Friday, January 28, 2011

KENYA Part 1: He even took the ipod on safari

Karen Blixen would have been horrified to see what sort of items would end up in my bags while I was touring Kenya's Masai Mara Reserve at the end of December 2010. I, unlike Karen who took a boat, flew to Kenya from Miami, FL. A short (well sort of) 18 hour airplane ride through London's Heathrow airport. I arrived in Nairobi to join the family for a 10 day safari/Indian Ocean beach resort extravaganza.

The living room opposite the fireplace inside Karen's house

NAIROBI, Land of the Kikuyus

Exploring Nairobi the first day, we ended up at Karen Blixen's house just outside the city close to the Ngong Hills. The colonial style house sits inside a spacious garden with a beautiful view of the hills behind. The house itself is very livable and cozy. I imagined what sort of stories she would have regaled her friends with by the fireplace, or what her thoughts might have been while gazing at the setting sun out the window of her bedroom. In her living room the table is set. Elegance and charm still bathe her brightly white bedroom, a Louis Vuitton trunk still open ready to pack some adequate wardrobe for a safari.

Karen's House outside Nairobi

Close to Karen's house is the Elephant orphanage, a David Sheldrick Wildlife Fund project, aimed at saving orphaned elephants and rhinos. These baby elephants are just precious. They come running towards bystanders who are positioned behind a rope, directly in front of where they get fed. And they run to eat like there is no tomorrow. Imagine a 1000 pound baby having a tantrum ! They then proceed to wash down the content of their bottles (they are bottle fed), drink up some water, run to the pool to get muddy and finish off by dusting themselves with the red clay on the ground. Now that's the fun part for the people in front of the rope really close to them !
Bottle feeding

The smallest baby as of Dec 2010

A short drive away is the Giraffe Center. For a small fee, one can actually see giraffes face to face. And their head is huge ! One of the attendant will give you some granules since the giraffe are on a strict diet.  You must climb onto an elevated platform to be able to see eye to eye with a giraffe considering their height is 14 feet . Their tongue is enormous and measures a whopping length of 18 inches. Their coat is soft and silky and they don't seem to be too keen on being petted. Once the food runs out so do they.

Feeding giraffes

The enormous tongue is able to reach food between large thorns of Acacias

INDIA, my love

Shy and timid, bright and loud, hot and humid, joyful and disheartening, harsh and unforgiving, India is the land I first discovered at the tender age of 17. I fell in love with it the minute I landed at then Santa Cruz Airport in the Northern suburbs of then Bombay (now Mumbai), a mega metropolis located on the lush tropical coast of western India. I stayed long enough to realize I would be back later on in life. Exactly 10 years later, I returned to India and lived in Delhi for 3 years. Needless to say I got close and personal with India. I got to know the good, the bad and the ugly. As a matter of fact when you are in India you get to see all three in one sitting. You can't go to town without the smells and the loud noises of traffic, you can't see the Taj Mahal without first being harassed by beggars and you can't go shopping without bargaining. India is like a mirror you put in front of your face. You may not understand or like what you see but when you learn to deal with it, it becomes a lot simpler. Some people just can't or won't deal. It's that simple. India forces you to open doors in your soul which sometimes are better left closed. It can be disturbing but never dull. It is guaranteed to open your senses and drive you crazy. It is a journey which must be taken at least once in a lifetime.

Father and son at the Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan.
The Pushkar Fair or Mela as it is referred to in India, is the World's largest camel market. 

Street vendor in Jaipur, Rajasthan display their nimbus (small lemons).

Delivering a banana load to market in Tamil Nadu

Joyfully performing tedious domestic tasks in a Mysore street, Karnataka

The City Palace in Udaipur. It was built by the Maharana Udai Mirza Singh as the capital of the Sisodia Rajput clan in 1559, after he moved from Chittor. It is located on the east bank of the Lake Pichola and has several palaces built within its complex. Udaipur was the historic capital of the former kingdom of Mewar in the Rajputana Agency and its last capital.

Potter in Songharwa, Bihar making Diwali diyas or lanterns. Diwali is the most important Hindu festival equivalent to a Christian Christmas in importance. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas or dīpas) in Sanskrit: दीप, filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.  

The Taj Mahal in Agra is certainly one of the most recognizable building on Earth. With its graceful lines, the intricacy of its adornment, the whiteness of its marble and its location, the Taj Mahal is truly spectacular. In my 3 years in India, I visited the Taj many times and never got tired of it. Actually since I visited at different times of the day, various seasons and weather, I saw a different Taj everytime. The light changes its color and is ever transforming its mood.  The most beautifully crafted, like a jewel box lost in the middle of heaven (Mughals regarded gardens as a map of heaven on Earth), the Taj Mahal is truly the most royal of all buildings. It is worth many visits. I can't wait to go back again !

Welcome to my blog !

This is the very first time I am attempting to keep some sort of a journal about my thoughts, ideas and views of World events and happenings. Since I have been categorized by some of my friends as being a semi decent photographer, I will illustrate this page with my own pictures, taken at various times during the past 20 years not only to enhance the page but also to add a visual effect to the ideas presented. Hope that it will jump start the reader's thought process and make him/her entertain different ideas about one subject, see the World in another dimension, from a different angle. 

I welcome your feedback, ideas and comments. Of course if you have nothing nice to say then its probably a good idea to keep quiet :0)


create your own visited country map