Category Archives: Travel and Leisure

The Talented Craftsmen

On a recent visit to Kenya, we had the good fortune of being able to visit one of the local handicrafts market, thanks to the efforts and planning of a very good friend. ” You would really like the place” is what she said; what she did not mention was the fact that we would be totally overwhelmed by the sheer talent that these people had!

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Seated all over the place under the shade of a few trees, we were treated to some of the most creative craft work that we had seen. There were brightly colored clothes, dazzling prints, work with beads of different colors – this included chains, necklaces, bangles, pendants, earrings, bracelets, headbands, keychains and many many more items, the list just went on and on.

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Next up was the lady with the metal work….so many items, so intricately planned and finished, and neatly displayed. From animals. to busts, to full sculptures, wall hangings, frames, necklaces..almost everything decorative that we could think of was available, and a fair share of it was made from simple pieces of metal and wire cleverly tied or interlinked with one another.

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At the Gourd stall, we just stood and stared. There really was’nt anything else to do. The extent of creativity and craftsmanship was quite evident from the items that were on display. There were gourds of different sizes and shapes, with different artwork and patterns on them, all featuring stories of the African plains and the life of the people in and around those areas.

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There was also some very solid wood furniture available, the sofas, chairs and tables being exclusively handcrafted, The designs were as creative as one could imagine. Probably the biggest issue one would have in the todays world would be to accommodate the furniture in the smaller modern houses.

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We could probably have spent the next two days at the same place, there was just so much to see. The people were friendly and took the time explaining to us the work and method involved in the production of their products. The next time we go here, we intend to find out more about how these items are actually made, and if possible get a hands on visit to the place where these talented artisans are.

 

 

Africa…….at last!!

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After so many years of watching National Geography, it was finally a bit difficult to accept the fact that we were actually in the Masai Mara. Hundreds of different images kept flashing through our minds as our vehicle slowly made its way past the animals, most of them oblivious to the fact that we were there.

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We did get a few inquisitive stares from some of the inhabitants of the grasslands, but then that was to be expected. The Zebra’s, one of the most commonly sighted animals on the plains (we soon found that out) were definitely amused with us.

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This young giraffe also seemed to think the same. He actually stopped his feeding just to give us a stare which told us that we should move on and not keep watching him.IMG_0329a

Then came the Topi, but hey, we were getting better at watching the animals, and not showing too much excitement, because the warthogs that flanked the antelope showed little or no interest in us…they just continued feeding their faces.

“Caution…we are now getting close to the Hippo’s, they are very dangerous animals”  said our guide….this was the scene that met our eyes..

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These guys were in a state of bliss….looked like they could go on sleeping like that for another 2 days. There was no way we were going to disturb them!

But yes, there was one little guy who did not take to us at all…for some reason he was hell bent on chasing us away from there. He would take 3 steps forward, and 3 backward; just kept pretending to frighten us away…he  kept it up for a while and then just got tired of his little game.

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We cannot really begin to describe the emotions that went through us as we watched the animals, looked for new ones, understood their habits and behavioral patterns. Our eyes kept searching the horizons for more, and our fingers kept clicking.

But enough for now, join us later as we continue our drive through the Masai Mara….

A Drive Into Nature

Panorama 2a1 Before the weather changed, we wanted to do one more road trip, so we decided to drive to the top of Jebel Jais mountains. We were not too sure of what to expect there, but nature had a surprise in store for us.

IMG_0977 Across the vast expanse of mountains, and along the very dusty and winding roads…it was a different world altogether.

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Every now and then the terrain changed, giving us diverse views of the mountains and the surroundings areas.

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We spent the whole morning just soaking in nature and the beauty that surrounded us, before finally returning to the base of the mountain range where we had started from.

At the Desert

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It is always an adventure going to the desert…..the very thought of being able to be there with the huge sand dunes, experience the strong wind blowing, listen to the sounds of nature, and have life slow down a bit ….the experience is soothing and rather priceless!!

Firstly you have absolutely no idea what you will encounter, there is always something happening there, you just have to be able to find it.

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The Camel herders are perhaps one of the more common sights that you will come across as you start venturing into the desert.  Being able to capture a picture of them just waking their herd of Camel, or against the backdrop of the large dunes is very satisfying, (although it would be a whole lot better of there were’nt so many tyre tracks on the dunes…that’s man announcing his presence there too).

SONY DSCSome others prefer to watch the sun go down with a birds eye view of the desert. It does make for some spectacular viewing, and must have been as challenging for them to make the trip up there (and down later on in the dark), as it would be satisfying for them to just sit there and watch the sun sink into the golden dunes.

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The light slowly slips away, another day has passed. Its time to bid farewell to these dunes, and get ready for the long drive back home.

 

An Architectural Jewel

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For an absolute treat in architecture and photography, make a trip down to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and spend the day visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. This is arguably one of the most beautiful, and exquisite, religious structures of recent times.

The best time to go would be between October and April as the weather would be good. You need to take this into consideration, because you can do as much photography inside the mosque as you could outside. Photographing this structure is a challenge, from the sheer magnitude, to the grandeur, and the crowds that come there to visit.

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The columns create a mesmerizing effect, and if you get a few people in the frame, it becomes all the more interesting. If you are really lucky, and you have some clouds in the sky, then the entire appearance of the courtyard changes, it helps to accentuate the tall minarets and the beautiful floral designs on the floor. Getting down as low as possible and using a wide angle lens further emphasizes this.

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The domes are beautiful. They keep having different effects on the viewer, depending on the time of day that you look at them. At night, the lighting on the domes is set to create the phases of the moon. You must stay till after dark to get an entirely different view of this mosque.

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Once inside the mosque, its like stepping into another world. It takes a few minutes for you to fully comprehend the grandeur and magnificence that the interior exhibits. There is so much to see, so much to take in…you can easily spend a whole day inside the mosque.

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Before you leave, and while there is still light, take some time to travel to spots around the mosque,and try and get the entire mosque in a single frame. It is a picture that you will always treasure as structures like this are rare jewels in the world of architecture.

IMG_8113For more information on the mosque, the visit timings and how to get there, please check this link http://www.szgmc.ae

We hope you do make the visit, and have a lovely time making your pictures. We have been there a few times, but still get amazed every time we visit.

 

 

Don’t Come Too Close

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Its been close to a year now, and we have gotten kind of “hooked” on wildlife.

Going to a wildlife sanctuary, and being part of a safari is extremely exciting; but to be able to spot an animal in the wild, also requires a bit of luck, and some blessings from above.

The whole experience is very exciting. You get up at 0430-0500 Hrs and start getting ready. The safari jeep arrives by 0545-0600 Hrs, and then by 0630 Hrs you are actually driving into the sanctuary. During the winter months, this part of the morning is extremely cold and misty. The jeeps travel fast, and that only adds to the cold! You start to feeling the cold beginning to really bite into you as you struggle to keep your ears warm, and your camera from falling from your fingers that are stiff with the cold. There is a feeling of unreality; – you are being bounced around in a small jeep, it is still a bit dark, there are shadows everywhere, and you see all sorts of shapes and movements in the large jungle. Not an easy job this, – holding your head gear in place for the cold, and your camera in the other, while trying to balance in the jeep and not fall off. There is only one thought in everyone’s mind – “TIGER” !!

Time passes, we see the pug marks of the tiger, and try to track it. We suddenly hear the animal cry’s…something is nearby. We cut the engines of the jeep and wait….and wait…and wait !  No luck today…nothing happens.

Disappointed, spirits low, we start making our way back. We were so close; but then with wildlife sighting, this is something you need to get used to..sometimes you hit the jackpot, quite often you see nothing.

We are almost out of the jungle when suddenly the guide tells us there is a leopard moving up ahead. Our moods shift gear immediately, all eyes are searching the thick undergrowth and trees for signs of movement. And then suddenly, there she was!! It was almost as if she was sunbathing; with not a care in the world.

We took some really good pictures and then moved on, careful not  to disturb her peaceful morning.

The day did turn out well in the end !

 

Road to Nowhere

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If you really want to see the world and get a small peek into its many wonders, you have to travel. There is only so much information that you can get from a book or a website…if you really want to experience what it is like, then you have to be there.

We had traveled to Oman just after the rain, and were not too sure of what we would get. We wanted to go to the mountains, but many advised us that there could be flash floods and mud slides due to the rain. We finally decided to give it a go, and cautiously made our way through the mountains. The air was fresh, chill and clean, (no pollution at all); and the rain had kind of washed the entire area clean.

We drove along the mountains for the closer part of a whole day, just enjoying nature in all its beauty, knowing that it would be a long time before we would have this much contact with nature. The road kept going for mile after mile, – more mountains, more clouds, more fresh air!

We made a lot of photographs that day, we captured the mountains, the clouds, the rocks, the dirt tracks; but overall, I guess the one thing that made us most satisfied, was the fact that we were out there with nature, enjoying it to the fullest. Sometimes we just get too caught up with the furious pace of the world, and forget that there is a better world out there. Give it a go, you wont regret it !!

The Writing on the Wall

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On one of our trips to Cochin, we decided to just walk around the streets with camera in hand. The place in itself is very pretty and colourful so we were confident that we would come back with some good pictures. However, as we walked around the place, we were were amazed at the number of opportunities that were there to photograph. Almost every 15-20 steps we were stopping, finding a subject and clicking.

The greenery and the trees were a lovely contrast in a blue sky in which fluffy clods floated; the old churches, the backwaters, fishing boats, tourists…they all made lovely pictures and we will post some more of these pictures soon. Even the walls had colourful drawings on them, but probably the one thing that stood out most for us was the graffiti on this particular wall.  The building was old and in a run down condition, the windows were falling off, (some had already gone and were replaced with boards); but the walls were as colourful as ever with different writings in blue, green,  red, black, orange, white…someone had taken a lot of trouble to decorate these walls.

Opportunities to photograph are everywhere. You just have to look for them !

Music for the Soul

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If you love music, and are in Dubai, then one of the things that you have to do this February is to attend an evening of the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival.  There will be 4 main gigs over the two weekends, (this time one of the artists being featured is none other than Carlos Santana), and 5 days at the Jazz Garden with reputed artists from all over the globe.

The atmosphere is just beyond description, you have to be there to actually take it all in. The music transforms you to another planet, as the artists encourage you (all the audience) to join in and have a good time. After a long hard days work, all the grinding through the traffic, one cannot ask for a better relaxation therapy than to spend an evening at the Jazz Festival.

If you need more information on this, go to their website at www.dubaijazzfest.com and you will get all details related to the event.

Its an evening that you will  not regret…do mark the dates in your diary.

 

A Soothing Sight

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Sometimes we get too stressed out with “what we need to photograph” or “I need to find the right subject”. When you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to just ease off a bit, take a few steps back and try to relax. The worst thing that can happen is to let yourself get stressed, because then you find a lot of frustration creeping in, because nothing seems to be going the way you want it to!

Felt this way before with your photography? Don’t worry, it happens all the time; the important thing is to find ways to keep yourself occupied, and still be on the lookout for something to make a picture with.

One of the things that allows us to relax, (and help us remain focused on our photography), at times like this is taking a walk on the sea shores; – walk bare foot in the water while the waves lap around your feet, feel the sand, water…just connect with nature. It is a total relaxation therapy; and in most cases, you always come out refreshed, and ready to start all over again. On more occasions than one, we have found subjects to photograph during these walks on the beach.

The above picture is an example of what we are talking about……give it a try!