Nature

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Blade

A Blade of Grass

Metaphorical-
Philosophical-
Full of life.

Dew drop,
rested overnight,
silently melts away.

Sharp enough,
to split the rays,
into a million colours.

Danced
to the wings
of a dragonfly.

Day is done.
Shakes
and gone.

Metaphorical;
Philosophical;
Full of life.


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Blue Crabs

Anticipation grows in the shores of Hidd fishing port, north-east of Bahrain.
But the air is kept light with smiles and laughs.
Amazing to see how the human spirits could soar so high on a long, hot summer day.
Weather-beaten faces perfectly blending with the day’s hard work.

And then someone sees the boat approaching from the seas.
Somehow they know it was a good catch indeed.
Blue Swimming Crabs are wild caught from seas around Bahrain by using traps.

A boat carries 6 to 8 crates of freshly netted Blue Crabs.
After a quick rinse, the crates are brought ashore.
Experienced eyes picks few bad ones and promptly removes them.
Dilip and his team effortlessly moves in sync as a well-rehearsed drill.

Rest are chilled with crushed iced, ready to be transported to the factory in refrigerated trucks.
The cluster portion of the crab with claw and legs untrimmed is the final product that carries a shelf-life of up to 2 years.


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Farmers’ Market

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Highway leading to Budaiya, the venue of Farmers’ Market 2017, got slower from almost a mile away. Typical of any event. Almost all the vehicles carried families with children. After finding a parking nearby, the place was a short walk away. It was a sunny and pleasant Saturday in January. Mild breeze among the many date palms lining the tiled walkways carried smell of vegetables. The botanical gardens in Budaiya, maintained by the Agriculture Ministry, hosted the Farmers’ Market as it did for past several years. Photographs were shot randomly while walking around the market…

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A mild climate conducive of growing vegetables in Bahrain starts from October typically. However, the summer lingered on till late November in 2016 and the weather turned mild towards mid- to end-December. Christmas really felt like that in Brisbane; warm. Farmers’ Market in Bahrain usually started in early December and lasts till the first few months of the following year. All Saturdays of the month, from 8 AM till 12 noon, Budaiya gets some extra action.

Breakfast Corner (actually it is an open space) visit was top on the list. Not that we three were hungry. The idea of tasting some authentic Bahraini food always appealed to us. Fresh vegetables were so appealing that from the moment we saw the first stall, the shutter was relentlessly moving up and down (or was it sideways? Should have paid more attention during the many photography workshops attended.) Tomatoes, Cauliflowers, Pumpkins, Chillies, Zucchinis, Cucumbers, all those leafy vegetables – that the family doctor always reminded to consume more, Beetroots, Bell Peppers, to name more than a few. Mint led the list of herbs. Those on sale were so fresh and untouched so unlike what is sold by the regular stores that it seemed to have made just for decoration and not for cooking.

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Flowering plants were on sale. Hyacinths and Pansies were more popular. Geraniums were rare. Bougainvilleas scattered themselves among others. As we walked forward, the air began to smell of waffles. Waffles would have been a complete misfit in such an atmosphere. We followed the waffles that led us to a stall where several people – women and children mostly – patiently waited for their turn to collect their favourite snack: pan-baked bread. Thin, crunchy, mildly sweet made up of batter.

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The best part of the Farmers’ Market was not the display of the local produce. It is about the people and the smile on their face. Met several families that included expatriates and the local ones. Business was casual with occasional bargaining (well, no one ever bargained in a super market) and tasting of the fresh produces.

Stall owners found time to chat about their farms in different parts of Bahrain. 17 years of stay made it almost possible to locate many. Children played as the sun rose while other wide-eyed ones kept wondering about the many colours of vegetables. From red, green, yellow and purple that is grown in their own Bahrain.

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Falcons are beautiful.

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As much as they are aggressive hunters,
their gentleness and elegance is worth admiring.
Here are some portraits of Saker Falcons
from the archives…

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75b Rue d’Orchampt

The Man Who Walked Through Walls by the French writer Marcel Ayme begins:

“In Montmartre, on the third floor of 75b Rue d’Orchampt, there lived an excellent gentleman called Dutilleul, who possessed the singular gift of passing through walls without any trouble at all. He wore pince-nez and a small black goatee, and was a lowly clerk in the Ministry of Records. In winter he would take the bus to work, and in fine weather he would make the journey on foot, in his bowler hat.

Dutilleul had just entered his forty-third year when he discovered his power. One evening, a brief electricity cut caught him in the hallway of his small bachelor’s apartment. He groped for a while in the darkness and, when the lights came back on, found himself outside on the third-floor landing. Since his front door was locked from the inside,…”

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Set in Paris’s Montmartre district, the stories by Marcel have spawned a number of films, including Jean Boyer’s 1951 classic Garou Garou, le passe-muraille and Yvan Attal’s Les Sabines starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, as well as a musical, Amour, which won the Prix Molière in France before an English version conquered Broadway.

Today in Montmartre a sculpture of The Man Who Walked through Walls, created by the legendary actor Jean Marais, can be found in the Place Marcel Aymé, paying tribute to the great author and his work.


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Nascent sky

Subtlest hues merging with the horizon.
A barely perceivable saline-breeze
skimming the surface of the calm sea
bearing the fading cry of a morning bird
from the nascent morning sky.

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“I will always remember you,
and you will remember me,
just as we will remember
the evening,
the rain on the windows,
and all the things
we’ll always have
because
we cannot possess them”.
-from the fictional work “Brida”


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Friends

Friends are friends…
anytime.
anywhere.
Friendship is being together.

But
how about being with oneself?

Me: Hi!
Myself: Hi!!
Me: How are you today?
(pause)
Myself: Not bad… you?
(long pause)

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Thatched Houses

Thatching was popular in early days as the walls were not designed or made to take enormous roof weight. While wheat straw was common in south of England, reeds were in East Anglia. As transport facilities became available, cheap slate could be brought in from where it was abundant and cheap to any part in Britain. Mechanised farming resulted in making wheat straw unusable for thatching. These beautiful houses were seen while passing a small village near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

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Hex nets can prevent some of the damages unknowingly brought in by animals and birds. But what about the natural effects? Repairing and maintaining a thatched house in a good state costs lot of money.


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Blue Macaw

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A Saturday afternoon.
Zallaq highway.
Long stretch of cars.
Families with excited kids.
Visitors to the animal show.

Animals in nominal enclosures.
Domestic.
Birds resting outside their cages.
Pets.
Sunny. Warm. Breezy.

An unforgettable day for the kids.
And therefore to their parents.
Bahrain loves animals.
Birds, too.


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Lost in the morning

Alarm clock sounded at the time they are supposed to sound.
A tripod was readied the previous night.
Made coffee and some French Toast.
Coffee to the flask and toast to the lunch box.
Friday morning traffic?
There aint no such thing.
This is Bahrain.
Took the highway to Askar, a tiny fishing village in the east coast of Bahrain.

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Black Birches

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The winding roads in the mountains of Chartreuse offered some lovely pit stops…


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Mischievous Macaws

Macaws sure are harmless. They are friendly, too. But they can also be mischievous at times… All you have to bear with is their moderately loud voices.

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Town of Annecy

From the parking lot at Musée de la Grandé Chartreuse, there is no return!
In other words, the way you enter is a one-way. One must drive around the museum and join the road to Saint-Laurent -du-Pont. Here D520 somehow meets D1006 leading to Chambéry. Driving further north in the A41 with a toll of less than Euro 5 would take us to Annecy.

Mid-April is beginning to bring in all the flowers of the season. Mostly tulips. Walked off to the car park. It is a long way to Mont Blanc.

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Being weekend, the parking areas of near Palaise de l’Isle was packed to capacity. Driving down the road by the lake-side D1508, a parking was found. No parking fee. From the car park, it is a few minutes walk back to the medieval part of the city.

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The canal was lined with restaurants. Took up an empty table just outside the entrance to a cafe. Ordered an Oignon Pizza and an Espresso. The pizza needed a few gentle reminders every 20 minutes or so. But then, who is in a hurry?

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Crossing one of the many bridges across the Canal du Thiou takes us to the famous street Rue Saint Claire. The place was crowded and so were the shops.

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Annecy was a short break en route Chamonix. The place is so lovely that one needs a few days to imbibe all its beauty.


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French Alps

The drive from Grenoble to Annecy was memorable for two reasons. Bright, sunny day made the visibility high and the 360 degrees view of brilliant scenery made driving the winding roads exciting. A short stop once in a while took away precious time-to-destination. Photos such as the one seen here made it worthwhile…

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Early April still saw some snow on the ground. Rain and more snow was on the forecast for the coming days in the higher regions en route Mont Blanc.

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Home grown

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I do not remember exactly who had given me the seed of this Gladiolus.
That was many many years ago.
The bulb resembled an onion.
When the seed was planted, I had no more hope than to see a Lily.
Any kind of Lily.
As the delicate flower bloomed one rainy day morning,
the sight became unforgettable.
Since then, I have seen several blossoms.
None more prettier than that home grown Gladiolus,
whose bulb was given to me
by someone I do not remember.
That was many many years ago.


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Mist

Being in the wilderness
Gurgle of the pristine stream
Mist rising
Engulfing
Wet grass
Gurgle
Slippery rocks
all within.

Indeed an unforgettable experience…

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Welcome, winter

The turn in weather from summer to winter in here is often seen with the beginning of Shaamil winds. This time, the weather changed to a cool 30 degree Celsius from beginning of 40s almost overnight, sans-Shaamil. But that was almost a month before. Bahrain is now around 20C with mild sunshine. However, it feels its warm for December.

Christmas day saw incessant hum of the rains almost the whole day. Grey skies with light and dark clouds covered the sun for a full day.

Saturday was bit more sunny.

Took the family out to Arad bay area which was made into a beautiful picnic spot by Bahraini families. The walkway around the bay, with a close view of the international airport reminded of Chowpathy beach for some reason.

319s to 747s flew in and out from the airport close to the bay. More flights flew around the region and less around world as long-haul flights enter into active mode towards late to mid-night.

Low tide made bare the sea-bottom visible which was clear and sandy. A few unconcerned flamingoes were seen casually wading through shallow waters.

Kids still played in the green lawns dotted by date palms outside the café. Kites were flown by a few girls and rental bikes were speeded by the boys aged between 4 and 14 between parents who rested on rugs brought from home.
Land Cruisers and Lexuses were parked neatly nearby.

While returning, the debate was whether to visit Fareej al Rashdan (which means “neighbourhood of Rushdan”) or La Café; both restaurants serving authentic Bahraini cuisine. Former is nearer to the sea but with a low tide in play, proximity turned out to be a neutral consideration. A dinner of Potato wedges with jacket on, Mixed Grill with Lebanese bread, Tabouleh – a green salad made of chopped Parsley, Mint leaves, Tomatoes and Burgool wheat, Hummoos – a dip made of Chick Peas paste, Garlic, Sesame paste, Lemon juice and fresh Olive oil, and Turkish Coffee from La Café made the day.

Fareeda Khanum’s “Aaj Jaane ki Zidd na karo” created a great ambience on the way home in the car.

Welcome, winter.


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Wild Orchid

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