Three cheetahs

It was dawn, and for a few seconds the sun came out and blanketed the area with golden light. At this moment, three cheetahs, keen to avoid crocodiles during a river crossing, made a dash across the river. Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. Photo taken in May 2017.

 

Mazgouf in Baghdad

It was April 2011, just after dusk, and we made our way to a restaurant in central Baghdad along Abu Nawas Street by the River Tigris. This area is well known for serving Iraq’s favourite fish dish; the “mazgouf”.

The restaurant, although having a roof, is open to the elements and was filled with many customers; obviously a popular place.

Having selected our live carp (allegedly from the adjacent Tigris but more probably from a fish farm), the cook removed the fish from the tank and then stunned them with a stick, gutted them by cutting along the back, applied some seasoning, and then impaled them to be slow-grilled next to an open fire of burning fruit tree branches such as from lemon trees and orange trees. What we didn’t realise was that it takes about an hour or so to cook the fish, so we had a lot of time to chat!

Carp are bottom feeders and if they were from the Tigris around Baghdad then I’m not sure that I’d have too many fish dinners; there’s just been too much dumped in the river. Once I’d got past wondering where the fish came from, I did enjoy the meal.

But the mazgouf is an important dish to the Iraqis and the Iraqi diaspora, and it helps to unite them through social gatherings and reinforce their identity and uniqueness; something that’s very much needed in these trying times.

Gentoo penguin

When I first took up photography as a hobby, it was important to me that photos be taken in full-manual mode as I thought that doing so would give me insight on exposure settings. I’m not entirely sure how successful that method was, but it sure did make me a slow photographer! I now shoot almost invariably in aperture-priority mode. A piece of nostalgia for me, here is a photo from my manual exposure period, of a scene in Antarctica with extreme light and dark.

Zebras

Two zebras having an altercation in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. Photo taken in May 2017.