HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013 & HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

The World has finally ended ๐Ÿ™‚ … oops, ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I meant the Year has finally ended, hehe (you must be wondering why I am so happy with this ‘end-of-the-world’ phenomenon, huh! ๐Ÿ˜› Well, there’s an exciting secret here. Wanna know that?? Ehh, read on! I will tell you that in a moment) But now, we have a whole brand New Year again. My heartiest wishes goes to each one of you and I hope you achieve all your dreams, and a lot of happiness comes your way ๐Ÿ™‚ For most of my readers in the West and most parts of the World, I am pretty sure there’s still a lot many hours left for the New years’ eve ‘Golden Hour’. Moreover, I am writing this post way earlier than when it’ll get published. But still, you know this bloke from India is wishing the very best for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

YOUR BIRTHDAY TODAY?

Co-incidentally, today also happens to be my sister’s birthday. What a great time it must have been to be born today. The whole world is celebrating, rejoicing for the amazing things that have gone by the past year, and hoping the coming year is even more wonderful than the last. I am actually jealous, hehe. So, I thought of dedicating today’s post to her and to all those of you lucky people who were born today!

This is a picture of me and her that was taken recently. While going through my archives, I also found a picture that may have been taken about 20 years from today. That’s the one on the right. Wow! we’ve grown really fast, huh? I must say it feels so nostalgic to see pictures of our childhood and remember of all the naughty things we did. Awfully cute, hahaha! ๐Ÿ˜€

Ankur Sharma

Okay, now for all those hobbits who couldn’t control their appetite for the secret ๐Ÿ˜› Well, guess what. The Mayans are actually happy the World didn’t end this year. They wanted to party and invited me as the Chief-guest. Thinking that their jinga-la-la dance would be easy, I accepted it. (Click on that link. It might well give you your last laugh for 2012 or your first for 2013) Little did I know that they would also fall for the Gangnam Style, hahaha ๐Ÿ˜€ So how do you plan to celebrate your ‘Golden-hour’? New year wishes to you yet again!

โ€˜Hopping Across Culturesโ€™ goes live on Facebook!

When I first made this blog, I had only one mission. To share all my travel stories first-hand, along with pictures and spread the beauty and magic of different cultures by removing the boundaries and stigmas between people, cultures, colour and creed and show how beautiful and amazing the world really is. I tried my best in maintaining all the details, which would make the reader feel as if he/she is experiencing the beauty of those amazing cultures. I donโ€™t know how much I may have succeeded until now.

But, keeping in mind the โ€˜travelโ€™ theme of this website and to showcase the dynamic diaspora, I started to research more about links and articles, which would help any reader to travel with a more degree of knowledge. But, what I was skeptical about was if the links would really work out, had I posted them here. And, so I decided to make a Facebook page for you all.

Click above to connect to the Facebook page!

Click on the above picture and login with your credentials and โ€˜Likeโ€™ the page to keep yourself updated. Alternatively, you can click here to connect to the Facebook page. I know you all love Hopping Across Cultures very much and would definitely love to get updated with every tidbit pieces of information and also some more pictures and behind-the-scene photos that Iโ€™ll post there. Thank you so much once again for the love and affection you have shown. Ebullient cheers to everyone!

See you there!   ๐Ÿ™‚

Incredible India !!

A few days ago I came across an AD made by the guys at India Tourism, and actually loved it. What about you?

I also found a quote by the German philologist, Max Mรผller which seemed befitting to the above video.

INDIA, WHAT CAN IT TEACH US?,
โ€œIF I WERE TO LOOK OVER THE WHOLE WORLD TO FIND OUT THE COUNTRY MOST RICHLY ENDOWED WITH ALL THE WEALTH, POWER AND BEAUTY THAT NATURE CAN BESTOW, IN SOME PARTS A VERY PARADISE ON EARTH, I SHOULD POINT TO INDIA.
IF I WERE ASKED UNDER WHAT SKY THE HUMAN MIND HAS MOST DEVELOPED SOME OF IT CHOICEST GIFTS, HAS MOST DEEPLY PONDERED ON THE GREATEST PROBLEMS OF LIFE AND HAS FOUND SOLUTIONS OF SOME OF THEM WHICH WILL DESERVE THE ATTENTION EVEN OF THOSE WHO HAVE STUDIED PLATO AND KANT, I SHOULD POINT TO INDIA.
AND IF I WERE TO ASK MYSELF FROM WHAT LITERATURE WE, HERE IN EUROPE, WHO HAVE BEEN NURTURED MOST EXCLUSIVELY ON THE THOUGHTS OF THE GREEKS AND ROMANS AND OF THE SEMITIC RACE AND THE JEWISH MAY DRAW THAT CORRECTIVE WHICH IS MOST WANTED IN ORDER TO MAKE OUR INNER LIFE MORE COMPREHENSIVE, MORE UNIVERSAL, IN FACT A MORE TRULY HUMAN LIFE, AGAIN, I SHOULD POINT TO INDIA.

Max Mรผller

Projekt Generosity: Do you really need Watermarks on your photos?

It’s been a really long time since I wrote the last post. I had kept you all waiting and I must admit, I missed the joys of expressing myself and my stories through pictures. My deepest and heartfelt apologies for that ๐Ÿ˜ฆ but some other works had left me no time to think freely, and as you know when I write these stories, I put all my emotions and want to express how it really felt when I took the photo. But you see, when the mind is preoccupied with the daily stress, it is hard to give your best shot. Thankfully, I am a bit settled now. And I think, I will use this opportunity to rise from the ashes and start again ๐Ÿ˜‰ (LOL, was that poetic or did it sound like a scene from a war? ๐Ÿ˜€ ) But, today’s post is not going to be like what I write about normally. There’s a thing that has been boggling my mind for the last couple of months. And, that’s exactly what I am gonna write about today. Let’s call it : Projekt Generosity (hehe ๐Ÿ™‚ I know the name sounds as if it was taken straight from a Linkin Park album, but naah … it really is very simple!)

 

But, before I even begin talking about this so called Projekt Generosity, I have some subtle questions for you. What comes to your mind when you think of the word Freedom? What comes to your mind when suppose, you are sitting somewhere far away from the madness of the world and you close your eyes and feel the gentle breeze hissing through your hair and think you are free? I know, different people will have different stories of how they think and feel when they are free. Now, as I write I just can’t help but chuckle at one of my sweet-toothed friend who once told me, he thought he was free every time he had an ice-cream ๐Ÿ˜€ That’s quite funny, isn’t it? But I digress. To get back to what I was saying, what do you think can Projekt Generosity be all about? Well, to keep it straight and simple, its about being generous. Its about being free and seeing more people enjoy and smile from your work. But how do I achieve that? I definitely don’t know if there’s a hard and fast formula to make people happy. But as I earlier said, what boggled me from quite a time was if I should really be using watermarks on photos. For all these years, I had been watermarking my images whenever I uploaded them online. But now as I think of the past, I admit that watermarking is a way of living in fear that someone would steal your picture. Just before making a decision, I asked some of my Photographer friends what their view was about using watermarks. To my surprise, each one of them still insisted on using watermarks. When I asked them, “But why?“. They said, “someone will steal your pictures and say that to be theirs’.” Maybe they still lived in a fear, or maybe I didn’t care. Whatever it was, I am happy to be making this decision. I have a small story to tell you, which further made me think how a photo could really connect with someone.

Some days ago, my internet connection wasn’t working. And since I had some emergency work that really needed an internet connection, I had to go to an Internet cafe outside. (Internet Cafes, as they are called here in India, are shops where you can access the internet for a valid time by paying an amount of money. I think they exist everywhere, maybe with a different name.) As I was almost done with my work, I remembered that I had to download some of my pictures from my gallery. Just when I was about to be finished, I browsed through those pictures one last time. It was then that the young kid, the owner of the internet cafe stood beside me and glanced at the pictures from a safe distance. On one instance, he asked me to stop. I wondered what happened to him. It was a picture of a dog that I had taken on one of my trips to Shimla. I asked him what happened. He then told me his story. He had lost his parents in an accident when he was mere 3-years old. And he told me that he didn’t have many friends, but he had a best friend, a faithful dog that strikingly resembled to the one in the pic. From a 5-year kid to an almost 17-year old young lad, he had that dog as his only friend, and it was only recently, a year ago that the dog passed away. I could sense the happiness in his eyes as he looked at the picture on the monitor. His eyes glistened with the small tears that had rolled up his eyes. I just wondered how one could connect to a picture so well. Photographs surely had the power to move and thread hearts together. He hesitatingly asked if he could have the picture as a wallpaper on all the computers. He would want to treasure the pic forever. It was then for the first time, that I thought about the wall that a watermark could create between these tender connects. As I didn’t have the non-watermark picture with me at that time, I had to apologise. I asked if he wanted the one that I had at that very moment, and he happily agreed. As a goodwill gesture, I got the non-watermarked image printed on a A4 sized photographic paper and went to the same cafe the next day to gift him. This time it was my turn to wet my eyes when I found all the 14 computers had the wallpapers of the image I gave him the day before. Wow! It really meant so much to him. I gifted him the photograph and even till today, he probably treasures the picture.

Talking about Photography and how it connects us, I was watching a video on TED by David Griffin, the photo Director for National Geographic. The video moved me. It showed how photographs can really make a connect with people, and also how unique a story can be which otherwise can never be explained. I would recommend you watch this video. On a closing note, here are just a few things that crossed my mind when I think of not watermarking my images. There maybe people who may like an image so much that rather than asking me for a print, they may print it themselves. I say, “Go ahead !!” Maybe they have very little money to ask for a large sized print. Or maybe, they are just fans who appreciate the work so much. On a personal note, I had even earlier stated that I take Photography as an art. And every artist would want his/her work to be shared and enjoyed. So go ahead and feel free to share and/or use my images as wallpapers, on your blogs or wherever you want. You can download them in high-resolution from my DeviantArt Gallery. Its just a small wish that you link to Hopping Across Cultures. I believe the world is full of people who will respect the time, effort and finances to produce an image. I would just like to state that all images that were taken prior to 2012 may contain the watermarks (although, I will try to find and upload the original non-watermarked images.) Once again, thank you so much for supporting me with your wonderful messages and comments. Enjoy and make the world a better place. Peace!