Tag Archives: India
So here I am again, high in the Himalayas in what can only be described as the United Nations town of Dharamsala. Those of you who are regular readers will know that this place is my home from home; a paradise that feeds the soul. I am out here for a myriad of reasons but a change of scenery and a chance to recharge and realign oneself is a gift I welcome every time the peaks come into view as you relentlessly wind around the mountain roads.
Something that I often forget and am quickly reminded of is the phenomena that is travelling or to be more specific meeting fellow travellers (for those of you who read my last blog I did finally break the communicate firewall). You spend a few days with someone and share this awe-inspiring country and you swiftly turn into old friends. You become at ease with these complete strangers allowing your true self to be shown and for secrets to spill like water. This time around I was lucky enough to find some equally as bonkers people to share my last few days with and I must admit as the car turned the final corner and Dharamsala disappeared from view I shed a rare tear.
But why does this happen? In my own experience its because you need friends, you crave closeness. The comfort that only someone you trust can bring. You are thousands of miles away from your friends and family and that unspoken need to replicate them creates this instant bond. You perhaps become friends with people who if you were to meet in your home country you would never be friends because of the veil of perfection. These new people in your life don't know you and while they are with you they only scratch the surface of your imperfections, so anyone seems perfect.
So as my final day in India draws near I think back to all the incredible people I have met; the stories shared, songs sung and laughs had. However, while the friendship develops instantaneously it finishes just as fast, either you or the person you have met moves on to the next town and to the next person. Regardless of the length of the friendship if it is a true one it makes saying goodbye the most painful thing, in any language.
For those regular readers who have been wondering where James is and why he hasn't posted anything of late the answer is: I'm in India. I feel that it answers both of the questions! Anyway I am lucky enough to have an iPad and a decent internet connection so I thought I would post a small piece to keep you all amused. You troublesome lot, you!
Sadly though, it's not so much an amusing blog post but more of a grumpy old man piece.
As most of you know I regularly travel to India, as much as I can really. However, it has been two years since my last visit and while the mountains are the same and the brilliantly bonkers people are still here there has been a shift in the culture of travellers. Before, if you were travelling alone, you could walk into a restaurant or cafe and strike up a conversation with another fellow traveller over a chai or whatever your tipple is. Now you would struggle and the reason? Technology. I walked into a restaurant I have been going to for the last seven years were there would always be a little group of fellow travellers, a cacophony of different accents and now you only hear the technological click of buttons. I sat there sipping my hot Honey and Lemon (delicious by the way) feeling somewhat mournful as if something of our spirit of adventure had died. We were sat in the shadow of the Himalayas and as I sneakily walked around the customers I saw two people playing Angry Birds, one texting, another watching Homeland and at least ten people chatting on Facebook. People would rather be face down in a pile of Apps then witness the true majesty of nature. I drank my now slightly tainted drink and left, choosing to buy street food and chat to the shop owner then stare longingly at an apple logo.
I thought perhaps I am just being cynical and that it's not happening all over, but as I stared into each coffee house and restaurant along the road they were filled with people on their laptops, their iPads and phones. What a sad people we have become when rather than getting out there and experiencing incredible India we would still rather Instragram our lunch half way across the world. The hotel is the same, where once was a throng of people sat downstairs around the guitar, now they surround the wi-fi connection, like neanderthals around fire choosing to ignore the likes of me, dying to hear about their travels. Travelling is all about sharing experiences. So man next to me, please stop listening to Taylor Swift songs on Youtube and chat to me!
My yearly ritual of posting twelve songs that have either defined or been the soundtrack to moments that have made my year has come around again. I have put some up with links to blog posts that are the reason they are up there so have a click on those underlined.
Thank you all for being such smashing readers, heres to another year of this!
Without further a do, here goes….
Had this in my head the whole time I was in Paris. Now it reminds me of my brief but brilliant trip to that wonderful city.
2. James Blake – Case of You
A Joni Mitchell cover that out of all of these songs I urge you to listen to as its quite simply beautiful. Reminds me of reading my book on Hampstead Heath in the bitter cold.
It still hurts to think about that run!
Listening to Tibetan music makes sure I never forget where my heart truly lies, back in India.
This was very much the soundtrack to choosing and preparing photographs for my first exhibition.
The official song for the BBC coverage of our Olympics.
7. Karima Francis - Wherever I go
A stunningly warm and emotive voice, saw her live at a music festival this summer. Well worth a listen!
Reminds me of the stupid amounts of train journeys I have taken this year!
Possibly the most cheerful song in the world! Never has failed to caffeinate my spirits.
A song that has kept me warm on many a long photography walk.
A song that has been on a constant loop on many occasions. I love it not only because it has coffee in the title but how it reminds me how lucky I am.
To me there are few things more beautiful than prayer flags fluttering against the breeze; a dance of shadow, light and colour.
It has been far too long since I have sat below these flags in McLeod Ganj, closed my eyes and been mesmerised by the sound of silent prayers whipping in the wind.
Just one of a myriad things I miss about my home from home.
The Taj Mahal, one of the most photographed buildings in the world. It’s beauty and what it stands for make it not only awe inspiring but also spectacularly sad. It was commissioned by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan following the untimely death of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and is regularly known as the greatest thing done in the name of love. I have visited it four times now in the last five years and it never fails to move me.
“Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.”
- Sir Edwin Arnold
After a few lengthy months with sparse entries the title finally tells you what I’ve been up to.
Yes its finally happened, I’m having my own exhibition, and while its been an ambition of mine and in fact on my bucket list I never thought it would actually come about.
I will of course be posting updates as the days and weeks progress but this blog is an invitation to you all.
So save the date: 24th – 27th of May. If you’re in the UK please come down to The Burford Gallery in the Cotswolds. I would love to show off what I’ve been snapping for the past few years. For the full information about the event follow this link.
The photographs will be mainly of the Cotswolds and from around the UK although I will be slipping in some shots from the rest of my travels.
So please come along, the Cotswolds are worth a visit regardless and I’ll be incredibly pleased to meet you out of the virtual world.
Here is the first batch of photographs getting mounted and ready for the exhibition.
I took this photo well over a year ago whilst in India. I was in a Buddhist temple that I visit every time I’m in India but as I watched this unknown man walk around it in complete wonderment I began to appreciate it more, as if I was seeing it through his eyes. So when he has stopped for a moment I took this photo to remind myself to wonder more.
The more observant of my readers may have noticed that my blog has had a bit of a facelift. After months of ummming and ahhhing over what I should do with it, I decided to keep the look simple with a few more bells and whistles. You can now not only follow me on twitter but ‘like me’ on facebook all from the comfort of my blog. A lot of new things are about to occur on this blog and its sister, Coffee and Countries Photography, so I throughly advise you to follow and like me.
Not that I’m needy or anything…