Amber Palace Court

Here’s a view of the great courtyard of the palace at Amber, near Jaipur (see post above).

Small School Bus

Many students in India have to take public transport to get to and from school. Many simply pile into a moto-rickshaw. The more students, the cheaper the cost. So at the end of the school day Indian cities are filled with over-stuffed school bus rickshaws. These friendly boys were happy to be going home and flashed me a peace sign along the way, their backpacks hooked on the back as an impromptu luggage compartment.

Marcian Wins!

The Spanish city of Merida has some spectacular Roman ruins, including one of the ancient world’s best preserved hippodromes for chariot races. In the archaeological museum are many chariot racing-related works of art, including this mosaic of a triumphant charioteer named Marcian. The text above says, simply, ‘Marcian Wins’! His lead horse’s name is also recorded (INUMINATOR), and the name of the stable he was from (GETULI). Very likely, the patron who had this huge floor mosaic in his villa was the owner of both Marcian–charioteers were almost always slaves–and the horses as well. His floor mosaic was a big billboard advertising his successes as much as Marcian’s.

Dionysus, Party Guy

You might not think it, but the Archaeological Museum in Madrid, Spain, is one of the great museums in a city known for great museums, such as the magnificent Prado. I took this picture of a red-figure Greek vase that shows the god of wine and revelry, Dionysus (Bacchus) sharing his wine with the Olympian gods and goddesses. The grapes overhead provide an appropriate bower for the festivities.

Harem, Harem

This is the famous Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal) in Jaipur, India, one of the world’s most impressive architectural facades. Built in 1799 as an addition to the royal palace complex of Jaipur, it was intended specifically for the women of the court and harem to be able to watch processions and other goings on on the main street below, without themselves being visible. The many windows have small perforations (known as mushrabiya) so they could peek out while remaining invisible to those outside.

Gandhi’s Legacy

The legacy of Mahatma Gandhi is being challenged in modern India (also, in Africa, where he lived when he was younger) by Hindu Nationalists and lower castes such as Dalits, but for the most part he is still much revered in the world’s second-most populous country (at this time, about 1.34 billion). I took this picture at the Gandhi Smriti, a place of pilgrimage for many. Here, in this garden, where the little gazebo is, Gandhi was assassinated. I was touched by the mother who wanted to take a picture of her young son at that spot, as if she hoped that he would grow up to espouse the non-violent philosophy of the founder of an independent India.

Delhi Traffic

If you want to know just how bad traffic can be, and how loud it can be. Spend some time in New Delhi, India. In India, trucks even have the words “HORN PLEASE” painted on the back. Horns are not honked in anger so much as to add to the general ambiance; a sort of horn symphony that lasts from dawn to dusk. Trucks have low honks, cars medium, and motor rickshaws high-pitched honks. I long for the old days in India when there weren’t many cars at all, and the cycle rickshaws glided silently.

Tiles of Santa Chiara

One of the great sights in Naples is the cloister of the nuns of Santa Chiara. There are thousands of colourful tiles decorating the benches and pillars, with plants and flowers and scenes of daily life from the 18th century, Neapolitan scenes such as fishing, life by the sea, peasants in the countryside enjoying music and dancing, hunting scenes, and so on. Even one panel that shows Vesuvius erupting.

Duomo San Gennaro

The patron saint of Naples is San Genarro (St. Janarius), whose relics are kept in the Duomo, the cathedral of Naples. He has a large chapel dedicated to him, where the miraculous vial of his blood is kept. It liquefies at designated time of year. This magnificent chapel has this dome hovering overhead, the trompe l’oeil painting making it look even higher than it really is.

Neapolitan Books

Around the Porta Alba and the Piazza Dante in Naples one finds many bookstores for the students who study in that area. I took this picture of some volumes in the store window. As time goes on, books seem ever more quaint objects of the past. Old books seem like antiques.

Napoli Bella

A woman heads out to the market early through the Porta Alba, Naples, in front of a still shuttered bookstore. If you’re a store owner in this area¬† and you don’t want graffiti all over your storefront, it’s best to hire an artist to decorate your doors, then the other artists will respect the paintings. Note, however, around the doors is still fair game.

Looking Back: Sorrento

A view of Sorrento and the Sorrentine Peninsula, with its dramatic cliffs and backdrop of the mountains that lead to the Amalfi Coast, Italy.