5 Black Things that I want.

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Black is a forbidden color in my family. As a child I was never allowed to wear black in festivals and functions. It is considered a sad inauspicious color. In my mums language “It spells doom” ¬†ūüėÄ ¬†I have never been allowed to wear it. So for me it has always been a coveted color. The times that i have thrown tantrums and rebelled for that perfect black dress…… only to be allowed a very dark blue…… but never black.

After I got married I have wanted to change things but never really got around to getting the “black dress” as I never really had a place to wear it. My mum and in laws would have banned me at any social occasion. I found it a very trivial topic to cause grief so it is still on my wish list…… since for like “forever”…… Hence my first really coveted Black thing would be a black dress.

The second is really easy. Black Stilettos to go with that perfect black dress. I have never had really really high stilettos. The max that I could get into were 4 inch pumps. Stilettos are really sexy stuff especially the Jimmy Choo ones. I’ve had my eye on the one that I want since a very long time.

The third black thing is a black box. I have wanted a black box for my camera and photography equipment since a very long time. Actually I think that it would top my black list. Especially in monsoons when the humidity is very high I live on the edge wondering what happens to my lenses and mount. A black box would really put my fears at rest. At other times I live in fear that all my photography equipment and external hard disks would get a  fungal attack.

The fourth black item on my list is black roses. I really really want to photograph black roses. I have never seen them in real and quite frankly I don’t think they exist…… but I am pretty sure that I could photoshop some dark red roses to black ones. I want to take pictures of fully bloomed dark black roses with lovely whorls of glossy black petals. Of late i have been totally enamored with black and white photography and the chance to photograph black roses has been a dream.

The thing about black and white photography is that it bares the skeleton of the photograph with out the frills of color only to reveal the stark beauty of the subject and virtually no photoshop involved. I have looked long for the really dark red roses at the florist only to be grossly disappointed. In the end I have planted my own. The ones at the florist gave me¬†a grey touch.¬†They aren’t black enough.¬†I have the first batch of buds come and I took some shots to confirm that I got the color right. Now all I have to do is wait for them to fully bloom and hope that the rose doesn’t lose the color else I am back to my list. (The pics of the bud that I posted at the start of the post are the ones that I took today)

The fifth and last black item on my list is of course the “coveted by all” black diamond ūüėÄ ¬†ūüėÄ ¬†ūüėÄ ¬†After all diamonds are a girls best friend. It is definitely the most must have on my list or may be it is the black box which i need so badly………. Needs and wants…….Well this is gonna take “forever” to decide !!!

This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at BlogAdda.com

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Three songs that are significant to you.

Music is the essence of all beings. We find music and rhythm in everything that we do. The birds chirping, the water falling, the sounds of cooking…… there is music all around as and in everything that we do. Music is a great mood uplifter for me. I can’t imagine my life without music. I would probably shrivel and die if I was denied music.

I was introduced to music at a very young age and since then my day has started with songs sung by my mother and ended with her humming a tune. Strangely my mother never required a source of music to listen to……. no iPod….. no stereo. Sometimes she would listen to the radio as she went about her daily chores….. but that was about it. I was introduced to a rather serious form of music….. Hindustani classical. It was supposed to fine tune my voice after which I was supposed to have branched into Rabindra Sangeet. I didn’t go that far as to become a maestro but enough to understand the delicacy and movements in music. I simply didn’t have the commitment and discipline required for the training….. but music remained my passion. My choice of music is eclectic. I can be happy listening to pop or disco and be equally comfortable listening to a rendition of ¬†Raga bhimpalasi.

I am an Indian so my choice of songs will essentially be Hindi or Bengali the language that I am comfortable with. ¬†I love so¬†¬†many songs that I am not able to decide which one to put up. The crazy thing is that the top ten on my charts keep changing so often that I really can’t keep track of it.

So I am going to go with my first song being my all time favorite. Its a song by Pankaj Udhas from the album “Aman” : Song is Abhi ghar na jana.….. This song gets me nostalgic every time I hear it. This song is something of a blast from the past that I have not been able to shake off till date. I don’t know¬†whether it is the slow tempo or the lyrics or maybe the piano used as the main musical instrument…… the song always has me in a sort of nostalgic and melancholy mood. I remember when I first heard the song I was in college and I must have replayed the song a hundred times. ¬†The song really has no significance just that it is a beautiful piece of music by a great singer that I had come to adore. The music is light and it is soothing to hear. The lyrics are meaningful and there isn’t much as far as instruments….. just a piano. ¬†I am posting the video of the same. (Courtesy You Tube)

 

The second song that I chose came to my mind as soon as I read the post. It is a very strange choice of music. It is a bhajan¬†by Saint Kabir. Why it was my choice I wouldn’t be able to tell…… just that it was something my mother left in some corner of my mind. My mother would often sing this song. More often than I can remember. It made quite an impact on me. (Courtesy : YouTube )

LYRICS

Maati Kahe Kumhar Se, Tu Kya Rundhe Mohe
Ek Din Aisa Ayega, Main Rundhungi Tohe…

Aaye Hai So Jayenge Raaja Rank Fakir
Ek Sinhaasan Chadh Chale, Ek Bandhe Janjir
Durbal Ko Naa Satayiye, Jaaki Maati Hoye
Bina Jeev K Shwas So, Loha Basam Ho Jaye…

Chalti Chakki Dekh Ke, Diya Kabira Roye
Do Patan Ke Bich Me, Sabut Bacha Naa Koi
Dukh Me Sumiraan Sab Kare, Sukh Me Kare Naa Koi
Jo Dukh Me Sumiran Kare, To Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye…

Patta Tuta Dal Se, Le Gayi Pawan Udaye
Ab Ke Bichade Kab Milenge, Door Padenge Jaye
Kabir Aap Thagiye, Or Na Thagiye Koi
Aap Thage Sukh Upaje, Aur Thage Dukh Hoye

TRANSLATION

Clay asks potter why do you knead me
one day it will be my turn to knead you
( it refers to the day when the potter will be dead and would be buried in ground).

Everyone who is born will die some day, be it a  king or a poor man.
one goes on a throne and another one goes with chains on its body.
Don’t harass the weak, there is a lot of power in curses.
just like a lifeless dhokni can melt a strong thing like iron. 
( Dhokni is a hollow cylindrical tube used to blow air in furnace to make it hotter) 

On seeing the grinding stone (which grinds the flour), Kabir cries
nobody can survive between the two stones of karma and family 
Everyone remembers god in bad times, no one remembers god in good times.
if you remember god in good times, then you would never have bad times .

A leaf  falls off the branch and is carried away by the wind
Now that they have got separated who knows when they will meet
Kabir says don’t con others and don’t get conned by others as well , ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†
You cant con anybody and get away with it.

The third song is by Frank SinatraMy Way“. I love all his songs but this one especially for the lyrics. He kind of talks about my motto in life. I love the song simply because it is a very meaningful song and a very beautiful rendition. ¬†I identify myself with the song and the way he has sung it. He has encompassed his whole life in the song. It is a beautiful composition. (Courtesy : YouTube)

If you had the power to get somewhere where would you go right now?

Memories are tricky things. Bad memories¬†can take us to a place where we are uncomfortable and unsafe…… ¬†whereas a Good and Beautiful memory can take us to a place where we not only feel safe but also it is something that stands out in the course of our life.

In my case some of my best memories are at the fort of Sinhagad, ¬†in the outskirts of ¬†Pune. ¬†The winding lanes leading to the fort are lined with little yellow and orange wild flowers. So much that from far it looks like a carpet of yellow and orange. The low clouds touch your hair as you drive up the lanes. The cold wet feeling of having them over your face ¬†is a wonderful feeling. Then comes the lovely trek up the fort…… Yeah it is tiring but reaching on top is worth every drop of sweat. By the time you are on the top you have the blood pounding in your ears. You stop awhile to catch your breath and take a small break and drink the cool clear water from the well and then look down to the beauty of the city way below you.

Everything seems so small and inconsequential at that moment. No problem or worry seems too big that it cant be handled. You feel invincible…… you can do anything. The moment of peace envelops you and you feel calm. Thats the feeling everytime…… every single time.

That moment when all the sounds in your mind stop and you can not really speaking hear anything, is what I try to capture. I dont really have any thoughts passing through my mind at that moment….. just a sense of stillness. Nothing seems to matter at that moment. I get that feeling every single time I have been there.

I havent been to sinhagad in a very long time now…… almost a decade plus……. now that I¬†go back and calculate. Guess I have to rectify that before long. ¬†With the industrialisation and IT boom in my city there has been a total geographic and demographic change in the city and the outlook of the people of the city. I doubt whether things are still the same….. or is it just me who has gotten older, bitter and disillusioned.

Sinhagad has been and will be for more years than any person living right now on earth. ¬†Only people change around it. ¬†A new generation looking for peace and solace like I did years before…… I hope they find it as I did and still do!!!

 

 

Snapshot stories

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Ever since I laid my hands on the first camera I was hooked. Totally hooked!!! I was 8 yrs old and the camera was my Dad’s black and white Agfa ever since that time till today I am still behind the camera. So when I had to go back in history to find a snapshot of myself where I could tell a story, I had to go really down memory lane.

This pic was taken at Valvan dam near Karla caves. The two ladies in the pic are my aunts. The pic was taken in the rains. I went to valvan dam for the first time a week before this pics was taken. The dam is located in a valley. It is surrounded by hills on all sides and the lake in the middle.  The first time I saw it, I instantly fell in love with the place. The day we went there we had very heavy showers and the place was full of waterfalls.  The pic is really fresh with the green grass and the hills covered with green grass. It was a sight to behold. The day I spent with my aunts we had been to Lonavala and Khandala and then I took them to Valvan dam. It was a beautiful day spent with two beautiful ladies.

Valvan dam really inspires a lot of happy memories. The beauty of the place is highlighted in the monsoon season. ¬†When the waterfalls begin to enhance the beauty of the scenery. The dam¬†is accessible only by a narrow winding road. The drive therefore is excellent. It goes up the hill and then down to the valley. ¬†A favorite place of mine…..

 

 

5 Places you would love to visit in this lifetime.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
Saint Augustine

Everybody loves to travel. It is more of a luxury for some than others….. but I haven’t really met anybody who doesn’t love to travel. I am sure like me everybody has a list. Mine is very very….. long. So much that if I were to not do anything and just travel I wouldn’t complete that in this lifetime. Only if I would get a sponsor for the same ūüėČ

I am a big time kabadiwali at heart. I love old ruins and the stories that go with it. The best part of any travel for me is to sit in an absolutely ruined place and just imagine stuff that must have happened there….. listening to stories of the bygones and just soaking in the vibrations and the feel of the place. ¬†The photographer in me tries to give new perspective to places through my lens. A very difficult thing to combine both. In most cases I get lost in the stories at other times I am concentrating and composing so those stories come out in my pics. I have got a combination of both but not very often. Sometimes I come back with only the stories or only the pics.

My list is so long that just to name 5 from the whole list took me hours of thinking. Finally I took the ones that I would do anything to go to :

Machu Picchu :

pic courtesy nat geo

pic courtesy nat geo

Machu Picchu tops the list any day. This Incan built structure has been deemed the ‚ÄúLost Cities‚ÄĚ, unknown until its relatively recent discovery in 1911.

Archaeologists estimate that approximately 1200 people could have lived in the area, though many theorize it was most likely a retreat for Incan rulers. Yet another asserts that it may have been built as a prison for a select few who had committed heinous crimes against Inca society. An alternative theory is that it is an agricultural testing station. Different types of crops could be tested in the many different microclimates afforded by the location and the terraces.

From what I have seen of the pics on various mediums, this is a place that is surrounded by mountains and a river that flows around it plus it has various temples and is flaunted with little terraces all through. The sunrise and sunset are supposedly marvelous and the trek up is wonderful…. a truly photographers delight.

Pyramids and Sphinx of Egypt:

pyramids

pic courtesy Wikipedia

This has been my dream destination since my childhood. I have always been enamored by the stories of the long-lost tombs of the pharaohs. So much has been researched about the pharaohs and mummies. As for me, I have visited a lot of museums which have artifacts of the mummies. Recently went to one in Singapore where they had some beautifully preserved mummies on display. The attraction is the mystery surrounding the pyramids and its builders and an era that disappeared in the sands of the desert.

Stories of¬†Ramses,¬†Tutankhamun, Nefertiti, have always seemed so interesting that visiting them in person is something I have been wanting to do for a very very long time. Historically….. photographically this is a must go to place for me.

Angkor Wat:

pic courtesy wikipedia

pic courtesy Wikipedia

Angkor Wat is an iconic monument of Cambodia. It is a Hindu temple built by King Suryavarman II, dedicated to Vishnu which has later been converted to a Buddhist temple in the 16th century after it came under the care of Buddhist Monks.¬†Its perfection in composition, balance, proportions, relief’s and sculpture makes it one of the finest monuments in the world.

It is generally accepted that Angkor Wat was a funerary temple for King Suryavarman II and oriented to the west to conform to the symbolism between the setting sun and death. The bas-reliefs, designed for viewing from left to right in the order of Hindu funereal ritual, support this function. This sandstone structure is flanked with sculptures of the Ramayana and Mahabharata embedded in its walls and alleys.

For me the stories of blending of two religions is very interesting. Photographically:  The temple at Angkor Wat is a bit unusual the fact that it was built to face the West (most temples have been built to face the rising sun.) As a result, the iconic image of the Temple with the sun rising behind it from the East is rare almost non-existent. There are just two times a year when this is possible; during the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (around March 20th and September 22 each year.) This is a must on my list.

Pristine beaches of Maldives :

pic courtesy Google images

pic courtesy Google images

Putting the kabbadi wali in me at a back seat….. I want to go to some really pristine beaches with clear blue water and amazing water world……. hence my choice of ¬†Maldives. The pics of these places are so beautiful also the documentaries that I have seen of them are simply mind-blowing. I want to spend hours and days just photographing the seascapes…… the sunrise and sunsets not to mention the colors of the sea at different times of the day and the shoals of multi colored fish.

Another agenda on my list while I am there is to make castles with¬†white sand ūüėÄ

Something about the sea just about relaxes me. Maybe its the waters maybe its just the walking barefoot on the sand. But I am very chilled out at any sea beach. I guess we all are!!!

Valley of Flowers

pic courtesy Hindu

When the earth is happy it produces flowers

If someone told you that you could have the most¬†¬†beautiful flowers in the most serene and peaceful places on earth….. and not require a passport or visa for it…… SIMPLY AWESOME!!!

I love flowers. I am a big time sucker for them. It is natures gift to us….. humans. ¬†I get lost photographing flowers. I can spend hours looking for different ways to make a flower look different and more beautiful. My most favored destination for flowers should have been Amsterdam. But for me it is the valley of flowers, not only because it is a place for beautiful flowers but also has a lot of significance for being one of the most peaceful destinations. It has been favored by many Indian yogis for meditation.

I first heard of the valley of flowers from a friend who had been there with her family almost a decade ago. I was simply in awe after that. Subsequent research about the place has confirmed it to be one of the must go to places for me.

Located in the state of Uttarakhand, nestled in the Himalayan range, the Valley of Flowers has many different colourful flowers, taking on various shades of colours as time passed. It has a vast variety of endangered medicinal herbs as well. Nestled in the upper expanses of Bhyundar Ganga near Joshimath in Gharwal region, the valley is also home to a large number of animals including the Snow Leopard and numerous butterflies.

This place also houses¬†the Hemkund lake, which is of religious significance to the Sikhs, who believe that Guru Gobind Singh meditated on these banks.¬†For the Hindus this is supposedly the nandan kanan…… the garden of Indra and this was the place from where Hanuman had revived the sanjeevani to revive Lakshman.

So these were my top 5 must visit places. I wanted to add the Forbidden city in Beijing, Vietnam, Japan, Italy, (Venice & Rome), Jungfraujoch and Interlaken in Switzerland, Petra in Jordan, Grand Canyon of Colorado, Netherlands¬†(Only for the flowers and windmills), Paris, Norway, Sarnath, Golden temple, Pondicherry, Marble Rocks in Jabalpur, Rann of Kutch, Kashmir, Kerala, etc. These were the shortlisted….. nominated ones¬†I debated on BUT……….. decided to go with the best.

wo kagaz ki kashti wo barish ka paani

Contrary to what u r thinking on reading the title of the post, this post is not going to be regarding childhood. I wanted to clear that right in the beginning of the post lest the reader starts making a visual search for school and tiffin and bunking classes. I have picked the lines from a popular ghazal by my favorite singer Jagjit Singh where he reminisces his childhood stories and going back to being the little child that he was. But I am taking the lyrics very literally……. rains…….. water!!!

Just a week back I was warming my comforter in the warm sun and now I can’t step outside the realms of my home without getting sun burnt dehydrated and tanned and perpetually craving for the AC not to mention the dreams of having a dress with embedded aircon in it. ¬†Well one week into the summer and I am already wishing for the rains.¬†It’s not only me, the little sparrows jumping around my home have been¬†flouncing around me when they see me watering the plants. I kept a bowl of water for them today and they treated me with non-stop chatter all day today. The thought that struck me then was that……. it is so easy to please these little beings (though I would really have appreciated the fact a little more, had they been potty trained). All it required was a bowl of water.

Nature is like that. You give it a little and it gives you back in abundance. I have been making friends with these little birds for some days now. Today they are quite used to having me around them and are no longer scared or threatened of me. So today for me it was a new breakthrough in our relationship. They trusted me a little more and believe me I have been at it for a very long time. I’d like to believe that we are in a great place relationship-wise. ¬†I haven’t even got the camera out, which lately has been the reason for tolerating most insects and birds. Me still having some birds around in itself is a luxury considering I live in a concrete jungle with almost no trees around.

I would love to vouch the “save the environment” slogan at this juncture, but I will stick to the little sparrows that I made happy today with a little gift of life….. water. I agree as you read this, your mind is whirling from global warming to save the earth to grow more trees water shortage plastic pollution carbon monoxide mutated tuberculosis virus…… you name it…… Well, I will leave you with all those thought provoking issues while I wallow in the simple thought of giving my new friends a little thirst quenching happiness….. till the rains come back ¬†and I can sail some paper boats in the water.

(This post has been published in OURMINDSTREAMS)

Aiyyaaaaa

Somethings make a big time change in our lives. They could be real uninteresting paltry things which we would normally ignore yet they can do wonders. In my case a STUPID movie got me back to updating my blog after almost a year.

The movie is Aiyyya and  yes as my tweet said earlier:

¬†“It is the most torturous thing that has happened to any Indian since Jalianwala Baug”

If you think I am exaggerating I suggest you brave going and watching it in the¬†theater.¬†I consider myself really very brave. I can watch three Sunny Deol movies back to back without so much a complain and even make myself enjoy it. Not to mention Deepak Parasher and Jeetedra movies (dancing between pots) which I have seen with a smile…….. BUT AIYAAAAAA…….. I suddenly conformed…….. prayed to all the God’s…….. some I¬†didn’t even¬†know…… and prayed for deliverance from my sins. Just so I¬†don’t¬†have to watch anything like this in any part of the rest of my life. Like the precaution that they kept showing all thru the movie at regular intervals :

¬†“Statutory warning : Smoking is injurious to health”.

Similarly they should also put in a statutory warning saying:

“Watch Aiyyaaa at your own risk”.

Believe me if it¬†hadn’t¬†been so I¬†wouldn’t¬†have been blogging at 1230 in the night to get that disgusted thing out of my head.

The story is of Meenakshi who lives in a cluttered house by a dumpster and her life stinks as that of the dumpster. But she makes her life beautiful by dreaming of beautiful things like movies. It makes everything alright in her life. The only things that she wants in life is a nice smelling room and a book to read and peace. But she is surrounded by eccentric people. Her family members are eccentric. Dad smokes three cigarettes at one time (therefore the ciggy warning), Grandmother has a full set of gold teeth, Brother a crazy dog lover and mom just wants her daughter married hook or crook. Her co workers drink vodka from a¬†water-bottle……¬†at work and dance to rowdy¬†Bollywood¬†numbers and swoon over John Abraham’s undies.

Her life changes with the entry of the sweet smelling Surya Iyer (Prithviraj)…… who she is enamored by. All this happens in the first 10 mins of the movie and the rest of the movie (ie 2 and half hours of freaking time) all she does is SNIFFS (yeah….. like a DOG) her way around the hero, who has no dialogues in the movie. The guy does not even¬†lip-sync¬†in the songs. You wait and wait and wait for him to say something but NAHHHHHHHH…… does he utter a word……….. No!!!!……… and he¬†isn’t¬†even challenged.

The subtle nuances of the main protagonist of living in chaos and a dumpster and settling for the sweet smelling but not stable hero over the organised and stable could-have-been life partner, are totally lost and not highlighted. I understand that in retrospective if they had handled the story literally it would have been a sad old Sulochana saga but what they actually made it to was ever more sadder………. very very very very very SAD!!!!!!!

After this movie Meenakshi can very easily get the job of a sniffer dog in the police dept. I hear the dogs there are over worked and are planning on retiring. Why would she do a movie like that???? I am still stunned by the audacity of the director to even release a movie like that. The hero, a well known name in South Indian movies, does nothing except walk through streets of Pune and dance to raunchy Hindi-Tamil numbers in Meenakshi’s dream sequences……. displaying his washboard abs and NOT LIP-SYNCING. What is that about???? As far as chemistry goes…….. all I can say is……… has this been part of Ekta Kapoor’s saas-bahu serials, Rani Mukherjee would definitely be playing the role of grandmother to Prithviraj. ( The Hero). Aiyaaaaaa is probably Rani Mukherjee’s Aiyyyooo to the world.

The movie is a fabulous example of execution of a decent plot……… going¬†berserk. Maybe the plot itself was bad and I am trying to save face for the Rs 500 that I spent. All through the movie I kept looking for something nice but I FOUND NAUGHT. Even the popcorn tasted bad. Now I have to watch another movie to get over this one. Hoping this one will be better!!!! “Keeping my fingers crossed”

 

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