Nov27

2014 India/Nepal Trip

Renu and I travel to India regularly now, once every 1-2 years or so. This year we decided to do a family trip within India and headed to Kerala. Kerala is a beautiful, lush green state in the southern-most tip of India. Just like Boston to Miami, there is a huge shift in temperature. So in November, Delhi can hit the 50’s meanwhile Kerala can be in the 80’s+. Kerala is self-titled “Gods own Country”. And it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on earth. But damn, can it be hot. I always summarize it as the place where you can take a shower and be completely covered in sweat again immediately upon leaving the shower. Aside from that fun, this was my third time visiting Kerala and it never disappoints. We stayed at a lovely BnB named LillyPad. It was more like a private resort right on lake Vembanad, Kumarakom. When tourists first look at Kerala, they think ‘houseboat’. And that is a great experience once. For me, the highlight of Kerala is going down the backwaters in a very slow boat and seeing real Kerala life. It’s an interesting place in the sense that one can see into the backs of homes as you travel down the canals. And it’s just people eating dinner at home, washing clothes, kids playing. I fall in love with it every time because it’s not a tourist trap, or conveying an image of what India tourism wants me to see, it’s just real life. American’s in particular may be surprised to find out that India has two communist governments in two states. Kerala is one and West Bengal is another. So you see a lot of hammer and sickles about. And you will see some in my pictures as well. We also decided to travel to Nepal this year. Which was a new place for me, so naturally i was excited… However, the excitement didn’t last…. Right off the bat the electricity at the airport went out, upon our arrival. And they have the most antiquated customs/immigration process for foreigners I’ve ever seen. I say the following as someone that’s been all over India, including big cities and small villages… Nepal, Kathmandu in particular is insanity! It’s congested, but they follow traffic rules. There are huge amounts of cars and motorbikes, but absolutely zero auto-rickshaws. They are right next to India, yet almost no ladies wear Saris. A paradox in many ways it seems. But amazing nonetheless. It seemed to me that the only people heading to Nepal were trekkers and those seeking spiritual guidance. Must be the two biggest reasons to visit Nepal. And since we weren’t seeking spiritual guidance or hardcore trekking we fell into the middle zone. So we visited some spiritual sites. Some ‘stupas’ (Buddhist Temples) and we did some flying over mountains, particularly the Annapurna Range in Pokhara. We decided to do some ultralight flights over the Annapurna range with Avia Club Nepal. What a great decision that was… helicopter tours near Mt. Everest and Pokhara go for anywhere from $2000-5000USD. Insanity, we got an ultralight flight over Annapurna for $270. No brainer. And honestly, we flew over Zermatt in a helicopter, over the Matterhorn and as beautiful and amazing as that was, i think the ultralight is really a much difference experience than being in a helicopter. And i’m saying that as someone who adores helicopters! I find it hard to describe Nepal, sure they have Mt. Everest and a large swath of the Himilayas. But then you go to Kathmandu and the congestion and strip clubs throw you for a loop. I guess the reason i find it so hard to properly grasp Nepal is that it’s right next to India, yet it’s so much different than India. You go to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, it’s it’s just like a different flavor...

Nov25

2014 Switzerland Trip...

Switzerland, people think chocolate, mountains and bankers. And they’d be right. However, during Christmas time, it has all of these things plus this great Christmas atmosphere. The German sector of Switzerland loosens up a bit and you see more people smiling, the French sector you see more people kissing and the Italian sector, well, they just keep doing what they do everyday because Italians live everyday like their last. Blanket generalizations, sure. This was Renu’s first time in Switzerland so we decided to hit up several cities and show her what there is to offer. We visited Zurich, Lucerne, Bern, Basel, Interlaken, Lausanne, Interlaken, Geneva, Zermatt and Monstein. Monstein? Yes, Monstein. Most of it was sightseeing, however we mixed in catching up with an old friend and some scientific exploration for good measure. Switzerland calls me once every 3-4 years and i suppose because it’s such a small country and yet it’s geographically diverse. The German’s in the North, the Italians in the South and the French to the West. It’s kind of like a Mall’s food court, lots of diverse cuisines compacted into a really small space. Add onto that the beautiful pristine landscapes, strong Swiss pedigree and true commitment to green energy and sustainability (Not like the US claims to be, but actually isn’t…) and it’s a really formidable country in terms of tourist draw. Maybe it’s analogous to buying concentrated orange juice, less physical size, but more dense with beauty and culture. Ok, enough with the horrible analogies. During the Christmas season, there is an awesome festive mood. Zurich’s old town serves Gluhwein and Punch, which was amazing, think of the Punch like an aromatic, hot apple cider but more tasty. All the major cities and many towns have a Christmas...

Delhi Bridal Fashion Shoot...

Foreword: I used to have a photography business: symbolphoto.com or view: https://www.flickr.com/photos/symbolphotography/ Every once in a while you have to throw your expectations and preconceived notions right out the window… After returning from Jaipur we were contacted about setting up a shoot in Delhi. After making some calls, we had a model, an amazing dress manufacturer and a location set. Everyone who has experience in all things India knows that you need a plan B and oftentimes even a plan C. So I made sure to have plan D to ensure things went off without a hitch. We blew through plan A and B in the first 15 minutes. Plan C involved a little bribery with the police and long periods of waiting, but we finally got through the shoot. Tarun Tahiliani gave us two of his latest dresses for us to incorporate into our shoot and we were let loose around Delhi to use them as we saw fit. Each dress was extremely heavy when held only in your hands, though once on the model, she confirmed that it was bearable since the weight was distributed throughout the body. Shooting on the street in India isn’t as hard as it may seem at first, we have experience dealing with all sorts of incidentals. But shooting in the middle of Delhi on a busy weekday can test the patience of any seasoned photographer. Luckily, we over-prepared. After the shoot, we returned to the Tarun Tahiliani factory and that’s where our expectations were blown away. Tarun Tahiliani’s factory is in a very unassuming location outside Delhi. The preconceived notions i had were that we’d enter some musty factory filled with underpaid and overworked employees. More wrong – i could not be. Not only was the...

India 2009

Boston Wedding Photographers usually don’t get a break until late November or Early December. I decided this year to again visit beautiful India. And I already miss it… They say India’s society is an exercise in “survival of the fittest” and the same could be said for its tourists. India is the type of place that can chew up and spit out the most seasoned of world travelers… and ask for seconds. The minute you get into a car in India you will see the idol ‘Ganesh’ on the dashboard of even the most desperate auto-rickshaw. And there is a reason – you’re going to need that God at every corner, every intersection and maybe even just in your hotel’s parking lot. One wonders why you don’t see Ganesh on citizens shoelaces and on bicycles, because as Ganesh knows, they need it more. But despite all of this, once you let go of your preconceived notions and just let the chaos envelope you and go with the flow, then and only then are you are truly ready to be a tourist of this fine country. Colors, odors, animals all congregate here, and typically in the same place. All living things are abound and in full force. All it takes is the leveling of your camera to invoke a smile of even the most destitute of people. And that’s where the love comes in. How could one not fall in love with people who persevere and smile in the face of life’s most ardent adversary – daily life in a third world country. I hesitate to call India a ‘third world’ country, as it surely doesn’t feel like one to me. But alas, true to definition, it is. However, as third-world as it may be,...