The Tough Guy

I was hugging a traffic pole in the middle of an intersection trying not to get run over while taking photos of the passing motorcycles when this guy came up and asked me to take his photo. He smiled, then put up his fists. His job is to carry things, sometimes helping another man who owns a cart, sometimes just hauling goods in and out of Chor Bazaar.

Lohagad Fort

I don’t understand the geology, but many hills outside of Mumbai are topped by tall vertical faces. These natural barriers made them ideal locations for forts and palaces for local rulers.

Lohagad Fort dates back centuries. It’s main gates are a twisting and turning layered fortress that must have been incredibly easy to defend. Legend has it that it served as a treasury in the 1600’s.

The gates now serve as a backdrop for photos.

The use of the fort must have extended into the not so distant past based on the British cannons that have been assembled together.

Kathak Meets Tap

One of the best dance performances I’ve seen in a long time was a show called “Rhythm Rewritten – Kathak Meets Tap.” Tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith collaborated with Seema Mehta, who performs a traditional Indian form of dance called Kathak. The two improvised with three very well known Indian musicians: Sabir Khan on tabla, Debashis Sarkar on vocals, and Jayanta Banerjee on sitar.

I snuck a photo during the opening moment.

Here’s a clip. I jumped to my feet cheering at the end, joining the crowd calling for an encore.

Haji Ali Mosque, Mumbai

We ventured out on a Saturday morning for a tour of the Haji Ali Mosque which sits out in the bay just off the coast of Mumbai. It’s a popular destination for sightseeing, and seemingly more popular for selfies on the rocks behind the mosque.

The buildings are under reconstruction. The manager was proud to point out that it’s being rebuilt with second grade marble, which is much better than the Taj Mahal, which was built with third grade marble.

It was a hot, hazy day looking back toward Mumbai. The guy standing on the rocks was hand-casting a fishing line into the bay. I’m not sure what he was using for bait, but he didn’t seem to be catching anything.

Elephants and Tigers!

While the birds and crocodiles are amazing, every visitor to Nagarhole hopes to catch sight of a tiger. I was content just to watch the elephants grazing, like the two females below who playfully rubbed heads every once in a while digging up the grass.

We were on our last “safari” at sunset when up river we spotted a strange shape on the bank of the river. Our boat driver crept closer and shut off the engine. The silence on our boat was part suspense, but mostly awe of the beautiful tiger that was cooling herself in the river.

Credit for most of these photos goes to my Dad, who came with a great telephoto lens. My mom had messaged me one day saying she was considering buying him a lens for Christmas to shoot the wildlife that inhabits the pond in their backyard. I thought this was a great idea saying that if she bought the lens, I’d give him a place to put it to good use.

I did my homework, read reviews, and settled on a recommendation for the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3. I even managed to find it on sale, so I sent her the link by SMS. My Dad, hearing a phone beeping in the other room, decides to investigate. “Don’t buy me a lens. I don’t need it,” he tells her.

A week later, he went out and bought himself the same lens.

I still kept up my end of the bargain.

She sat lapping up the water, and kept a watchful eye on us.

It wasn’t until a baby on one of the boats let out a cry that she decided she’d had enough. She slowly got out of the water, meandered up the banks, and silently disappeared into the jungle. It’s amazing how effective bright orange and black stripe are as camouflage.

The biggest crocodile I’ve ever seen

The banks of the Kabini River are lined with crocodiles. This guy was huge.

Our boat pulled up pretty close, and he didn’t even flinch.

He was a monster. A very prehistoric looking monster.

Let’s throw a monkey in the mix, just for good measure.

The the birds of Nagarhole National Park

We were looking for an interesting place to go for Christmas that would be accessible from Goa. We settled on Nagarhole National Park, which is somehow also known as Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The park service offers boat and jeep “safaris” into the park just after sunrise and just before sunset each day.

The big wildlife is the selling point, but I found the birds to just as impressive. It was a couple of kilometers up the Kabini River from the Waterwoods Resort where we were staying. Along the way, the shores were packed with birds of all kinds. I wish I had taken notes as our guide was naming  them all.

Signs that amuse me: Keep smiling

Elevators are the bane of my existence in India. Our office tower has the most absurd system I’ve ever encountered, to the point where people schedule meetings and trips outside based on how long the wait for an elevator will be.

This elevator in Pune was a much more positive experience.

The artist of Kohima Village, Nagaland

We were wandering through Kohima village, being guided by the wonderful Nino Zhasa of Explore Nagaland. We stumbled across this gentleman adding a name to the tablet describing the history of the village and its leadership under the watchful eyes of some local children.

Meeting this gentleman was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

He explained that he was the artist who worked on all kinds of projects around the village. He took the time to read the legend of the origins of the village and the history recorded on the tablet. Nino did a fantastic job translating and putting it all in context. He took us to see some of his other works around the neighbourhood.