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A photographer's recipe

A sunny day and clear blue sky,
washed clean by last night’s rain

A polarizer that you buy,
and keep free from dust ’n’ stain

You dump the pic, then you try -
fixing through steps uncertain

Taken at Chitradurga. I got so many wonderful pictures there, that I began to wonder if the place is called "Chitra"durga because of it being so picturesque.
posted: 30.11.05 | permalink | 3 comments

At the Chitradurga fort

After the rains had washed out the first day of my Hampi trip, I decided to abort the rest of the journey midway. I checked with the Hotel reception desk at Hospet, and much to my delight found out that I could hire a cab back to Bangalore the very next morning.

I slept fitfully that night. The very fatigue which would have made sleep most inviting, kept it away from me. At dawn, while most guests at hotel were still ordering their bed-teas, I freshened up and stepped out for breakfast. The dawn, although it did not look like one that would herald a bright sunny morning, yet it held some promise. The sun had risen, but it shone only reluctantly – like a convalescing old man, who is still uncertain of his strength and therefore weighs his each step carefully.

The drive at 7:00 morning was one of the most delightful rides I have enjoyed in a long long time. I could now soak in the beautiful scenery outside without the accompanying dread of the night before. Yes, the ride was still bumpy for the road was riddled with potholes. The cab driver attributed them to the heavy rains, but given the insolubility of both tar and tarmac in water, I wondered if the much maligned showers were actually meteorite showers after all.

Two hours whizzed past me like a dreamy blur – literally so because I had dozed off! Had it not been for the loud music playing in the car, I would have felt inclined to treat what I saw outside as contents of a dream too. The sun had finally gotten the better of the clouds. There were sunflower fields on one side of the road, while the other was lined with squat hills that were dotted with numerous white wind mills (not the quaint European sorts – perhaps “aerogenerator” conveys a more accurate picture) – their blades turning lazily each time a gush of breeze would offer encouragement.

Just a few minutes later I found myself being driven through a town known for it’s grand fort – Chitradurga. What transpired at the fort, will be the topic of my posts this week, but for now I guess it is sufficient to conclude with this picture that is my entry to this week’s photofriday theme – yellow.
posted: 27.11.05 | permalink | 6 comments

Harry P vs Evil V

The picture was taken at Vizag beach a few months ago – I promise that I had not placed my subjects under a “freezing spell”. Now that I have got the tenuous connection between this picture and the content of today’s post out of the way, let me get down to the nub of the matter.

Standing outside the Symphony theatre at 9:45 in the evening, I eagerly awaited the opening of the cinema’s door to allow me in. I wasn’t alone. The night show on Sunday – just like the past shows of the day, had sold out. And so, kindred, Harry Potter seeking souls were close at hand. As people from the 7:00 PM show started streaming out, I examined their faces closely to see if they would betray a thing or two about the movie. They only spoke of descending mercury (evenings in Bangalore these days are rather nippy), pending dinner and impending sleep; the children amidst the crowd looking exceptionally dazed. The fourth installment of the Harry Potter movie has been awarded a U/A certificate by the censor board of India - the equivalent of a PG 13 (if I am not mistaken). A printout of the certificate was prominently stuck on one of the glass doors – no doubt, to inform parents of the unsuitability of the movie for anyone not yet muddled by pubescent hormones. A rule is one thing, its enforcement another. Children keen to watch the movie meant business with a capital B and the guard at the theatre doors knew it all too well. Their age was overlooked, or perhaps mentally padded to meet the censor bar. Once the crowd from the previous show had cleared, people (myself included) started growing restless. When we were finally let in, I couldn’t help notice that the kid in the blue t-shirt, who led the pack of eager grown-ups; but for his dark hair, resembled Malfoy.

The moment I had assumed my chair in the “Rear Stall” someone behind me politely urged me to slip down into my chair a bit. My head was obstructing the gentleman’s view of the screen. In line with the general bonhomie that prevailed in the theatre in anticipation of the movie, I smiled and complied (and muttered to myself – “thank God I am not a giraffe”). The moment the title of the movie was projected onto the big screen, the hall broke into a loud applause. “What was that!?” quipped my friend. “Globalization” said I succinctly.

It was obvious from the very first frame of the movie that its screenplay had little or no intention of being true to the book. What the (insert your favorite expletive here) was Barty Crouch doing at the ‘Riddle House’?

As the movie progressed I realized that there are characters and magical creatures in the book that’ll go missing altogether from the screen. The cinematic avatars of Blast-Ended Skrewts and Winky were sorely missed. This unfortunate consequence of having to squeeze 700 pages of rich, detailed piece of fiction into an under 3 hr screenplay is expected and accepted. What I don’t get is why these movies deviate so blatantly from the course of the book when they don’t need to. For instance, Longbottom is shown giving Gillyweed to Harry – it is Dobby who does so in the book. “Oh so it wasn’t that important to the overall story” I’ll be told. Well, how was the episode where Harry talks to Sirius in the fireplace important? Yes I am going into the minutiae – but it is minutiae such as these that make the books so interesting. Overall, the trend in the movie has been to eschew parts of book that don’t necessarily contribute to the movie in terms of narrative – unless they have ample room for histrionics.

Even if I were to forget the book, and consider the movie on its own standing, I wouldn’t be too pleased. The kernel of the movie - the Triwizard tournament, lacked grandeur. That arena where Harry fights the Dragon looked a bit too cramped. The maze sequence of the third task, which leads Harry and Cedric to the cup, was vapid at best. The cast has grown-up quite a bit and have a difficulty in passing off as 14 year olds - Ron and Hermione in particular! I hope they shot the other 2 movies in parallel or I can already imagine Harry sporting a goatee in the next movie – if nothing else, out of compulsion to disregard the young wizard’s sketch prescribed in the book.

People tell me to take it easy. After all it’s a movie – a different medium – and these things happen. The commiserations usually come from that quarter of my friends who haven’t yet read the book. My question to them is - why even call the movie “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”? Doing so causes me to expect things from the movie that it can not, does not and will not offer. How about “Harry P versus Evil V?” or “Young Sorcerer is Soup”?

I am expecting disappointment from the next movie already. Still, there is a good chance that I will watch it. I call this the J.K.R Tax and all Harry Potter fans must pay it!
posted: 23.11.05 | permalink | 5 comments

Dear Deer

It had taken me more than 150 shots to get this one right. While I deleted a good number of those iterations, I left some of them intact primarily as an evidence of effort involved. On showing them off to Sajith, he suggested that I make a collage/filmstrip of them and post. Well, here they are.

Now the reason why none of the pictures on display here had made it was because either I would trace the 5 through the air all wrong, or overexpose my face, or assume a countenance which is somewhere between the expression on the face of a man who sat on a thumb-tack, and a deer on the highway who is facing the headlights of a fast-approaching truck.
posted: 19.11.05 | permalink | 12 comments

Pink to Brown

flashy pink, but now dull brown
still, it's one of nature's hue
once I smiled and now I frown
the old thus makes the way for new
posted: 17.11.05 | permalink | 3 comments

The Hook

In the backyards of several dams in Karnataka, you’ll find some of the most spectacular gardens. After spending a day in Hampi, the 'Nandan Van' (if I am not mistaken) garden, close to the Tungabhadra Dam, was our last stop for the day. Most of these gardens are landscaped in the Mughal style and more often than not, they have a ‘musical fountain’ that the parents are often tugged towards by their kids. While the lawns, flower-beds and nurseries in the garden were tended to nicely, everything else suffered from neglect. The fountains were dirty and defunct – their faucets leaky and rusted.

It is here that I had come across this weather-beaten, disintegrating lady whose amputated right hand reminded me of the pirates – I am sure not quite what the sculptor intended. The swans around her continue to look remarkably life-like.
posted: 15.11.05 | permalink | 6 comments

A tale of two cafés

Prologue: The portrait is my entry to this week's photofriday theme - Worn

Three years ago, when looking for a place to live in Bangalore, my eyes caught a glimpse of the “tract and church book society” buildings at St. Mark’s Road. One of them housed (and still does) a branch of the Indian Starbucks equivalent – Barista. It wasn’t my love for coffee that got me there for the first time, but my fascination for the imposing edifice. I have vague memories of sitting there mesmerized, staring at the extraordinarily high roof for hours, and lazily sipping a cup of hot mocha on a sunny Sunday morning. If there was one thing that the place unmistakably exuded besides an infinite calm, it was a sense of infinite spaciousness. That infinity was a sum total of part illusion – one accentuated by a tall mirror that still hangs at one of the walls, part ingenuity – a cleverly designed cash counter with a choice of colors to match, and part reality – fewer than a few chairs with a plenty of floor space deliberately left vacant.

The sort of place where you would expect the warmth of the sun streaming through the tall picture windows to be greeted by warmth of Haydn’s string quartets; an event I have witnessed just once in last three years. Yes, the music played here had never quite been to my taste. It was a minor shortcoming which was easily remedied by the marriage of a pair of good ear-buds with those inconspicuous portable musical devices.

A year or so ago, economics here usurped aesthetics. One of the two small rooms attached to the main anteroom was converted into a bookshop. (The other was - and is - a showroom for expensive French brand of t-shirts that proudly bear a crocodile as an insignia out of some misplaced concern for the amphibian). This was done without reducing the capacity of the cafeteria - the chairs from that room therefore, found themselves unceremoniously dumped in the main hall one fine morning. A new menu card was installed at the counter – surest sign of an upward price revision, and indeed, on another fine day, my mocha became dearer. I now had to wade through a maze of chairs and tables to reach my favorite mirror-facing seat. I also suddenly found myself not looking inside or at the roof any longer either, but at the old tree outside. “This place is still tolerable, ok barely so; still” I would often tell myself.

That was until this café called Barista still had something to do with coffee. On yet another fine day, I found all tables there bestrewn with pamphlets of a new product from the stable of a global cosmetics giant. I couldn’t sit where I wanted because the area was “reserved” for the same promotion. The café had now become an arena for “alternative advertising”. You can still buy a coffee here but it comes with free advertising – like those annoying browser pop-up windows. Have your coffee, but do buy that latest deo which is bound to attract women to you just like a lonely, weak deer on a moony night in a forest attracts a pack of hyenas, fill-in your details to be included in a raffle that could get you that newer, bigger, fuel inefficient car and don’t forget to watch that blockbuster flick on Saturday night.

Of the time I’ve spent in Bangalore, a good one third was spent in total oblivion of the Coffee House. In hindsight, I find it ironic that this place too shares a wall with a shop that sells apparel branded with a crocodile (the logo is where the similarity ends). A perfect contrast to Barista, the place is housed in an unpretentious, decades old building at the MG Road. Entering Coffee House is entering a place which has halted the forward march of time or perhaps time just waits outside while you finish your coffee.

The walls are dotted with decades old, paling Indian Coffee Board posters promoting the consumption of the beverage. Bright red letters below an old framed picture of Gandhi, a picture perhaps as old as Gandhi would have been now, tell you not to smoke inside.

Everything here, except the ostentatiously liveried (liveries that have seen better days but are now threadbare) waiters, has been stripped down to the merest basics. A coffee can be had here without feeling a pinch even on those last days of the month that I; like the salaried middle class in our county, never look forward to.

The picture I have posted will finish this essay for me by supplying those thousand words that pictures are fabled to. I’ll only add that there are no points for guessing where I am a regular now.
posted: 12.11.05 | permalink | 15 comments

Three weeks after the flower show

it feels like an enternity
though it's been just three weeks
people, petals both are gone
posted: 8.11.05 | permalink | 8 comments

Glass House

Taken at Lal Bagh, just outside the Glass House. The place is abuzz with activity when flower shows are held. On other days it is simply a sheltered passageway. The signboard outside informs me that the original glass house was built in 1889 to provide “sequestered locale for flower shows” and was modeled on the lines of Crystal Palace of London. It recently underwent restoration and its new avatar was inaugurated on 15th Jan 2004. The signboard, records the event in a rather pompous verbiage – “Today we are proud to be part of what history will call a day to commit to memory - a day on which the Jewel of the Garden City has been ‘regifted’ it’s sparkle”.

If only history books would readily admit in such trifles by mere hefty proclamations on sign-boards.
posted: 5.11.05 | permalink | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Delicate

I had to dig my archives for this week's photofriday theme. I like this better than one I've posted before because the expression on Kaushal's face has a degree of enigma about it.
posted: 2.11.05 | permalink | 5 comments

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