Seven years ago I spent 2 months in Kolkata, arriving for the first time at the wonderful Howrah station, planning to take a taxi to my pre-booked hotel. Stepping outside the bustle and noise of the station I immediately saw that taking a taxi would not be wise; the traffic jam stretched out of the station and apparently right across the gleaming, silver meccano bridge which is Howrah. Pushing my wheely suitcase I threaded my way through the immobile taxi ranks, avoiding the elongated puddles which harboured foul water as best as I could, and joined the long line of people waiting to step onto the very same silver bridge as soon as the crowd allowed.
I had arrived at Kolkata, the City of Joy.
Tanneries are synonomous with Morocco. In Fez especially the large tanneries throughout the city draw tourists by their thousands, each tourist being offered a sprig of mint as they gaze down from a terrace to counter the smell of the ancient processes. Many of these tanneries have been renovated and working conditions improved for workers there.
A traditional tannery appears to exist in Essaouira, on the road from Bab Doukalla towards Jotiya. Stepping inside the door is like stepping back several millenia. (more…)
Essaouira is one of the primary locations in Morocco where Gnaoua music comes to a focus. The Gnaoua World and Music Festival, unique in Morocco and held annually in Essaouira, is indicative of the cultural significance that Gnaoua music has in Essaouira.
Gnaoua is the music of the former slaves appropriated from Niger and surrounding countries by Moulay Ismael. Having no written history, the songs and the music constitutes their living history. Whenever their songs are played, parts of their history and philosophies are retold.
I attended a night of Gnaoua music in nearby Diabat several nights ago. Below are some photographs from that night.
One of the most important things to appreciate about Morocco is to regard legends and traditions with caution. Moroccans are born story tellers and some may welcome association with historical figures or events; embellishing stories and history is not unusual.
Jimi Hendrix, one of a number of famous western musicians who have visited Essaouira, flew into Casablanca in 1969 and spent 11 days in Morocco, which included some time in Essaouira. He travelled around Morocco by limousine and a chauffeur, and stayed in 3 different hotels, including “Hotel des Iles” in Essaouira, the most luxurious accommodation in the town at the time.
Fassis is the generic term for the inhabitants of Fes. Here are some portraits from around the city.
Assi Ghat is the southern most ghat in Varanasi where the Rivers Assi and Ganges join in confluence. It is a quiet ghat, popular with students from the close by Benares Hindu University, Hindu worshippers who bath before paying homage to Lord Shiva in the form of huge lingam situated under a peepal tree, and tourists who desire a quieter experience than that in central Varanasi.
Its origin is again bound up in Hindu folklore. The first legend states that after slaying Shumbh-Nishumbh, goddess Durga threw her sword away, and where it landed resulted in the emergence of a big stream ( the river Assi). Secondly, legends say that Lord Rudra was furious with Asuras. This fury has led him to slay eighty Asuras in a day. Eighty in Hindi would translate to Assi. So the place where these Assi (eighty) Asuras were slain, has been named as Assi Ghat.