Sunday, May 3, 2009

India: Distant Rising Suns

Sunrise on the Kaveri River in January 1986.

A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to watching Slumdog Millionaire, the Best Picture for 2008. It was better than expected though not anything I really want to own. I thought the screenplay was the strongest part of the film.

Anyway, as so often with karma, it just so happened I was going through some old photographs a few days before I watched Slumdog. Among them were family pictures from my college graduation, some old trips to Daytona Beach, and a bunch of photos from when I traveled to India in 1985. There were a lot of little things in Slumdog that brough back memories. I spent about 2 weeks in and around Bombay during my visit almost 25 years ago.

The photos are all fading with time so I decided to scan them in for future preservation.

I spent almost six months in India in 1985-86, mostly staying in at the Shantivanam Ashram in Tamil Nadu studying yoga. But I traveled around a bit too, mostly in southern India. A future trip was to visit the north and go into the Himalayas in Nepal. But, that hasn’t happened so far.

Anyway, here are a few pics that I feel are among the best of the batch. These were all developed in India. The quality of the prints was never that great. Many of the photos are yellowing a bit.

The pic up top is of a German acquaintance at the time whose name I have long forgotten. He would practice yoga in the pre-morning breeze along the Kaveri River where the ashram was situated. I often saw him there after I had already completed my own yoga training with Swami Mariabhakta. I came there to meditate in the sunrise, as did the German. One morning I brought my camera and didn’t meditate while he did.

Swami Mariabhakta and myself. I studied yoga with him for about 4 months.

One of my favorite pics. A man riding an elephant through an Indian town. A car attempts to get around the elephant while overhead the banner reads "Learn Computer Programming." India is a great study in contrasting eras.

Jennifer thinks this shot looks like a painting. Taken one afternoon as the Kaveri River was very low. A farmer lets his ox cool off in the water. He is splashing some on the animal's back. This could have been taken 1000 years ago.

A woman selling apples on the side of a town street. I like the composition of this shot. It is a mundane scene, which is what makes it so special.

After I watched Slumdog, I dug into my hoard of file folders on various things to find some notes and brief essays I wrote just before, during, and after my trip to India – ranging from 1985 to 1989. Reading over them I was surprised to learn how much my basic “metaphysics” or “beliefs” remain unchanged from what I wrote then – especially after my return from India in the late 1980’s. I’ll share some of the impressions I wrote during my stay in India in the next couple of posts.


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