A walk uphill

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Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.
Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

Albert Camus

This is a candid picture that I took in Panchgani. A group of friends were exploring the tableland. It was a brilliant composed opportunity….. too good to miss. The camaraderie among them was obvious and the interaction between them gave me a brilliant candid shot.

Childhood….. Titir

Durga Puja 2014

 

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Durga Puja is the biggest festival for Bengalis all over the world. Wherever there are Bengalis there is bound to be at least one puja. I grew up 1000s of km away from bengal. I have never seen the Durga Puja in Kolkata. For me this is very grand. When I was young we had three pujas in my city. Now there are almost 20 of them, with the home puja celebrating its 75th year. It is the time that Bengalis believe that Ma Durga visits her mothers house with her children and pets for 5 days. Strangely for us bengalis these days Durga puja is not much about the rituals of the puja but more of the fun around it. Could be our Communist heritage :D .

Puja always meant a lot. It was a shift away from the mundane life to an exciting interesting and different life that we led for 5 days. Puja meant new clothes, new shoes, lots of junk food (which I was never allowed) and watching functions…. plays, ballets, orchestras, musical shows, dance dramas and Bengali movies till the wee hours of the morning, only to go back for a few hours of shut-eye and be back for the pushpanjali. Functions had orchestras and artistes from Kolkata introducing the likes of me to new genres of music. I fell in love with folk music because of its rustic nature and I loved the no pretense song of the heart.

Durga Puja was a time when I was reminded of my Bengali roots and learned everything Bengali in those 5 short days. Bengali food, Bengali sarees, Bengali love for politics and football, Bengali debates on everything, Bengali adda etc…. Rest of the year I spoke Bengali only at home with my parents and sisters. It was mostly English Hindi and Marathi. On these 5 days since we interacted with so many more Bengalis and spoke the language on a 24 hour basis…… the language improved considerably. The puja is almost like a fashion show with the men and women strutting around in their best clothes jewellery and makeup. Saris of Katha, tangail, silk, organza, embroidery, baluchari, south silks, muga, etc etc all can be seen on these days. Men wear kurtas and dhoti or churidar of cotton silk embroidered batik. There is no limit to what you wear on these days. You can easily get away looking like a rainbow or a peacock or a jewellery store or something out of the 17th century. Nobody will raise an eyebrow….. These 5 days everything is allowed….. no rules.

On the home front nobody cooks these 5 days. The kitchen is closed. Lunch is usually bhog of khichdi labda tomato chutney and payesh at the pandal. Ashtami is special. It usually has a different menu of fried rice and aloo gobi and beguni. All of this in the Puja Pandal. Dinner is usually a wide array of junk food of biryanis, chicken cutlets, or mochar chop, devilled eggs, or radhabalabi and chole. Not to mention the famous bengali sweets…..  rosogolla, chamcham, sandesh, ladyginni, chitrakoot, langcha etc etc. The food list is endless. In between all this you keep sipping tea and soft drinks icecreams and some or the other fried stuff and sweets. Basically these 5 days all rules of all kinds are broken.

Durga Puja is fun frolic something I wait for all year. The 5 days pass so quickly…… and I am always heartbroken to see Ma Durga go back only with a promise of returning back the next year.

Durga Puja is always so colorful and bright. I tried to monochrome three of the pics and still keep the essence of the whole festival in black and white.

Stairs……. Neemrana Tower House, Fort Kochi

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I took this pic at the Neemrana Towers, Fort Kochi. This is a heritage NON-hotel. A beautiful place to stay when you are at Fort Kochi. It is built around a 17th century light house. Not many hotels in Kochi would offer a chance to discover the old world charm where, sailors, travellers, traders, planters feasted and danced under chandeliers, suspended from high wooden ceilings. It is like stepping into another old world with antique furniture and antique settings but with the best air conditioning and plumbing :D

It is a mix of the old and the new. These are the wooden stairs that lead to the reception. The cost makes it at par with budget hotels so it is affordable to one and all. More Pics Coming up

Grace, Beauty, Spirit and Freedom

Chinese Fishing nets, Cochin…… a closer view

View from up above.

Dew Drops on a blade of grass

Dew drops on blade of grass

Jetty at Cochin

Cochin Beach 2

Cochin beach

Elegant beauty……. Dance poses

Chinese fishing nets 2

Chinese Fishing nets

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I took this pic on my recent visit to Cochin. The Chinese Fishing nets are found in the beaches at Fort Kochi and date back to the 15th century. Fort Kochi is a small little sea side town near fort Cochin. The nets are suspended into the sea upto 15 feet deep and are used to catch fish in the deep sea. The nets are counter weighed by huge boulders weighing more than 1000s of kilograms. They are still manually operated. Normally one net requires 6 fishermen to pull through. The people who work on these nets don’t own them. The net owners operate on a 70 to 30% profit ratio with the fishermen. A net like this costs about 10 lac rupees. They let me pull the nets for some catch but all that came up was some crab and some little fish.

It is a busy occupation for rest of the year but in the Monsoon most of the fish move to the deep sea to breed so the fishermen survive mainly through tourism. The fishermen sell some of the catch at the beach itself. I noticed mostly little prawns and some very little fish and some crabs. Tourists buy the fish from these fishermen and take it to the local hotels where they clean and cook it for you.

The sunsets and sunrise create a beautiful saffron hue around the nets. I went in the monsoon so was not so lucky to get the hues. It was more grey and dark. But visiting the nets was an experience by itself.

Bylanes of Kolkata

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I took this picture in one of the bylanes of Ballygunge in Kolkata. It was a bright and sunny day and these deserted narrow lanes between the houses looked spooky and ethereal.  The shadows cast by the trees on either side added depth to this pic. I took this pic with my cell. These little narrow lanes seem to go nowhere but in reality they are the major connecting roads and very common here. In Fact, they define the city. Walking is the only way to go unless you have a cycle or a hand pulled rickshaw which is very common here. The cycle rickshaws can’t pass through these lanes.  Also it is very easy to get lost here. I was lucky to have a good guide to guide me through these roads…… else considering the inverted compass in my brain this would have been the perfect maze to get lost in. 

Flower # 72….. Black Rose….. Blooms from my garden

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I have had this fascination for black roses since a long time now. My dream to photograph fully bloomed dark black roses with lovely whorls of glossy black petals has led me to a lot of florists and nurseries often getting vague stares from its owners, finally the elusive black rose got me knee deep in the realms of earth. I decided to grow my own. I have since then convinced myself that black roses are a myth and the closest i can get to it is by photoshopping really dark red ones. I got cuttings of what I thought was really dark red roses and read all about it on the net. The first few cuttings gave me red roses but the color was softer. But after a change in the fertiliser (and perhaps the sunlight), the first batch of roses that have come out are brilliantly dark red….. almost black. These are the first rushes of the buds on stem photoshopped into monochrome. I am hoping that they don’t lose color after they have bloomed fully. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I might not have got the black rose but I am happy with this one. Plus the dark red color is simply awesome. I cant stop looking at it.

Butterflies

Flower # 71…… Blooms from my garden

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The Blossom Never Knows
Dilip Kumar Roy

The blossom never knows the fragrance sweet
That in its blossom’s mystery lies,
The deeps that mirror forth the Infinite
Question its secrets with their sighs.

For whom throng still the murmuring bees,
Restless amid the perfumed trees?
Whose memory thrills the impassioned breeze
And paints the magic skies?

Whose one lamps through the way-lost night
Glimmer in moon and starry light?
Whose glory in the dawn breaks bright?
For whom yearns all and cries?

For whose greatness down the ages long
Are the wide heavens a sapphire song?
For whom runs the stream with bablling tongue,
Repeats whose harmonies?

Whose breath perfumes trees, flower and grass,
Inspires the atoms’s dance in space?
Whose trailing robes in twilight pass,
A shadow in longing eyes?

Oh, if thou never wilt appear,
Why are thy masks of Beauty here?
Why sound thy anklets everywhere,
The spell that never dies?

My heart forgets that in my heart
Thy throne for ever lies.

Breaking Free…….. A Galloping horse

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A new life, for myself, I need to weave.
I need some oxygen, so as I can breathe.
From these chains, I need to break free;
I need the chance just to be totally me.

I need to escape now, from this prison cell;
Escape from this existence, I know so well.
Afraid of the world, in my corner, I cower;
I’m just like a bud, that’s waiting to flower.

I can’t go on like this forever and ever;
The storms in life, I will need to weather.
By your actions, my life has been affected;
I’m just like a child: my life is protected.

Sometimes it feels like I am suffocating.
For the perfect moment, I am still waiting.
You know that one day, I will go away;
Here, forever more, I just cannot stay.

Into my life, I need to let some light.
From this place, I need to take flight.
I need to try and overcome all my fears.
I need to have my own hopes and ideas.

I now need to have my very own space;
I need to live my life at my own pace.
One day, I will be a flower in full bloom,
And that ‘one day’ may come very soon.

Angela Wybrow

(Poetry Courtesy Poem Hunter.com)

Drive to Pali, Maharashtra.

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The woods are lovely dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before i sleep.
~~Robert Frost~~

This one is from the archives. I took this pic a long time ago in rural Maharashtra, in one of the roads leading to Pali. We were going to one of the Ashtavinayaks. The drive there was simply amazing. There was no traffic that day and it was fun to drive on the empty roads with Kishore crooning to timeless melodies.

Elegance in Dance.


Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers

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““Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
― Rumi

This was a bharatnatyam recital by a group of dancers performing for the Durga Pooja festival in my city. I monochromed it to capture the beauty of the dancer else the hero of the pic would be the jewellery and her clothes.

East Coast Park, Singapore

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“I skate because I can, you watch because you can’t”

This was taken at East Coast Park, Singapore. Roller skaters and cyclists are a familiar sight there…… Also water rafters (will post that another day). Its a nice place where families can go camping on the beach and have a barbeque and do fun things like kite flying making sand castles or hire cycles or go roller skating and water rafting. You can set up your camps and sleep under the stars on the beach at night. Personally I found it a relaxing place.

 

Walking trails at Fort Siloso

Goa Beach

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“I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
And walking up the long beach all alone
I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
As you and I once heard their monotone.

Around me were the echoing dunes, beyond me
The cold and sparkling silver of the sea –
We two will pass through death and ages lengthen
Before you hear that sound again with me.”
― Sara Teasdale

W is for water

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