The owner of the vehicle workshop where I took my car for it’s annual MOT today, was absolutely incredulous that I wanted to take a photo of her garage. I get that reaction sometimes when I ask people’s permission to take photos. “Why do you want to take a photo of that?”. When I explain that I’m trying to take a photo of my everyday life, every day, for an entire year, they are even more incredulous!
This is a view inside the main headquarters building of HSBC in Hong Kong. The central area of the building is a vast cavernous space, around and over which, the devilish machinations of one of the World’s leading banks grinds inexorably on. Bearing in mind the current, generalised, negative feelings towards the banks, it does feel, standing here, as if you have been swallowed by some vast financial beast and, unless you can escape quickly out of that escalator in the middle, you will inevitably be devoured, consumed and eventually excreted as a dry, lifeless, husk.
On arrival at our saviour’s house, we were introduced to the female members of the family – we saw no males whatsoever. In respectful seniority order (which we understand is very much part of the Yao culture) it is elders first. This is our saviour’s mother. It was very difficult to judge ages, but from what we gathered about ages of other members of the family, I would guess her age as early to mid-sixties.
My apologies to this gentleman, but the strong light, hard-set features and background of bars brought to mind a scene set in a prison. Actually it is just a street scene from Mumbai.
I had the best part of 3 free days in India and wanted to take a train ride – somewhere, anywhere! – how hard can that be? Well, as a non-Indian I don’t seem to be able to buy a ticket on-line before I get there (has anybody else figured out how to do it?); never mind, perhaps my hotel concierge can help me out on arrival? Nope, he checks it out on his computer in the lobby and any of the trains I want to travel on are full – day 1’s opportunity is gone. OK, I’ll just go to the main, central train station in the Country’s largest city tomorrow and I’ll sort it out there myself….simple. Errrr…….Mumbai traffic takes the first toll on the available hours of the day and then it takes me over another hour at the station just to find out HOW to buy a train ticket. And the solution is? …..join a queue at that kiosk over there in order to collect a form…….fill in the form with passport (lucky I had it with me), visa (I don’t have a visa, I arrived by another, less common, but perfectly legal and legitimate manner), desired train number (how do I find that out?) time and date (well today, obviously) details. Take the completed form (another hour or so gone by) upstairs to Kiosk number 52 (of 70+) which is the only one that deals with tourists……Join another queue. In the queue I get chatting to the other ‘tourists’ and get laughed at when I say that I want to travel today!….no chance; they are all trying to buy tickets for tomorrow or the day after. Day 2’s opportunity is gone and I give up. How can this be? Surely I have missed something here? This is India – it is famous for its trains – and how can they ever be full? I’ve seen photos of Indian trains in which you can’t even see the train for the passengers hanging off them. In the cities, people get around by walking, bicycle, taxi, tuk tuk, bus and motor scooter, but to travel any distance (and in India the distances can be great) the train seems to be the obvious answer. Why is it so difficult /impossible to turn up at a railway station and buy a ticket for a train that leaves within the hour? How can the normal populace travel from one city to another at short notice? As per the title of today’s blog – The Indian Train System provides one of Life’s True Mysteries.
Amused, but frustrated by the whole experience I wander out onto the station concourse to try and take a photo that might encapsulate the episode. The station sits behind an incredibly impressive 126-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site stone edifice, but it is the shabbier interior with its exposed girders and corrugated roof, it’s food stalls, litter, dogs, crowds and active mood of hustle and bustle that I want to try and capture. BUT WAIT!! There is no photography allowed in the station – is the illustration of such inefficiency considered vaguely pornographic, or is it akin to burning the National Flag, I wonder? So, putting my normal camera away and risking arrest or worse, I walk to the far end of the station and covertly snap this shot on my smart phone…..Apologies to the Indian Government if I have compromised National Security.
Having landed after photo 1 in today’s series of images and caught up on a bit of sleep, I went out on an exploratory run of the city. I find running or cycling around cities a great way to get a feel for the place and today was no exception. The run/cycle doesn’t have to be continuous – in fact it’s better if it isn’t – stopping to take in these sort of views is just about obligatory and it helps to catch your breath and enable you to be out and about for much longer. This photo is taken from the Botanical Gardens and is a of view looking in almost exactly the opposite direction from photo 1 of earlier today. The theme of ‘framing’ is maintained by the overhanging branches of one of the many spectacular trees growing here.