“Pic of the Week”, July 26, 2019: Road Block in Southern Sri Lanka

Roadtrip, Southern Sri Lanka (29)

It’s not every road trip you find your traffic lane blocked by a wild elephant.  But that’s exactly what happened to us when driving in Southern Sri Lanka, on our way from a safari in Yala National Park

I was sitting in the back seat when my driver started braking and gesticulating about the road obstruction ahead.  After a glance, I quickly grabbed my camera and started snapping away — not ideal photography circumstances, but that’s often how it goes.

There blocking our lane stood an elephant, interacting with passengers in a small bus in the opposite lane.  I’m not sure what was going on — whether he wanted some food (most likely), or just to interact with the people. 

I have a …

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“Pic of the Week”, June 21, 2019: Delhi Sweet Shop

00 Chandi Chowk Market (101)

In my experience it’s rare for people to want their photo to be taken by a tourist.  But the gentleman above was very proud of his job, and wanted me to photograph him cooking up treats in one of Delhi’s Sweets shops.  He was frying some pastries in a large pan of oil, scooping them out as they were ready.  When these were finished he poured in a bag of raw cashews, frying them as well.  

I’m quite cautious about eating street food in countries like India, a trait that has served me well over the years.  But I did buy a few of the cooked treats, which were quite good.  I’m sure they spiked my cholesterol level, but such are the …

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.All Trips / Asia / Food / India

Delhi’s fascinating Spice Market (Khari Baoli)

01 Delhi Spice Market

My favorite market in Delhi was its spice market, which happens to be Asia’s largest spice market.  The market straddles Khari Baoli, a street near the Red Fort.  The street’s name is derived from ‘Baoli’, meaning step well, and ‘Khari’, meaning salty. 

The market dates to the 17th century.  Many of the shops have been in the families for a long time, some even run by the ninth- or tenth generations.

Like all good spice markets, Delhi’s is fragrant, colorful and tempting.  Besides a large variety of spices and herbs, you can buy other food items like nuts, tea, pasta and rice.  Everything is beautifully displayed.  

Delhi's Spice Market (Khari Baoli)

Delhi’s Spice Market (Khari Baoli)

Khari Baoli is extremely busy — lots of shoppers, traffic, and workers carrying heavy sacs of spices to …

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.All Trips / Asia / India

Amazing and Unforgettable — the Wiring of Old Delhi

07 Chandi Chowk Market (26)

Even though I’d heard about it, I wasn’t prepared for how chaotic the street wiring in Old Delhi is. There are many places in the old city where you’ll see spaghetti-like masses of live wiring that seem to be incapable of being untangled or understood, yet somehow Delhi electricians figure it out and keep the power flowing.  There seems no plan, no logic, no reason to it.  It just seems to have evolved like some hideous beast.

By far the worst that I experienced was the Chandi Chowk Market area.   It is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Delhi and is not far from the Red Fort.  These photos were taken while walking those streets.

I think the photos are self-explanatory.  …

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“Pic of the Week”, February 22. 2019: Celebrating a Newborn, Rajasthan

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Enjoying a nice lunch in a restaurant that offered escape from the mid-day heat, we were attracted by the sound of music and a crowd gathering outside.   Everyone in our Rajasthan travel group headed out and had the opportunity to see this celebration.

Our guide explained that a child had been born in the village and this was a way of making a public announcement to that effect.  Notice in some of the photos a woman is carrying a baby’s crib on her head.  Mostly it’s a chance for people to dance and celebrate.

Any could join in the festivities and several from our group were soon taking part.  I did what I always do — watched and documented the experience with my …

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.All Trips / Asia / India

Faces of Wagah

Wagah Border, India & Pakistan (63)

The lowering of the flag ceremony at the Wagah Border, which you can read about here,  provided an excellent opportunity for people watching.  Sitting in the viewing stands for more than an hour gave me lots of time to look around and snap photos of the border guards and civilians in attendance.

Here’s some of what I saw that afternoon:

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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.All Trips / Asia / India

A Memorable Trip to the Wagah-Attari Border

26 Wagah Border, India & Pakistan (195)

The flag lowering ceremony held at the Wagah border is among the more unusual festivities I’ve attended while traveling.  This border crossing is not far from the Sikh city of Amritsar which I’d visited for a few days, so I arranged for a car, driver and guide to take me to this event (recommended to me by someone who had lived in the region).

This is a daily ceremony done by the security forces of India (Border Security Force, BSF) and of Pakistan (Pakistan Rangers).  It can alternatively be viewed as a symbol of the two countries’ rivalry, or as one of cooperation depending on your philosophy (my perspective was that it was mostly one of rivalry, as the two nations …

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Delhi’s Largest Mosque. A visit to Jama Masjid

01 Jama Masjid, Delhi (16)

The great mosque of Old Delhi, said to be the largest in India, has a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 worshipers.  Construction on the mosque was begun in 1644 by Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who also built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort; it was to be his last big architectural project.

The mosque adjoins the market area of Chawri Bazar.  It rests atop a small hill has three entry gates, four towers, and two 40 m-high minarets (one of which you can climb for a small fee).  The mosque faces west, towards Mecca.  It is constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble, and more than 5000 artisans worked on it.   The roof of the …

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