Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dancing Queen

This money has a hollow ring to it

Photo copyright: DAVID McMAHON

This Balinese figure of a dancer caught my attention in a shop in Ubud. Apart from the poise and grace of the figure, the body itself seemed a trifle unusual as well. It was only when I looked closer that I realised it was constructed of what seemed to be rings with hollow centres. When I asked the shop owner, he explained the figure was actually fashioned from ancient coins with the centres punched out of them.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Umbilical Corda

Vegemite Vindaloo: The North Point feedback

`Sursum Corda' is the motto of my alma mater, St Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling. It is Latin for ``lift up your hearts'' and the Himalayan boarding school created special bonds among students of every background and religion; bonds that exist today, two decades or more after we graduated from one of the more extraordinary educational institutions in the world.

The umbilical cord (or umbilical Corda, as the case may be) that still connects is with what we fondly refer to as ``the school on the hill'' still exists, as you'll see from these emails received from alumnus all round the world.

``Just to let you know that I picked up a copy of 'Vegemite Vindaloo' from India Book House when I passed through Calcutta a few days ago.
I haven't started on it yet but on first glance and reading a little here and there, it's definitely given me the impression of being catchy and an easy read for anybody. I'm really looking forward to going through it and shall give you later impressions....later.
My brother who lives in Hong Kong, and who attended the NP reunion in Chiangmai last year, was with me when I purchased the book so, this gave me another opportunity to gloat about famous people I had the privilege of attending the same school with.
Anyway, we are all so proud of your book. Keep 'em coming.......''
Ashok Sadhwani

``Ashok, kindly mail me your copy of this book when you get back stateside! Or buy an extra copy and let me know what it cost. It is evidently unavailable here, and we want to boost David's royalties don't we? :-) Congrats David. One of these days we'll make it to the southern hemisphere.''
Farhad Anklesaria

``Well done. I read about your book while browsing on a domestic Indian flight. I think it was Swagat, the Indian Airlines inflight magazine. Is this your first novel? Keep them rolling out.
So you can rest assured that they read about you 33,000 ft above sea level! And David, your photographs are good on the blog site. It takes an artist to drink in nature's colours that we often forget to notice in fruits and vegetables. Keep banging the keyboard, wordsmith.''
Jugu Abraham

``It gives me great pride to tell some of my pals and colleagues that this author and I were in the same school.''
Siddhartha Bhattacharjee

``I guess i will have to go to DC to the Library of Congress & swipe their copy! Great to see the responses of our NP brethren. We are all very proud of you, me lad!''
Nowshir and Avi Bilimoria

``Rich & Famous? Congratulations! Fr. Tucker's classes paid off. Been a while, keep in touch,
and all the best in life.''
Ashok Malhotra

``You should be putting the acknowledgement to the school magazine that gave u the foundation to the story writing that you do so well now. Please keep a newsletter going thru the net if possible. That way we all can share in your exploits and more.''
Prashant Mohapatra

``I was at a party today and bragging to all my friends about the great author who has written this fantastic book, who was my junior in school. Keep it up. Sursum Corda!''
Rajesh Poddar

``Congratulations, David, and thanks, Ashok, for the news about the book. I am looking forward to reading the novel.''
Soumitra Ghosh

``I've just finished reading your book and I must say "it was fantastic!" It is so relevant to the
Anglo-Indian community of Kolkata. Who better can understand the sentiments of this book than us Kolkatans.
Do let me know when you write the next one. I would like to read it. An autographed copy would be welcome. This time not because you are from NP but because I loved your writing. I've come across the word 'dame' after more than 3 decades. I'm passing this book on to Cyrus Madan who also wants to read it.
I would however like to make a few observations that I have. They are facts as I know them. You may have had your reasons to make the subtle changes while writing
the book or I could be wrong.
The serai (earthen pot) is actually the SURAHI. You have probably spelt is as the Anglo Indians pronounce it.
The red chillis are taken in a clenched fist which is then swirled around the head and then the chillis thrown in the kitchen fire. If there is smoke with chilli fumes the evil spirits are thought to have been driven away. If not this has to be repeated. This is a very North Indian superstition which is followed in Rajasthan, UP and a bit in Bihar.
Rajesh Poddar

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Looking For Dawn Corleone

The land of the rising stun
Photo copyright: DAVID McMAHON

This photograph was taken at dawn on Sanur Beach, Bali, Indonesia. The tide was out and the shallows were great pools of reflection that mirrored the clouds, the rising sun and the many subtleties of light. The clouds were particularly interesting, for it seemed as though there were several types on the horizon (maybe someone would care to identify them for me in a comment here), with one particular string of cloud arcing across the path of the sun. I took a couple of shots before I moved three or four metres back on the warm sand of the beach. There, the foliage overhead, with assorted palm fronds and some branches I could not identify, fringed the frame to make it a bit different from a stock-standard sunrise picture.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Trunk And Disorderly

They're taking us to tusk

Photo copyright: DAVID McMAHON

This picture was taken at the Elephant Safari Park in Bali, Indonesia. I guess you'd call it the equivalent of a give-way sign. I'm assuming that ``hati-hati'' is the Indonesian translation for ``caution'' or ``Oi, dopey, look for elephants before you cross the road here''. Curiously enough, ``haathi'' is the Hindi word for elephant.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Beyond A Chateau Of Doubt

The power of the tower

Photo copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Photo copyright: DAVID McMAHON
The Chateau Frontenac is without a doubt the single most outstanding symbol of Quebec City. Standing over both the Upper Town and the Lower Town and dominating the skyline like a silent sentinel, it is an amazing piece of architecture to photograph - in any light, in any weather and at any time of day. The first picture, a rather unusual angle if I may say so, was taken so that I could include the statue of Samuel Champlain, founder of the city, in the same frame. It was a challenging equation. The second frame was one of several shot in the courtyard of the Chateau. To view more of my images of the Chateau, visit Toronto-based Margaret Deefholts' e-zine, Encounter, at http://www.margaretdeefholts.com/encounter/davidmcmahonphotos-july06.html

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Watch the cliff, Richard

Boast cards from the edge

Photo copyright: DAVID McMAHON
This shot was taken at the Bunda Cliffs on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. This arresting sight is, quite literally, the edge of Australia. I hiked for about a kilometre to take it, because I wanted to get the long sweep of the sheer cliffs in the right perspective.
It's in these waters that the Southern Right whales come up from Antarctica to calve - an amazing, hypnotic sight if you are privileged to see them up close. Their stately presence is a nice comment on human awareness, because coastal South Australia, of course, is where you can still see the remains of some of the old whaling stations.
Here's a bit of trivia - the Bunda Cliffs and the whales get a mention in my first novel, `Vegemite Vindaloo'.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sunset boulevard

Ray, a drop of golden sun

Photo copyright: DAVID McMAHON
Appearances can be deceptive. The golden-amber orb of the sun in this frame suggests that the picture was taken at the end of a long, scorching summer day, but it was actually taken on a freezing cold winter evening. I was standing above the sloping paddocks of Narre Warren, in southeast Melbourne, with my camera at the ready, as the sun sank.
For a few seconds, the bank of cloud took on an azure hue, then the sun descended into the narrow sliver of clear sky between the horizon and the cloud base. It seemd to cast a horizontal sea of molten gold as far as the eye could see.
Then, just as dramatically, it was gone, leaving just a few streaks of slender pink raking across the sky. I guess I could stand there every evening and the view would be entirely different.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Crate Expectations

The fruits of their labour

Photo copyright: DAVID McMAHON

This picture was shot at a market in Montreal, where the tubs and crates of strawberries, blueberries, red and green grapes, cranberries, apricots, raisins and a continuing array of fruit just seemed to go on forever. It was a fruit cocktail just waiting to happen.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Cherry Springer Show

It's Blooming Obvious

Photo copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Photo copyright: DAVID McMAHON

With two months of winter behind us in chilly Melbourne, the past couple of weeks have brought not just thick ice on the cars overnight and lingering, brittle frost on the lawns, but also vivid reminders that spring is only four weeks away. All round the city you can see brilliant pink blooms on the cherry trees, like explosions of fairy floss.

The first of these two pictures was taken just around the corner from where I live, yet the second shot, taken on my own nature strip, shows two plane trees that are completely bare against the winter sky. The plane trees will start sprouting shortly, not with blossoms, just with the beautiful maple-shaped leaves that are broader than the span of an adult hand.

Meanwhile, I'm looking for an orchardist called Tom, who specialises in cherry trees. You want to know why? Because that would be a classic example of the Tom and Cherry Show.