Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pictures from Darjeeling

Exactly a year ago today I arrived in Darjeeling, India, so I guess it's about time for me to post some pictures. Trying to take photography "seriously" seems to have greatly increased the latency in actually doing anything with my pictures. I took some of my favorite photographs from my whole India trip during my 4 days in Darjeeling. It's a small enough place that after a few days of wandering around I felt like I started to get to know it --- at least more so than with the other cities I visited in India. Three themes in particular captured my attention: the challenges of getting water to a hill town, the spectacular flowers, and the bountiful markets. Darjeeling is perched on the crest of a hill that rises thousands of feet above the surrounding valleys, and the people of Darjeeling have demonstrated extraordinary creativity in finding ways to bring water to their homes. There are brilliantly painted heavy-duty water tankers, old pickups with cisterns or tanks strapped to the back and sagging with the weight, braided conglomerations of small-gauge water pipe running on the ground or even hung like power lines between buildings, and hand-carts loaded down with huge water jugs. The one thing I didn't see was any kind of centrally-controlled municipal water supply or pumping system. I was also inspired by the prevalence of growing things, especially flowers. It seemed that every porch and banister and window of every house was lined with beautiful, overflowing potted flowers and other plants. There were even cages on the sides of buildings in the city where people would grow their flowers, padlocked behind chicken-wire-screened doors. No visitor or photographer should miss the markets and street vendors. Stalls piled high with grains, fruit, vegetables, spices, dried fish, not to mention every grade and preparation of Darjeeling tea imaginable. I visited some of the touristy sites, but my favorite memories are of strolling along the back roads and through the markets, pausing frequently to sit back and observe the colorful, unfiltered, and vivid life of this city.

Darjeeling and vicinity