Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Last Hurrah... (For Now!)

The Essence.

It's all about the people isn't it? Life I mean, you know. Meeting new people, cherishing the ones close to you, learning from everyone - even the ones you know so little about. Well, after so many posts and endless snaps from my Indian times, I guess it's time to celebrate some of the above mentioned "essence". Partially and photographically of course.
Not everybody is here. And it's not for not being photogenic either, my pics are not so complimentary anyhow. This is what I found and it's only symbolic.

A big thank you to everybody, what more can I say? Until the next time....

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Happy #100 Mr. Sachin!

A hundred hundreds for Sachin Tendulkar and it was bound to be celebrated. I admit I didn't have my ears open enough but here's to it nevertheless.

*Update: I forgot to link to the (un)official celebratory webpage. It's and you can be part of the legend! Thanks Parag.

Back to Base!

After another longish hiatus, this is the conclusion of the Indian adventures.

Returning to Bombay from the desert, the salt flats and a pseudo-Mediterranean island in the Arabian Sea was strange. In all honesty it felt like going back home and that says a lot. The surge of bustling traffic, humidity and a wholly different kind of heat, the crowds and concrete was strangely welcome. A few days of navigating the urban jungle and making new friends could be nothing less. Back to base then.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

In Diu.

Staying in a church with bright sky-blue Mickey Mouse curtains, listening to the ocean after midnight. Walking the long, empty beaches with Ganesh looking after me. The white Portuguese churches glaring in the midday sun. A fort, an island prison and a boat with silly decorations and loud cheesy songs taking the Indians weekenders for a short sail. Fresh fish and cheap beer. Colourful houses and shy "namaste". Jesus in a glass tomb.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Old Fort.

Leaving Kachchh behind I headed towards the coast and made a stop-over at Junagarh. Extremely hot, this is the city next to the holy mountain of Girnar. Faithful arrive from everywhere to climb the thousand steps to the top and pray at the dozen temples. I visited the Ashokan edicts, engraved on a humble boulder under the mountain, instructing compassion, respect and humility for twenty five centuries now. And stood staring at the two adorned coffins under the bush at the castle. Don't ask me what they were - I don't know.

Friday, 13 April 2012

No 200.

I never thought it'd go on for so long but here we are, post #200! More than two years from the first one and still on the road.
So many things have happened all this time, so many adventures half-forgotten and even more hard-imprinted. I can't admit I'm any wiser about when we'll get there yet. There might have been more than a few places where "there" seemed to be found and who knows how many more were brushed away lightheartedly. Time has been precious and still remains. But they say the trip is more important than the arriving and I'm happy to keep it up for who-knows-how-long-more. I'm an optimist after all...

Thursday, 12 April 2012

On The Desert Road.

The Pilgrimage.

Religion is big in India. Everybody knows that and I've been tasting it first hand. The ever-presence of temples and ceremonies of all faiths, purges, festivals and pilgrimages is as natural and common as the air you breathe. Yet, there are some occasions where I find myself surprised and disorientated. Overwhelmed I should say.

Holi in Mathura had a couple of moments like those and the pilgrims we kept driving into in Kachchh had the same effect on me. There's an annual Muslim pilgrimage, around 200km long and in the Indian fashion it's done on foot. Tents with blaring music as makeshift resting stops, a sea of discarded plastic chai cups around and the endless river of people walking as if forever. Some carrying suitcases, others only green flags, families or single youngsters on their mobile phones. And camels, horses, carts and rickshaws. I counted a few hundreds in 15 minutes and they were walking for days. In the desert. All this commitment, the energy, the faith. All I could do was stare.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Needlework and Fish-shaped Mirrors.

Of course the purpose of this part of the trip was the handicraft tour of the local artisans organized by matsya. Each community specializes in one kind of craft, putting all their dreams, traditions and lives in the patterns. The daily chores, their skills and talents, the weddings and the sorrows. Every step of the process is meticulous but usually done during the free time from the necessities of life.
Materials and final products change hands seamlessly. And be it hand decorated silk in incredible fashion, welding-free cow bells, geometric needlework on cotton or fine-detailed woodwork and block printing, everything is made to be used and worn. This is living in Kachchh.
* As usual my photos might not be as informative or to anybody's taste. For a much more thorough record of the handicrafts and artisan's tools, please visit Diti's blog post. There's more to see there too!

The Cast.

The people of Kachchh are a diverse lot. Refugees from Sindh during the Partition and the 1971 war, immigrants from Persia to Afghanistan and everything in between and ancient nomadic tribes roaming the deserts fill this vast region with their own, unique colours, customs and traditions. Each village is distinct but the round mud-houses with the thatched roofs and the bold coloured patterns on the walls are the norm. Kachchhi, their language has lost its script but is as vibrant as ever. And the simplicity of life, their warmth and humility is breathtaking.
  * Portraits and proper photos of the dwellings you say? Sure, why not? But not in this place as per habit. Diti has loads here and here.

Saturday, 7 April 2012


The setting is Kachchh. It literally means "something which intermittently becomes wet and dry". It is a large district in the state of Gujarat and a big part of it is the Rann. Marshy salt flats during the dry seasons, a vast wetland during the monsoons. This is practically a desert, a marsh, an island and a huge peninsula at the same time, depending on the season and your point of view.
The purpose is the handicrafts of the local nomadic and artisan communities.
The vehicle is matsya and the company is eclectic. It is hot and alien and it'll take five days.

To be continued.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Ambassador.

A fine example of Indian car-making and an institution in its own right. Always white, always around. Forever and ever.

My Boulangerie.

Elephants and Maharajas are parading on the walls. A fine lake with a palace on its own island. Laid back cafes and endless veggie thalis. Narrow lanes going up and down and up again and scents to die for. A local juice stall, the Juice Baba, with killer pineapples. An endless veranda to lounge on and a garden with thick shadows inside a palace. Elephants blocking your way until you feed him something. A firm bed and of course your very own boulangerie. Why would one like Udaipur?