27 June 2009

Blank

"In the past 10 years my magazine has had me assigned to the White House and the politics of Washington DC so naturally I have had to change my way of thinking – being part of a pack, men in suits, masses of waiting for short bursts of energy, rope lines and the control factor etc etc but still the same motivating force stands true for me as it was 'being free' roaming the world in the 90's. Just a fascination with human nature." - Charles Ommaney, winner of Political Photo of the Year (WHNPA) in a recent interview with Pixcetera. I guess this is the most important factor that drives most photojournalists in doing what they do. Their fascination with human nature. Their insatiable appetite for documenting the lives of mere mortals. The understanding that no human life is too trivial to pass... This is one such attempt to capture a fragment of human lives. Three simple pictures from a lazy day spend with the best of my friends.
Blank. Like the TV screen behind her. Wonder what went on in that head of hers. Tripping perhaps?
The best part of shooting pictures of friends is that you can be part of some of the most intimate conversations and yet remain in the dark. Unnoticed. Invisible.
Simple. Dark.

24 June 2009

Dry

22 June 2009

Defocused

21 June 2009

The Road Less Travelled

Disclaimer : The title was given merely as an artistic expression. This road is actually one of the most frequently used roads in Ooty. It leads to the Sinclair Tea Factory were tourists usually descend in truck loads for a free tour of the factory and for the amazing view of the town during sunset.

20 June 2009

Blue

I was in Palakkad, Kerala , covering a temple festival when i noticed that the house (which the family was so kind to provide for my stay) was beautifully lit by natural light during the day. The maddam (as the house of a brahmin family is called) is atleast a 100 years old. I havent seen many modern houses with such ingenious architecture. It was cool inside despite the hot summer. I wish they still made houses like these... I cant really say that the house was well maintained. Perhaps the lady wih the Gucci bag living around the corner might disapprove the blue patches on the walls. To me, it looked beautiful (although i admit that my pictures did no justice to it!)
Glass pieces were strategically placed on the roof to light up various parts of the house during any time of the day.
Isn't it fun to have a spot light on you when you are asked to be seated??
This is one my favorite prints. The blue colour seen in the picture is due to the blue paint on the windows and the warm hue if from the light streaming past rusted iron bars on the windows.
A ventilation to the store room. Through a window. Every house had an exclusive water well to themselves. You could say the house was more or less built around it. You had access to the cool fresh water both from the kitchen AND from the bathroom. It is quite a bit of an exercise to draw water from these wells though.
As i mentioned before, i was visiting during the summer. When the temperature was 37 degrees or above. Surprisingly,the water level was still very high in the well.
The brahmin community in Palakkad is a very well educated lot. If you were looking for means to pass time on a hot afternoon, you will find ample amount of books stacked away in a shelf or two which can keep you occupied for the rest of your stay.
I hardly saw any bulbs lit during the day.
The oldest member of the family (he is about 80 yrs old). Do not be carried away by the expression on his face. He loved being photographed. Only, he did not understand my interests on electric bulbs and plastic buckets! I always fancied the studio portraits of newly weds taken atleast a quarter of a century ago. My friend was showing me the image of his son and his daughter-in-law.
"What's a house without the grace of the lord almighty?" Always well-lit, always well adorned. the pooja room.
"When you have kids in the house, you have toys. When they leave, the toys become show pieces..."

18 June 2009

A Story

Here is a story i had written long ago, which won an award in the 'Best Short Story' category in a Lit-Fest recently.

17 June 2009

Monsoon - The Onset

Somebody told me today that they hate the monsoon. I couldn't empathize. I love the way the monsoons could make even a cemented floor look fresh. I love the fact that everything looks vibrant and alive after a rain. The monsoons are almost here. I'm waiting.

16 June 2009

Captive King

Does all animals have a character, a personality? I know they say that dogs almost have human-like feelings. But so detached I am from wildlife, that little do i know about the lives of the majestic creatures that inhabit our forests. The veterinarian at the zoo had told me that the lion was becoming weaker by the day. He hardly ate all the meat that was provided for him and the 1000 sq ft (or less) space provided by the authorities was not enough for the king who would otherwise have been roaming freely in his kingdom. In the first few hair raising roars, he made it clear that prisoner he might be, but he still detested my presence. A few rude, inconsiderate tourists and 45 minutes later, I think he decided that I'm not as bad as he thought i was. An hour later, he didn't mind the bony creature with the shiny single eye stuck through the bars. Another good half hour later, he completely ignored my existence. Perhaps he thought that i was the rat in his trap. It was fascinating to watch the noble creature in a state which was at once alert and resigned. As if he knew that the iron bars were too strong for him. As if he would be ready when the opportunity came. As if, he would rather die than surrender...

14 June 2009

Outtake

Gaurav, my guinea pig for light testing :)

13 June 2009

Feet

10 June 2009

The Weavers of a Forgotten Colony

We were at Melkote, about 40km from Mysore on the Bangalore-Mysore highway working on some travel stories, when we came across a small colony with a tradition of 100 years of weaving. There were about 18 houses in the colony and each house was furnished with at least one ancient handloom. I love the way one story leads to another. And i love the way our villages welcomes its guests. The artisans were more than delighted to tell us their stories. The Mysore Silk Board authorities provides them with raw silk yarn which these artists weave into beautiful handwoven sarees or dhotis. These products are then sold through 'Priyadharshini Handloom', a Government enterprise. For some inscrutable reason, i had always assumed that Mysore Silk meant handwoven silk. But of course, this isn't the case. My weaver friends tell me that most of the Mysore Silk Sarees are produced in the Mysore Silk Factory which is quickly eating up their livelihood. Narasimha Shetty (55) has been weaving Dhotis and Sarees for 40 years. He can weave a silk dhoti in two days. It will fetch him Rs.180/-. The market price for a pure silk dhoti being Rs. 1500/- and above. Weaving, is obviously a laborious task which seldom forgives a mistake made by a weaver. A flawed weave would mean paying up the cost of the raw silk. The powerloom on the other hand is more profitable, less labour intensive and the Government cared little about the poor weavers. The Silk Board authorities says that most of the production cost (of a pure silk garment) is acquired in the cost of the basic material itself. A standard roll of silk yarn (enough to weave 6m of saree) costs Rs. 1500/- and above. The beautiful Mysore silk sarees that women love to flaunt takes three to four days to weave in the handloom. The artisan gets Rs.350/- per saree which is then sold for Rs.3000/- and above in the market. According to the artisans, the texture is finer (as compared to those woven using the powerloom in the factories) and their designs remain true to their age old traditions. "Feel the texture... Dont you feel the softness on the skin? We are artists.. and these are our creations. " Venkataramana Shetty is 86 years old. He has been weaving ever since he was a boy. His 55 year old son is carrying on the tradition. But his grand children wants to work in the cities. His family tells me that he worries about his dying craft more than his health. Out of the eighteen houses in the colony, there wasn't a single home in which the next generation wanted to carry on weaving. I suppose the handloom industry would not cease to exist when the descendants of these artisans move away from the craft. But it is sad to think of an age old craft disappearing into oblivion from this beautiful village of Melkote.

09 June 2009

The Window

I had forgotten how my window looked in the early morning light.
It sucks to wake up at 10am and realise that you have already missed the best hours of the day's beautiful light.

08 June 2009

Sofia

Sofia Sheriff. Age : 25. University Rank Holder. Athelete. Dancer. Foodie.

07 June 2009

The Udupi Restaurant

If you walk along the road on which the Chikpet Police Station resides, away from the Sunday Market, you will find a neat grey building with shining letters which read The Udupi Sree Krishna Bhavan . We were hungry.
At the entrance.
After going around in circles for a few minutes, we realised that we were supposed to hand over the (prepaid) bill at the little counter near the entrance. The signboard read 'Self Service'. But a 'blue shirt + dhoti' clad waiter soon arrived at our tables with our meals.
The 'Family Room' upstairs.
The hotel seemed least affected by the afternoon madness that seemed to have inflicted the crowd outside. Do not forget to pay a visit to the 'Special Room' for some yummy sweets after your meal. My friends who had gone 'window shopping' to the Special Room had come back loaded and looked incredibly pleased with themselves! The food was inexpensive, delicious and remained faithful to the spirit of the Udupi cuisine. If you haven't already, make sure you visit this quaint restaurant when you are in the vicinity. PS : Click here to see images of the Irani's Hotel, Ooty.

05 June 2009

The Tailor

He sits and sews in his little tailor shop all day. He strikes a pose for me on a cold night in the hut near by. He refuses to take any money for altering an ill-fitting dress of mine. His wife brings me precious biscuits and a delicious cup of coffee. The least i could do for him was to give him some prints.

04 June 2009

Many Faces

I was scouring the Ooty market one day, in search of material for a studio shoot when i came across this lady. She quietly stood there watching me prod every single mud pot i found in that store. She didn't even bat an eyelid when i started clicking her pictures. When i finally came around the corner, she slowly came up to me with a pot in her hand. "Only Rs.5/- ma... "

03 June 2009

Behind Closed Doors