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My Camera, My Chai & Some Essential Gear

Before any one reads this post, they should look at the photo that has been attached.

When I am travelling, the first thing on my essential gear is my Nikon! Apart from that, my Timberland shoes, appropriate trousers etc. Now, I did not want to take off all my clothes in public, so you don't get to see them.

Appropriate trousers, the definition of this, varies with the season. I went to Vrindavan wearing jeans. With a near absent monsoon this year, I felt that my jeans were too heavy. For next year, I will buy a pair of linen trousers. In Mathura, I did buy a cotton kurta and will experiment with this. The feeling of near nakedness is essential in summer. Especially if it is humid. In North India, we cannot stand hot, humid weather.

A photography jacket is important. I normally stuff my wallet into one of the pockets, and my cards. This saves me from pickpockets. So, light shirts and trousers become even more critical.

A nice, round hat like the one you see here is a must. And glares. For me, the only issue is that when I am in the interior parts of India, they think I come from outside India, and they start talking to me in English.

That saffron cloth is a cotton cloth called a gamcha, or gumcha. Phoneticallty, 'gumcha' is a more accurate spelling. I tied this round my camera bag, or my camera strap. I use it to wipe the sweat from my face. Oh boy, will you need this. It is thin, and cotton and a good one costs 2 USD!

During the day, the camera strap started to chaff my neck, so I wet the gumcha and wrapped it around my neck. Not like a noose mind you, but you could say that I slung it around my neck. The wet cloth was a Rajiv-send! If I had not resorted to this, then I would have ended up with burned skin.

Water is essential!

And, so is the occasional cup of chai. Preferably, this is to be drunk from an earthen cup called a 'kullar'. The first part, 'kull' is like 'pull'. Anyone outside South Asia can forget about learning to pronounce the 'ar'!

The mud of the cup imparts it's own flavour to the tea, and is not be confused with the stupid kullars that they sometimes use in five-star hotels. Those are ridiculous. They are glazed and the tea simply does not have the same flavour as when it is drunk from a rural kullar.

Of course, the kullar is environmentally friendly. It comes from the earth, and goes back to the earth. Sadly, they are being replaced by horrible thermoset or plastic cups. They ruin the taste, and are environmentally unfriendly.

We call this progress!



Profile photo of Rajiv Chopra

I have been in the corporate world all my life, and have decided to take a sabbatical from this world. I am now a budding entrepreneur in my old age. This is wonderful because, apart from giving me the freedom to paint my own canvas, and to choose the canvas, it also gives me the time to do some of the things that I really like to do. These are, to travel, to photograph and to write. I still use a Nikon D 200. I started with B&W film, and this is something that I still love. The things that I am really grateful to the corporate world are, that I got the chance to travel the world, and meet lots of very interesting people. I have, over the years, become very interested in history, physics, culture,conservation, the environment and street food! I love landscapes, street photography, people, macro photography, geometrical shapes



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