Archive for October, 2014

9873 Varanasi

Varanasi, May 9, 2010

By the time I made it to Varanasi in 2010, I had been travelling in India for almost two months and was rather exhausted by it all. Perhaps more pertinently, having just come down from the cool and peaceful heights of McLeod Ganj, where I had found an oasis of awe-inspired equilibrium, Varanasi seemed unpleasantly hot and crowded – something I’ve written about elsewhere. Despite this, however, in the moments when I was refreshed and energetic enough to engage with the place, I came to enjoy wandering the narrow, crowded streets with their close-pressed holes-in-the-wall and contemplating how like an ancient city it seemed to be.

This particular street – on which I had a haircut later that day – contained the entrance to an important local temple (I forget to which god) and a long queue stretched from both sides of the entrance, which is roughly where the loudspeaker can be seen in the background. There was a surprisingly positive atmosphere amongst the crowd and people were smiling and enjoying themselves, which made it all rather fun. I got briefly stuck and stood to the side, from which position I grabbed this shot.

Apart from the general subject matter, I’ve always liked the neat vectors in this image, snaking from the elderly lady in the bottom left corner and running through the generations of the family on up the narrow laneway. There seems to be a neat progression from what I assume to the grandmother in the foreground to her daughters, sons and grandchildren. The angle of the heads, with their beautiful hair, adds dynamism and movement, leading the eye to the turning, smiling boy in the very centre of the image. It is always pleasing when a momentary snapshot pays off like this and randomness conjures not merely an order of sorts, but also a mini-narrative.


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Spring Clean

4589 Opera house steps

5304 Trees 2

4605 Pre-show, Opera House

4629 A chance encounter 1

4674 Shoes selfie

5689 Wall of remembrance

4769 Pigeon buddy

1962 Glebe Point

4909 Frames, broadway

6018 Reclining smoker

4521 The Hub

2035 Little flowers

5190 Lake, Snowy Mountains

4599 Opera House crowd

5841 Brothers

5827 Ripped dad

4850 Industrialism

5042 Text 2

6036 Towards Bondi

5016 Bus

5887 Bronte window selfie

4690 Dancing gait

5467 Eucalypt twist

6031 Suspended

5575 Variedad Geisha

5471 Alpine landscape

By way of contrast, V & I went down to the Snowy Mountains a couple of weeks ago and returned to Sydney to visit the beach for the first time this season. The ease with which we could transition between these regions was a welcome reminder of how fortunate we are to live in such a place. For the uninitiated, the Snowy Mountains lie about five hours drive southwest of Sydney in New South Wales and contain Australia’s highest mountain – Mount Kosciuszko. With a rather unimpressive elevation of 2228 metres, it is a reminder of what a flat country Australia is across its length and breadth. The Snowy Mountains form part of the Great Dividing Range, the 4th longest mountain range in the world after The Andes, The Rocky Mountains and The Transantarctic in, surprise surprise, Antarctica. While we’re on the statistics, for those who primarily consider Australia to be a hot and dry country, The Snowy Mountains are just one of the many and varied climate zones in a state which, while being only the 5th largest in Australia, is still bigger than France at a whopping 800,642 sq kilometres.

The Snowy Mountains are splendidly bleak; muted greens and browns, clumps of shrubs and grass and gnarly snow-gums with their twisting trunks that exhibit a surprising range of colours. They might lack the dramatic peaks and soaring walls of stone and ice found in higher ranges, and the skiing is at best mediocre, yet the mountains offer a curious play on the Australian landscape and, indeed, on Alpine zones generally. One noticeable contrast in Australian snow country is that, on account of the shape and nature of the gum leaves, snow does not generally sit on the trees, leaving them standing out starkly against the white.

In Jindabyne we found a magnificent Persian restaurant called Café Darya, set up by a former Iranian downhill ski champion with his wife. The menu was fascinatingly varied, with tantalising combinations of flavours and spices and a range of meats including goat and camel, yet in no way was it gimmicky. The love shown for the place on Trip Advisor confirms that we were not deluding ourselves in our assessment.

From here spent a couple of days in Canberra, a place often ridiculed as dull, bland or sterile, yet which we greatly enjoyed on this visit. A city planned from the ground up at the start of the 20th century, Canberra has the orderliness of Washington’s monumental heart, whilst exhibiting a far more modest monumentality. As the home of Parliament, the National Gallery and the War Memorial / museum, among many other significant institutions, it serves as a clean and refreshing shrine to culture and history, both Australian and international.

Back in Sydney now, the beach beckons and its lure is, as always, irresistible.

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