#Sanmigueldeallende First Impressions

Charming. Friendly. Older demographic of foreigners and younger demographic of locals. Cold enough to enjoy the fire place (January is when I visited 29-70).  Abundance of churches for saints. What I find attractive about them is their bell towers. Ringing of the bells is inherent in the culture, it is a celebration, it is getting the almighty’s attention.

The artists community thrives as evident by their presence at every corner. As do cafes and boutiques. In the heart of the city - the square - it is foot traffic only. I estimate that the central part of #sanmigueldeallende to be about two square miles. Correct, not much to walk but, plenty of inclined streets to give you a modest heart rate boost that is sure to delight your fitness trackers.

The architecture at initial glance appears similar in style. I need to study it a bit more to figure out the nuances.  

The foreigners, mostly Americans in my encounters, are folks who are retired here. They are folks who are more friendly than our regular folks in the US, guess the local water has done its deed on them. 

Today, I rode the local bus and it took me through the real SMA, akin to other places I have visited in Mexico (and India) - a totally unplanned and ‘plan as you go’ layout with an abundance of life and creativity complimented by entrepreneurship.

This brings me to the one downside of SMA - if you don’t have wheels, you are pretty much stuck exploring the tourist spots. Yes, cabs are inexpensive - fixed 50-60 pesos anywhere in the downtown area, 100 pesos per hour if you get them by the hour. No bus maps or schedules available. Few locals that speak English couldn’t  tell me about the bus network as they don’t take the bus. Bus rides are 7 pesos, perfect within my budget range. 

No one rents out scooters because they wouldn’t do well on cobblestone streets. So, they rent out ATVs, yes, off road kind at 450 pesos per hour or 2,200 per 24 hour or  5,000 pesos for 3 days or 7,500 pesos for 5 days...well out of my budget range. The best price I was able to get quoted was 1,150 pesos for 4 hours. You have to leave your credit card, show a valid driver’s license and leave another kind of photo ID (don’t leave your passport).

There are many tourist excursions available for in/out of town depending on what you want to spend. 

if you are a vegetarian, you will have to dig deep to find places that don’t consider lard to be vegetarian. 

That’s it for now for my initial impressions, more to come... 



Transition through Queretaro On way to #sanmigueldeallende

Just got to Queretaro after an overnight bus journey and the emotional part of me already feels home, sight unseen. As we drive by rural areas I am struck by the parallels of building styles, neighborhoods in India, the plastic water tanks above each household, the exposed cement and brick style, the ‘plan as you go’ layout, satellite dishes...

Amidst the working folks neighborhood, you can occasionally see elements of more distinct architectural elements like a dome with a pinnacle, bold Hispanic colors and every once in a while a spectacular work of contemporary architecture - a factory complex.

I don’t understand my affinity to Mexico...


Trip to Queretaro...

As the bus travels through the dark highway to Monterey it reminds me of traveling in India along the highway at night. The road lit by moonlight and the sides as rural and unkempt.

I wonder what drives the violence in Mexico a country whose beauty is only exceeded by even more beautiful/kind people. Money from drug trade and the quest for a bigger share of the drug supply chain? Brutal violence that is hard to fathom that some people from this same Mexico would commit.  Highways that once upon a time were roamed freely by everyone and that few chance today after dark.

What is perhaps more disturbing is that the soldiers of the cartel earnestly pray to the same God as the rest for protection of their shipments and for dominance in their brutal war.

Has poverty really driven the people to embrace working willingly for cartels - generation after generation?

Change for the better is imminent because the soul of the Mexican people is pure and their passion is raw. And, their pride is legendary. A pride that has for long now been humiliated by the drug czars. There will be another revolution in Mexico. One that will eliminate the drug cartels. Revolution is in the blood of Mexicans and the longer the oppression, the fiercer the revolution will be. It is a matter of time, may take a generation or two, but, being here on Mexican soil, I feel it.

San Miguel de Allende

#sanmigueldeallende is a place that is held in high regards by travel gurus and praised by word of mouth by many folks including friends and those who know of my passion to photograph heritage architecture.

So, when a friend invited me to to go with him, it was an invitation that was exciting! Trev and his lovely bride, Donna Jo are renaissance folks that are well traveled and have experienced life colorfully. 

Tomorrow evening, we board the bus from McAllen to Reynosa to Queretaro and then a shuttle to SMA. Door to door about 16 hours. Yup, a long journey through the night. I am hoping to make the return trip during the day so as to see rural Mexico, passing through towns.

I hope to post here on my blog and www.instagram.com/ArtByPino during my travels. 

I welcome your suggestions on places to visit, experiences to have...


Book Fair - Real Places Telling Real Stories

The narrative below was prepared by Nancy Deviney, Executive Director, Texas Tropical Trail Region for its 142nd monthly Partner Event in Edinburg (Hidalgo County), on Tuesday, September 19, 2017.  This is an extract from the day's agenda of the meeting.  This book-fair will be held at the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library.

Four authors residing in and/or with roots in the Rio Grande Valley will be on hand at Sekula Memorial Library to review their books and have copies available for purchase.  These authors and their books are:

David Bowles of Donna – “Border Lore” (25 Folktales & Legends of South Texas) and “Ghosts of the Rio Grande Valley” (Ghost stories from Fort Brown to Fort Ringgold including haunted hotels, chapels & ruins in between).

Monica Burdette of Rockport – “Mesquite Country: Tastes & Traditions from the Tip of Texas” (Published by the Hidalgo County Museum in 1996 while Ms. Burdette served on the Board of the museum), “The Inn at Canelo Ranch Cookbook” (Ms. Burdette and her husband opened a Birding Bed & Breakfast in Kenedy County in 1989.  El Canelo Ranch was known as the home of the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl when a pair nested, year after year, in the garden at the Inn), and “Borderlands: The Heritage of the Lower Rio Grande Valley through the Art of Jose Cisneros” (This book was authored and published by the Hidalgo County Museum, 1998).

Eileen Mattei of Harlingen – “For the Good of My Patients:  The History of Medicine in the Rio Grande Valley” (Through stories and vintage photographs, the Valley’s medical history is captured in this coffee table book, giving uncommon and sometimes startling glimpses of Rio Grande Valley medicine.) and “Quinta Mazatlán – A Visual Journey” (Photographer Deval Pino Shah and writer Mattei collaborated on this celebration of the architectural and cultural wonders of McAllen’s most distinctive mansion and landscape).

Deval 'Pino' Shah of McAllen – “Architecture of the Lower Rio Grande Valley:  An Introduction” (Through photographs, this book celebrates 160 years of the architecture of the Texas-Mexico border region, its craftsmen, its culture and its climate) and “Quinta Mazatlán – A Visual Journey” (Photographer Shah and writer Eileen Mattei collaborated on this celebration of the architectural and cultural wonders of McAllen’s most distinctive mansion and landscape).


ISBN Hardcover 9780997998481 Retail Pricing $59.95 Paperback  9781948049016 Retail Pricing $41.95 ePub 9781948049009 $9.99


Hardcover 9780997998481 Retail Pricing $59.95

Paperback  9781948049016 Retail Pricing $41.95

ePub 9781948049009 $9.99

Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) was formed as the Galveston Historical Society in 1871 and merged with a new organization formed in 1954 as a non-profit entity devoted to historic preservation and history in Galveston County. Over the last sixty years, GHF has expanded its mission to encompass community redevelopment, historic preservation advocacy, maritime preservation, coastal resiliency and stewardship of historic properties. GHF embraces a broader vision of history and architecture that encompasses advancements in environmental and natural sciences and their intersection with historic buildings and coastal life and conceives of history as an engaging story of individual lives and experiences on Galveston Island from the 19th century to the present day.


I like to give each student individual attention which is why I limit my class size to a maximum of 4 students.



Payable via this link.

Questions - Text (956) 492-7140 for a callback or pino@ArtByPino.com.


Rani Rupamati Mosque, Khanpur, Ahmedabad

Rani Rupamati Mosque, Khanpur, Ahmedabad


  • What are the goals of the AHPP?

  • Who is behind the AHPP?

  • How will the photographs be displayed?

  • How Can I Help?


Goals of the AHPPs:

showcase the architectural treasures of Ahmedabad to the world,

educate younger generations of Indian origin on the history and architecture of the 606-year-old city located in the western state of Gujarat,

reach out to the Non-Resident Indian's (NRIs) or the expatriate community of Ahmedabad around the world who often times yearn to get a glimpse of places where they spent their early years.


The AHPP project is a labor of love project of photographer Pino Shah, who was born in Ahmedabad and where he did his middle and high schooling.   Pino started the photography of Ahmedabad and surroundings in 2009 and since then, has visited India every year to continue the AHPP.  To date, 8,700+ photographs are in the collection.  Starting November 2017, Pino will be traveling to Ahmedabad for two months to conclude the photography.


The AHPP will maintain a growing collection of photos and information for buildings and structures that are historically and architecturally significant in the Old City of Ahmedabad, in the New City of Ahmedabad and within a day's travel from Ahmedabad.  The photographs will be available in a searchable online database, in print and eBook formats, through photography exhibitions, and as photographic prints.  Sample images can be viewed in the database at www.artbypino.com/ahmedabad.  Due to the high piracy rate and lack of respect for authorship rights in India, all images will be watermarked in multiple ways.  Occasionally, this may result in an obtrusive rendering of the image of a structure.

The Digital Project: Everything starts with the online database. Basic information will be kept in this searchable online location and updated as new structures are added to the project.  The goal is to make the AHPP Digital Project the leading visual resource for Ahmedabad's rich world heritage architecture.

Book: The print edition will cover he Old City and historic neighborhoods outside the Old City but, within the city boundaries of Ahmedabad,  the architecture in the New City and the architecture of locations within a day's trip of Ahmedabad such as 'Adalaj Ni Vav,' 'Rani Ki Vav,' 'Modhera Sun Temple,' 'Baroda,' 'Sidhpur,' etc.  

The book and eBook published is being designed to appeal to the current, “Heads Down” generation, with vivid, full-page photographs and clear, easy-to-read text. To see similar format publications, click here. eBooks will be available from Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks.

Exhibitions: Exhibitions will be held in the USA, in Ahmedabad & Mumbai, India and other locations globally.  Stay tuned for dates and locations, subscribe here.


Glad you asked! There are two major ways you can help the AHPP: get the word out and partner up.


Press Releases and Interviews: Do you run a magazine or blog that might be interested in the AHPP? Do you know someone who does? How about radio, podcast, or TV shows? Give Pino a call +1 (956) 492-7140! He would love to talk with you.

Speaking Engagements: Do you work for your local civic body, chamber of commerce, or a museum? Host Pino for a talk and see what you learn.

Prints and Posters:  Help Pino get photos into stores, or buy custom prints, and show others how great an architectural treasure trove Ahmedabad is.

Education: Help reach out to schools to bring this beautiful architecture to their students.

Word of Mouth: Talk about the AHPP! Tell your family, friends, whoever would be interested about the project. Share this blog link with them.  Encourage them to subscribe.


If you can help with any of the following, Pino would love to talk with you

Architecture Identification: Always in need of people to help us accurately identify a structure’s style.

Historians: Given the growing architecture library, there is a constant need of willing writers to research and provide short pieces on the history and significance of each structure.

Corporate and Civil Leaders: If you hold a position on a civic body, town council, or are involved with public and private properties, you could help by getting access for Pino for photography access.

Sponsorship: As the project grows, so does its required budget. If you or your organization would like to sponsor the project in any way and get global exposure.


Deval 'Pino' Shah


+1 (956) 492-7140

Facebook Friend Request, LinkedIn


Source: www.artbypino.com/ahmedabad


This past Thursday, June 22, 2017, I drove up to Houston the day after hurricane Cindy flirted with it and Galveston.  Stephen Fox, architectural historian, a gracious adviser to two of my projects and I spoke to architecture lovers at AIA Houston about the Architecture of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Photography Project.  After the talk, I drove over to Galveston for my five day stay at its oldest building, the Menard House.  Legend has multiple stories of it being a haunted mansion but, no sign of any spirits.  Yes, several folks have breathed their last in the mansion.  It is a gorgeous mansion and I was fortunate to get the room that Sam Houston enjoyed, courtesy of the Galveston Historical Foundation.

Over the next five days, with help from my dear friend Rasik Patel from Houston, who drove me around, I covered 140 miles within the city of Galveston photographing 100+ buildings based on a list put together by Stephen Fox and Dwayne Jones, executive director, Galveston Historical Foundation.

The amazing architecture of Galveston thrilled my senses as much as the Menard House did.  Visiting the aftermath of Cindy's flirtation, ensured that most of the days had perfect lighting due to the overcast sky and occasion rain.  For the most of the photography, I didn't have to worry about the building's orientation as there was even light with minimal shadows.  The buildings got a nice wash readying them to be photographed.  I am thankful to The Lord for the perfect shooting conditions!

The end product of the photography is going to be two publications (print and eBooks) titled:

  1. 'Galveston: A Visual Journey'
  2. 'Galveston: Mid-Century Modern Architecture'

Dwayne has graciously agreed to provide the narratives.  The publications will be highly visual -- similar to my other three -- written for the 'heads-down' sixth graders and beyond, for folks that enjoy historic architecture and for research students.

Stay tuned for more details on this exciting project.  Subscribe here to receive updates.

Camera Recommendation

Take this with a grain of salt, it is subjective 'advice' based on my liking and no scientific or methodical approach has been taken in recommending this.  Also, if you use the Amazon links, you would be helping me earn commission but, you would pay the same price whether you purchase directly or through the link.


As someone famous said, 'the best camera is the one you have on you.'  I shoot with my iPhone 7+ most of the time.  No, the photographs on this site are taken with a DSLR.  But, unless you don't mind carrying around a bulky DSLR, you are better off with a non-DSLR camera.  So, when I take pleasure trips, I take my Sony A6000 with me.  It is less bulky, attracts less attention and takes decent pictures.  It is a mirrorless camera.  Most manufacturers make one.  I researched them early 2017 when I was getting ready to take a 5 week trip to India and Paris and decided on the Sony A6000 with the kit lens of 16-50.  Note that it is not the latest and greatest.  It was released on February 12, 2014 so as of June 21, 2017, it is over 3 years old!

Why would I recommend something 3 years old especially, given that technology changes so much?  Cost.  Features.  Aftermarket accessories available.  Relatively bug free.  So many owners out there that you can easily find an answer to anything related to the camera.  So, buy yours here.  Generally speaking, I prefer buying the camera body separately from the lens so that I can buy the specific lens for specify type of photography.  In this instance, Sony has bundled a pretty decent lens so, am comfortable recommending the kit purchase.

RecommendeD (MINIMUM) accessories

2 extra batteries with charger.  The mirrorless cameras rely on using an electronic view finder which is heavy on battery usage.

Camera strap.

2 32 Gb memory cards.I only buy Sandisk, Lexar or Transcend.  And, I don't buy larger cards because if I lose a card or it goes bad, I lose only some of my pictures.

Lens cleaning kit.  DON'T ever use your shirt to clean your lens or use the liquid you get from eyewear stores.

Camera bag.  I liked this bag so much that after I sold the first one I had bought back in 2006, I bought it again in 2015.