09/22/2017

Theyyam: the ritual dance in Kerala, India

Kerala in South India has many popular traditional dance forms like Kathakali, Kutiyattam or Theyyam. Kathakali is an impressive form of classical dance and a wonderful combination of dance, drama, music and religious theme. The presentation is usually based on the Ramayana, the ancient Hindu poem about the divine prince Rama and his wife Sita. Kutiyattam (or Koodiyattam) is a form of Sanskrit theatre and one of India’s oldest living theatrical traditions. It represents a synthesis of Sanskrit classicism and reflects the local traditions of Kerala. Both art forms, Kathakali and Kutiyattam, are performed all over Kerala, but mostly in and around Kochi.

Theyyam dancer, India

Theyyam on the other hand is only found in the northern part of Kerala. The performers of Theyyam always belong to the lower caste. Like Kathakali and Kutiyattam, Theyyam is also a traditional ritual dance form. However, in Theyyam the dancers and performers not only play the deities, during the performance they lose their physical identity and finally impersonate the god and receive magical power. Therefore the blessing of the devotees is an important part at the end of a Theyyam ceremony.

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07/16/2017

An adventurous trip to Bangladesh

Enjoy a tea in a local tea stall in Bangladesh and you will certainly attract the undivided attention of the other customers. Start a conversation in English with local people and you are often quickly in the center of a group of 20 or 30 people staring at the "sensation" from the western world: a foreigner having a conversation with local people! Not that the people are so interested in what you are saying - most of them don't speak or understand English anyway. No, they are fascinated because they are not used to foreigners at all, but in the same time they love foreigners and treat them like movie stars. It is simply a big sensation in their daily life. Welcome in Bangladesh, the country with the friendliest people in the world!

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Dhaka

Dhaka - or better Old Dhaka - is a unique place like no other mega city in the world. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the World, and especially in Old Dhaka you can see and feel it everywhere. I've never seen so many rickshaws in my life. Standing right in the middle of a rickshaw traffic jam in rush hour where you barely can move at all is an experience you only find in Old Dhaka. The traditional market right next to Sadarghat along the riverbank of the Buriganga River is a wonderful experience especially early in the morning.

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04/04/2017

Ambitious Travel Photography

Travel photography is sometimes a topic of controversy. On the one hand there is a growing interest in travel and street photography. However, images of people from poor developing countries are from time to time being discredited. Sometimes people even use the term "voyeurism" in this context. There is also a debate whether families of western industrialized countries would like being photographed in their own front yards by African or Asian people.

Myanmar (Burma), U-Bein Bridge...

Typically, travel photography is a mixture of landscape photography, cultural photography, street photography and travel portraits. The group of tourists who capture cultural events or famous buildings mostly via the smartphone while shooting countless photos will certainly not count to the group of ambitious travel photographers. Travel photographers are usually more amateurs than professionals. The professionals in this field are often specialized as landscape photographers, wildlife photographers or photojournalists. Of course it might be a good idea that travel photographers sell their images via Getty Images or comparable online stock platforms. But nevertheless travel photographers who live exclusively from their photographic work are rather more the exception.

Street photography and travel portraits

The most sensitive areas of travel photography are street photography and travel portraits, especially when children are involved. But the question mentioned at the beginning, who likes to be photographed in his own front yard, is actually not correct. The better question would be why do travel photographers prefer to take pictures of people in foreign developing countries rather than in cities or villages of their own industrialized countries. There are basically two reasons for this. In many densely populated countries, such as India, Bangladesh, or in countries of South-East Asia, privacy is perceived completely differently compared to highly developed countries. In addition, it is much easier to photograph people in developing countries because the “right in one’s own image” has almost no relevance. In these countries, it is quite normal when locals publish “selfies” with tourists on Facebook without permission. Of course there are also more conservative countries, especially in Africa, who deal with travel portraits less openly. But this has either religious reasons (Arabic states) or they are afraid that the tourists might make a lot of money with the pictures of local children by selling them to glossy magazines.

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