Okondja Affenpinscher

Affenpinscher Okondja

Rummaging through one of my archives today, I stumbled across several photos of Okondja, the cute and wild Affenpinscher I shot in my old studio a few years back. As friendly as she was, I can’t see myself ever owning a dog that small. They’re just too twitchy and skittish. But cute, very cute. Sadly, I’ve heard that Okondja sometime after moving to South Africa passed away. More of my dog photos from around the world can be viewed here.

The Butterfly

The Butterfly

From yesterday’s morning shoot at Kockum Fritid with model and former competitive swimmer, Gustav Åberg Lejdström. The Butterfly stroke, or,  the “Fly” as it’s called among competitive swimmers, is something I never even attempted as a young member of the West Hollywood Park Swim Team in the late 1970s or during my short time at S02 in Göteborg in the early 1980s.

Back in the day, I swam the Crawl/Freestyle and won a few swim meets as a sprinter in the 100 yard distance. I think the Butterfly stroke is really interesting as it mimics both a dolphin’s tail movement and the wing flap of a butterfly. During peak speed, the Butterfly stroke is apparently the fastest of all styles. Which I saw some proof of yesterday while trying to capture the above shot. Took me a good 100 tries before I got it right.

The Oresund Bridge

The Formidable Öresund Bridge

The “bridge” as locals usually call it, is a symbol of traveling for me. But not so much on the way home as when thinking ahead about a forthcoming trip. Which I do a lot of.  Might have started off a little slow, but I’m reasonably sure 2019 will turn out to be one of the most intense travel years so far.

I can’t back this up factually, but I’m hoping my carbon footprint will be somewhat offset by the fact that I haven’t eaten meat or poultry for four years and that we don’t own a car or use one regularly. And though the rest of the family still shops clothes regularly, I take great pleasure in not having replenished my wardrobe much for the last couple of years.

I shot this from a sailboat a few summers back during one of few really nice evenings. Many more bridge photos can be enjoyed here.

Figure Skating

Figure Skating

This is Felicia Nilsson, a talented figure skater from Malmö that I’ve had the privilege of working with on a few occasions while working on an advertising assignment for our local sports center, Kockum Fritid.

I shot this with the Fuji Fujinon 56mm f1,2 at ISO400 and though not visible in the monochrome version above, shooting in an ice skating rink is really asking for as much color trouble as possible. Not only are there several competing color temperatures involved, the innumeral amount of crossing vertical and horizontal lines and shapes make composing a shot of a fast moving subject extremely difficult. Despite or maybe thanks to all the disstractions, I still found shooting Felecia and colleague Nicole both fun and creatively challenging.


AirPods 2.0

For many years I lived a tangled life. Then came the AirPods and I felt as if a huge weight was lifted from my…ears. I used my pair of white wireless earbuds extensively. Probably as much as 3-4 hours a day – including when I fell a sleep listening to a podcast.

Finally, after about two years of daily use and waking up with one or both often lodged somewhere in the skin folds of my back or stomach after a night of sleep, the microphone and then the batteries started to give up. I could still use them, but the charge wouldn’t hold for more than an hour or so.

I ordered a pair of AirPods 2.0 just as soon as they were announced. I actually placed my order while lying on a bed overlooking the Indian Ocean in Goa without a nanosecond of hesitation. That’s how good I think this Apple product is and how dependent I am to using them to listen and talk via the iPhone. Love this little film Apple produced for the Airpods. And The New York Times has a good albeit somewhat crticial take on the new Airpod version.

Indian spices

The Spice Shop

It’s cold but beautiful today in Malmö. I’m going through my images from Goa and the contrasts between here and there make the photos seem as if they were all part of a vivid dream or an elaborately detailed hallucination. The change of temperature, humidity and above all, shift from a cacophony of scents and smells to a bouquet of… nothing is a little bewildering.

Met this sweet woman at her spice shop along the north end of Agonda’s main village road. After about a week of enjoying Indian and Nepalese food, I was getting used to the mix of essential spices found in the local Masala dishes, including tumeric, cumin, and the  indispesible and irreplaceable coriander.

goa dinner

Gonna Miss Ya, India

I’m writing this from a really busy lounge at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. l managed to grab what the Raboff family calls the poker seat” when I arrived a couple of hours ago. In this case, It’s a reasonably comfortable armchair placed in the far back corner of this dimly lit lounge. From here, no one can walk behind me or intentionally or accidentally peer into my computer screen (hence the poker reference).

Most everybody in here is either busy talking on their phones, chatting with colleagues, working on spreadsheets or clicking their way through presentations on small, plastic laptops. Not all, but most are clad in pretty strict business attire and look as if they spend a great deal of time in lounges and shuttling from airport to airport and meeting to meeting. 

Coming from an eight day travel assignment about a nearly obscure village in southern India, I could not feel further removed from the corporate world then right now.

Im going to miss India. It has once again been a real pleasure thawing out and meeting so many interesting and friendly people. I love the slow-paced beach-life in Agonda. After two visits in as many years, I totally get the attraction and feel fairly confident Ill be back.

The food shot above is from my very last dinner at Simrose, one of the best beach hotels Ive ever stayed at – full stop. Aside from the splendid location, the great beachfront room I rented during my stay, I also thoroughly appreciated how at home the staff made me feel throughout my stay. 


Have I mentioned how good the food is at Simrose? Despite having dozens of other eating options along the beach, I still ate every single meal at the hotel. Now, to be fair, I dont honestly think that the difference in taste, price or presentation would have been huge had I varied my choice of dining location. I just got really lazy and couldnt be bothered to venture out. This and the fact that it was smoother adding all my food and drink to the room bill.The Simrose is not the cheapest of hotels in Agonda. Not by a long stretch. Yet when I paid for eight days of breakfasts, lunches and dinners (including beverages), the cost was about what Im used to paying when Charlotte, Elle and I go out to for a simple dinner in Malmö, Sweden – or, roughly about SEK 1000. At an equivalent beach hotel in Thailand, Im fairly sure the price would have been at least twice that. For reasons unbeknownst to me, most of the kitchen and restaurant staff are from Nepal. So, for my very last meal at Simrose, I specifically asked for a typical dish from Nepal. Can’t remember the name, though. But boy, was it tasty – and all vegetarian, too!
#simrose #food #nepal #nepales #agpmda beach #india


Steamrollin’ in Goa

When I saw this steamroller crushing gravel that had been carried and then emptied from the workers baskets earlier today, I was transfixed. How far from my existens was this? Lightyears.

cleanng-lady

Meine Reinemachefrau

This is my friendly cleaning lady. I’ve kept a fairly neat ship, so I  only need her help every other day. I’ve heard her hum what is probably a well-known Indian tune when she’s sweet my patio.

The headline “Meine Reinemachefrau” is German for My Cleaning Lady and is a reference to the brilliant, deadpan comedy, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” starring Steve Martin. I don’t know why I thought of that right now. Maybe because so many German guests have checked into the hotel over the last couple of days.

I deactivated my Facebook account this morning and I feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Once again I found myself caught in a crossfire between having unreasonably high expectations of appreciation from what I often spent a lot of time creating and posting – and a really weird sense of resentfulness when people posting what I thought was meaninglessness were receiving a ridiculous amount of attention

– Life is not online. It’s happening every second you look beyond the screen. The only likes and comments that really count, are those you give and receive from people you interact with in real-time.

I’ve deactivated my account before and after a five year hiatus, I decided to give it a shot and see if the algorithm had changed for the better – or, if I had changed my attitude. Sadly, the answer is neither. It’s still an eco-system where everyone – whether they are aware of it or not – strive to achieve popularity and celebrity status among their friends and followers. It’s a dark place where the currency is valued in the number of Likes, Comments and Shares you collect. It’s an unhealthy place to spend even a few minutes a day. Let alone hours.

Good ridden!
Buffalo-Herder

Scaring Agonda Buffalo

Traveling on your own is nothing short of liberating as it provides a level of freedom group trips inherently don’t. Not that I can’t appreciate when the family and I are on an exciting escapade, I totally do. But ever since my very first backpacking adventure across western and southern Europe, way back in 1983, I’ve just loved heading out in the world on my lonesome.

A solo trip doesn’t necessarily have to be as far as India (where these words are being typed), though a bit of distance from home usually makes for more interesting experiences.

In addition to having plenty of time to reflect on life and relish in the temporary abandonment of daily chores, obligations and routines, being on your own means inviting a wealth of opportunities to see how other humans live their lives and to cross paths and maybe even interact with locals – as well as meet other travelers.

I met this gentle buffalo herder the other day on a pasture above the village of Agonda in southern Goa. It was laundry day for me and I was wearing just about the only clean clothes I had left; a white pair of shorts and a white t-shirt. It would be a gross understatement to say I stood out in the lush green environment. I made several careful attempts to get close to the heard, but each time I got within a few feet, they skedaddled.

Sedatja, my trusted rickshaw driver for two years straight now, translated the herders explanation for why the buffalo kept running away from me;

“They are very, very frightened of white color”.

Later that day, walking on my own along a twisty road that eventually leads to the main beach road and still wearing my “whites”, I came across three full-grown male buffalos with really impressive horns. They were quietly munching away in an overgrown garden at the front end of an abandoned house.

Once one of them got a glimpse of me in my shining armor, the other two looked up and within a second or two, all three were staring in disbelief, as if they’d seen the Grim Reaper and envision that I was coming to take them to buffalo purgatory.

As soon as the small herd found their footing (hoofing?), the mighty beasts jolted and then galloped towards the thicket towards the backend of the garden.

Interestingly, I didn’t get similar reactions from any of the many cows I met along the road that day. Maybe cows aren’t as superstitious. After all, they are sacred.

I’ll be heading out again today, wearing green shorts and a pink tee. We’ll see how that plays out among the Agonda buffalo population.

Indian Couple from Mumbai

From Mumbai

One of the perks of traveling is meeting people from all walks of life. Even when it’s only a ephemeral encounter – as with the sweet couple above that I met at a bar on the main village road here in Agonda, it adds great value to life and a visual memory to the trip. Shot with the Fujifilm XT-3 and a Fujinon XF 56mm f1.2.


Shaken not Stirred in Goa

From yesterday’s adventure in the beautiful rural hills above Agonda in south Goa, India. I used a suction cup on the windshield of the rickshaw to connect a Gopro Hero 7 Black to see if the hypersmoth stabilization was as good as proclaimed. And it was. I’m fairly sure that it films in 4k and then uses the higher resolution to stabilize the footage in realtime and then downsample and render it to a still impressive 2.7k.


The Boring Apple
Our daughter Elle will only eat a type of Apple called “Jazz”. I’m not that picky. But the only apple I am dependent on is the one headquartered in Cupertino, California. My everyday tools, hardware and software, depend on Apple Inc’s ability to make stuff that let’s me (and my clients) envision  creativity. Lots of things changed after Steve Jobs passed in 2011. Financially, the company is in tremendous shape. Product wise, there’s not been much to talk about, except maybe the Airpods. And you know Apple isn’t innovating much anymore when the entire “applesphere” gets worked up and giddy about an incremental (= lackluster) update to the boring iPad Mini and the long overdue Airpods…
#boringapple #missstevejobs #whereisthemacpro #whocaresabouttheipadmini #getmeexcited #appleisdoomed #apple #ipadmini #jonyive #industrialdesign #airpods #powercharge #wirelesscharging #unexcited
 
 
The English Breakfast Sandwich

The Breakfast Sandwich

Once I’ve discovered or located something that “fits the glove” snuggly, I’m inclined to stick with it. At least for a while or until something more appealing shows up. Such is the case with the English breakfast they serve here and that I make a very tasty open-face sandwich of. Firstly, I butter the toast, then cover each slice generously with baked beans and finally top this culinary concoction off with the fried eggs. Back when I ate meat, I might have also added a fistful of bacon to the recipe. But the thought almost disgusts me now. I don’t touch the ketchup, but I’ll eat the hashbrown potato cake thingy between the two sandwiches.

Holi Colorful Joakim Lloyd Raboff

Holi Colorful Me!

If you didn’t check out the video in the previous post (below) here’s what I looked like when the staff and fellow guests had smeared color all over me during the Holi Spring Festival.

I’ve since handed in my t-shirt and shorts to the laundry lady, visited a local barber and had an Ayurvedic massage.

Goa

Traveling Solo

From just after surfing late yesterday afternoon, the Holi celebration before that and then a random yoga poser I saw while walking along the beach afterwards.

Lying here now on a reasonably comfortable bed covered on all sides but one with mosquito net and “Listen Here” by the masterful tenor saxman Eddie Harris resonating from my phone – and low tide waves of the Indian Ocean sweeping gently to shore in the distant background. Things could be worse.
 
I’ve just had an English breakfast. While the full-grain bread wasn’t nearly as toasty as I prefer it, in combination with two fried eggs (sunny side up), a generous serving of baked beans and a full pot of French press coffee, certainly made for yet another sublime breakfast experience. A hotel breakfast without baked beans on the menu gets a star knocked off in my review.
 
All meals are served in this small resort’s beachfront restaurant under a corsage of slightly swaying palm trees. Having a beautiful beach as a backdrop excuses most shortcomings. Not that I’ve experienced any. So far, all my expectations have been either met or exceeded. I’m not totally blown away, I mean, it’s beautiful and everyone is really friendly, but I’ve been around the block a few times and seen some pretty awesome places. So I just dialed in level-headed conjecture as I clicked the “Confirm Booking” button.
 
A sweet Parisian family that I’d first met at the airport and who were also on their way here, sat at the table next to me this morning. They’re living as expatriates in a city of ten million that I can’t recall the name of. I think it was south of Mumbai somewhere. They enjoyed living in India, but had heard that the expat life in Thailand was far better. Somewhat surprisingly, they had never been to the “land of smiles”. Later at dinner, I met another family, this time from Virginia (US) that lived in Delhi. They too had heard the same about how good expat life was in Bangkok.
 
India and Thailand are of course different in many ways – yet have more in common than one might reckon at first glance. For one thing, both certainly love their curries and spicy dishes. And the climates and geography are somewhat similar – at least on parallel latitudes of both countries southern regions.
 
According to what I’ve read on the subject, much of the populace in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos, all belong to a convergence of Indian and Chinese decedents. Which makes perfect sense once you consider all the trading that has been going on across the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, further south (east) for millennia. Alas, ethnic lineage is one of today’s most sensitive subjects, but intriguing nonetheless. As academic and scientific studies continue to provide evidence that we are all decedents of a common African species, I think talking more openly about lineage is a key to unlocking some of today’s most heated topics, including nationalism, bigotry, and racism.
 
I’ve been to India a few times now and thoroughly enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. Especially here in laid-back Goa – which of course is lightyears from being representative of the wildly diverse Indian subcontinent. But I’ve even enjoyed good vibes in super busy cities like Mumbai and Hyderabad. And once you venture into rural India, everything tends to play out in a fascinating slow-motion pace. There’s just no reason to stress when life is guided by seasons and not dictated by more or less virtual deadlines.
 
Though I do have deadlines, in general, travel writing and travel photography are usually stress-free assignments – unless of course the destination is uninspiring or the schedule is jam-packed with too much to absorb whilst on the go. Which happened a few years ago on tour of Croatia. The organizers had been so ambitious, they’d shoehorned at least a week of often hysterically unorganized events and spontaneous visits into three days. The result? Mutiny! As far as I know, very little was reported from that particular junket. Honestly, press trips are usually over-rated. Solo traveling is the best (and most honest) way to go. Though at times, I confess to missing the camaraderie of colleagues – especially during meals. Eating alone gets boring real fast.

Holi Festival, Batman!

From today’s extremely playful and colorful celebration of the vibrant Spring Festival called Holi. Shot on a Gopro Hero 7 (4k) and an iPhone 7+ (4k/720p). I’ve handed in my clothes to a local laundry shop, but they were dubious about being able to clean all of the colors. Not to fret, I said. Could make for a nice keepsake from an extraordinary day. Read more about Holi here.

coffee in goa

Breakfast Coffee in Goa

I typically find more time to write whilst traveling. Especially when soloing on a long-distance trip. I suppose there is easement and solace in piecing together a description of my experiences on the road.

I woke up this morning to the sound of waves crashing onto the beach thirty or forty feet from my bungalow. As usual, I’d fallen asleep with my Airpods playing the latest podcast episode of “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” with the delightful Michelle Obama. I didn’t hear the entire interview, so I’ll finish it up sometime later today.

I usually wake up with one of the two Airpods lodged somewhere between my ribs or nestled in a fold of skin near my shoulder blades.

If the waves and the Airpods that woke me, it was definitely the smell of coffee that got me out of bed. After twenty minutes of Qigong poses, I headed downstairs to the restaurant which is directly below. After a pot of fresh coffee, a plate of baked beans and two fried eggs, I’m now ready to see how the villagers celebrate “Holi” today.

india

Back in Goa for Holi

After a weeklong delay, a short stint in Delhi, I’m now back on schedule and have arrived safely in Goa.

The distance from the chilly, windy and pallid southern Sweden to the balmy and colorful southern India couldn’t be wider.

While it was officially spring in Sweden yesterday, here in Goa today, they will be celebrating “Holi” which is the Hindu festival of colors honoring the triumph of good over evil, increasing the prospect of a favorable harvest as well as improving fertility.

The layered image above is a composition of cows I met heading down the village road yesterday afternoon and a young guy with a lavish hairdo I came across a few minutes later.


Goa Tuk-Tuk

From last year’s visit to south Goa in India. Shot on an old GoPro and an iPhone in the beatiful hills behind Agonda Beach during an afternoon. I remember having stubbed my toe on a piece of wood at the hotel that morning – yet still insisting on going surfing afterwards.