IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

TEXTURED PHOTOS

Are you also like me and love collecting textures whenever you travel from one place to another? I think monuments, old buildings, or for that matter anything and everything a bit oldy-goldy has an interesting texture to it. I have slowly started collecting them and maybe someday I will have a good number of them. This photo below has a combined texture of a wall of a monument, an old page from ‘The Bible’ and maybe one of Michaelangelo’s Gothic paintings. You might see that painting if you move about a feet or two away from your monitor. I don’t normally process all my photos with textures, but once in a while something really interesting pops up. What do you think?

ST MARY’S CHURCH

Hehe, I don’t know why I have such an absurd title for this post but I found it funny enough ๐Ÿ™‚ I think it has got something to do with that Trinitarian formula and churches and Hollywood flicks. No matter how many movies I have watched having an element of Christianity in it, whether it be about exorcism or chasing away the ghost I always hear them saying this.

While inside the St Mary’s Church, Hyderabad I thought it would look something like those churches of the Western world from the Renaissance period. But, this had not much of those glitter and shimmer. Not many colourful glasses and panes, but simply wooden and cemented arches. Anyway, since I was already there I thought of taking a few pictures when the security guard nudged me from behind and said I couldn’t take pictures inside. “Oh cmon man! I am doing God a holy service by taking his beautiful picture and you don’t want me to do that?!!“, I thought. Moreover, there was no one inside. I think he was more interested in performing his exorcism on me and didn’t let me go ahead. Anyway, I had already taken a few pics by then Mr Guardy-doodle-doo! ๐Ÿ˜€ High-five!!

Pray for me Brother!

FREE SOFTWARE FOR RAW FILE VIEWING

In what format do you shoot pictures? RAW or JPEG? I think most serious photographers out there shoot in RAW. I personally choose the RAW format over JPEG. I think JPEG are for kids, hehe ๐Ÿ˜› Well, that’s not my point. RAW contains a HUGE amount of light information when compared to a JPEG. So, when you are back from the field and are going through all of your shots, which software do you generally use to view and/or quickly select the keepers? For years, I have used Adobe Lightroom, Bridge and other such software and I have been very happy with those. Lightroom has the benefit of working with ‘Collections‘ where you can easily group pictures from different trips into smart folders (but hey, let’s not talk about Lightroom here. I will save it for later!)

Recently I came across this wonderful piece of free software called FastStone Image Viewer and I must say I am impressed. It can open any RAW file (be it NEF, ARW, CR2, ORF, DNG or whatever!) And, it isn’t like Picasa that it will automatically change its colour-tone (I think this has been a long pending bug in Picasa). If you haven’t used FastStone earlier, I recommend you at least try it once. (Hey, it’s Free! What do you have to lose?) Click here to get it now. Oh BTW, this isn’t a sponsored post in anyway. Moreover, it fills the whole screen with the image and when you hover your mouse to the ends of the screen you can see the metadata and all such essential information.

PRAY FOR ME BROTHER

I will dedicate this post to the recent school shootings in Connecticut, US. What a shame it is, these gun shootings and the loss of so many innocent lives! How many of you have listened to the Oscar-winning musician A.R. Rahman’s song called “Pray For me Brother” (If you haven’t, just click on the link and listen to it. It’s melodious.) Sometimes I am worried if we humans have lost faith and compassion in ourselves.

Earlier this year, I met a photographer-friend from Nova Scotia who was here for a Discovery Channel project. It was his first time in India. What he told really touched me. He spoke of his extraordinary interactions with the common people and how humble and compassionate they were. No matter how much they had, they always had a smile on their face and tried their best to help him and he was moved by that. Whenever I look at this picture, I can sense what he meant. Every time I passed by this lady, she had a gentle smile and always wished the best for you. Such a beautiful soul!

12.12.12 : AGAIN WE BEGIN!

Yet again, it has been a long time since I last posted anything. I apologize for that. But, I do have my own good reasons too. I had gone to New Delhi for about a month or so. Good news is, I have lots of pictures from the trip ๐Ÿ˜€ Now, I am not the one who will join the ‘post-a-day‘ brigade and start posting a picture everyday (Hehe, then I will have to declare myself photo-krupt = photo+bankrupt in just a few days! ๐Ÿ˜› ) But what I can definitely tell you is, I will try to post more often.

For those of you who may know (and those who don’t ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) from September-end till mid-January, India goes into something what I call the “celebratory mode“. That being said, there are lots of festivals during this period in the calendar. From Ganesh Chaturthi in the South to Durga Puja in the East; from Diwali to Muharram and from Guru Nanak Jayanti to Christmas to Makar Sankranthi, there are so many things happening that my friends often complain they become fat during this part of the year (eating sweets, of course ๐Ÿ˜€ ). So in-case you’re planning your Great India tour, I just gave you a few reasons! (Oh wait, I actually skipped so many)

Talking about Diwali, it is regarded as the festival of Lights. Beautifully decorated clay lamps are lit, firecrackers burnt and sweets are exchanged between family and friends. This picture of the Buddha Statue in the centre of Hussain Sagar lake in Hyderabad, India was actually taken last year. It has a funny story behind it.

I was strolling around the lake when a drunkard sat across a bench opposite mine. Seeing a camera in my hand, he started laughing hard and saying something in a language I wonder even the martians won’t understand. Maybe he was asking me to record him and make a kindergarten movie! ๐Ÿ˜€ Although not sure, but I hear that wine is an integral part of the South Indian culture. I left that fella in his own funkadelic world. Here’s another picture of some colourful lights from outside a temple.

God’s Eye

The World is changing fast and so is the nature. And, looking at the rapid depletion of our natural resources, I wonder if the Mayanโ€™s theory of the Doomsday on the 21st December, 2012 will really hold true. Maybe the nature will show its fury and gulp us all in one go (hehe, like in a fantasy novel, huh ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Oh but, hey hold on! Why am I even saying all these? Greenpeace has been warning us about the El Nino, climatic changes, melting ice-caps, deforestation etc for years, isnโ€™t it?

Anyway, I digress. Back to what I was saying, todayโ€™s post is not about all of those (I hope youโ€™re still reading ๐Ÿ˜‰ or heyyy! You dozed off already??!!ย  C’mon!!) Some days back on the 3rd of July, 2012 I experienced a very unusual phenomenon. It was a full moon night, and here in India there was a small festival called Guru Purnima (Ehh! What did you think? That I was gonna talk about vampires and devils ๐Ÿ˜€ ) I was just about to go to bed when I thought of going to the verandah and inhaling some fresh air. And, as I looked up, I was stunned! I quickly ran inside, got hold of my camera and took this picture.

โ€˜Guru Purnimaโ€™ is derived from the Sanskrit words โ€˜Guโ€™ which means darkness or ignorance, and โ€˜Ruโ€™ which means remover of the darkness. So one who removes the darkness of our ignorance is a Guru. And on this day, disciples pay respect or homage to their Gurus. Although frankly speaking, I do not see this festival celebrated with much pomp and gaiety in most of the parts, and also the institutions and offices remain open, so itโ€™s more like a normal day.

Back to the picture. I used a basic kit lens so it didnโ€™t give much of an opportunity to bring the whole moonโ€™s โ€˜smiling faceโ€™ into the picture ๐Ÿ˜€ so I had to lay on the floor. By the way, I am pretty sure you now know why I named this post โ€˜Godโ€™s Eyeโ€™. If you look carefully (by โ€˜carefullyโ€™ I mean go at least 2 feet away from you computer screen ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) youโ€™ll be able to see a BIG EYE (one thatโ€™ll poke its nose onto you ๐Ÿ˜€ ) with the full-moon as its pupil and the rainbow-coloured iris on the outer end. And so, I laid on the floor and took another picture. Ahh! This one came out better ๐Ÿ™‚

And as I lay down there to click one or two more pictures, a hostile ant found my ear hole and probably thought it was its resting cave for the night ๐Ÿ˜‰  so I had to dispose off that idea (Thanked God it wasnโ€™t a baby elephant ๐Ÿ˜€ ) I sat there for some more minutes, and enjoyed the โ€˜Godโ€™s eyeโ€™ view and finally it was time for me to retire for the day. A wonderful day, indeed!

Hanuman : The Monkey God

It’s the weekend, you haven’t planned out anything and all you’re doing is idly sitting in your crib, bored and uninterested. What would you do? I walk ๐Ÿ˜› Yeah, you heard me right. I walk. But hey, you don’t just go anyyyy-where. You at least plan out before you go somewhere, right? Nope, I just keep walking! Unplanned and clueless ๐Ÿ˜€ I like to walk, and I like to travel to new directions and explore new places. By the way fellas, what do you do? I am sure, you don’t just WALK or graze away somewhere unknown! {like a cow does ๐Ÿ˜€ }

So last weekend, I started in the direction of the main road hoping to find an interesting place. Everyday I come through this same road, but due to the hustle-bustle of the daily life, its quite humane to miss out on interesting things along the way. So after walking for about half an hour, I saw this really beautiful and colourful temple. I knew, it was my day to explore this place of beauty. By the way, I had also added this picture in my very first post.

When I reached the gates of the temple, I found some ice-cream wallahs sitting beside a big banyan tree sheltering from the heat of the late afternoon. For all those who don’t know, ‘ice-cream wallahs’ is the Indian derivative of the coloured Popsicle vendors. I was dismayed to hear from them that the temple gates opened only at 1900 hrs in the early evening, and that meant I had to wait for about two and half hours [which obviously I wouldn’t do ๐Ÿ˜› ]. I found another small gate, which probably was meant for only staff members of the temple. I found no one to object me, and so I took my chance and sneaked in. Wow! It was beautiful. It was a Hanuman temple. Hanuman is the Indian monkey God. I took a close picture of Lord Hanuman doodled on the wall.

Many of you might be wondering who are those two people in his chest. Well, they aren’t people, they are Gods too – Lord Ram and Sita. Sounds funny, ehh? Gods inside Gods! ๐Ÿ˜€ Kinda like the Hollywood movie Inception, huh? ๐Ÿ˜€ Yeah man! India is full of these beautiful stories, and I personally believe it has tremendous potential of inspiring Hollywood with many of its legends ๐Ÿ˜‰ Jokes apart, let me tell you this wonderful story. But, before I quote the story, I am certain it would be quintessential to also tell you who Ram and Sita are, isn’t it? So look, Ram or Rama is this Indian Superstar, the equivalent to Chuck Norris ๐Ÿ˜€ย  … whoa … whoa … whoa … are you kiddin’ me??ย  … C’mon! Are you serious, you think I will be able to explain to you the whole world of the Indian legends?? No way!! Ahh anyway, for the records Ram is the avatar of the Indian God Vishnu {Now stop complaining, I already warned you there are thousands of Indian Gods ๐Ÿ˜‰ } and Sita is his wife. Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen …. please welcome another God … Hanuman!! ๐Ÿ˜€ And, so Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Ram. Below I exactly quote the story of Hanuman tearing his chest.

Once Sita, the wife of Lord Rama gave Hanuman a necklace of pearls. After a while, the residents of the city observed him breaking the necklace and inspecting each pearl minutely. Intrigued, they asked him the reason. “I am looking for Rama and Sita”, replied Hanuman. Laughing at his apparent naivety the spectators pointed out to him that the royal couple was at the moment seated on the imperial throne. “But Rama and Sita are everywhere, including my heart” wondered aloud the true bhakta. Not understanding the depth of his devotion, they further teased him : “So Sita and Rama live in your heart, can you show them to us ?” Unhesitatingly, Hanuman stood up and with his sharp talons tore upon his chest. There, within his throbbing heart, the astonished audience were taken aback to find enshrined an image of Rama and Sita. Never again did anyone make fun of Hanuman’s devotion.

So that was the brilliant story of devotion of Lord Hanuman. I wonder, what would happen if I did the same. Certainly a heart and the aorta and some veins maybe, I can guarantee that, haha ๐Ÿ˜€ So that was the story of Lord Hanuman. In case, you are interested to read more amazing stories about Hanuman, you can click here. And for all those of you very religiously-hearted, you know I was kiddin’ all along. So just in case, you’re offended, I whole-heartedly apologise for that!

And finally, I had my day and after sitting in the beautiful garden beside the temple for some time, I strolled back to home hoping that Lord Hanuman didn’t come and punish me at night! ๐Ÿ˜€

The Journey Begins !!

โ€ฆ laces tied โ€ฆ bags packed โ€ฆ and I am ready for the ultimate hop โ€ฆ and as ย Neil Armstrong would say โ€œOne small step for a Man, a giant leap for Mankindโ€.

Namaste ๐Ÿ™‚ and a very warm welcome to Hopping Across Cultures. I know that my brothers and sisters in Europe and the Americas would be smiling, as my warmโ€™nessย  is doing rather too less a thing to prevent the cold waves from hitting, but you get me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And at the same time, I thank you from the core of my heart for accompanying me in this journey, and I hope you enjoy every moment of it.

This being the first post, let me begin by saying what โ€˜Namasteโ€™ really is! You will be shocked that most of my fellow-men use the word everyday, but donโ€™t really know its deeper meaning ๐Ÿ˜€ It goes something like this : โ€œThe divinity within me salutes the divinity within youโ€. In other words, it meansย  bringing the palms and fingers of your hands together, and bowing to the God in the other. The syllables โ€˜Naโ€™ and โ€˜Maโ€™ means โ€œNot Meโ€ and โ€˜Teโ€™ means โ€œThee or Godโ€. So, โ€˜Naโ€™ and โ€˜Maโ€™ refers to the ego that steps back in reverence to the God. So โ€œNamasteโ€ also reminds us that we should all treat each other with love and respect because that same God is in all.

Here, watch this :

Now, that you have watched the funny video by Pastor Smith, I welcome you once again. Namaste!

Being from India, and the World knowing India as a peaceful country with lots of colours and traditions, my first image is of a beautiful temple from Hyderabad. I will talk about it in a later post. Till then, I wish you the very best. Happy Journey!! ๐Ÿ™‚