Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

A no-photo post from India   2 comments

You came here to see photos, I know. But let me tell you what you’d miss if you saw my latest pictures from India, where I am now:

Before I took up photography, I used a journal to record my impressions of the faraway places I visited on business: Rio, Singapore, Taipei, Caracas. But like many of us, I’ve succumbed to the immediate gratification of a snapshot taken with a phone.

Unfortunately, pictures don’t do India justice. They may convey the shimmering colors of women’s silk saris, or the deep azures, vermillions and magentas of ceremonial powders displayed in such perfect cones that one doesn’t dare disturb them through a mere purchase.

But pictures can’t convey the constant honking of cars, cabs, trucks, buses, motorcycles, scooters, and the ubiquitous yellow-and-green autos (aka tuktuks, everywhere else) as they all jockey for better positions on crowded boulevards or as they wind their way through streets so narrow that pedestrians have to escape into store entryways to make room.

Pictures don’t transmit the shouts and hawks of vendors in the market as they invite attention to their wares with melodic bellowing or urge buyers to make up their mind with the staccato-like hectoring of ‘balla-balla-balla-balla’.

Pictures don’t portray the close proximity of people, the constant brushes against others as you try to pass on too-narrow sidewalks or enter too-narrow doorways.

Pictures don’t let you smell the mix of spices, rotting fruit, exhaust fumes and wet asphalt, the fragrance of burnt nuts and corn-on-the-cob wafting in clouds above the rolling food carts that meander through traffic, the aroma of fresh flowers being weighed using hand-held brass scales, the occasional whiff of cow manure, the bouquet of spicy coffee served in paper espresso cups from corner stalls no bigger than a coat closet.

Pictures don’t let you feel the invisible dust that covers your skin as soon as you step outside, or the cool air wafting out of stores fortunate enough to have a fan, or the heat that stings your skin as soon as the sun breaks through the monsoon clouds.

Pictures don’t convey the drizzle that threatens to turn into a monsoon downpour that never comes, or the screech of a bird that is so jarring because it is so rare, or the dogs slinking through the throngs of people looking for scraps of food and getting no affection, or the thousands of smiles flashed at you in the hope of a bit of charity.

Pictures don’t let you feel the flakyness of a barota dipped in masala sauce, or the crispness of a roti served with an assortment of chutneys, or the softness of a slightly charred naan combined with butter chicken.

Pictures don’t convey the near-misses between cars inches apart in heavy traffic, or the flow of traffic around pedestrians crossing the street without any sign of hurry or panic, or of commuters boarding a bus that has already pulled away from its stop, its doors left open to allow stragglers to jump aboard before picking up speed, or the haggling that precedes the boarding of any conveyance.

All that is lost with photography. What’s also lost is our attention span — we see something, we snap a picture, we move on. Gone are the days of quiet contemplation triggered by a desire to ‘remember the moment.’ Our memory has been outsourced to photo storage in the cloud.

I don’t recall the few pictures I took so many years ago in Rio, Buenos Aires or Provence, but my recollections are nevertheless vivid, indelibly stored in my mind through the act of writing them down. So if you want lasting memories of your travels, maybe it’s time to put down the camera and pick up a pen?

Posted August 18, 2019 by Lutz Braum in India, Writing

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Happy New Year!   2 comments


Dear Readers,
Thank your for reading, visiting, or following my blog, which is a great source of satisfaction, creativity, and expression for me. The folks at sent me some encouraging stats as part of their annual blog report:

  • In 2015, I added 114 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 548 posts.
  • Visitors came from 118 countries, most of them from the US, France, and Germany.
  • 243 pictures were uploaded in 2015. That’s about 5 pictures per week.
  • My most commented on post in 2015 was No photo, just a holiday message

Here’s an excerpt from the full report:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy New Year everyone, see you in 2016!

Posted December 31, 2015 by Lutz Braum in Writing

No photo, just a holiday message   9 comments

Watching the news about various political campaigns around the world I am reminded how I loathe people who speak in absolutes. I know they believe that their words are more powerful if accompanied by ‘always’, ‘everyone’, or ‘never’, and to those too tired to think for themselves this type of speech has great appeal.  Black and white.  Right and wrong.  Don’t think, just follow.  But to those who still have the strength to question, those who yearn for and practice free will, to them these absolutes ring hollow, and thus these absolutes negate the credibility of even the tiny kernel of truth that they may contain.  How can anyone claim to know everything, which is the only circumstance under which one could truthfully use words like ‘everywhere’ or  ‘nobody’?  I know that life, history and the universe is not black and white, but a rainbow of possibilities, truths, and perspectives.  Unfortunately, many people are just too tired, lazy or incapable of parsing the multitude of opinions to establish their own, and instead they follow those who yell the loudest and who use the seductive vocabulary of absolutes, of demagoguery, of fear.  Because fear is easier to ignite than hope, and motivates people faster than love.  Yet love, of all things, is what deserves more attention, as it is the only thing that can provide peace, harmony, and happiness.  So this holiday, let’s not focus on absolutes but on nuances, not on differences but on shared origins, not on fear but on love.

Posted December 25, 2015 by Lutz Braum in Writing

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