Friday, March 19, 2010

Bangkok Bound

Ah, Spring Break is before me. I'm heading off to Bangkok once again and then up to Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. This time I'm bringing my DSLR camera and zoom, so I will try to revisit and photograph some of the sites I'd previously taken with my point and shoot. This photo is from Wat Arun.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

English Spoken Here - Sort of

While it is true that India has more English speakers than the UK and second only to the US, it doesn't always mean their English (particularly spelling) is top notch. This sign was posted in front of the Mysore Palace. How many spelling mistakes can you find?

Monday, March 15, 2010

English Spoken Here

Adapting to living in another country isn't always easy. Language can be a huge barrier/challenge, particularly for folks such as me who find learning another language difficult. Thankfully in India it's a bit easier, since English is its second most popular language, with over 125 million speakers. Even the auto rickshaw drivers often speak at least a little English - particularly if money is involved or if your local language skills are nonexistent. In fact, the number of English-speaking Indians is more than double that of the entire population of the UK and more than all European English speakers combined! It's also the second top English speaking country after the US. Of course, a huge difference is that a large percentage of Indians are at least bi-lingual: Over 255 million speak at least two languages and 87.5 million speak three or more languages. By contrast, only about 10% (according to the 2000 census) of Americans were fluent in more than one language. 

This photo shows a sign advertising one of the major English newspapers in India. Like a high percentage of signage/text, this one is dual-posted, both in English and in Tamil, the dominant language for Tamil Nadu.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ladies (and Men) in Red

While touring through Tamil Nadu this past December, my friends and I noticed a large number of people (particularly at temple sites) wearing red. Between the uniform-like appearance (many saris had the same print), sheer numbers of people, and frequency of sightings, I presumed that they must be on some sort of pilgrimage. These are devotees of Oruvane Thevan, meaning "all are equal in front of the one God." The red color signifies equality, since the color of blood is the same for all people, regardless of caste, creed, or status. Devotees come to the Adi Parasakthi Temple at Mel Maruvathur in Tamil Nadu, worshiping in the temple in the manner to which they are accustomed. People of all religions are allowed to enter. The time of our traveling coincided with the pilgrimage season. 

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Darasuram Mandapa Columns

In my last post, I showed a closeup of one of the columns found in this mandapa in the Darasuram temple. Even though there are definite stylistic similarities, each stone column of this performance/meeting place is unique. Dancers, musicians, and deities play a prominent role in these relief carvings, accentuated by geometric and organic designs.
Most temples were at one time painted with bright colors. How different this scene must have been...

Monday, March 08, 2010

Mandapa Column Dancer

The columns of the 12th century Hindu temple in Darasuram were representative of the rest of the temple - intricate, but slightly understated. The mandapa is a common element found in Hindu temple architecture. This porch like structure serves as a meeting place and area where temple dancers and musicians performed. On this column one can see a dancer and musicians engaged in performing. Details such as the earrings, necklace, bracelets, anklets and instrument are still plainly visible. The fluid pose of the dancer is nicely complemented by the circular frame. Amazing to think this piece was carved around 1146. If you're in Tamil Nadu, do try to visit this beautiful temple.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Holdin' on to those Earmuffs

In the past week I've noticed a definite temperature increase. Most people in my neighborhood have seemed to notice it as well. There are still a few who can be seen sporting their earmuffs or stripped cap in the morning when I go for a walk, at about temperatures of 26°C (79°F). Soon even those early morning temperatures will be a distant memory, replaced by hot and hotter. Perhaps then the local banana seller and the few remaining others will ditch their woolies.

Walls of Watermelon

Where coconuts once dominated, one can now see walls of watermelon. With the temperatures beginning to rise here in Chennai, this fruit often associated with summer is a cool treat. If you don't care to buy (or carry) a whole watermelon, you can purchase a slice, half, or even it all chunked up for you in a plastic container. Children in uniforms on the way home from school seem particularly fond of this. 
Note in the photo below the three white horizontal forehead markings on the vendor, a symbol denoting that he is a devotee of the Hindu god Shiva.  

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Taj Mahal: Study in perspective

Looking at this photo reminds me of my high school art class days. From the patterned tilework of the pavement to the designs of the Taj Mahal itself - what an excellent example and study of one point perspective!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Dognappin' in the Gardens

This dog seemed to be so natural sleeping on the bench at the Lallbagh Gardens in Bangalore. Did it choose the bench for comfort, shade, cleanliness, or that it was up and away from the mean dogs?