Approaching the Taj

The Taj Mahal is an extremely crowded place! People from all over India, which tends to have a lot of people, come visit this mausoleum from every corner of the country. It’s right near the northern border of the country, and I know first hand how difficult the journey can be to get to this point.

Just beyond one of the official entrances to the Taj is the interior of a huge gatehouse, that was teaming with people trying to get a closer look. I held the camera high in the air after trying to position myself as centered as possible to try to capture a sense of the huddled masses.

Approaching the Taj (by Stuck in Customs)

View Comments

Scooping Junk in Mumbai

These three guys spent at least eight hours out in the bay of Mumbai (Bombay is the British name) scooping up junk into their little boat. I know this because I kept passing the same place over and over again by the seafront. This was actually right by the Taj Mahal Hotel that was recently bombed, so I remember it very well.

After my third go-around, I leaned over the sea wall as they approached. After I got a few shots in, they all waved happily. There were not many white people around there, so I think I kinda stuck out, especially with the big ol’ camera.

Scooping Junk in Mumbai

View Comments

The Bats in the Belfry

India is full of timeless slices of life like this.

I set up for this shot and then sat there for a while.  I had heard some sort of aviary commotion and hoped that creatures would come streaming out at some surprise moment.  I kept my finger over the trigger just in case, and then, like magic, they all came ripping out with quite a commotion.  After this, I packed up my tripod and decided to head towards this little temple to see what was inside.  I’ll be sure to put those up in coming weeks…

The Bats in the Belfry (by Stuck in Customs)

View Comments

The Guardian of the Ancients

I found this daunting chap while trekking to northern India. We stopped to rest on the long road to Agra at a fairly imposing little structure on the side of the road. I was curious to see if I could find a drink or maybe a bit of food.

As I approached, this guy stood out front. I was pretty sure he didn’t speak English. We regarded one another for a bit. I tried to survey the authenticity of his weapon and the his circumspect agility. He examined at my anachronistic garb and camera for a bit. Then I gave him the international symbol for, "Can I take a photo?" He stiffened proudly in a pose. I took a quick shot, nodded, then passed by to see what he was guarding within.

A Guardian on the way to Agra

View Comments

A Godly Dance at the Taj

I was barefoot like the rest of them.

The day must have been around 95 degrees and as stuffy as can be, but the cool marble seemed to keep me from being drenched in sweat. After a long walk, I had finally made it to the inner core of the Taj Mahal, around the main tomb structure where pilgrims from all over the country had gravitated. The faithful coiled in long lines and snaked their way around the complex, waiting patiently to reflect at the megamausoleum and communing with the god of their choice. How could a billion people be wrong?

When I travel, I actually always enjoy talking to Indians (or whoever) about their religion. Here is a little thing I do… I’m not sure it’s totally ethical since I say the same thing over and over, but I enjoy seeing people’s reaction as a probe a panoply of personalities. Inevitably, when I’m in a taxi or man-powered trike-mobile, there is some sort of deity that is jiggling about on the dashboard or handlebars. It can be anyone from Shiva to Brahma to Vishnu to Krishna to Ganesha and beyond.

So, I always ask, “Who is the god to whom you pay reverence?”

They respond quickly and directly, usually naming one from of the top ten from the pantheon of possibilities.

I respond back, in all seriousness, “Oh! He is a very powerful god!”

To this, they always turn to me and nod gravely.

My guide there was from no from one of the traditional Hindu sects — he was a Jain. The Jain don’t recognize the divine origins of the Vedas (made popular in the US from Oppenheimer’s re-quote after testing the Bomb), nor do they believe in any one supreme deity. They instead revere Tirthankaras who have raised themselves to divine perfection. So anyway, if you ever try out the little trick above, don’t bother with a Jain because they will just give you a funny look and a wobble of inconsequential solitude.

So if any of you get the chance to go, I recommend it.  The people are all nice as can be and very eager to engage in conversation about just about everything.  Or, of you’ve already been, then you know what I mean!

By the way, this comes from my new Lucis Tutorial.

A Godly Dance at the Taj

View Comments
Welcome to STUCK IN CUSTOMS Welcome to my travel photography blog!
Enjoy the daily photos, tips, tutorials & more!
Newsletter Sign Up
The Most Beautiful Newsletter Ever!


x