Friday, March 31, 2006


Goodness I love spring. Birds are chirping on the regular, waking me up, nature's alarm clock early in the morning. A mulberry tree outside my house, ripe with blackish purple berries, entices me everyday for a breakfast of fresh bananas, berries, yogurt, honey and meusli. The local honey, of course, helps to fight the springtime allergies.

Bees and their hives hang high from the thick branch of a tree adjacent to the local chai wallah on the corner of my block. Reminiscent of the upper deck at Shea Stadium, thousands of them fan their hive with a synchronized wave to rid unwanted parasites. The trunk is alive with honey makers as well, they dart in and out of the cold dank space they call home, searching for pollen to be turned into flowing liquid gold.

Rain comes every so often and nourishes the fertile soil in the Doon Valley and the higher Himalayan hills. There are wildflowers growing everywhere, both here in the city and in the small villages everywhere in this country.

The big red flowers are Burass. When a handful of them are boiled in water and then sweetened with honey, the taste is just too good. The little white flowers sit on the side of the wall and watch the slow life of the village pass by.

Love to all.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Pasted Posters

After a long day walking around a neighborhood, talking to people and shooting photos, I always retreat home, get some rythyms going and take a long look at the images of the day. With so many distractions on the streets of India, rarely do I have the time to check each and every variable within the frame. Sometimes my images are out of focus, sometimes they are over or underexposed, maybe the light on my subject is just plain wrong. But one facet of a photo is that there is always some type of background.

India is plastered with posters. Whether it is the local swami coming to town for a teaching, an image of a politician hoping for a vote or a marvelous film advertisement, the colors and vibrant designs of these masterpieces are stunning. Looking back on some images that I had taken these many months, I noticed some marvelous backgrounds. In some of these photos I knew what was going on in the back of the image while I was shooting. But in others, it wasn't until I took a closer look...

Love to all.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sabzi Mandi

Every morning trucks from all over India arrive at the largest vegetable and fruit market in Dehradun, the "Sabzi Mandi." I woke up at six this morning and bicycled about ten kilometres to check out the veggies. Most the trucks arrive from the neighboring state of Punjab & Haryana but mangoes have begun to show their sweet face around the city and these "early season" mangoes make the journey by train, from the south, first to Delhi and then onwards north, to Dehradun.

Love to all.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Summer is on it's way and it is getting hot all over the Northern Hemisphere. Time for a swim.

Outside the Junda Mela, Dehradun, India.

Love to all.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Families are beautiful. I love to meet different family members, different generations- sisters, brothers, mothers, uncles, cousins, grandparents and their parents too.

The first image is two sisters at dusk. Kausasi Village, Uttaranchal.

The second image is group of women, all family, enjoying a relaxed moment. Gyan Dura Village, Uttaranchal.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ferris Wheel

"Ferris Wheel", Junda Mela, Dehradun, Uttaranchal

Love to all.

Junda Mela

Yesterday I went to a huge fair. The place was packed with vendors selling everything from sunglasses to achaar, badminton raquets and juicers. There were hawkers, similar to the "As Seen on TV" folks, dealing specially crafted choppers and "never needs a sharpen" knives. You could get your photo taken next to a cardboard cutout of the famous bollywood actor, Amitabh Bacchan or the herione and former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai. Or for ten rupees you could win a two litre bottle of Pepsi or Thums Up, but only, if you could successfully knock down ten metal glasses with three tennis balls.

Everybody under the sun was there, a cross section of India. There were big families and small ones. Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs. There were beggars and thieves, pickpockets and prophets. Police in army green paraded around, leaning on their lathis. One thousand civilans to every police wallah. Transvestites and eunuchs and old men confused, regarded one another with suspecting intrigue.

I spent most of the day hanging out with the huge extended family that runs the rides, the magic shows and motqua quowa (dardevils that ride motorcycles and cars around a huge ring, parallel to the ground).

The photos are a cross section of this family and their friends.

From the ferris wheel that they erect, to the transvestite that is a magnet for all to stare at, to the man who sells snacks of roasted chana, and the announcer and the girl who sits next to him, "Come One Come All Don't Miss The Show!!".

From the ticket checker and the caged ticket seller. Even the young man who was my guide, sitting before the start of the show, his girlfriend in the back, on stage, dancing and teasing the male viewers until the magic show begins...

Love to all.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Mondo Magnets

I was sitting on a stoop waiting for a train ticket when I saw two street kids weaving in and out of parked scooters. Each was dragging something by a string. I stood up, curious to see what it was that these kids were dragging through the dirt. The scooters blocked my view and I sat back down. Probably a ball or some little toy, I thought.

As the kids came closer it became clear that it wasn't a toy these kids were playing with. Both kids had a huge mondo magnet attached to their strings. They were meticulously dragging the magnets through the dirt hoping that perhaps a rupee, an earring or something of value might stick get stuck.

Later that day I got my camera and found these kids and a crew of their friends in front of a cinema hall.

Love to all.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Last summer I went to a "Recent Art in India" exhibit at the Asia Society in NYC. The first display was an MTV kiosk filled with goods that you would find here in India- Tice Number beedies, Parle-G biscuits, Frooti mango juice, little sachets of chewing tobacco... There was a small television showing the little fifteen second vignette ads that MTV has always been famous for. As I looked back towards the reception (I'll be honest, I was contemplating snagging a pack of beedies right then and there from the exhibit) and then again at the tv, I saw a great ad...

It was a conveyor belt and little babies zooming along the conveyor belt, perhaps on their way to getting packaged. Each kid was getting stamped with an MTV logo on their bellies. Sort of like a company branded zerbert that never goes away. At the end of the ad, the MTV logo appeared and a Indian voice exclaimed in English,

"MTV IndIa... We make babies!!"

It's predicted that India will be the most populated country by 2031. In India, there are infants, babies, kids and children everywhere- at work with their parents, in the streets, cleaning pots & pans, begging, playing cricket, crying and laughing...

But no matter what their situation, kids are always having fun. They are filled with wonder and excitment and happiness...

Love to all.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Rules of a Sculptor

When I shoot photographs of people I try and follow a rule- get to know the person I will be taking an image of. So many times photographers take an image or shoot a photo with a zoom lens from 200 metres away. Rarely do they ever give an image. They never get to know their subject. I prefer to do the opposite. I almost always appproach someone, talk to them for awhile and then ask them if I may shoot their photo. Afterwards, I always offer to give them a copy of the photo. Many people I have taken photos of have never even seen their image on paper. Whether I mail it hundreds of kilometres, email it or return the next day with a copy, the smiles on the faces of people when they get an image is worth all the hard work and running around.

This sculptor lives up the road from me. Yesterday I gave him this photo.

Love to all.

Final Exams...

I stumbled upon these three guys only hours after they had finished the last final exam of their high school careers. Next stop, university. They were exuding happiness and as I walked by they asked me to take a photo of them. I'm hoping to meet them today and give them each a copy of this image. This is Rajpur Road, Dehradun.

Love to all...

Ice Cream...

Whether it is the tune of Mister Softee, the cry of a streetside ice cream vendor, the sound of ice scraping off a huge frozen block in the South Bronx or those two words, as good as any mantra in the world... Haagen Dazs.

The world loves ice cream!

This man had a bell attached to his cart...

Love to all.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sun Fish

While in Allepey I spent my days walking the beach. After a dosa and a cup of coffee for breakfast, I would attach my camera to my hip, leave my flip flops at home and walk for hours along the beach.

One day I came up what appeared to be thousands of little fish drying in the sun. There were workers carrying basket loads of dried fish and dumping them in scattered piles. I went up to a man who appeared to be some sort of overseer and I asked him what all these fish were for.

"Achaar," he exclaimed with pride.

In Kerala, fish are dried and preserved as achaar (pickled). This was confirmed by friends in Delhi, whom, when I asked if there was anything I could bring back for them from Kerala they replied, "Nothing. Especially not Fish Achaar!"

Love to all.

Beauty Issues

In India it can be really hard at times to take photos of the opposite sex. Guys have no problem strutting their stuff in front of the camera, sometimes acting all rude and wily in the process. It's fine, it comes with the territory. If there are ladies around they tend to stick to the fringes and stay away from all the excitement. But I always find my way to the perimeter. Sometimes all it takes is a smile as wide as the equator and other times it's a much longer process. But when it works, it can be magical...

These are friends from Kerala.

Love to all.

Flying Disc...

I met the members of India's only Ultimate Frisbee Association on the beach in Allepey. These boys were mad for frisbee. Every evening at sunset they would meet at the beach and throw two or three frisbees at a time, high in the air and out into the sea. The wind would carry the frisbees back toward the sandy beach and these guys would run like mad, leaping and diving to catch these frisbees. After the sun set, the wind would die down and they'd play catch under an enormous floodlight that lit up the beach until midnight. I joined them for a few evenings and we'd talk about how to get their love of the flying disc to the billion plus people in India.

Love to all.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Kerala State Water Transport

Kerala State Water Transport runs boats from the town of Kottayam to the town of Allepey. One evening I was fortunate enough to catch the last boat to Allepey, late in the afternoon and just in time for sunset. As the sun set, coconut trees reflected off of the brackish backwaters. When the sun set, passengers on either side of the wide canals would wave torches or their illuminated mobile phones to alert the captain they were eager to board.

I met this wonderful old man on the boat. He seemed to be a scholar on Jewish history, the Bible and Keralan history. The sound of the boat's engine was loud and we battled over its constant roaring to understand eachother. His laugh was marvelous and I was drawn to his lack of teeth.

Love to all.

Arabian Sea & its Crows

The Arabian Sea might be warmer than a cup of chai. In Febuary I was in Kerala and had the pleasure of dipping my body into the Arabian Sea. Swimming in the sea or just a walk on the beach rejuvenates the soul. For me it is always a rebirth, just to see the sea.

This beach in the town of Allepey was remarkable. The famous keralan backwaters literally ran all the way to the ocean. Sometimes with my back to the sea I could still see water. For three days I woke up at dawn, walked to the beach and swam as the sun ever so gently greeted the day, "namaskarum."

At six in the morning there were people on the beach going for morning walks and even more importantly, fisherman shitting. The sea is the best place to get rid of that waste. The sea is nature's toilet.

I didn't see one seagull during my three days at the beach.

Only crows. Black crows were the dominant bird at this beach.

Love to all.

Gravity Grind...

Throughout the himalayas wheat is grown. In the valleys, next to the numerous rivers and streams that flow south from the mountains to the plains are small stone houses. The path of the river is diverted through the houses and the power of the water is used to grind wheat, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Who thought gravity could be such a reliable employee?

Love to all.


It's overcast and drizzling today in Dehradun. I think all the greyness has made me think of colors. Here in India there are colors everywhere.

The first image are three friends of mine from Kausasi village, all are teachers at the local primary school (l to r): Meera, Sakuntalal & Pushpa.

The second image is a group of men in the village of Aindi. The man with the white sweater is a field worker for my ngo, RLEK. His name is Vikram.

The third image is Pushpa's sister. Her hair is dry with henna. I love the colors of the walls of both homes...

Love to all.

RASTA- "the way"

In Hindi, the word "rasta" means the way. The path in front of you can be the rasta. A manner of cooking a specific dish can be the rasta. But more or less, I've heard it used when asking for directions, as in "Is this the good rasta?"

Language is funny.

A while back I was trying to get a pair of pants stitched. I had a pair from the states and I wanted the new pair to be exactly like my pair except made with my newly purchased cloth. It was almost dinner time and I headed to the kitchen patio to ask the hungry souls waiting for dinner, "In hindi, how would I ask the tailor to make these pants but with this cloth?" Minds started working, eyes began darting around the patio, looking for the answer as if somehow it would be right there on the wall, next to the bright blue mosquito zapper.

After a few minutes brainstorming, the cook, Sumitra, came out from the kitchen.

"Photocopy!!" she exclaimed.

A month back I went for a grueling hike with two schoolkids from the small village of Kausasi and their teacher. Our final destination was the Nag Tibba Mandir, high on the mountain outside the village. The kids had apparently been there before and we followed them. We got lost and ended up bushwhacking up a steep slope for hours. The teacher, Meera, wanted to turn around and everyone was a little worried that we were getting farther and farther away from our destination.

I blazed the trail ahead, "rasta achaa! rasta achaa!" This way is good, I encouraged. Finally we made it to the top of the mountain and we were greeting with a stunning view of the himalayan high ranges. I stopped to take a portrait of myself and one of the kids, Priyanka. The second image is from inside the mandir.

Love to all.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Buffalo Shadow

A Kid and a Buffalo...

A Village Wedding

Recently, I attended a wedding in the small village of Aindi. There were almost 500 guests, perhaps 400 men and 100 women. When I arrived the loudspeaker was blasting hindi tracks interrupted from time to time by an m.c. whose voice was drowned by the feedback from the speakers. 400 men sat and ate mutton and vegetables, rice and chapati served from bright pink and metal buckets. The women, who had cooked all the food, sat on the rooftops and looked out the windows of their homes and watched the event from afar. The bride and groom are visible, bright red and yellow, in the background.

Photo Lesson

Using our hands to understand how shutter speed works...

Popeye eats palak paneer too...

Rajpur Road is the busiest road in Dehradun. It leads up to the hill station of Musoorie and then branches off into numerous tributaries, all leading north into the heart of himalayan country. Quite often, I find myself walking Rajpur Road and talking to local folks, perhaps while sipping a freshly squeezed pomegranete juice. One day I came across these two heavy hitters. I was talking to the man with the red shirt when the guy behind him struck a pose...

Love to all.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A bale of hay, an outhouse & a lightbulb

Here are two landscapes.

The first image includes a big bale of hay, probably fifteen feet tall, my outhouse and an oncoming storm.

The second image is from my stoop in Gyan Dura including a lightbulb, the courtyard and an oncoming storm.

Love to all...