taking a walk in india: photos | stories | essays

31 May 2011

The one-minute street sketch artists of Janpath


Some people put in money and years to master the art of making the perfect sketch stroke. But for the one-minute-portrait artists of Janpath, learning and making money go hand in hand. 




Rough beginnings.

23 May 2011

A curious case of unemployment





Rickshaw-pullers in Imphal cover their face while ferrying people about town. The weather is pleasant. They don't need the piece of cloth to protect their face from the heat. They do it for a different reason—some of them are unemployed graduates.

It's the stigma.

18 May 2011

National Highway 39: Where violence is a way of life




From Numaligarh in Assam to Moreh near the Indo-Myanmar border, covering approximately 430 kilometres, runs the National Highway 39. It is one of the most dangerous roads in India's north-east. Political armed groups are quite active along the highway from the outskirts of Imphal till all the way to neighbouring Nagaland. The so-called parallel government is no longer a theory in these parts; it's the reality.

Truckers pay multiple taxes to several armed groups. And because of the ceasefire agreement signed between the Indian government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), it is common to see armed groups walking casually on deserted stretches of the highway.

Still, there are times when violence is low, usually in the November-January period. These are months of festivities when everyone takes a break in this bandit country. It is during such a window that a quick dash from Guwahati to Moreh via Imphal can be done.

Then tick that off the bucket list.

9 May 2011

Taj Mahal: monument of love and loss


The white mausoleum Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal.  


Pollution has stained the white marbles.


And on foggy mornings the monument acquires a sinister, darker avatar. After all it is a tomb. It is about death and losing someone.



Miniatures of the Taj Mahal are sold on the streets of Agra. Tourists like them, but some people believe the replicas should not be kept in the living room—many don't prefer a grave for decoration.

7 May 2011

First rain of the season


People of Delhi love a downpour. It is a natural, free-of-cost air-conditioning system for lakhs of people on the streets.


5 May 2011

All quiet in Sandakphu



Sandakphu is the highest point in West Bengal, near the Indo-Nepal border. The trek route goes zigzag in and out of Nepal, so the experience is unique — one trek, two countries. From the highest point one can see Mt Everest just before the sun comes up. The entire area comes under Singalila National Park, and some trekkers have spotted the Himalayan red bear.




Rhododendron is a species of woody flower that occurs mainly in the Sikkim region. Singalila national park has a riot of rhododendrons.



People living in the area walk a lot. Most carry their household needs (oil, vegetables, etc) on their back and trek up and down everyday. Supplies come from Darjeeling, 58 kilometres away. 







(Shot with Nikon F55 film SLR camera, 2002 model. Developed at GK Vale, Bangalore)

4 May 2011

Chitrakala Parishath


Chitra Santhe is an annual art and craft festival held in Bangalore's melting pot of creativity, the Chitrakala Parishath. 



This is an important venue for creators of traditional art because they find a good market here. The place also runs several courses in art and related fields, and the sprawling green campus is a good retreat for any serious student. 


One-minute masterpiece.



(Shot with a Nikon F55 film SLR camera, 2002 model, developed at G.K. Vale, Bangalore)

3 May 2011

Bandipur National Park: Give way to the jumbos


Bandipur National Park in Karnataka is partly a tiger reserve. The park's management comes under the government's Project Tiger programme.



Forest guards in Bandipur—underpaid and overworked—are the people who are trying to stop skilled poachers armed with better weapons. Without argument they deserve a nice cottage, ample supply of good food and higher salaries. 


The park is also rich in flora. And the evenings are beautiful.



The tigers have gone to their resting place, and it's time for humans to go home too—except for the forest guards.

(Shot with Nikon F55 film SLR camera, 2002 model, developed at GK Vale, Bangalore)

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Journalist. Taking a walk in India. | Email to journeybasket[at]gmail | Special thanks to M.S. Gopal | All rights reserved. No commercial use.

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