December is the month of nostalgia. I usually do not do year round up but this year I am succumbing to it big time. You have been warned! Yesterday night I was browsing through my Facebook timeline. And it made me so happy looking at the pictures from the past trips, trips that are now slowly receding to a corner of my memory. I have never traveled so much in my life before as I did in 2013.
It is also going to be extra special year because this was the year when we did daughter mother trips. But the biggest surprise was looking at my Annapurna Trek pictures. I did the trek in June and I cribbed and cribbed about the lack of the views!
Yesterday I was left wondering why did I consider this as lack of views? I know the answer, because I wanted snow capped peaks when I got clouds. But with the passing of a few months I was scratching my head- why did I complain so much, after all it was beautiful. But the key is that a few months have passed. The next time I go on a trip and I get clouds instead of the view, I will of course crib again!
But this also gives me some food for thought. I mean I can still recall my exact mood while I was going around the lake clicking pictures. I hardly had any enthusiasm, I just went through the motions. Next time when the weather decides not to cooperate with me, I will try and remember that there is beauty in every weather. This introspective mood is the result of December and trying to decide where to go in January. The air fares are not leaving me in a good mood.
I am truly petrified of street photography. It feels like a daunting task to point my camera at a stranger’s face and click. I know, I know in India not too many people mind, but I just completely freeze most of the time. And yet I was fascinated by it too. I would keep reading tips after tips thinking something would unlock the secret for me. I am still uncomfortable with street photography but I have given it a try from time to time and here are the things that worked for me. So consider this as street photography tips for the petrified.
Miniature Apsaras, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Shooting Things: Since I was petrified of shooting people I started with shooting things. Most of the times, the street vendors are fine even when you walk up close, exchange a glance towards their stuff and raise an eyebrow. They generally wave a hand to go ahead. I know this is not real street photography but I had to start somewhere. That is where I started and remained for a very long time.
I do remember one incident when I was framing a shot of vegetarian street food in Kuala Lumpur. I had clicked the shot but I was still looking through the viewfinder. I sensed someone walking into my frame and that startled me! He was the owner of the stall. I had ordered something with the young boy who was there. And while I was waiting for my mushrooms to arrive and clicking this man rudely walked into my frame. I did not understand the language but I guess the young boy told him I had already ordered. The burly man was now sort of apologetic. And that was the end of the incident. I guess sometimes it helps to buy something from a stall and then soot. But I can’t do this every time, more so when I don’t eat non-vegetarian food. A lot many owners are just fine if you are shooting their stuff. Sometimes the vendors even insist that I click there picture as well!
Too Difficult to Open: Clicked Using a 75-300 Lens
Using a Zoom Lens: I know every self street respecting street photographer would advise you against it. But remember we are not dealing with self respecting street photographer but a terrified street photographer. I actually gathered courage only after I used a 75-300 to shoot people walking by at Phewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal. I was sitting on a bench under shade as it was too hot. I saw boats coming and going as well as people walking by the lake. I decided to use the zoom. No one took any notice as I was a little away from the scene. It helped that I stationary as well. I liked what I clicked and this was the first time (June 2013) I thought I have to try it more.
Wanted to Click the Man Under Umbrella Really
Framing Wider: So when I found myself in the colorful border market at Aranyaprathet (Thai-Cambodia border, September 2013) I wanted to do street photography. I was using a 50 mm (Canon) prime lens which would not let me zoom anything. I wanted to click the man under the umbrella but my nerves failed me as usual. I then decided to frame the scene wider. What to do, you have to think of ways to click things when you are scared of offending people.
Busy with Making a Dish, Aranyaprathet, Thai-Cambodia Border
Clicking Busy People: While walking through the Rong Kluea Market at the Thai-Cambodian border I realized that the vendors were so busy doing their business they hardly had any time for nosy photographer. Now that is a good thing for petrified novices like me. She never knew I clicked her picture.
Mom is Asleep, Rong Kluea Market, Thailand
Chancing upon Things: This mom and baby were resting in their shop when I chanced upon it. I think the mom knew I was clicking a picture but she didn’t stir beyond giving me a passing glance from beneath her hands. I was happy I mustered the courage to point my camera at them.
Taking Pictures from a Corner, Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
Positioning Myself in a Corner: But what has worked best for me is positioning myself in a corner of a busy street. That way I could watch the world go by and occasionally get a picture too. I must have clicked at least 30 pictures standing at this particular corner of Rong Kluea Border Market. Not one person stopped and asked me what did I think I was doing! A very happy scenario for me.
You can see more pictures from this market in another of my posts.
I know a purist reading this post would cringe. But what to do, I am just a petrified street photographer who is equally fascinated by it. I am trying hard to find my way around it.
Do you ever sit back and think about a trip you did sometime back? Do your feelings about the trip change with the passage of time? When I just got back from Nepal after trying to trek through the Annapurna Circuit Trek, I was tired and not too happy about the amount of rain I got. The trek had to be given up at 4200 meters and walking back to find a jeep turned out to be a quest. I liked the trip still but with the passage of time I retain more of good things and I have already forgotten the tiredness and the soaking rain.
Machapuchare, Pokhara, Nepal
I had so expected to see the high peaks while I trekked. But the clouds hid them all. So on my last day when I did see Machapuchare I didn’t even bother to post it till today. This is Machapuchare or Fishtail mountain right from my hotel balcony. I stayed at Mount Kailash at Pokhara. It is a decent hotel, comfortable and clean. It does however attract a lot of Indian pilgrims who go chanting loudly whenever they please.
Closer to the trip my disappointment was high with seeing only clouds. Today I was thinking now how come I did not share this clear and majestic mountain on my blog. Time makes some of my trips better.
Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal
I was happy around Phewa Lake even in the monsoon as I was not walking any longer. So if it rained I could sit inside a bar. But there was a constant thread that went into my head while I was there. What if I had a clear day? Mountain peaks would have been visible. The light at sunset would have been gorgeous but for the clouds. And now when I look at it I think what a beauty!
Young Kids with Fishing Rods, Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal
Do you think time gives a different perspective to your trips? This post is part of Sky Watch Friday. Do check it out.
If you follow a few travel message boards you will see the ‘dress code for women’ question pop up from time to time. That and teaching a few classes on cultural made me a bit more sensitive to the question. So here I go with what I saw in Nepal. Personally, me being from India, decoding the dress code in Nepal is not much of an issue, we are quite similar. I personally I think Nepali women are better dressed but then for me a jeans and a well worn T-shirt is haute couture. So don’t go by what I say.
Women at Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
So this first picture is from Thamel, Nepal which is the tourist hub and these three Nepali girls were walking through, as you can see in various western dresses. The pictures I use in this post are clicked either at Kathmandu or Pokhara. Kathmandu is the capital city and Pokhara a bigger tourist place. However even on my treks I found younger local women wearing jeans and trousers quite commonly. And if it is not cold T-shirts are fine everywhere.
A Nepali Woman in her Traditonal Attire, Pokhara, Nepal
At Phewa Lake in Pokhara you will find boat women plying tourist boats and some of them dress in their traditional dress. However, a lot of local girls would I am sure use them only for special occasions, so obviously no one expects tourists to wear it. Also dresses would be different by region and clans I guess.
Local Women at Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal
For example, people from nearby villages come to Pokhara in their boats and you can see the women less traditionally dressed as they came for some personal work and were returning to their village by boat.
A Group of Nepali Women at Pokhara, Nepal
Then there was a group moving together and you can see people wearing everything from a Sari, to Salwar Kurta to trousers to long skirt, all in the family or the group.
Local Girls at Pokhara, Nepal
Now don’t you agree that Nepali women have a great sense of dressing and they look like young people anywhere in the world? And both of them look so sure of themselves!
A Local Girl Busy with her Mobile, Pokhara, Nepal
And then there was this girl who was all eyes only for her cell phone, she was so busy! So wearing knee length skirt is also fine, at least in Pokhara and Kathmandu.
A Tourist at Pokhara, Nepal
And then there was this tourist who seemed to be in a rush and quite comfortable with her attire as was the local girl in the other picture.
Sari and Jeans, Pokhara, Nepal
So while in countries like Nepal, India, Sri lanka people still dress traditionally, it is not that it is the only way to dress. You can find people in a sari and a couple in western attire in the same frame.
Shorts, Jeans, and Comfortable Trousers, Pokhara, Nepal
And it is not that no one wears a shorts! As I said all the pictures were either clicked at Pokhara or Kathmandu which gets a lot of tourists. And I hope seeing some of these images would help you decide how the local women and tourists dress in these places at Nepal. Hope it will help you decide what to wear in Nepal.