Saturday, December 26, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The promo was jaw-dropping, which actually took me to the box-office to buy the ticket of ‘Paa’. And after coming out of the theatre, I think the160 bucks are well spent.
The complete movie is about a 13 year old kid – ‘Auro’ who is suffering from a rare disease which is genetically acquired. ‘Progeria’ – the official name of this incurable disease and Amitabh Bacchan played the role. It will be an understatement if I just say he ‘played the role’; actually it’s a complete reinvention of this 67 years old veteran actor. Again he proved that he is highly under-utilized in Indian cinema. R.Balki did a great job in selecting him, as it was only possible to bring out ‘Auro’ by him and in title showing, ‘Introducing - Amitabh Bacchan’. This is truly a reinvention of an actor.
Abhishek & Vidya were good to their extent; mainly Abhishek was great in picking up the intricacies of new-age politicians of India. Balki is surely an exceptional director who makes unconventional movies, but this time he proved that he’s capable to make absolute stunning ones. The dialogue was humorous, keeping the audience engrossed to the movie throughout.
I would say there are two things that Balki could’ve avoided – the political issues which we usually see any bollywood movie and do some more study about ‘Progeria’ before making the movie. As most of the viewer is unaware of the disease, its okay for him to create scenes like ‘Auro’ dancing in rain and roaming on Abhishek’s back. But the fact is none of these are actually possible by a person suffering from ‘Progeria’. They can’t even stand even if ceiling fan is running at its full blow.
‘Paa’ is surely a must watch movie for all ages. Just because each of us should know what Mr. Amitabh Bacchan can do! Kudos!!!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
The question of when one can call himself ‘settled in life’, disturbing me for last few weeks. At what point? When one gets a well-paying secured job? With a sustainable balance in the savings account? With a happy married life? After having a bright kid or two? Or when the children are educated enough and they have a handsome job and their own house?
Staying in the business capital for almost a decade with good jobs in hand coupled with a satisfactory family life, can I call myself ‘settled in life’? Not really, I guess. Not a guess, but surely I’m not settled. I hear the call of the mountains from Ladakh, I can see them coming to me to take me with them if I don’t reach them myself. I can literally hear the call of the sea on a full moon night and can feel my body is getting wet with the salty water. Someone says within me to leave everything right away and rush the mountains, to the sea or to some dense forest that I’m yet to visit.
Escapism? Not really. It’s the wish of re-birth, and this time I’ll decide to choose the place, parents and school. And once I’m grown up amidst the nature’s school reading the best poetries, painting my heart out on a canvas and die on a snow-clad mountain, surely that day I can call myself ‘settled’.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
It was a chilling day of January in Bikaner city and I was busy shooting the camel fair organized by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Authority. As most of the events were happening inside a stadium, I was not feeling very energetic to shoot the crowd. By end of day one, I came to know the second half of next day would be interesting as it’ll showcase their camel race and other folk stuff in a desert village called ‘Ladera’. Accordingly I booked a vehicle which will take us to that village & will take us back in the evening.
The journey to the village was interesting. After we crossed the main road & entered the mud road, the surroundings changed dramatically. A complete feel of a village where women are in brilliant colored saris, and moustaches of men kept on growing multiple folds with their age, the turbans, everything were giving a sense as if I’m back in the era of Maharajas!
The car parking lot was little far and we had to walk a kilometer or so to reach the place where the actual fair was taking place. Paratroopers from Indian Air Force were showing their stunts and there were few cultural programs. The best part of the afternoon was the camel race where the local camel jockeys took part with their best breeds. I really couldn’t imagine that the lazy animal can really run that fast. Perhaps the laziness is the guise of the camels.
After the race, it was some common shots of sunset with the camels here & there. I was little tired after shooting continuously for few hours on the desert. Just to take some rest, I sat on the sand with some snacks & tea and was enjoying the twilight on the desert. After sometime, when it was almost dark, the moon started rising. I suddenly remembered that it’s a full moon night and the desert was almost deserted by that time. There were few local people burning fire on the mid of the desert to keep them warm. It was a heavenly beauty to see the moon rising on the desert and those villagers warming themselves on the sand. Though this is one my best shots, but yet the camera of my mind took much better image than the handheld one!
It was early this year when three of my friends heard the call of the stones of Hampi along with me and we decided to make a visit there. Hampi was the medieval capital of Hindu empire Vijayanagara and not very well known tourist place in India. Lots of people were interested to know where the place is and what is there. Today Hampi is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Bus from Mumbai to Hospet takes little more than 12 hours. There are good hotels in Hospet, but it takes time (also money) to go & come from Hospet to Hampi every time. Therefore, we decided to stay in Hampi. Though there’s no star-class hotel there, the available ones are the backpackers’ accommodation but suits good for those who really have the urge to see the place from inside. It was difficult for us to find a comfortable place, if not good, as we didn’t book our accommodation beforehand. Finally, by around 2 O’clock in the afternoon we were able to park ourselves.
‘Mango Tree’ – the restaurant you just can’t ignore when you are in Hampi. Authentic local food and in ethnic style makes ‘Mango Tree’ unparallel. But there are few other restaurants who serve English breakfast and Italian stuff, but unfortunately all vegetarian stuff. Hampi is considered to be a sacred place and therefore no non-veg food is allowed there. At the most, you can get egg curry at places officially.
First day of our trip was limited to Virupaksh temple and the great formation of stones at Hemakuta hills which is just beside Virupaksh temple. We watched the fantastic sunset from Hemakuta and found an Argentinean gentleman playing flute…it was splendid!
Next day we took an auto-rickshaw which took us to Vitthala temple, Tungabhadra River, Queen’s bath, stepped tank, etc. After visiting all these, we found roaming with rented two-wheeler would be much easier rather than hiring auto-rickshaws. The next day we took 2 two-wheelers which were cheap and we kept on traveling in our own terms. It was the last day in Hampi for us and we wanted to see the sunrise from the hilltop. We started early in the morning, almost dark and parked our vehicles at the base of the hill. Then it was a tiring trek to the top but surely it was worth it. We enjoyed the first rays of the sun on these historic stones which might have experienced this kind of morning for million years!
The stones were placed on each other in such precision that it feels like someone did a very complex trigonometry to fix these stones so that they don’t fall down. Natures creations make our jaw dropped in every turn in Hampi.
Monday, July 20, 2009
It was late September 2005 when we headed for the southern beauty – Munnar! The approach to this green hill station has a long winding roads and hardly any vehicle was visible on the way. It was around midday when we saw the first beauty of it – immeasurable tea garden and a black road in it looks like a big Anaconda sleeping on the green field. Our jaw dropped with the first view and there were more to come.
After reaching the Munnar town, we didn’t have to struggle much to get a comfortable accommodation as it was off-season. Hotel ‘Westwood Riverside Garden Resort’ became our address for next 3 days. Munnar was one of the favorite places to British people on summer. It was a hill station where many used to come for change. And now it’s the biggest tea cultivating place in southern India.
When we came out for stroll, the lash green tea gardens were everywhere. There’s huge lake which is known as Munnar Lake few kilometers away from the town. When we reached there, the overcast sky had created such an out-of-the-world view that all of us thought it could be the end of this earth! The local farmers were bringing the fresh vegetables from field & washing them on the water. I never saw that freshness in vegetables in life!
Another element which made the Munnar trip memorable is ‘Nilgiri Thar’. This is a kind of goat that can climb mountains straight. There are only two kinds of Thars available in India, the Himalayan Thar & Nilgiri Thar. I had to trek little to get a closer view of this almost-extinct species, and was lucky enough to find some cute baby Thars roaming around. But they are shy, jumped towards their mother after seeing the camera.
Finally before leaving this mystique place, we visited the Munnar church. It’s one of the oldest churches in India completely made by stones. When I went inside, I found some local ladies were praying. But the loneliness of this church touched me and I felt like spending some time with myself there. Unfortunately, the call of duty came in the form of the horn of our car, and I had to bid adieu to Munnar.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
South Pullu (around 15000 ft.) – our first stop on the road for breakfast and official check for valid permits. There were few companies of army and a senior officer told us they have been sent here for acclimatization for Siachen. Shortly, they will be on their routine 90 days posting at the worlds’ highest battlefield – Siachen glacier. Our breakfast was simple; Maggi (that’s the most widely available food in entire Ladakh) cooked in five times more water than needed. As soon as we finished the watery Maggi, there was hot tea which getting cold in few seconds in that temperature of around 7OC.
The next phase of the drive was really nerve-ratting. Snow was cleared by the BRO team on early in the morning, and there were fresh snowing after that. And with the wind, powder-like snows were everywhere and we had to start the wiper on to get a clear vision of the narrow road. Driving at less than 10/hr speed, we were merely crawling. At times, when the vehicle was skidding on the snow-filled road, I was actually thinking to put the iron chain on the wheel. And finally, just before 2 kilometers from Khardung la pass, we had to stop. There was one small bus before us which couldn’t cross one snow and water filled area. We came down from our car and the road was slippery like anything. We were taking support of the vehicle to keep us straight for taking photographs. By the time the bus was able to cross that stretch, we couldn’t do anything but sitting idle inside the car and taking some images here and there.
Then finally we reached Khardung la top, local people call it K-top or just ‘top’. It was a sheer sensation to be at the top of the world’s highest motorable road at 18,380 ft. We got down from the car and started taking photos as quickly as possible. I knew that spending longer time in this less-oxygen area means falling ill. We couldn’t even spend more than 10 minutes on the top it started snowing along with a biting wind. Amazingly, we found there are couples of families who stay over there, probably paid by BRO to look after their jawans & officers. It’s all about habit; where we can barely stay for 10 minutes, habit made them stay for life!
Then it was a steep descend till North Pullu. South Pullu – Khardung la – North Pullu these three point make a bell curve on this terrain. Due to lack of oxygen at the top, most of us were having some problem of breathlessness which were making us little drowsy. To break the dizziness and to celebrate crossing the K-top, we stopped at South Pullu. It’s the acclimatization base camp for Indian army who’ll be posted at Siachen glacier for 90 days. There was only one restaurant (if you can call it!) open and they were serving hot mutton thukpa. The morning watery Maggi was digested by then and this thukpa did the magic of bringing us back in form. And then our driver brought our attention to an black animal which was coming down from the snow-clad mountain – a Yak. Our lenses were ready in seconds people who had bigger lenses in their kit, opened them up and fixed the biggest possible lens to get the Yak as big as possible in their images. I don’t think that yak ever experienced this kind of attention and therefore, became little shy. It just looked at us for some time trying to understand what exactly happening and then slowly turned away.
Drive from North Pullu till Diskit was piece of cake comparing to what we had crossed some time back. River Shey was our companion throughout this road. In this route we crossed the Indian Army’s supply point where we came to know Lt. Col. P. K. Chowdhury – who’s heading that point. A great gentleman, who treated us like his family members, told us how Indian army is defending the enemies from both Pakistan & China. The feel of desert soon started surrounding us as soon as we entered Diskit at Nubra valley. And the beauty of the desert area with a water body within it came to the forefront when we reached Hunder village after crossing Diskit. The Diskit monastery is one of the oldest one in Ladakh area and its surely worth a visit. Just beside that, they are now constructing a huge size statue of Lord Buddha which should be finished soon.
When we reached Diskit monastery, a sandstorm started and we had to take some time to come out of the monastery. In this mean time, we the priest told us about the monastery, it’s culture and history. We got some exceptional shots from the monastery and then headed towards Hunder village. Our drive to Nubra valley through the world’s highest motorable road proved to be an unforgettable experience!
Monday, July 6, 2009
The Great Driving Challenge has become the newest craze for me. I was game for it from the very first advertisement published on June 22. But I couldn’t figure out who could be my partner in this as I was in need of a partner, who has got a driving license older than July, 2007. Finally, it was Shifra, my old friend and ex-colleague who was instantly agreed to join this.
Now our profile is up and we need votes and testimonials to reach to the top. Please use the following link to vote for us and forward it to your friends/family/co-workers:
Hurry!!! Votes will be accepted only till 17th July, 2009.
Love you all….
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I hope to come back with some new posts soon, if not very regularly.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I’m shared. You’re shared. Unshared soul.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Among hundreds of mourners who filled the room in a way that the artist’s dead body was feeling suffocated; there were this pair of eyes. Nobody could make out anything special about them. The eyes knew they are not supposed to shed a single drop of tears here, else people could question about the reason & intensity of pain. The eyes knew they are not supposed to get a closer look of the artist, as the near & nearest places are taken by the dear & dearest friends and relatives. These eyes spent innumerable hours when the artist just wanted to see them from closest possible distance. These eyes have seen the artist, every bit of him, on the seashore, on the mountains and in dimmed candle light in a corner of his studio.
It was time to take the corpse to the cremation ground. Friends took the body up and slowly made their way out from the small room. They took the artist in front of those eyes. The eyes saw the artist for the last time and then it’s a pain. Pain of loss, pain of losing the most valuable possession on earth which was hidden from the earth till now came forward with a loud cry. Nothing could possibly stop those eyes.
No more closest look; no more gratifying evenings; no more poetry; no more brilliant pieces of art!
Monday, March 2, 2009
past midnight. half-filled glass. rum & soda. thirsty. pastels & charcoals. drawing papers. canvas. laptop. ms-word. fonts selected. page setup done. word count: 0. smoke. filled ashtray. couple of words. select all. delete. some more words again. select all. delete. brush. oil paint. scratches. pencil. drawing. tear canvas. twelve days to go. full moon. sleepy guards. dark.
empty glass. thirsty. few lines. word count: 23. better. filled glass. closed eyes. memories. pain. some more lines. smoke. empty matchbox. flowing words. half-filled glass. new canvas. barking dogs. figure on canvas. horn. cabs. empty glass. word count: 460. colored canvas. whitish horizon. thirsty.accomplished night.
Monday, February 23, 2009
It looked like a gloomy day; he had a fight with his wife throughout the day on petty cash. This regular event took an unusual turn when his wife couldn’t find enough money for their son’s medicine. It was nothing serious, looks like a normal fever and therefore Dandapani asked her to wait for a day before going to the doctor around the corner. And that’s all ignited his wife to bring down each day of poverty of last 26 years.
Dandapani started his journey with two of his regular assistant, but he was very inattentive to his work today. ‘Looser’, that’s the only word was coming to his mind about himself from beginning. There were few fishes on the boat but it was nothing compared to what he was supposed to get on an average day. And then suddenly, there was a storm. The storm took the waves in such heights that Dandapani never seen or heard in his lifetime! It was utterly difficult for them to keep the boat floating. Finally, after few minutes which looked like few light-years, they couldn’t resist the storm & the waves. All three of them were just drowned in that unimaginable current. Only one of his assistant could survive from it, which was nothing but miracle!
Dandapani’s son who was sick that day listens to this story from that assistant who was there with him on that night. They say that storm is called ‘Tsunami’; he doesn’t know what it means apart from his father’s death! The word ‘Tsunami’ and Dandapani’s death are seems synonymous to each other.
Today it’s his turn to see the sea for few minutes before starting off the journey!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
There are tens and thousands of visitors are coming to Hampi from every corner of the globe. Each of them is amazed to see the structures, formation of the stones, the ruins and the sunsets. But nobody wants to listen the stones, their silence speaks thousands words which is not audible to human ears. I heard them, heard them all. Each of them has a story to tell, how they reached here, how the kings and their army men put their feet on them, how they conquered & defeated, how the boy & the girl from the neighborhood jumped to end their lives, how they enjoyed the pain from my tripod and how they wanted me to spend time on their lap for last thousands years, everything!
I don’t remember when the sun had gone down beyond the Hemakuta hills; it must be some hours by now as it was pitch dark where I couldn’t even see my hands. I started climbing down; each rock at a time and the rocks were as if holding each other and created a barricade for me so that I don’t fall down! After few hours of combined effort of myself & the stones, I was back at the plain land mid of my friends. But to my utter surprise, I couldn’t hear a single word my friends were saying! I was just doing a guess work by looking at their face and hands. How can I become deaf all of a sudden? I feared for some time.
But by next morning, I was able to hear everything; all the noise from my dear ones!
Monday, February 9, 2009
Suddenly the water on the shore started howling. It asked the sun, ‘why you bring these lovely golden rays just twice a day? I wait for you the entire night for the morning rays and again the entire day for this glorious evening! Why these just for few minutes? Why can’t you stay like this always, which makes me a mysterious woman of Arabian nights?’
The melting sun replied, ‘My fair lady, I’ve been made for this. If only I stay with you throughout, then what will happen to the moon? You are again stunning but so different on a full moon night! The stars can literally give up their life to fall in love with you on those nights! What will happen to the mountains on the other part of the earth? There they are waiting for my rays all through a dark night; I need to make them gorgeous as well. And the seas on the other end are freezing and I need to make them warm; so that the creatures under them can live their life. Therefore, I cannot give only these dazzling golden rays to you always; darkness must come for you to get this again!
I love you all; the mountains, all the seas, all the human beings and all other creatures. My rays are surely there for you, but not only for you; my love! On the other hand, you also make me beautiful. Without your waves, I would look dull even on these golden parts of the day. Therefore, my dear Arabian sea, I can neither be complete without you, nor I can be complete with you.’ The last red dot on the horizon goes beyond the vision of the sea.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Shweta gets up from her cozy chair and slowly goes to the wide glass window of her cubicle. Pushing the blinds behind, she puts her face touching the glass and her breathe makes a vapor mark on the glass. A frail smile came to her lips remembering the childhood days that she spent with her cousin brother drawing figures on vaporized glass windows in Jaipur. Just by that time a crowded Mumbai local went through in front of her; rain-scared urbanites trying to reach their home in earliest possible time.
‘Home’ – is that the word bothering her from this morning? She thought for few moments. Ma couldn’t see her working; else she would’ve been the happiest person on earth today. Babuji left them unattended when she was just two years old with some other woman and Ma lived rest of the few years of life in belief that her husband will be back to her one day. Shweta was just six years when her Ma passed away! From then, her life took a u-turn. Her uncle brought her in his place in Jaipur where she studied, grown up and now the chief underwriter of a top insurance company in Mumbai.
Shweta doesn’t remember her father’s face, doesn’t even remember when she had seen his photograph for the last time. But Ma? There’s a pale silhouette of a Rajasthani lady with colorful saris and one more thing. She could remember her weeping sound every night. And just like Ma, these days she feels Babuji will be back some day to see her. He’ll first go to their village and will found no one there. Then he’ll come to Jaipur, will take Shweta’s address and will drop in to see her one day; in a rainy day like this!
The phone rings on her desk, as if bringing her back in her today at her workplace. The display was showing it’s a call from the desk of the receptionist.
‘Yes’, Shweta couldn’t recognize her own voice. As if all letters & words which are stored there in her mind for last twenty-six years are trying to come out all together!
‘Ma’am, here’s a person wants to meet you’, the lady on the other side replied.
‘What’s his name?’ Asked Shweta. This time it was much better.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Origin: 1840–50; HEART + BEAT
That’s it. How easy it is to describe in a dictionary! Ask the mother-to-be who’s dying to listen to the heartbeat of her unborn foetus. Ask the man who has just lost his companion of fifty years on a sudden heart-attack. Ask the girl who keeps her ear on the chest of her boyfriend to listen the systole & diastole and thinks it’s saying just her name! Is it really this easy to describe?
The mother-to-be perhaps lost multiple chances to become a mother and now she’s desperate to be one. What she feels when she hears heartbeat of her foetus for the first time? Is it just the systole & diastole? Doesn’t it give an enormous pleasure at every pore of her body & soul?
And the gentleman who just lost his companion with whom he spent five decades, some million hours and shared some billion seconds of happiness, sorrows, anger, love & passion! What stopped her in this journey called ‘life’? It’s only systole & diastole, and someone else’s rest all complete cycle of systole & diastole will be meaningless!
The girl, who’s in her late teens and spends most of her evenings with her boyfriend, lies down on the bare chest of her man and listens his heartbeat; feels that it’s murmuring her name deep down her ears. As if his heart was born to whisper her name on her ears, nothing else! Is it the only systole & diastole?
Much more than an entire dictionary can handle! Mr. Robert Cawdrey, with all due respect to you; you did a poor job!
Friday, January 30, 2009
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.
Sunshine almost always make me high.
If I had a day that I could give you.
I'd give to you a day just like today.
If I had a song that I could sing for you.
I'd sing a song to make you feel this way.
Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.
Sunshine almost always make me high.
If I had a tale that I could tell you.
I'd tell a tale sure to make you smile.
If I had a wish that I could wish for you.
I'd make a wish for sunshine all the while.
Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.
Sunshine almost always make me high.
Sunshine almost all the time makes me high.
Sunshine almost always."
No other words can be here with this...hats off to you, John!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I felt little drowsy at the fag end of the night. A sense of downward fall awoken me up and I found it’s the pre-dawn time and my butterfly friend is taking me on its back and flying fast towards home. And just at that time, I could see my friend; with all the colors and their shades on it. As if God has painted it with his own hand to make this so enchanting! I kept on watching this finest creation perhaps for some million years. And slowly, to my utter surprise, the colors of the butterfly were fading off. By the time it took me to my bedroom, it was all white! All the colors were lost, all fine brush strokes; it looked like a blank canvas. It was a jaw dropping sensation for me.
‘You needn’t be so worried, mate!’ said the butterfly sitting at the corner of my room. ‘I don’t know whether I’m colorful or colorless, it actually depends on the beholder. When you concentrate just on me, feel the most untouched senses along with me, you see my colors. I’m the most colorful element to your heart at that point of time. And with the rays from other priorities of life, my colors get faded in your eyes. It’s just the state of your mind which actually sees the colors, not only on my wings, but everywhere...’
Just after that it pulled itself out from the wall and in fraction of a millisecond, it made its own way from the window. Did I see those amazing colors again on that fraction of a millisecond?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
We met for very tiny moments comparing the length & width of life; but within these few moments, I found you to be very enchanting. At the beginning you were calm, quiet and little shy as well. And your reticence was the driving force for me to know you more, much more. Just after the initial bashfulness, I was startled to see your round current like a gypsy woman dancing on a moonlit night. The depth & force of the current was unimaginable until I reached that part of you, and you amazed me again! I never came across cyclone or tsunami, but surely it felt much more than any of those fairy-named storms! I was drowning inside without even thinking of any other intersections of life. Moreover, I didn’t want to get rid of your current, I enjoyed each pain like a blissful pleasure.
I didn’t know there was another surprise waiting for me; a sudden calm after that heavenly storm. As if you wanted to show how detached you are from all worldly pleasures. I became the closest to you in those few moments and far-off at the next. I was floating on the inertia of motion from your current and I feel that inertia has been installed deep down my heart somewhere which will keep me floating, even if we do not meet any more in this life or in some other millions-to-come.
You taught me how to live and enjoy the quietest moments deep inside myself even if there’s a destroying storm bangs on me every moment; you…Tungabhadra!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The first lesson was enchanting! Holding the cute royal instrument in hand for the first time was a real pleasure. It was a sheer excitement to touch the strings, to hear the open string sounds and learning the notations! The next round of excitement aroused when I got my own violin instrument. Its Indian make sweet cute one; a students’ piece, but I loved it!
Now comes the practice…it’s tough, but I’m enjoying every bit of it!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
But there was this rose, who used to love the gardener as a father-figure only. Her love was there for the air, for the breeze, which touches her gently, gives a soothing kiss every morning & evening with the charming sunlight and makes love all the night. The air’s love is different every night; sweet touching poetry on the cooling summer evening and stimulating romance on a stormy night. That’s how it is, but the gardener started feeling green-eyed.
‘It’s me who take care of you; it’s me who gives you food & water every day at the wee hours of morning. I leave my inviting early-morning sleep and prepare your food so that you can be more beautiful every day. Instead of doing all these for all these days, don’t you love me?! What else I can do to please you?’ The gardener yells.
The rose takes few moments and then says, ‘isn’t it your sheer ego, dear gardener?! It’s true that you wake up every morning, prepare food for me, you water me twice a day; you nurture me so that I become more beautiful every day. I’m grateful to you for all these. But for me, there is life beyond you, beyond this garden, even beyond this ground where I’m standing. Without questioning my existence, I can surely say there’s life beyond this earth which keeps me to stand straight and grow.
My dear gardener, I’m surviving on your mercy, but I’m living for myself. Let’s see how we came to know each other…you planted this plant, and I was born. And you kept on nurturing me from the very first day like a single parent. Can this be the only reason that my life would only be encircled by you? We all have our own orbits, and our orbits intersect at certain area; perhaps at this garden. You are close to me; we are near to each other only at this juncture. Apart from that, we are two absolute different souls and we both are in search of eternal love…’
Friday, January 16, 2009
Every evening when I come home, on my way back I see a guy sitting on a wall with his girlfriend beside her. His macho bike keeps staring at them. They are very young, at heart and at looks. Today I found the guy is alone and his bike staring at him in such a way, as if it’s mocking at him! The young girl is missing. I stopped by and asked him, ‘hey you…can you breathe properly? Aren’t you suffering from short of fresh air at your lungs?’
‘Yes dude, something must have gone wrong with the nature…the trees are on strike today, don’t you know?’
Yeah…surely I know it. All I wanted to know are they on strike only for me, or for the entire city or the entire world? I felt little better, it’s not only me alone who’s suffering from this today; there are some other souls on earth who are feeling the same.
As soon I keyed in the ignition of my car, I remembered about the roadside old gardener who sells small plants for home décor near to my home. I thought he must be wise enough to answer the question as it’s related to his core domain of business. I stopped by his shop and found it’s amazing! There are hundreds of people who are in queue to buy a plant for their home. I’ve never seen this kind of rush at his shop and he’s struggling to keep everyone happy with his limited stock.
I waited there until he finishes with his customers. But much before the turn of the last person of the queue, his stock of plants ended up. Due to sheer pressure of the customers, he even ended up giving away some pre-matured plants. And slowly, the crowd started moving, and in next few minutes I found his shop was empty. The old owner was busy counting his money with glittering eyes; he must have made substantial profit today.
By the time he ended up counting, he started breathing vigorously. I slowly approached him and asked, ‘why do you think these many people came to buy plants all together? What’s so special today?’
He tried to inhale few more puff of oxygen and then said, ‘not sure my boy, what has actually happened. I’m experiencing this for the first time in last thirty years of business. From this afternoon onwards, started coming few people, few couples and asked for plants. They complained they are suffering from short of air at their cozy homes. I thought they must be crazy, you can find lots of craziness among these affluent people.
So I started selling plants in premium rates and surprisingly none of them bargained. I thought of keeping the pre-matured plants with me, but couldn’t resist my desire to get richer quickly. I sold all of them, and now I can’t breathe. I’m suffering from the deepest point of my lungs, there’s no air remaining. Why did I sell all my plants?’
The old gardener kept on yelling until next morning.
Monday, January 12, 2009
But while having this wonder made by me with toast and a pinch of salt; it tasted good to my tongue. And along with that, suddenly a thought came in my mind.
Isn’t it very similar to life? We are always confused on which ingredient to pour in our life and that’s in what quantity. At times some shell like elements get stuck to us which don’t cause any harm to anything; but we need to use a sharp-edged tool to bring them out from our life to make it more presentable. And finally life takes its own time to cook; so little that the yellow yolk of our heart doesn’t get harder than required and as much that outer white gets browner. It burns from the bottom anyway!
Friday, January 9, 2009
#1. Don’t hang your camera from your neck, which attracts others’ eyes. Take the strap of the camera; give two rounds of that on your wrist. It comes handy and you can shoot quickly.
#2. Try to use a medium to long telephoto lens, an 80-200 or 70-300 kind works best while taking candid shots. The subject (mainly people) even doesn’t come to know what you are focusing at.
#3. Wide angle lens can work in 2 ways – to get a complete picture of the place and secondly, it gives dramatic results if shot from closed distance. But probably, you need to take permission of those people to go that close.
#4. Remember, most human being likes to be shot. If your intention is right, then they usually don’t object. Only thing is people are skeptical what you are going to do with the images. If being asked, be very upfront say the truth; mostly they’ll take you on your face value.
#5. Don’t stay or shoot in one place for long. Borrowing from the tagline of Jhony Walker, I should say, ‘Keep walking’! Whenever you are at one place for some time, you create interest among others on you. So the way of working is: frame in your mind, view it through the viewfinder, meter & shoot; and move.
#6. Be little careful while shooting different set of people. For example, if you are shooting beggars or prostitutes, better ask them before you shoot. These kinds of people usually don’t want to be shot at all.
#7. Keep the focus in auto mode so that you don’t have to spend time on focusing the desired subject.
#8. Shooting mode – continuous. In today’s digital era, we don’t bother about the number of frames. When you are shooting on a busy street, possibly some unwanted element will come over on your frame and will spoil the image. Don’t bother; a continuous mode will help you to get over that by shooting multiple images.
#9. Practice managing the controls without looking at the viewfinder. While you are standing with your camera in hand and trying to frame an image, you can quickly change the aperture or shutter speed without even taking the camera on your eyes. This brings down the shooting time drastically, but surely needs some practice.
Hope this help! Happy shooting!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
“Wow! Just taste this paneer parantha….they are melting on my mouth.” This was the first line came from Munna with a glow on her face this morning. It was just couple of hours that we had started from Katra; the holy town for Mata Vaishnodevi. And all these hours we were seeing only heavy vehicles of Indian Army and armed forces. Before this trip of Kashmir, we heard a lot about the security measures taken in this turbulent state; but it’s completely different hearing the story and experiencing them. Some of us were feeling secured and some were thinking of ‘anything’ could happen and finally the magic of paneer parantha which brought back the smile on our faces.
Ours is a group of four, Ranjan, his wife Mousumi, I & my wife Munna. And it would be unfair if I don’t mention Balbir, the driver of our Tata Sumo who knows every bit of this state like his palm. After a tiring trek to Vaishnodevi (5,400 ft) just a day before; we were really skeptical whether we’ll be able to travel Kashmir for another 5 days pre-scheduled hectic journey.
It’s Patnitop, the first & only stopover on the way to Srinagar. It was drizzling from early morning but weather changes every moment on this valley. Our first encounter with long stretched green valley covered with giant Pine trees happened with beautiful sunlight. Ranjan took out his camera & kept on clicking while I was after the local kids to get some candid shots. There’s a temple of snake God where photography is not allowed and ladies cannot enter the final door of the temple.
Patnitop has some hotels, from budget to luxury with decent restaurants & bar. After spending almost an hour we resumed our journey to Srinagar. It wasn’t even 10 minutes that we started from Patnitop; we were stopped by Army for checking. It was our first of its kind experience where they asked for identity card, lot of cross questions to verify and checking of some baggage. In next 2 days, we were so used to in this kind of stopovers by these cooperative army cops, that we didn’t mind spending time with them.
And finally, after almost 12 hours drive, we reached Srinagar. At first glance, it looked like a place which has been captured completely by Army. Every 15 steps, there’s an armed personnel standing, making us feel secured. We had already booked a houseboat and therefore hadn’t needed to take any headache for searching hotel. Crossing the Dal Lake for the first time in shikara (the kind of boat which is the only transport to cross the lake) is a great experience. Hamid, the owner of the shikara was constantly saying nothing to be worried as Munna & Mousumi started screaming with every move of the shikara. And Hamid took the responsibility for next 3 days to transfer us to & fro every time we wanted.
‘New Engilla’ is the name of the houseboat which was booked for us and I was hearing hundreds of ‘Wow’s by Munna & Mousumi as they were inside the houseboat while I & Ranjan were taking the stock of our baggage on the balcony! And now it was my turn to experience the beauty. The entire interior which is done by the wooden carvings and Kasmiri furnishings, really deserves applauds.
These houseboats are not of that sort which we had seen in Kerala backwaters. These are fixed on the lake whereas the southern ones move around. It has 2 bedrooms each with attached toilets, a kitchen, a specious dining room, one big living room and a balcony. It has all the facility that one can expect in any starred hotels. And Mohammed Ali, who became Ali bhai to us in first 10 minutes, is the caretaker-cum-cook, and his 10 year old son Arif showed hospitality at its best for next 3 days.
The next morning was waiting with lots of surprises for us. Dal Lake was beautiful in first rays of the sun. And the water is so clear that we could see the weeds underwater. And then started visit of the shops on shikara to us; and the first one is with beautiful fresh flowers. The guy made an appealing bouquet with those flowers for Munna which made her day! Then it was the turn of junk jeweler; and according to Mousumi & Munna, he’s selling stuff which is half the price they pay in Bombay. And all these made us an hour late for our day’s visit to Gulmarg; the most outstanding place we’ve ever seen!
Around 60 kilometers from Srinagar, Gulmarg is the valley of flowers in season. Just before this place, we stopped at Tangmarg where guides are available. They are not actually required, but they help in bargaining with those guys who rent horses for the tourists. And for us, he was Gulam bhai; not only helped us in bargaining but for each step wherever we needed a help. As this is the most expensive place in Kashmir; a guide is always advisable.
It was almost mid-day when we reached Gulmarg. Gulam bhai quickly managed to get 4 horses for us which first took us to the base station of Gondola. It’s a ropeway project which has two stations. First one cost Rs200 per person and takes to Khilanmarg; the most splendid valley of Kashmir. Ranjan was most keen among us to go to the 2nd point which is 13,500 ft above sea level called Mount Affarwat (costs Rs500 per person) as Gulam bhai mentioned there are bit of snow is still available. Though I was l little apprehensive; but finally agreed to move on. Its 15 minutes journey in Gondola from Khilanmarg to Affarwat and it was wonderful! A patch of snow, chilling wind and clouds covering us in every step made it heavenly. And even here, the vigilant Indian army is at work; hats off to them!
A good lunch at Khilanmarg lifted our spirit to go on horseback to see the valley after we came back from our Gondola ride. And just when we started the 90 minutes horse ride, the sky became clearer which made the valley most gorgeous place in the world. The view of the church, the golf club was giving us a feeling as if we went back 100 years in time machine. ‘Bobby house’ (where the famous ‘hum-tum ek kamre main’ was shot) is a tourist attraction even today. We were convinced that we made a mistake for not planning to stay a night there at Gulmarg; which we all said we must do next time we visit this fabulous place!
On the way back from Gulmarg, Munna & Mousumi couldn’t resist themselves from eating an apple straight from the tree. And Ranjan couldn’t stop himself buying a crate of apple after hearing it’s only Rs250 per crate which contains almost 18Kgs! It was almost dark by the time we reached Srinagar and I suddenly remembered an advice one of my friends had given to have a ride on Dal Lake at night. On our request, Hamid bhai took us for an hour ride over Dal in his shikara. It’s another heavenly experience as the sky is clear in this Ramzan month and we were floating on Dal; an evening to remember!
Next day we started early morning around 5.30 AM in Hamid’s shikara to visit the floating vegetable market which operates on the Dal Lake from 5.30 to 7.30 in the morning. It’s a treat to the eyes to see this market as selling & buying of all kind of vegetables are happening on their shikaras. Rest of the first half of the day we spent taking rest and after lunch we started to see some local tourist attractions like Shankaryacharya Temple, Huzratbal Mosque, Jama Masjid, Pari Mahal and Mughal gardens like, Shalimar bagh, Nishat Bagh and Chasm-a-sahi. Due to short of time we had to cut down the gardens, we only went to Shalimar bagh. This visit reminded us of many old hindi movies that had been shot here. The rest of the evening we spent on shopping, mainly the Kashmiri stuff.
It’s time to say adieu to Srinagar next morning as we started heading towards Pahalgum (96 Km). Pahalgum is the base camp for the holy Amarnath Yatra; from where the holy journey starts every year in the month of July. J&K Tourism has started white water rafting on the Lidder River at Pahalgum, but that happens in April/May with heavy flow of water. We spent some time on the bank of Lidder; to enjoy the sound of silence, the quietness and listen to the rhythm of flowing water.
Before calling it a day, we thought to take a ride on horse to Baisaran as we heard about this place before coming. This final horse ride is an event to remember as there’s no road and horses are climbing the hills by making space in between the Pine trees. After this long ride finally we reached Baisaran, a huge green valley covered with soft grass! The view of this valley is not comparable to anything on earth and therefore it’s worth taking the pain of a difficult horse ride to Baisaran!
Next day was our last day in the valley of Kashmir and we had a plan of driving back from Pahalgum to Jammu. But due to heavy traffic in Srinagar-Jammu (NH1A), we became quite tired when we stopped Patnitop for a delayed lunch. Thanks to Balbir, he gave the idea to stay back at Patnitop that night & he agreed to drop us at Jammu next morning before our train time. And we were more than happy to get one more night to spend on the valley surrounded by the Pine trees.
While coming back to Jammu next morning, all of us felt that the last few days passed much quickly than others and we boarded the train with some lovely memories of this fabulous land!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The chilling wind on the way reminded me of the chill on Egyptian desert and windy mid-winter on the Mediterranean islands. And when I reached the stone by the jogging track, I felt little warm. Strange, this place is same like the entire way, open air, but to my utter surprise, its little warm. It made me feel better. But, where’s the stone?! It took some time for me to identify it out of the pitch darkness of night. It was waiting for me under some long grasses which were serving as a blanket to the stone.
‘You little stone, what has happened? Why did you call me in this wee hour of the morning?’ My own voice sounded little unforgiving to me. Probably the yesterday’s dejection wasn’t melted yet. It took few moments to start the conversation.
‘My friend, I knew you’ll be able to hear my call someday. I’m calling you, this same melancholy call from births & re-births of the comets and before the Big Bang. And finally today on this wee hour of the morning, you’re able to hear me. What should I say? Is it an achievement or its just sheer destiny? Someday you were supposed to hear this, only my wait was eternal.’
‘Don’t think my friend that my wait is over with this. This is the beginning of another timeless wait until your soul reaches the final goal. You’ll take millions of rebirths, purifying your heart each time you born with my touch, and purifying your body on fire, each time you die.’
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
It felt like a long walk till the place where I had left the stone yesterday. And finally a sigh of relief came out after looking at it; it’s there at the same place. I gently approached and stood in front of it. There wasn’t any sign that it knew me. I gave a closer look and yes, I can see the colors even today. Everything was just like yesterday, the place, the fog, the people and even the stone itself. But alas, it’s behaving just like another stone which didn’t recognize me at all!
I sat down on the wet grass and lightly asked, ‘What happened? Why aren’t you talking today? I woke up just for you and you are behaving as if you’ve never seen me in life! And yesterday you were talking about waiting for me for some more million years!’ There wasn’t anything audible for few seconds and then it just rolled back couple of times and stopped showing me all the colors of a rainbow in it. Colors and colors everywhere dazzled me for few moments. And then it slowly said, ‘Why can’t we keep silent for a day? You couldn’t identify me till yesterday and just within a day’s time you are excited to talk to me. Isn’t that silly enough?’ A sense of dejection started creeping within me and it kept on increasing with every passing silent moment.
An absolute silence. As if the world has become dumb or we have turned deaf. This absolute silence remained for few moments which turned out to be million years. And within this deep silence, there were million words those were trying to jump out of my heart and get into the fenland. Then the stone again whispered, ‘Don’t feel bad, today I want to spend some time without saying anything, not even looking at you. I want to spend time alone. My loneliness is precious which even you can’t intrude.’
I slowly pulled myself from the ground and then took a step backward, then another one and the other one…
Monday, January 5, 2009
Suddenly to my utter surprise, it started talking to me. ‘You’ve been to lot of places, I was there with you; but you couldn’t recognize me.’ A smile of mock surrounded my lips. A stone, a mere stone was there with me and I need to recognize! What a waste of this hazy morning! I thought of leaving that right behind and get into my regular jog. But there was some sort of attraction which didn’t allow me to take a single step forward. And the stone started talking again.
‘I was there with you on that drizzling evening at Bhandardara; within the massive sculptures of Ellora; on the tides of Kashid; on the same horse that you were riding to Baisaran and even to that desert of Bikaner where you were enjoying the full moon. Remember me? You won’t, because I was just a mere stone. Even now, I’m a mere stone; but at least you can see the other sides of me, and therefore you are listening to me!’
I was startled; my legs were as if fixed on the ground and I felt there wasn’t anybody even at the longest vicinity. Slowly I sat on the ground, on the wet grasses and looked at the stone. Do I know you? If not, then how you know about me? I started giving a magnifying look and after a prolonged one, I could recall. Probably not in this life, but the previous one or the other one before that, I knew it. Perhaps a million years have passed by now, but this stone could recognize me!
Slowly I moved my hand forward to it, and it seemed like it shelved itself by my touch. A whisper came out – ‘don’t try to take me home, I’m happily surviving with the rain, the fog and the sun. I’ll be there wherever you wish for some more million years.’
The red sun was out from the fog by now and it was time for me to return.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
What’s the best job on earth? I guess if someone can make a living out of his passion, nothing can beat that – regardless the pay & the working conditions. Last holiday was Christmas, and I shot couple of good images which I stored for my stock. After shooting them, I was in a very cheerful mood for next couple of days. This mood helps me to remain calm in all these days of meeting, documents & codes. Weekend, thy name is creativity!
Weekend is also a lot about reading. I’m in verge of completion the collection of Suchitra Bhattacharya, which should be completed over next 2 days and short stories collection of Desh (1980-2000) is the one which is waiting. Also waiting V.S.Naipul’s ‘Half a life’, which I read more than half, but couldn’t complete it due to some other more important stuff. Let this one be a creative & literary weekend!
Friday, January 2, 2009
Another year arrived; just the last character of the date field got updated and it’s a new year! We’ve welcomed the year with crackers, music, dance & of course booze and surely with lot of hope. But what’s going to change? We are still trapped with recession which surely is going to be there for entire year, fear of terrorism every time we lock the main door & go out, uncertainty at every step; but it’s a new year!
Looking back – usually we do it at the end of the year. Do we just look back, visualize those days and feel happy or sad? How many of us really take the lesson that life had taught in last three hundred and sixty six days? Another year arrives just like that and passes by with the changing pages of calendar and again, another arrives.
Isn’t life more meaningful when taken a top view? Impersonalize myself, and I see the movie named ‘2008 and my life’. This approach allows me to judge the ‘shots’ but never allows to‘re-take’! Only the mistakes can be seen to learn how not to commit the same next time.
‘Hope’ – another four letter word which drives each human being every time. And this four letter word brings a new year, a new month, a new day and a new moment. Live for hope!