two weeks of teaching photography in rural tamil nadu – part 2

during the second week, i went to salem, about 65 km south of dharmapuri. it is a significantly larger city and district than dharmapuri (3.5 million people vs. 1.5 million), and there was a different feel to this second group of kids. in part, it may have been that, because they come from a more urbanized area, they have different perspectives; or perhaps, because they had further to travel each day, they had less time to search for stories. it also may be that “only” six of them had been rescued from child labor, while the other four instead were…

yercaud

after the first week of teaching photography, i went to yercaud hill station. (hill station is another term for mountain town.) i started from dharmapuri relatively late, so by the time i got to the base of the mountain, the sun was going down, but that was no worry; without pushing my little Ford Figo too much, it’d be a half hour to the top. or so i thought. as i went up around a few crazy curves, i was amazed to see how many motorcycles were coming down with their lights off, the rider (or riders) without helmets. there…

two weeks of teaching photography in rural tamil nadu – part 1

during the weeks of may 14 and 21, i am teaching photography skills to village kids in tamil nadu. this project, supported by unicef, gives kids point-and-shoot cameras and asks them to document their lives and the issues that concern them.  none of them have ever held a camera before, but they have experienced their issues – child labor, crumbling school buildings, etc. – first-hand. the first batch of 10 kids were in dharmapuri, about 300 km southwest of chennai.  aged about 12-18, all of them had been rescued from child labor situations. they now live with their parents and are enrolled…

pashupatinath and boudhanath

we finished the evening by strolling through pashupatinath on our way to boudhanath. (don’t worry, the explanation follows.) pashupatinath temple is a holy site for devotees of lord shiva. located on the bagmati river, it is an enormous temple complex, and people cremate their dead along the river banks, much as they do in varanasi. we could see a few bodies burning, and i would have liked to have gone down to photograph the cremations up close, but my hosts told me that it was considered rude to go in; and having asked about it, i couldn’t then go ahead…

kathman-two: bhaktapur

this post is rated “m” for mature audiences only. on day two, we visited bhaktapur, a historic town just outside kathmandu. it’s a living town, albeit a heavily touristed one, and a unesco world heritage site. the architecture is remarkable. the entry to the historic town (just past the ticket booth) opens onto a wide square ringed with temples and administrative buildings. it looks almost artificial, like a theme park version of nepal. once past this, however, you will find the actual shops and houses. now, i must admit that one problem of living in india is that i’ve seen…

kathmandu

abby and i went to kathmandu this past weekend, to visit friends we’d made while serving in albania. it is a fascinating place, but first, i should clarify something: whatever bob seger was singing about in 1975, it certainly wasn’t this: the first stop was swayambhunath temple, a major buddhist pilgrimage site atop a hill overlooking kathmandu. according to legend, the bodhisattva manjushri had a vision of a lotus floating in a lake on what is now the site of the temple. he drained the lake and the lotus grew into a hill, with the flower forming the stupa itself….