Beautiful, Interesting and Ooo Shiny! Images From Various Places

India

The Exposure Triangle: Bringing it All Together

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350 D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 20 • 1/125 sec

Hey my fellow shutter-bugs! It’s been a while since I had a lesson, so I owe you one – and it’s just in time for you to take all those crazy family pictures during Christmas! Previously, I talked about Aperture and Shutter Speed. Today’s lesson is on ISO, as well as answering the question: so what’s the point of all of this?

ISO (International Standards Organization), or as old-school photographers would say, Film Speed, is simply a measurement of how quickly the media in your camera can pick up light. For example, think about the last time you moved. If you had to pack a truck, how long would it take to fill if only you were working? How long would it take if you had a whole team of movers? These scenarios would represent low and high ISO settings, respectively. Higher ISOs “pack in” light faster than low ones, allowing you to shoot better pictures in low light. They also introduce film grain (pixellation) at higher levels depending on your camera.

So now you have all three pieces of the Exposure Triangle, every photographer’s rule to taking properly exposed pictures. The main point is to keep the triangle balanced. When you adjust shutter speed down, you may need to open your aperture or use a higher ISO. When you set a high ISO to shoot at night, you will need a longer shutter speed or wide aperture, etc. You will know these three are balanced when your camera’s light meter is centered.

Now comes the fun part: with this knowlege, you can shoot any camera in manual mode and actually know what you’re doing! 😀 You can try several combinations of the three elements, just remember how else they affect your photos (aperture affects depth of focus, shutter speed affects blur, and ISO affects noise). Also, you can use the Tv, Av, P, and any other settings appropriately. Just know that Tv lets you choose your shutter speed & ISO, and it will pick the aperture for you. Likewise, Av does the same with letting you control aperture. P is fully automatic except for the focus & flash.

Ok, your turn! Try taking some pictures and let us know your experience in the comments. Did you get the image you were going for? Do you know why/why not?


When Life’s Journey Leaves Us Disappointed

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 1600 • f 4 • 1/100 sec

Don’t we look like FUN?!? 😀 The group of teenagers I traveled with one year took part in a street drama called “The Journey.” It told the story of a man searching for meaning in his life, and the different people he meets along the way.

This group of girls were the partiers. We drank a lot (ok, only pretended to), danced around with ribbon dancers, and generally made a lot of noise. It was fun… for a while. But eventually the partying took it’s toll. Those who had been drinking a lot got sick. Others got dizzy and tripped up our conga line. A fight broke out over the bottle of “booze.” Our party became a mess.

So the man moved on.

Even though we were just acting, I could relate to these girls. There have been many times I thought something looked like fun that turned out to be greatly disappointing. While I wasn’t much of a “party hard” type when I was younger, I chased after academic success, relationships, fame (part of me still wishes I could sing), financial stability, and other things that weren’t inherantly bad, but didn’t completely satisfy me, either.

I won’t give away the ending of the drama, you’ll have to watch it for yourself. But I eventually came to the same place as the man in his journey, and I found something worth putting all my effort into pursuing. And no, it wasn’t my degree in chemistry. 😉

What have you found that satisfies you and doesn’t leave regrets or disappointment?


FAILing With Style

Location: India
Camera Info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 1600 • f 20 • 1/80 sec

Ever want to try something crazy, just because you can? A friend of mine decided to have some fun while walking around a rural area of India. There was a random pole in the ground, and we still never knew what it was for. But looked like fun! The guy was quite an acrobat.

Ever want to try something crazy, and it goes terribly wrong? The rest of our group had looked away for a moment, when we heard my friend call for help.  Apparently, he had missed when trying to get off the pole.

I bet it made quite a fond memory, having a bunch of teens try to help him get a pole out of his pants. At least next time we had a group sing-along, we had an extra soprano!

So what has been your biggest FAIL when you were trying to look good?


Forgiveness in Colorado

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 11.0 • 1/100 sec

 It’s not too often the Shine4Him Photo blog ventures into social commentary, but I think this week’s photo deserves it (phrases taken from Exodus 3:5 and Psalm 100:4, painted on a church wall in India). So does the recent happenings in Aurora, CO in the USA.

In the week following this tragedy, there have been many stories emerge of heroism, sacrifice, and love. Tragedies tend to bring out the deepest emotions and people’s true selves. Anyone can claim what they think they would do in a situation, but we never know for sure until something forces us to act without thinking. That’s what the men who died saving their girlfriends were doing. Somewhere, they learned that was the noble thing to do, and when the moment came, they acted. Now the world is grateful, even through many tears.

Then there is Pierce O’Farrill, one of the other victims of the shooting. Despite having been shot three times, the moment he was released from the hospital, he told the press that he had forgiven the shooter. Again, this goes against the grain of what seems normal. No one blames the families who are angry at Holmes. I doubt few would be upset when justice is served. But what about this guy?

Forgiveness, in itself, is very freeing. For years, research has proven that bitterness only tears apart the person who carries it, and forgiveness allows the person to give up the “victim” title and move on with their lives. Personally, I hope everyone involved can eventually come to that point, though it will likely take years. And please note that forgiveness is not exoneration. I’m sure even O’Farrill would agree that the courts need to do their job. But this immediate forgiveness, and even a willingness to talk to and pray for the shooter? Now that’s something different.

O’Farrill links his actions to his faith in Jesus Christ. It takes more than just being a good person to forgive like that, I’ve found. It takes power beyond ourselves. But through the years, many have discovered the power that Jesus provides to forgive those who hurt them. Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom also had to lean on her faith to forgive the man who tortured her and her sister. But both of these people have made the same amazing discovery – that forgiveness gives us a glimpse of the true nature of God, and in that, we can be thankful.

Have you ever struggled to forgive someone who hurt you? Where do you find the strength to move on?


Child’s Play

Location: India
Camera Info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/85 sec

Pattycake, pattycake, baker’s man…” Who knew that when our group hung out with street kids in India, that this game would be so popular? The girls especially were lining up to play a round of pattycake with us. While the kids here didn’t sing the same rhyme we did, they still knew the game. I’ve also found similar clapping games in other countries I’ve traveled to.

I’m amazed at how some things can travel cross-culturally so easily! For example:

  • Soccer is played throughout most of the world. All kids need is a ball and enough people to form a team.
  • “Rock, Paper, Scissors” is used in many kinds of decision-making in Japan, and kids in Somalia play Semut, Orang, Gajah (Ant, Man, Elephant).
  • India has a game that’s similar to capture the flag (or the first round of dodgeball, depending on how you play), called “dog and bone.”
  • In Japan, the kids loved to play “Duck, Duck, Goose” with our group. Chile has a version of this game as well, played with a handkerchief.
  • Most cultures have some form of Tag, but Pakistan puts a fun twist on it by designating safe zones on the ground or above it (“The floor is lava!”).
  • Kids in Korea play jacks, using small stones instead.
  • In the USA, we have marbles and cornhole. In Israel, they have Gogo’Im (apricot seeds).
  • There are also many more, including jump rope and hide-and-seek.

Have you ever played games with kids from other countries? What was the same or different?


India’s Division of Labor

Location: India
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/400

Is there still division of labor by gender in your country? Well, there sure is in tribal areas of India, and these workers are good at what they do!

The women in this week’s picture are weaving cotten blankets to sell in the market. The white, black, and red threads are embroidered to make intricate patterns, sometimes taking months to complete. They sell for what we tourists would consider a small amount (one even offered hers for $40 US), but it’s enough to sustain their families. Women in the area we visited always made the same cotton blankets in the black, white, and red pattern, but other tribes in the state specialize in other products. Silk sarees with gold edges and the famous “Madras Checks” pattern are also from Tamil Nadu tribes.

In the meantime, the men kept busy farming, raising sheep and other livestock, and carrying out religious roles such as priests or pastors. They were known mostly for their strength. In fact, one of the local men told our group that in order for a boy to be considered a man (and thus be allowed to marry), he had to lift a large rock and throw it over his head. The rock was selected by the girl’s father, of course, and its size would depend on how much he liked the guy. 😉 Many of the men in our group tried to throw a “medium” size rock the Indian man had pointed out, but few were able to even lift it! I guess they wouldn’t do so well living in Indian tribal country. 😀

Have you seen much division of labor where you live? What roles do men or women play exclusively?


What Did You Expect?

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 400 • f 6.3 • 1/100 sec

What impression of this woman do you get from the picture? Is she tired? Lonely? Deep in thought? Does she have friends or family nearby she’s waiting on? Now go a little deeper… what’s her name? What’s her home life like? Does she believe in God? What does she do for a living? What are her dreams?

This leaves a lot up to the imagination, doesn’t it? If you assume she is homeless or a beggar, it’s easy to believe her family could be dysfunctional. What if you assumed she was just tired, worn out from a long day at the market with her friends and needing to rest her feet? Her life would seem joyful and exciting. What if you believed she was praying? Would you see her as a woman of faith? Any of these could be true.

Now think about the people you meet every day. What assumptions do you make about them? We often get partial information about people – we know their names, jobs, or families – but how often do we dig deeper? Do we really see what motivates those around us? Or do we make our conclusions based on what we’ve seen, coupled with the reasons we make up?

Ninety-nine percent of conflicts are the result of mismatched expectations. Often, we expect people to react to life based on the unconscious assumptions we make about them, whether they are close to the truth or far from it. So it’s wise to continually re-evaluate our opinions of others. Let them tell their story. Let them share their dreams & passions. Maybe you’ll see them from a different perspective.

When was the last time you made an assumption about someone and were proved wrong?


The Massive Fortress of Golkonda

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 1600 • f 14.0 • 1/200 sec
(Note: Ok, so I took this pic when I was first learning. I don’t recommend these settings for outdoor shoots)

“Welcome to Golkonda!” the tour guide thundered. I didn’t pay a ton of attention to him, since I was glancing nervously at the security guard in full military getup guarding a canon. Armed guards were a common occurance. Still, everyone here was friendly. Our tour group was led around the fort and shown many of the sights. Not bad for Rs 100 (about $2.30 at the time), even if the locals got in for Rs 5-20. It’s common in India to get the “skin tax” added on to prices if you’re a foreigner. 😛

Golkonda fort (aka Golla Konda, or “Shepherd’s Hill”) was built in the 13th century under the Kakatiya dynasty. Legend states that a wandering shepherd boy found an idol on the hill, so the Hindu king built a mud fort on the location. In the 15th century, construction began in granite, and the fort continued to be added on to until it’s ruin in 1687. Today, Golkonda is a collection of four forts behind an outer wall, covering 11 km² (4.2 mi²) in all (see here for more architectural details). One cool fun fact is that the mines surrounding Golkonda are where the Kohinoor and Hope diamonds were supposedly discovered.

On our tour, we got to visit the bat cave (and yes, the residents were there) and climb to the top to see a panoramic view of the twin cities Hyderabad & Secunderabad. At the base of the fort, our guide showed us where we could stand to clap or yell so that we could be heard at the uppermost citadel nearly 1 km (0.6 mi) away. Great acoustic system! They also had a running water system at the top – amazing technology for the time it was built! Finally, our group decided to shell out another Rs 40 (less than a dollar. Ooo!) to see the hour-long sound and light show that told the history of the fort. Sweet!

What’s your favorite historical place to visit?


Must Love Elephants

Location: Thailand
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 400 • f 5.6 • 1/80 sec

“But… all Americans LOVE elephants!” the merchant said, shoving a carved stone sculpture into my hand. He was sure that if I bought the souvenier to take home, it would be an instant hit. I’ve run across the same thing in India and Thailand now. What is it with Asians thinking Westerners love elephants?? Well, at least these guys didn’t expect us to be running around in bikinis.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve seen many generalizations and stereotypes on my travels, in all ethnic directions. Some of them are pretty funny, actually. Many have heard the old joke: “In heaven, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the bosses are Swiss, the cops are British, and the lovers are Italian. In hell, the cooks are British, the mechanics are French, the cops are Italian, the bosses are German, and the lovers are Swiss.” A graphic designer has even created maps of common stereotypes (Note: semi-NSFW due to language) and another blogger made a top 10 list.

When traveling, I am often confronted by the stereotypical American mindset that thinks I’m rich, ignorant, liberal and like to eat lots & lots & lots of food. As frustrating as that can be, I’m not the only one that gets it. My boyfriend is Tawianese by birth, but raised by Americans. Recently he was at a Chinese restaurant, and someone asked him to find them a seat. Also, a disgruntled cashier at a grocery store expected him to try to haggle the price, just like the Burmese guys that were in line in front of him. When he travels abroad, people don’t believe he’s American because he doesn’t “look like one,” whatever that means. At least we both get a good laugh out of it.

What stereotypes have you faced when traveling? What ones do you hold about other ethnicities/countries?


India’s Temple Children

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/140 sec

As our tour group neared a Hindu temple in southern India, we were met by this little boy dressed as one of the Hindu gods. He was more than willing to strike a pose and let us take pictures – for a small fee. After all, entertaining the visitors was his full-time job.

The life of a temple child is very difficult. Most of these children are dedicated to the temple deity as infants, in order to bring their families good luck. Never seeing their parents again, they are raised in the temple to serve the local gods, which includes a variety of jobs. The boys, like this one, often serve as bahurupis (“the many-faced“), street entertainers who dress up as the gods and perform for locals and tourists alike. It’s a difficult job, because a convincing actor will go all day without shoes, eating or using the restroom. Many are not allowed to talk, even as passers-by treat them harshly.

Girls often face even more difficult circumstances. In the past, their roles were also entertainers. Indian missionary Amy Carmichael once wrote,

“The duties of the temple girls were to carry the kumbarti (the sacred light); to fan the idol with chamaras (fans); to dance and sing before the god. They were the only women who could read and write, play an instrument, and sing and dance. Their presence was believed to bring good luck to a wedding, and they had power to avert the ‘evil eye.'”

Today, Many infant girls dedicated to the temples are “married” to the temple deity and are considered devadasi (basically a “divine prostitute“). Their job is to provide sexual favors for the priests and male worshipers who frequent the temple. When they get older (around 5-7 yrs old), they are auctioned off to become a child concubine. Many girls are re-sold after they pass puberty, and more than half end up in brothels for the remainder of their lives. This practice was outlawed decades ago, but perpetrators are rarely punished, so it continues today, especially in rural areas. Tradition and poverty are strong motivators in this society.

Poverty can bring people to do all sorts of things they would never consider otherwise. What have the poor in your area done to cope?


A Facepalm-Worthy Moment

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 400 • f 25 • 1/200 sec

Every once in a while, I see situations that totally FAIL. This week was one of those (and one reason why this post is a day late). The other night, I got a Skype message from a friend of mine. He had been catching up with some old friends from high school he hadn’t seen in years. In discussing our mutual friends and how they were doing, one girl’s name came up. My friend was told she had died a couple years back due to complications in childbirth.

None of us had heard from her for years, so we struggled with the guilt of why we hadn’t kept in touch. I searched the obituary archives online to try and find details, but I didn’t know her married name or what town she had moved to last. Like the people in this week’s photo, I just wanted to get away from everything and think.

I updated my Facebook status to reflect my mood, which of course attracted other old schoolmates who wanted information. One claimed she still knew an extended family member, so she would try to follow up. Within a few hours, she wrote me back: The person who told you this was misinformed… or lying. She’s not dead. What??? Sure enough, my supposedly-deceased friend added me on Facebook within hours. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Sometimes, the FAIL is so bad, it just makes you facepalm. A time like this – just like the Taylor student mixup – requires even more.

What moments of FAIL have you found yourself in? Did you laugh or just groan in disbelief?


Kids and Their Favorite Toys

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 14 • 1/100 sec

Until I went to India, I never imagined how fascinating a ballpoint pen could be. Yet these schoolkids would literally fight each other over one if they had the chance. No worries – I brought a bag full. I enjoy bringing little gifts for kids when I travel, and these kids were no exception. For them, having something more “high-tech” than a pencil was exciting.

Cameras were exciting too. They knew that with digital photography, they could see the pictures instantly on a camera’s screen. So I was inundated with requests by kids to take their pictures, then turn the camera around to show them. This always elicited excited shrieks when they recognized themselves. Every once in a while, I would get a group of kids so big that they started grabbing at the camera. I was worried about it getting lost or damaged, so I started taking their pictures with a point-and-shoot. While they were busy admiring themselves on that one, I would pull out my DSLR and get a good pic for myself as well. 🙂

Knowing how much these little things meant to the kids, I was amazed by a street girl named Minyana. Someone had given her a sheet of stickers, and she chose to be generous herself. She went to each of us in the group, and affixed a sticker to each of our shirts. Even in poverty, she knew what generosity was all about.

Have you ever seen a small gift mean a lot to someone? What about something that someone gave you?


India’s Confusing Castes

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D / lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 1600 • f 10 • 1/32o sec

I might have felt bad about invading this guy’s bedroom for a picture if it wasn’t in the middle of the street. But there he was every day, sleeping on the sidewalk across from our hotel. From what I learned, he was either from the Dalit (“downtrodden”) caste, or a manual laborer that didn’t make enough money to have a home. I first mentioned the caste system in an earlier post, but I wanted to take a closer look at it this week.

The Indian caste system is very complicated, but many have tried to simplify things, like in this infographic. Each major category, or Varna, is divided into many communities or castes, called Jatis or Jats. The four major Varna are Brahmin (priest), Kshatriya (administrator/warrior), Vaishya (merchants/businessmen), and Shudra (artisans, farmers, unskilled laborers). The Dalits, also called Harijans (“Children of God”) form a fifth “untouchable” caste. Even the lower classes are divided into subgroups, including the Scheduled Castes (modern Dalits), Scheduled Tribes (jungle tribes or those who reject the caste system), and Other Backward Classes (converts to other religions, criminals, and nomads, among others). Traditionalists consider foreigners untouchable as well since they are outside the caste system. Each caste has certain duties and rights for work, diet, marriage, and other areas. However, in today’s society, these definitions can be very fluid.

The caste system is traditionally a Hindu invention, but other religions in India practice it as well, since it has become so ingrained in the culture. In 1950, the concept of “untouchables” was outlawed by the Constitution of India. However, in some rural areas, it is still practiced heavily and Dalits are persecuted. In other areas, the lower classes are given positive discrimination, allowing them admittance to universities and government jobs even before upper classes can claim them. I wonder if this sleepy guy in the picture knows about that.

If you lived in India, which caste do you think you would belong to? Would you be happy with that place in society?


Asia’s Darkest Day


Location: India
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 / Automatic Point & Shoot
(No EXIF data available)

I’m feeling nostalgic today. It’s not because this week’s pick is black and white, either. It’s just the story behind it that still means a lot to me.

This picture was taken the summer of 2004. Our group took a three-day vacation to the beaches of Chennai to relax and get some sun. The whole time we were there, merchants would walk the beach and try to sell us things. 🙄 Some made it a point to come by every day and spend time with us. The lady in the picture with the cloth was one of them. There was also an older gentlemen who had hand-carved stone sculptures of different sizes. They each spoke multiple languages, as they needed them to keep up with the different tourists that came by the beach. English was one language they were very familiar with, though they had not yet learned to read. Some of our group got the idea to give them some English papers we had with us in exchange for discounts on their items. They were excited for the trade, because they could practice better with them. In the meantime, I sat and talked with the two as they crisscrossed the beach every day. When it was time for us to leave, they seemed sad to see us go. The man even gave me a gift – a tiny granite carving of a turtle that he had made himself. It was small enough to go on a necklace. Awwww!

In time, I went back to the USA. I put the carving in a safe place and didn’t think of it much until a few months later. I was visiting family for Christmas and saw the news: a giant tsunami had hit eastern India. 😮 Chennai was right in the path of the waves, and much of the coast was devastated. The reports said many were killed, but some escaped. I had no way of knowing if my merchant friends had made it out or not. I wanted to jump on the next plane to India and help out (my visa was still good for another week or so), but school and work requirements made that impossible. I was left not knowing, and still don’t know what happened to them. But I treasure that little turtle carving now, and keep it as a reminder that I should make the most of life and my relationships, because I never know what tomorrow may bring.

Have you ever had a moment that reminded you to treasure your relationships? Where were you during the 2004 tsunami and how did it affect you?


More Than Pretty Flowers

Location: India
Camera info: Fuju Finepix A303 / Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/100 sec

Sights like these are very common outside Indian Hindu temples. I met these sweet lady while she was trying to sell me flowers. A variety of flowers are used in Hindu worship practices, and the carnation garlands she is making are one of the more popular choices. Other popular flowers used include lotus, plumeria, jasmine, roses, tulasi, sampangi (Indian lily), mums and marigolds. Many Indians make a good living selling floral bouquets, garlands, loose flowers, and powders for a variety of Hindu worship ceremonies. The flowers can also be used to honor guests (I have been given them a few times when arriving at places in India), for weddings and other celebrations, and of course, just for decoration.

When visiting the temple, I saw Indian worshipers bringing various items for prayer, or puja. The flowers, fruits, and sweets were supposed to symbolize bounty from the natural world. Merchants outside the temples sold them wrapped in banana leaves or other organic containers. When the worshipers finished their ceremonies, many were given a red powder mark, or tilak, on their forehead that symbolized blessing. The woman in the picture is sporting one as well. Who knew that flowers could have so many uses besides just looking pretty or getting men out of the doghouse???

Do you have any other creative uses for flowers?


Mehndi Madness!

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 5.6 • 1/100 sec

Mehndi, or henna tattoos, are a safe, temporary alternative to the kind parents dread their kids getting. They are made by using a plant paste to draw on the skin. The paste is made of ground-up henna leaves and a sugar-based mixture. When it is left on your skin for a few hours, it stains the top layers of skin cells a dark brown color. The effect lasts anywhere from a couple days to over a week, depending on the location of the tattoo and how often you wash it. Then you can do it all over again! 🙂 The same paste can also be used as a hair dye, but I don’t think that’s nearly as fun as drawing a mustache on your sleeping friend.

I first learned to do henna designs on a trip to India. Now, I like to use the art to give my friends a taste of world culture. This week, I did a birthday party where I decorated girls’ hands and feet with butterflies and flowers. I’ve also drawn guitars and dragons for guys. Aside from special events, I enjoy seeing how henna is used culturally. Many of the symbols used in the designs have deep meanings in other cultures. Some pregnant women decorate their bellies for good luck. Most Indian women get covered in intricate designs before their weddings. I heard somewhere of a tradition that a new bride will get her husband’s name hidden in the henna designs on her body. After the wedding, he has to go find it. Scandalous! 😯

You can find tubes of henna paste at most international grocery stores, so why not give it a try? I like to draw mine in the evenings and keep them on overnight so they will turn out darker. You can use a mixture of lemon juice and sugar on top of dry henna to keep it from flaking off as fast. Just be careful not to let it stain your clothes!

Have you ever gotten a henna tattoo? What designs are/were your favorite?


Animal Pranksters

Location: India
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 / Automatic Point & Shoot
(No EXIF data available)

Have you ever had a prank pulled on you – by an animal? A friend of mine did!

On a trip to India several years ago, our group was touring a suburban area and stumbled across a large group of monkeys. Now, we were warned ahead of time that Indian monkeys are mean. However, we saw several “monkey trainers” around that day, who seemed to get along well with the somewhat cute Rhesus macaques. They would dress them up and have them perform tricks for handouts from willing tourists. Some cities in India have had trouble with monkey gangs, but they seemed pretty friendly where we were.

We continued walking and found some steps to sit on for a rest, and my friend set her favorite water bottle at her feet. We were in mid-sentence when a teenage monkey suddenly ran up to us and snatched the water bottle! Before either of us could react, it scaled the side of the building and climbed on the roof. As it turned around to look over the ledge, it held the bottle up and waved it back and forth as if mocking us. 😕 I could almost imaging it chuckling as it wrestled the cap off and took a drink. Touché, monkey dude. Touché.

Do you have any fun animal stories to tell? Have you ever been “had” by a furry critter? Let’s hear the tale of embarrassment!


How Nomads Made Us Sad

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 1600 • f 18 • 1/100 sec

What does it take to make a difference in the world? Remember little Jyothi I talked about last week? Jordan, a teenager with a huge heart, used most of her free time to play with her. A new friendship grew. Eventually, a nearby Christian ministry heard the story and offered to help Jyothi get an education if someone was willing to fund it. Her parents were ecstatic, and Jordan immediately signed up to be her sponsor. The team was excited about the opportunity to do something for her.

Then… surprise! Jyothi’s father, who worked at our hotel, finished his job and needed more work. The nomadic family disappeared, and the ministry was unable to track them down. To this day, Jordan keeps pictures of Jyothi to pray over, but whatever happened to this beautiful little girl is a mystery. Not exactly the ending we hoped for! 😦 While this story is sad, not every one ends that way. Partly because of Jordan’s example, I now support another Indian girl through Compassion International. She often writes about how much she’s enjoying school and the friends she makes. A sad tale for one became a bright future for another!

What are some ideas you have to fight child poverty? Do you think they will be effective? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll have a story with a happy ending for you next week – I promise! 😉


How Would You Handle This Situation?

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 1600 • f 5.6 • SS 1/100

This is Jyothi. She showed up one day where our group of students was staying, and immediately stole everyone’s hearts. Jyothi was born into a Hindu family that belonged to a lower caste. In India, the caste system pervades nearly all aspects of the culture, from work and education to whom they can marry. Jyothi’s parents could work, but only in some of the most menial and low-paying jobs available, as they were not educated. They told us they wouldn’t be able to afford to send her to school either, and her life would look the same as theirs.  During the weeks we saw her, I noticed she had only two dresses to wear, both dirty and torn. Yet she was always happy and excited to spend time with us — or maybe she was just excited about the candy we had! Either way, she became an unofficial member of our group, and we made sure she got to join in with activities when she was around.

What would you have done in this situation? What is your take on the caste system in India?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Joythi’s story, coming next week!