Fortcochin – the best place to stay when visiting there (enquiries: Patrick Bernad).

Canon South Africa 6D, 24-105, F4, 1/160 sec, ISO 320

Jama Musjid

Delhi final (2 of 10)

Wikipedia: “The Masjid-i Jahān-Numā (Persian: مسجد-ا جہاں نما, Devanagari: मस्जिद जहान नुमा, the ‘World-reflecting Mosque’), commonly known as the Jama Masjid (Hindi: जामा मस्जिद, Urdu: جامع مسجد) of Delhi, is the principal mosque of Old Delhi in India.[1] Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, it is the best-known mosque in India. Construction began in 1650 and was completed in 1656. It lies at the beginning of the Chawri Bazar Road, a very busy central street of Old Delhi. The later name, Jama Masjid, refers to the weekly Friday noon congregation prayers of Muslims, Jummah, which are usually done in a mosque, the “congregational mosque” or “jāma masjid”. The courtyard of the mosque can hold up to twenty-five thousand worshippers. The mosque also houses several relics in a closet in the north gate, including an antique copy of the Qur’an written on deer skin.”