My hat is bigger than yours…

It's like a folded, starched napkin

The pageantry, the pomp and the fancy-pants-ness of military ceremonies in India is something to behold. And few places is that more accessible than the daily ritual performed on both sides of the India-Pakistan border at Wagah.

Patriotic citizens and puzzled foreigners pile into bandstands along the road between the two countries. Each nation trots out an honor guard for some drill and maneuvers that could easily be a flash dance or jazzercise routine at your local Y. There’s lots of shouting, huzzahing, high-kicking, grunting, “aggressive marching” (I believe that’s the official term) and even a handshake. Then the border gates are officially closed and the flags of each country are lowered.

But costumes are as priceless as the show. And best of all: the hats.

India’s are above. Pakistan’s involve some kind of a cape (it was difficult to see) which give them a more sinister, desert-marauder appearance.

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The art of impermanence

Beauty that is skin deep

I’m traveling at the moment in Rajasthan with Joel and Kate. I won’t be near the Internet much for several days. Enjoy preset blog posts.

Mehndi, or henna tattooing, is a common ritual for women in a variety of celebrations in India and, most frequently, is a part of wedding traditions for the bride and often the bride’s friends.

Hands and feet are the primary canvasses for the artist, who paints slowly and meticulously. Though many intricate designs today are applied with a stamp, the best artists still work freehand. It’s fascinating to watch the skilled practitioner; I sat for more than an hour watching the woman I photographed above in 2004 in Jaipur.

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