"Be my little friendThrough the mountain's endWe could write a bookWithout thinking how we look"
Greendale is Where I Belong (2010)
by Ludwig Göransson
It's a beautiful song from, Community, my favourite TV show ever.
A few days ago, I tried something new which I have never attempted before: stitching photographs together into a panorama. I have not read any on-web or off-web instructional literature on how to do it, no one ever showed me the ropes, and I most certainly did not download any photo-stitching software to help me. I literally did not know the first thing about stitching pictures, but armed with nothing but Photoshop CS4, I achieved it after forty minutes of cropping, scaling, skewing, distorting, correcting the lens, and adjusting the exposure of the separate pieces. It was sweat, spunk, blood and gut - and it was worth it.
Here, dear readers, is the result,
|You must click on it to see it in its full glory! C'mon, I worked hard on it!|
So, what's your verdict?
I thought it's reasonably seamless, considering that I have never done this before. It is comprised of three separate photographs I took from the north-facing Thandi Sarak (the "Cold Road") at Dalhousie in the Chamba Valley. When I first feast my eyes on this scenic vista, I was gobstopped and awestruck by its grandeur. There were nothing but snow-capped mountains bordering the entire horizon from end to end like a titanic wall of ice and rock right out of the imagination of a fantasy novelist! Standing there on the viewing pavillion, I told myself that I couldn't just photograph a small disembodied segment of the scenery because that would do it no justice in the least.
Right. Now that I've started a post about Dalhousie, I might as well dump the rest of my photographs taken at that hill station here.
So, the story is this: by the time I arrived in Pathankot, it was already past six in the evening but rather than calling it a day, I bullishly pressed on anyway and boarded a bus to Banikhet which, I was told, is situated just seven kilometres away from Dalhousie. The man who sat beside me on the bus was carrying a labrador puppy in a box with him - which is a marvellous idea, if you ask me. I think everyone should carry a puppy everywhere they go.
|Look! It matches his beard!|
After reaching Banikhet, I was fortunate enough to meet a local tourist who made it his personal responsibility to get me to Dalhousie, where he was heading to as well. We split the cost of a cab, and shared an excruciatingly painful conversation en route. He spoke almost no English but that did not deter him from wanting to make small talk anyway. So, we had to cooperatively make sense of every single word he cheerfully butchered with the aid of hand gestures and funny faces. There were times in our dialogue when I was simply nodding and agreeing to spirited gobbledygook.
When we finally landed and I said goodbye to my temporary friend ("bye bye" being one of the few English words he fortunately commands), I found myself crashing headlong into a glitch in my plan. I discovered that the boarding house I planned to stay at was undergoing renovation work. And no, I did not call ahead to make bookings. In fact, I did not make a single reservation in my entire month-long backpacking trip because I arbitrarily decided that that's just 'not my style, baby'. I am often deliberately stupid like that.
It must have been about midnight when I heard eerie high-pitched cries coming from the direction of Subhash Chandra Bose's statue at Subhash Chowk where I was hunting for board and room. Naturally, I went to investigate (because getting a place to stay that night so I don't freeze to death wasn't at all a pressing issue, silly). I was glad I did because under the monument, I discovered a litter of seven round, fluffy PUPPIES!
They made my three-day stay in Dalhousie so much more fulfilling that it otherwise would have.
|"ZOMG, TISH HAND TASHTE SHO GOOHD!!!"|
|"Is it can be hugs tiem now plees?"|
|"This leg is ours now. Say bye bye to it."|
|"OH HAI, WE JUS EETIN UR SHOE K?"|
|"Take me home please, mistah..."|
The Tibetan Spirit Guide™ told me that I wouldn't find much to do in Dalhousie (and she was right), but I personally thought it's a perfect place for bookish travellers such as myself to read and write. In fact, I spent entirety of a whole day there just sitting in a café reading Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger from cover to cover. The Tibetan Spirit Guide™ recommended it to me as brutally honest portrait of the Indian working class, and after stumbling across a paperback of it in the guesthouse I lodged in, I simply couldn't pass it up. I had a mind to simply nick it and I must admit the temptation was almost overpowering, but being an atheist, I believe I should be beholden to a higher standard of conduct - so I didn't.
|A grandmother having tea with her grandchild at Café Dalhousie.|
Along the pedestrian-only Garam Sarak (the "Hot Road") in the south, you'll find a series of Tibetan rock paintings presumably created and maintained by a small group of Tibetan refugees who had chosen to make a home out of Dalhousie.
|The stone says, 'Oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ.'|
When I was in primary school, my school decided to hold religious classes for non-Muslim students to keep us occupied every Friday when the Muslim boys go for their prayers. All of the Buddhist kids were lumped and dumped together into the school hall with no regards to the various different sects within Buddhism, and the Taoists were thrown into the mix as an afterthought even though Taoism is an entirely different religion (apparently, everything the Muslim school administrators learned about Buddhism and Taoism came from the popular Hong Kong TV series, Journey to the West).
Then, we were all made to chant the mantra "Oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ" along with a cassette player for a whole hour. That was it. There were no stories about Buddha, no discussion of morality or Buddhist philosophy; not even an explanation of what that six banal syllables meant. We were expected to simply drone mindlessly on without any understanding at all. Meanwhile, the Hindu kids had epic fantasy story-time with tales from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. So unfair.
|The topless one on the left is White Tara. The middle one looks like Buddha. No clue about the blue one.|
|Okay, I know I have at least one Tibetan reader. Who is this deity?|
The St. Francis Catholic Church at Subhash Chowk had a private menagerie which is open to visitors free of charge, and the most exotic creature featured there is a huge tom turkey donated from an American benefactor.
|After learning about clades, I find that every time I look at a bird, my mind goes, "Holy crap, it's a dinosaur!"|
It appears to be moulting. I also think it was 'strutting' to attract mates, plucked breast notwithstanding. It was pacing about, dragging its wings on the ground while periodically letting out a deep alpha rumble - which according to what I read is called 'drumming' (this should give you an idea of how much thought and effort goes into every post here). The red, fleshy snood and dewlap were engorged, as they usually do when tom turkeys strut.
|The duck held that swan pose for 15 minutes, and was still holding it when I left.|
|Yet another stray pup. I found this one at the Tibetan market.|
I left Dalhousie on the third morning and caught a bus to Khajjiar, with the plan of dallying a few hours there before making my way to the once-kingly city of Chamba. The reason why I kept changing the subject is because there really isn't much to be said about Dalhousie. It's a nice town on a mountain with a view to kill for, and I liked it enough to stay for three days.
Don't forget to let me know what you think of the stitched photograph! That's the whole point of this post right there. And now, I'll stop writing and end this with a picture of a small yappy-type dog with a tilaka mark on its forehead.
|Thank you, Eddie Izzard, for putting that phrase into my vocabulary.|
You are welcome.
Will not make puns about being in da house,
k0k s3n w4i