Colours of Nepal

The sights, the sounds, the smells, the laughter all came tumbling out when I re-discovered  the photos I took in Nepal in 2005.

The young and the not so young,  seated in the sun. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The young and the not so young, seated in the sun. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

This was my first visit to the country of birth of Lord Buddha. Though I didn’t get to Lumbini, I kept thinking this is the country, this is the earth that he walked on. Not having traveled much in the subcontinent, everything was spectacular.  I had only a hand me down camera but it was great fun trying to capture the mood of what I saw.

The evening shadows were getting longer when we got to the  Buddhist Newars temple of Swayambhunath, with the giant eyes painted on the Stupa. It is  one of the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

Swayambhunath Temple with the eyes painted on the stupa.  5 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Swayambhunath Temple with the eyes painted on the stupa. 5 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Children at a Nepal Temple. 5 March 2005.Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Children at the Swayambhunath Temple complex. 5 March 2005.Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Multi-coloured flags fluttered, white robed holy men walked the streets. ... Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Multi-coloured flags fluttered, white robed holy men walked the streets. … Photograph©Chulie de Silva

It was street life at its most interesting.

A snooze to recharge the batteries using solar power. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

A snooze to recharge the batteries using solar power. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

 Bead necklace Seller. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Bead necklace maker and vendor sits in front of a beautifully carved door. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Bhaktapur, the ancient Newar city — a World Heritage site seemed frozen in time. On that bright sunny morning everyone was out basking in the sun. There was a  labyrinth of narrow alleys linking houses, courtyards where it was common to see groups of people giving each other oil massages, pounding rice in open courtyards, or just sitting there in the sun.

The labyrinth of interconnected passgages in Bhaktapur. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The labyrinth of interconnected passgages in Bhaktapur. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Morning chat in the sun. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Morning chat in the sun.
Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Some were busy at work but this was a slow period for tourism due to various factors.

The potter at work. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The potter at work. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The natural kiln. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The natural kiln. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Batsala Temple is a stone temple dedicated to Batsala Devi and  has many intricate carvings.  It is most famous for its bronze bell, known to local residents as “the bell-of barking dogs,” so called as when it is rung, dogs in the vicinity begin barking and howling. The colossal bell was hung by King Ranjit Malla in 1737 A.D. and was used to sound the daily curfew. It is nowadays rung every morning when goddess Taleju is worshiped.

Stone Temple of Batsala. Bhaktapur, Nepal. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Stone Temple of Batsala. Bhaktapur, Nepal. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is an impressive  conglomeration of pagoda and and is one of the most interesting architectural showpieces of the valley highlighting the grandeur of the ancient arts of Nepal.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

he grandeur of the ancient Nepalese art. Bhaktapur, Nepal. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The grandeur of the ancient Nepalese art. Bhaktapur, Nepal. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

And the Pièce de résistance of the visit — the unforgettable flight over the majestic Himalayan mountains.

The majestic Himalayan mountains . Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The legendary Himalayan mountains . Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Acknowledgement: Thanks for this visit to Nepal go to my former manager Dale Lautenbach and Country Director Peter Harrold, who thought a short spell of work at the Nepal World Bank office would be a welcome change for me after the traumatic tsunami of 2004. In Nepal these visits would not have been possible without the support of Rajib Upadhya, Sunita Gurung and Reena Shrestha of the World Bank in Nepal and Jim Rosenberg of World Bank DC.

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Happy Birthday Drik!

At 24 years Drik has grown up handsomely and I can well imagine the excitement, preparation going on at Drik now. So, here’s wishing the very best of times in the years ahead and some photo memories of the happy and unforgettable couple of years I spent among great friends at Drik. It’s a quicky A- Z romp through Drik during my time there.

A – is for Alam Bhai, the bearded, bicycle riding, founder Director of Drik — the creator, the innovator, his Amazing network of friends and his even more Aamazing & Awesome global fan club. Not to be forgotten A is also for the Audio Visual Department, where I spent many hours working with colleagues.

Shahidul Alam waits to be interviewed at Chobi Mela IV, Dhaka.  11 September 2006. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Shahidul Alam waits to be interviewed at Chobi Mela IV, Dhaka.
11 September 2006. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Shahidul Alam & David Burnett on the Drik Terrace after the launch of the Book and Film Birth Pangs of a Nation. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Shahidul Alam & David Burnett on the Drik Terrace after the launch of the Book and Film Birth Pangs of a Nation. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

B– is for the Banglarights website — I was a part of the team that set it up first in 2001 &  for Beards and moustaches that came in all sizes, shapes & shades at Drik.

Topu and Nipun in the Drik Publications Department. Chobi Mela IV visit to Drik, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 15 Nov. 2006. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Topu and Nipun in the Drik Publications Department. Chobi Mela IV visit to Drik, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 15 Nov. 2006. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

C  – is for Chobi Mela that gives everyone an  adrenalin high & of course the inimitable Drik Calendars

.On my visit to Chobi Mela IV. Photographer unknown

First visit to Chobi Mela IV, 2006. Photographer unknown

D – is for DPA – Drik Picture Agency — the first of its kind in Asia housing and archiving  incredible amount of valuable photographs. But what I remember is the team I worked with while I was there.

Joined in friendship at Drik Picture Agency (DPA) celebrating Valentine's Day.  Hands of Moinak, Tapu, Falan, Moly, Doli, Nargish,Shefali. February1 4, 2012. Drik, Dhaka, 2012. Photo Abul Kashem.

Joined in friendship at Drik Picture Agency (DPA) celebrating Valentine’s Day. Hands of Moinak, Tapu, Falan, Moly, Doli, Nargish,Shefali. February1 4, 2012. Drik, Dhaka, 2012. Photo Abul Kashem.

E – is for  Exhibitions — a continuous stream of exhibitions were on at the two galleries.

F –  is for Fine Art Prints Drik

G – is for Gallery

H – is for Hugs. Gosh! there were hugs, hugs & hugs at Drik. A very very huggable environment.

I – is for  Images there were plenty and sometimes we couldn’t remember who took them even! I is also for Interns — Anna, Bai Xi, Yan, Nabil, Barbara, Diya and all the other young ones I worked with at one time or another.

Happy days at Chobi Mela VI Secretariat with Left to Right  Anna Hofsäß, Mostafa Sorower, Adnan Wahid. 26 October 2010

Happy days at Chobi Mela VI Secretariat with Left to Right Anna Hofsäß, Mostafa Sorower, Adnan Wahid. 26 October 2010

J – is for Jokes and for Jingles of songs – everyone sang – romantic, heart rending beautiful songs  and some taught me the first few words “chokh khulle dekhi tomake. …”

K –  is for Karma, the unseen linking force that took me to Drik. …

L – is for lunch room the fun, joking and also the place  we groaned about work letting off steam and  L is also for unforgettable Lisa with that haunting smile.

M-  is for Manthan Award for RVJN and there is Majority World 

N –  is for National pride, never a shortage of it — you see it in the strong activists and the DNA Newsletters that were so fun to compile.

Bangladesh garment workers call for their rights on May Day 2011. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Bangladesh garment workers call for their rights on May Day 2011.
Photograph© Chulie de Silva

O –  is for Oops! for the mistakes we made trying to juggle too many tasks, but damage control kicked in fast with many supporters.

P – is for Photography, Publishing departments. And the much awaited Pay day. Fun was working with my colleague Mahbub in publishing putting designs together with the maestro on graphics Reza, giving us valuable points on fine tuning a design. The last design I think, that Mahbub and I worked on was this for the Jamini mag.

Drik Ad for JaminiB2Q – is for Queen’s Museum of Art in New York where the Crossfire exhibition was held in April 2012.

R –  is for RVJN,  the creative Rural Visual Journalism Network, the rooftop at Drik and the many Rickshaws and Rickshaw wallas who ferried me to and fro from Drik.

S —is for Shingara, and all the shingara and cake parties we had.

Lisa, Falan and I in happier times. 1 January 2012. Photograph Drik Photography Dept.

Lisa, Falan, Kashem and I in happier times. 1 January 2012. Photograph Drik Photography Dept.

T – is for Tea — Cha the ever favourite cuppa and of course for Terrace at Drik.

U – is for Unwavering, Unafraid, Unbowed all good words to describe Drik

V –  is for vision that Drik is.

W – is for World Press Photo – long time supporter of Drik

X – is for the  X factor of Drik — hard to understand at times, difficult to pin down but there it is — that’s what an X-factor is.

Y – is for You All of you at Drik, that I remember with affection.

Z –  is for Zippy even amidst all the hard work there is time to share a laugh and we were Zippy!

The terrace at Drik is the favourite place for photos. There's always someone with a camera. Not sure who took this photo but it was a good joke.

The terrace at Drik is the favourite place for photos. There’s always someone with a camera. Not sure who took this photo but it was a good joke.

The Art of Travel … creating Flemish Masters at 30 000 feet.

Campari and Sofa

lav6Nina Katchadourian has a unique way of whiling away long plane journeys: she locks herself in the lavatory and styles herself as a 15th Century Flemish portrait. She uses whatever materials are around – paper towels and cups, loo-rolls, seat protectors, eye pads … snaps away quickly – and leaves the bathroom as she found it.

The project began,as Nina tells it, on a flight in March 2010:  “While in the lavatory, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror using my cellphone.”

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Ritigala, where Gods are smiling

The excited voice on the phone said “Chulie I am in Sri Lanka, are you here?” Sadly I wasn’t – I was stuck in a hospital in Dhaka with pneumonia. The caller was Nirvair Singh Rai, a young Indian friend I met while working at Drik. Today, we caught up on GChat.  “I am in love with your homeland, and the people. Everything about it! and Ritigala always calls me back.” He pays tribute to Ritigala in his blog and says:

Life is but another threshold for a monk, waiting to be crossed over. Photo©Nirvair Singh Rai

Life is but another threshold for a monk, waiting to be crossed over. Photo©Nirvair Singh Rai

Deep within the heart of Sri Lanka, a monk treads softly on a path that has been walked on since as long ago as 1st Century BCE. Monarchs, kings and rulers have come and gone, but this humble monastery situated in Ritigala, the highest peak in northern Sri Lanka, still stands in all its austerity and simplicity.”

“The monastery does not feature any of the traditional symbols of Buddhist temples, it does not have bodhi trees or stupas. All it has to offer is the honesty of its scarlet robed monks, and the kindness of their hands—some, as weathered and wrinkled as the terrain itself, and some, as young and as unlined as green saplings.”

Kindness lies in the gentleness of hands, and wisdom, in the quietness of a gaze. Photo©Nirvair Singh Rai

Kindness lies in the gentleness of hands, and wisdom, in the quietness of a gaze. Photo©Nirvair Singh Rai

  “Somewhere  along the way, we have forgotten how to navigate the ardous terrain of life. But in this hidden land, the map to the pathways of the heart and the mind, as well as the nimble grace needed to walk them, still lives on. This series is my attempt to share some of Ritigala’s purity and wisdom. It is merely my effort to make you feel what I felt—bliss…”

 Read and see more on his post: The Gods are Smiling

Nirvair copy

Nirvair hails from Bathinda, Punjab, India and is currently studying photography at Pathshala, the South Asian Media Institute, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Ritigala the ancient Buddhist monastery and mountain in Sri Lanka is located 43 km away from the UNESCO World Heritage city of Anuradhapura.

Note: All story text of “Gods are Smiling” and photographs copyright Nirvair Singh Rai. For publication of full story with high res images please contact: nirvairrai@gmail.com

A love for photography marries a love for the past – Luther Gerlach

Very interesting – “The results, be they portraits, nudes or landscapes, possess the warmth of the sepia tones, the dreamy notes of times gone by but seen through the eyes of a 21st century artist: they can be magical and unsettling at the same time.

Campari and Sofa

“Quite often I feel as if my soul is in the past and my mind is in the future”.

To say that Luther Gerlach is in love with the past would be too reductive. It might be more accurate to say that Luther Gerlach is in love with the photographing technique and equipment of the past that allow him to take photographs of modern subjects as if it were still 1850.

In his words: “By reducing subjects to their essence, and using the journey of process required to produce them, I create photographs that reflect an emotional state. This journey of process involves the use of large-format cameras and lenses dating from 1850 to 1920, which I have been collecting and restoring for many years.”

In our digital world, devoid of worries for wasting film or wasting time, with airbrushing and apps, and everything in between, that can elevate mediocre…

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