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Domkhar is a small village in Domkhar valley about 120 kilometres away from Leh. Surrounded by harsh rocky towering mountains the Rock Art Heritage Sanctuary is by the Indus river where most of the art is on the rocks, and one of the richest sites of rock art in Ladakh. The prehistoric Rock Art paintings are some of the earliest expressions of our species, our artistic and cultural beginnings!
The holy city of Varanasi, Benaras or Kashi on the banks of river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. River Ganges, the longest river of India and the soul of Varanasi, draws pilgrims who take a dip in its holy waters and perform funeral rites of their loved ones, as Hindus believe death in Varanasi brings salvation.
A boat ride over the Ganges at sunrise & sunset is one of the best ways to experience the colourful ancient city & spiritual capital of India, that stands frozen in time contrasting our modern world.
Tibetan prayer flags or Dar-Cho as they are called, are a common sight in the Himalayas and in Sikkim, it's the vertical ones hung on bamboo poles that attract attention. The 5 colors in the flags represent the 5 elements in nature and the mantras written on the flags are carried through the blowing wind. With Mt. Kanchenjunga in the background (almost always shrouded in clouds) the colourful prayer flags add rustic beauty to the landscape.
With most of the tourist areas and beaches closed and a restriction on travel during the lockdown period in Cyprus, my family and I were only able to exercise outside within a limited distance from our home. As a consequence, we discovered some beautiful areas close to our flat that we had previously had no idea existed.
During the month of May, while sheltering-in-place, I created 41 pages in a banana-leaf photo album with some of the ephemera from our trip to Asia in 2010. We explored everywhere between Komodo National Park to Lhasa, Tibet. In between was Bali, Borneo, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. Each page took 8-10 hours. In the evenings we would reminisce about the memories from the page that I had created that day.
For ten weeks my body has hardly left the suburb - or my residence. But through books my imagination has flown free on a series of colourful adventures. I've survived the Black Death and hostile tribes, visited Napoleon in his final exile, hunted a serial killer at the Roman Games ... all without leaving isolation.
I miss going out and just using basic things as google maps. My house which during initial week felt like a box soon expanded as a space. It became my new world. I realised going from one location in my house to another itself can be seen as a journey. Each room served a purpose similar to how spaces outside are. My kitchen was the newest trending restaurant, my new office was my once neglected desk etc. Similar to google maps, there were routes and paths with more traffic than usual. Therefore, decided to map this moment literally.
this style of book is called a “lotus fold” and it very much reminds me of a folded map. i wanted to make this one into a diary of this time. the peaks and valleys of the book mimicking the highs and lows of my emotions.
seeing a story that the earth is slowing healing itself while we have been hiding away, a HIGH.
my mom learned that an ER doctor she had worked with contracted coronavirus while saving other people. while i’m thankful my mom had just retired before this all started. that was sad to hear. a very LOW.
a HIGH was watching people band together in the beginning, like on 9/11. people helping each other. quietly waiting in line outside the grocery store and letting the older people know they could go to the front of the line without anyone grumbling.
a friend of mine announced he was looking to rehome his dog because his financial situation was affected by the pandemic. everyone was trying to convince him to find another solution. that was a LOW day.