Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Driving Me Bananas

Tricycle-pulled carts are a common transport for produce sellers and recycling (including the gypsies) folks.  Even on busy roads, you will see these vehicles slowly pedaling their way amongst the chaotic traffic. Transporting produce such as these green bananas would be a lot less risky than a cart of eggs.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pilgrimage to Velankanni

On my morning walk, I passed by a few men and women, all dressed in light orange-colored clothing. It was a sign that the pilgrimage to the Velankanni shrine in southern Tamil Nadu had begun. During the last part of August and into September, several thousand devotees from the Chennai region make the trek by foot to the church known as Our Lady of Good Health, site where the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus are said to have appeared to a few locals in the 16th century. Likely, most of those making the 350 km walk (217 mi) in about two weeks are Christian. Once at the site though, they will be joined by those of various faiths seeking for miracles, personal requests, and curiosity.

Those making the trek are helped along the way by those who provide water, food, and shelter.

This photo was taken during last year's walk to the smaller Velankanni church in Besant Nagar, Chennai. I was waiting to join some local Christians who were walking there from their apartment in Mylapore. This weekend, I will join them to the church in southern Tamil Nadu.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Arranging the Apples

Still early on a Sunday morning and after a rain, the vendors on this Triplicane street are just beginning to set up shop. As in most cities in India, selling tends to happen on the sidewalks - or any place people can plunk down some cardboard or basket. In tropical South India, apples are pricey and not (in my MidWestern opinion) all that good. Still, for those who don't know what good apples taste like or those who simply hunger for one, such neatly arranged apples will be hard to pass up.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Old Crowded by New

This unassuming looking Art Deco tower built in the 1930s seems to be crowded out by the Express Avenue Mall. Considered to be the second largest in South India, the curved entrance of the mall contrasts sharply to the rectangular, stout clock tower. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Krishna!

For Hindu devotees, today is one of great joy and celebration, as it marks the birthday of the beloved god Krishna. These blue figurines hope to be purchased and taken home and used in a puja ceremony, which would include singing of Sanskrit hymns. 
Last year, I wrote about the footprints of the child god Krishna that Hindus recreate out of flour and water, leading up to the doorway. 

Puja Items by Temple

Located in the back entrance of the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore (Chennai), these vendors were eager to sell their wares to Hindu devotees. Items such as flowers, coconut, betel leaves, and ghee lamps would be purchased by Hindus for performing of puja ceremonies  - ritual offerings to gods to receive blessings. 

One of my color pencil drawings depicts a woman vendor by the temple, largely focusing on stringing flower petals.

Rawanhathha player, Jodhpur

Here is the watercolor I finished today.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bunches of Leaves

I love the way these leaves are hung as decorative streamers, zigzagging from one side of the street to the other. Perhaps a special celebration has recently occurred here. Mango leaves are often used as part of Indian celebrations and are considered to be symbols of abundance and fertility.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Preparing the Banana Leaves

Sitting in the shade of his tiny shop, this man was busy cutting banana leaves into smaller sections. For South Indians, this is the traditional plate, onto which large amounts of rice, dhal, idlies, chutneys, and other favorite dishes are served. Traditional Tamil meals are eaten with the right hand while sitting cross-legged on the floor.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hanging Up the Flag

Early in the morning on India's Independence Day, this couple works on hanging up the country's flag.  Note the double-signage on their shop. This past spring, the state of Tamil Nadu required compliance with the law requiring businesses to include Tamil in their signage. Some simply added a second sign or crammed on the Tamil onto the existing sign.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Red on Green

Amidst the fluttering butterflies, I spotted this insect, whose intense red coloring contrasted sharply with the green leaves. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Remembering Gandhi

While walking in Mylapore (Chennai), I spotted this memorial of Gandhi. An extra large kolam along with smaller ones lead up to his statue, with flower petals adorning the top step. Around his neck is a large garland of flowers, a sign of adoration and honor. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy Independence Day - India Style

August 15, 2011 marks the 64th anniversary of India's independence from British rule. While one could find the customary flags waving in celebration, I found the garlands of flowers to be much more fitting for India's (particularly here in Tamil Nadu) love of flowers.

Ready to Walk

The roots of banyan trees are fascinating. These appear as if they will suddenly lift out of the ground and walk away.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bounty of Bangles

Indian outfits are all about color. It makes sense then, to accessorize them with matching bangles. Some are plain, while others are studded with mirrors and other decorative elements.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Lone Fisherman

Unlike the group of fishermen working in yesterday's post to remove the fish, this fisherman is working alone. He seems to be in a contemplative mood, deep in thought. Perhaps it was an unproductive fishing trip. 

Medical Tourism in India

Medical tourism continues to grow in India. Latest estimates that this sector will generate around $108 billion by 2015. Around 850,000 foreigners travel to India for access to inexpensive medical care, for a total of around $1 billion in revenue. Areas including cardiology, joint replacement, orthopedic surgery, transplants, and urology are the top draws for medical tourists from the Middle East, Europe, America, and neighboring countries.

Image source: http://images.paraorkut.com/img/pics/images/d/doctors_stethoscope-13168.jpg

Friday, August 05, 2011

Picking Out the Fish

After an early morning fishing excursion, these men are picking out the small fish entangled in their nets.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Of Chilies and Limes

Hanging in front of some homes, businesses, and even on some vehicles (particularly those that are new) is a string of chilies and a whole lime. Known as a nimboo-mirchi, its purpose is to ward off the evil eye cast by neighbors, onlookers, and enemies. Likewise, any ill wishes or feelings of harbored jealousy are said to dissipate. Nimbu-mirchis can also remind us of the sweet moments that are sure to follow more sour events in life.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Morning Milk Delivery

For many residents of Chennai, milk delivery is still a part of their daily ritual. Some walk to the distribution corners, such as this one at the end of my street. Others, such as the man by the motorcycle, loads large amounts into bags and then delivers the plastic sachets to customers. All this must be done rather quickly in order to beat the South Indian heat.

Green and Gold- Wisconsin Style

Here's another photo from one of my morning walks by my parents' house in rural Wisconsin. It's even patriotic - that is, the Green & Gold of the state's beloved Packers football team.