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!