Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The lifestory of a photograph

...Story behind some of the best pics I have clicked

All of us travel for different reasons. These days most of the times it is for getting away from the madness that our lives have become. Pressures of workplace, weird bosses, weirder boyfriends/girlfriends and just breaking the rut are most often the primary reasons.
I travel, so that I would be able to click photographs. A vertically stacked existence, that is living in highrise apartments only gives you an opportunity to click either neighboring buildings or if you are lucky and your neighbor has a beautiful daughter....you know what I mean..

I dont count myself as a black-belter in photography just as yet, but one thing is clear I am not a shutterbug. I am more of a thoughtful photographer who thinks before he presses that little chrome button. I probably wouldnt have 1000 photographs from a 2 days trip, I would have just a handful but with a story behind each (Ya ya I know I am great).

Here is a collection of some of these pics, handpicked from my collection. Which according to 'me' deserve the space here with a story. Click on the pics to enlarge them.

Here is why they were clicked :

On the face of it HongKong is a concrete jungle. Still, the city has a deep connection with history and a remarkable human touch. An old man trying to catch fish in the middle of this urban behemoth is just that face of this city. On being asked if he caught any, the answer was "the fight is on"

A deep respect and liking for Buddhism makes me visit a lot of monasteries and take a closer look at the life around these temples and the large tibetan settlement in Himachal. A lot of people were in the prime of their youth when they left everything that was theirs to settle in a land thousands of kilometers away and start afresh. Its been years since some of the old people came to India, long enough to feel at home here, still a longing for that native land and a hope that they would return someday, seems to linger in these facial lines.

I was in my hometown of Bilaspur, and attending a 'Jagran' at the local temple. I kept thinking 'why I was even carrying my camera'?. I clicked no pics there and I only planned to be there for an hour or so. I left at around midnight. When I reached the temple parking, a stunning view caught my eye. With nothing but the wall to steady my camera, this pic was captured. A surprisingly long exposure does justice to the meanders formed by a seasonally drying Gobind Sagar, the hills on the other side of the lake and the magical moonlit night. Sometimes you dont, but the camera knows that it has to be with you.

I reached sydney on sunday and it was cold and wet. It kept raining for 4 consecutive days. With limited time at my hand I was getting anxious if the rain would ever stop and if I would get a chance to see the quintessential sydney. After a week of waiting for the sun, I finally started for the city to see the 2 most recognized modern monuments in the southern hemisphere. Getting off the train I caught this first glimpse of 'The Harbour Bridge'. Spellbound, I clicked this pic from the train station, while I was being pushed by my sister to atleast get out of the station first. I love the perspective. This pic was also selected by Schmap's Sydney guides as one of the featured pics of the Sydney CBD.

One of the most adventurous trips I have ever done was the one that is chronicled in this blog under 'Journey through the Himalayas'. A perilous 2000 km journey through some of the most inhospitable terrains in Himachal qualifies as adventurous not just because of road conditions or the fact that it was done on motorbikes. But, it was done without a backup plan. There was no plan B, if anything went wrong, we would have been royally ..(you know what). This journey had rewards, like the one captured in this photograph. Seen here from the roof of Key Monastery is the valley of Spiti river. The reward just justified the effort.

Did I not just mentioned that I love bridges? When I got to know that I would be traveling to San Francisco for a training, the only thing on my mind was The Golden Gate. After a full day touring the bridge and capturing numerous pics from various angles, I met this guy. He was calm, looked me in the eye and didnt move until I clicked some pics of his. He just dwarfed one of the most famous bridges in the world. The hero of this pic is the Seagull and not the monument I went to San Francisco for.

One of the stops in Journey through the Himalayas (link to the post) was planned to be at Chandratal lake or the 'Moon Lake' as its name suggests. We made the 8Km journey from the main road on foot, which at 4500 feet was asphyxiating to say the least. Reached Chandratal and were greeted by a Snow Storm, which would have killed us if it was not for the local Gaddis who saved our lives that day. This pic is of the morning after, signs of the clouds and the storm from last night could still be seen. But, can someone even imagine that a lake so serene and calm could have taken 2 lives? Chandratal, the morning after it almost killed me. Lovely.

Being a small town guy, I love all the aspects of being brought up in Bilaspur, an inconsequential small town in a corner of well known Himachal Pradesh. Clicked this pic from an angle which I hadnt seen, even after being in Bilaspur for almost 3 decades. There is no story behind this pic, still it is in my opinion one of the best I ever captured. The quintessential Bilaspur at dusk, complete with the lake, the town and the adjoining hills.

These were just the few, though I have a huge collection of my self proclaimed best photographs, will keep clicking more and more with a story in my mind. Click on the pics for a larger view.
You feedback would be appreciated. As far as photography is concerned, Less is more for me because again, I am not a shutterbug, I am a thinking photographer and every time someone tells me how sharp my photos are, I assume that it isn't a very interesting photograph. If it were, they would have more to say.


Friday, May 20, 2011

In India's very own Palo Alto

Delhi lives upto its reputation without fail. For a flying time of 2 and half hours, you spend 2 hours stuck in traffic on delhi roads and 2 more hours waiting for the 'Air traffic' to clear. But not complaining much, the new domestic terminal 1D is a treat, with lots of options for eating and shopping, the time on the airport just flew by.

Landed in bangalore at 00:30 hours, and my'o'my was Bangalore awesome?? Hell yes it was, 19 degrees compared to Delhi's 40, I found myself shivering and totally loving it.
Bangalore feels like homecoming, not only because the temperature mirrors that of Himachal, but also job wise. It is India's Silicon Valley and anyone working in Tech can relate to the city. More so for me, because I started my career here.

But, what a city this is? really. Any corner you turn has a piece of India's IT industry right there, from glass and steel buildings to laptop carrying junta filled roads, it is India's quintessential IT city. But, what makes this city so live-able is the weather, always hovering around a comforting 25-30 degrees. Delight for anyone coming down from delhi. Walking on the streets is easy as well. As if the early spring like temperature was not enough, the roads are lined by enough Jacaranda, Bauhinia and Magnolia for the sun rays to even try making a sweat.

I have 2 more days in the city and since shopping and Mall-hopping is something that least interests me, tomorrow morning would start with a search of authentic South India breakfast. Original south indian filter coffee (especially the one served in tiny steel tumblers) has also been alluding me for a while, thats on the to-do list for sure.

The 4-5 odd months that I have spent here earlier, were mostly spent in getting a hang of the new job and hence a lot of bangalore monuments are still not ticked off from my list. Ulsoor lake is one of them. Dont know if I would get time but I am keen on going to Ulsoor and Bangalore palace.

I hope I make the most of these 2 remaining days here. Right now after a heavy dinner, time to bask in the amazing breezy, cloudy weather here. More Later.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A few changes here and there

Changed the layout and the color palette of my blog, the older one was cool but kind of gave me a feeling as if I am sitting in Prague and writing for some Grunge art magazine (Not that I mind doing that).

Now the thread has some lively 'summer-ey' feeling. Everything is bright, Osama is dead, life is good, I am shedding weight and good times expected ahead. This was the basis of this change.

Also I have added a cool 'Follow me on twitter' link here (such a pile on, i am)
Now all you have to do is click on that link and land on my twitter page, I am already 1200 wise tweets old and I am sure you cant wait to read more of me. So, just follow me on twitter.

I would have added a 'connect with me on facebook' button as well, but if you ask me, frankly thats too much marketing and also I am kind of done with Facebook now. My interest is waning and twitter seems like the right medium.

Also I have monetized the account, so now you would see ads on my blog. My adsense dashboard tells me that people have already clicked on them and I have made $0.19 in the process (my retirement fund is coming up).

Well so this is about the changes I have made here, I was used to the earlier layout but then as Jack Welch said "change before you have to", I think it was time.

So, Welcome to the bright, sunny and happy "Broad Strokes on the Keyboard" everyone.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Poor man's Formula 1

I ride daily in a F1 Car. For all you F1 fans, yes its exactly the way it seems on TV, cars zooming past each other, then another driver trying to show a deadly maneuver on a tight curve and yes the adrenaline is there too.
In delhi though they are not allowed to be in varying colors, they usually are in white with a yellow number plate.

A cab picks me up from home daily for office and back, only yesterday my cabby pulled a maneuver off, which we only get to see in formula 1 chicanes. On a tight corner he saw a car that had passed him a couple of kilometers ago (and he was still holding the grudge), he almost instantly made up his mind to show that guy some of his skills, as the other car was about to go into the corner, he sped from the direction of the corner between the other car and the divider and almost forced the other guy to brake abruptly, took the lead and was now race leader.2-3 screams and chosen hindi pleasantries later he hit the straight road. still eyes firmly on the rear view to check if the other guy is planning a revenge. I just survived a mini heart attack.

Delhi is a great city, with roads which are in top notch condition for almost 10 months in an year, its a drivers delight. Why I do not compare it with drag racing?? Simple, if you are driving all day in bumper to bumper traffic, its not easy to speed. Here skill is the real winner, how you piss off 5 other drivers and take the lead is what counts.

On one particular occasion while driving on a single road with no divider, two F1 cars coming from different direction came so fast at each other and my cabbie braked so hard 0.0002 seconds away from collision that i was thrown to the front of the car by impact. On giving a nasty inquisitive look to the cabbie and expecting a 'Sorry Sir', I was rather told that its the other drivers fault as he apparently was at 140 Kmph compared to my cabby's 137 kmph. I instantly tendered an apology.

If you have been driven around Delhi roads in some of these white colored formula 1 cars, you cant have missed the last nano-second brakes, coming at 80 kmph and suddenly braking 0.001 meter away from the front vehicle, incessent honking, choicest hindi gaalis for the driver who does not oblige by clearing the way for your cab and also stoping the car in the middle of the e-way because the cabby's 'Bua' just called to check if he has gained some weight or not.

I suspect that Delhi has just one school from which these guys graduate in their driving degrees. Because everyone seems to have the same skills, same language and similar hate for anyone who tries to pass them.

The only difference from F1 here is that unlike the F1 cars which are high maintainance and need some work and service every 10-20 laps, these cars are service free, the recent one I sat in, was last serviced in 2007 and was still in top-notch condition (the fact that i had to assist the driver in changing gears and also had to push the cab once, are a different story all together)

All in all, I no longer watch the boring F1 races on sundays or go about wishing in front of my friends as to 'How cool it would be to riding those cars', I believe in taking matter in my own hands. 4 years and a dozens on 'oh f#@k, i am gonna get killed just now' moments later, Formula 1 has lost its charm.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The World without OBL

Oh, so they did it finally. And in a very Hollywood-ish manner. Choppers fly into a compound carrying the elite Navy Seals team 6, a swift 40 minutes raid and end of Osama Bin Laden. What??? Thats it??? No more of Osama from now on???
These are real voices in my head, having lived in an age which was largely defined by 9/11 and Al-qaida, these are very relevant questions.
I have rather already started missing him (not that he didnt deserve to die, he did, rather much earlier).
But OBL has left a huge void in this world obsessed with Good Vs Evil stories. No, the world has not become a safer place after he is gone, not by any stretch of imagination nor we would see any leniency in Airport checks (thats what we really care about). Rather the World is now without a face it so loved to hate. Now, all we are left with is a World which is as dangerous for normal people as it was with Osama still alive, but no one to curse for it.

Osama was that respite, he was the favorite punching bag for dont know how many people. Whatever was going wrong in the world could have been blamed on him without much noise.

On a personal level, I have spent a hell lot of time reading Spy thrillers and intelligence non-fiction to suddenly realise that the Holy Grail for spies around the planet has been found and killed.

May be they should have caught him and kept it to themselves, may be this way they could have still legitimized a couple more wars.

And for less mortals like us, we could have still lived in fear and awe (as we do now) but someone to curse for it.

Now waiting for someone in the fashion industry to come out with OBL t-shirts like the ones featuring Che Guevara and Nazi Swastika.