Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thursday April 28th 2011, I’mmmmm back – back down under

Well this part of my MFA exhibition journey has finally finished and the next phase starts tomorrow – I arrived back home in Dunedin, New Zealand, late last night after being on the road since Sunday 11pm. That’s when my good friends Vino John, Anita and Smriti sadly waved good bye to me at Bangalore’s modern airport and with a small tear in my eyes I began the long journey home.
After a long and tiring two days lecturing and talking to people at the NICC Momentum Show over the weekend it was time to head home south. Vino John and Jacques, a very sick (food poisoning) Hamilton and his driver were all now heading off east to Chennai to cover more IPL duties and I was beginning the long haul home after six fun filled and adventurous weeks in Bangalore.


Jeevan in a shirt
John Matesh and Smriti
I was so tired that I didn’t even take my camera out until I eventually got to SYD two days later.
Mind you it all almost got off to a bad start as the check-in clerk at the Emirates counter at Bangalore suddenly decided that New Zealanders needed a visa to transit through Australia. No matter what I said about CER or the fact that I had flown here via Australia 42 days earlier would matter, he had seen something in a memo about it and until someone senior would tell him otherwise he wouldn’t change his mind. So for the next 45 minutes I sat there fuming until he finally sent another attendant up with my tickets and passport, not even an “sorry mate” just the usual fake smile and so I breezed through Indian customs and waited for my flight to leave. A slightly sour taste after so many great and memorable experiences with the students at NICC and Acharya, the great people of Moore Road  Fraser town Bangalore, Vino John and my many new media friends in India.
0415 rolled around and I shuffled aboard the Emirates A330 for the short three hour hop to Dubai, inwardly sad at leaving with so much still to do in Bangalore, sad at leaving behind so many new friends but glad to be on my way home after so long away from my loved ones and overall very apprehensive but inwardly excited about the future.
Dawn on Monday, it was ANZAC day in NZ and while Kath and Kacy were standing in the cold and wet of Dunedin’s Queens Gardens remembering fallen ANZAC heroes on our national day of homage I was wandering the causeways of Dubai’s ultra-modern airport which was its usual self, very visual, full of expensive and overpriced shops, very gaudily electronic and yes! Very crowded. They even had a smoking restaurant that somehow catered to those fag hungry travellers in need of a nicotine boost, a meal and a drink, and yet it was actually an open air restaurant right in the middle of the commercial district causeway of this non-smoking  airport – kinda dumb but what can you do lah.
The advent of the mega-jet Airbus A380 has greatly increased the numbers of travellers passing through major hub airports around the world and with Emirates owning a few of them and lots of large passenger capable B777-300LR’s it makes travelling so much more a crowded experience.
Mind you I was still wondering how they would load us all in time as our 1015 departure time rolled around and we were all still sitting there in the various departure lounges awaiting  the call.
Finally once aboard this mega jet for the first time where the bottom level was full to the brim with Coach while above us Business and First relaxed behind roped off stairs in comfort and luxury, I settled in for the long haul. Eventually we lumbered down the long runway at Dubai (DXB) and lifted easily into the hot desert skies above Dubai and the UAE. Using the unique tail mounted camera view on Emirates ICE system I watched fascinated as the huge jet, fully laden with passengers and fuel, gently lifted off and climbed ever so slowly in the hot morning air. It seemed to take forever before it finally passed the 5,000ft mark and we started climbing high into the sky for our 13 hour plus long flight down to Sydney at angels 40 (40,000 ft). We actually flew basically back along the same route I had just flown six hours earlier. We flew out over Oman and down above the Arabian Sea then skipped around the base of India we headed out over the Indian Ocean for hours of nothing before finally sidestepping the Maldives and Cocos Islands to enter Australian airspace around Geraldton, a long way above Perth before crossing the Simpson Desert in the dark prior to arriving at dawn in Sydney.
The flight while long is not the longest I’ve ever been on but it was the quietest. Normally on B777’s and A340’s I have to wear ear plugs to deaden the high frequency engine noises but on the A380 I didn’t need to get them out and it was also kind of relaxing. The seats weren’t too bad either and as I had an Aisle seat I could get out and wander around every couple of hours or so, usually after each movie I watched.
I have watched so many current movies these last few flights that I even started to watch the classics for entertainment - LOL.
An odd thing aboard the flight was that while the plane is ultra-modern and comfortable and with the inflight ICE system working most of the time, I noticed that despite the fact that we left DXB in the morning and arrived the following morning in Sydney they were only serving us a light lunch after take-off and a light breakfast just before our arrival – what happened to the dinner – I don’t know – maybe it was the soggy pizza strip they served about eight hours into the flight I guess. On my earlier long way round flight to DXB via BKK they had served me two dinners on each leg which were very nice – thank you. I bet the upstairs lot got a nice dinner but we went 10 hours without a meal.
Touching down on a cold and wet Sydney morning (Tuesday) after losing a day in transit to international date/time rules, I now had four hours to wait before my connection to Christchurch on another Emirates B777-300LR flight.
With our late departure from DXB and the long flight (we had two separate flight crews aboard but only one cabin crew team) we were also held up on arrival in SYD, unable to leave the plane for an extra half an hour as a young Arab mother across from me had panicked a wee bit about her two young boys who had been sick for the past four hours from lack of sleep compounded by an overdose of sugar from the large bags of lollies, junk food and soft drink they had both been consuming during the flight. So Aussie quarantine officials already advised of sick passengers aboard held the flight up until they had a doctor check out the kids before finally announcing that they were happy it was just over eating and lack of sleep and not something serious. It meant that the transit passengers on their final leg to Auckland had to negotiate Sydney’s transit security to travel from the arrivals gate downstairs to the departure gate upstairs in just 45 minutes - a journey that had taken us one hour weeks before. Me - I was in transit for the next four hours awaiting the Emirates flight from Bangkok – the same one I had travelled to Dubai on 42 days earlier, so I knew I had plenty of time to spare. I quickly brought a jersey from one of the many duty free shops in Sydney’s expansive international airport as I had been as bit cold on the previous flight and it was cold there in Sydney and wandered around looking at things. I was expecting the same cold aircon on the next leg but it was so warm and relaxing once we boarded at 1015 that I basically crashed shortly after the breakfast was served and slept the three hours to CHC.
A wet and windy Sydney
the first views of NZ

The southern Alps
Green Canterbury
I was expecting a long delay at NZ Customs and Bio-security because as we had landed I had noticed the large number of overseas flights already parked up at Christchurch’s international terminal. It was confirmed when we eventually arrived at the customs lounge to see long queues of passengers moving ever so slowly, then an official asked if I had a NZ Biometric passport and as I did I was shown the new automated system which involves sticking your passport into the slot, receiving a bus pass like card, standing in front of an automated video capture device and then quickly moving on through to pick up my bags. So quick and effortless it was cool, and as I breezed through I spied hundreds of passengers with older kiwi and Aussie passports scowling at me from the back of those long queues. Shock and awe: there on the belt in front of me was my bag. I had honestly been expecting it to A: not be there after three changes of planes, or B: last off the plane as on my original flights to BLR. But no, there it was, flattened but waiting for me so with the same biometric card in hand I waltzed through the bio-security and customs checkpoints  and out into the crowd to find my nephew Brett waiting for me.
He had been expecting me to be held up for hours as he too had noticed the large number of flights arriving at the same time and was just about to head off for a coffee when he spotted me coming out.
Overnighting in Christchurch at my parent’s house I spent the morning of the next day (Wednesday) initially looking around quake ravaged Christchurch and trying to visit people but everyone seemed to be away –wonder why - before finally boarding the Ritchies Landlines bus for the five hour journey south to Dunedin.
dozing at my sisters, they soon sent me home saying I was snoring to much
Home once again to my wife and kids who were so happy to see their dear old dad again I crashed early and slept for 12 hours. It’s really cold here, in fact it was freezing this Thursday morning and I am really feeling it after weeks of 30+ heat and humidity in Bangalore but the weather forecast here is for sunny but cool over the next couple of days so this will allow me time to unpack and back up my discs into my larger hard drives, sought out some issues at school and meet all my friends here in Dunedin.
To Vino John, Fatima, Chandra, Jacques and Anita- a great deal of thanks for putting up with me for the past six weeks. To Aleksandra, Jeevan, Smriti, Raj, Matesh, Kumail and Aanchal, Sneha, Veg, Jalaj and the many great students I meet and worked with at NICC and Acharya - many thanks to you all for hosting me and showing me a new positive side of artistic India. To the Asia NZ Foundation - thanks for the great opportunity – we will be talking again soon I can promise you that, and to the followers of this blog - many thanks for your messages of support and look forward to entertaining you in the future with more stories of my photographic adventures…. Keep watching.
– John Cosgrove - the Travelshooter.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 40- Friday April 22 – curve balls and rain

You know yesterday was kind of a funny day, it was weird because all day I had this feeling of sadness as it dawned on me that the trip would soon be over, the friends I’ve made here all don’t want me to leave, there is still much to do and yet it’s time to head home, to consolidate my thousands of images, sort them out, finish my MFA and prepare for the next phase of my life and yes, of course: hug my wife and kids who I do miss terribly.

cows and goats can't read but people can - dah
I wandered the back roads of Fraser town yesterday morning, camera in hand for what I thought would be the last time as my schedule over the next two days is very hectic, what with packing and washing clothes, buying last minute gifts for the kids, burning DVDs, checking tickets and taking part in with a major show and workshop series for NICC. So I took the opportunity to say goodbye to my principal subject – Moore Road, Fraser Town, Bangalore, India.
What is happening here now is that all the people who didn’t want their photo taken when Raj and I wandered the streets last Saturday shooting portraits, they are now rushing up to me demanding  that I shoot them in front of their shops, all because I printed out the portraits and gave them to the subjects. In a way it’s kinda funny and I will miss it, but it did allow me to shoot some more street portraits and also to watch a man be shaved with a cut throat razor in the barbers shop – scary ah- hahaha.
the workers are progressing fast with the foundations next door

rat anyone - yuk


Moore Road has been a very therapeutic experience for me, focusing my attentions for so long on just one subject was what I set out to do here and also with my studies, learning ways to make it all happen- the key I have found is just to spend time with your subjects and don’t rush in and out of their lives as I used to in the past with my assignments. Now it is all about time.

But this is India and things change in an instant here so they tell me, so never be totally sure of your plans and be very flexible as last night the southern monsoons finally took up residence over Karnataka. I awoke this morning to the same drizzly rain that had started falling late yesterday afternoon just as we had planned to go to another area to shoot modern but the rain stopped all that and we instead stayed indoors in Vinos little flat, having a small party with friends and other photographers who braved the rains and treacherous road conditions to join us.
Jacques , Anita, John and John
But when I woke this morning I decided that I needed to shoot the rain so I once again wandered those same and very familiar streets looking for the Brian Brakesque atypical monsoon pictures. Sadly it’s only started raining here and there are no beautiful models/actresses on hand in the neighbourhood for me to pour water over their faces, but however, this is India and even though today is Good Friday, it is also a major Hindu festival that I am told has been happening in various parts of the town for the past three days, so nearby I stumbled across a bunch of very happy devotees, all banging their drums and singing in the light rain as they lit candles, smashed coconuts and rejoiced etc . Lots of laughs and some good photos I hope. Today is all about prep for the workshops as I have to prepare my own and to also help Vino with his sports workshop so it should be fun I guess.
 Jacques, the South African photographer, is fun to watch as he is just like me when I first got here, shooting everything that moves. He’s lucky as he has an Mk 3 and a 400 2.8 on hand but he’s a good keen bloke with an eye for detail. 
Him and Vino are off on Monday morning by car to Chennai and then on to Kochin for an extended stay between IPL matches there so they and Ron – the boss- are all planning to experience the state of Kerala and sample its delights and see its wonderful countryside. I’ve been there before and it really is a nice place to visit and shoot pictures in so I am so jealous as I will be stuck in an aluminium tube heading east and south to the middle of winter in Dunedin. LOL as I expect that seeing how Jacque doesn’t really like the Tequila VJ has so I wonder how he will go with the very potent Toddy they serve up over there in the backwaters of Kerala.