hints, allegations and things left unsaid...
Lal Bagh flower show
Lal Bagh botanical gardens in Bangalore to me are a sanctuary. Whenever the bustle of city life becomes hard for me to bear, it is here that I seek refuge. As you walk deeper into the park, away from its circumferential walls, the din of traffic diminishes to a barely audible whirr. If you listen closely, you’ll regularly hear the cawing of crows and rustling of leaves punctuated by chirping of other birds. Reading a book while sitting under a sprawling, old tree is a simple pleasure of life that increasingly fewer cities in India afford. However in Lal Bagh, years old trees and the often pleasant and mild days nudge you towards doing precisely this.
The extent of biological diversity one comes across here (even if it is by horticultural design), isn’t usually found (or sought) right in the heart of a busy city in India. This also allows me to indulge in my favorite hobby – photography. And there isn’t a better time for bringing your camera out than the two big flower shows that the Glass House in Lal Bagh plays host to; the first one of which ended on India’s Republic Day – 26th Jan.
Thousands of people visit the flower show (one conservative estimate puts the number to over a 100,000 on 26th itself!) and it pays to start early. While the show is a photographer’s delight, if you prefer a rake or hoe to a camera, you can also pick up seeds and gardening equipment.
This time, while I did pay my obligatory visit to the increasingly crowding glass house, I also spent a good deal of time outside; around the various flower beds bedecked with zinnias and marigolds.
A highlight of my visit however, was the many children I ran into – all of them most eager to be clicked. Often a lone child would walk over to me and timorously request me to take his picture. Within moments, his group would spot him and come running to be photographed. A good natured mêlée would ensue when everyone would try to fit into my frame, followed by a jostle to look at the just-clicked picture in my tiny camera LCD. The more enthusiastic ones would request a solo portrait but their equally enthusiastic coterie would render it extremely difficult, if not impossible. At last, everyone having seen their picture, would give me a generous smile and return.
My initial apprehension at being nudged and pushed around came to naught. The inhibitions of age and reasoning soon vanished. Thus on a bright and sunny day in Lal Bagh, my spirit soared.
On a cold, cloudy day in London, I came across a sea-gull that was as curious about me as I was about it. There is also a good likelihood that it was interested in the crumbs of chocolate-waffle being eaten by people all around me. Still; at least in this particular picture, it seems to be asking – “hey what’s that black thing slung around your neck?”
Heaven and Earth
While standing at a hilltop in Chitradurga I caught a glimpse of rows of these wind-turbines far away in the horizon. The lighting and other ambient conditions (dust, haze) were such that no amount of wizardry with the camera (or help from other handy accessories such as a UV-Haze/Polarizing filter) would have salvaged this shot. I clicked nonetheless; hoping that I’ll be able to post-process and redeem it later. I clearly went overboard – to an extent that I wouldn’t even call it a “photograph” any longer. On the day of reckoning, this one will surely get filed under “digital art”.
Now if I was asked to provide an aural accompaniment to this picture, I’d point the interested listeners to “Tu Bin Bataye” from A. R. Rahman’s Rang De Basanti.
Ready... Steady... Go!
St. Pauls’ cathedral again, this time, from the millennium bridge. I cannot be blamed for clicking this one edifice so much – it was the first that thing I would face (besides the winter chill) the moment I would emerge from my abode in London. And it is such a gorgeous structure that I would often click till the remaining daylight (eveninglight?) would wane away.
If you look carefully at the picture, you’ll see that the façade of the cathedral is actually just a white sheet with the façade printed on it. This ensures that the cathedral continues to look wonderful (acceptable?) from a distance while the repair works go on behind this veneer – in fact had I not ventured close enough, I wouldn’t be able to tell!
You can also spot; besides the usual tourists eager to be clicked against the picturesque backdrop, a child eager to dart to the other end of the bridge.
Past Present Future
This picture was taken during one of my earliest jaunts to Lal Bagh with the new camera. A visit just a couple of months ago however, ended in a disappointment - for I hardly saw any flowers. Partly it was the incessant rains that we got last year and partly the fact that the flower beds were being readied for the upcoming Republic Day flower show. A visit last weekend again put the smile back on my face – I even caught my camera smiling (shh… it doesn’t yet know that I know it; it thinks that I was looking elsewhere).
Lights... Camera… Click!
This is the London Imax Cinema – a detail which is rather visibly printed on the somewhat ungainly structure. While I was fascinated with it (as should be evident from the picture), my friend thought a comparison to a can of paint most befitting. The bright light-trail was left by a double-decker bus that rushed past the camera while the shutter was open for three seconds. The “tilt” in the composition is owing to the fact that the theatre stands on a road that gently slopes upwards (or downwards depending on the end you are approaching it from)...
Between this world and that
This picture was taken at Gumbaz - the burial place of Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali, in Srirangapatna. The window looks into the chamber where Tipu and Hyder’s graves are. The intricate wooden frame stands between this world and that.
St. Paul's Cathedral
Another view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the south bank of Thames, shot when a small window of evening sunshine presented itself on the last day of the year 2005. For over 300 years now, the enormous dome of this cathedral has dominated the London skyline (those from Manhattan might consider the phrase ‘London skyline’ an excellent example of what one terms an ‘oxymoron’), something I read is about to change.
When Motu met Meg
‘Magazines’ store at Church Street in Bangalore deals in, well, magazines. Here, in addition to a good collection of Indian magazines, you can also find back issues of most foreign magazines. Though one can locate magazines on lifestyle, movies, current affairs, technology, gaming, automobiles and photography quite easily in India, it can be a little tricky to get magazines that cater to less common/niche interests (at least from the commercial viability of a magazine standpoint) such as philately or western classical music. Imports from abroad fill in this gap. While dated issues of magazines on latest gizmos might not make sense, I would definitely lap up an eighteen month old issue of the Gramophone magazine that chronicles a 1965 recording of Elgar Cello Concerto by Jacqueline Du-Pré and throws in an interview with the lady herself on the complimentary CD!
The shop owner also has a few (I am told five) wonderful cats as his pets. If you don’t see them chasing a bright orange ping-pong ball on the floor, you’ll find them comfortably ensconced in the piles of – what else - magazines. Surprisingly, I’ve not seen the cats litter or use the magazines as their scratch posts. One of the tom-cats featured here; Motu, is particularly fond of the Esquire magazine. On the day this picture was taken, he was found resting placidly on an issue which poses a very pertinent; an almost existential, question to its readers – “Have you seen Meg Ryan naked yet?”
Taken during my visit to Chitradurga. The summit of the hill where the fort stands is littered with small temples and passageways like these. The boulders that dot the landscape, once ensured a ready supply of raw material but today they give you a feeling that the entire fort is still a work in progress.
My tryst with winters
English winters are famously notorious. During these months, the sun makes an appearance only past 8:00 in the morning and by 4:00 in the evening it is already on its way home. So yes the sun rises but that does not mean that you get to see it - for it usually comes out wrapped in a thick quilt of clouds. There might be an occasional gap in its garb, but that is promptly patched by the very breeze which introduces it. The breeze also accentuates the cold and makes it feel like a good two or three degree centigrades lower than what the weatherman’s thermometer would like you to believe. Leave home without a muffler and a thick jacket on top of your 4 layers of clothing and the breeze will find a way to enter and tickle you in most the most intimate of your joints. Just when you are feeling glum enough, a gentle drizzle will make you realize that what you thought was miserable just moments ago, was actually splendid state of affairs. Having spent over three years in balmy Bangalore weather, I had forgotten what winters were like. London has made sure that this time I don’t forget them in a hurry. In fact, it snowed for just long enough for me to earn my bragging rights. (Yes, in subtropics/tropics we brag about having seen it snow!)
This picture was taken at Festival Pier (the bright blue structure visible in the background) near Embankment at around 1:00 in noon. It rained shortly thereafter. And no, I didn’t slap the gentleman on the extreme right though the cold wind might not have been as clement.
Photofriday: The best of 2005
Locks are for gentlemen for they are unlikely to deter a determined thief. The same largely holds true for the liveried personnel from the mushrooming private security agencies one comes across in India these days. You’ll find them keeping a watch in your offices, cafeterias, malls or at ATMs. In most cases they are unarmed and demonstrate levels of physical fitness that hardly inspires any confidence. During office hours, they often end up helping with menial clerical chores, while at night they stare dazedly into a non-existent void in anticipation. I often wonder whether they have an equivalent of a trade union or if there are compensation guidelines should something unfortunate happen during the course of their duty.
I met the gentleman here outside a small office building at one of the busy roads in Bangalore. He looked quite gallant in his green uniform and was kind to allow me to click him. The expression on his face - which speaks of sadness and anxiety, was the best he could muster on being asked to smile.
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