Old men walking…

Pagri!

Got a turban? Take it for a stroll. In Mehrangarh Quila, in Jodhpur.

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Perfect imperfect art

Traditions

Women paint the ground outside Mehrangarh Quila in Jodhpur.

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One big trunk on the streets of Delhi

Pachyderm lane?

Meet a Delhi elephant. There are a few dozen of the beasts captive in Delhi, taken care of by their very loving mahouts (traditional, often tribal, elephant driver) as well as some wildlife NGOs. Their life isn’t great, but this is a facet of Indian culture that isn’t likely to wither under the animal-loving glare of the West.

Here, they are used for weddings, festivals and other ceremonies, though outside the city in parts of the country they are still beasts of burden. Sounds weird to say it, but these elephants are domesticated.

I’m sometimes a little leery of posting photos of the colorful juxtaposition of India’s traditions alongside her modern ambitions. What I don’t want is for this mediocre shot — from an abnormally uncrowded Aurobino Marg, a major Delhi traffic artery — to give the impression that India is simply a backward, funny land.

But this is also reality in a major Indian city, a glorious if also quirky reality. There aren’t many places in the world to find the urban elephant.

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Plantas de la selva: Vol. 12

Silver in the jungle dark

The Shuar in Arutam live in a place between the modern world of cell phones and synthetic fabrics and their traditional world of forest food and medicine.

This one, in particular, was used for tea and salves and apparently is considered both rare and beneficial to memory.

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Cutting an Indian rug

Stealing the spotlight

Last night, I attended performance of Odissi, a style of classical Indian dance. It was beautiful, fantastically lit and hypnotic. As soon as the first dancers stepped on the outdoor stage, I wished for my camera, though with my banged-up shoulder I wouldn’t have been able to lift it.

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Season of bright lights

diwalilights

I missed Diwali by a few days, but the neighborhood where my uncle lives still has plenty of decorations.

All the shops are displaying flowers and lanterns and shiny posters and garland.

And at night, the lights. And the fireworks.

It’s a bit like Christmas.

The festival — known as the Festival of Lights — has significance primarily for Hindus, but also Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. My family, being Christian, doesn’t celebrate.

For Hindus, Diwali, also spelled Divali or Deepawali or variations thereof, marks the return of Lord Rama after he defeated the evil multi-headed demon Ravana who had absconded with Sita to Lanka, as retold in the Ramayana. It is also symbolic of other victories by good over evil, or so I’m told. By Wikipedia.

I’ve read (not on Wikipedia) of mothers telling their children, “we light the lanterns to lead Rama home.”

The holiday spans multiple days and does involve a good amount of ritual partying. I like, especially it for the lights and firecrackers. With any luck, I’ll still be here for it next year.

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