I love mountains. I often find my thoughts drifting to mountain ranges I have visited in the past, as well as peaks I've never seen in real life - only ooooogled at in photographs. I live in middle Tennessee where the closest mountains are the Smokys about four hours to the east (and the Rocky Mountains are about 18 hours to the west). So, I'm going to officially dedicate every Monday to the majesty of the mountains. In this little blog space of mine I'm going to showcase some of the mountainscapes I have been so lucky to see in my life and the setting in which I came across them. Hope you love mountains as much as I do!
Mountain Crush Monday, The Himalayas
You might be thinking, "Those can't be the Himalayas. Where's the snow? I thought the Himalayas were much bigger than those green hills?"
What you see here are some of the sweetest mountains I've ever been in. It was Monday March 17th when I stood in the lower bazaar of Mussoorie looking down over Dehradun. If that date sounds vaguely familiar to you, it's because that was the day Holi was celebrated in India last year. Hundreds of tourists had traveled up to Mussoorie from the plains to celebrate the colorful holiday. Bright powders were thrown throughout the streets and the city was alive with excitement. Street food and candies were being consumed on every corner and you hardly met anyone who didn't greet you, "happy holi!" The mountain dwellers and tourists were all anxious to be rid of the cold winter months with the promise of spring.
I had never traveled as far down into the bazaar as I did on that day, and the view from where I stood was well worth the hike back to the top. I was amazed at how far I could see, even though it was still quite hazy on that day (the photo you see is unedited). I will always be fond of this little space on God's creation. If you've ever been there you surely know how special it is.
Mussoorie is the ultimate melting pot of culture. It was a hill station built by the British during their rule in India, there are still antiques previously owned by British families that are sold in the bazaar today. Apart from that, you have the Indian nationals (of course), the Nepali, the Tibetan, and a half dozen other backgrounds in the mix. The food being cooked, the clothes worn, and the languages being spoken throughout the mountainside town will keep you in awe. There is opportunity to learn something new every day. And views like this one here, I mean come on, can there be a more special place?
- Polaroid Land Camera 440 that belonged to my Great Grandaddy Ollie
- A scanned and blown-up photo that he took while stationed in India during the 1940s (film type and camera model that he used to take the photo are currently unidentified)
- A photo of me in my Grandaddy's lap during the holidays circa 1995
- A test shot I took today using the Land Camera - the first time the camera has taken a photo in 50 years
Recently I have started a journey into the past, researching and learning about the cameras my Great Grandfather Ollie Shannon Swift (along with my Great Grandmother) used when he was younger. When he passed away a couple years ago he left his estate to his grandsons, and I ended up with the honor of receiving his collection of cameras. Among the cameras was the Land Camera 440 you see above. Today was the first day a fresh film pack has been loaded into it since the last time he used it many many years ago.
With anxious hands I loaded the Fujifilm FP-100c film pack into the back of the camera and reviewed the steps in my mind of how to actually make a photo. I walked to the bathroom and framed the shot - a self portrait in the mirror. I fired the shutter and sat down to pull the peel-apart film from the camera. I pulled the exposure out and waited the appropriate time until I seperated the negative from the positive.
As I gently pulled the two pieces of paper apart my stunned eyes fell upon a photograph. I couldn't believe the camera could still capture images! The "selfie" I took, although blurry and a tad underexposed, seems an insignificant moment to capture, however the fact that I am the next person after my Grandaddy to have taken a photo on that camera is significant.
Other than a knack for photography, my Grandaddy and I share another significant thing in common. We have both spent time in India. He, as an American soldier during the second world war. Me, a handful of trips sprinkled over the past three years working with Asha Mission Children's Home and Ashraya Mission.
Although my Great Grandfather is gone, he is still present in our connection with photography and India. He is present in my passion for both of these things. I'm on a journey to figure out what these connections mean and how I can use them together to keep a relationship with him alive. I hope you follow along with me on this journey.
Check back soon to see more photos of Grandaddy Ollie in India during the '40s.