India

The F-K of Doors and Windows

The F-K of Doors and Windows

The F-K of doors and windows is a journey through some of the places I’ve visited here in Australia, and across the world. Some of the photos might need to be viewed with a little more imagination than others – but – most  fall neatly into their assigned category.

F Well, this kind of qualifies in the F category. A stroll down Flinders Lane Melbourne opens up a whole new world of ornate doors and windows. How beautiful are these?  The curves, the panels – it all adds up to a beautiful piece of architecture and craftsmanship – or – should that be ‘craftspersonship’?

On to the G’s…

G The Treasury Casino is on George Street Brisbane. The windows and doors are stunning and provide the perfect backdrop for the colours that magically transform the Brisbane night sky. It doesn’t matter what angle you view this building from – its beauty is exceptional, especially at night. The former life of the building was a Government Office, dating back to 1886.

Old brick building, the Treasury Casino Brisbane, with red lights highlighting the sides of the building.
George Street Brisbane: Treasury Casino

Oh gee – Microsoft Windows!  

Buildings on Granville Street Vancouver at dusk with the Microsoft building highlighted in a bubble
Granville Street  Vancouver

H is for….

H Hamilton, Brisbane. The Kookaburra Queen entertains diners as it steams its way along the Brisbane River. The light coming from the windows on the old Paddle Steamer is reflected beautifully on the water at night. If you find yourself in Brisbane, you can dance the night away on a dinner-cruise onboard the Kookaburra Queen.

Old paddle steamer boat on the Brisbane River at night with the lights from the boat reflecting on the water
The Kookaburra Queen at Hamilton, Brisbane

I – well – it has to be India

I India! What comes to mind when we think of India? The Taj Mahal, of course. The magnificence of the buildings has to be seen to be appreciated. The windows and doors that make up the total experience of the Taj Mahal are spectacular! Just to stand in the shadow of this romantic building is amazing.

White dome-shaped ornate arches of the Taj Mahal in India
The Taj Mahal – India

And then, onto …

J

Jiangsu – well – Nanjing to be precise, but it comes under the broader heading of Jiangsu. I’ve been to a lot of places, but obviously not many starting with the letter J. I love the way the new buildings can be seen through the archway of the old. Not exactly a door or a window, but I love the colours on the old structure. The colours in this elaborate entrance would welcome even the most weary traveller. 

Typically old Chinese colourful arch structure with modern buildings behind it.
Jiangsu, Nanjing – China

On Jefferson Street you can stand and peer in this window and watch the experts mould the sourdough into delicious sourdough bread at the Boudin Bakery. There’s nothing better on a cold day in San Francisco, than going to the Boudin Bakery for soup in a sourdough bread bowl. Just thinking about it brings back so many memories…

Baker shaping sourdough into buns at Boudin Bakery San Francisco
Boudin Bakery, Jefferson Street (San Francisco)

The journey ends at K

K Kangaroo Point in Brisbane – home of the beautiful St Mary’s Anglican Church. The windows, as expected in a building like this, are spectacular. I sat in the church recently (at a wedding) and was mesmerised by the colours. I was grateful that the bride was a little late because it gave me time to take photos and admire the beauty of the stained glass.

Old stone church with stained glass windows in Kangaroo Point Brisbane
Kangaroo Point Brisbane

As I meander through the twenty-plus thousand photos I have stored on my i-Devices, I wonder why I have so many photos of doors and windows? So far I’ve covered the A-E and F-K of doors and windows, so stay tuned – the journey will continue until we get to Z.

By the way, if you know any place that starts with the letter Z, please let me know in the comments section below. Otherwise, we’ll only get to Y.

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 3 comments
The A-E of Windows and Doors

The A-E of Windows and Doors

I can be walking down any street, in any city, and be captivated by an odd shaped window or an ornate door. Luckily my iPhone is always in my pocket, so the camera is always ready to capture the moment. The downside is, I now have thousands of photos of windows and doors! When I look back on the photos, I often wish I could open some of those doors, or peer in the window to see what is on the other side.

Should we go there?

A journey through the photos of windows and doors that clog up my digital albums would not only fill these pages, but probably bore you in the process. So I’ll break the journey by sorting the photos into alphabetical order. The hardest part will be deciding which photos make it into the blog – and which ones will be left behind.

The A-E of Windows and Doors

A This beautiful building, with lots of windows and doorways, is in Amritsar, India. I’m sad that I didn’t have time to stop and get a photo from the best angle, but at least I got this much. India has some of the most amazing buildings. Obviously there is more than a touch of British heritage in the architecture of some of them, but the beautiful materials used, brings the focus back to India.

And, on to B…

B  This is window-and-door Heaven! The old Bank of New South Wales building (the one on the left) is on the corner of Queen Street Mall and George Street in Brisbane (Australia). The building on the right is the Treasury Casino. If old buildings are your thing, come to Brisbane and take a walk around the Central Business District. You’ll be amazed at the number of beautiful old buildings.

Crazy, I know, but…

…this is one of my favourite photos from the Queen Street Mall. I’m sure real photographers would quickly point out the photographic errors, but I love the lines and angles I captured in this photo. Oh, and of course, the windows!


Another B Building…

B is for Boston, USA, and the windows in this fabulous building reflect the amazing colours of the sky and the autumn (Fall) foliage. It also takes me back to my childhood. I used to have blocks that looked a lot like the colours and shapes in this building.

C Christchurch, New Zealand – the city that rebuilt itself after a devastating earthquake. I love the rustic look of these doors, as well as the shape of the glass panels. One of the advantages of photographing windows, or glass doors, is the bonus image in the reflection. 

D Devonport, New Zealand. On a very cold day in September, these windows offered some hope that there might be a warm fire glowing on the inside. If you find yourself in Auckland, take the ferry across to Devonport and investigate some of the beautiful buildings. 

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

E Ellis Island, NY USA. When I visited the home of immigration almost two years ago, I wondered if any of my relatives had walked through the door, or looked through the windows of this building. My grandfather left Sweden when he was young and sailed around the world many times before settling in Australia. Having taken the DNA test offered by Ancestry, I know I have a link to the USA, and I’m guessing it might be through some of the Swedish family that we have no knowledge of. Who knows, maybe their new life started right here in the Immigration building on Ellis Island.

What is your favourite thing to photograph?

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 2 comments
The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

Our last day in India and what better way to spend it than at the Taj Mahal.

A very early 5am start from our accommodation in New Delhi meant that with a bit of luck, we’d beat the traffic, the heat, and the crowds and also ensure enough time to shower and change before making our way to the Airport for the flight home that night.

It worked!

Agra was a welcome sight at the end of the long bus ride that necessitated a coffee stop along the way. Not exactly Starbucks, but not bad compared to the coffees I’d had over the past two weeks. The tea drinkers loved the variety of teas in India, but sadly, good coffees were not to be found, anywhere.

Before we could get close enough to the magnificant buildings, we had to negotiate our way through the maze of vendors selling guidebooks and a range of memorabilia and souvenirs. As if by magic, a golf-buggy pulled up beside us and we were ushered in for the drive down the boulevard towards the entrance. I had spotted the horses lined up across the road when we arrived and was a little disappointed that we couldn’t be driven down the boulevard in style instead. But the golf-buggy was fine and it delivered us safely into the hands of more vendors close to the entrance. Since I hadn’t packed a hat for the excursion, some brightly coloured umbrellas caught my attention. My stray gaze towards them wasn’t wasted on the seller, who proceeded to pursue me while bartering the price, which had dropped to a mere Rs 100/-  by the time I’d caught up with the rest of our group at the entrance. Money was quickly exchanged and I was assured of a shaded walk around the Taj Mahal.

Once we were through the security formalities we were free to wander, as long as we met back at the gate at the designated time. The thought of having to be at the Airport later in the day for the flight home was forefront in my mind. I’m not the most relaxed traveller when it comes to the day of flying to or from a destination, and being a few hours from New Delhi made me nervous enough to make sure I would be where I had to be, at the right time.

The next few hours consisted of taking photos and just being in awe of actually being in and around such a famous World Heritage site. Words can’t do justice to the age and beauty of the structures.

I  think the Indian Government has it right with the entry fee. Locals pay Rs 40/- and tourists pay Rs 1000/-, although the ride to the entrance is only included in the tourist fee.

The beautifully romantic story behind the design and construction of the Taj Mahal in the 17th Century is far better explained on the Indian Government site than I could recount here. Since photos are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal, for obvious reasons, the following photos only depict the outside and surrounding buildings. And these photos can’t possibly do justice to the feeling of actually being there. If you haven’t journeyed to Agra yet, make sure you put it on your Bucket List and spend a day, or longer, soaking up the history and magnificence of this amazing place. And with incredibly low airfares to India offered by Scoot Airlines, I know I’ll return one day to stand in front of the Taj Mahal again.

And again, a huge Thank You to Mohinder Singh from the Amritsar Diocese for being there for us every step of the way. From meeting us at the New Delhi Station on our arrival from Shimla, to being our guide at the Taj Mahal, and then helping us negotiate a better price for the souvenirs that were bought along the way back to the bus.

Thank You Mohinder!

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Crossing The Border

Crossing The Border

Okay, we didn’t cross it, but we did get to see some European and local travellers, loaded up with backpacks and luggage, who were making their way across the border in one direction, or the other.

Let me go back to the beginning so this makes a little more sense.

One of the highlights of the trip to India was our attendance at the Wagah Flag Ceremony, between the India and Pakistan border, at sunset. Even though the ceremony takes place every day, apparently thousands of people cram into the stadium each time to witness the event.

The flags of each country are taken down simultaneously at sunset and secured for the night, but not without a theatrical performance by each army on both sides of the heavily armed, razor-wired fences that divide the two countries. To say the routine was spectacular is a gross understatement. The thousands of spectators on the Indian side shouted their national pride in chants and cheering, egged on by a white-shirted man at the front of the stadium.  The patriotic atmosphere was felt as well as heard. Behind me, a young boy spontaneously led the chant at one point; just a small single voice ringing out the cry, to be followed by thousands.

The roads were choked with traffic as we approached the border. All modes of transport ferried the crowds in: buses, pedal-power, horse-driven carts loaded with families, Indian version tuk-tuks, and tractors. If it was capable of moving, it was fully laden, with bodies packed in it, on it, or behind it.


As guests of the Bishop of the Amritsar Diocese of the Church of North India (CNI), we were very lucky to be given an escort into the parking area closest to the ceremony, and seats in the first few rows,  giving us an ideal opportunity to witness the event up close and personal.

As we sat patiently awaiting the ceremony, the awe of being on one side of the border, watching nationals on the other side just as patiently awaiting the same event, struck hard. We were in India – they were in Pakistan.  The pomp and ceremony began. The Indian soldiers marched quickly across the parade-ground towards the border gate, in pairs and/or individually, at a very fast pace, and finishing with a high-kick that brought their well-heeled boots in danger of collision with their fan-shaped headgear. This was followed by a shake of fists towards the Pakistan Army in a movement reminiscent of the Haka that we are witness to at any international sporting event involving our Kiwi neighbours from across the ditch. The process was replicated on the other side of the fence by the Pakistani’s, in similarly costumed uniforms. The Indian Army wearing red turbans or black berets, and red fan-shaped headwear – the Pakistanis wearing dark blue. The process was drawn out, to the delight of the crowd who cheered uproariously from the Indian side at each step of the way. The spectators on the other side of the fence were a little more constrained in their show of appreciation of their Army, or maybe it was just that there were fewer spectators.

When the moment came for the flags to be brought down from the top of the very tall flagpoles, on opposite sides of the narrow patch of middle ground between the gates that I assume is neutral territory, the show of pride by the Indian spectators was indescribable – you just had to be there. Caught up in the moment was every other nationality privileged enough to witness the amazing event. Something as simple as lowering a flag had flamed the national pride of a nation.

This well-trained dog joins the cast of Military Personnel in the ceremonial presentation and takes a bow towards the stadium.

The flags are finally lowered and respectfully marched into the enclosure for safe keeping until the morning, when they’ll be raised again at sunrise, albeit, without the ceremony of the previous evening.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Amritsar, make the Flag Ceremony a priority on your itinerary, but make sure you book through a reputable tour group. Going solo isn’t a viable option for this event if you want a seat, and trust me, you want a seat. The sun was beating down, the dust was thick and the ceremony was long and drawn out. You will also need a hat and water bottle, although roving vendors provided some relief with the sale of water, soft drinks and ice-creams. A fan might also be a useful addition but there will be no shortage of fans, hats, flags and umbrellas thrust at you by hopeful entrepaneurs as you arrive at the venue in whatever means of transport you choose. There were many deals struck through open windows as our bus made its way through the traffic on the way to the gate.

The Flag Ceremony will remain etched in my memory forever and I owe a huge debt of thanks to Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy and Mohinder Singh for making it happen, and for being there with us.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments
Brisbane to Delhi

Brisbane to Delhi

Travel Day 1
6 am – Wide Awake and ready to start the day and the journey.
Coffee, shower, pack the bathroom items, load the car and ready to go.

Way too early to be at the airport, but plenty of time for a leisurely stroll around DFO, Brisbane Airport style. Another coffee, light lunch, then time to deliver the car to Portside Parking on Curran St Eagle Farm where it will be taken care of until our return in just over two weeks. Park the car, sign the paperwork, and into the waiting mini-van for the trip to Brisbane International Airport. The journey has begun.

Too early to check in, but plenty of time to liaise with the rest of the group who would be my travel buddies through India. Lots of photos taken, helpful travel hints shared, reminders about document requirements (too late now if you don’t have your passport), and then on to check-in. Our group of eleven managed to make it through the queue mostly intact, but somehow some of us ended up at different check-in counters. My utmost praise for Singapore Airlines staff who managed to get us all seated and next to at least one member of the group. The fact that we were scattered throughout the aircraft didn’t really matter; we each had a seat. There were a few funny anecdotes post check-in of two travellers at the same counter, mistakenly taken for ‘a couple’ with the apologetic attendant bending over backwards to try to get them seated together until they explained that they weren’t actually ‘a couple’.

Image from Wikimedia Commons: Credit: Nate Cull

The age of automation has seeped into the travel experience.

Apart from a few attendants ushering travellers to the appropriate line to be in, there is no longer a face in the Customs procedure. No-one stamps your passport with the date and name of the city you are leaving behind in search of foreign shores. Now you wait your turn in a line, proceed to a scanner and place your passport on the slide for self-scanning of the photo page, walk up to a pair of footprints strategically placed on the floor, remove hats and/or glasses, and smile for the camera. The trade-off is a much faster trek through Customs, presumably freeing up our very qualified Customs Officers for the more important task of screening incoming passengers, making sure that our country stays safe and secure. That’s it. Done and dusted. You then exit the Customs area straight into the hands of Duty-Free scalpers who think it’s fair game to ask exorbitant prices for everyday items that can be bought in your local supermarket for a fraction of the cost. Travel isn’t what it used to be.

With check-in safely behind us, the next hurdle to be overcome was Customs.

An hour’s wait – long enough to stock up on snacks for the flight – then boarding at 5 pm. The flight was reasonably full, but boarding was executed quickly and very efficiently. Groups, all six of them, were boarded one group at a time. We were in groups five and six. We seemed to be no sooner settled in our seats than the seatbelt sign illuminated and the plane started pushing back ready for take-off. For an International flight, the departure process seemed incredibly fast.

I’m not sure why, but it seemed to be a very quiet flight. The loud-talkers were missing in action, and even the babies seemed to be reasonably settled, with only the occasional murmur. Perhaps the noisy travellers all turned left on entering the plane (otherwise known as Business Class). The movie selection was reasonable and once the meal was dispensed with, most people kicked back to enjoy their choice of latest release or favourite re-run. It was then time for sleep – for those who find sleep comes naturally at 9.30pm Eastern Standard time in Australia. For the rest of us, there were more movies to watch or blogs to write. The night passed uneventfully.  We landed in the city of the Merlion a little before midnight, Singapore time.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 4 comments
Travelling The World

Travelling The World

When I was very young someone made the comment that I would travel because I had a gap between my two top teeth. Back then, living out of town on almost 20 acres of land, with electricity the only modern convenience we had, I thought the 35-mile journey into Sydney was the ultimate travel experience. Oh, how my life has changed!

My journey’s since then have taken me to:

  • Europe (twice)
  • Penang – lived there for two years
  • Singapore – can’t remember how many times
  • Vancouver – spent almost a year there (2005) and visited in 2016
  • San Francisco – spent almost a year there (2006) and many visits since

  • China – 2 fabulous weeks; fell in love with the Ancient Water Towns

Zhujiajiao

  • India – 17 amazing days, including seeing the Taj Mahal

All of the journeys have been amazing and hopefully, I will be able to expand on each one through the posts on this site.

 

 

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 1 comment