To celebrate nothing other than Catharine having the day off and me being at home, here we have a 2 course lunch which included this smoked haddock on spinach and mash, with a mustard sauce and topped with a poached egg. Produced by a Michelin starred chef at a restaurant on the shore of Christchurch harbour and eaten at a table with a front row view. Winter special – £12.95 per person – until you start on the wine list, you can’t go wrong!
Dad about to have a panic attack – the Prom Dress shop!!!!
Have spent a large part of the day watching the Djokovic/Nadal tennis final from Melbourne. What a fantastic match and hats off to both men for their skill, fortitude, fitness, determination and mutual respect. The quality of play and the subjects of my last few posts reminded me of an essay I was set at Uni; “Sport is Art – Discuss”. What do you think?
Having decided at about 2-2 in the fifth set that this was going to be the subject of my blog today, I started experimenting with taking photos of the television coverage. This shot was taken just after Djokovic had won and must have been exposed just as the Beeb were transitioning from one image to another. Whether the slow shutter speed had synched with the frequency of the picture refresh rate I have no idea. Anyway, other than a small crop, the application of a vignette and a border, and a small tweak of exposure and contrast, this is how the shot came out. There’s no merging of photos, or anything that complicated. I’m quite pleased with the effect.
When you employ an Indian taxi driver in his 40-year old+ Indian copy of a rubbish British car to drive you through Delhi rush hour traffic in search of historical, architectural and artistic enlightenment, you ought to be prepared for a sensory as well as a mechanical battering. I thought I was!
First stop was the Qtab Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site, about 30 mins south of the hotel. The site was established in 1192 AD when, following a decisive military victory, Muslim rule in northern India replaced that of the Hindu. The most obvious building in the complex is the Qtab Minar, a 239’ high brick-built minaret that was begun in the same year as the site’s inauguration in 1192. In the photo I have posted, the minaret is flanked by the Alai Darwaza gateway from 1311 AD and the tomb of Imam Zamin from 1539 AD. The shot is framed by pillars from a completely inappropriate capping that was added to, then removed from, the minaret by the British. It now stands in the gardens of the complex. The whole site is a beautifully calm oasis of tombs and mosques, within the mayhem of modern Delhi, which also attracts it’s own resident wildlife. I waited quite a while to get one of these residents in the shot; a green parakeet finally obliging. There is no doubt the site deserves its World Heritage label, but I have to say I find it odd that such a wonderful place is no more than a glorification of one religion and its followers’ domination and persecution over another. How often is that repeated around the World?
To continue a thread, my next stop was the Lotus Temple of the Baha’i Faith. I’d seen a photo of this place and thought that it looked an interesting piece of modern architecture, but I had no idea what the ‘Baha’i Faith’ was all about. This is a comparatively modern religion, established in the mid 1800’s, in the Middle East. It’s basic teachings include the ‘oneness’ of humanity, religion and God; believing that all religions work from the same fundamental premise and are therefore all compatible with each other. It adds the abandonment of all prejudices, the agreement of science and religion, universal education, elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty and the equality of men and women. So far, so good. Within the last few years, this temple has become the most visited site in India, more popular even than the Taj Mahal. On the day I was there, the place was packed with hundreds of smartly dressed, very happy, very polite, school kids. The photo that I’ve posted gives a lie to how busy the place was. Once again the site and the Temple itself were wonderful, but I got to wondering how a religion that is barely 150 years old, that began in poverty and persecution, could in so short a time have raised enough funds to build 8 such sites around the World. If a true mission was elimination of poverty, should the money not have been spent on values rather than monuments? Step forward the world’s worst perpetrator in this field; the Roman Catholic Church. But here’s a question. If it weren’t for these religions behaving in this way, would we have the magnificent buildings and artworks that abound in the World today?
Well, my third visit may provide somewhat of an answer. The art on display at the Indian Art Fair was, for the most part, stunning. No religion (other than capitalism) paid for these pieces and it was apparent that human artistic expression is an unstoppable activity. Amongst the more famous Damien Hirst’s (a photo of one of his paintings is the colourful one I’ve used to depict my ‘sensory overload’) Tracey Emin’s and Antony Gormley’s (none of which really do much for me) were some absolutely breathtaking pieces. Sam Jinks is one of a small number of artists worldwide who make ‘hyperreal’ sculptures of the human body. The two 3/4 scale sculptures depicted in my photos were unbelievable in their verisimilitude (if that makes any sense whatsoever!) The sculpture entitled ‘Shade’ of the woman clasping a sheet about her shoulders was on sale for $60,000 and I thought that was an absolute bargain. If I’d had the money on me I’d have bought it instantly – what on earth I’d have done with it thereafter, I’ve no idea. It would shake you to the core every time you saw it in your own house. I stood admiring it for a long while, expecting at any moment that the ‘woman’ would open her eyes and talk to me. I photographed other, only slightly less stunning, works throughout the day and might post those images at a later date.
Back at the hotel I tried to clear my head with an intense session on the treadmill, followed by a delightful buffet of indian cuisine. With aching legs, a zinging palate and a spinning soul I passed a few fitful hours of sleep, full of dreams of inadequacy, before crashing back into the real world and going to work at 0200 in the morning. A great day.