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I adore dogs. Actually I am fond of all animals. But dogs share a special place in my heart. Their social nature, their devotion, their companionship – D-O-G / G-O-D

This dog wanted someone to play with. In his excitement he started rubbing his head in my hair.

One of the most difficult things about being in India is seeing the condition of the dogs, most of whom are feral, street dogs that spend their days scavenging for food and their nights roving in packs. I often hear them fighting amongst themselves in intimidating territorial barks. During the day many of them can be found standing at perfect attention in front of shops or eateries, hoping a benevolent soul will share something with them.

Last night I sat on the ghats feeding a scrawny white dog some chapati. The dog was initially reluctant and leery of me; they are often abused so are naturally reserved. But once she realized I was a friend she ate the bread with a fervor, and was soon joined but what look liked her sibling who wanted to be fed too. Afterwards she sat next to me in appreciation and let me pet her tiny head. Before taking leave she held up her paw and held my hand with perfect grace and camaraderie. A beautiful display of affection. The young guy sitting next to me said the dog could feel the love.

The dog situation is particularly painful in Varanasi where I’ve been told sterilization is not legal because this is a holy city. Therefore, there are puppies everywhere. Everywhere.

This pack of puppies does not look to be doing well. It has been very cold here so they lay near or in the warm embers of a fire pit.

This is one of the puppies from the above pictured pack. I found it strange to see a full crockery of milk sitting untouched next to them. They almost appear to lethargic to imbibe in it. Very sad.

This doting mom of new puppies has her home on a pile of fly-infested garbage. It broke my heart to see them in this state.

I found this large pack of two families sleeping inside the entrance of a temple.

I encounter a number of very pitiful looking dogs; this being one of them. I’ve noticed that the sickest looking dogs hang out around the sweet shops.

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I’m in Varanasi, one my favorite places in India. I’m staying in Assi Ghat where I lived when I was here in 2006. It’s the southern most ghat on the Ganges.

Each section, referred to as a ghat, has steps that lead down to the river.

One of my primary reasons for returning to Varanasi, also known by it’s ancient name Benares, is to photograph each ghat from the shores of the river, up the steps, and through the winding alleyways that lead into the bustle of the city.

A project that could take some time with the multiple ghats, I didn’t get to it during the six weeks I was here last time because the sadhus (holy men) came to town after the Kumbh Mela gathering. Instead I spent time getting to know and photographing them.

Another great way to see the ghats is from a boat. When I switched hotel rooms the morning after my arrival, my luggage was fetched and moved by way of boat. The morning glide offered a perspective of life on the ghats from the eye of the Ganga.

Flying kites is a favorite past-time with the children playing on the ghats. These boys were offering a slightly different variation then I’ve seen before with their knickers hanging low.

The pollution levels in the holy river have reached staggering proportions; it has been declared unfit for human bathing. It is however, a practice that continues unabated; both natives and pilgrims alike partake of its sacred waters. Bathing and laundry soaps have been banned, but that does not stop them from being used. The Ganga washes bodies and clothes, as well as sins, dishes and water buffalo.


One of the most important applications of ‘Ma Ganga’ is the release of the deceased. It is believed that moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirth) is attained if the Ganges is one’s final resting place. Unfortunately, bodies are only partially burned when put into the river, adding to the pollution problem.

There is also industrial waste, urban waste water, and raw sewage contributing to the contaminated waters. The Ganga, the most populous river basin in the world, has become the breeding ground for 1.5 billion litres of sewage a day, from the 692 villages, towns, and cities that deposit into it. Dr. Sudhirender Sharma, in his paper The Ganga, says ‘The river – an ancient symbol of purity and cleansing has become a great open sewer along much of it’s length.’

Yet, with all the pollution and impurity the Ganga has swirling in her waters, to be near the river creates a tranquility, a sense of timelessness. But Sharma and others campaigning to save the Ganga, wonder for how much longer.

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Family Portrait

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Styrofoam Beat

Drums made of styrofoam and sticks, these boys were playing a mad beat on the streets of Delhi.

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India: Surreal Familiarity

Being back in India is both surreal and familiar. My friend Sonam said that when he saw me at the airport I was walking as if India was my second home. Familiarity does not however remove the feeling of being a stranger in a foreign land, especially in a metropolis like Delhi, with its frenzied pace and relentless motion, and the impersonal feeling this gives. Nor does it hide my differentness as evidenced by the penetrating stares.

With each trip, I continue to learn how to use the Metro – Delhi’s subway system – with it’s vast number of rail lines, platforms and stations. And passengers. Yesterday I waited for the metro to arrive in the crowded platform. The uniformed man blowing directives through a whistle tried to get everyone to form single lines, to no avail. Few paid attention and those who were close to the front did not want to lose their place. It seemed everyone had to be somewhere in a hurry because when the metro arrived there was a mad rush to get onboard and secure one’s place before the doors closed shut.

Less than five minutes later another train arrived. In one giant pushing motion, squeezed tightly together as one entity, we piled onto the subway, everyone jostling to find a place to stand and hang on. My arm was curled around the waist of a young man to reach the pole in the center of the aisle, where I found a space, among the other hands, to hang on. A few minutes into the ride, a gloved hand started caressing mine. I moved it down the pole, the hand followed and continued its caress. When I looked over in the direction it seemed to be coming from I caught the eyes of a man in a leather jacket and gloves. I again moved my hand, and close enough to someone else’s so that if he continued, he would have to be caressing both hands. The man to his right probably wouldn’t have appreciated it, so he stopped.

India is crowded, chaotic and alive! The streets are a virtual panoply of activity – whirring sewing machines, haircutting and shaving, children playing, men sleeping, women laundering, dogs scavenging, beggars begging, food cooking,vendors hawking, brooms sweeping, metallurgists pounding, fires burning. It never sleeps. All night long from my fourth story hotel room I hear the roar of traffic, the blare of horns. Fortunately it stops once the dreams start, but sometimes when I wake I feel the dust of the streets in my eyes. And I wonder if I slept at all.

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This video is a collection of photos from my second visit to Pahalgam in 2005. It’s one of my favorite places; the people are beautiful and the landscape is gorgeous.

The Kashmiris are dying for their freedom (azad), yet a resolution seems a long way off. Neither India nor Pakistan want to relinquish their stronghold on a state that wants to be independent from both countries decades old politics, which many feel are related to water rights. Fighting in the region has worsened since the Mumbai attacks.

I hope to return to Pahalgam one day and gift these amazing people with their portraits!

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This video is a collection of photographs from my second trip to Pahalgam, one of my favorite places in the world. The people of Pahalgam are friendly, curious, humble, and love to have their picture taken, as evidenced in this video. Enjoy! – More on Kashmir soon…

[livevideo id=BF554EA2FC8B4311A7A9B3E3B01D0370]

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