Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Nahargrarh Fort

Indian Coffee House, Jaipur





I was in the town of Ajmer as the New Year came. There were loud parties happening around but I was in my hotel room. It is the only government run hotel on my trip and a bit Spartan, but good enough for me. Up until now there has been cable in all the places that I have stayed in. I actually catch up on a lot of movies that I have not seen like 'Man on Fire' and 'I, Robot'. How strange to be watching blockbuster movies on my Rajasthan trip.

I visited a small town outside Jaipur called Sanganer yesterday. There is a paper plant there called Salim's that makes paper from discarded cotton. The main industry in Sanganer is printing fabrics. The paper factory was started in 1965, one year before I was born. A lady showed me around but it was one of those places that I was not allowed to photograph. At the end I was shown the showroom and there was no hard sell. The lady said that most of the products were for overseas export. But the paper products were just beautiful. She did not have to sell, the products sold themselves. Bearing in mind that I like traveling light, I bought a few albums. I think that Salim is the supplier for the Paperchase ethnic products.

I also went to a block printed fabric shop called Sakshi where I saw craftsman making block print fabrics and blue pottery. The highlight of Sanganer though was going to the riverside where people were washing and drying fabrics.

I am now in Pushkar, famous for its camel fair and a spiritual centre for the Hindus. They come here to bath in the lake on steps called ghats. The sight of white walled temples and people bathing is beautiful in the Rajasthan sunlight. Unfortunately, photography is not permitted to protect the modesty of the pilgrims. You will just have to come see it for yourself. It is strange that a holy place is surrounded by a tourist haven. The computers here are on windows xp and are more sophisticated than those in Jaipur. Lots of people on the street begging and other people trying to take you for a spiritual ride. Odd, that I noticed the same thing happen in Medjugore, in Tibet, in places that are holy.

In my room alone as the year passed, I was in a thoughtful mood. I have tired religion but found no salvation. I have fallen in love and still felt empty. I am financially stable but money cannot buy me happiness. I have had success but it's warmth is momentary. It is only when I accept myself and my life that I find a calm in the storm of life. Although my images depict the physical world, they mirror the state of my inner self. There are so many people trying to sell me happiness, success or salvation. (If only I had a dollar for each time a Christian tried to convert me. :) ) Coming on a trip to colorful Rajasthan is only a change of scenery to allow me to journey to myself. In a land so vast and poor, I realize how insignificant the problems we have in Singapore are.

I am coming to terms with simply being myself and living my life. The photography is a by-product, something I do to practice my spiritual journey in this life. It is my truth.


pfong said...

Happy New Year Heng.

wansheng said...

happy new year!:)

i see from the photos that you are having a good time there:)

enjoy the rest of the trip!


Death Wool said...

hey the photos are lovely and i so wish to see for myself the magical sights you've had the privilege to experience.

having personal time always transport people into the reflection zone. and i can't say i enjoy it very much. arhaha. but its a learning process no? what a way to start of the new year=)

here's wishing you all the best, keep being aware, because that's when you know you are alive to absorb what the beautiful world has to provide.

(doing some shameless co. promotion)
BTW, will you be flying QR anywhere in India? or is it Rajasthan and budgetbudget all the way? i have like Bombay mid this month hahah!!

Heng said...

Hi pfong, Happy New Year. :)

Yes, am really enjoying myself. Being in a completely different country takes me out of the usual routine. It gets the mind moving as well.

I think that when we are younger and full of hope, reflection makes us sad because what we have to do is ahead of us. After having done some of it, you realise that you are powerless to do anything but simply live. As we grow, there are growing pains. But the pain of growth through reflection, brings a more holistic view to life. You know,

God give me strength to change what I can,
patience to bear what I cannot and
the wisdom to know the difference.

Sorry, am only travelling by car in India. Flight into and out of India is Indian Airlines. Not recommended but cheap. :)

offspring said...

i am almost there in your journey. this is the heng we are talking about.

Anonymous said...

Really good and real life photographs of rajasthan. all photos from rajasthan destinations like ajmer, pushkar, jodhpur, jaisalmer, bikaner... are so good. i like rajasthan's lifestyle and culture so i watch photographs and videos related to rajasthan mostly from I saw your blog photos...really good. Hope you will be come back soon with some new and interesting photographs of rajasthan.