Friday, July 30, 2010

Early Morning in Wisconsin - Last Walk

This morning was my last walk before I head back to India. Low fog hugged the valleys of the rolling hills and enveloped the marsh below. Golden sun filtered its way through the weeds, warming the delicate white lace. Heavy dew clung to the grasses and clover. Mosquitoes were everywhere. Erect ears stood at attention, the deer in the field staring at me. Rabbits scurried to the safety of the weeds. Cranes flapped their large wings over the cattails of the marsh. Silence, except for the calls of nature. 
Soon I will be back in Chennai, with its symphony of horns, plethora of people, and carpet of concrete. The delicate white lacy flowers will be traded for garlands of strung jasmine petals. Forests of tree make way for apartment buildings placed closely together. The myriad colors of the wildflowers will be replaced by the flowing rainbows of saris and salwars....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crucifix, St. Thome Church

In the front of St. Thome Church in Chennai is a statue of Jesus on the cross. While that is not so unusual, some additions are not what you would normally see in a church. Below Jesus is a lotus, a favorite Hindu symbol representing beauty and non-attachment. On each side is a peacock, a prominent symbol of this region of Chennai known as Mylapore. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Making a Cheat Sheet

On the typical day, women all over Chennai transform surface in front of their homes into a work of art. It amazes me the huge variety of kolam designs they generate. When at a kolam contest held in Mylapore Chennai, I saw for the first time a woman using a plan for her kolam - sort of like a cheat sheet. Considering how intricate the designs were at the contest, I guess a cheat sheet is forgivable. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July Wildflowers

Here are some more wildflowers photographed near my parents' house in Wisconsin. Pictured are wild daisies, wild bee balms, and Queen Anne's Lace.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wild Bee Balms

A fun thing about walking along rural WI roads in summer is to observe the changes in its wildflowers. This past week, my mother and I found these purplish flowers which we noted looked quite a bit like my mom's red bee balms. Looking on this website, we found that it indeed was a wild bee balm, otherwise known as a wild bergamot. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Get your Peanuts!

Like the country itself, there's always something going on in Indian trains. Here we have a photo of a woman selling nuts and small bags of fruit. She hopped on during a stop at one village and quickly made her way through the cars, announcing the contents of her basket balanced expertly on her head. Still other vendors walked by the open (glass-less) windows of the train, exchanging bags of water, fruit, and snacks with passengers through the window. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Temple Markets

The area right around Hindu temples is a hive of activity. Temple-goers are buying garlands of greens and flowers, coconuts, lotuses, and more. Sometimes you'll even see a balloon seller or gypsy-like people with their necklaces hoping to capitalize on the large number of visitors. In this photo taken in Chennai, the red and white vertical stripes of the temple are barely visible in the background.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tower of Toast

Visiting a town's market and local commerce streets are things I try to always do - it's the best way to meet the local people, catch a glimpse on everyday life, and of course, wonderful photo opportunities! This photo was taken in the streets of Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. Toast, anyone?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fruit Seller, Mint Street

In India, it is typical to buy produce from a streetside vendor or market. Here is a photo of a fruit seller in Mint Street, Chennai. Here you see tropical fruit such as papaya, bananas, and pomegranates. I find the apples in Chennai to be subpar (having grown up in Wisconsin where the fruit grows right on our trees), but are ok if you never had a really good apple or are just hungry for one.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Indian Markets - Happenin' Places

Although there is nothing of particular beauty or unusual intrigue about this picture, it does show the vibrancy of markets in India - always something going on. This is a photo of a rather makeshift-looking market on the ECR road in Chennai, quickly snapped while waiting for a bus. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Chicory - more than a pretty flower

Along with the Queen Anne's Lace flowers lining the roadsides here in Wisconsin, the periwinkle-colored chicory flower is a perennial favorite. Originally brought from Europe, this plant thrives very well in the Wisconsin climate.

While the flowers make a pretty addition to a wild bouquet, the chicory plant has other uses. The cultivated form is grown for their leaves or for roots, and are used as a coffee substitute (historically used in prisons) and additive. Its leaves can also be used as part of a salad - although its taste is rather bitter. Ironically, the root is used as a sweetener. In  Germany, it historically was used to treat common ailments, including gallstones, sinus problems, cuts, and bruises. Its dietary fiber can also be used to assist in the treatment of diabetes and constipation. Increasingly, it is being seen as viable grazing food, particularly for sheep and dairy cattle.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lacy Umbrella

On such a beautiful clear summer morning, the sunlight filtered through this Queen Anne's Lace umbrella-like flower. 

Friday, July 09, 2010

Lady on Lace

July in Wisconsin brings Queen Anne's Lace wildflowers to the countryside. I love the delicateness of this white flower. With equal delicacy, this monarch butterfly fluttered and landed ever so briefly on one lace. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Beachgoers, Aleppy

Kerala has many beaches that are popular with both locals and tourists alike. The white sands of the Aleppy beach were a favorite for families taking in the pleasures of the sand and surf. The mood was very positive and lively, smiles and laughing abounding. 

Monday, July 05, 2010

Beach Bovines

Summertime by the beach is a favorite pastime world-wide. Although you won't find any bikini-clad sun-worshippers at the Ideal Beach south of Chennai, you may happen upon some others sporting a rather tan complexion. 

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Visiting Senator Robert Byrd in Repose

As part of the JOSTI (Jefferson Overseas Technology Institute) conference, we visited the Library of Congress this afternoon. Our guide offered to take all those who were interested to the repose of West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd, who died at the age of 92. Viewing was held in the Senate Reception room, the first time such an honor was held since 1959.   Byrd was the longest running senator in US history.

Sitting in silence in the upper balcony of the reception room, I had time to take in the beautiful surroundings of the room - blue patterned rug, wooden desks with what looked like inkwells, draped curtains in the front of the forward-facing main desk, two ornamental doors, roll-top desk off to one side, paintings and busts of individuals, and a glass ceiling with the eagle symbol. In front of the main desk was Byrd's casket, draped with a flag. Two large flowered wreath - one white and the other red-white-blue were behind it. The desk where he normally sat was draped with a black cloth and a vase of quite roses on top. Its chair was the only one pushed in towards the desk. Staffers, politicians, and VIPs filed through, followed near the end by family members. Next, two members of each Armed Forces branch filed in with great precision, saluting the coffin and then ceremoniously carrying the casket to a rolling trolley. After two members rolled the coffin out of the room, viewers then were asked to file out of the hall. It was quite an experience attending such a ceremony for a lifelong politician in such a grand building.