All posts by Sukanya Ramanujan

Multi-lingual professional with varied interests such as reading, travelling, music and photography.

Weekly Photo Challenge, Inspiration

So this week’s challenge asks us to post a photograph about something that inspires us. That is such a hard ask in my opinion. How do I encapsulate all the different things that inspire me into one single photograph? It’s impossible! And so I settled down to posting something that represents many things that I love doing.

The Library of Celsus at Ephesus, Turkey
The Library of Celsus at Ephesus, Turkey

The photograph is that of the Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Turkey. It was built in the 2nd Century AD and held over ten thousand scrolls.

I think this photograph encapsulates a lot of things that interest/ inspire me. The first- I love travelling, I love ancient history- especially ancient Roman history, I love learning and what better place to represent learning than a library? And even though this isn’t the best photograph I’ve captured (long air travel, soaring heat and bright light had something to do with this) I love photography too. So there you go my inspiration in one photograph.

Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Being in Japan in spring during the height of the cherry blossom season was something of a dream come true for me. The rows and rows of pinks and whites that enveloped entire cities made Japan even more a spectacular place than it ordinarily must be. One must feel truly blessed living in a country where everything turns so spectacularly beautiful twice a year- once for spring and the other for autumn. I guess I must add visiting Japan in autumn to my wish list.

It is quite easy to think that all cherry blossoms are the same- however there are apparently close to 600 varieties of Cherry blossoms. As a novice I can hardly say I noticed more than two or three varieties (even though I must have seen more). I’m still not sure I identified them correctly but I thought I’d put up some photographs that show how different they actually are.

So I think this variety is what is called the Hill Cherry or Yamazakura. I photographed this in the garden of the National Museum of Tokyo.

Hill Cherry or Yamazakura
Hill Cherry or Yamazakura

In the same garden I noticed that the blossoms provided a splendid white canopy that was out of a dream. Check this photograph to see what I mean.

Look Up and Say Wow!
Look Up and Say Wow!

Another variety of cherry blossoms are the Somei Yoshino. These were also quite common and I thought were the prettiest because they were just so beautiful appearing in tight clusters.

Clusters of Somei Yoshino
Clusters of Somei Yoshino

You can walk in the tree lined streets in Kyoto and feel that you have been transported to a different era. Easy to believe looking at this photo, don’t you think?

Cherry Tree Lined Kyoto Street
Cherry Tree Lined Kyoto Street

But my favourite cherry blossom themed image is that of Himeji castle peeking out from a storm of cherry blossoms.

Himeji through the blossoms
Himeji through the blossoms

I must write separately about my visit to Himeji on another post. But don’t you agree that the cherry blossoms are just spectacular? Here are some more varieties

Pink multi-layered one: Not sure what the name is
Shot in very bad light
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
If an expert on cherry blossoms passes by this blog, could you help me out? Onegaishimasu!

Turkey – Cat Country Part II

In my last post in this series I wrote about encountering a number of cats at the archaeological site of Ephesus. Even though we saw a lot of cats at the place we never actually imagined that cats roamed the streets of much of Turkey in large numbers.

Only when we kept seeing cats during our walks along the beach at Kusadasi did we actually realise that there was something going on. Kusadasi is a beautiful resort town- what makes it even more interesting are the cats who ply the streets.

One of my most interesting memories was a cat who was lying down on the road close to the edge of the pavement, twitching its tail. Looking at it from a distance I was terrified that it had been hit by a vehicle and was seriously injured (seriously why else would a cat be lying on the edge of a road?) but coming nearer we could see nothing wrong with it- it just seemed to be lying on the road as if on a dare with two other cats that were nearby (I was in fact so scared I didn’t even take a photo of the cat!)

Cat relaxing on the pavement
Cat relaxing on the pavement

However, like everywhere else that we went to, there were at least a few people who left out food for the cats outside their shops or on the pavement.

When we got back to the hotel that evening we did a google search on why there were quite so many cats in Turkey. There seems to be no definitive answer and responses range from “Turkish people are very tolerant” (they definitely are!) to stories about how Prophet Mohammed once cut off a portion of his sleeve to not disturb a cat that was sleeping on it and hence people who follow Islam tend to look upon cats in a more benevolent light. Whatever the case, Turkish people tend to tolerate and care for cats more than people in a lot of other countries.

Relaxing in the evening sun at Kusadasi
Relaxing in the evening sun at Kusadasi

My next post in the series would be a photo blog on the cats of Cappadocia.

July: Looking Back

First of all Eid Mubarak to my friends out there in the world! I was fortunate enough to have visited Turkey in the holy month of Ramzan/ Ramadan this year and visited the impressive Sultanahmet Mosque also called the Blue Mosque. I was so touched by the devotion and dedication of Muslims who were fasting during those long days (17 hours!). Our driver for two days would not even touch a drop of water as he drove us from one destination to another without a murmur or complaint. Of course we were never wanting for food- any attempts to resist or avoid food was only met with hosts thrusting ever more food at us (you don’t want salad? Try this Pilaf!) When we were at Kusadasi one evening we heard a loud noise- like a canon going off- our friendly neighbour explained that the sound marked the end of the fasting period. Amazing!

Inside the Sultanahmet Mosque, Istanbul
Inside the Sultanahmet Mosque, Istanbul

I also met a Turkish friend of mine who I had first met on my first ever trip to Paris (and France and Europe!) exactly 10 years ago in July 2005. She also stuck true to the principle of Turkish hospitality- treating me to a lot of amazing things without ever allowing us to pay for anything.

With my friend near Galata Tower, Istanbul
With my friend near Galata Tower, Istanbul

Which took me back to my first ever life changing trip to Paris in July 2005. Thanks to the Lions Club a group of students (studying or teaching French) from around the world were gathered together for a month (for free- we only had to pay for our airfares) and taken around Paris. We had lectures in the morning and then visits in the afternoon- I had a blessed, amazing month visiting fantastic museums, government offices, performance spaces and other monuments. I also had the good fortune to spend a week with a Belgian couple (who were Lions) at Paris.

That visit (incidentally in 2005 I still had a camera that I used with film- I didn’t get a digital camera until later in 2006) heralded the start of more travel to more countries and in a couple of years I was no longer the person I was before I left for Paris. Of course we are all evolving and I’m no longer even the person I was in 2007! I wonder where I will be in 2025??

Incidentally last week also held a surprise. Chennai Live 104.8FM featured me on their travel show “Boarding Pass”. Went well overall, except I wished I had been a bit more well prepared- oh well! the next time!

On Radio
On Radio