Aarti Gardehttps://aartigarde.wordpress.comHaving spent many many years in various corporate jobs in India, working 11 hours a day 5 days a week, I am now a housewife, living first in Vietnam, now in Indonesia.
I spend my days doing nothing, hate housework, love my hobbies, need to exercise and lose weight, love to travel, and yes, love my gadgets.
Half a year ago, I was living halfway around the world. On special weekends I would visit special islands, The days would start with the sun. Except when I brought out the camera. Especially on expensive photo trips.
One remarkable island out of the 15,000+ that Indonesia has is called Belitung. Off the east coast of Sumatra, almost directly north of Jakarta, this island has/had two claims to fame. First, during the Dutch colonial period, it was exploited for its vast supply of tin. When tin fell out of favouring the world, the island met with a similar fate. Decades later, a talented Indonesian writer, Andrea Hirata, published Lashkar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops, in English). A blockbuster movie followed that successful book, and brought out visually what Belitung should forever be famous for: its landscape of crystalline waters and rocks with personality.
After reading the book, a visit to the island was on my list, but it took my reliable partner in photo-adventures: Rajbir, to make it happen. And the expert guidance of our photography guru, Ranar, to make it better.
THAT particular trip we were blessed with an overcast sky and no sun to make those colours pop.
But we persisted.
Over 2 days and 2 nights.
Until the last day, when the sun finally shed it’s shyness and cast some shadows.
A mixed bag of outings for me, these last couple of months in Lima. I’ve been going out mostly with my school, El Sol, for a number of cultural excursions, trying to keep pace with spoken español, and only managing to understand 15-20%.
Casa de Aliaga: You can pass it by without ever knowing the treasures it holds within. But Casa de Aliaga is a home in Lima Centro lived in by the same family over 17 generations, over 4 centuries, and is well worth the visit.
A walk through Lima Centro: Plaza San Martin and Plaza de Armas. I’ve been here before, and never tire of visiting the heart of touristy Lima in these colonial neighbourhoods. A ride on the Metropolitano bus service was an experience in itself.
Plaza San Martin
Lima Cathedral in Plaza de Armas
The Procession of Señor de los Milagros: A half-baked attempt to capture the procession of thousands of people in purple robes, but we arrived too late and ended up running away midway to get our cafe and turrón fix.
Artesanal beer tasting: Helps to understand español better, of course.
* The force of my culture keeps me standing
My personal favourite: Walk through the graffiti in Barranco. It made my day to see an artist in action, and realise the quantum of talent and effort and art supplies that go into a street side creation. The artist in the photos below is painting under the bridge.
With every new location comes great responsibility.* To immerse in the local culture, make new friends, explore new activities, discover new facets of your own self.
This time, we’ve moved halfway around the world, to exotic Peru. Souvik has been here for a while, and I’ve only just arrived in Lima. Fully loaded with my city bicycle, a paltry supply of desi spices, and a smattering of essential Spanish phrases such as por favor and gracias.
The last bit – that needed to change pronto – and a quick search led me to El Sol – la escuela de español – just down the street from home. Entonces, hace 8 semanas y un pequeño descanso que estoy aprendiendo español…
Remember that joyful moment in school after all the exams that you thought you were rid of grammar, tenses, moods, and after the appearance of computers, spelling even?
That has come back to bite me all these years later. In a new idioma.
I try telling myself that learning keeps the mind younger. As schools go, El Sol is fantástico. But the preteritos and subjunctivos, objectos and pronombres, tareas (homework!!!) and examen are enough to drive me just a li’l crazy by the end of each week, and I look forward to the weekly pisco sour we share to toast the newly graduated.
The eyes need help to keep up. I have a choice of glasses for classes, and my best friend these days is the prescription progressive. Not a tense, just a lens.
When a bunch of ex- and present-Jakarta folks got together in Delhi, we picked the Ghazipur flower market for an early morning photo walk. Predictably it was a bustle of activity and a riot of colours. Enjoy!
We neutralised the benefits of the exercise with a sumptuous breakfast of chole-bhature in Green Park. Because, you can’t go to Delhi and not do that!
This is my favourite activity to meet/make friends, get some exercise, and feed the travel monster inside me. Photo walking. Regardless of how many years I’ve spent in a city, it all looks different through the lens. Mumbai offered up the perfect opportunity to do just that. And my friends just happened to know some of the most interesting places to walk about.
The Gateway of India at dawn:
The interiors of the fanciest hotel in Mumbai with the largest heart – The Taj Mahal:
A whiff of nostalgia, watching the sandwich guy set up his stall, and other activities:
A walk through Darukhana, one of the old-time ship breaking yards with a bit of history:
And the part that makes it all worthwhile – a breakfast place that’s both picturesque and satisfying:
Here’s Kailash staking his claim on a new business:
When at Kala Ghoda, must pose with the kala ghoda (black horse):
And at nightfall, after all is said and done, the terrace offers a glorious view of Mumbai city at night, sparkling all the way from Antop Hill as far as the eye can see.
For the first few weeks upon moving to India, I simply vegetated on the couch. There was good reason to: relocating Mia, our cat has been more of a challenge than packing and moving the rest of my life in Indonesia. Once we came through Bangalore customs, cat and all, life at Reva’s got relaxed, with me having no responsibilities except playing badminton with Ira at all hours of the day, while Sara took on Mia’s welfare.
Through my vegetative weeks we waited for the rain clouds to gather and shower, admiring the beautiful sunsets from the balcony, made even more serene with a glass of wine and a light blanket.
My visits to Bangalore have a few must-do’s. Topping that list is a visit to the Canon service centre in Ulsoor, to undo all the damage I’ve inflicted on my camera up to that time. Followed by a coffee stop at the neighbouring cafe, Marzipan. This time, we ended up servicing 2 cameras and multiple lenses, causing us to make this journey at least 3 times, with an added shopping stop at 1 MG Mall.
The whole point to this description is that through my days in Bangalore this time, I had no camera until the last weekend, but once I did, it was near impossible to drag me in from the balcony.