C. Mei Photo: Blog https://www.cmeiphoto.com/blog en-us (C) C. Mei Photo [email protected] (C. Mei Photo) Thu, 14 Jul 2022 21:34:00 GMT Thu, 14 Jul 2022 21:34:00 GMT https://www.cmeiphoto.com/img/s/v-12/u431685116-o282728815-50.jpg C. Mei Photo: Blog https://www.cmeiphoto.com/blog 120 84 Lumbini: Contentment and compassion https://www.cmeiphoto.com/blog/2022/7/lumbini-peace-and-compa There are always surprises on the road.

I arrived in Lumbini, Nepal in February of 2018. While my goal was to search for and photograph Sarus cranes with the assistance from local crane conservationists, l could hardly anticipate what may lie ahead in my journey.

IMG_8730IMG_8730Mr. Pal (Peace) greeting me at Lumbini Airport

Mr. Pal (Peace) greeting me at Lumbini Airport

The first person I met in Lumbini was Dharmendra Pal, who came to the airport to pick me up. He has been a local volunteer for crane conservation for a few years. In previous email exchanges prior to my arrival in Lumbini, I was impressed by his email address which contains "PeaceLumbini". Since it's hard for me to pronounce and to remember his first name Dharmendra, I decided to call him Peace instead. 

_DSC9447_DSC9447 Garden of Lumbini where Queen Mahamayadevi gave birth to the Lord of Buddha in 623BC

Lumbini,  Birth place of Lord of Buddha

Known as the birth place of Siddhartha Gautama, Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site that visitors around the world come to worship. The heart of Lumbini is Garden of Lumbini, where the archaeological remains associated with the birth of Buddha from the 3rd century form a central focal feature. The planning of the property site Master Plan was initiated by the Nepal government along with the United Nations and was carried out by Kenos Tange 1972-1978. There are more than 25 Buddhist monasteries built by different countries. From the simple Japan Temple to the glorious China Temple, from typical Asian styles to European touches, each one is worth a visit. The hotel Peace arranged me to stay is within walking distance to the pilgrimage site, so everyday morning during the week I was in Lumbini I'd spend the mid day at the site as a typical tourist.

The reason I start this blog with introduction to the pilgrimage site is because here in Lumbini the spirit of Buddha is everywhere in the air. There is a good reason why I don't go to morning photo trips with Peace like normal photographers would do. On our way from the airport, he explained to me that he would only be available for weekend mornings, because during the week he'd need to attend the Buddhist Institute early in the morning. After classes he'd come to meet me at the pilgrim site or at the hotel for our afternoon photo sessions. When I asked him what he would normally do in the afternoon, he told me that he would ride his bike in the countryside check out the cranes and to make sure that they are ok. He has been a volunteer crane patrol for over three years.


Mr. Pal (Peace) as a volunteer patrol for crane conservation

As the story evolved, I got to know not only Peace but also his family members.

One day, I mentioned to Peace that I was also working on my craftsmanship photo book in addition to photographing cranes. To my delight, he told me that his mom was a very skilled basket weaver. He then took me to see his mom.

_DSC9181_DSC9181 Peace's mom holding a crane she weaved

She learned how to weave as a child from her mother


During my visit to Peace's mom, I met a woman there who seemed to live in the same house. At first I thought she was their neighbor, but after I heard Peace calling her aunt, I then assumed they were relatives. On our way back, I asked Peace about her name. "Fumati", he said. "Oh your aunt?" I just wanted to make sure. "Not really. Just some one my mom used to know. She and her little daughter did not have a place to stay, and so my mom invited them to stay with her free of charge over two years ago." As Peace continued to tell me about Fumati, I learned that his mom did more than providing Fumati and her daughter room and board. She also talk them how to weave baskets so that they could acquire some skills that would help with their living. Lumbini is full of tourists, and so hand woven baskets are popular souvenirs to take home.

I was deeply touched. What a loving story!

_DSC9086_DSC9086 Fumati Harijan

Fumati and her daughter

Fumati's daughter

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Mr. Pal (Peace)'s wife

Peace's daughter

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[email protected] (C. Mei Photo) basket-weaving Buddhism compassion contention cranes happiness Lumbini Nepal Sarus https://www.cmeiphoto.com/blog/2022/7/lumbini-peace-and-compa Thu, 14 Jul 2022 21:12:14 GMT
Lumbini: Cranes and volunteers https://www.cmeiphoto.com/blog/2022/7/lumbini  

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[email protected] (C. Mei Photo) https://www.cmeiphoto.com/blog/2022/7/lumbini Thu, 14 Jul 2022 21:11:44 GMT
Fund raising for Siberian cranes conservation in China https://www.cmeiphoto.com/blog/2018/5/fund-raising-for-the-siberian-cranes-in-nanchang-china Siberian cranesSiberian cranesSiberian cranes in Jiangxi, China There are only less than 4000 Siberian cranes globally and the population is declining.
Status Siberian cranes: Critically endangered


Following "Journey with My Cranes" photo exhibit in March of 2018, I started selling my crane photos at Houston Hua Xia Chinese School to raise money for the Siberian cranes conservation in China. All the proceeds will go to Nanchang Wild Life and Plant Protection Association to save the the Siberian cranes from hunger at the Five Star Lotus farm due to winter food shortages at the Poyang Lake, China.

Siberian cranesMr. Mei bought the "Kunfu cranes" (Siberian cranes in Nanchang, 20x30 framed canvas)
Kungfu master: Siberian cranes in Nanchang (20x30 framed canvas)

Bought by Mr. Mei (April 22, 2018) 


red-crowned cranesIMG_E0159
Red-crowned cranes in Hokkaido, Japan (on 4x6 cards)

Bought by a 10 year old girl (April 29, 2018) 

cranes, fund raisingIMG_0389 A

Me and my big helper Anna (10 years old) on May 6, 2018

She made photo cards for me on two consecutive Sunday at the Chinese school

[email protected] (C. Mei Photo) cranes cranes conservation fund raising photography photos https://www.cmeiphoto.com/blog/2018/5/fund-raising-for-the-siberian-cranes-in-nanchang-china Thu, 17 May 2018 05:12:23 GMT
My Journey with Cranes at Art Institute of Houston https://www.cmeiphoto.com/blog/2018/5/my-journey-with-cranes-at-art-institute-of-houston Cranes are symbols of love and longevity in Asia. There are 15 species of cranes on Earth, only 2 species live in North America, while 9 species are found in China, where I was originally from. Although I have been photographing for more than two decades, I did not start photographing birds till the spring of 2014. In 2015, I was interviewed by the British media for my photograph of a red-crowned crane fighting against an invading eagle in Hokkaido, Japan. The story along with the series of photos appeared in major British newspapers including GuardianTimes, and later was chosen as Editor's Choice on National Geography's web site. I have since been photographing cranes non-stop. In my efforts to capture the beauty of the cranes, I have embarked on a journey to trace my roots back to China while discovering the wonders of nature.

My Journey with Cranes

Art Institute of Houston

March 23 - April 21, 2018

(part of Fotofest Biennial 2018)

Red-crowned crane fighting against eagleRed-crowned crane fighting against eagleRed-crowned crane fighting against a white-tailed eagle in Koshiro, Japan

Samurai Crane (2015 Japan)

A red-crowned crane fighting against an eagle in Hokkaido, Japan

Published by major British newspapers and National Geography

Red-crowned craneRed-crowned craneRed-crowned cranes during courtship in Koshiro, Japan

cranesMy Journey with Cranes photo exhibit at Art Institute of Houston.A busy day hanging my exhibit pieces. Old friends Julie and Rich flew in from Salt Lake City to help with setting up my exhibit at Art Institute of Houston.

cranesMy Journey with Cranes photo exhibit at Art Institute of Houston.A busy day hanging my exhibit pieces. Interview by Chinese news media during the opening night on March 23, 2018.

[email protected] (C. Mei Photo) bird photography birds cranes eagle Hokkaido Japan red-crowned cranes https://www.cmeiphoto.com/blog/2018/5/my-journey-with-cranes-at-art-institute-of-houston Thu, 10 May 2018 20:51:32 GMT