Muslims and metalworkers – A travel photo essay from Moradabad

I’m delighted to say that my collaboration with writer Meera Vijayann, which you first saw fruits of in our jointly produced photo essay on the Qawwali of Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi, has borne further fruits. This time, we invite you to take some confident steps off the so-called ‘Lonely Planet Trail’ in order to explore India’s ‘brass capital’, a place that doesn’t even get a mention in the so-called ‘Bible’ of the guidebook world. Click the image below to start out on your meandering path along the back lanes of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh.

muslims and metalworkers a day in moradabad link Muslims and metalworkers   A travel photo essay from Moradabad

CLICK THE IMAGE to go to the photo essay.

 

Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

Once again, writer Meera Vijayann and I team up to bring you a glimpse of life in India. This time, we’re visting the country’s brass capital: Moradabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. This is a great chance to wander off the ‘Lonely Planet Trail’, for the city does not even feature in the ‘Bible of guidebooks’. The population of the core and old city areas is predominantly Muslim, and this photo essay documents how the city’s metalworkers and those immersed in the Islamic faith spend a typical day.

travel photographer tourism india uttar pradesh moradabad cityscape ramganga bridge 25574 8 Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

Life, in Moradabad, begins at dawn. Straddling the banks of the Ramganga River, the city wakes up with the first call to prayer. The dust settles, and the minarets of the Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) rise in the distance, above tumbledown houses and crowded streets. Along the bridge, women hang their washing, the colours of their saris glistening in the heat of summer, and people speed past on motorcycles, on their way to open shop.

 

travel photographer tourism india uttar pradesh moradabad islam madrassa children 24714 Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

Religion is taken very seriously here. Many families still opt to send their children for a madrassa education, hoping that their traditions will be protected through religious instruction. Curious, young boys listen to the mudarris (teacher) in silence.

 

travel photographer tourism india uttar pradesh moradabad islam madrassa children 2 24733 Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

Confident, a student stands up to recite verses from the Qur’an. A few of the boys look up at him in awe, as he begins his recitation. The muddaris is patient, and listens attentively. The light of the afternoon sun softly illuminates the courtyard near which they are seated. And, time passes slowly.

 

travel photographer tourism india uttar pradesh moradabad jama masjid devotee tasbeeh dhikr 25535 Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

Devout Muslims like Master Irfan, find a quiet spot at the Jama Masjid to observe prayer. Holding a tasbeeh, he slowly performs the dhikr, reciting short sentences glorifying the greatness of Allah. Moradabad’s older Muslims hold the 17th Century mosque in high regard, as it has been helped institutionalise Islam here.

 

travel photographer tourism india uttar pradesh moradabad jama masjid panorama 25528 31 Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

After the prayer, a silence descends. Its minarets towering into the skies, the Jama Masjid is a regal sight. Constructed by a noble, Rustum Khan, on the orders of the Emperor Shah Jahan, the intricate artistry above its columns are characteristic of early Mughal architecture.

 

travel photographer tourism india uttar pradesh moradabad muslim friends street 25518 Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

Back home, life returns to normal. Young men gather to catch up on the day’s affairs, discussing business and family matters. Wearing flowing, white kurta pajamas, they stand in the narrow lanes, waiting for more friends to join them. Often, this is how life passes every day.

 

travel photographer tourism india uttar pradesh moradabad metalworkers brass artisans 25501 Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

In a street nearby, artisans work together, moulding a base for a new brass vessel. Home to skilled craftsmen, the city is widely known to be a treasure chest of handicrafts and brassware. In Old Moradabad’s busy alleys and clogged streets, these artisans pore over their work, oblivious to the world around them, listening only to the constant humming of their tools.

 

travel photographer tourism india uttar pradesh moradabad metalworker brass artisan 25509 Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

Outside his home, another artisan holds a brass plate down with his foot as he hammers along its edges to create a pattern. A neat pile of new plates is stacked near him, yet he does not waste a moment in admiring his masterpieces. In Moradabad, time is precious; by the late afternoon, the activities in the market close by grind work to a halt.

 

travel photographer tourism india uttar pradesh moradabad ramganga river buffalos 25552 4 Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

Down at the Ramganga, buffaloes enjoy a dip, away from the heat and dust of the city. Neck-deep in the shallow part of the river they wallow lazily, before they are led back to the farm.

 

travel photographer tourism india uttar pradesh moradabad ramganga bridge colourful saris 25581 Muslims and metalworkers: A day in Moradabad

It is when the roads to town start emptying, and the sun slowly begins to set, that the women come out of their homes again. They make their way to the bridge to collect their day’s washing, and return home, carrying bundles of colourful cotton above their heads. Tomorrow, at the first call to prayer, they will rise again.

 

To make you laugh – A postcard from Shanti Nagar in Bangalore

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the phrase, “only in India”, following some apparently bizarre happening or other. (It’s not something that only expats say, I hasten to add.) Yesterday, as I was walking through the Shanti Nagar neighbourhood of Bangalore – where I have been based for the past few months – I witnessed the latest such scene. I snapped a shot of it with the only camera I had handy, the one in-built in my Samsung Duos smartphone, so as to make this postcard for you:

hungry goat bangalore To make you laugh   A postcard from Shanti Nagar in Bangalore

Lunchtime for goats: A postcard from Shanti Nagar in India’s IT hub, Bangalore.

 

Come to think of it, it’s perhaps not that surprising that a goat should be found climbing whatever it can in order to gain a vertical advantage in its quest for nourishment. Shanti Nagar is a neighbourhood of contrasts, with upper-middle class and less well-off families nestled side-by-side, and the modern juxtaposed with the traditional. Evidently, a family that chooses to rear and consume its own animals for its sustenance lives close by to another that uses an SUV to get around and no doubt sources its food solely from local shops.

This, one might say, is what happens when these two worlds collide.

Seasons Greetings from Bangalore, India!

It’s a little-known fact that I can also cook! This year’s ‘Seasons Greetings’ card from Robin Wyatt Vision bears testimony to this, being of a traditionally British Christmas pudding that I whipped up for seven friends while in Bangalore, India this Christmas.

christmas pudding bangalore Seasons Greetings from Bangalore, India!

Seasons Greetings from Robin Wyatt Vision!

 

The bigger challenge was actually sourcing the ingredients for my favourite recipe by Delia Smith. Some of them had to be constructed from their various sub-ingredients. For example, I could buy candied mixed peel in a British supermarket, but in Bangalore I had to chop up the fruit peel myself and boil it in sugary water. All good fun! But perhaps not as fun as pouring brandy over the pudding and setting it alight, which I did to my friends’ delight right after capturing this image.

Wherever you are in the world at this festive time – whether you’re celebrating Christmas, the New Year or both – I wish you glad tidings and every success for the year ahead.

The Photographer’s Workflow – Essential reading by Gavin Gough

My decision to become a photographer followed a lot of soul-searching, as my regular readers know well. I didn’t feel satisfied in my earlier career, but for a long time didn’t have clarity on what I should do instead. I had a checklist of things that I wanted from my new career, which you’ll find in one of my earliest journal pieces, So I decided to become a photographer…. #6 on this list is the one I’ve found hardest to achieve: “It should not involve constant computer usage”. I can confidently place a tick by all the other ten requirements on this list now that I’m a photographer, yet I still spend the bulk of my time in this career staring at a computer because there are so many tasks to complete after the pressing of the shutter button on my camera before an image is ready for my client.

So for me, Gavin Gough’s new eBook, The Photographer’s Workflow, was just the ticket. ‘Workflow’ doesn’t exactly sound like the most inspiring subject for a 130-page book, but Gavin has clearly spent considerable time making his creation a pleasure to read. It’s full of his compelling and uplifting imagery, step-by-step idiot-proof instructions illustrated with screenshots from Adobe Lightroom 4 and exercises to help you practise the time-saving and efficiency-gaining things you’re learning. And it’s more than just an eBook: in the package you’ll also get links to a number of free online video tutorials, 65 Lightroom 4 development presets to help give your processing a more consistent linear structure and a series of Lightroom ‘smart collections’ that pretty much copy-paste Gavin’s years of experience in building a step-by-step workflow for managing his digital photographs right into your own copy of Lightroom. That’s quite a privilege! All for only $30.

gavin gough photographers workflow cascade The Photographers Workflow   Essential reading by Gavin Gough

If this is something that interests you, chances are you’re a photographer, whether professional, aspiring professional or amateur. As a photographer, I think the chances are also good that you’re more of a visual person than someone who’s keen to read a lot of text. So rather than me continuing to wax lyrical about what this book has to offer, here’s a great little video that Gavin himself has put together: