A Visit to Mumbai, India – Part III Jun19

A Visit to Mumbai, India – Part III

This is the third group of photos (part 1 and part 2). One day I decided to book a tour with Bravo Bombay (reviews), run by Hemali Talsania.  Hemail is great, and put together a great tour for me and a couple that joined us.  Hemali’s knowledge of the city is great, and her English is excellent.  We went to several spots that I wanted to visit, here are a few photos from the day. First, I was picked up in a van by a driver.  I didn’t take the Mumbai Local this time, and after two journeys on the crowded train it was nice to get driven around in an air conditioned van.  The accident with the motorcycle was just part of the adventure.  On our way down the driver asked if I wanted to take the sea link, having read a bit about it I agreed that we should.  The Bandra–Worli Sea Link, or officially the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, is a new bridge and freeway that links western and southern Mumbai.  It’s a great route saving a lot of time but it’s tolled so it is virtually empty.  In the city (where there is no toll) the traffic is snarled but the freeway is wide open.  Maybe it will get more use over time.  I know, not a great photo but I took it through the window of a speeding van ;) One of the first stops was Dhobi Ghat, a huge (world’s biggest?) open air laundry.  This facility washes an absolute mountain of laundry every day from all over Mumbai.  A few photos from the laundry. This is my favourite photo from the set, just a little kid going about his day. Next on the agenda was Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, or Victoria Terminus.  An amazing building with incredible detail.  Worth a visit if you are into architecture.  Unfortunately, the interior was not nearly as amazing as the exterior. At the university, there is a replica of London’t Big Ben.  It’s actually a very good replica, though sadly I could not get any closer than this as it’s behind locked gates. When you take a close look at the faux Big Ben, you can see the Indian touches compared to the original. A popular tourist spot, the Gateway Of India.  One of the few places we visited where there were a lot of tourists and people pushing their wares.  I was somewhat of a celebrity being one of the only tall white guys around.  Several people asked to take their photo with me, first time that has happened. Everyone in the group received a blessing (for a small donation).  It was nice. We visited a Hare Krishna temple, and listened to the chants.  A nice spot and interesting religion.   The Mahatma Gandhi Museum, full of interesting artefacts.  The most powerful and memorable were the letters to Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill. Outside the museum, I met a charismatic and friendly tour guide who I chatted with while waiting for my group to finish up.  Smartly dressed, he was happy to pose for a photo.  For some reason he reminds me of Eddie Murphy. Close to the harbour, we saw a fishing boat coming in.   A little helter skelter but definitely interesting. The harbour itself. Hemali, our tour guide (far right) and the couple who joined the tour.  Maybe they will see this one day (if so leave a comment ;) After the tour, I did some of my own exploring.  Here a vendor is selling strings of flowers.  These were being used to decorate cars for a festival. A family I ran into, they were great and the boy holding the dog asked me a million questions.     My favourite photo form the trip.  This old guy was sitting in a flashy metal carriage when I approached him.  He didn’t speak English, but nodded and smiled when I asked him...

A Visit to Mumbai, India – Part II Jun16

A Visit to Mumbai, India – Part II

I took a lot of photos in Mumbai, this is the second group. You can view part 1 here. I decided to head to the south part of the city to explore the area.  Leaving the hotel the security guard posed for a photo.  Hotels have strict security since the terrorist attacks of 2008. I have heard some crazy stories about the “Mumbai Local” train.   During rush hour, it’s one of the most crowded trains in the world, people are hanging off the sides.  The staff at the hotel told me not to ride it, it’s not for tourists.  A tour guide I hired said “you are taking the local?  I don’t even ride the local”.   With those sentiments, I knew I had to ride it :) I decided to ease my way into it, my first trip was off-peak, and it was quite pleasant.  There are no doors on the train, and it stops for only a very short while at each stop.  For my second trip, I booked the cheap fare during rush hour.  That was definitely entertaining and highly recommended for anyone looking for some adventure.  The mass of humanity that steams off a train at each stop is crazy, and somehow you need to push your way though that to get on board.  Good times. My destination for the day was the Chor Bazaar.  “According to popular legend, if you lose anything in Mumbai you can buy it back from the ‘Chor Bazaar’.”  You can literally get anything here, it is one of largest flea markets in India. This aisle was full of garlic.  It smelled amazing, not overpowering at all.  The guy sitting on the ground was peeling cloves, that is what he does most of the day. At one point, I walked past a school.  The kids were just leaving and a few of them come over to say hello.  They spoke very good English (they all learn it in school) and they started asking me a lot of questions while showing me around.  They wanted to pose for a photo, but at the last second all ran away leaving just one.   These guys had a good laugh. Venturing outside of the market after a few hours of exploring, I decided to just stand on a street corner and look at the interesting people streaming by. [Click any image to view bigger.]   There are interesting people everywhere.  I’m not even sure what this gentleman is selling, but he looks sharp.   If you know what this stuff is, please post in the comments.  Update: Thanks to Sandhya for letting me know via the comments that this gentleman is selling Singhara (Water Chesnut/Water Caltrop) seeds. Another friendly character, spoke no English but was happy to pose for a photo.   Some of the local animals.  Fresh mutton?  No problem.  Want to buy a rooster, they have that too. Sidewalks in Mumbai are not quite up to Canadian standards.   A few more interesting sights and people including a fruit and vegetable stand. On more than one occasion kids ran up to me and wanted to pose for a photo.  Very curious and very cute.   A shave on the street.   I’m not sure this is up to WCB standards. It was amazing to watch these guys climb bamboo scaffolding with no harness or other safety equipment.   One of the slums on the beach.  Despite the conditions, children will find a way to entertain themselves.  Here they made a kite and they seemed to be having a great time.   A well dressed gent at a street market. Finally, my dinner.  Curried goat, roti, and a local...

A Visit to Mumbai, India – Part I Jun16

A Visit to Mumbai, India – Part I

My trip to Mumbai, India was an eye opening experience.  In a way it was what I expected but at the same time I wasn’t always prepared for what I saw.  India is clearly a developing nation but in many ways behind other third world countries I have visited.  I know that India is becoming a technology center for many global companies, it has a quickly developing economy and is on the verge of rapid industrialization.  However, when you walk the streets and talk to the people you don’t see much evidence of that.  There are obviously many wealthy people in India, but there are far too many that live on the street below the poverty line. While it’s true that many people are poor and live on the street, all of the people I met were warm and accepting of my presence.  Some were guarded at first but if I asked for directions, to take a photo, or just how their day is going they would all flash a big smile and do their best to help me out.  Those that spoke English were eager and willing ask where I’m from and how I like the country.  Some engaged in conversation and other just said hello and posed for a photo.   I’m wouldn’t get the same reception if I walked the streets of Vancouver (my home town).  People in Vancouver are often self-centered, indifferent, or paranoid you are running some scam and do not engage strangers to the same level. The people in India are also very spiritual and tolerant.  They are a blend of many religions (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and others) often obvious by their clothing though there is no visible tension between them.  They celebrate festivals and openly practice their faith.  Many also believe in the concept of Karma which is present in all of the religions.  Because of this, there seems to be an environment of safety and I did not ever feel threatened during my visit.  I walked in many different areas of the city, alone, as an obvious outsider and didn’t feel unsafe at any time.  It may have been luck but I can’t say that I would do the same in other large cities around the world. My experience of India is limited to one city, Mumbai (Bombay).  Other cities may be drastically different, I really don’t know.  I hope to visit other parts of India some day to see for myself. Exploring On Day 1 My first day in Mumbai was just spent exploring the area I was staying in, Juhu.  Juhu is an affluent suburb of Mumbai where many Bollywood stars live however if you plucked me from Vancouver and dropped me in Juhu I would think it far from affluent.  There are obviously many poor people living on the street and there is garbage littered everywhere.  The waterways I saw were extremely polluted, looked almost like blank ink and filled with trash.  Juhu Beach unfortunately isn’t much better being covered in garbage, and both animal and human waste. For a country so blessed with natural beauty and resources it’s a real shame to see it treated so poorly. Part of the problem is the population explosion in Mumbai.  I have heard estimates that put the population between 20 and 24 million people and all those people need to live somewhere.  Combined with the fact that Mumbai is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world, you essentially force people to live on the street or in slums.  These places often have no sanitation, garbage collection, or even running water.  The garbage and waste is simply dumped into the environment and it is clear that nature has paid a heavy price. Juhu Beach, not every area is this littered though there is no area that is clean. One thing to note is the smog in...

Sony RX100 Black & White : Camera vs Silver Efex Pro 2...

I love this new Sony RX100, it’s a fantastic little camera.  I’m impressed with the quality and that is saying a lot since my other camera is a Nikon D800.  The D800 does spoil you with pixels and huge dynamic range, and you really notice the advantage when you start processing raw files from another camera.  However, the RX100 takes infinitely better images when I leave the big camera at home because it doesn’t fit in my pocket. This post is just showing three images from the RX100,  I was shooting in RAW+JPG in black and white mode.  The first image is straight from the camera.  I used default settings, but you can change contrast and exposure settings in the camera before taking a shot.   The image below is the same shot (camera JPG) but with minor processing done in Adobe Lightroom 5.  I think it looks a bit better, there some contrast adjustments, sharpening, vignette, and other minor changes. The last image is processed from raw (ARW) using Lightroom 5, Photoshop CS5, and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.0.  I think it turned out the best but I also spent more time processing it than the image above....

Vancouver May Flowers

Apparently the May long weekend is a busy time for gardening in Vancouver.  Our tulips have already come and gone, but there is always something in bloom.  I took a few shots while my wife was busy in the garden.  Nikon D800 with a 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro...

Gastown Photo Walk

I took a short walk around Vancouver’s Gastown with friends recently.   Here are some photos from my walk which started at the Irish Heather and ended at the...

Vancouver Aquarium : February 20

The first photo is not from my trip to the Vancouver Aquarium, but it was taken during the same weekend when my brother was in town.  We decided to visit the lookout at Cypress Mountain at sunset, and lucky for us it was a fairly clear evening.  This photo is taken looking south east, the sun is setting to the right of the frame and Vancouver is in the foreground.  Mount Baker (which is in the USA), is visible in the background.  The use of a zoom lens (@ 155mm) provides the compression in the scene.  I have used zoom lenses for a few landscape shots in the past (Mountains at 400mm) and they can certainly provide an interesting perspective.   I also created a panorama from the same location starting just to the right of the image above.  I’m not that happy with the processing but I’m posting the image anyway.  If you want to see this image much bigger, you can do so here. Now the photos from the trip to the Vancouver Aquarium.  Photos from previous visits are also online.  I have a new favorite tank, the cuttlefish!  Those guys are fascinating to watch.   Also got a great shot in the frog display area, these little guys were lined up like they were on duty.   A few other shots from the day....

Testing WP Retina 2x Plugin

This post is to test the WP Retina 2x plugin for WordPress. The image was uploaded at 2880×1500 (603kb).  I’m also using CloudFlare and CloudFront with w3 Total Cache so I want to test it out to see if this configuration will actually work.  The photo is from my trip to Belize....

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