As the sun began its rapid descent, the sky began to fill with black kites, some of them tiny specks a mile high. At first we took them to be of the raptor variety, but as we emerged from the undergrowth into wide grassland we saw a hundred boys and men wrestling with long twine stretching into the distance.
Some great news about Jamie’s first photography exhibition. Four of his pieces are part of a group exhibition juxstaposing his African and Indian street photography with architecture and urban themes, showing at Urban Picnic in Saffron Walden, UK, which runs from now until December 8th. If you’re on the High Street in Walden please do pop in and offer your support. We left before it opened so we missed it, but we’d love to hear from you if you get a chance to view it. If you can’t see that, then you can get a regularly updated stream of his photographs via his new Photography Blog. Click the link for more details…
Firstly our apologies for some unscheduled email updates regarding Somalia and piracy. We’re experimenting with a new service but the emails today were only supposed to be test alerts and you weren’t supposed to receive them. Ooops. Please delete these messages. So…before we leave Madurai we wanted to show you our photographs of the people and the scenes of our fave city. It is a pictorial observation of our time there, presented as two slide shows. Once you’ve clicked on the slide-show to activate it, you can select the four-arrowed button to view in full-screen mode. You’ll need a fairly decent connection as they’re high res images but it’s worth it as the portraits are very personal, whilst the street scenes will give you a good idea of the environment in which these people live.
As is probably evident from our previous posts, Madurai is a pretty crazy place. Rest, then, from the madding crowd in the calm of one of her grandest buildings, Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace. Deceptively understated from the outside, the open court-yard of the interior is imposing and beautiful. Liz: “If you are in southern India please do not miss this most beautiful palace. I fell in love with it in many ways. Its shape, colour and structure are sublime. Palest peach, vanilla, apricot, and cream combine to impart an ethereal quality”. The palace is close to becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site, which goes some way to illustrate how wonderful this simple building is. At the end of this short post we include a little slide show of a few of the buildings of Madurai.
This short slide-show gives you a little taster of the buildings of Madurai, and has been published to coincide with our Madurai blog posts. Pictured are the Meenakshi Temple, the palace, and a strange ‘mall’ with a temple in the middle of it. Plaster of Paris gods stacked hundreds of feet high look out across the city, whilst back-streets hide away secret retreats.
The streets of Madurai is a bustling chaotic mass of energy. One doesn’t have to walk far to get a great picture of the people going about their business, weather selling, carrying, begging or playing. I tried my best to get some surreptitious, objective viewpoints but as soon as you point a camera at a Tamil, they smile and pose!
Massawa has some stunning architecture left over from the Italians who ruled for many years. Thirty years ago it was the first town to be liberated from Ethiopia and so many of these beautiful buildings were shot to pieces. Eritrea is, according to the UN, the second poorest country in the world. The buildings may be fine examples of architecture from long ago but the local people do not have the money to renovate their homes. Once these buildings fall down, that’s it, they’ll be gone forever.
Sudan is the gem of Africa. From the coast it is not only unspoiled but utterly stunning too. Then one sets foot on land and meets the people: they’re as beautiful as the land they inhabit. Sudan is one of those countries I really wish I’d spent more time in and it is my wish to return one day. In the meantime I have this set of images to remind me just how poor the people are, yet completely humble and happy. At least in front of the camera.
Liz and I then wandered around town taking snaps and racing the ATM machines to get money. Having failed to withdraw cash from these machines in the last couple of days we were told that we had not been using the machines correctly. The trick is to be as quick as possible in pressing the buttons. Procrastinate for a split second and the machine will display a random message like “main server offline”, “unable to process your request” or “no spare cash left in Egypt”. Weird.
The internet cafe was nothing special but the guy in charge was. He was as camp as a lace doily and so it was with complete disbelief that I found myself in a conversation about finding him an English girl to marry! I am serious, this guy genuinely believed that I could call up an English girl who would be willing to fly over and marry him!