From Lucknow to Maha Kumbh Mela 2013

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I think this is the only shot I took in Lucknow. It was straight off the plane and into the hands of a bunch of 20 something white people who navigated the financials with a taxi driver to take us on the “2.5” hour drive to Allahabad which ended up being 5.5 hours. There were 5 of us in the car, 2 russians 2 yanks and an Austrian. The russians were a Teacher~Learner Combo the austrian was an intellectual student and then there was me and Charlie.

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The landscape up here is quite different to Goa, but not insanely different, the views from the car window were very serene the kind of image of India Id expected to see when I first got here. Unfortunately I had no time to get out and shoot any images. However every 30 minutes there was a small town and though similar they were all different. I wont know what the names of them ar until I have a better connection and the time to go through my GPS and google earth..

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This town apparently doesnt like cars..

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20 minute cram job traffic jam where EVERYone sits on the car horn whilst waiting for something they have zero control over -the train- passes through. –note the guy in the middle of the pic taking a piss! This is something I will miss back in the US, just being able to whip it out like we were kids in Ireland and take a whizz behind a bush or do it india Style and just letter rip in full view..

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The first view I had of the Ganga river (Ganges) was through the linearity of the passing two dimensional stage sets that are life as you you drive by in a car..

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Mother Ganga, this is one of 20 or so pontoon bridges built by the Army Core of Engineers a long time ago, they are still as functional as they were back whenever they were built, and they provide a striking visual narrative to traversing this giant river.

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My first visual exploration of my Ashram or Camp was to not shoot it but to shoot out the back and see whats over the wall.. MILLIONS of heavy canvas army tents provided for free to anyone who wants to use them. Straw floors, a trench for shit and piss, and a faucet for every 50 tents. Functional and luxury for some. I saw some families inside these tents with their own lamps and fired going inside the tents, the tent material is a very heavy oiled canvas with moisture inside. theres a small flap for a vent which is completely ineffectual, but to locals that level of smoke is acceptable.

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In stark contrast, my room, has power, two lights, three mattresses and a flushing non indian style toilet and hot and cold water… I feel a bit of a fraud having this luxury but since the storms hit I feel ok about being a fraud.

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The fisrt thing I see the morning of the 13th. The color is so intense that even in shade the camera cant even begin to describe the colors accurately.

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The crowd at this years Mela is varied..

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This is a typical Ashram entrance, the workmanship is impressive, some of these things are 40 stories hight and are made from relief painted canvas stretched over intricate bamboo infrastructure. The work is really amazing. This particular one is all of the above plus sculpted polystyrene.

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Lunch was very kindly provede by the Brahman monks who sit on mats in rows and are given plates made from banana leaves which are stitched together with twigs, and then steam pressed to look like prison plates!!! and these are amazing, completely biodegradable and for all you wankers out there organic too. This chap definitely wanted to have his picture taken and after I did he arranged for us to get dinner. After the meal the monks are handed 10 Rupee notes as a blessing, and I expected that Id have to pay so I offered and I got laughed it by 200 monks!

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This is the brahman guru and his sadhu who fed us. He recently had a haircut and he showed me his picture in the paper pre-cut and I recon he lost about 20 years after the cut. What a sweet guy, I took a bunch of pictures for him and he was just non stop friendly.

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This is one hell of a bridge.. and I have quite a few pictures of it. Taj Expressway Ring Road Bridge.

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Charlie sitting in the Naga Ashram (the name fails me now), and one of the Babas sat beside us and called him “Motorcycle Baba”

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Pop Corn! I swear I only saw this once in the whole time Ive been here!

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Ganga

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Ganga

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Theres a lot of these guy about, I dont think they are Babas and they are not Hari Krishna

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The end of the road I am on in Sector 9 on the way down to the Sangam where the bathe will occur.

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The white spots are Lye placed in a wicker bascket and plonked onto the ground to deposit just enough Lye to later be swept over the ground by someone else. The sanitation and littler control at the Kumbh is extremely impressive. Everything is done by hand, and every road is taken care of at night.

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Taj Expressway Ring Road Bridge.

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A fortune teller. The bird comes out of the cage and picks a card, and that card has your fortune on it. He gets the bird back in the cage by reaching around the back of the cage and pretending to feed it. Its impressive.

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The other famous bridge here is the railway bridge.. ohh if I could only get on top of that thing the image possibility would be incredible.. Its clearly a lot older then the other bridge as its redbrick. I dont know what its called but a name I found is Jhusi Railway..

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Nice handwriting

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Baba 1008 and the rest I cant even begin to spell or pronounce. His thing is peace and divinity through self awareness and his party trick is to drink out of a Human skull. These guys are all show men no doubt about it even though they say they are not.. He was a very nice guy a friend of Charlies, and he introduced me to two college professors who would like to work with me in the future.. !

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And then there are the complete show queens..

 

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