Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Worldwide Photo Walk...

Last Saturday morning, offered a perfect weather for going out and capturing few moments of Bangalore city through the camera clicks. I along with few other shutterbugs made full use of this opportunity as we participated in the Bangalore leg of the Worldwide Photo Walk. The Photo Walk was held to mark the release of 'Lightroom', a photography software programme developed by Adobe. Bangalore was the only city in India where this was talking place, apart from the other 192 cities across the world.

This Bangalore leg of the event was managed by Mahesh Shantaram, an independent documentary photographer and artist based in Bangalore.


There was no planned agenda for the walk and it was quite informal. We all started the event at around 7:30 A.M. from Mayo Hall, one of the prominent landmarks in Bangalore. Then our steps clip-clopped on the Residency Road. On our journey we were free to capture anything and everything in our camera lenses.

Mayo Hall

I was in a mood to make some bio-scopic compositions, even though I was walking down a road heavily masked with glitz shopping malls. Bangalore's old memories are fading very fast, both in the physical environment and in the social atmosphere. That's a logical outcome of economic growth, so better capture those in pictures before they are reduced to dust.


Just a decade ago, anyone could walk down the narrow alleyways and sip a cup of coffee or tea for one rupee or so. But today rusted locks adorn the entrance doors of these neighborhood tea/coffee houses. The once sleepy get together place has given way to a cosmopolitan shopping juggernaut.

Lock Kiya Jaye

Something definitely is lost, for few it's for the better while for the rest, it's for the worse. The city's populace is no longer nostalgic about the remnants and with an urge to modernize fast, the Government and the builders have gutted the city's very soul.

Old memories

Bangalore and traffic jams are synonymous. Just that the intensity of the blockage varies with the time period of the day. Even though the day had just started, there were long queues of two-wheelers parked near the road.

Traffic is sometimes not chaos

Construction sites are a common sight but what really adheres to one's vision is the vibrant life visible on the streets. Like this one, a cobbler mending and polishing shoes, sitting on a tiled pathway by the side of the road, enjoying the cacophony of the traffic in front of him.


Today the city that is bursting at the seams is home to people from so many different strata of life, each seemingly a different world of its own. Some enjoy food in the elegant and refined restaurants that have mushroomed in the cities and some are happy with the food that a make-shift stall owner provides.

Food for All

Who cares as long as its food?

Food for Survival

This way the walk continued and many eyes in the traffic were settled on me and few of my fellow shutterbugs. Since there were few foreigners in our group, the autowallas thought that we were tourists, exploring the city over the weekend and approached us with invites to take us on a paid tour of the city. It was around 11 A.M. that we finally decided to put an end to the walk. All of us gathered in the Mocha restaurant where many had late breakfast amidst passionate discussions about the snaps that each had taken.


All in all a refreshing way to spend four hours of a weekend, walking down the narrow streets and capturing life in pictures. By the way, were these snaps, Ok?

You can check the photos taken by all the participants in the event here.

Keep reading and remain connected.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Thought...

For some, its pain.
For some, its pride.
For some, its solemn dignity.
A simple knot
But a complex entangle.

Keep reading and remain connected.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dollar Bahu...

Today the world has changed a lot for desis and Indians in particular. With the declining lustre of dollar in the face of the global economy and business, the US tag or badge doesn't carry as much scintillation as it used to earlier. No doubt, the value is still there, but with the Asian economy offering if not same but similar opportunities, these days the US trump card, is not ranked as it was earlier.

But there were days, when someone settled in the dollar land was looked upon with awe. Now mix, the power of dollar, a mother-in-law, a daughter-in-law, a humble middle class family and other simple ingredients, a plot can be built and that’s what Sudha Murthy did. A couple of years back, she wrote a book, titled 'Dollar Sose' in Kannada and it went on to become a textbook for degree courses in Mysore University, a TV programme on Zee, and was later translated to English, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and few other Indian languages.

The English version is named 'Dollar Bahu'. This novel webs on the aspirations, dreams and struggles of traditional middle class Indian families. The crux of the story line rests on the promise of plenty that the US dollar holds for middle class Indian families and the price that people pay for a life in the US. The +ve and the –ve points, and the author has reflected all these aspects through the Gauramma, a lady old enough to be a grandma. She is torn between her roots in Bangalore and the life in the US led by her son Chandru and daughter-in-law, Jamuna.
"Lovers are separated, friends become strangers, and the spell of the dollar has the power to disrupt the harmony in the middle class families left back home."
But then, Gauramma often feels sheepish because it was she who had stood like a wall supporting her son to move to the 'promised land', by cheating employers. Finally the son gets a green card, sacrificing his regular once in a year visits to his hometown. The green card, though not green in color brings more greenery in Gauramma's life. Improvement in societal status ladder because of owner of few hundred dollars, more salability in the marriage market for Chandru because of the 'Green Card' factor, and better life style in a two floored house compared to their previous life in a two room house are important milestones in Gauramma's life.

But once she lands in the land of honey and milk (that's how the author mentions the US, or is it the outcome of translation from the original version), she realizes that 'All that glitters is not gold'. Apart from the skewed perceptions she had about the material life in the US, she is more dumb stricken with the social and the fast track life abroad. Priests imported from India on a five-year visa perform rituals in spic and span temples. But this doesn't offer Gauramma the deeply religious feeling that she used to get after returning from her neighborhood temple in Bangalore.

Coming from a middle class society, in which relationships are not appreciated and respected, she is thunderstruck to realize that in the dollar land, every knot of familial bonding is measured. The initial alchemy between Gauramma and the dollar daughter-in-law (Bahu) slowly starts to ebb.
"Anyone can help in the form of money. But one should not forget those who help with their physical presence and their very real care. Anyone can earn money. But treasures like love and trust cannot be bought."
Gradually Gauramma realizes her nuttiness and her despicable obsession for the dollar that had raised pillars of comparison among her family members. She understands her folly of constantly nagging Vinuta, her Indian based daughter-in-law married to another son of hers, Girish. A stay in the land of dollars for about a year, educates Gauramma about the realities of US life led by Indians there: the callousness, the selfish goals, the hunger for prosperity and status, the crave for green card, etc leaving them very little time for family. She returns disenchanted and corrected, seeing in a new light the sincerity of her family left in India The conversion factor of 40 loses its lustre, and makes way for contentment with the rupee.

The book is written in Sudha Murthy's usual self-righteous style, in a simple and coherent way. I completed the book in 2 sittings straight, but it was not like one of those unputdownable books but is worth a one-time breeze reading. I liked the book because someone has candidly stated a topic that many want to express but that has never oozed out of the societal cauldron.

Now this is a song dedication to Gauramma from RC for recognizing what is what and this is not that. See even I am humming something lyrical.

Keep reading and remain connected.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekend Colors...

Somewhere in one hidden part of Fraser Town is an ordinary place, by the side of the railway track called Pottery Town. Town is too big a word for it, as all it comprises of is a street that is home to around 35 potter families, who have been dabbling with their masterful hands for over 30 years now. This weekend, on a cloudy Sunday morning, I was there with the hope to get some nice shots and interact with the artisans. But, it was my bad luck that there was not much action in this island of creativity because Ganesh Puja is coming soon and all the craftsmen were busy for the regular Puja business. In a nutshell it was a dull day both in terms of the weather and the activity on the shop floor.

Still I managed to take some shots and got a confirmation from the artisans that I can visit them after about a month from now, when there would be lot of action. Action in form of the mixing clay, using the potter's wheel, mixing colors for the painting, baking the products in the kiln, etc. All these have to be done before 10A.M. by when the sun becomes harsh, as it has its own negative effects on the final end result.

I am waiting for that. Till then, if you like these pics, feel free to comment on areas I need to improve.



United Colors


No Evil Spirits



Red is the Color


Even it rains for Ganesha

Craftful hands

Keep reading and remain connected.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 15, 2008

Independence Day...

independence day
The nation turned, 62 since it attained its independence in 1947.

Keep reading and remain connected.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dance like this...

Dance is one of the simplest forms of communication and expression. Damn....or I shall replace, 'the simplest' for 'the most difficult'. Don't you often feel that words sometimes hide deeper truths that only the body can guess at, but when it comes to dance, it just flows like fluid? Errors, no errors, perfect step, in-correct step, nothing really matters, all that weighs is that it provides some kind of indescribable pleasure sans all inhibitions.

People of all ages dance in discos, pubs, parties, etc giving free expression to their will. Now try this, someone invites you to a dance floor and asks you to shake your hips, (hey unlike Shakira though, as 'Hips don't lie'). No no, I am exaggerating here. All I meant to say was that, you were invited to do, a step here and a step there. Sometimes we acknowledge to such requests without any second thoughts, but sometimes we do hesitate.

Ask a kid, the same, most of the time, the response would be hey-i-was-waiting for that. Dance can include a preset symbolic vocabulary, such as ballet, or it can resort to symbolic gestures, or common signals, as in the case of pantomime, where the body speaks wordlessly. But all these require lots and lots of practice. Now think of something simple by which every human being has the ability to express her/him self through some movement. You get me, right, it's the bindaas type, the last time you did in your graduate school dorm.

Bend, stretch, jump, and gyrate your body. That's exactly what Matt Harding, did with some peachy music playing in the background, dancing in different locations in India, Kuwait, Bhutan, Tonga, Timbuktu and the Nellis Airspace in Nevada, where he performs his act in zero gravity for his road to global fame. Matt didn't follow any steps and rules that are generally conformed to, in any of the dance forms. For him it was simple, a bit of arm-swinging, and then a pinch of butt-shaking, mild spot hopping would sound good for the second bit. Then finally an elementary knee-pumping. Mix these three movements and even though it may appear zany, but these can trigger an endless array of let-me-do-it feelings in any individual.

You are at your work station or in the kitchen or in your reading room or in the bathroom, didn’t you feel, let me try it once. I guess, that was because, KISS (Keep It Simple and Smart) principle was the crux of the video.

Matt Harding, a 31 year old chap today, grew up in Westport, Conn., thought pretty early that college education was not his cup of tea. Having ditched college, he got himself employed in a video game store, as a designer of video games. But above all this, he preferred to travel, from anywhere to everywhere. So now you get the link, how come so many panoramas from across the globe in his video. 14 months in the making, 42 countries, and a cast of thousands. Brilliant. Matt's site is here.

Now this is a bit of insider info, Matt's girl friend, Melissa Nixon, who works for Google is also related to the video above in some way. The song in the video is sung in Bengali by Palbasha Siddique, a 17-year-old native of Bangladesh now living in Minneapolis. It was Melissa Nixon who had discovered Siddique on YouTube. The song is based on a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, a Nobel laureate (there is a desi touch in everything.) and the music which is both resilient and spirited is by Gary Schyman, a friend of Matt. As music reverberated in my mind, I got a feeling of the tunes that are played just before the flight is about to land. Don't you feel so? More so felt as though my flight was about to land at Schiphol Airport after hovering over the tulip gardens.

Now you if I jot down the fine points from all these, I have 3 important take-aways.
  • Follow KISS principle.
  • Internet is the new blood corpuscles of our lives.
  • Follow one's own heart and deep dive into something that one is passionate about.
But right now, my bums, my legs, my hands and all my muscles are in a mood to jump, and dance, just as you see in this video.

Do I sound like a nutcase or have I gone cranky?

Keep reading and remain connected.

For the title of the post, we all know that "Hips Don't Lie" is a famous song based in a Salsa and Cumbia mix and fused with reggaeton beat performed by Colombian singer Shakira and Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean. The song is a remake of Jean's 2004 song 'Dance Like This'.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

If You Are Afraid of Heights...

I picked a book, saw the cover and hoped that I would get something special to read. After having read this haunting novel, 'If You Are Afraid of Heights', I feel that this is a book that defies categorization. It expresses tales that are neither too concrete to be real, nor too fanciful to be surreal. The plots float somewhere between fantasy and reality.

Sounds a bit confusing, but that's the hallmark of Raj Kamal Jha, a Mechanical engineer from IIT Kharagpur, who didn’t dabble with the complex equations of thermodynamics and theory of machines after his graduation. Instead he applied for a program in the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of Southern California where he received his M.A. in 1990. Since then his literary journey has crossed many stations.

'If You Are Afraid of Heights' is a book of layered visual panoramas, non-geometric as it builds up, threaded using simple language. There are three different tales which are cemented using recurrent images of doll(s), red dress, a white and blue umbrella, Park Street, man with a crow, Paradise Park, trams, show windows, a crying child at night, overflowing canal, unexpected rain, and so on.

The novel starts on an assuring note, the promise of a flight of fantasy riding a crow and the story of a couple introduced to one another through an unexpected tram accident. This is the incomplete story of Rima and Amir. Amir is a middle-class letter writer, and a part-time teacher who lives in a tiny dilapidated house with few amenities. Rima is the only occupant of a mysterious limitless apartment block in Paradise Park that seems to have suddenly come up in the open ground. It is to this place that she brings Amir after the accident and offers all the facilities including free medication, for him to recoup. After Amir fully recovers, Rima comes to live with Amir and be a part of his life and his lifestyle. Life goes on and one dark night, Rima suddenly abandons, Amir's world because she is unable to cope with the painful cries of an unseen child.

The crying child is constant variable to all three narratives.

The second part centers around a reporter, Mala who travels to a small town to investigate the gruesome rape and murder of an eleven-twelve-year-old girl. The flow of the plot is at its best in this segment, and paints the colors of reportage in desi-land, unlike reporting from NYSE sitting in chic offices. The portrayal of a reporter meandering through mud in knee-deep rain-watered streets, talking to an old man who performed the postmortem of the girl, collecting whatever facts that were possible is nifty. Flawless imagery. The end goal is to crack the mystery behind the death of the girl. Whodunit. In this segment again, the motifs, and the crying sounds of the child recur and these disturb Mala during her overnight trip on a rainy day. In a subtle way, Mala's somewhat troubled childhood starts to replay. I think, in the garb of the story of the abuse of a child, the author is trying to explore the other kinds of violence.
"It is very easy to tackle physical violence — the bruises are visible, the laws are in place, the next door neighbors can hear. What is more fascinating to me is the violence you can get away with — psychological violence. No court will convict someone who says 'there are no bruises, but he made me feel as if I was broken into a thousand pieces'."
The final section returns to the city where a particular neighborhood that has witnessed a series of unconnected suicides by men, women, boys, girls, old, and young. Lugubriousness is in the air. A young schoolgirl, who lives in the same colony, is worried that her parents might soon kill themselves. She discloses about all her fears and dark apprehensions to a friend, who promises to follow her father and mother to make sure that they are safe. This part of the narration touches one aspect in detail that I liked, apart from the plot progression. And you guessed it right, if that was photography.

Each of the three segments has its own prologue which reads like film scripts. The writing is so raw and fascinating that with minimal effort the author creates the backdrop for his plot. The atmosphere is one of those in which every desi can smell the day-to-day life, of crowds, of traffic, of kids playing cricket in the streets, of power failures, of plush high-rise apartments, of gutters and canals overflowing in rainy season, etc. All these and many more minute details of settings and surroundings eclipse the theme. The verbal visuality is magical.

The book ends with the following lines, "Look at the picture on the cover, there’s a child, a girl in red dress; there's a bird, a crow in a blue white sky. And then there are a few things you cannot see.". This is exactly what the cover page of the book shows.

But did you check that, see carefully before you dive reading it.

Keep reading and remain connected.

Labels: , , , , , ,