A Roll of Film in Lucknow

All frames shot by the author on Sunday, January 12, 2020. Minolta SRT 101. Lens used  was a Cosina 28-70 mm MC Macro. I have used this camera for almost fifty years at this point. Works perfectly. Kodacolor 200 film. Self developed by the author with Tetenal Colortec C-41 process. Aminabad Market is one of the main markets in Lucknow, India. The market is especially crowded on Sundays.

 

The Siege of Lucknow 1857: Images from the Residency in Lucknow, India

In 1856,the British overthrew the Dynasty of the Newab of Lucknow. The Newab was exiled to Calcutta (Kolkata). The next year, the Indians launched the first chapter in the “Indian War of Independence” for freedom from British rule. Some two thousand British perished. The buildings of the Residency still bear the bullet holes and scars from the battles in 1857. An interesting place to visit if one travels to Lucknow, the capitol of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

All images taken by the author on January 10, 2020. Leica M6 TTL Camera. Ilford HP5 Plus film (Pushed to ISO 1600). Hand developed with Kodak HC-110. 

 

India Trip Blog 10: Streets and Reproduction of Poverty

 

India Trip Blog 10 (11 January 2020) Streets and Reproduction of Poverty

11 January Saturday. 1:40 in the night. I was not sleeping, although I feel alright. So I turned on my light.

I started thinking about some things yesterday. I realized that it has become impossible to walk on these roads. I mean, one can sort of get along, but with a lot of difficulty, with all kinds of vehicles stopped on the roadsides. One has to walk around them, out into the street.

In some places, there are food sellers on the roads as in Calcutta. The roadside is so rough and cluttered with everything that it most certainly is not a pleasant experience.

I am always afraid of getting hit by a car or motorcycle when I have to walk around a vehicle, because they come so close. So I go, just gripping my bag. There might be a pleasanter, less cluttered part of the city. I don’t know. One has to experience it to see what is going on.

It was pleasant to be in the Residency yesterday with no traffic at all. And here, there is nothing anywhere to even stop the traffic. So there is no way to get across the road when the traffic is heavy. It seems that there is no concern for pedestrians in these Indian cities. It is always dangerous, because often these guys on motorcycles dart through the wrong side of the street, when one does not expect it. Or they just come directly at you. It makes for complete chaos. No rules, no regulations for the roads. Are they thinking about driverless vehicles here? No way!

Yesterday, coming back from the Residency, there was a complete lock of traffic in a crossroads. Buses, cars, auto rickshaws, motorcycles, even bicycles. Nothing could move at all for some minutes, because everyone was trying to get ahead of everyone else.

I started to think, deviously, well, the British were right. They cannot run the country on their own. But it does run, but by the most forceful forcing their way forward, these days, it seems.

In this chaos, few women are seen at all. The ones that I see along the roads look completely helpless if they are alone. Rather pitiful creatures. Here, I did not see girls on motor scooters, but I have seen a lot in other places, like Delhi. Or Calcutta maybe.

Having cars has made the situation more difficult for pedestrians. If one does not have wheels, they they are at a big disadvantage.

The shops along most roads are dirty, grungy, grimy, dark, crummy, poor, cluttered completely, of course. There is no place to walk except in the road where vehicles are parked in front of the shops.

Even, I swear to God, the auto rickshaw guy was honking at a cow in the street, lumbering down the middle of the street in complete chaos. Is that cow going to move over for the rickshaw? I just laughed. The cow did move.

It reminded me of Rodney Dangerfield’s joke about his wife honking at a tree before she hit it.

Sometimes one seemingly comes close to getting killed and the only thing that one can do is laugh about it.

I want those who have plans for society to come here and see this chaos. Just see it and think of it all over this vast country. Indeed, across several countries in Asia.

But comparing India to China, or any east Asian country, even leaving out Japan, there is surely a lot more discipline elsewhere.

I noticed in the pub that the waiters did not even bother to remove the empty bottles. One must remind them to do it. On the other hand, one would not expect highly trained waiters there!

But in a hotel restaurant, like the Mira Mann, it is much more professional.

The why things are going now, I can only see these streets and roads getting clogged with more and more traffic without underpasses or over passes and it is impossible to get across the road for most of the day and certainly in the evening. The surge of traffic goes up to midnight or longer.

It seems so out of balance to have a hotel door-man standing to open the door for you, dressed in some livery garb, just after one has risked their life trying to get across the street in front of the hotel.

Where is the possibility of a person walking confortably along a street? I don’t mean the right to walk. I mean the sheer possibility of it. Now that is nearly impossible. Crossing the street is very nearly impossible. I honestly believe that people who had not been here could not even imagine it. They would likely demand to get out of the country as quickly as possible. Still, I keep coming back, making the same mistake over and over, perhaps. But maybe not.

I don’t think that there is anything so fascinating, nearly so fascinating, in Disneyland as in the Indian streets. To tell the truth, Disneyland always bored me. Except perhaps for the very first time when I was very young at twenty-three. And it would be hard to find a ride in Disneyland that would be as exciting as the Indian streets. Certainly not nearly as dangerous, as that would not be allowed!

Well, it seems to me that it would be sobering to most in America and other “rich” countries to see how things are here in India right now. Is it this chaos that is meant by development? The mass replication of poverty? Producing wealth and technology and the mass production of poverty. Technology is not reducing poverty. It is the poor who are producing and now using it.

I was amazed at that section in Old Delhi, near the Old Delhi Railway Station. Hundreds of tiny shops, packed with, and selling technology. All the brands, fake or not fake. Maybe there is not a lot of difference sometimes. It was in a rather muddy lane that day, and there was the mass marketing of technology by small shopkeepers. I don’t know if they are getting rich. I guess a few of them might get lucky and get rich, but not many. I really do not know.

India Trip. Blog 9 The Lucknow Bar (January 10, 2020)

India Trip. Blog 9 Lucknow (January 10, 2020) The Lucknow Bar

8:15 Evening. A hell of an experience just now. I went out of the hotel and walked down the main road. I think the direction is to the south.

There were no restaurants around that I could see and it was quite hard to walk, sometimes, on the street. In some places, the sidewalk was blocked and there was all kinds of filth. Just amazing.

But there are some hotels and restaurants on the other side of the street. I managed to dodge the traffic, motorcycles, cars, and buses and get over to the other side. In a place with the name “restaurant,” I asked if they had beer. He said, no. I asked him where there is a place that sells beer. He said that there is not a place like that.

I thought that it might be true in this area, but certainly not true in the whole city. So I walked back in the direction I had come toward Husseinganj. There is a metro stop there just close to the hotel.

Finally, I made it back to the Mira Mann Hotel, with the horse and rider in front. I went to the small road on the other side of the street. I noticed that across that small road, there was a quite big sign that said “Restaurant and Bar.” But there was really no sign of a bar.

So I went over there, dodging the motorcycles. The place just looked like all the other dirty and crummy store fronts. But there was a guy in front. I asked him where was the bar. “Bar kaha hai?” He pointed up the steps toward a door. And sure enough, there was a bar inside there. It was being run by a young guy.

Another young guy came from the back and said in English that they were going to make a video for a whiskey brand and he wanted me to review it. He said something about me getting some free whiskey if I would review the video. The brand was “Signature Whiskey.” But I told him that I really did not care to drink whiskey. I told him that I had just come here for a beer. The young guy running the bar was back there. I asked if they had beer, because the place was pretty much set up for various types of whiskey, it seemed.

So I sat down at a table and aksed for a Kingfisher beer, light. They are 4.7 percent, which is not very light.

The waiter, a wretched looking guy, brought it. The bottle looked normal. He poured some in the glass, but I did not let him fill it. I noticed that it did not make any head like a normal beer would. I tasted it. It didn’t taste like any beer that I had ever tasted. I thought that it might be a different type of beer. Or I thought it could be that they had adulterated a beer or put something else in the Kingfisher bottle. I noticed that first, it was not making any foam. And it did not have any sparkles in it. It was just completely dead.

I said to myself: Okay, I will pay for this beer, but I am not going to drink it. I had already ordered some chips for Rupees seventy. Hardly worth it. But it is a bar.

Finally, I decided to just take the beer to the young guy and tell him that something was wrong with the beer. (Just talked to Selma.)

He looked at the beer. One could see that the color was off. There were no suds. Just a dead beer, and it did not taste at all like beer.

I told him that I would pay for it, but that it was not real beer. So he opened another Kingfisher beer. I tasted it and it was okay. I don’t think it was their fault, but somehow the bottle had just gone bad.

The workers in the Residency grounds offered me chai today.

I sat back down at the same table. I had finished the chips that were way too salty. After that, I ordered two papads. That was good with the beer.

This town is more fun than Calcutta, in my view.

I got to the end of the beer. Then I started thinking that I should have another one and forget the dinner at the hotel. All that formality to go through, it is just more comfortable in the bar.

Another choice on the menu was Tuborg beer. I think that it must be made in India. So I thought to try a Tuborg. I liked it better, but did not think to ask for a light one. This one was stronger at eight percent. I didn’t want that much alcohol, but thought that I would just drink it slowly.

Some guys had come into the place across from me. They were putting away the drinks very fast. I don’t know how many. They were all big and fat, sort of maganda types, but seemed friendly. Boy! They were really putting them away, peg after peg. There was a television on the wall, where a Cricket match was going on.

The only other thing I had was potato pakora. Alloo pakora. That was also Rupees seventy. A dollar or so. I was just enjoying soaking and poking and seeing what was going on there. I took a whiz before I finished the beer, just to take a look at the pisser. Man! What a dirty shit-hole! Revolting!

One has to say that this is a very dirty country for the most part. I jump back and forth from liking it to hating it. What a disaster it is!

Well, before I finished the beer, I asked the young guy running the place if I could take a picture of the bar and drinks. Not with a flash. I was pushing the film at ISO 800. He said it was okay. So I took a couple of shots.

Then the guys at the table near the bar wanted to take a selfie with me. Well, the big fat one did. That was okay. I enjoyed it. I could not really communicate with that guy, but he understood that I was an American. It was fun.

I paid up and left some tip. The bill was about Rupees 700. I made a couple of night pictures on the street. There was an old guy selling bananas. I bought a bunch from him for Rupees forty.

There was a general store where they had bottled water out in front. I bought a big bottle, rupees thirty. But getting across the street at the roundabout was an experience. I finally made it, but mostly by sticking close to some guy who was also crossing there. Sometimes it is the only way that I can do it.

I got across and came to the hotel. Well, I found my pub for this hotel. And that other guy was just telling me that I can just buy beer from a package shop, but not sit down to drink it. It was bullshit.

He surely would have known that it is not true, when I learned it the second day that I was here. I cannot say.

Anyway, I thought that it was a hell of a day and I enjoyed the experiences. Tomorrow I have a better idea of what is where and how to get around and take some more pictures. That is the story for today. I thought it was successful and I enjoyed it.

India Trip Blog 8. The Residency, Lucknow. (10 January 2020)

India Trip: Blog 8 The Residency (January 10, 2020)

3:10 Afternoon. Out a little after nine and now I came back to the hotel just before three o’clock. It was enough time to go and photograph that Residency place. It is much bigger than I had imagined with many buildings. Some were blown up in the war, apparently. But the grounds are vast. I shot about four rolls of film, two of black and white and two of color. So it was quite a lot. The place is a gold mine for a photographer. I only saw a few people there, all with cell phones. They were all Indians, except for one Australian couple. I talked to them a little.

It is great to have plenty of time to go where one wants and plenty of time to change your film. It takes some organization and it is good not being marched around as in a tour! Man! I hate that so much on a tour.

I got an auto rickshaw just in front of the hotel. He took me to the Residency for Rupees 200. I know that it is more than a local would pay, but nothing to me, so I can just make the guy happy with that extra one dollar. He got me there.

Man! It was very cold in the morning, going there in that open rickshaw. I really do not remember that much cold in India before. Maybe it was because of the storm. It was a good day, a sunny day. The traffic was horrendous, even more so coming back. When I came back, the guy asked for Rupees eighty. I paid him Rupees one-hundred and he wanted to give me change. Pitiful!

When I got to the Residency, I paid Rupees 300 for the entry fee. The museum is closed on Fridays, but that was alright with me. My objective was to do some photography. Maybe I got too careless in the end, as there is so much to photograph. But I just did it the best that I could do and I hope that most pictures are decent. I would like a few extra good ones.

I saw right away that the Residency is the place where young lovers and couples meet secretly. They can meet in the day and be seen by few people. It has to be in the day, as the place closes at five in the afternoon.

Walking around the compound, one should not go too far from the track laid out for visitors. I went back from the track to get a better shot of that old mosque, but some dogs came out and started barking. They did not appear to be friendly, so I back tracked quickly. It turned out alright.

Two times today people asked to make selfies with me. Man! I thought that I looked awfully old in those cell phone photos.

Another couple came and talked to me. They were from Andhra Pradesh. The guy said that he was an electrical engineer. I have to say that he did not strike me as terribly bright. But probably language. His wife got the gist of what I was saying much more easily than him. I think that she understood English easily.

Some people seem quite nosy. He asked my age. I asked him to guess. He said 70. Then he asked me what city that I thought was developing fastest in India. I told him that I didn’t have any idea.

I said that they were all developing too fast for me. I said that I like slow development. I tried to joke around with him, but usually, he did not get it. But generally, his wife understood the joke. An engineer!

He asked me how many times I had visited India. I said that I could not remember. (a lie) “But I keep making the same mistake over and over,” I said. He didn’t seem to get that joke. An Engineer? But I told him that I did like coming to India, anyway.

3:55 Afternoon. Friday 10 January. I am sleepy and just about ready to crap out now.

There is a lot of pounding going on up above. It sounds like it is in the room above me. My legs got quite tired today at that place and I needed a rest for sure.

It was okay for a one-day outing. Tomorrow I will try going to the Bara Imambara. And maybe to the Chhota Imambara. (the Hussainabad Imambara). They are close together, but a little farther than the Residency from here. They are in the north-west of the city. There are several things to go to here if one takes the time to do it and take pictures.

Blog 7. The Mera Mann Hotel Lucknow (January 2020)

India Trip: Blog 7 The Mera Mann Hotel, Lucknow (9 January 2020)

8:45 Evening. Just back from having dinner downstairs.

10:00 Not sure yet what I will do tomorrow. Maybe I will go to that old British Residency. It would be good if it is a sunny day and warmer.

Downstairs is a nice restaurant. They are operating very classically. I asked for a Lucknow dish. It is something like Lucknow Dum Aloo and it was quite delicious. I had it with a nan, also very nice. They gave chutney with it, onion pickled, mint and mango achar. Very nicely done. It very much filled me up, almost more than I could eat. Anyway, I was hungry.

At the end of the meal, they bring one a dish of nimboo pani (lemon water) to wash your fingers after the food. Then some mouth freshners, cheney, rough ground sugar and sweet somph (anise). And plain somph. I had not seen that sweet somph like that before. It seems that they do not have that in Punjab.

The bill was less than Rupees 400. Maybe Rupees 380 or so. You just pay it right there and can give a tip. The down side of it is that they do not have beer. Places here seem to be quite conservative. Anyway, I can probably have a beer outside somewhere.

I wish that I could go to sleep a little earlier tonight. The bed is big and wide. I hope that I will be warm enough. I found that the upper window slides open so that I can take a picture from there tomorrow.

So in reality, I didn’t do anything today except make the trip to Lucknow. I only made one picture down in the dining room. I really do like the hotel a lot so far.

A girl came up and started talking to me in the airport when I was arranging a taxi. She was friendly. She asked if I found it easy to exchange money. I said, “Oh, everything is easy if you have money.” She was quite open and said that she had lived in the US for some months. I told her that I was from California. Well, just as well claim that. I have spent some years of my life there. I was starting to ask where she had lived in the US but then I got the ticket and wished her good luck. That was all.

The guide book says that the town is 15 kilometers from the airport. It seemed like a long way, actually.

10 Januarym Friday Morning. I will make a few notes and then get out.

It is a sunny day. Good! I shot a few color frames out the window through the top that opens. Otherwise, the glass is too dirty. It could be cleaned easily from the top. It is a shame that they do not clean the windows. That makes it look a lot more smoggy than it really is.

I got a good sleep. I really crapped out after ten. Then woke up. I thought it was morning. But it was only 1:30. So I stayed awake a little before sleeping again. Then I was out again till almost 7:00 this morning. This hotel is much quieter than the Hotel Alka in Delhi.

I had some dreams. I think we were riding somewhere. Seems like Selma was driving. Bernie Sanders was with us. It was his car. We came to this steep hill, just unpaved. There were some big water holes. I said, “Don’t drive up that.” So we went back down. Some crazy dream, mixed up with Bernie Sanders.

This morning there was good hot water. So I took a shower. It was a little cold in the room, but the shower was fine. I got cleaned up nicely. I went down, after arranging my things, somewhat. All Indian. But there were some decent things, not just all spicy stuff. Fruits such as papaya, watermelon, pineapple. There was something like an oatmeal, that really didn’t hurt me. Sometimes too much spice. I had a slight heart-burn feeling in the night and took a couple of talcids (antacid). Otherwise, it was fine. But really, there is too much spice sometimes unless one eats yogurt with it to neutralize some.

The tea that they normally give is just “white tea.” Milk and sugar already in it. I can drink it, but like black tea. They offer coffee, but I know that it is instant and I do not want that. They tend to do things the easy way.

But I feel good. It is a nice day, but there is no need to jump out too early.

I am thinking to go to the Residency where the Seige of the British took place in 1857. Very notable in Indian/British history. I will get an auto rickshaw to take me there, if I can. From the map it does not look so far away. But it is hard to tell. This hotel is in the more “modern” section of the town, it appears. I want to go the chowk too, the old market area. I will look into the map a little.

India Trip Blog 6. Delhi to Lucknow (9 January 2020)

India Trip. Blog 6: Delhi to Lucknow (9 January, 2020)

5:15 Afternoon. Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Made it to Lucknow, but I shot the whole day getting here, unfortunately. But that’s OK. This trip was OK. Man! It really does eat up your time getting to the airport and to the flight. I was one of the last into the plane, but that was my fault.

The room here is good. Mera Mann Hotel. 14,000 Rupees for five days. I will pay them in Rupees. It comes out to just 40 dollars a day. Two hundred dollars total.

5:40 Evening. Things worked out OK. I got out of the hotel by eleven, but it was none too soon. There was a good deal of traffic on the way. But also, I read the print-out wrong. I was supposed to go to Terminal 3. That is the main terminal and it has both domestic and international departures.

So when I lined up to go in to Terminal 2, the guy sent me to the other terminal.

One can just walk there, but it is not very easy, unless one knows the way. You have to go across the street to another building. Then down an elevator, and then walk through a tunnel. But anyway, I saw it and went there to the domestic side and of course Vistara Airlines was at the very far end. There is no getting a close gate for me on this trip.

A young military guy helped me find the way to that tunnel. Otherwise, I would have been lost, as it is not well marked.

I got in and checked my bag. It is written clearly, but somehow it seems that they had trouble reading the ticket page.

Anyway, I got the boarding ticket and went around to the security for the domestic departures. That is the most trouble, because of the very bad organization of it. Almost anyone, it seems, could figure out a more efficient way of doing it. People bunch up. It was so slow. I was all set up and well organized to go through but of everyone going through for that whole time, I was the only one that he made take their shoes off and go back again and put them through the machine.

Everybody else, all the Indians, were just going on through. But when he saw my American passport, he started pulling that shit. That might be why.

So I said, “Well, I’m not going to go all the way back in the line.” But it was hard to get one of those big trays and the line of trays was already full. Then I came back and the guy starts body screening me all over, a second time. I reminded him that he had just done that. He was acting like a robot. All my money was setting there in a bag in a tray at the end and I was waiting for the guy on the other end to put my shoes through that machine. And my shoes did not make any noise with the wand, but he wanted them put through the machine anyway. It just seemed like harassment. I had to wait for a long time for them to come through the machine, just standing there, while probably at least thirty people had gone through. Finally I just walked back past his check post and got my shoes and left, once they came through the machine. Everybody else’s stuff was coming through ahead of them.

Finally, I headed for the gate number 51. It was practically the farthest point in the airport again. But I did not feel like running. I thought I had plenty of time. But actually the plane was almost fully boarded at that time.

I waited to eat a brownie, but then saw that the plane had already boarded. So much time had been wasted getting through that security. I went there and they sent me down the ramp to the plane. It was almost full. A few more came, but maybe they bought late tickets. The guy said that I was the last person to board.

The plane waited for some time more before taking off. The weather had cleared up nicely in Delhi. Some smog, but also sunshine. The flight was fine. I could hardly take it for the one-hour flight, the seat was so hard. But nevertheless, the flight was pleasant. There were some light clouds, but over the cities it seemed to be mostly smog. There was a snack, just a sandwich and a cookie on that flight, with hardly enough time to eat that.

I did change five-hundred dollars in Delhi. So I got 33,500 Rupees. Not a great rate at 67 to a dollar but I am not going scouting around to find a better rate around here. This hotel is 14,000 and I will pay it out of that. They do want rupees. I don’t mind to pay ahead of time as I don’t have to carry the money around.

The taxi was prepaid for Rupees 450, but I gave the guy 100 tip. The taxi in Delhi was 300 and I gave a tip there too. I will tip them if they help me with the bags. But not all of them will. I am being quite generous with these guys. Traffic is horrible.

We got to the place. It is actually a nice hotel. That’s true. There is a traffic circle out in front. I have a nice, big window looking out onto the street. There is a statue of a horse and rider there. I was very happy with the room.

But the window is so dirty, I don’t know if I can take a picture through it successfully. Looks like it has not been washed in 40 years. I don’t know.

So that is the story. Glad that I am finally here. I have to see what I will do tomorrow. It was 17 degrees when we arrived, the high temperature today. The historical city of Lucknow. Old capital of the Newab Dynasty.