I had the honour to be invited by Ravi to attend his traditional marriage in his hometown Indore. For a country with rich history that goes back way in time, I have been wanting to visit India for quite a while!
For this trip, I decided to go analog so I lugged my Nikon FM2 with a 14mm UWA lens and a 28mm wide angle as well as my CanonetQL17 with it’s 40mmF1.7 lens. They were accompanied with 6 rolls of film (Ilford 100, Tri-X400 and some Fuji Pro160NS color films).
We took a flight from Singapore to New Delhi on the 29 Nov 12 in the morning. We reached Delhi around 2pm India time so we roamed the airport for couple of hours while awaiting the domestic flight to Indore.
Some Caucasian who was on the same flight as us to India (looks like a vagrant!)
Sniped a shot of the AirIndia’s flight attendant
The many Buddha palms at Delhi airport.
India isn’t so bad at all! Apart from the colorful surroundings, people are pretty nice (minus those few black sheep) and food is good!
One observation we made was, the service folks tend to throw items back after scanning (be it passports or food items. Then again, when they returned money, they placed it in your hand nicely. I reckon it’s not about being rude but more like their culture here.
Yoga structures at the airport
McDonalds in Delhi!
At 4.30pm India time, Ravi called me to ensure I was on the way to attend his wedding. LOL!
We boarded the domestic flight at about 6.30pm India time. The flight meal may be crappy but we met a very friendly local who happens to be a Colonel in the India military who introduced me about the place Indore.
We reached Indore about 8pm In time, to be welcomed by Ravi’s buddy Niks & Raoul. It was another hour of drive into Ujjain before reaching the wedding venue!
We arrived just in time for their music routine and we saw them dancing and singing. Amazing raw talent. I can never dance like them!
Entrance to the happy occasion!
Music just keeps playing and they just keep dancing!
Here’s Ravi and his beautiful wife!
Ravi and his buddies
Us in the hotel room (See the red dot on my head? It’s a means of welcoming us from the locals to the wedding)
On 30 Nov 2012, we started the day at 10.30am India time with a car ride back to the function hall with Niks. We watched Ravi’s Sagai aka engagement ceremony where gifts were exchanged between both families. After lunch, Barat brought us around in Ujjain’s famous places.
View from Mittal Avenue Hotel in Indore
The sunlight burst through the trees right into my frame. =D
Weddings are popular during this time of the year. Even the hotel we stay in had weddings held every other night and it involves many catering of food. This is the amount of trays they require for a wedding. Phew!
Waiting for the ride
It’s too cold for her so she had to put on a mask else her nose will feel the pain.
View from level 2 of the next building beside the function area.
Ravi and his grandmother
Preparing for the Sagai
There are many gifts, ranging from foodstuff to saris to gold items.
The bride’s here!
Getting ready for it to happen.
One of the few video+photographers covering this event.
Ravi’s elated dad.
A curious kid in the event.
Starting of the ceremony
Caught an occasional smile from the bride.
And one from the groom
Took a quick shot of the group photo before the main photographer started. The right side had some flares I suppose.
The lovely couple.
The detailed Henna done on the bride’s hands have meanings to it. Everything drawn on the hands are related to the wedding from preparation to the actual event itself.
After the ceremony, we had some spare time so Ravi arranged Barat to have us brought around several places in Indore.
First, the Mother of Earth and the Planet Mars aka Lord Shiva temple at Mangalnath Temple (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/mangalnath_temple_ujjain_mp_india)
The picture above shows the monkeys, which are pets of the beggars outside the temple.
Mother of Earth God
Devotees offering to the Mars God
Swastika signs made of cow dung on the walls (Cows are sacred so are their output)
The second place we visited was Kaal bhairav temple (Divine vehicle is the Dog). (http://wikimapia.org/368322/Shri-Kaal-Bhairav-Temple-Talasari)
I almost had an opportunity to go into the underground temple, which was about 10 meters downwards but there were too many people!
Barat helped us captured this nice shot of us with my 14mm lens
The film got reeled backwards, which caused this dual image. However, it created a nice output in my personal opinion. It shows the outside of the temple as well as the god’s statue in the inside.
A full picture of Kaal Bhairav where it is offered alcohol as an offering. The guys in the pictures are also its caretakers.
The person is giving prayers to people outside the temple for a token. I was told these people are neither men nor women and they have been outcast-ed by their familes and they reside near the temples to survive. Their local term for such people are “six-seers” (I may have spelt it wrongly)
A last view of the temple before we left, with a parking attendant and a beggar in the background
Lastly, Kaliadeh palace (Sun temple). Beautiful and picturesque!
The ever cheeky kids naturally posed for me! Somehow, I liked the flares coming through (it hit the 3rd boy in the picture and I cleaned that up via Photoshop)
Our portrait inside the Sun temple before we left back for Ravi’s ceremony.
We were in time for Ravi’s traditional ceremony on a white horse with brothers dancing around him at about 5pm India time, where he led the horse about 30 meters away from his place while all his brothers start dancing around him. Money started to be thrown around for some reasons I did not ask of. Probably for some happy occasion reasons.
His excited brothers dancing!
Ravi about to throw some money into the crowd
Taking a photo of her while the procession is ongoing, =D
The truck that blasted the loud music with the awesomely cute boy lazing while it moved inch by inch.
Ravi was pretty aware of my camera when I lifted it up (as much as I tried to be discreet)
Attention seeking drummers drummed harder and harder when they saw me snapping pictures of them
Some street photography for the wedding (See the reflection and see through the glass, you will see the little boy looking at the celebrations)
Another street photo of the working boy looking at the occasion
After this ceremony, we proceeded to dinner before heading back to hotel for a good rest!
01 Dec 2012: the start of December, I was awoken by the “road music”, which was actually the excessive honking of the road vehicles with different horn sounds. It is now 6.30am IN time and the sky is as bright as it can be (about 10 am in SG)
We had a small tour around Ujjain before heading back to the hotel as language was a barrier for us to move around in this city alone. Our local friends did try to bring us to the shopping mall but it was pretty much nothing to do there and the market they brought us to, was too big of a language barrier too as we worry we may not be able to even get back to hotel (Language commonly used here: Hindi)
We decided to head back to the hotel to spend our day relaxing and trying out different food in the restaurant menu. Boy, they were really spicy food in Indore!
As we had an early flight from Indore to Delhi tomorrow, we tried to rest early but I never really did have a good sleep as there was another wedding celebration going on downstairs. =8
On 02 Dec 2012 at 5am, Vijay fetched us (pitch dark) to get a flight from Indore airport to Delhi at 7.20am India time.
As usual, we were given breakfast on the plane and suddenly I realized how much I missed eating meat. This city is very holy so most people takes vegetarian. We have been taking vegetarian for the past 3 days.
I am actually hoping to eat some meat when we reach Delhi airport! We arrived at Delhi airport at about 8.46am India time. Yay! Time to see Taj Mahal soon!
We met up with our driver who brought us on a high speed drive to Taj Mahal. Along the way, we saw herds of cows, stacked dungs for sale, 20 ppl in 1 taxi, men peeing and shitting along road sides, overloaded lorries filled with grasses and of course, the bumpy road etc
There was a place called UP (Uttar Pradesh), where our driver had to settle some tax payments, he told us to stay in the car and not do anything at all. Not even photo taking, talking or even winding down the windows as there were many con men waiting to devour us (like a thousand rupees for a photo I snapped of them?) and indeed the first thing that happened was the monkey man, who threw his monkey onto the windscreen as soon as the driver was off, followed by some legless beggars knocking in our side window asking for money.
My FM2N had a shutter freeze moment just before we reached Agra and so I am left with my Canonet to shoot Taj Mahal. It was no doubt disappointed as I am not able to use my 14mm wide lens.
Once reaching Agra, we fetched our local guide Khan, who toured us around Taj Mahal. To summarize, I am a little disappointed as the tour seems to be in a rush and I didn’t even have time to get proper photos.
FYI, it costs 750 rupees per person to gain entry to Taj Mahal, which includes a pair of shoe socks and a bottle of mineral water.
Leading to the entrance of Taj
Behind this wall, you see the infamous Taj Mahal
Our tour guide helped us to take a photo of the entrance (can’t imagine how he failed to include the left of the entrance)
Many many people (Gosh)
I am seeing Taj soon!
One of the famous composition to shoot Taj Mahal. I was not able to get a centralized angle as there was too many people passing through.
Many people? Never mind, they can be in my composition. =D
A picture of her with Taj as the background
Holding up Taj Mahal like everyone does…
I blame the bad compositions on my tour guide who was rushing things through (damn)
What you see in the picture are not dirt but birds circling Taj Mahal.
Noticed the difference in shapes? The ball on the left was a result of the many visitors to Taj Mahal that “polished” the structure over time.
Each wall of Taj Mahal is intricately carved. It is indeed a piece of historical artwork.
The interior of Taj (photography prohibited but well…)
The honey-combed walls inside Taj Mahal.
The king was initially intending to built a Black Taj Mahal in black marble across the river of the white marble Taj Mahal but it never did work out.
That aside, the sight of Taj Mahal is mesmerizing though! It was really beautiful against the blue skies when you see the marble structure glitter in the sunlight.
Something I did not enjoy about my tour guide in Agra was he rushed us through the tour so that he can bring us to the government shops (that sells things at a high price). He actually warned us about how stalls outside Taj will slaughter us with high pricing at and he will bring us to government shops that sells at reasonable prices.
Well, they were not highly priced, just exorbitant. I like India a lot but just not the “government shops” in Agra. See my encounters below.
– Embroidery shop: Tried selling low quality work at 150SGD (Imagine sewing of Taj Mahal varies in shapes from piece to piece)
– Carpet shop: minimal 300+ to 400 plus SGD per piece with gemstones, which he claims can be traded in back to them in future
– Gemstone shop (Star of India stone, which will shine with a star shaped bling. This only happened when he switched off certain lights so I am not sure how true is that. Workmanship was not fantastic too but he kept trying to sell me a stone from big to small. When all fails, he tried to ask me to buy for my mum or sister. It failed and he tried selling me handbags, where he claims they supply to Gucci too.
– Tour guide’s face somewhat looked grumpy now. No commission I guess that’s why!
Finally, it is 4.30pm India time and we are on our way back to Delhi airport! I cannot wait to see Singapore in a few hours time! I can’t describe how much I detest the honking in India that gets on my nerves and gives me a headache too!
However, I am also thankful to the vigilant F1 driver that took us back and forth in 1 piece. He was so fast (and good), flickers headlights in thousands and honks more than we ever do in maybe 5 or more car lifespans in Singapore! He keeps mentioning “people are very hurry, I don’t know what’s the hurry” when people drove faster than he did. LOL
It is 7pm India time, we are about 60km away from Delhi and the air in the night is so polluted. Mask on.
8.00pm India time, the sign says we are 35km away from Delhi.
08.20pm India time, we finally reached Delhi toll gate. Another 20 mins to the airport!
I only recall reaching the airport, having a late dinner and getting onto my flight. The next thing I knew was, I woke up with 25 more mins to reach Singapore! It’s 5.25am India time, which is about 7.55am Singapore time.
I enjoyed the trip, which was a big eye opener to me and I have also cleared one of the 7 wonders of the world. XD
Note: I will follow up with images from my iPhone soon!