Summer nights on Iceland’s longest fjord.
These images were taken over two nights in Akureyri this June.
Home of the Goddess.
Adjoining the meandering Mandovi river, Pilgaon was once the archetypal Goan village: lush, leafy, serene, blessed by the goodness Nature grants a riverine habitat. But all that changed when Goa‘s mining mafia commandeered the area. For the past five decades these environmental assassins, under the guise of helping Goa‘s economy, laid waste to Pilgaon and its surrounds. Life for the locals rapidly descended into a living hell of craters at their feet, sludge in the water bodies, and air filled with toxic particulates. Then, at long last, came the miracle – in September 2012 the Supreme Court of India, acting on the pleas of local activists, finally stepped in and imposed a complete ban on mining activity in Goa. For the believers this was divine intervention, a manifestation of the power of the resident divinity, Chamundeshwari.
Pilgaon’s old temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari, an avatar of Shakti, was originally located in Goa Velha, 17 kms away (as the crow flies). Following the sacking of the temple by the Portuguese c. 1530, the idol was relocated to Pilgaon and reconsecrated. The memory of Chamundeshwari lingers even to this day in the imagination of the Catholic village folk of Goa Velha, especially the traditional salt farmers who visit Pilgaon once a year to commune with the Goddess.
I made good on this reprieve to go to Pilgaon during the monsoons earlier this year. The capacity of the land to revivify itself is quite astonishing. The scars were visible, but Pilgaon can breathe now. Green shoots had broken out all over, peace and quiet had returned to the area; the promise of a renewal was unmistakable. Whether this is here to stay or a mirage remains to be seen.
On entering the village we first came upon this luscious scene. The only problem with what should have been a compelling image was the unsightly mass of power lines cutting across the frame. Enter Miss Photoshop. Eliminating the intruding lines is now trivial: trace a path, then stroke it with the spot healing brush in “content-aware fill” mode and voila!
An honest day’s work.
Until a generation ago, Goans enjoyed some of the finest produce in the world, all of it locally grown. That situation, unfortunately, has been cured. Fertile paddy fields have now become targets of builders and their politician friends. As a result, farming activity in Goa has been decimated rendering Goans dependent on neighboring states for their grain and greens, most of it inferior in quality and taste to Goa‘s indigenous variety.
Historically, the community of Gaude has been associated with farming in Goa. These are tough, industrious folk and they continue to soldier on despite the bleak future.
During the monsoon months I often stop by to observe these toiling men and women of our fields, and catch some of their rhythm. This is a small selection from earlier this year.
Another magical evening.
In 2010 I experienced an enchanting evening at the Trona Pinnacles. On my visit in December 2012, I was witness to another equally engrossing spectacle.
My posts at the Trona Pinnacles are archived here.
As dawn approaches, the Trona Pinnacles emerge like a dream landscape from the parched bed of Searles Lake. The silhouettes of over 500 strangely shaped towers cluster together against a vast plain rimmed with distant hills. Old-timers call it Cathedral City, an apt name for such a mysterious looking place.
Although it may be hard to imagine, the Trona Pinnacles once protruded from the bottom of a deep lake. During the ice ages that occurred between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago, runoff from the Sierra Nevada periodically coursed into Searles Lake…The pinnacles consist of an unusual “rock” called tufa. It resembles limestone and forms entirely underwater…
…From a distance Searles Lake looks like any other Mojave Desert salt pan. But this playa is different: its deep lakebed sediments contain 98 of the approximately 112 elements.