Posted on June 24, 2014
I decided to go for something simple this week. I was walking around, shooting for an unpaid assignment, and I looked at this pillar in our building. One of the pillars, in the shadows, presented me with a flat picture. One, the one above, was a bit more dramatic.
All I did was to convert this into a high contrast black-and-white, for the drama! I left very few details, as you can see, and this was deliberate.
Posted on June 21, 2014
I don’t always respond to the weekly challenges, but this one seemed fun!
I took this picture at the Hauz Khas Village in New Delhi, just as the sun was going down. It seemed cool. I did not anticipate putting this up for a photo challenge!
Posted on June 17, 2014
I was driving down the highway yesterday, when I saw this car on fire. As the crowds milled around, keeping a safe distance, I danced around and took some photos. I did this until the policeman shooed me away.
I don’t think it was a collision. I think that, somehow, the car burst into flames. While it is not as hot as it was one week ago, it is still damned hot. It is 40 degrees Celsius nowadays, and possibly the owner did not have enough coolant in the engine.
We Indians are crazy drivers. You have seen some of the photos of the crazy ways that we drive on the highway. Many of us Indians don’t bother about things like maintenance either. Maybe, we believe that the odds are in our favour, since there are over 1 billion of us. Maybe, we believe that our many Gods will protect us. Either way, we can be fatalistic in an illogical manner.
I was standing in the centre of the highway (on the divider), and a chap asked me if anyone survived. My reply to him was that, if they were in the car when it burst into flames, I hope they all died. I was not being cruel. To survive that would imply a life of pain and deformity. Death would have been kinder. However, if you look closely at the photo, you will see a steering wheel. I think that the driver escaped to drive another day.
While the policeman pushed me away, I wished that I had had the time to shoot some of the people gawking at the car. And, while half my mind wondered if the person/people in the car survived, the other 45% of my brain asked if I had missed a chance to take a few more photos.
While I am a person of the dark, the remaining 5% of my brain asked myself if there was an element of the monster in me – a monster that takes photos even when others suffer.
Beauty, peace, ugliness and suffering go together. They make up the world in large part.
Posted on June 10, 2014
I have chosen this photo for this week’s edition of Monochrome Madness, which will be featured on Leanne Cole’s blog.
I shot this picture early in the morning, in Haridwar, India. Haridwar is one of the holiest places in India. The name, literally means, “Doorway To The Gods”. “Hari”, being God, and “Dwar” being doorway.
I don’t know if the old lady found God in Haridwar.
A billion people. No social security net. Life can be tough.
Posted on June 9, 2014
Recently, I bought a Renault Duster, and as soon as we are through with this blighted heatwave, I shall start to make some road trips. Maybe, I shall start with a few short ones, and then gradually make them longer and longer.
In the meanwhile, later this week, I shall write about two short trips I made last year.
We drive on the correct side of the road, which is the side that the Brits, the Aussies drive on. Note, we drive on the correct side of the road.
About 15 years back, I did read a wonderful article. It was by a Dutchman, I think, and he wrote about driving in India. What he said, in essence, was that driving here can be a Zen like experience, as long as you go with the flow. If you try to break the flow, then you have problems. If you stay with the flow, then you can reach a state of Zen like bliss.
Since those years, driving on the Indian highways has become a little more perilous. People come in from all sides nowadays, except from below and above you. Look at the blighter coming at us in the picture above!
Give us time. We’ll find a way to come at you from beneath your car, and from above it. Give us time. It is called driving-jugaad.
Anyhow, never argue with the bloke who comes at you from the wrong side, especially if you are on the highway. The local guys will have no sympathy with you. None, and I can tell you that all illusions that you have about the Gandhian and peaceful nation we live in will be shattered instantly.
So, wish me luck, and I will survive.
Oh, before I go, I did create a few flow patterns of what the traffic looks like. Some of these will pop up on a new page that I will create, and also in these posts.
Here is one. This is a gentle pattern, for beginners. Enjoy!
Posted on June 7, 2014
Look at the two pictures above. And again, when I finish my rant.
Rotis, Parathas and the like have a rich tradition in our part of the world. In fact the tradition extends all the way from North India, through Pakistan and into Iran, Iraq and even parts of the Xinjiang province in China.
However, here’s the problem.
Walk into a five-star hotel in India, and order Indian food. The waiter, freshly shaved and simpering, wiggling his bum in the most suggestive manner, will then ask you the following question.
“And sir, may I get you a basket of assorted Indian breads?”
Assorted Indian breads? Many has been the time that I have glared at them, and snarled at them, and told them that they need to have some pride, and that most foreigners can pronounce roti, naan and parathas.
There is a rich tradition in rotis and parathas that is simply decimated by calling them Indian breads. Even though they are made from flour.
At home, we make chapattis. Soft, and fluffy.
Then, we have rotis. We have the simple tandoori roti, made in a tandoor, which is a clay oven. When we were kids, it used to be our great joy to rush off to the local tandoor, with the dough to have them made. We’d sit around the fires of the tandoor as the gentleman would convert the dough into the pats that would become the tandoori roti, and watch them slowly bake. To borrow from Calvino (I think), if on a winter’s night a traveller were to find his way to a tandoor, he would be assured of a great meal.
Going on from the tandoori roti, we have the missi roti, the bhakri, the makki roti (made from corn)
We have a simple paratha, a garlic paratha, and varieties of stuffed parathas.
We can stuff them with potato, radish, cauliflower, minced chicken or (best of all) minced meat. No two parathas can taste the same, because each individual chef will have his/her own recipe for the spices.
Then, we have the paper thin roomali roti.
Moving on to the fermented variety, we have kulchas, that are eaten with chickpeas. We can stuff a kulcha as well.
And then, we have naan, which can be plain, garlic, or buttered or stuffed!
Now, this is a shortlist of the variety that we have.
Can you now imagine my horror when a simpering waiter asks me if I want “Indian breads, assorted”?
He robs this world of it’s tradition, it’s aroma, it’s flavour, all in the name of casting everything under the glorious master set called “Bread”.
The white bread above is machine made, and generally without character. Most Western bakeries that I have seen have their own rich traditions. Like the bakers in those bakeries who have pride in what they bake, the cook who makes a roti etc has pride. There is an expression of individuality here, of creativity that is lost in machine made bread.
But, while they come from the same over arching family called ‘eatables made from baked flour’, a roti is not bread. Neither is it a pastry or cake!
In Malaysia, they have something called “Roti-Pratha”.
Think now, of a Malaysian waiter in a five star hotel coming up to you, simpering and asking you if he could serve you with some, “fried Malaysian bread-bread”.
You may now look at the two photographs again!
Posted on June 3, 2014
Taken some time back, in Basel, at the Munster. The shot was taken on a beautiful Sunday morning, at about noon.
The sky was blue, a deep, beautiful blue, and the carving was reddish brown.
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