India, August 2012

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Forest Clearing, Kalesar, Haryana – India, 2012

I went on an short visit to India last week. I went to Haryana, which is at the northern end of the country for two days and then traveled to Tamilnadu, my home state, which is at the southern end of the country. I spent an evening exploring the Kalesar forests on the banks of the Yamuna with my brother and his friends. The forest is a protected reserve and required permissions from the Haryana Forest dept. Ecotourism is booming and state provides some great looking eco lodges and guest houses (I just had a view at the guest house but didn’t stay).

One of the techniques used by the forest department to prevent the spread of wild fires is to clear strips of trees. These strips act as empty spaces and interrupt continuity of fire in summer. The path into the forests had numerous strips that ran across the trek.

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The Mighty Yamuna awaiting rains!, Kalesar, Haryana – India, 2012

The mighty Yamuna used to be a perennial river irrigating the great plains of Haryana and northern India. It is one of the  reasons for Haryana to have 80% of land suitable for cultivation. The river was dry during my visit, awaiting rains.

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On the banks of Yamuna, Kalesar, Haryana – India, 2012

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The Check Post, Haryana 2012

The drive from Yamuna Nagar (Haryana) to New Delhi was interesting. As we drove out of the town and hit the highway, the car slowed down a little bit. My camera was still in the bag and so I missed one of the best shots that nature threw in my direction! A baby crocodile was crossing the road!!

The rest of the drive was uneventful. I was kicking myself at not having the camera unpacked and ready to fire.

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The lone Poplar, Haryana – India, 2012

Paddy fields (rice) were lush green carpeting both sides of the highway and it was balm to my weary eyes (Doha is still at the end of a hot summer with temperatures soaring to the high 40’s C and the desert view quite dreary as expected).

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The broken bridge, Tamilnadu – India, 2012

The falling of this bridge is not lamented as it is no architectural marvel. At another level, this is a classic example of the biggest failure of our times – concrete! Concrete has a central place in our civilization. It has made possible the creation of passable houses for the billions of people on the earth. Whatever concrete achieved in affordability and speed, it lost by killing architecture. Concrete brought democracy to architecture. Everyone is an architect. All you need is a few bars of steel and some scaffolding to hold the concrete in place, to span two pillars. You end up with the tasteless concrete jungle that infests the world today. When some of the buildings that were built centuries ago with brick and mortar stand the ravages of time all around the world, modern inceptions have started falling in unspectacular fashion. Concrete has made possible the fast-food type buildings that are cheap and convenient to build but get expensive to maintain and ultimately fail too fast.

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The lone shepherd, Tamilnadu – India, 2012

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The lone shepherd – 2, Tamilnadu – India, 2012

On the way to my home I realized that there is still a place for shepherds and lone trees. The grass was actually quite thin from the sparse rainfall. India is scheduled to hit a drought-ridden year unless the rain gods have a change of heart. The current government has one more year to go before the next general elections and a drought year is not a good sign. Add to that the global economic stagnation and the falling rupee due to dwindling exports. The cherry on the cake for India would be the crisis of leadership and rampant corruption, which the government is keen to portray as the great strength of India. Every time I visit home I feel a little bit more depressed.

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The Playboys of TN, Tamilnadu – India, 2012

Tamilnadu is still home to the midnight playboys! These are the cowboys who work through the night to keep the weary drivers running on hot tea. The tea served was not bad. It would be even better if the same reverence attached to the boiler (garlands and all) is showered on the whole tea shop.

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