Mini Architectural Details Photo Essay

I've been a bit "frozen", lately, creatively speaking, Lost in the struggle between creating what I love and creating/promoting that which sustains me financially. I've been trying to shake things up more and follow my passion(s).

So today, on what is to date the warmest day of our pre-monsoon season here in the Himalayan foothills, I decided it was well past time to go out for another photo walk. As I descended the stairs of my building, I chose the theme of "In My Street" for this jaunt.

I live in a relatively quiet residential side street of town, away from the bustling cafes, tourist shops and temples. One might think there is nothing of interest here to photograph, I can guarantee you the locals sure thought it was bizarre that I was taking pictures of the sides of buildings! I was even asked by one couple why I was taking pics of their house. I had to show them that it was all abstract photography and architectural details, and explain my passion for abstract geometrics and how they might be used in other photo art projects related to life in our community. Thankfully that seemed to satisfy them!

Here are a few of the scenes that I shot today. If you like them please consider sharing (with credit, of course) on twitter, facebook, pinterest and beyond.

All images copyright Tammy Winand and may not be used without my written consent. For usage permissions or to download as stock, please visit my galleries at:
*MostPhotos (largest selection of India, Nepal, Tibetan and Himalayan imagery)
*dreamstime stock

The Lollipop Kids: Kids Being Kids Part One

It is mid-afternoon on a crazy weather day here in the Himalaya of Himachal Pradesh, with thunder, hail, snow, and sun warm enough to walk outside barefoot, and I suddenly remembered that I had planned to post here today. It has been a hectic week, mainly because I adopted a very young kitten who has no concerns for my work or schedule.

At any rate, this week's post is the first of several I will make on kids being kids. Life for children in this region can be complicated and difficult, not more so for any particular culture or ethnic group, but because life here is, well, a challenge. 

Still, childhood has certain joys and freedoms not shared by adults. At least not as freely and openly! The freedom to make sure your tongue acquires a particular color from your lollipop is one of them.
Really Enjoying the Taste

Eyes Popping Out of her Head with Joy

My Sucker Matches My Muffler

And So Does My Tongue

All images copyright Tammy Winand and may not be used without my written consent. For usage permissions or to download as stock, please visit my galleries at:
*MostPhotos (largest selection of India, Nepal, Tibetan and Himalayan imagery)
*dreamstime stock

2016 Brings New Goals and Directions

Happy New Year 2016! I hope you all celebrated a safe and joyful holiday season, regardless of what or how you celebrate.

I've been back in northern India since mid-October 2015. The image below shows you the view of the hilltop ridge where I reside viewed from lower in the valley.
McleodGanj Hill Station, HP, India viewed from road to Dharamsala

There are a multitude of cultures and cultural celebrations around this region. I try to appreciate and celebrate the best of all of them. It is not always easy. Some people are much more open to sharing than others, and sometimes those who are willing have language barriers that make understanding one another difficult.

The Tibetan exile community is here, as well as large numbers of Kashmiris, Nepalis, local Indian peoples including the Gaddi tribe, and of course "westerners" from all over the world.
Over the past months my photography has shifted more and more towards candid street and cultural documentary work. I love being emerged in a culture so vastly foreign from mine, although it can be equally as frightening as exhilarating. I am trying to overcome my fears and capture some of the unique aspects of life here that folks back "home" never have a chance to experience.

I hope you enjoy these sample images of the various people of my adopted hometown going about their daily business.
Man Wearing Pahari topi style hat typical to Himachal Pradesh state and regions of Nepal 

Himachal Pradesh traffic policeman stationed area of His Holiness Dalai Lama temple

Taxi Union Drivers Waiting for Business

Local Gaddi Shepherdess Tribeswoman Knitting as she walks with Flock of Sheep

Ladakhi Woman at Human Rights Day Events in Dalai Lama Temple

Tibetan Mother with Child Teething on Hard Churra (dri yak cheese)

Beautiful Old Tibetan Woman Whose Face Speaks of Her Life Experience

Adorable Elderly Tibetan Man Listening to Human Rights Day Speech
Kashmiri in Main Square waiting for Business (I think as a Coolie/Porter)

In the past most of my work has been with the Tibetan community. I am making a conscious effort to expand my horizons moving forward! I still feel uncomfortable approaching most people but instead choose to shoot from a distance using my camera's 42x optical zoom.

My goal for 2016 is to post regular "mini" photo essays of different local ethnic groups, or mixed shots illustrating related themes of candid street scenes.

I hope you will enjoy the journeys with me, be they around McleodGanj or fruther afield in my upcoming travels to Pokhara, Nepal and Ladakh during spring and summer!

All images copyright Tammy Winand and may not be used without my written consent. For usage permissions or to download as stock, please visit my galleries at:
*MostPhotos (largest selection of India, Nepal, Tibetan and Himalayan imagery)
*dreamstime stock

Jagdish Mandir in Udaipur Rajasthan

       The beautiful Jagdish Mandir (temple) in Udaipur is one of the city's main attractions. An amazing example of 17th century architecture from a style known as Maru-Gurjara, a combination for the ancient regional names of Rajasthan and Gujarat, states which historically had ethnic, cultural, and political ties with one another.

       The temple was completed in 1651 AD by Maharana Jagat Singh, known as the greatest builder of the Mewar dynasty in Rajasthan. It features elaborate stone carved facades depicting wildlife, particularly elephants and horses, as well as figures of royalty and deities. 

Figures Carved in Jagdish Mandir Temple Udaipur

Sadhus Seated Around Jagdish Mandir

More Carved Figures on Jagdish Mandir Facade

All images copyright Tammy Winand and may not be used without my written consent. For usage permissions or to download as stock, please visit my galleries at:
*MostPhotos (largest selection of India, Nepal, Tibetan and Himalayan imagery)
*dreamstime stock

Reflections on Las Vegas from a Part Time Resident

I arrived in Las Vegas for the first time on 19 October 2014 after finishing the work season at Grand Canyon National Park North Rim. I was both terrified and excited, having heard both thrilling stories of partying and leading a glamorous life on The Strip, as well as horror stories of drunks, destitution, and danger away from the tourist areas.

I spent a fabulous first week exploring the glitz of The Strip, and spending far too much money.

Following that week of fun, I had to learn not to be afraid of the walk from our weekly apartment several blocks north of downtown on Fremont Street, passing by groups of homeless, avoiding the attempted pick ups by men in passing cars.

As a photographer, I tried to turn my attention to aspects of the city that most visitors never see, yet not focus on obvious subjects.

I decided to shoot architectural abstracts, reflections, graffiti and street art. There are a fascinating array of shapes and forms in the everyday details. I added a great number of these to my instagram acccount.

Here are a few of my favorite non instagram images from my early days in Vegas.
Fremont Street Experience

Sunset from the Pool of Golden Nugget

Not All is Perfect in Vegas

Chandelier Detail

Today is my last day in Las Vegas for the foreseeable future.

Looking forward:
I am on my way back to live and work at Grand Canyon National Park South Rim, where I first entered this seasonal work lifestyle back in February 2007. I have not been there since early 2009, and am anxious to return. I have always thought of it as home, in many ways.

Over the coming weeks and months I intend to concentrate my blog posts on various aspects of life in Grand Canyon Village that will be unfamiliar to most vacationers to the park. From details of canyon geology to sweeping canyon skies, from unique off trail perspectives to more unique and bizarre image series that I'll surprise you with in the future!

My next planned post will be a feature on the Route 66 wall murals in Flagstaff, Arizona en route to South Rim!

Resurrecting the Dead

I have been pondering, once again, whether it is possible for me to resurrect the dead.
The dead, in this case, of course, being this blog.
At the very least, like a volcano, it was been dormant for a couple of years!

I find it very difficult to stick to a regular posting schedule. Sometimes I find myself living in remote locations for several months at a time. Internet is not always available. At other times, my work schedule makes finding time to post complicated. I maintain multiple social media sites and sales profiles for my work that take precedence.

I have been doing a decent job, I think, adding to my photography portfolios the past week or so.
Maybe it is time to take the leap and commit to blogging again, too?

I suppose it will become clear as the days ahead slip behind...

Shopping for Souvenirs in Kathmandu

       One of the joys of traveling to another country, especially one as exotic as Nepal, is the thrill of bringing home unique souvenirs of another culture, generally something that represents an authentic bit of the place we experienced. But how do you know what to look for? How do you know what you are bringing home is a genuine cultural piece and not just something the vendor whipped up to make a few quick rupees?

       Unfortunately, unless you are in a remote village or have an honest native guide, most of the pieces you find in tourist areas or on the street are not going to be the same as those used by locals. This doesn't mean they aren't regional products or not something a local would use, just that they are most likely cheap copies. You can combat this to some extent, if you are staying more than a few days, by trying to observe where the area's residents shop.

Ceremonial Tibetan Buddhist Paraphernalia at a Shop Frequented by Locals 

       Thamel is where most westerners seem to head, the neighborhood which gained popularity as the destination for hippies, musicians and artists. This is where you will be overwhelmed by tourist trinkets and the most over-anxious vendors who try to charm you into a purchase. Be wary and always bargain as hard as you are comfortable. Don't be embarrassed to walk away if a "deal" simply does not suit your budget or integrity. 

       In Boudhanath, a major Buddhist pilgrimage site, the community is a mix of different Nepalese ethnic groups and Tibetans. Good souvenir choices here include fabrics and Tibetan Buddhist artifacts ranging from jewelry to handheld prayer wheels to thangka tapestries and statues. Many items, including deity masks, furniture and tea services, are new but designed with aged, distressed finishes. Beware the shopkeeper who tries to sell you one of these pieces for an exorbitant price, claiming it is an authentic ancient artifact.

       Most travelers to Nepal and India have heard that they should bargain and barter. The general rule of thumb is to offer roughly half the original asking price and then be prepared to face a few counter offers. Even that might be more than what a savvy local would pay. Unless you are an expat living in the area long term, you are almost certain never to get a local price. Nonetheless, the price you get can be a great one. Just remember never to pay the original asking price or offer what you think a particular item might cost "at home"

Ghau Prayer Boxes and Other Jewelry Displayed Outside Shop in Boudhanath, Kathmandu, Nepal

Buddha Statues, Prayer Wheels and Trinkets Outside a Shop in Boudha District

       Try to visit areas away from the main tourist centers when bargain hunting. Backpackers guides often offer great tips on those locations. Shopkeepers in these locations are much more appreciative of extra business and less willing to lose a sale than vendors in the heavily tourist trafficked areas.

Incense Burners for Buddhist Offerings and Prayer Beads 
       A final tip: Head to the shops early in the morning, as soon as you notice they are open. It is considered bad luck for the day's business to lose the first customer of the day, so this is usually when you will find the best deals.  In my personal experience, if you are diligent, you may be able to get up to 400% off what the average tourist pays.

The Changing Tibetan Language

The following is an excerpt from Everyday Exile: Life in the Tibetan Settlements of India and Nepal,  by Tammy Winand.

       One of the topics which always interested me in my observations of the Tibetan exile community is the evolution of the culture's native language since the 1959 diaspora in Nepal, India and Bhutan (and now beyond, in western countries) following the Chinese occupation.

       Within Tibet, there are numerous regional dialects of Tibetan. A native of Amdo province may have difficulty communicating verbally with a native of U-Tsang. Since the occupation, it is not unusual for them to have to resort to the Chinese taught in schools to communicate with one another. In some places in Tibet, Tibetan language is no longer taught.
Tibetan U-Chen Style Script Chart


       New arrivals from Tibet to the exile communities express difficulty in understanding, sometimes even recognizing, the local dialect as Tibetan. Again, they must often use Chinese to speak with other Tibetans. I witnessed this first hand among the residents of Gu Chu Sum Ex-Political Prisoner Association.

       Dharamsala area officials tell me all new arrivals are offered standard Tibetan language classes when they are matriculated into the community (at Tibetan Transit School). All children born in exile are taught Tibetan language in the school system. However, there are still those who fall through the cracks, whether they somehow arrive undocumented or do not, for whatever reason, attend the offered classes.

        In the Tibetan exile communities of India and Nepal, the influence of Hindi and English on the language is apparent. In local dialect, words such as “pey-cha” (a corruption of the Hindi “paisa”, a monetary unit) and “aloo” (Hindi for potato) are typically used in place of the respective Tibetan “go mo” and “sho gko” for money and potato.

       Walking in the street, one is as likely to hear Tibetan children speaking English or Hindi as Tibetan. Some high school students only want to speak in English with westerners, for various reasons, often refusing to speak Tibetan even with foreigners who are conversant.
Students at TCV Lower in McleodGanj Using English After Class

       A geshe from Lhasa who has been in India more than two decades told me that when he had a chance to return to visit friends and family in Tibet, they asked him jokingly “Where are you from?” because, they told him, his speech had become “very strange”.

       In November 2010, school students from McLeodGanj organized “Language Preservation” marches, circling the town square and 2 main streets with cards showing the Tibetan alphabet. They took pledges to speak and preserve the Tibetan language, with certain days (Lhakhar, aka White Wednesday) where they will only speak Tibetan. Some communities in Tibet are also applying this pledge, refusing to speak Chinese in shops within Tibetan areas, and imposing fines for every Chinese word used.
Tibetan Youth in Dharamsala Signing Pledges for Freedom of Language Language Solidarity March, November 2010

Tibetan Faces Travel Portrait Series Launched

My new photography series, Tibetan Faces travel portraits, features the people of the exile settlements in India and Nepal. It explores the concept of "what is a Tibetan?" and examines how traditions battle with modern influence in their evolving society. 

Image #1 shows a young Tibetan girl in a traditional chupa dress attending festivities at Tsuglakhang, the main temple, the week of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's birthday in 2011.

The second feature is a touching image of a grandmother and her grandchildren, this time wearing modern western everyday clothing, at the same festival.                                                                                            

Over the coming days and weeks, I will post a variety of images from the Tibetan exile communities showing people going about various aspects of their daily lives. These images show some at their most traditional, both in costume and ritual, and others who choose to present their most modern westernized selves. 

If you are interested in reading much more about the Tibetan exile communities in India and Nepal, please visit my Amazon books by Tammy Winand page

I am currently fundraising to return for further volunteer work in the Tibetan community. My next project will focus on challenges faced by Tibetan women, particularly nuns. Please consider making a donation. Thank you.

Udaipur City Palace

Let me apologize for the gap since my last post. I am running a multitude of projects at multiple sites, and at times one takes a back seat to the others.

In addition, I've been doing a lot of deep inner work regarding processing the past three years of my life, as the past week was the third anniversary of my arrival in the Indian town (McLeodGanj, Upper Dharamsala) which became my second home!
I am now fundraising for my return to India, a trip which will be part pilgrimage and part research for my next book.

But without further ado, let's continue the photo retrospective.

We left off with an overview of Udaipur, a fabled destination in the state of Rajasthan.
Today we are going to visit the city's amazing City Palace.

From the roof of my hotel, the exterior of City Palace seemed like a fairy tale.
Udaipur City Palace Exterior 

The palace grounds are splendid, filled with fountains and gardens.
As usual, I declined a tour guide (unwilling to pay the extra fee on my limited budget) and wandered deeper into the site, where I spotted these guards on their magnificent horses.
Mounted Palace Guards
The interior features ornate carvings, hand painted murals, gilded statues both sacred and secular, graceful lantern fixtures and mirrored ceilings and walls.

As part of the experience, a boat tour is offered, which takes visitors on a cruise around Lake Pichola, including a stop at another famous site, Jag Mandir, which I will feature in my next entry.
From the boat, the magnificent lines of the massive palace can best be appreciated.

Udaipur Overview

I arrived in Udaipur, the City of Lakes, in mid November 2009 after a 17 hour over-night train journey from Mumbai and checked into a budget backpacker's guesthouse in the Old City.

My first impressions were of the contrast between the splendor of the amazing historic architectural landmarks and the poor sanitation of the modern streets. Again, I was overwhelmed by the culture of haggling at shops and my own feelings of embarrassment as I made cultural behavioral bloopers.

Sadhu on Bench near Lake Pichola

From my Sacred Sojourns blog, written 3 days into my Udaipur stay:

"Udaipur…what can I say about the almost magical beauty yet jolting realities of this place?

Imagine, if you can, being in a medieval world, where royalty holds sway in palaces (both real and metaphorical) and common folk struggle to survive in narrow streets teaming with animals and refuse, where open sewage gutters flow in front of luxury restaurants.

Imagine the sounds of dogs, donkeys, cows and locals echoing off plaster walls competing with motorbike engines and auto horns. Imagine muezzin’s prayer calls resounding from mosques throughout the day and Hindu chanting emanating from lakefront temples, competing with modern Bollywood music blaring from rooftop boom boxes and the sounds of construction.

Streets meander past fabulously painted and ornately carved doors and windows and intricate building facades. Shop fronts overflow with richly colored saris and pashminas, traditional antique silver and semi-precious stone jewelry, hand-tooled leather journals, and statues of various Hindu gods in all sizes, old and new. Fruit and vegetable sellers ply their goods between cyber cafes and mobile phone shops.

From the rooftops, especially at dawn and sunset/dusk, the city seems to float above Lake Pichola, as if emerging from or sinking into a dream. Five hundred year old palace ramparts rise on one side, ghats lined with shops and temples on the other, and in the shimmering lake, the mirage-like Jag Mandir and gleaming white Lake Palace complete the scene.

The incongruities of India continue to astound me, sometimes with laughter, sometimes with fears and tears. You never know what will happen next, here."
Cows Grazing in front of Vegetarian Cooking Class Sign

Schoolgirls Walking Behind Construction Pack Animals

Motorbike Parked Beside Traditional Rajasthani Wall Mural

Udaipur, I feel,  was where I finally began to embrace being in India.

Heads up! If you love these images from Udaipur, my FREE iTunes app Rajasthan: Wet and Dry is sure to delight you. Get it for your iPhone or iPad FREE now!