10 August 2009
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Posted By radhika
On my travels I usually find one little corner where I sit and soak in the place and watch the many people passing through it. It gives me time to think and absorb what I have just seen and in retrospect I always associate the place to that café/corner. In Hampi it was the Mango Tree, in Leh it was the German Bakery (every touristy place has a German Bakery) and in Auroville it was Aubergine.
Here in Khajuraho I found my little spot as well.
Nestled between the town on one side and the temples of Khajuraho on the other is the quaint and appealing Raja Café. Started about 30 years ago by a Swiss woman who settled here in India, it is now run by her family since the past 5 years…Built around a large tree, its breezy ambience and great views of the western group of temples makes this café a perfect place to spend your day in.
The service is a bit erratic but the very hospitable waiter made up for any goof-ups- Read Bharath’s French toast! I tried the European thali and quite liked it though I would very much recommend the chocolate cake and the Banana Lassi.
Places like this is where I always meet interesting people to talk to as well. In front of me was someone reading Amsterdam by Ian McEwen. With the book as an icebreaker, I got talking to Andrew, a journalist backpacking in India since 8 months. Traveling the way I would love to. But I get my glimpses and my corners, so for now no complaints.
10 August 2009
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Posted By bharath
We left Indore in the morning to head to Bhopal and Sanchi. An end of one part of our journey as we raced toward another. We were determined to cut short travel times to a minimum. That was the plan anyway. Suffice to say that we didn’t reach our destination anywhere close to the intended time. Instead of driving with the single minded determination of a local tempo driver, we stopped, meandered along our route and rediscovering the road. I think it was the windmills that took us off course this time. Narrow broken tarmac and mud plastered huts announced the village nearby. Well! Broken tarmac before the village and no roads after. Large stones, open drains, some parts of the path raised for no reason and buffalos- in other words any typical village. We stopped, answered questions and did our very best at rural marketing… potential customers no doubt.
We followed our path back and followed the highway between Indore and Bhopal. Most of the highway is being widened but the sections that were done were great to drive on. The two wide lanes separated by rows of trees all along the way. We reached Bhopal and made our way to the Union Carbide Factory. Most of what we witnessed has been covered by Radhika and to say we were disheartened would be putting it mildly. I’m not sure but sometimes I think we have so much history in this country we get desensitized to a lot of those stories.
Sanchi was barely 60km from Bhopal and was a welcome relief. Completely unexpected and brilliant.
Sanchi, a Buddhist center with some of the finest examples of Buddhist art was built in 3rd century BC by Ashoka. Built at a time when Buddha was never represented directly, the episodes of Buddhas lives are carved and depicted through the Jataka Tales. I won’t go into lengthy descriptions and I hope the pictures will illustrate it better.
What did amaze me though was how the place was full of contradictions that are typical of India. As I sat and stared at the carvings, I could hear the train below blowing its whistle loud and clear, slicing the air and unsettling the place. Just as you got used to the peace and quiet you would hear the sound of another train announcing its arrival or departure.
That, of course, was not the main entertainment for the day. A large group having settled on the grass after exploring the place suddenly burst into screaming and heavy gesturing. In a matter of minutes there were children and adults all actively pointing and hopping down the slope. Getting there I found an elderly gentleman from the group waiting for the rest who had now found their way down to a shallow natural pool below. Seeing the camera in my hand he looked at me and said “peacock, peacock …go take photo.”
I looked on at the group still hysterically trying to locate the bird below and I looked back at the magnificence of the Sanchi Stupas behind me and sighed. If only our monuments generated this much of excitement. We do have too much of history.
09 August 2009
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Posted By radhika
For everyone who is reading this blog it might appear that we seem to be having the time of our lives. Well! That’s true but we also seem to have to do our blogging, photography and attempt to provide some footage for the short clips being put up.
We shall now attempt to put on paper a typical travel day as experienced by us.
Wake up unusually early by 5:30am
Attempt to get out of the hotel by 6am
Start our drive (a 300km drive shouldn’t take more than 6 hrs-typically)
Stop at anything we find interesting (which seems to be everything under the sun) and shoot on the way.
If we haven’t mentioned detour a hundred times before, let me mention it again-WE DETOUR.
So, what should be a typical 6 hour drive drags on for 12hrs
Reach hotel at 6pm- if lucky
Then attempt to pool all the content we’ve gathered and follow up with stories.
Typical bedtime for Bharath -12AM
Typical bedtime for Radhika -2AM
End result- No time to do things that we would love to do that is
1) More posts.
2) Reply to all the people who have been encouraging us and commenting on our posts.
3) Sleep some more.
But I think we just wanted to let you all know that the support and encouragement is really helping us. Its feels so good to have you follow our route with us. Thank you.
Radhika and Bharath.
09 August 2009
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In memory of.
Posted By radhika
On route to Sanchi, we passed by Bhopal and we just had to stop by the Union Carbide factor to pay our respects to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy. The first few images that left me heart-wrenched before I went to photography school were the images of Raghu Rai and Pablo Bartholomew on the tragedy.
Known as the worst industrial disaster that took place in December, 1984, the methyl isocyanate leak killed over 28,000 people and exposed more than half a million people. The effects are still felt to date. The case is still being fought.
On entering Bhopal and after endless wrong directions we found ourselves at the Union Carbide factory which was closed. The memorial statue is almost invisible and badly maintained. Having missed it when passing by we asked a university student about its location and he looked at us completely blank. The reality that no one remembers is an even bigger tragedy.
The graffiti on the wall protesting the injustice was a more powerful memorial than the almost hidden statue.
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Being best friends with Bharath has been my biggest challenge to date. Constantly arguing about most topics under the sun and having diametrically opposite perspectives to life makes us such good friends.
Having met at photography school, our shared passion for travel, culture, music, books and art made us drive off to different places on photography ‘assignments’. 5 years down post-grad school we still make spontaneous trips to feed our wanderlust.