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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Getting fruity

Well, I've been a bad blogger, no new posts for far too long.  I haven't been taking my camera out enough, hell I haven't been taking myself, out enough.  So in celebration of November, when the strawberries come into season, here's a picture from my balcony.

One of the great joys of not living in the UK is the seasonality of fruit, I used to despair at seeing strawberries in the middle of winter.  Here I gorge on what's in season knowing that once the season is over so is the fruit.  I saw figs yesterday and the grapes will start coming through soon so there may be more fruit related posts soon or I may actually haul myself out and start snapping again.

Sunday, 29 September 2013


I went to a swim meet this weekend in my role as my workplace's Official -Unofficial photographer.   It's an easy role to fall into, first you take your camera with you because you think it will be fun, then you share your pictures and before you know it the responsibility to capture all sorts of events has fallen to you.  It keeps me on my toes and hopefully helps my photography improve.


If nothing else I now have a huge free storage capacity on dropbox through sharing the images.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Dance Lessons

I don't dance much, really I have little sense of rhythm but I also have no fear of making an absolute fool of myself by giving things a go.  Hence I found myself wrapped in a saree learning Garba/Dandiya dancing, I suppose it could be described as circle dancing.  l learned a couple of multi-purpose moves which I'm supposed to practice at home.  The dance party isn't until next week but there's no harm in having a bit of pre-party fun and, given the growing numbers of clueless foreigners, a rehearsal is a very good idea.

There were formal sessions planned but we all ended up in one of the open spaces prancing around while our more skilled colleagues showed off their more impressive moves.

There are no pictures of me dancing or otherwise so you'll have to take my word for it, also for the two milestones passed, wearing a saree and not falling over in it.

I'm still not confident of my ability to maintain dignity in a saree so I've ordered a lehenga choli outfit for the dance.

 For Forrens Lehenga choli - long flared skirt and tight blouse.  Mine has mirrors on it!

Sunday, 22 September 2013


It was coastal cleanup day on Saturday.  Once a year after the Ganesha Immersion we take our students to Akshe Beach to do their little bit for the environment.  I mostly just document our students so those pictures are not for public broadcast.  However I make a point of wandering off for a little bit to get some location shots.  Here are a few of them:

It really is a lovely beach, at least it would be if it were cleaner. 

Alas this is a fairly common sight but there is beauty everywhere and  it's always the idols that catch my eye.


A friend commenting on the image above said "The tangled hair, the broken arm, the sense of decay yet still vibrant and beautiful in its own way, it reminds me of Mumbai".

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Changing skies

As Monsoon nears its end for another year the skies are becoming increasingly dramatic.  Here are few views of the same view if you know what I mean:

The blue view

The dawn view

The "Monsoon still hanging on" view.

Dramatic, huh?

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Traffic flow

The Western Express Highway from the Westin Mumbai at 3am.  What are all these people doing being still awake?  What was I doing still awake for that matter? 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Holiday pictures from Kerala and Pondicherry

This post is just a random collection of pictures I took on recent travels.  Since that's what the entire blog is about I make no apologies:

Tea garden.  I loved the way the light and textures changed from moment to moment.  I could have spent hours in just one spot.

Kathakali performer.  I couldn't go to Kerala without taking one of these pictures.  The more interesting ones might have been of the makeup and dressing process but alas, I arrived too late for that.
 Jackfruit,  I love jackfruit but I had no idea just how delicious it could be until I ate it in the South. 

Smart bird taking advantage of the bait I laid so I could snap a picture.

And this, continuing my interest in terrifying beauty parlours.



Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The People-Pictures Problem

I admit, I'm a bit "backward in coming forward" when it comes to taking pictures of strangers.  I've missed out on so many great images because I'm helplessly British and don't want to intrude.  Yes, I'm one of "those" photographers, the ones who pretend to be taking a picture of something other than the stranger they really want to capture, the ones whose lenses swivel away at the slightest flicker of eye contact.  There's a pretty high ratio of backs to fronts in my people pictures.

It's compounded by me not liking to have my own picture taken.  Nearly every single picture of me has me sporting a rictus smile and an I'd-rather-be-anywhere-else attitude.  Hence "random pictures with white people" is a bit of a nightmare for me and I must be projecting that dislike of being photographed on the people I don't capture.  Of course, I'm wrong about that, some people love being photographed.

I enjoy taking pictures of people and my workplace is full of portraits and candids I've captured, but I know the people and I'm taking the pictures in an official capacity.  I also stand at the side of the road taking pictures of people on motorbikes and bicycles.  Moving targets are fine.  See, I'm working on my problems bit by bit.

So how come, given my debilitating condition, is this post full of pictures of people happily posing for me?  Simple really, they asked me to take their pictures so I was "official".  I was traipsing about the streets of Pondy when the two girls above shyly asked me to take their picture.  They were part of a group about to board a ramshackle tourist bus and they wanted their visit documented. Since there wasn't a camera or cell phone between the lot of them I was the next best thing and so the photoshoot happened.  We attracted a crowd and literally stopped traffic.

They were a grand bunch and we all had a good time, I'm only sorry I couldn't get an address out of them to post them some of the pictures.

Now to work on asking permission...

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

There's something very Vietnamese going on in Pondicherry

I went to  Pondicherry to scope out a bit of French influence and found it along with a surprising Vietnamese flavour.  I was working on two way influences, in the way that India brought Britain "shampoo" and "pajamas" while Britain left potatoes* and Gothic buildings.

Really I shouldn't have been surprised, after all the French Colonies stretched all the way to Vietnam but I hadn't banked on the cross pollination within the Colonies. I spent four years in Vietnam before moving to India and here I present my little slice of VietnoFrancoIndo Pondicherry:

Pondicherry French style street signs
 Typical street signs, very French and seen all over the old IndoChine empire.  The one on the left made me laugh a lot as it's a very rude phrase in Vietnamese.  This specific shade of yellow matched with white is also common in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia but did it come from France or was it adopted by the French?

Show this picture to anyone in Vietnam and ask them to guess what country it was from and I guarantee they would say "Vietnam".  Reclaiming the streets with ranks of plants is almost the law and not something that I have seen much outside of Vietnam.

The Lotte Choco Pie is so popular in Vietnam that I know some people who believe it IS Vietnamese (it's Korean),  it seemed right to see them on sale in Pondicherry.  British readers, think "wagon wheels".  Of course the Indian version has the green vegetarian dot on the packaging.

You get pretty used to the usual range of things for sale in tourist shops so it comes as a bit of a surprise to see the usual kind of thing offered in Vietnam on sale in India.

This is a Vietnamese house.  It could have been picked up in Saigon complete with the paint finish and dropped in Pondicherry.  It's four stories tall, narrow in front and deep.  It takes up the entire plot with only a tiny yard at the front, there are balconies on each floor a roof terrace on top and, to make it undoubtedly Vietnamese, parking for motorbikes on the ground floor.  I would put money someone who lives in this house being named Nguyen.

Now this could all be because I've spent a lot longer in Vietnam than I have in France but it's got me wondering about the Vietnamese influence on Pondicherry and cross influences in general.  I feel a google search coming on.

EDIT ; an interesting little article appeared in The Hindu newspaper looking at connections with Vietnam and Pondicherry.  Read it here

*I'm taking a guess at the potato but it does seem likely... or was it the Portuguese?

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Postcards from Pondy

Pondicherry is a beach town with a town beach and where you get a beach in a town you get couples getting a bit of private time and an ice cream seller ready to be woken and sell his wares.

pondicherry, puducherry, lighthouse, blue sky
A lighthouse and blue skies on the promenade.  The weather was hot and dry as the monsoon starts about a month later than in Mumbai.

The street dogs look as though they're having a good laugh at something but are just panting to keep cool,  I could relate.

I enjoyed Pondy, it has a laid back atmosphere and yes, I could see the French influence and cross pollination from other parts of the Inochine empire.  There was good food and coffee and friendly people and cheap wine too.

There are more pictures to come but I'm working on a dongle at the moment and subsequently slowed down so it'll be little and often on the blog for a wee while longer.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Beautifying options

menicure and penicure in Indian beauty salon
Not the best quality picture I've ever taken.  It was snapped from a moving car on a camera phone in the rain but I couldn't miss the opportunity of capturing the fabulous range of services available in this saloon.

Friday, 5 July 2013

The view with Woo

In order to fit in as many people as possible Mumbai is a high rise city. Typically modern buildings are seen either from a distance as part of a skyline or by looking up at them.  The look even taller when you see them from the top down and since I'm temporarily in a position to do that I thought I would share. 

I couldn't quite fit in the entire building but this is what we call the "Woo View"

Saturday, 29 June 2013


I recently took a trip to Kerala to enjoy the Monsoon.  I like the rains anywhere but it's true, they are more beautiful in Kerala.  Also, the fish is excellent.  So here, fish in the rain;


More to come as I sort through my holiday pictures and maybe another holiday to come too but that's another story involving painters and tradesmen and a flat move.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A quick peek at Kochi

As the monsoon sets in we headed off to Kerala where, I've been reliably informed by Keralans, the best of the rains are to be found.  There was just time for a whistlestop tour of Fort Kochi when we arrived for our one night stay and pictures were duly snapped from under my umbrella.  Truth be told I didn't take many but I've made up for it on the rest of the journey, however, for your delectation, here are a few windows in Kochi:

window, church, india, kerala, kochi, cochin, stained glass
 A Christian window.
jewish, symbols, kerala, kochi, cochin, india, window, ironwork
a Jewish window,
and a Hindu window.

...and a bonus picture of a cafe I saw.
seamen, cafe, india, cochin, kochi, kerala

More pictures to come of lovely, lovely rains.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Gothic corners

The weather is changing now but,we've had three weeks or more of too hot weather.  Relentlessly still, humid and sunny.  Fantastic for sitting in a cool cafe with an equally cool drink but exhausting for anything else.

Wandering around Mumbai with my camera, a target for every tout and taxi driver in the city, I found myself seeking out leafy and shaded streets and enjoying the gothic side of the city.

Like all Colonial architecture there is an incongruity to it that can make it seem out of place yet, in the use of local materials and some adaptation of ornamentation it leans towards local traditions too.  At least that how it seems to me.  Here are some pictures of what I've been looking at:

Rajbai Clock Tower, on Fort Campus, University of Mumbai
Rajbai Clock Tower, the Mumbai cousin of Big Ben

gates, wrought iron, mumbai, gated garden, gothic
 Gated gardens with lovely wrought iron work. 

guard, gate, garden, mumbai
 Guarding the Garden
mumbai, fort, gothic, building, raven
 More elaborate architecture in Fort with a "raven" for added effect

In the last week the breezes have started blowing, the clouds billowing and as I wrote this one of our first sprinkles of rain fell.  Things are cooling down just as work winds down for the summer and my thoughts are on monsoon travels.

Indian Teaching resources

As a teacher on the international scene I have all the same needs as any other teacher but sometimes amplified.  It isn't unusual to have to put together courses from scratch, once without any text books from August to December.  I've fallen back on the Times Educational Supplement site - TES for resources, lesson plans, schemes of work and general chit chat time and again. It's also been fantastic for job searching and researching new schools and locations.

I was recently contacted by TES to let me know that there is now a dedicated TES India  and asked if I minded promoting it a little. I have absolutely no qualms in doing that, it's free, spam free and if the Indian version is even half as good as the original site it will be a real boon to teachers.

Besides, if you sign up now you have a chance to win 1 million Rupees for you and the same for your school!
Indian, India, education, resources, free, tes, tesindia

If you're an Indian teacher I highly recommend it, you really have nothing to lose.

Sunday, 5 May 2013


In the spirit of never regretting missing a picture I dragged myself out on one of the hottest days of the year so far.  I dodged ricks and trucks and massive potholes to snap a road sign that I loved.  I've always regretted not causing a traffic jam in order to get a picture of one on a construction site on the outskirts of Jaipur which read "Better late than newer".

warking proges, funny english signs in India
What really delighted me about this was that it wasn't a one off mistake.  There was another identical one at the other end of the hole in the road.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Mumbai Mannequin Man

I tend to become fond of odd little sights on regular journeys and feel the need to spot them when I cross their paths.  A kind of visual OCD I suppose.  I've seen this guy so many times as I have passed in taxis but usually,  and unusually for Mumbai, we've been going too fast to capture him.

male mannequin headless on balcony in Mumbai
He's out on his balcony all year round.  My memory might be playing tricks on me but I am pretty convinced that sometimes he wears a jacket.  

Monday, 22 April 2013

Cock o' the walk

City cockerel on a wall in Mumbai, India
Now I'm perfectly familiar with the concept of a city being a series of interconnected villages.  What I'm less used to is the villagers bringing their animals with them but in Mumbai it's fairly common.  There are a surprising amount of chickens in the city and this fine fellow struts his stuff just a few minutes walk from the Bentley showroom. He's showing some city living damage but is still Cock o' the Walk.

A city of contrasts?  Indeed it is.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


There are some lovely buildings in Mumbai in various states of repair and most of them are very photogenic.  I'd somehow got through nearly two years here without going out with the express intention of photographing buildings.   I'm taking steps to amend that error and in recognition of that, here's a colonnade:

colonial architecture in mumbai, the Salvation Army collonade

I like colonnades, my absolute favourite types are the SE Asian shophouse covered walkways complete with clashing tiles and and goods spillling out onto the streets. That said, there's a lot to be said for a nice British colonial colonnade too and this one with the Salvation Army shields and colours is amongst my favourites in Mumbai

Monday, 15 April 2013


Everywhere you look, there are the pigeons.  Above you, beneath  your feet, perching at eye level, peering in your windows and, on occasions, flying right at your lens

This one was on a direct flight path between the Gateway to India and me.

I rather like the much maligned pigeons despite their droppings, their noise and their clear animosity towards me.  Here is a previous pigeon encounter.

They, like the street dogs, have a well developed survival instinct.  Mumbai wouldn't be quite the same without them.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Mumbai Mobile Creches

I saw this parked up on a street near Colaba Causeway and it puzzled me greatly. 

My first thoughts were "Child Catcher" - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang obviously had a great influence on me.  It turns out that it's part of a rather marvelous organisation  which provides childcare and education to the children of itinerant workers in the construction industry.

I still wouldn't want to be the naughty child in class.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Night View

The moon on the night of Holi 2013, the lights from the hundreds of homes I look out over. Sometimes suburban sprawl is pretty.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The end of an era?

For the last two years me and the man have been happily trundling down to Goa a few times a year for some fresh air and a recharge. 

We have a favourite beach.  It's not much to speak of really, just under three kilometers of clean sand, a few friendly cows and a few more friendly dogs. 

Accommodation on the beach is mainly huts.  Some are a little swankier than others, I've heard tell that some even have hot water.  There are restaurants dotted along the beach with very decent food and lovely cocktails to be had all for prices that would make a Mumbaiker choke with delighted surprise.

That's it though.  There are no beach hawkers, no fire twirlers, no dance parties and precious few sun loungers. There's a road that runs through the village which is pretty bumpy at one end and might entertain the thrill seekers.

It's one of the most relaxing and friendly places I have every stayed and one of the few I've returned to time and again.

However, I'm writing this with a little sadness.  Tripadvisor have just named it Number 1 Beach in India and Number 2 Beach in Asia.  Bugger! I sense change afoot.

If anyone knows of a similar spot please drop me a line.  I promise I'll keep the location a secret.