Continuing our excellent theme of guest speakers and in order to maintain SYPC’s activity we were thrilled that one of our close associates, Sandie Cox (ARPS DPAGB), accepted an invitation to take us to India.
Most of us have an impression of this huge democracy, but perhaps few have actually been there, a wonderful reminder that summarises the whole country comes from an Indian lady who arrived in England in November, from India, and who, in her middle age reflected that her early life had been in colour but beyond that it had been in black and white.
Sandie has now visited 5 times and this travelogue presented us with a broad view, as seen through her camera lens. Her images started on the journey, by train, from Delhi to Agra and despite her protestations that it was difficult to bring the hustle and bustle to life in still photographs she had done a remarkable job – food stalls set up randomly with pristine looking fruit and veg, many unrecognisable, a huge variety of transport starting in the cities with buses and cars then extending outwards to motor cycles, bicycles, horse and cart and bullocks, and amongst all of this thousands walking and the sacred cow ambling his way through this throng with passive indifference.
The buildings are always spectacular and we saw, in Delhi, a magnificent Sikh temple which, within its confines, had a life of its own outside of religion, by feeding the poor and providing a range of employment. Images and Sandie’s description of the train and the dextrous porters was amazing and portraits of beautifully dressed ladies and bearded sages led us to closer inspection of the buildings’ outer decorations which, sadly are suffering from a ghastly, black algae perpetuated by the damp foggy atmosphere followed by hot sunshine. The conditions causing a rapid deterioration of the ornate exterior as well as the on-going depressing appearance, the Hindu temple was rather ruined and fenced off. Amongst all of this the people were notably friendly, keen to chat in English and the children appeared rather scruffy compared with their statuesque mothers whose deportment is enhanced through carrying all sorts on their heads, dressed immaculately.
Our speaker was clearly captivated by Amber Fort and described its features and decoration in detail, wide courtyards, in-filled incised carvings, inset glass particles and regrettably the algae. A visit to a Mosque revealed a place of much industry and the coming together of people, and constant music. We moved on to Agra and the well-known Taj Mahal, though our guide was not enamoured by it finding it stark and unwelcoming.
Long tailed parakeets were seen and captured feeding their young. Moving on to a local Fort where the Maharaja was imprisoned, with a view of the Taj (his wife’s tomb) we could almost feel and smell the polluted air. On the banks of the sacred Ganges we were treated to some technically difficult images of the festival of flowers which takes place every night and seemed massively crowded with people anxious to find the best view. Moving on to Jaipur we find the busy streets, bullock drawn carts, shops that sell everything with a picture of the proprietor and her infant son, a tea stand (rather unhygienic) and fast-food stalls with rather dirty walls!
Onwards and upwards to the tiger reserves observations were made from elephant back or from Land Rovers but both needed care, a sharp eye and “camera at the ready” we were treated to males, females, cubs all taken from a variety of angles, one full faced portrait showed the beauty of the animal and the senseless poaching of too many animals was described, Sandie clearly has a sincere concern for such things and her sensitivity comes through in her photography.
The wildlife element of the evening included the woolly necked stork, owl, kingfishers, crows, the cathedral bird of the world (vulture) yellow necked stork, dragon flies, butterflies, monkeys, macaques, jungle fowl, serpent eagle, sloth bear, buffalo, mongoose, snake, wild dogs, jackals, fallow deer (stags, hinds and fawns), sika deer – so many animals living in harmony side by side.
The demand for tourism and the attendant income, causes disappointing traffic jams of camera toting tourists and the sight of these rather unfortunate assemblies rather takes you away from feeling you are alone, stalking the animals to achieve that unique shot in isolation. We saw a couple of examples of this and perhaps this might dissuade our ambition to become part of it.
Our visit was surely the best through Sandie’s camera lens, supplemented by her expert commentary.
A special evening which was well received by a large attendance of our members – Many thanks to Sandie.
For more information on Sandie please see her website at – https://sandiecox.zenfolio.com/p707893424