Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
With this week's Photo Hunt theme being "old-fashioned" it is my very great privilege to take you on a tour of the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta (now Kolkata). This shot (above) was taken in late October 2006, shortly after 7.30 in the morning, before the sun had burnt off the mist that shrouds the city like a veil of antique lace. There is an ethereal beauty to this extraordinary landmark of the city where I was born and I have to admit I had a lump in my throat when I pressed the shutter to capture this scene.
The Victoria Memorial is a white marble building that was built between 1906 and 1921. Mate, there are palaces around the world that aren't as majestic as this place. The huge angel atop the central dome is called the Angel of Victory. It's made of bronze and has ball bearings beneath its pedestal because it serves as a graceful weather vane. Yes, it still turns, despite its massive weight.
This is part of the ornate gateway (above) leading into the parkland that surrounds the Victoria Memorial. It was built to honour Queen Victoria, who was the Empress of India until her death in 1901. Calcuttans refer to it as the "VM" and the bus conductors - in that wonderful quirky telegraphic language of theirs - call it "Toria Moria".
This shot (above) was taken inside the grounds, as I walked across the vast moats that surround the expanse of parkland. When I was very little, my Dad (who knew everything about everything) told me that the moats were not just decorative and that they were designed in keeping with the foundations of the building.
This was the last shot (above) I took in the sequence that morning. I had walked back to a friend's car. I mopped my brow in the humidity and sank into the back seat of his Mercedes, my camera bag at my feet. "Finished?" he asked me. I nodded. I was done - and I was exhausted. He started the car but before he could move, I yelled out to him not to put it into drive. He looked at me as if I was mad. I reached for my camera, took the lens cap off and shot this final frame of the Victoria Memorial reflected in his wing mirror.