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Somebody, I forget who exactly,  ( I will Google it in a minute ) said something like;

“The point of photography is to teach us to see”.

For the past 6 months or so I’ve been posting to Instagram on a regular (almost daily) basis. Mostly these are images of life in Chennai and in particular around my neighbourhood of Besant Nagar. Essentially they are vignettes of the stuff of everyday life here that I see when I’m out for a walk or taking an auto ride or whatever. So they are very much of the moment and a bit of an eclectic mix of  street-photography/portraits/documentary. I tag the collection ‘Insta India’.

For a long time I had ignored Instagram as just another Social Meeja gimmick that was mainly for kids who want to post selfies, and whilst it’s true that for many, Instagram is just that, it’s also surprising (or it was to me at least) just how many great images and photographers there are on Instagram. And OK it’s a format which is best suited to viewing on the sort of mobile device on which these images mostly originate, but so what? Where’s the rule that says that great photography, creativity and innovation only apply to those photographers who shoot on a Hasselblad and print on Fine Art paper?

Apart from the fact that it is fun. Social Meeja is taking a bit of stick these days, and I’d be the first to agree that Facebook book is probably best suited to those that can’t face a book, and Twitter is for the ‘Twitterati”. But if we discount the Selfie Lovers then Instagram is at least an online community of creative people who are more interested in sharing their work, and learning from that of others than with the number of likes or followers they have.

Having said that you can follow me on Instagram @meelius and like my Insta India series here 🙂

https://www.instagram.com/meelius/

 

PS: “Photography helps people to see.” – Berenice Abbott

Back To Bastakia

This is one of my favourite places in Dubai if not the planet. And when ever I am in Dubai I always find myself drawn to Bastakia, where I can lose myself for hours in the alleys and architecture of a Dubai gone by..

Bastakia (0r Bastakiya if you prefer the local spelling) is a hidden corner of Dubai and pretty much the only part of the city that harks back to a heritage that sadly has all but disappeared in terms of the rest of the urban fabric of the city. Once slated for demolition also, thankfully somebody in the government planning department  had the good sense to place a heritage order on them, and preserve at least a little history in a city that is all to keen to build ever tackier and taller shiny metal and glass towers which really have little place in a desert climate.

The Bastakia courtyard houses are the true vernacular for this part of the world. They are solid and substantial, and at the same time cool in a very literal sense. The thick walls are actually a unique form of concrete built from crushed corals, mixed with sand and stone. Finished with a sand render they provide the the perfect heat sink to Dubai’s intense sun.

The design of the houses follow a traditional plan based around a central courtyard. The wind towers are on the corner (s) of the building and are designed to pull the rising warm upwards and conversely send cooler air downward whereby it can circulate through the interiors keeping the climate within relatively cool. Its a clever yet low-tech and low energy solution to building climate control. Best of all it creates a beautiful and humanistic housing design, with an engaging and highly visual aesthetic, which for the architectural photographer amongst us is a delight.

I’ve spent many a happy hour wondering round the (increasingly) trendy Bastakia heritage houses. Many of which have now been turned into art galleries, cafes, and even a hotel.

So the next time your in Dubai, do yourself a favour, and see if you cant persuade the wife or better half to leave the Mall for a few hours, and wonder over to Bastakia for an authentic time travel experience which will reconnect you with Dubai gone by.

 

One Night in Bangkok