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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Finding a parking always proves tricky in any city. More so in Paris.

For someone who memorises the local street maps and drives with a staunch dependency on the GPS, it is not quite difficult to locate proper car parks; paid or free. However, being able to park closer to the point of destination gives a strange feeling of achievement.

In this case the destination turned out to be Saint-Germain. Intention was to walk the alleys in a completely lost manner and to do some window shopping. A soft drizzle added to the depth of the situation. Hooded jacket came handy. In any case an umbrella would be the remotest option with a camera fitted with extra-battery compartment and a heavy glass. Drizzling made the already crowded restaurants more tightly packed. No one could enjoy the life drifting by from the wicker chairs on the pavement, casually covered with deep coloured awnings, thanks to the rain.

Missed out on the reflected lights on rain-drenched cobblestones the city is famously known for, this time. There will always be a next…

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Stranger to stranger, with kindness

Alleys of the village
may not have the flourish of sophistication
urban-dwellers often take for granted.

Instead
all you get would be a smiling face
of a complete stranger.

An invite to a cup of tea.
And more than a few helpings of kind words.

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Playful kids
that follow a wandering photographer
with an amusement
lacing their merry laughter.

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Babies that coo for no reason whatsoever
and jump to reach for the camera lens,
often with their lavishly-salivated tiny fingers,
wondering what on earth is going on
in a world so new to them.

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From one stranger
to the other.

Everyone, same-same
and
miles and miles away from their homes.
Homes, they call their home.

White beads

Yes.
All those toys are hers.
But no.
Those are not for her childhood to play with.
And no, again.
This is not a great photograph.
Nothing to boast of.
No great shutter-speeds.
Nothing with the ISO.
Just like the little girl wearing that cheap beaded necklace…
She ain’t no great in sales, either.
Just helping her Grandpa – the balloon-man for the rest of us – sell those toys.
Silently.
No sales pitch.
No requests.
No sad stories.
But one look into her eyes is enough to make you buy
all those toys.
The depth of helplessness felt at that moment
is beyond any pictures
or words.

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The Royal Enfield and a short walk

The streets of Fort Kochi, to be fully savoured, must be enjoyed on foot. Saint Francis Church was chosen as the point where the walk would commence. A small sign board “Bikes For Rent” opened up the possibility of hiring a motor-cycle to explore Fort Kochi. Decided to keep the walking for another day and use the two-wheeler.

Went back to the street where the board was clearly written with all details. Yamaha, Honda and Enfield bikes were available on rental together with bicycles. Enfield came in two options: 350cc and 500cc.

Walked up the single flight of wooden stairs where a middle-aged lady greeted with a smile. Three other tourists were in the hall enjoying beverages, probably tea. The lady called someone on the phone and then handed the receiver to me with a subtle “Go on, speak” gesture. It was Ashraf. Yes, the bike is available, Ashraf confirmed. He politely asked me to wait for a few more minutes.

While awaiting Ashraf to finalise the renting out, a cup of coffee was offered. The two seats made on the wall next to the window facing the street provided ample privacy to the onlooker to watch the street life.

The unmistakable note of the bike could be heard from afar. Ashraf’s representative wanted only the Indian driving license. Kick-starting was old fashioned and gone. The bike had an ignition switch. Enfield has done away with decompression lever and the battery key. I believe the charm of the Enfield was the two key ignition, decompression with the tiny lever squeezed, making the ammeter read zero… Gear lever and brake positions were switched. Sorry, I digress. Exploration begins…

Vasco House, Fort Kochi Vasco house, located on Rose Street, is believed to be one of the oldest Portuguese houses in India. Vasco da Gama is believed to have lived here. This house features European glass paned windows and verandahs.

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A random drive through the many charming street with old European style architecture among some of the streets…

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One of the earliest streets of the area, this road has European style residences on both its sides. Located here is the Loafer’s Corner, the traditional hangout for the jovial and fun loving people of Kochi.

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One more coffee and its time to wind up the ride… walk, that is.

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Streets of Madurai

The streets leading to the magnificent Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple was full of life with families and vendors. Children played but they were hushed by their watchful parents at the slight on-sight of mischief or a noise. After all, are they not near the most powerful deity?

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MyRefractions approached a policeman on guard duty to obtain formal permission to photograph the insides of the beautiful temple. Knowing the behavioral patterns of an exhausted policeman who is almost the end of his duty, MR was taken aback by the humbleness and soft words of guidance by the guard-on-duty. A senior officer walked in and was also equally humble with the words. Do they hand pick soft-spoken officers or they change to becoming soft-spoken near the temple. Anyway, the answer was a polite negative.

Most of the captures were from the street. But the beauty of the thousand-legged tower, the sanctum sanctorum, the fragrance of fresh camphor and the flowers… all embedded in that clear bell, alive in the minds of all.

Bargain

Street photographers would find Muharraq in the northern part of the Kingdom of Bahrain rather perfect for their pursuits and passions. But to explore Muharraq, for me, is a never-ending task with all those markets and walkways to cover. Add to it the possibilities of numerous angles at various light levels… not to count the people who are central to most frames.

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Fishing Port

Vizhinjam, a serene fishing village, lies about 2 km south of one of the most beautiful beaches, Kovalam.

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Vizhinjam Fishing Harbour is a natural port which is about to be developed as a major port for which spade work is already in progress. It is the busiest fishing harbour in Thiruvananthapuram district in Southern India humming with activities all the days. The sight of hundreds of fishing boats crowding on the harbour is delighting.

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The red and white striped, cylindrical shaped lighthouse maintains a towering structure. A destination for the international travellers, the lighthouse and the port has its own charm and splendour in the coast for its historical importance.

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Walk to the past

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A walk through the many alleys of the old town of Muharraq is quite rewarding.The man depicted in the photograph above was friendly and posed for the snap. A feeling of being home far from one’s own home town – and the word for that feeling evades – was felt with all its intensity while walking through the alleys. Please note that a match between the text and pictures might not be a best fit.

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About Muharraq…
Muharraq means ‘Place of Ashes’. It is Bahrain’s second largest city and served as its capital until 1923. The Muharraq Town was established by the Al Bin Ali Utub tribe as early as the late 17th Century. It has long been a centre of religiosity. The city is located on Muharraq Island.

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The city’s origins are ancient, going back to the time of Dilmun some five thousand years ago, but it came to prominence in the historical records during the era of Tylos when Bahrain came under domination of the Selucid Greeks. Muharraq was the centre of a pagan cult dedicated to the shark god, Awal. The city’s inhabitants, who depended upon seafaring and trade for their livelihood, worshipped Awal in the form of a large statue of a shark located in the city. Awal is an ancient name of Bahrain, an island country in the Arabian Gulf. The name Awal had remained in use, probably for eight centuries. Awal was derived from the name of a god that used to be worshiped by the inhabitants of the islands before the advent of Islam. Awal resembled the head of an ox.

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By the fifth century AD, Muharraq had become a major centre of Nestorian Christianity, which had come to dominate the southern shores of the Persian Gulf. As a sect, the Nestorians were often persecuted as heretics by the Byzantine Empire, but Bahrain was outside the Empire’s control offering some safety. The names of several of Muharraq’s villages today reflect this Christian legacy, with Al-Dair meaning ‘the monastery’ and Qalali meaning a ‘monk’s cloisters’.

Muharraq has been a place of arts and traditional music. Muharraq is also known for its traditional market, or souq.