Photo du Jour: Under Watchful Eyes – Munnar, India

Under the observant gaze of a bindi-clad woman in a storefront advertisement, men discuss the day’s happenings and observe passersby on a main road in Munnar, India. Munnar is well known for its tea-growing estates, which are some of the highest in the world.

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

The Beguiling Backwaters of Kerala, India

Kerala’s backwaters are beguiling. Life moves at a slower pace on these famous waterways and there’s a distinct sense that dreams can effortlessly be born and nurtured there.  The quiet lagoons and lakes are about 45 minutes from the pleasant tourist town of Fort Kochi, making them the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle that is standard, but fascinating fare in India.

Continue reading “The Beguiling Backwaters of Kerala, India”

Photo du Jour #49: Mother & Child – Kochi, India

In the southern Indian city of Kochi, this mother and child sported bindis between their eyebrows, as well as sparkly bangles and dramatic eye makeup. The young mother’s hair was also trimmed with a garland of fresh, aromatic jasmine – a practice that is customary with many of the ladies in the state of Kerala. On two separate afternoons, locals treated me to jasmine garlands, purchasing them from a flower merchant’s stand and then tying them into my hair. It was such a beautiful gesture and a generous way of sharing this custom with us. I was so very touched by my new friends’ random acts of kindness!

Happy Holi! Celebrating the Festival of Colors in Goa

If you were in India today, chances are that you would now be sporting rainbow hues from head to toe, for today is Holi, the Festival of Colors. Holi is a Hindu celebration that welcomes spring and its abundant colors and bids farewell to winter. Originally, Holi commemorated successful harvests.

As we prepared to take on the endless supply of vibrant tossed powders and sprayed colored waters this morning, we watched the playful mayhem on the street below our Panjim, Goa guesthouse. Like toy soldiers, children held ground with fluorescent plastic squirt guns and water balloons, awaiting vehicles and motorists at which they could toss their jewel-toned water and powder.

Open-topped trucks drove by, blasting festive Indian music with a Caribbean feel as teenagers and adults on-board cheered. Poof. A purple stream of powder flew onto the passing revelers painting them in an instant. The children were euphoric at this victory.

When we finally took to the street, armed with a plastic bag to shelter our cameras, we encountered a jubilant pack of merrymakers. Noticing our squeaky-clean clothing, the group parted, allowing us to pass untouched. We asked them to slather on some colored goodness. They obliged – swirling orange, red and yellow powders onto our faces. Despite the fact that they were gentle on us, we now felt like part of the club.

As we walked to a Punjabi restaurant for lunch, we saw revelers of all ages with hair that resembled powdered wigs. Locals shouted “Happy Holi.” Siesta-takers watched a cricket match, while a coffee-house employee channel surfed, briefly stopping at a Holi-themed Indian soap opera; the Bollywood-esque actor’s face was smothered with fuchsia war paint that was perfectly coordinated with his tunic. We wondered how some of the local diners had made it to the restaurant unscathed.

With the hot sun overhead we decided to stroll back to our charming home away from home, Alfonso’s Guesthouse. As statewide elections had just taken place days earlier, we were told that Holi’s tossing of the colors ended earlier this year (as officials were still busy tallying the votes). On our walk home, the streets were noticeably quiet. The scattered splotches of color on streets and sidewalks were the only evidence of the mischief that ensued just hours before.

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Devatas and Apsaras of Angkor Wat in Black & White

The 1,796 female figures rendered in sandstone on Angkor Wat’s pillars and walls have weathered war, and a harsh tropical environment for more than 800 years. I was first struck by the beauty and individuality of these devatas in 2009, during my first visit to Angkor Wat, which is the largest religious building in the world. During a subsequent visit to Cambodia last month, I was just as intrigued.

How many artisans did it take to carve these bas-relief figures? Are they modeled after real women of centuries past? If they could speak, what stories would they tell?

Continue reading “The Devatas and Apsaras of Angkor Wat in Black & White”

Serendipitous Moments in Spiritual Bali

The past days have been serendipitous in mystic Bali with moments that seemed as though the perpetually-honored spirits were communing to make our stay incredibly special.

Continue reading “Serendipitous Moments in Spiritual Bali”