Phool Cinema Hall – Patiala – India

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The Phul or Phool cinema is a theater in Patiala in Punjab.
It is an impressive Art Deco building erected in a rather large compound in a rather busy traffic junction in the city.

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I first spot it from the car when we passed by, and as we were having some samosas on the other side of the road I could not resist to cross the junction for a closer look.

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India the (other) land of cinema! Our guide discussed with a man that looks to be the guardian or operator or both of the cinema and he happily showed us around. The art deco fixtures are beautiful. Not only could we see the entrance, but also the upstairs foyer and the projection room.

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The old projectors are now at rest replaced by a digital device. We could even peep into the room where Judwaa 2 was showing.

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The highlight of the visit was when our host (below) showed us to the top of the building.

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Thank you very much sir for the visit.

All shots in very poor light with Leica M262 and Summicron 50mm. I did not wand to loose time changing lens, but the the view of the roof top with the moon and the projectors view would have benefit from a wider lens. For the poor light, I have to consider if a faster would help. Maybe a 35Lux sometime?

I am just printing the portrait above and posting it to the cinema today.

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Phool Cinema Hall – Patiala – India

Gurdwara Ber Sahib

Gurdwara Ber Sahib is situated in the Sultanpur lodhi town of Kapurthala Distt.

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It is situated on the bank of the rivulet Kali Bein, half a kilometre to the west of the old town; Guru Nanak performed his morning ablutions in the Bein and then sat under a Ber (Zizyphus jujuba) tree to meditate.

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Guru Ji meditated at this tree daily for 14 years, nine months and 13 days. While Bathing here one day in Bein River Guru Sahib disappeared and was missing and returned after three days. Upon returning enlightned Guru began his life long mission of preaching Sikhism. (http://www.sikhiwiki.org)

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I was most impressed by the pond, the contrast of its green color and the white stones around under the harsh midday sun. The black fish adding to the scenery, but I am afraid I did not manage to capture it properly.

As in every Gurdwara, we had to visit the langar hall, which was quite empty at that time. But being one of the most sacred place for Sikh it is quite big and can host quite a crowd.

The tea master

The man poured us some massala tea with the device below; which is quite a clever invention to serve the usual crowd.

The device

As an eminent foreign guest after having our tea we were hushed into the kitchen, where a group of volunteers were making chapatis.

A beautiful light was pouring from the windows.

We had to decline the invitation to make chapatis ourselves.

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Back in the Langar hall.

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Around the pool a enclosed bathing areas for women only.

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The living quarters.

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Outside the Gurwara, volunteers shining the shoes you have left before entering the temple.

Gurdwara Ber Sahib

The Moorish Mosque, Kapurthala (India)

The city of Kapurtalha is 70 km or 1 and half hour drive from Amritsar. Is used to be a princely state in British India, and its late Maharajah, Jagatjit Singh built a certain number of monuments in the 1930’s, making the city a “Little Paris”.

The Mosque was build by French architect M. Manteaux, who had also designed the Jagatjit Palace in the city. The intention of the Maharajah was to offer his Muslim subject  the best place of worship in order to preserve balance between the cults.

The mosque’s architectural design is based on the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh ( Morocco ).

The building is beautiful outside and inside;and in very good condition, we were just surprised to it empty. The man in charge was very nice and happy to show us around.

The courtyard is of marble; the interior patterns were originally made by artists from Lahore.

Kapurthala, looks like a very nice city, probably of 200000 inhabitants, with a lot of other buildings of architectural interest. Among them the Jagatjit Palace (Palace of the Maharajah), inspired by Versailles and the Jagatjit  Club. The palace is now a military school and unfortunately cannot be visited without a prior authorization that we did not get. But just looking around in the street around the mosque a lot of smaller buildings are worth a look.

The other place of interest of Kapurthala is the Rail Coach Factory, but also requires an authorization and our trip organizer was ignorant of it so we could not access it, in spite of the efforts of our guide, bit of disappointment on my side.

All shots with Leica M262 and summicron 28 (mostly) or 50.

The Moorish Mosque, Kapurthala (India)

Amritsar street photography

Tea merchant

India is a feast for the street photographer, photo friendly people, a lot of color, everything is so different, so many things happening all the time. The tea merchant with his yellow scarf is one of the first pictures I took. Through the window of the car stuck in the traffic jam.

One of the many horse carts around

Soon we had to step out and walk to the golden temple as the traffic was so bad on Sunday. I stumbled on one of the many horse carts with the driver standing up gauging the traffic.

You can read the visit of the temple here.

Rickshaw driver

After the temple visit looking for our car, I came across this friendly rickshaw driver.

In the afternoon we went to Wagah border ceremony; here also the crowd after the ceremony on the way out offers many photo opportunities.

Ice cream

The crowd after the ceremony is eager to partake in ice cream, pop corns

The last pop corn parlor before the border

It gets dark quickly, and there is nearly one km of little stalls stretched along the car parks.

A fruit stall
Some more spicy stuff
“Let’s ride”: the burger stall

There is not enough time to stop at every stall to take some shots of vendors and their patrons. In this early evening, the lights, the fumes and the colors of the stalls make a beautiful composition every meter.

All shots with the Leica M262, Summicron 50mmF2.

Amritsar street photography

Wagah Border Ceremony

The lowering of the flags ceremony at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan is a daily event attracting crowds of locals and tourists alike. It is a well oiled affair and when following a few basic instructions if very easy to attend.

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From the Indian side, once you reached to the last parking before the border you will have to walk 1 or 2 Km before getting to the venue. You need to carry your passport if you are a foreigner, which will bring you to a separate seating area (more later)

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You cannot carry much apart from cameras and wallet. No bags are allowed, I read that bringing in water is not allowed, but you can buy some inside.

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I carried 2 Leica M bodies with lenses and the 90mm in my pocket, my passport, cell phone and wallet without problem.Note that cell phones are not working in the area.

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The venue looks like a stadium with the actual border being at the center. The crowd can go as high as 2000 people from the Indian side.

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The event starts at 5h30pm and last 30 minutes. You need to arrive well in advance ( we were there by 4h30pm ) to secure a seating;  I was told that some people were sent back on the day we were there.

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The ceremony is a show of rivalry and cooperation between the two countries, It starts with preliminaries of Bollywood style music played full blast, and displays of flags.

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After a moment the guards will enter the arena and do their show.

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The crucial bit is the seating, the area reserved for foreign passport holders in quite close to the border and on the top of the seats, this has the advantage of giving us some shade (the sun sets in the Pakistani side and it became very hot at some point), but the view of the Pakistan side is quite limited.

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Also you are quite far ways form the show; the pictures here are done with the 90mm Elmarit on the M262, they give a good description of the event but are not great. Also keep in mind the light it not great and goes down, I needed higher ISO (400, then 640 then 1000) and also the place is very dusty.

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Can you do better? Well yes: hang around until the top sits are full so you can sit lower and have a closer / better view. But the border guards are trying hard to make you sit at the right place.

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At the end of the show it is possible to go close to the border and have a shot or two with some Indian guards.

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I am not a great fan of demonstrations of national pride, but this was really fun. I was a bit concerned by the security aspect, being so close to the border, but it did some seem to bother the many foreigners that were present and I it did not feel unsafe there.

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All shots done with Leica M262, Elmarit 90mmF2.8

Wagah Border Ceremony

Guru Ka Langar – The Community Kitchen at Amritsar Golden temple

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In the Golden Temple community kitchen an average 75,000 devotees or tourists take langar daily; but the number becomes almost double on special occasions.
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On average 100 Quintal Wheat Flour, 25 Quintal Cereals, 10 Quintal Rice, 5000 Ltr Milk, 10 Quintal Sugar, 5 Quintal Pure Ghee is used a day. Nearly 100 LPG Gas Cylinders are used to prepare the meals. 100’s of employees and devotees render their services to the kitchen.
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Everyone is welcome to share the Langar; no one is turned away. Each week a family or several families volunteer to provide and prepare the Langar.
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All the preparation, the cooking and the washing-up is done by volunteers and or by voluntary helpers (Sewadars).
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The community kitchen in the temple shows the Sikh ideal of charity : A Sikh is under a religious obligation to contribute one-tenth of his earnings for the welfare of the community.
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He must also contribute the service of his hands whenever he can, service rendered in a langar being the most meritorious.L1009590
It has ensured the participation of women and children in a task of service for mankind. Women play an important role in the preparation of meals, and the children help in serving food.
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The Community Kitchens gives a great demonstration of equality between sexes and social backgrounds.
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I’ll watch over the washing up

All shots with Leica M262 + Summicron 28 or 50. I used a higher ISO for those, the light being a bit random. People in the kitchen are very photo friendly; as long as you are not in anybody’s way you can take your time. But be careful you may be dragged into making some chapatis.

 

Guru Ka Langar – The Community Kitchen at Amritsar Golden temple

THE GOLDEN TEMPLE – AMRITSAR

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, known as Sri Harmandir Sahib,  is the holly place for the Sikh faith.

L1009510 The entrance is a short walking distance from the street, but on the Sunday we visited the traffic was so bad we had to envoy a nice stroll through the streets of the city. A bit esplanade sits in from of the temple (above) where many pilgrims sleep at night. The entrance is North gate called also the clock tower.

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After having left your shoes at the counter, covered your head and washed you hands and feet you can step trough the gate and access the path around the Sarovar (the holly pool of immortal nectar) and have a view at the golden temple, the sanctum-sanctorum.

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Benevolent and photo friendly guards are posted around the pool.

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Sunday may not be the best bet to visit as you see above we were not alone.

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In various stations devotees envoy a ritual bath, note that there are special enclosed sections for women. Sikh are so open minded that we were told nobody would be offended if a non Sikh  would have a dip.

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An important part of the Sikh temples is the kitchen offering food to every visitor, school kids above were waiting to get their meal.

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Inside the Akal Takhat

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A Sikh man reading the Holly book in a small chapel around the pool.

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Volunteers working at the cleaning of the holly pool.

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Sikh apprentice meditating, yes you can become a Sikh (Elmarit 90F2.8). There can be many reasons, like getting married to a Sikh for instance.

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Good bye.

Leica M262, Summicron 28 and 50 and Elmarit 90

THE GOLDEN TEMPLE – AMRITSAR