Sunday, December 19, 2010

MTDC Resort, Karla – A painful stay

It was a perfect setting for a wonderful weekend; close friends, booked cottages at MTDC Resort of Karla, filled car fuel tank and kids were jumping in joy. The drive was equally good on Pune expressway, overseeing the valley of Lonavala and how the newly built bungalows painted the hills. The chill in the wind reminded us winter, the hard-to-find season in Mumbai.

The first glimpse of the MTDC’s resort in Karla was touching – old trees making decent shadow all over the huge campus. The cottages are scattered around one side of the Indrayani River, where they also managed to make a dam, and on that boat & water scooter rides. We checked-in to our designated ones, unfortunately they were located at the tail-end of campus. Though we didn’t mind the location, it was pretty much easy two minutes drive to the restaurant.

So far so good, paddling the boat coupled with two shots of vodka made us hungry and we were looking for a nice lunch. Our good times started seeing a blurred vision when it was more than ten minutes and nobody came to take the order at the ‘Indrayanai Restaurant’, the only food joint within the resort. After raising some voice, someone reluctantly took the order and then started another long wait. Again some shouting and meeting the captain at the counter brought us half the amount of roasted papad, heard the rest are coming from the store. Then there was a series of events which were enough to put us off, finished rice, half-boiled chicken and hurriedly made dal without salt.

After the utterly disgusting lunch, we thought of ordering our evening snacks well in advance and will ask them to deliver at our cottages. There came the next blow, they do not deliver in cottages! Today when every smallest of the small shop is giving a free home delivery for customer satisfaction, this great rule of this resort finally killed our well-planned evening. Then it was series of drives from the cottage to the restaurant and back. They not only discourage having food in the cottages, but also do not provide any plates with the order. When we had to pay for the quarter sized paper plates, we finally thought of calling it a day there.

Lastly, the next morning they delivered the bed tea at 8:30 AM which was ordered for 7 AM, that also after making rounds of calls. This is my worst weekend holiday experience in Maharashtra in almost a decade.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wedding Photography in India

There are lots have been changed in Indian weddings, from in-house events to farmhouse or hotel, from long planning & effort of family members to professional wedding planner, and in some cases, from prolonged rituals to legal marriages – Indian weddings have seen a sea change in last twenty years. But even now, when it comes to wedding photography, most of couple or their family members tend to think of the studio guy around the corner – that also book them at the last moment and bargain to the extreme extent in which even the studio guy around the corner cannot deliver quality works!

And the irony is as soon as the wedding is over, farmhouse owner will not allow you to stay more than an hour after your time is over, all the yummy food will be remembered till the guests reach their home and all the decorations will be of no use at the next morning. So what’s left from the big fat wedding? The photographs, period. And the photographer is bargained in such a way that he is left in just survival state, leave alone delivering stunning images.

With loads of experience in shooting weddings and delivering great images, we at ‘The Wedding Studio’ face the same challenges; perhaps not as much as the studio guy faces regularly. All the future brides & grooms and their family members need to understand, to get stunning images from a wedding, they must allow the photographers do their best job – idea of getting one in good bargain will make them a looser, if not always.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chennai Food Guide

I always feel withdrawn whenever I get the flight tickets to Chennai; as the Rasam & Idli sambar do not share a very good relationship with my taste buds. This time, I thought to check out couple of things - the nightlife in Chennai and some decent food joints near the area I was staying - Mylapore. Here goes my small review:

Nightlife in Chennai is almost ceased to exist on the week-nights. My first try was at Zara Tapas Pub, the most happening place in Chennai these days. Unfortunately, 'stags are not allowed' - and they mean it. There were few foreigners who were trying to get in, but couldn't.
Then I hopped to the one at Hotel Savera. Decent one with a specious dance floor, but empty! There were not more than 5/6 people all together. But the bartender guy was very friendly - 'Malay', as he said his name. Music was pretty much sedative kind, but they said its different in the weekends - the only difference is the party starts at 7 PM and the entire pub is closed by 11:30 PM; really early, eh?! So guys, if you're looking for a night out in Chennai, make sure you start early and then rush to the food joints to feed your stomach.

'Kadaikudi' - the specialist Tamil Nadu food chain in Chennai. Try out their Chicken Kadai with Paratha, spicy stuff but a very good change from regular dosas & sambar.

'Amrapali' - the Andra food joint is nice for their Biriyani and the Black Pepper Roasted Chicken. You can have that with Dosa, along with the chatnis. Don't forget to taste the special chatni made out of red chilli & ginger - very spicy & hot to open up all your senses!

'Coconut Lagoon' - Located just at the top of Amrapali, this place is famous for their Keralite style. 'Kari Meen' fish preparation within a banana leaf is a must try. It's a mouthwatering starter and then followed by the beef preparations. Well cooked, nicely served - this place will surely give you some memorable food!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two new brands

Adventure Travel – is all about it. I started this service throughout India and some places in abroad as well. Adventure travel is one thing which always pumps in adrenaline for me, and I did a lot of it on Indian Himalayas. The Nomads is catering to all the needs of casual travel, adventure travel or extreme honeymoon in India.

The Wedding Studio
We launched a wedding photography service this month – ‘The Wedding Studio’. Along with me, there are few photographers who joined hands in this project and we are getting great response from all over the world. To change the face of Indian wedding is the idea behind this service and I’m sure there will be quite a number of ‘would-be couple’ who actually want their wedding images as it all happened rather than the traditional posed ones.

I would be more than happy if any of my readers have any question on any of the above services.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


6 photographers. 11 nights & 10 days. More than 2500 kilometers. Jammu - Srinagar - battle grounds of Drass & Kargil - Leh - Hemis festival - Pangong Tso - Nubra Valley - Tso Moriri - Tso Kar - Keylong - Manali. More than 7000 shutter clicks.Freezing nights. Shooting at 18380 feet - world's highest motorable road. And finally, back with tanned skin & frostbites.

What else? Perhaps the best 10 days of life, well spent! If the greenary of the mountains of Kashmir was welcoming, then the passes of Chang la & Baralaccha was scary, not to mention the great Khardung la. Short of breath was way to life, and a charming team was the life to it.

Though this is not the first time I went to Ladakh, but every time I reach in front of those mighty mountains; I see, I feel them new & warming to my heart. Every mountain has something to say in different colours at different times of the day. The Indus & Zanskar are flowing at their own pace since ages & changing colours with seasons. And the Buddhist monks are chanting the heart-warming mantras for life, after-life.

What else? I'm still in a hangover of mountains...can't say more. The images will be available here.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Little update, nothing much...

The uncanny feeling for not been able to put few words on this blog has just become lively in last few days. Blame it to some of my friends, who can literally see the end and deserve well to whip for not writing. I’m thankful to my fate for gifting such wonderful friends, who can be philosopher & a guide at any given time.

Well, last couple of months passed in jiffy just by settling me at my own place. It’s something like a great carpentry hole which is so perfect that the piece of wood which goes in doesn’t have any chance to make little sound, leave alone the frail chance of coming out! I did that, and now mostly successful in not making noise.

But the good thing is the shutter was not out of reach from my fingers for long in these days. There were few assignments, which went well and I’m expecting to have few testimonials from my customers for photography. And finally, it’s the call of the mountains again…Ladakh beckons – and this time its arranging & managing complete tour for a bunch of photographers to the mystique land of Ladakh. ‘Photo Tours India’ – my photo touring company has started showing great response and now it’s my turn to deliver more than expected.

Rest after I come back from the mountains…

Friday, April 2, 2010

Someone is there…

My lonely soul is used to opening up the lock of the door, recite loudly at the wee hours of the day or sing at the highest pitch in bathroom. My lonely soul is used to warming up the food; celebrate each dinner with television or working with my images for hours – till the crows say, it’s morning, at times. My lonely soul is also used to reading poetries & sonnets, pour glassful of wine and celebrate my non-happening life.

I didn’t know I’m in love with my lonely soul unless someone came to stay for a night with me. I came back from my day’s work, and didn’t find the key in my pocket. Did I lose it? I thought for a moment. Then I remembered someone is there inside to open the door…slowly my finger pressed the door-bell. I really don’t remember when I had seen the switch of my door-bell last time. The door got opened, I entered my apartment. For fraction of a moment, I felt like my space has been occupied and honestly, I didn’t like it. Then I went for a shower, and habitually I started singing at my highest possible pitch and just that time I remembered, someone is there and he might not like this – I stopped. It was dinner time, and I had to arrange it on the usual dining table. The single couch probably felt bad that night which used to be warmed by me every night. And at the mid of the night when I woke up, lit up a cigarette, and a song of Tagore was playing deep inside my mind – I dared not to blow up my cacophonous voice, just because someone is there.

The day is not far when there will be lot of people around me day-in and day-out. I know that will be another habit of mine to share the space. The lonely soul will slowly go inside the shell like a snail takes its body in. But it will be there; it will very much be there and will wait till it gets its own space. Amen.

Friday, March 26, 2010


A woman and a mother; there isn’t any other details to introduce Ramya. I know her for last seven months, exactly the day her son was born, to be more precise. The reason I remember the day is – it was the same day my wife had given birth to our son, in a prime mother-care hospital of town. Ramya had given birth to her son on the same day; very near-by to my wife – at the footpath right opposite to that prime hospital.

She survived the blood-loss, her kid survived all possible infections could happen by living by the drain. Now a healthy seven months old kid plays on Ramya’s lap and she forgets all the pain she takes in her everyday life. She forgets the pain of not knowing the father of this baby; few law-keepers had a fun time together with her in last winter in return of couple of pieces of bread. The three-days’-unfed body couldn’t register the consequences of begging to the law-keepers of the town on a wintry night with attractive body & revealing torn clothes.

Seasons kept on changing, like the biological changes kept on making Ramya bigger at the middle. And on the day when I was coming out of that prime hospital with little pride on my feet for being a father, Ramya was struggling to give birth to a new life right across on the footpath. Few ladies, the street-sake of Ramya were helping her out, and finally the baby comes out – tiny, but full of life! ‘Kolkata-r Jishu’ (‘Jesus of Kolkata’ – a famous poetry from Nirendranath Chatterjee) – is what I murmured.

Ramya-s born, they give birth – silently. I wish each from their womb become a powerhouse of equality & humanity. I wish Ramya’s son and mine, share a cake.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Raju Bhangarwala

It was raining from morning and the non-stop drizzle had almost put up a cork to Raju’s business. His tiny 13 years has seen a lot; a drunk father who never bothers to feed them, two younger sisters suffering utterly from malnutrition and a thinning mother. Raju silently understood it’s only him who could and have to save these three lives, if not four including his careless father. He was 11 years that time when he left his village which was at the remotest corner of Udaipur district in Rajasthan.

With the help of a distant relative, Raju reaches to corner of Mumbai and starts helping a guy who had a business of buying & selling of old newspapers. ‘Bhangarwala’ – is the most common name for these kind of businessmen in the city, Raju suddenly became ‘Raju Bhangarwala’ in the locality and his innocent smile hearing his new name showed that to some extent he enjoyed the designation.

After few weeks of sweating it out and been able to send few hundred rupees to those three starving stomachs, Raju was inspired enough to work harder. His tiny fingers used to swell in pain at night for carrying the heavy bundles of newspapers. Before going to bed every night, he used to put his fingers in cold water which used to give little relief and he could dream his mother & sisters could eat today, if not well-fed.

And then it all started; the infamous monsoon of Mumbai. The first night made Raju a refugee from the footpath where he used to sleep. Though he managed to get a place down below a staircase from the next night, but his business showed a steep downfall. No calls from customers, wet newspapers which are of no use, starts piling up. Raju broke down in his little shop one afternoon – it’s almost a month that he couldn’t send a single paisa to his mother & sisters. Tears keep on flowing, and with each drop of it, his soul became stronger and stronger…

Raju never plays at the nearby park, he doesn’t have any friend. Raju Bhangarwala only weighs the newspapers and a childhood gets lost within the folds of newspapers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The magic stone – IV

I had almost forgotten the magic stone; it’s more than a year now that we met. But all of a sudden I woke up by dreaming about it and it was dark outside. As the short-lived morning chill is on the way back like a frightened cat on a motor way, it felt good to go out in a tee on the jogging track. The only question which was haunting me is why the stone came in my dream again after such a long time. I wasn’t sure where to find it even, just tried my luck like an experienced gambler and miraculously, I was lucky enough to find it at the same place!

‘Hey there’, I told little scornfully. It just looked at me, and kept on staring for few minutes. These minutes felt like never-ending, as if the Almighty is measuring my sins after death. Finally it broke the silence and asked me to sit. The wet feel of the grass made me feel comfortable. And then it started talking:

“I knew you’ll be back, but couldn’t think that could happen so quickly. It only proved the old saying - If you really love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours! And remember those words from Kahlil Gibran –

It is wrong to think that love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created for years or even generations.

“Just for this reason mate, we can breathe fresh air even today – and you’re here beside me.”

Monday, March 8, 2010

Surfacing back...

Literally, surfacing back to my so-called normal life after a long & hectic holidays. Home, sweet home after long time, meeting mom, wife and all other relatives was wonderful, but nothing comparable meeting my son - Apu.

It was almost 11:45 at night I reached Kolkata on Feb 23, and he was sleeping. My wife picked him up and he saw me - a stare of few seconds and then a great charming smile came from his face as if saying 'finally ...'! And there wasn't any looking back in next 12 days - he played, jumped, cried, and did almost everything with me, as if I'm his good old friend. I wanted to be a good friend of my son, but couldn't imagine that it'll happen so quickly! Let this friendship remains for life!

Well, it's time now to get back in business, my businesses - read the loads of books that I got from Kolkata this time, do some photography installations that I'm weaving in mind for sometime now and work on those projects of Art Gallery & photography company.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Stop romanticizing, Mr. Kabir Suman

I used to admire you for some great poetry that you made in last 20 years. I used to admire you for those great music that you made in last 20 years. I have all your albums released so far, and I love listening to them while I’m on a long drive to villages & beaches of Maharashtra. I used to fight with my friends that you sing Rabindra-Sangeet well – knowing very well that you stand nowhere among those stalwarts of this genre. But Mr. Suman, I’m deeply hurt when I listened to ‘Chatradhorer Gaan’ & ‘Bonduk Hate Nile’ kind of songs where you’ve supported all those maniacs who paralyzed normal life in West-Midnapore for almost 2 years now.

Mr. Suman, though I’m in Mumbai and live a corporate life, but my roots belong to those Sal & Mohua trees; I have been born, brought up, spent the first & best 26 years of my life at Jhargram – I love the place much more than anyone who tries to be creative after having some local hooch. And my family & friends are suffering to the extreme possible level for last 2 years due to this Maoists/PCPA menace – and being a creative person, you are writing songs supporting them! Shame on you, Mr. Suman!

Entire Jhargram town suffered from strike for almost 200 days in the year 2009. One of my friends who took loan to purchase a bus, couldn’t take out his vehicle for half of the year, but had to pay hefty installments to bank – and now he’s almost bankrupt. Can you write a song on him? My mother, who is in her late 60s, needs to go to market on a normal day, stands in queue for hours to buy as much as possible as she doesn’t know when the next strike will be and that will last for how many days. Wanna write a song on her? Lots of patients died just because they couldn’t be shifted to better hospitals, why don’t you write few words for them, Mr. Suman. I have been grown up & lorded on those roads of Jhargram literally any hour of the day. Now my friends drop me home by 8 o’clock at night when I’m there – everybody is surviving with a fear of those so-called Maoists and PCPA – for what? Each & everybody including those who are fighting is also sufferer – and supporting their non-ideology driven blood-hungry movement is not a crime, but sin!

Stop romanticizing this movement; this is not a movement at all! I’m sure you’re matured enough to understand that your songs are going to inspire another few hundreds to pick up AK47 for wrong reasons. As a creative person, I understand where you are coming from. But this happens only when we want to grow larger than our shadow. Enough Mr. Kabir Suman – PLEASE STOP!

On vacation, almost...

The smell of holidays is in the air, a long overdue one! It's six l-o-n-g moths of working, photography, traveling assignments, scriptwriting, mingling with friends and overnight parties, almost all that you can think of, but this time it's going to be 12 days of holiday with my family. I'm going to see my mom, wife and my son, now 6 months old! Perhaps this thought of seeing my child after a gap of 6 months making this holiday so special, sure he forgot my face by now. But its going to be truly interesting to see how he behaves and how I take his naughty moments. For some unknown reason, few lines from 'The Prophet' is coming in my mind:

"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable."

-- Kahlil Gibran, on children

I wish to remember these lines for life, and nothing much for now. I just wish to spend quality time in this vacation.

Business, see ya later.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Just 1141 left...

From 40,000 to just 1,141...what a drastic fall in numbers within less than hundred years of our National Animal - Tigers! All it started in the name of Royal Sport, and now completely re-branded as poaching - killing tigers never stopped in India. From Bandhavgarh to Sunderbans, the story is almost same and the bottom line is just 1,141 of tigers are left in India.

It's truly high time, that we join hands to save them...or else our next generation will only see the photos or a few in zoos. Thanks to Aircel for starting the campaign for saving the tigers. I support them wholeheartedly and I request all my readers to join the roar, in whichever way it's possible for you. No help is smaller and every bit of it will be counted to save this animal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kalaghoda 2010 – The Emotional Attyachar!

The first shock – no place to park a vehicle around 200 meters of Jahangir art gallery on the Saturday evening. I kept on playing with the clutch & accelerator for few more minutes and couple of red signals more to get in the Café Mondegar lane and had to fight for another fifteen minutes to get a decent parking. Fair enough, I told myself; at least I don’t have to bother when the towing van will do their dirty job with my vehicle and I can enjoy the paintings & artworks with peace of mind. Another six minutes walk, I was in front of Prince of Wales Museum.

The second shock – the crowd! Gosh, is it a picnic time or time to get the kid’s portrait done by the roadside pencil artists/craftsmen (with due respect, art must have left them long back). People are gathering to get their names written on a rice or getting a quick mehendi done on their palm. And the final shock, some young crowd making tattoos; both temporary and permanent! And we’re calling all these an ‘Art Festival’ cumulatively!

There were three exhibitions of paintings – two within Jahangir Gallery and other one at the Max Muller’s. I don’t think I’m qualified enough to be an art-critic, but being an art lover, I didn’t like any of the works. When I came out of these exhibitions, I started feeling good by looking at photography exhibitions. There were lots, I think first time in Kalaghoda’s history that these numbers of photographers & enthusiasts had participated. Among all, the works from the group ‘Blind with Camera’ ( was commendable. Hats off to Mr. Partho Bhowmik who takes all the pain of teaching photography to the blind children just for self-satisfaction. I was overwhelmed, congratulated Partho da there and I expressed my wish to be a part of a workshop with them in future.

I was hungry by then, so thought to have some bites at the Café Samovar. Hard luck, there was a queue waiting for a table there. Well, then I remembered about those yummy kebabs of Bade Miyan, and started walking in jiffy. Another setback – all the tables are full at 7:45 PM and people are waiting! Finally I got a chicken wrap from Gokul’s take away counter and started negotiating with rogue drivers on completely dug-up narrow roads of my sweet Bombay.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What we are looking for

the looking itself is a trace
of what we are looking for.

But we have been more like the man
who sits on his donkey
and asks the donkey where to go.
(Rumi, ‘A Bowl Fallen From The Roof’)

That’s exactly what I was searching for, but wasn’t able to put in words…Rumi helped me. I have been questioned hundreds of times, mainly from the near & dear ones, what am I looking for? No answer or some feeble answers which ends with photography, film-making, writing articles and scripts or reading poetry. I think life has started the journey on the very day I was born, but the destination is not known so far. With every passing day, it seems like the fog will disappear and I’ll be able to read the board where destiny has scribbled my destination. But alas, with every passing day, the mist becomes little clearer, but someone says in my ears that I need to walk few more miles to see the board. And that’s making the journey more interesting.

How many of us really question ourselves what we are looking for? Most of us are actually fooling ourselves by keeping busy either with the day job, loving undeserving lovers, or raising children. Once you make this question to life, certainly life starts showing the indications. Probably those are the omens of life that we need to follow. Paulo Coelho wrote in ‘The Alchemist’ that those omens are audible only in childhood. But as we grow up by disobeying them, their sound becomes feeble for us to listen and finally they disappear as we too disappear in ‘keeping ourselves busy’. But I guess they are always there, we just need to spend more and more time with ourselves and those omens will be audible again.

But it’s never late; even if you are at the crossroads of life & death. The mist will be clear today or tomorrow or the day after. The journey continues, but this time without asking the donkey.

The pride of 26 January

After long years I had a chance to see the parade of Indian Armed Forces on the occasion of the Republic Day, 26th January, well on television. The straight backs, flawless uniforms, the march-past, and the patriotic tunes from their different bands again made me feel proud to be an Indian. And hats-off to those Nayaks, Subedars, Captains, Brigadiers and all of them who spends day-in and day-out so that we can party around and have a peaceful sleep after getting drunk!

The glory of the Rajputana Regiment, history of Sikh Regiment, the Gorkhas, the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy – every segment of the Armed Forces were showing off their pride on this parade. There were lots of kids had come to enjoy this parade in this chilling morning of Delhi; and I was thinking if today’s parade can inspire at least one hundred of them to join the Armed Forces, Indian will never have empty positions at the top level of any segment of the forces.

I’m not sure why, but my specs just got little foggy like this misty morning of Delhi after seeing this.

Long live India!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Alone @ the eastern coast

This is the first post of this year, and starting with a small travelogue. I was looking for a break to spend some time with myself, my unfed soul for some time, and the time came when a meeting was scheduled in Chennai last week. Just at that moment I decided to spend couple of days in Pondicherry and be talkative to myself.

My journey started around 7 PM in a state transport bus from Chennai bus depot. Thanks to the driver, I got a lone seat just at the front of the bus – I guess not being able to communicate in Tamil helped here. The East Coast Road was an awesome drive, and I’m sure it would feel hundred times better in day-time. Perhaps I’ll try it next time.

I had booked a place to stay which is absolutely a backpacker’s accommodation with basic amenities, but I’ve no complaints. Manoj Dixit – owner of the house is an artist and what can be better staying in mid of hundred paintings?! Next day morning I started my walk by the sea of Pondy and then a visit to the famous Aurobindo Ashram. To my surprise, I found a violin & guitar concert will be performed at the ‘Hall of Heritage’ there. I didn’t want to miss that – hardly have I got a chance to listen to a concert on a Sunday morning in my city life, and it was fascinating!

After that I started my tour on a rented bike – the best vehicle one can have in Pondicherry. I drove down to Auroville, but it was more of an over-hyped place I found. But the Auro beach is beautiful with its golden sand and loads of fishing boats and nets. I inquired with the fishermen there and came to know they usually go to the sea by around 3 in the morning and come back by 8 with the day’s catch. Right there I decided to come back to this beach next morning and I was sure it would give me some good shots on the life of fishermen and I wasn’t wrong.

Pondicherry is a place of some authentic continental food. Le Terrace, Le Club are the 2 restaurants I tried and both of them served some fantastic beef steak & barbecued chicken – though priced on the little higher side. Also, if you Chinese food lover, don’t miss ‘Chinatown’ on the canal road, located above ‘Hot-Breads’. They had made an awesome black-peeper chicken.

Thanks to the 24x7 bus service to & from Chennai, I was able to catch my early morning flight to Mumbai from Chennai even after leaving Pondicherry at 11:30 on the previous night. These couple of days is really well-spent and helped me to come to terms in many ways which actually went haywire for some time. Certainly few hundred trips more to Pondy will never be boring; am in love!