At Maastricht. Feb 2012

I’ve been to Maastricht many times. I will come back later, with more shots of the place, but this is one that I took recently from my Samsung Galaxy phone. 
It’s one of those cities that I took to, as soon as I entered. Somehow, the place really warmed to me. I find the atmosphere, the culture to be extremely informal and relaxing.
Compared to most cities of Europe, it gives me a young feel. This is probably because of the University, and so, there are lots of people. This young feeling is really pretty interesting, especially considering that this is arguably the oldest city in the Netherlands. 
There are several ways to get there. I normally fly to Dusseldorf and drive, or fly to Frankfurt, take a train to Aachen and then drive, or drive from Brussels, or a train from Amsterdam. Despite the fact that it is not the best connected city, it is not that difficult to reach.
The above shot was taken in February this year. Possibly, the 4th or the 5th of February. I had gone for a walk at about 10 am, and the temperature was – 5 degrees centigrade. Yet, the sky was blue, the water was blue, and the buildings reflected neatly on the water. This is one scene of Maastricht that I absolutely love. It is fascinating. 
So there I was, walking along the path, behind the Crowne Plaza, where I was staying. It was cold, and there was a slight breeze blowing. Off went my gloves, out came my camera, and I went click! 
The shot turned out a lot better than I expected, I must say. 
Cal, cold, blue beauty, is how I would describe the scene. 

Driving On The Highway. Traffic Control

Traffic Or Mobile?

While He Looks For The Number

Still Looking

My Friends Drive On!
This is the last entry from the current Agra series. I took these pictures, while we were driving to Agra. I had not been on an Indian highway for years, and was quite curious to see what the highway looked like. After all, as per the previous Indian government, India was Shining. I had also seen many advertisements, where luminaries like Amitabh Bacchan had pontificated on how there was India (the modern India, straining to get away from the leash), and Bharath (the old India, wedded to it’s ancient days). I don’t blame the man, even though I may have spelled his name incorrectly. He does what he does.
However, the idea that the modern India has to be typified by the Western name of our country, and that the “old India” is typified by the Indian name of our country, is scandalous to say the least. At best, it shows that we are ashamed of our cultural roots and heritage. 
More so, is the fact that despite these advertisements, politicians have become even more brazen in their corrupt ways. 
We may blame the cop, who seemed to be more focussed on his mobile phone, than on controlling the crazy traffic. The traffic really is crazy, make no bones about that, yet I don’t believe that we can look outside of ourselves and say – that man is really a bunch of shit. 
When the proverbial shit hits the fan, it spatters in random patterns beyond our control, and dirties all of us. 
So yes, there is a modern India, and there is the really old, crappy India. I am not sure if my friends on the rickshaw know where their journey ends. The dangers of the ride did not seem to bother them. 
I do remember smiling at them as they raced past, God knows where. The ships sailed in the bright of day, as I went on my merry way as well, to the Taj Mahal.

For An Orange

The Young Boy Asks

The Young Boy Receives

He Looks In My Eyes
Agra has a wonderful history, and a rather lousy present day climate, I think. When we had finished off the rounds of the various historical places in Agra itself, we got into our car and decided to drive off, to Fatehpur Sikri.
Driving down the dusty paths of Agra can be quite an eye opener. Well, driving down the dusty paths of India can be an eye opener. If you keep the windows rolled up, you can keep your eyes open. However, you have to shoot through the glass windows, and need to be prepared for the associated blur. If you keep the windows rolled down, then you get clear shots, but the dust in your eyes forces you to close  your eyes.
Decisions like these are complicated decisions indeed. However, possibly because of the rather lousy condition of the houses, India lives on the roads, and there is always a lot of action going on, and this in itself can provide you with hours of watching pleasure, watching people walk, talk and interact with each other. I have always been fascinated by what I see on the roads in India.
So there we were, driving to Fatehpur Sikri, and the car stopped. I can’t remember why we stopped. It was either a red light, or we had just stopped because of a traffic jam.
I started to yawn, and then stopped, when I saw this young fellow scratching the window of the car in front of me. Finally, after much scratching, the foreigner inside leaned over and gave him an orange.
It’s a tough life. The orange probably meant a lot to this young fellow, and yet for the foreigner (and, for many of us Indians) the orange represented a means to get rid of a pest. For one, it is nourishment, a luxury of food he cannot afford.
For the other, it is a meaningless tool to get rid of someone. A study in contrast indeed.
Suddenly, the young man, and he is a good looking young man indeed, straightened up, and looked straight into my eyes. His look was straight, and yet I felt guilty, like an interloper, intruding upon his life, photographing his struggle to survive.
Writing this blog, I must ask myself the question: at that point, what was my camera? Was it a tool, for me to post an indulgent blog entry on the struggles that others have.
Sitting here in my comfortable hotel room in Maastricht, I must ask myself if, despite being an Indian, do I really understand those who live on the other side of the line?
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