a trip to fort gingee, including the attack of the annoying younger sibling

(with a few apologies to will cuppy:) this sunday, i woke up at the painful hour of 4 am to travel with the photographic society of madras to fort gingee, 160 km south of chennai. it was an impregnable fortress complex consisting of three forts atop individual hills. the british referred to it as the “troy of the east.” and where is troy today? the ride took nearly three hours, including a stop for breakfast, so it was already getting hot by the time we started our 90-minute climb. there are a number of buildings at the base of the…

when in tirupati (part 2) …

before after the truth is, i didn’t look that much different after the shave. (photos courtesy of james) the following day, we procured a car at our hotel to take us to the sri venkateswara temple, on the hilltop village of tirumala. the first order of business was to have our heads shaved, or “tonsured” as they call it. because so many pilgrims come to tirumala every day, there are a number of haircutting halls at which you can have your head shaved for 10 rupees.  at each one where we stopped, however, our driver told us it would be…

when in tirupati (part 1) …

my friend james and i decided to travel to tirupati, in andhra pradesh, to visit the sri venkateswara temple, which is one of the largest pilgrimage sites in india. as those of you who have seen chris rock’s movie good hair may remember, india exports tons of human hair to the west for hair extensions; and a lot of that hair is collected at the sri venkateswara temple, where the pilgrims shave their heads out of humility before they visit the god.  the hair gets bought up by exporters, and they sort it, wash it, and prepare it for sale.  this…

getting home

an abandoned temple chariot (used for carrying statues of the gods) by the side of the road in pudukottai; detail. and no, i don’t know why this is sitting on the side of the road, but it obviously had been there for a while. the final post of the jallikattu series: i started out on wednesday morning with the decision to take the state highways, rather than the national highway, back to chennai; taking these roads, i would see the smaller towns and villages of the region. the first stop was thirupattur, where i’d seen the m.g.r. posters the day…

the second half of the day

after a less-than-brilliant afternoon of shooting the jallikattu, we drove into a chettinar village to see a pongal festival. the chettinars are a community of traders who rose to prominence during the 19th century, building businesses and trading overseas. they built splendid houses for themselves, but many of the wealthy chettinars now live in the major cities or overseas, returning to their villages only for special occasions.  pongal is the harvest festival, and in a typical celebration, people cook a rice porridge of the same name. the community pongal festival is a great excuse for a get-together (and an opportunity…

lo-fi

i’ve made yet another formatting change to the blog to make it much easier to read. i still have to figure out some of the css coding, so the colors and fonts aren’t exactly correct yet. in the meantime … i recently purchased a 1960s-era diana camera. this is going to be fun.