Writing Art

image

Asian forms of writing are so different from the Germanic & Latin based lavished most of us in America are use to that it is easy to see them as purely images of art.  I must admit that’s how I felt when I first saw this scene at Bodha Gaya, India.  I feel a bit guilty because when I see this image I think of a call for peace and harmony, but in since I can’t read Hindi, I have no idea what the sign says.  I always like to wonder what it would be like to view English with out the background of knowledge of meaning.  Do our letters take on the same beauty as Asian characters do?  The seem so plain and boring to me sometimes that I wonder if that would be possible, or is it just my familiarization with them that makes them seems so dull to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love typography and think that it can make beautiful art out of letters, but can the letters become so beautiful that they are art even without meaning?

 

Reminders of Home

Hollyhocks in a Thai temple garden in India.

When I was India I got so excited to see the tall stalks of hollyhocks growing in the temple garden.  I was surprised at how many flowers I knew from home were in the garden, I never associated India and Wisconsin with climates compatible with the same vegetation.  It really starts the mind thinking on how the plants around us come to be there.  What are truly native and what are the ones that are just so loved that we can’t imagine a garden without them?  Hollyhocks will always remind me of home, especially my Grandma.  Every year when the hollyhocks bloom my Grandma would make me hollyhock dolls, something her mother taught her to do and her mother before her taught her.  When I saw these in India I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone ever figured out how to make hollyhock dolls there too.  I love hollyhock dolls because they remind me of fairies.  Now that they are blooming in my Grandmother’s yard too I can’t resist making one, after all it’s a tradition 🙂

Monkeys Make Me Happy

Yes it’s another monkey picture.  What can I say monkey’s make me happy, and in these hard economic times couldn’t we all use a little bit more monkey?  This in another shoot from the temple ruins in Northern India.  I gave it a little bit a aged treatment to really bring out that orange color of the bricks which will forever be the color of  India to me after my visit.

 

Shared Housing

One thing I found truly inspiring about Northern India was despite the poverty levels and the need of the lower class breaking my heart have the time, when I looked around I really saw a certain harmony in their world.  There was no questioning that a lot of the buildings along the Ganges while beautiful were in some need of repair.  What really gave them character though was how the buildings were used in so many capacities both by humans and the creatures around them.  There were several families of Monkeys running around the sides of the buildings while the birds nested on the roof tops, the dogs slept out on the brick steps to enjoy the sun, and I even saw a pair of mongooses running around the street.  All the while the streets and river were packed with people, everyone coming together in along the holy river.  It was a very inspiring thing to find peace in one of the most chaotic places I have ever been.

 

Monkeying Around

Indian Mountain Monkey Man

My life has been crazy like monkeys this past year.  So much for life back in the states being calmer.  I love this picture of on of the monkeys from a holy mountain we climbed in Northern India.  So I used it to experiment a bit on my new android phone to see how well it works for photo editing on the go.  I like it’s turn out, though it did pixelate the image some in the conversion.  The results are positive enough though that I believe you can start expecting more posts on the go!

 

Forest Monk

Forest Monk Statue in India

This statue was at the Thai Temple in India. Dad explained that it was a statue depicting the forest monks, who use to go out to the woods to meditate and only came down for food. He wasn’t really too sure on that though, and again I didn’t find anyone else who felt like telling me about it. Either way it was a neat statue, and it must have been important for some reason since it was being honored. I’ll update the post if I get more information on him.

Bugs!

beetle

I think this is some sort of beetle.

After seeing the lizards I got in a mood for some macro. There were some cool bugs in India. A yellow wasp, some huge ants over a centimeter long and this crazy cool black beetle thing. I don’t know much about bugs either, but I thought they looked pretty cool. There isn’t to much to say about them I guess, but I think I should try to get some pictures of Thai bugs too so that I can compare them at some point.  I do love Macro!

A wasp searching the flowers for something.

A wasp in flight.

Lizard in India

The lizards were popping there heads out of the bushes just enough to catch bugs.

I thought these lizards were pretty cool. They were in the garden around the temple in India honoring the spot where Buddha died. The one on the top popped out of the bush while I was walking buy and completely made me jump. After that I had fun just walking them pop in and out of the bushes. I don’t know what kind of lizard they are as I’m not an expert when it comes to animals, but if anyone does it’s be neat to know. I know a guy passing by trying to tell me that he is an English speaking tour guide of the area mentioned that it was a dangerous lizard. Though seeing how small it is I’m not sure I believe him, I think he was just disgruntled that I didn’t want his guide services.

A hunting lizard in India

Sunrise on the Ganges

Morning baths on the Ganges.

In India I was lucky enough to get a chance to take a boat tour of the Ganges during sunrise. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The river wasn’t clean or pristine but I was surprised at the fact that that it didn’t seem as bad as I had assumed with all the talk of pollution.

The tour went past a few of the major bath areas as well as one of the cremation sites.  For the Hindu religion the Ganges is the very holy river.  Some believe bathing in the water will clear your karma, allowing you start anew.  Others believe that if you are cremated and put into the water you will have a direct path to Moksha, a stage where they become one with the creator Brahma allowing them to be released from the rebirth cycle.  I had never seen a dead body before so going past the boats of bodies waiting for cremation was very chilling for me.  The bodies were covered with cloth, but the outline of a human was clear.  It was a very sharp contrast to the young children playing as they bathe a mere 100 yards away.  The power of the Ganges in the Hindu culture became clear to me in that moment.

Buildings along the Ganges river.

And yes that is a monkey sitting on the ledge.

Inside the Temple

The shrine of the Thai temple in Gaya.

Here are some pictures for an inside look of the Thai temple in Gaya. The shrine not only features Buddha but also many symbols of Thailand including a portrait of the King on the side wall. There were also other tables that contained more pictures of the King. He is very important to the Thai culture and you would be hard pressed to find a temple in Thailand that does not honor him as well. On the other walls however traditional Thai style gave way to more traditional Indian style of decorating. The walls are painted with murals depicting the stories of Buddha in an Indian stylized form. On the back wall is the a story of bringing Buddha and his teachings to Thailand. It seems that in this story they load up a boat to sail towards what is seen background a the a city of the Thai Royal Palace (Bangkok). Yet a storm breaks out and the boat sinks. In the end Buddha is saved and carried to safety by a Goddess  so that his teachings can spread through Thailand.

Loading the ship to sail for Thailand.

The back wall mural, painted in an Indian style, at the Thai temple in Gaya.

A close up of Buddha being carried to safety by a Goddess at the Thai temple in Gaya.