Category Archives: Photograhphy

The Stark Beauty of Early December

Winter is not my favorite season. The short days, the dip in temperatures and most of all the lack of sunlight gets to me. Nature begins its nap in early December not to awaken until the spring thaw comes. As I look out of the window, I see that the oaks and the maples have shed their leaves revealing the stark beauty of the branches underneath. Without the leaves to obstruct the view, I can see the distant mountains that surround me. The grass is still green in patches and there is no snow yet and there are some remnants of withered brown leaves still left on trees.

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Happy 4th

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Golden Gate Bridge, California

The Bay Bridge at a distance, from Kent Island, Maryland

Happy 4th everyone, from sea to shining sea.

First Snow Storm of the Season

Its not even December and we already have our first snowstorm, looks like its going to be a long winter. After last winter, I was hoping for some respite.

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Frost and Winters North of Boston

 

Robert Frost is the quintessential New England poet, his poems evoke the landscape of northern New England with its farmland and its woods.  The ever changing seasons and especially the long harsh winters provide a rich tapestry to of many of his poems.  From The Birches,

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

When icicles melt due to the sun’s direct heat they do indeed sound like breaking glass when they fall.

Dirty and grimy old snow, reminds Frost of a wet newspaper with its newsprint smudged due to rain. From a Patch of Old Snow,

There’s a patch of old snow in a corner
That I should have guessed
Was a blow-away paper the rain
Had brought to rest.

It is speckled with grime as if
Small print overspread it,
The news of a day I’ve forgotten —
If I ever read it.

To me, the first stanza of My November Guest, evokes the dreaded SAD that many of us who live in the northern climes endure, when the days get shorter and the nights longer and all the leaves are gone but the snow is still not here.

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise

Living in Northern New England definitely gives one a better appreciation of Frost’s poetry. Although I must say, that I was a Frost fan even when I lived nowhere near the North of Boston.

Sea to Shining Sea

Acadia National Park, Maine

Highway 1 California

Scenic overlook on the way to Monterey, California, on  the Pacific Coast Highway

I can sit for endless hours watching the waves crash on the shore, doing absolutely nothing.  I took the first photo on my visit to Acadia in 2009 and the second photo is from last week. 

Layers of History II, Karla Caves and The Ekveera Temple

Wherever you are in India, you are a  witness to several historical eras juxtaposed together, like several geological eras in a single sedimentary rock. This is true whether  you are  in  Colaba or Karla.

The Karla Caves sit atop a mountain in the Sahyadri range.  The cave complex is made up of the largest Chaitya or  prayer hall  in India and the Viharas which serve as living quarters for the monks.   If the cave temple complex is a relic of India’s distant Buddhist past, the present is represented  by a much smaller temple dedicated to Ekveera Devi.  In fact, most of the visitors to Karla are Hindu pilgrims.  Ekveera, is the kuldevata (literal translation: clan deity, roughly like the Catholic patron saint) of the Kolis, the fisher folk who were Bombay’s original inhabitants.  She has also been adopted as kuldevata by many other Marathi speaking communities of Bombay.

The Ekveera Devi temple is one among many temples in Maharashtra that sit atop a mountain. Some are behind  impressive  fortifications while others are tucked away in plain sight next to Buddhist cave temples from another era.  Their location makes sense when you realize that higher altitudes are cooler during the summer and offer a measure of safety along with a peaceful place to meditate and contemplate. Watching the sun go down in the Western Ghats is a spiritual experience in and of itself.

Karla Cave Temple Complex  and Ekveera Devi Temple

Entrance to the Prayer Hall and the Ekveera Devi Temple

Ekveera Devi

Her Tortoise

Living Quarters  for the Buddhist Monks

A View of from the Top

To check out other posts about my India trip, click here

Wednesday Afternoon Moment of Zen

The Main Prayer Hall, Karla Caves, Lonavla

I was here almost a month ago, a cool place to be in the middle of May, literally. The temperature inside the caves was at least ten degrees cooler than the outside. It is one of the many Buddhist cave temple complexes found all over India. Buddhism once flourished in India, especially during Ashoka’s reign.  The main prayer hall has Ashoka’s pillar at its entrance.

More Gulmohar

More Gulmohar

I took this picture on a sunny Sunday morning  while in India. In the foreground is the Arabian sea. More Gulmohar here and here are my other dispatches from India.

Flame of the Forest

Flame of the forest or the Gulmohar tree just before the monsoon rains arrive.  I took this photo in Lonavla, India, in the last week of May.

Layers of History I , Bombay’s British Legacy

While traveling in India you quickly realize that there are many layers of history that surround you. This is true whether you are  in a street in Bombay or in the Western Ghats.   Beneath the  glitz of Bollywood, the high rises and the new expressways you can still hear the echoes of the city’s colonial past. Bombay’s rise to prominence is closely associated with the ascendancy of the British in India. Before, it was a nondescript collection of several fishing villages.  The names and architecture of South Bombay bear a witness to this colonial legacy.

Although some prominent  Victorian and Edwardian structures have been renamed, locals still prefer the old names to the new Indian ones.  Also, many  parts of Bombay and many of its revered institutions still sport  the names from the colonial era.  For example, the Grant Road and the Elphinstone Road stations on the suburban Western Railway line, both named after Governors of Bombay, which included the states that are now Maharashtra and Gujarat.  Incidentally, there are educational institutions in Bombay still named after Grant ( Grant Medical College) and Elphinstone (Elphinstone College) respectively.

As an arm chair historian, I think this curious phenomenon can be explained by the fact, that people who lived in Bombay in the years that immediately followed the Indian Independence had mostly worked for the many administrative institutions that ran the  Colonial Government.  The colonial rule was harsh and exploitative in general, for the rest of India but it was beneficial for the city and its inhabitants in many ways big and small.  So it is no surprise that the  average citizen of Bombay recalled the British years with fondness and was in no hurry to obliterate the British legacy.

The name changes of the last eighteen years or so are the consequence of the changing  nature of Indian and especially local  politics,  a topic perhaps of another blog post.

Museum

The Museum in Mumbai

Earlier dispatches from India are here