Benjamuna's Blog

Stories…. with a touch of India….

The Colour of Calcutta aka The King of the Road March 19, 2017

Filed under: INDIA — benjamuna @ 4:42 pm
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The first thing I noticed in Calcutta, was the omnipresent yellow taxis. It shant be denied, Calcutta is – at least at first sight, a chaotic, dirty, dreary, noisy, congested megalopolis (rumour says 17 million people…). At second glance, after spotting the taxis, the picture changes. At least it did for me. The taxis, like a swarm of bees, were lighting up every street.

The yellow Ambassadors are everywhere!!

FACT | The Hindustan Ambassador was an automobile manufactured by Hindustan Motors of India. It was in production from 1958 to 2014 with few improvements and changes over its production lifetime.

All the taxis have ‘No refusal’ on their doors. The story goes that the taxis are notorious for declining passengers, a fact that tells me that the drivers earn pretty good money. At least enough to say no to a ride in jammed areas – or too far away or maybe the driver has just planned his lunch break! So the authorities made the drivers put ‘No refusal’ on the car and act accordingly. Does it help? Hardly!

QUOTE | “It is as if the car is made for the city, its classic design going so well with the Colonial architecture.”

 

 

FACT | Taxi services started in Calcutta in 1907, the Ambassador became the standard taxi model in 1962. In 2014, Hindustan Motors brought the production of this regal brand to a close, sadly the Ambassador was not in sufficient demand.

If you didn’t know, you would think that there was still a steady production of these cars as they swarm and honk their way through the streets.  May the remaining cars live long and colour the streets of Calutta!

 

Matching colours March 16, 2017

Filed under: INDIA — benjamuna @ 8:07 am
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Very often, when I walk the streets of Indian markets with my camera, I see matching colours. The street vendors are dressed according to the goods they’re selling. Or… is it just a coincidence? It might be, but sometimes not… I spotted a few matching colours at Dadar market, Mumbai.

Above; a woman is selling yellow coloured fruits, dressed in a yellow sari. If her sari had been red, I might not have payed her any attention her… Now, she stood out in the crowd.

Below: She is selling grapes, and she has draped herself in a mauve sari which matches the tissue paper…

Below: Whatever she is selling, it matches her sari and umbrella. It was the reds that caught my attention.

Below: Even her bangles goes with her goods!

Below: A man… at last. Selling garlic and the shades are all blue…

Thanks to http://www.zamorinofbombay.com/ who took me to Dadar!

 

The Road not Taken January 9, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 5:43 pm

I took this photo on a bleak December day. I had no plan, I just turned around and saw what I saw, a silhouette towards the overcast sky, embraced by naked trees. And -click-

A friend commented it on Facebook; she wrote she came to think of the poem by Robert Frost; The Road not Taken – although she saw it as The Road Taken. It is nice to know that one of my photos actually inspired somebody to think of such a fine poem.

(Poem below photo).

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

 

 And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
 And that has made all the difference.

 

ROBERT FROST
 

First sign of spring… May 23, 2016

Filed under: Flowers — benjamuna @ 8:17 pm
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April can be cruel. Barely awake after the winter sleep, we peep through the curtains every morning in search for signs of spring, and then Her Majesty the Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) makes an appearance. A little premature perhaps, but protected from the remnants of winter she stubbornly unfolds and decides to stay.

Bleeding heart (1 of 4)

Once there, well established in a sheltered bed, awash by an unexpected lasting April sun she’s ready to be eternalized. Had it not been for the persistent wind, forcing her to while away the days in  a hectic rhumba.

Patiently we watch her day by day; more hearts swinging and swaying in the wind. April turns to May, days get warmer, and then she starts to fade…

We await the perfect moment, the perfect light, the perfect stem, the perfect angle… but all we get is wind.

Until we’re saved by the rain and rain and more rain and the wind has the decency to calm down, and she smartens herself up with a few shining droplets, helds her breath and leave it all to me.

And it will be another year.

bleeding-heart-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Crimson December 11, 2015

Filed under: INDIA — benjamuna @ 8:16 pm
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Just as Old Delhi was about to eat me up… with its congested alleyways overflowing with people, goats (or cows… depending on the area), stray dogs, stray children, brazen boys on mopeds meandering through the throngs, rickshaws forcing their way through the chaos with passengers sunken deep in resigned acceptance of the almost impenetrable mass of anything under the sun  – amidst them a few tourists whose faces speak of frightful delight… Sometimes I imagine the whole area is put up for show. Because how can it be…

Old Delhi

Old Delhi with its sea of people…

 

I make a turn and walk into a courtyard where the sudden calm is likewise overwhelming. Gone are the honking horns, the throngs, the smells – the everything I came to see and still it feels so good to slip away… Even the air seems of a different kind.

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I saw her immediately. And old woman sitting on an all India plastic chair facing a wall. The Holy Trinity Chuch to her right. I lurk around with my Indian companion, she senses an interest in the church and comes forward with the keys. It is difficult to tell her age, it always is in foreign cultures. But my guess would have been that she was in her mid-eighties. “Picture,” she says and nods at my camera. I sometimes wonder why people want their picture taken, I wonder if they believe it is a way to make them immortal.

Old D pink lady_1

She is a beauty in her own sense. The hair is white, it seems to have been like that for many years. Her skin reminds me of that of my grandmother when she was her age; silky wrinkles in a face who bore that faint smell of toiletries sitting on her almirah. She walks quite effortlessly, still, with an old woman’s gait. She is dressed in a cotton saree with a typical cardigan over which she has slung a beautiful, crimson woollen shawl. Delhi is  cold to a local, pleasant to me.

She sits down, poses. She seems to possess a calm friendliness. I wonder if I am the umpteenth photographer who has fallen for her looks and posture.  She does exactly what I tell her, she even breaks into a smile and reveals the missing teeth I had expected. Smiles and teeth together don’t come easily in India. She must be passed that.

Once I have finished she goes back to her needlework, or whatever it is she is mending. We take a last stroll before leaving the courtyard. I take a last photo without her knowing. And then we leave the calm behind.

Old D pink lady_3

 

A graveyard December 8, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 2:56 pm
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A favourite spot in my town Stavanger is the Lagård graveyard. Almost in the city centre, it runs along a heavily trafficked road. But once inside the gates, you’ll be surprised how quiet it is. The graveyard dates from 1832 and it is full of history. The most prominent person who is buried here, is the author Alexander Kielland.

Lagård tre

The area is sloping, and some places almost terraced, it has beautiful treelined gravelroads. You’ll find many old graves, tall and erect, some elevated and some surrounded by a wrought iron fences. You’ll also find plenty of benches and places to rest. The old graves have many interesting names and titles from bygone times, above all – when a woman was just a wife…

The autumn becomes the graveyard well; fallen leaves, autumnal colours, the below photos are taken on a rainy day when light was scarce.

Lagård rose

Sometimes, a faded rose looks better than a fresh…

Lagård_4

The newly left roses stand out against the fallen leaves.

Lagård_3

There is plenty of room to sit down and rest, think, mourn, reminisce about lost ones… or maybe just enjoy the peaceful and beautiful surroundings.

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The grave shone almost like silver and the leaves were glued onto the surface, and created a three dimensional look.

Lagård_5

Detail.

 

Lagård_6

 

The last sunday of august September 13, 2015

Filed under: Flowers — benjamuna @ 6:17 am
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Cosmos_4

It’s one of these rare August days, when summer has decided to reappear. If it hadn’t been for the wind, it would have been too hot. At the same time, the wind annoys me. It grabs hold of the flowers in an aggressive way, but sometimes thinks better of it and change its course, or even abruptly slows down.

The right corner of my terrace has been a symphony in pink this summer. I love to sit here and just watch, admire rather. If it were early spring I would think out new ideas, leap to my feet, rearrange some pots, and then sit down. Whereas now, I let everything be. Some flowers are gone. I have trashed them without sentimentality, the black soil is gaping at me.

The climbers are among my favourites. The Clematis has unexpectedly produced maroon flowers all summer long, and the delicate leaves still look beautiful. The Perennial Pea still forces its way up the espalier. The wind and the heavy rain have made the greenery ruffled, but the few delicate, pink flowers attract my attention again and again.

I can still smell the lilac Petunias. All summer long, the strong and overwhelming smell has wafted through my open bedroom window on weekend early mornings. It’s not really a point to care for them any longer, but I make a mental note to keep exactly the same arrangement next summer. Never change a winning team, I conclude with satisfaction.

My small vegetable garden didn’t work out. The Basil drowned before I realised it didn’t like the rain. And I was never able to sprinkle my pizza with Rocket from the garden. It simply didn’t thrive. The Chive has willingly grown without hesitation all summer long though.

The sun comes and goes and reminds me that autumn is on its way. I look for my jacket every other ten minute, when a sky has taken the sun into prison. It gets surprisingly dark, as if somebody has turned off the light. I shudder and remove my sun glasses. I think of all the rainy days this summer and how they were perfect for soft photography. But all the time we were longing for the sun.

The wind comes from nowhere, attacks my hair, the sweat peas next to me move abruptly and gives out a strong smell, the newspaper left casually on the floorboards shifts position and rustles together with the trees. I should be going inside, I should go to my computer and write this down, or work on some photos, do anything that matters….Instead I grab my book, and once again wrap my jacket tightly around me. But the next second I let it go, and I pick up my sunglasses that are left carelessly on the floor.

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