Monday, December 22, 2008

Vacations are back !!...

Im having a rather long and deserved vacation in Kerala. The kind of peace that the land brings is amazing. Even from the moment you can differentiate the coconut palms from high up in the air before landing, even inside the enclosed cabin, you can smell the fresh air. Even over the landing announcements you can hear the birds sing. Even as you pop the remaining packet of After Mint or the Jet's typical tamarind toffee into your mouth, you can taste the culinary delights of this small strip of land south - south west of India. My days are packed with weddings and receptions and meeting people et al. This is the first time Im taking Sandy to Kerala after our wedding. So she is damn thrilled.
For me it's homecoming. Again. But everytime, even over the familiarity brought by number of trips, each is unique in what the abode of Gods can throw. Im planning to squeeze in Thattekad / Salim Ali bird sanctuary. If it happens, expect some good pics (Hopefully ;)

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year !!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Updates on photoblog

Check it here

I've decided to reduce photos in this main blog keeping in mind friends who browse on dial up..

Currently, planning for the year end vacations going on. Mostly thinking of Kerala itself. Haven't been home after wedding and it seems there is a line of Uncles and Aunts to be visited, sweets eaten !! Im looking forward to the festival at a temple close to where I was born. Should be able to shoot some folk art / elephants etc. Let's see !! Planning to do Gir at Junagadh after that for the Asiatic Lions. All depends on my wife's leave apps though !!:)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Andy's blogs !!

Dont know if you guys follow Andy's blog about cricket. Or if you follow The "Bugle" Andy at all. He has started blogging at Cricinfo. Super hilarious. Dangerously good humour. If you read at office & your boss catches you laughing your guts out in these difficult times, you might be sent to shrink. So beware !

Worth checking it out with this one here
Definitely Zaltsmanisque !!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Diwali Trekking Bhimashankar

Have been under some stress due to the way markets are turning out. The best panacea for all stress is nature. One of the key distressing tablet for me is trekking & shooting in forests. This time Sandy & I decided to trek the Bhimashankar forests. The key trails we did were the Gupt Bhimashankar, Machaan and Forest rest house trails, as suggested by the noted naturalist Adesh who knows these places like the back of his hand.
My idea was primarily to shoot the highly endangered Indian Giant Squirell for which the WLS is created. Sandy's idea was to trek the tropical evergreens & the adjoining mountains. Both were quite complementary. She helped spot some rare species that I could then shoot.
The trails are all small and we did only around 15-16 km over 3 days. Not for the serious trekkers. More for people like me who are what I call " forever aspiring trekkers". (Well old age is getting to me you see...I used to do 30km in 2 days, but of course without the photo equipment weight on your its like a distant memory !!)
Bhima WLS it is a little known jewel in Maharashtra created for protecting Maha's state animal - The Shekru or Indian Giant Squirrel.

We stayed at the blue mormon resort - quite a decent place over a plateau overlooking some splendid valleys giving one terrific sunrise and sunset shots. We used to trek starting 6. Come back for lunch. Rest a bit and start afternoon treks. Come back. Have sumptuous maharashtrian snacks like Kanda Poha, play cards for 2-3 hours. Hit sack by around 10 for an early morning rise. It just rejuvenated the whole body and mind.
Photographically, shooting shekru is difficult. It is forever at high foliage. Lighting and BG are additional challenges. But could shoot a bunch of birds ranging from bushchats, orange headed thrush, bonelli's eagle, swallows, bee eaters, pipits, larks etc.
Its a good 3 days plan for people in Mumbai. For Pune folks even 2 days is good enough to cover up the place. I will go back mostly in Jan / Feb once the winter migratories too come down from up north.

Belated Diwali greetings to all. Hope you guys had a safe diwali.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Strangeness !!

Its snowing here in September..At the peak of summer...It is strange. But then this week has been the epitome of change. The ice man I mocks at me and says "Change. It is the only constant".

Im coming back after a sumptuous (??) lunch of duck, leaves, potatoes and red wine. Im emotional. So much has changed in the last week that I still think Im in a daze. Many of my friends have lost jobs. Two companies which had offered me plum jobs are no longer extant. (The only reason I did not take jobs with them was that I got into McKinsey). I've lost most of my savings invested in Indian equity markets atleast on paper. I can't of course file for bankruptcy even though Im pretty much broke.

The CDSs and CMOs designed, sold, bought and hidden by many of my friends have come home to roost after grander days. Some people I speak to here (who are from US) have houses where their equity is completely wiped off.
There is a sense that someone cheated everyone. That someone always predicted upward sloping curves for housing prices. That has now come crashing down. And in its wake it has swept to ashes the dreams and aspirations of many young men and women. We can all debate till cows come home on whether the Fed should have done an LTCM and saved Lehman. Or if by allowing Bankam to pick Merrill it has helped create yet another "too large to fail" monster. In all the technical debates, one must not forget the thousands of people involved, their families and homes.

As we all pick up whatever is left of our lives, some lines in some half read Indian spiritual book gives me the courage to face these uncertain times

"We came into this world with nothing. We shall leave this world with nothing. So why sweat?".

As I flick another waft of unseasonal snow from my Indian winter jacket and shiver, I say, Quite True.

This link from a friend of mine quite correctly sums up what has happened over the past year or so. Enjoy clicking here. Quite sarcastic. But unfortunately true.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Im in the quaint sleepy European town of Kitzbuhel in Austria. It is only around 1.5 hours drive from Munich (That is if the highways are not teeming with the cars of weekenders going up north / down to Italy).
It is everything that picture postcard EU is & then some more. One of the most famous skiing resorts during Jan - Feb - Mar it even hosts the world championships. I'm living in Grand Hotel which has an old Euro charm to it. It is an amazing property where one wakes up to clouds coming down the mountains outside your window. Compare this to what many Mumbaikars wake upto, and you start thinking really about what lifestyle is. And what money can & cannot buy. But ofcourse, come winter and there is seldom a sunny day. So take your pick :)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Starting a photoblog

I've decided to start a photoblog separate from this. Just pics and no words is the aspiration.Predominantly on nature and landscapes. Even there the focus would be on wildlife (Birds and animals). This hopefully shall showcase some of my better works and hopefully inspire a bunch of folks to do something towards nature conservation or even create awareness towards the same.

Here is the link

Let me know what you folks think. I know, Im a complete novice on webpage building. So excuse the odd looking layout and dimensions :)

Monday, August 25, 2008


Had been to Bangalore to catch up with my sister for couple of days and see the home Im planning to buy there. I think Ill write about IDBI and their pathetic customer service soon. For now anyways, the much better processes and people of HDFC has meant Im going to have the loans sanctioned in time :)

If you like shooting flowers, I think Bangalore is one of the best places in India. Probably it is the weather and the umpteen number of gardens that make this an ideal location. Here area a couple. Nothing great. Just tried two different compos of two simple flowers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Terror comes home

I almost went into depression reading the article on the terror suspects recently arrested / implicated.
Reasonably well educated, Indian born Muslim youths in 20s - proficient computer engineers, doctors, teachers, electronics specialists. Add to this the charade happening in Kashmir through the I Day celebrations and its now clear that religion has become bigger than country for millions.
The funny thing is,as I read the article, the places mentioned there made me nostalgic.
Vadodara - a city I worked
Ernakulam - city I was born
Pavagadh - ranges I've trekked & camped through beautiful full moon nights
Ahmedabad - City I went for a post graduation in management.
It is then that it stuck me with a finality that sent a chill down the spine.
Terror has come home to roost. And unlike the cows and the crows, they are not going to be shooed away by the first rays of a new morning. They are here to stay. And no, they are no longer visitors from our northwestern neighbor, they are our own brothers, comrades and countrymen. And they are out to kill us.

There have been times over the last week where I wondered if the price to pay for secularism is so huge, would we have been better being a mono religion country. Answer was clear. An emphatic NO. But there are no solutions for the current mess.

Its not a problem that one can state, understand constraints, boundary conditions and find a logical solution to. My personal belief is there is only one way to fight this and that is through Madrassas and spiritual teachers. Madrassas, Ive personally seen, touches children at a young age and touches them deep. What gets indoctrinated at that impressionable age remains firm for long. If it is love, we have a bright future. If it is not, we have a dangerous one. Same holds in case of Hindu terrorists. It might not be madrassas, it might be some other agency. But touching them young and making them proud of our multi cultural fabric is the one and probably only way.

Al Kafiroon
Chapter 109, 6th verse
YUSUFALI: To you be your Way, and to me mine.
PICKTHAL: Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.
SHAKIR: You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Love Letters

We saw Rahul Da Cunha's love letters over the weekend from St Andrews .
We watched it coz

1. It was from the team who gave Class of 84 (If you love theatre, you must watch it)
2. It had Rajat Kapur (One of the rare Kapur specimen I like right from Byomkesh days)& Shernaz Patel (Only white lining of Black)
3. We did not have anything better to last Sunday evening (The other scary option was
to watch Sing is King. Oh by the way Ram gopal verma, it seems have said that the most scary thing for him is Karan Johar's movies. What irony coming from the maker of such remarkable masterpieces like Ram Gopal ki Aag).

Love letter also brought to focus the fading purpose of "Handwritten letters" in our
lives. It must be over a decade since I last wrote a snailmail. I think it had its own sweetness. I miss writing letters sometimes. The blue Inland letter had a charm of its own. Getting it in hostels made one nostalgic, brought back deja vu through the khaki of the postman. (Especially all those love letters to school sweethearts;)

It also made me realise that some of the best actors in Indian filmdom have their roots in Theatre/Drama. Whether it is Nasrudeen Shah, Rajat, Irfan, Boman etc.
Im off to Bangalore for the I Day weekend. Hope I can shoot some nice snaps around in the city / if I could drive to outskirts.

Hope all you folks out there have a great I Day and hope Paes / Bhupathi can add to Bindra's tally.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Easy predictions !

Couple of years back when I used to blog at Rediff I had talked about how oil prices are going to shoot up (At that time I thought it would be around 80 $) and how India is going to have an issue of inflation at hand. And that the RBI would have to shift focus from a pure growth driven agenda to something more akin to inflation targeting. Though I had blogged about it, I never really thought things would turn up so rapidly within couple of years. Read here what one of my most illustrious alumni and one time chief economist of IMF & his committee advises.
Again, end of last year I had talked here about how the large I Banks are sitting on instruments whose risk is increasingly becoming difficult to predict, hedge or price. Within a year now, read here about both Citi and MS reporting some of the biggest quarterly losses in their history. (For MS the first of its kind!!)
This is not to say Im an economics Nostradamus. Just that somethings do come true (Id have predicted 100 things out of which 2 would have come true, so let me focus on those 2!! - the typical black swan problem / astrologers luck)
Maybe I should start predicting happy endings !! Like I would end up being a Lok Sabha MP in 10 years. (The highest paying job probably in India). I was just thinking after yesterday's tamasha, as to how much I would take to cross vote !!..Def 25 crore is huge money. I might take 3 crore for abstaining. How many of us are ethical enough /unselfish enough to say we would not take that kinda money ?....Is my character strong enough to say no to 3 crore rupees for not doing anything ?..If it is not, what has failed ?...Education ?..Value systems ?..Upbringing ?!!...Tough questions !

Thursday, July 10, 2008


A heady admixture of Budhism and Hinduism, Angkor is as exotic as exotic could get. When words fail, I let images that I create talk. But I don't think even they can do justice to the essence of Angkor or Siem Reap where it is situated.

It is religious. It has history. It has the shadow of Khmer Rouge bombings. It has land mine blasted limbs. It has ten dollar full body massages. It has budhist monks advocating the middle path. It has buxom Cambodian babe stroking the penis of a western tourist at a roadside hotel lobby. It has the temples. It has the roots of Ta Phrom. Eternity of Angkor Wat. Smile of Budha at Bayon. Innocence dancing in the eyes of the kids selling Dollaaar One bangles. It has culture.
And it has an extremely friendly people. People who have saved their beautiful outlook towards life even after all that Khmer Rouge did, even after all that blood spillage, all those limbs lost to mines, all those kids with machine guns shooting childhood dead, people running around holding their intestines from falling apart, eyes gouged, smiles vacuumed.

Still like the Budha Smile of Bayon, Cambodia lives on.

(All shots taken with 40 D and Tamaron 28-75 on Manfrotto).

Friday, July 04, 2008

Project Angkor

Im at Cambodian city of Siem Reip. I have been wanting to shoot Angkor during monsoon months for ages since I set my eyes on Steve's Cambodian shots. The brilliance of Steve is one of the major reasons for my first trip to Cambodia on my Birthday weekend.
The art and architecture and mood of the place is amazing. Unfortunately I don't know if Ive done justice to this masterpiece in my work.
Will share in the days to come as I process the photos.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Of post marriage life !!!

The first question people ask me these days is "Dood, so hows this married thingie going on man?". After reading this blog by Apurv
I thought its time to write a blog on the oft debated Q. Especially since Ive like a 2 hour gap between meetings and Im sitting looking at the Bandra Worli sea link getting drenched in monsoon fury from my client's 8th floor office overlooking the sea.
For starters, nothing dramatic has changed post marriage. We still love, go for movies, pull each others legs, go to Irish pub to catch IPL / Euro on weekends, go for photo shoots to nature parks/mountains,get drunk and fight just as before.
The major things that have changed indeed are that we stay together during weekdays. She cooks (I try to help till she banishes me from kitchen for all the nuisances I create and call me back for doing dishes sometimes). I buy vegetables some time from the market downstairs (Well that IS a major change - for the life of me I would not have believed that you can buy ANYTHING in this era for 1 Re. I don't know in the post 11+% inflation, +50 BP raise in CRR & repo era, but at least till last Thursday I could get a handful of those leaves that you put invariably in all Indian curries as well as ginger for ONE rupee!!). Yes guys you really can buy stuff for 1 Re from vegetable markets ! That was singularly the most profound insight in my post marriage life.
We bought a house (I'd have done it anyways but still I would have pontificated between a house and an SUV for months on - thankfully I went the home way instead of SUV way - a very green decision I must say since I not only am NOT buying a fuel guzzling SUV I bought a house close to a lake in the verdant Bangalore. Verdant adjective strictly in comparison to Mumbai !!)
I've become more muted in my appreciation for other females ! Especially if it is a physical comment ;).
I've reduced all-bachelor binge parties.
I've given up grass (Sigh, especially when I listen to high hopes or great gig in the sky with only Smirnoff and orange juice for company).
Fixed cost of existence decreases since rent is allocated over two heads (MBA Speak!!). Savings can be obtained even in variable costs if you buy from volume discount stores ;)...Ok Ill STOP !
Net net, if you are a bachelor my advise would be marriage might not be as scary a preposition (Why "E" instead of "O" , cause proposition is a logical statement that has a binary end product to it - good or bad, black or white, sweet or sour - which I do not think marriage can be bracketed into. It is more like a preposition which modifies the core word without really completely changing the core!!)- as we might have hypothesized.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bandavgarh - Fort of the Tiger, Canvas of the gods

The start

We were staying at Royal Tiger resort quite close to Tala gate and their Innova had come to pick us up at Katni railway station. Even within the cool confines of the car one could feel the burning heat outside and for a moment we were foolish enough to doubt this venture of ours in the month of May. If there were vestiges of doubt, it was quickly removed in our first safari. We drove directly to Rajbehra on entering the Tala gate after checking in. And sure enough the mother and 3 cubs which have become quite a common sighting this season were awaiting us. After close to an hour their mother came from behind the rocks and headed straight for a herd of chitals and Sambar grazing across the meadow. It was a once in a life time experience seeing the tigress stalking its prey. It was cut short by a dust storm that swept the meadow and we had to retreat back.

Meeting with royalty

One day we were returning from our evening safari and there were whispers in the air about someone seeing B2 in a water hole far from the road. B2 is the dominant tiger of Bandavgarh. Currently, B2 is being challenged by Bokha, the younger and much more fitter boy. When we reached the Chakradhara area where B2 was last sighted, we decided to wait on a hunch. We could see him in the screech of a peacock from far away bamboo thickets. We could see him in the alertness of a Sambar. We could see him in the calls of the frightened-to-death langurs and chital. And then the king came. It was kind of anti climax. He just came in front of us in open like a beacon serpenting through the brown grass. For a moment, I didnt know what to do. Thankfully, my hands went into autopilot increasing the ISO to counter the fading light, putting the bean bag on a lower beam to get eye level shot. Eyes fastened onto the view finder and 40 D firing at around 6 per second I could shoot 10-12 decent shots of the king. He did not once look at the gypsies. And this devil may care attitude towards everything else around him is what has helped him rule Bandavgarh for these many years. Sure enough, Bokha will lead him to his death. That is the rule of nature. The last fight had left him bruised and limping. But the old man had given Bokha enough injuries to keep the younger male rethink before the next attack. It was over in half a minute. But those 30 huge seconds are something which "I shall take to my grave" as Metallica would have put it!

We did see the king once more in during the week at a firebreaker at Chakradhara area itself. Better sighting, better light, more than a minute but the first one would remain in my memory more.

Sidhbaba Tigress

Tigresses in B'garh are named after their territories. This female is seen around the Sidhbaba temple area and hence the name. That day however, with Chakradhara female, one of the many queens of B2 not around, we caught up with her at Chakradhara meadow itself. Thankfully, we had gotten the E route allocated that morning safari and lo and behold she was waiting. She is arguably one of the most beautiful things Ive laid my eyes upon. Hope her imminent litter with B2 would turn out to be as magnificent as their mom. Tourists going after park reopening in October would hopefully have a feast. Pray things go fine and there is no more litter missing cases.

Andhiyari Jhiriya Male Cubs

During one of the safaris in the latter half of our stay, we decided to stalk these male cubs about a year old. They are the cubs of B2 and tipped to one day rule Bandavgarh. They have clearly inherited the magnificence and stealth of their dad. They also look almost as handsome as the king already. Thanks to our guide and driver Mohan who reads pugmarks like we read newspapers, we spotted them lying in the shade. We enjoyed the serenity of the jungle all around with no other gypsy coming close. For around 15 minutes it was just us and them - the two charming boys. In time 3-4 other gypsies also came down. And then the drama started. A village dog had entered the park and and was barking. True to their inheritence the cubs were up on their feet in a jiffy and off they went hunting. Within minutes the barking died off. The driver and guide said they did remind them rightfully of a young B2.

Rajbehra Family

Most of this month, tourists have been given darsan by the Rajbehra female and her three cubs. Unfortunately, one of the cubs have developed some swelling / growth in it's tummy and was not seen in the latter days. But the other two cubs (of Bokha) and their mom gave us a spectacle that was unforgettable. It was a Sunday afternoon and the park was filled with the daily tourists too. We were not really expecting any sighting and was just enjoying the forest. Sometimes it is a great thing just to enjoy the jungle, keep away the cameras and stop worrying about tiger sighting(Well not sometimes, guess most of the times..but as they say old habits die hard!!). And then they came. World was silent. Somewhere a king vulture perched down. The bee eater took another insect in flight. Few kids were eating biscuits in their waiting gypsies. And then it started. Langurs shrieked. Sambars ran. Chitals called. Wild boars scurried away in a tearing hurry. From afar they came. The mom and the two cubs. They just decided to lie down in front of the waiting gypsies and play. The cubs jumping around the mom. Photography was difficult as the cubs were covered in the grass with the mom lying down. But it was one wonderful drama which makes all the hardships worth it. 15 minutes, 2 GB and a shaking hand and trembling breath latter, I beamed a smile to my wifey & photographers in other gypsies. We just looked around and nodded our heads. No one spoke. Everyone just stood still. We felt like a brotherhood bonded by the spectacle that we had shared. We went to Mukesh bhai's shop at Tala (Mukesh is a wonderful driver cum tiger lover cum conservationist cum Bandavgarh historian all rolled into one). Over tea I shared the pics with him and Mohanji. Latter Mohan and me went to the resort, put three chairs outside and we discussed the events of the day over few king fisher strong beers. Mohan have been driving at the B'garh parks for the past 12 years. He has seen Charger & challenger. Then the Bs - B1,2 and 3. He has dejectedly seen the guard change. It is tough on some of the more dedicated drivers like Mohan who so love these individuals. Day in and day out , morning and evening, their life is filled with tracking these brilliant creatures. And then some of them disappear. Some die. Some get killed and it is as if you suddenly lose a member of your family or a dear friend.

After Thoughts

The numbers of these beasts are decreasing at a fast pace due to poaching primarily for China and Tibet. Though there has been a bit of awareness of late, it might be too less too late. Tiger conservation is a national priority. But in the post Indira Gandhi era, none of the governments have done enough to protect our national animal. It is as important a symbol as the national flag and national anthem - even more since it is a living breathing beacon of hope for the country. Read what I had written some months back on economic and political importance of conservation here.
Let us all pray for and help create awareness on the criticality of this mission lest these magnificent beasts walk into the sunset of their era. And then there shall only be darkness. For generations to come.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The paradise called Andamans

Andamans have been in our plans for sometime. So me and Sandhya set out for the trip immediately after the wedding. Cyclone Nargis which wrecked havoc in Burma had left a little sister in the Andaman seas leading to all ships to the further islands being called off for a week. As we landed at Port Blair airport the guide who picked us up sounded sceptical regarding our trip to Havelock island which was our base for the 5 day trip. He said no ferry had sailed from PB Jetty over the past 3-4 days. However, by grace of god, it restarted the day we landed in Andamans.

The ferry from PB to Havelock is probably the most boring and tiring experience one can have in the trip. Before the ferry starts at 2 p.m we could take some time to walk around and see the cellular jail infamous for the incarceration of multitudes of Indian freedom fighters during the independence struggle. The clouds, colors and angles in the structure gave many wonderful photo ops.

Once disembarked on Havelock, it was smooth sailing . We were staying at the famous barefoot resorts built amongst rainforests where all one would hear is the distant thunder of waves in the lonely beaches and the sounds of many birds chief being the parakeets. (I think two species that I could spot were red breasted and long tailed). Alexandrine and vernal hanging are also around but I could not shoot either).

The first day itself we could spot a few endemics primary being the andaman woodpecker and black naped oriole.

There are many things to do at the islands. Most tourists are foreigners atleast at Havelock and prefer being on the beaches, diving and snorkelling. The forests are pretty much left untouched by tourists which is a thankful thing. I could see plastic bottles and garbage at some of the beaches but the forests were more sanguine. The littoral rainforests here were not as dense as what we get in some inland rainforests but the trees are as huge. And the trekking experience is quite eerie. You realise how small humans are in comparison to nature and how critical it is to protect whatever remains of these wildlife labs.
On the second day we had a glimpse of the large monitor lizard thanks to the alarm calls of a bunch of hill mynas. Could see it only for 3-4 seconds but was quick enough to get a half decent shot.

The third day was primarily dedicated for trekking around the Neils cove where the notes of other birders had noted presence of black headed kingfisher. However we could not spot them. We did see the collared KF instead which were too far off for any decent pics but were still interesting to watch.

Fourth day trek was through cultivated lands and fields. At the forest edge on a tree we saw the highly endangered Andaman serpent eagle apart from andaman coucal,white headed starling and shrikes.

The last day was a typical rainforest day. The morning was bright and sunny. During lunch it became as dark as say 7 p.m Then came the thunderstorm. I've seldom witnessed such heavy rains for around 2-3 hours. Rains inside the rainforests are an ultimate feeling. Craking frogs, crickets and myriad other creatures presented a swansong for what was arguably one of my best trips ever. I'm counting days when I can be back in the Islands.

The return sail to PB and flights to Chennai and then to Mumbai led us back to concrete forests. We are off to the Bandavgarh pilgrimage in 4 days and hence back to the real forests !! :)

Birdlist (Key ones)

Andaman Woodpecker (Endemic)
Andaman /Brown Coucal (Endemic)
Asian paradise blue
Emerald dove
Green pigeon
Black naped oriole (Endemic)
Hill Myna (Endemic race ? - Not sure)
White headed starling (Endemic ?)
Andaman Serpent Eagle (Endemic and highly endangered, probably only a few left)
Olive backed sunbird
Collared and white breasted King fishers
Common flowerpecker
Brown shrike (?)
Black naped monarch
Fulvous breasted woodpecker
Glossy swiftlets
Red breasted parakeet
Alexandrine parakeet
Long tailed parakeet
Some brown flycatcher
RV and RW Bulbuls
Jungle crow

Edited to add : The best place to stay at Havelock is Barefoot.. Highly recommended jungle resort...Quite close to what was rated as the best beach in Asia by Time (3 minute walk). A bit on the expensive side for Indians atleast :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

News news !!

Many great news from my side :)

As many of you would already know Im going to get married on 28th. It has been quite a busy couple of weeks at work and hence its yet to sink in. Any which way for us both its not as BIGGG yet as for our families ;)...We are more thrilled about the traveling that we get to do after the wedding. Last year around this time I guess we had gone to Alibaug to shoot sunsets, boats and the sea gulls. This time planning to go to Havelock off Port Blair for a week and then latter to the paradise Bandavgarh. People just dont understand why we want to do "honeymoon" at
1. One of the oldest littoral rainforests in India off Andaman coast
2. Amongst dense central Indian sal jungles rated as THE Tiger capital of the world

But for us both it was quite a natural thing. Both of us love nature more than things like city life, great food, amusement parks or other such routine things, both of us love India and have traveled outside enough for it not to be a big novelty. Also where else to go for honeymoon but to Bandavgarh ;)..(Ok ok - that is a bit of exaggeration but still ....)
Our initial plan was to do Kenya or re do Tanzania. But the internal troubles meant that our tour operator advised against it. So we have postponed Kenya for next year.
Hopefully we get some endemics at Andaman and then tigers+other species at B'garh. Only issue is it wont be quite pleasant at 40 degs + on the 4 wheel drives :D.

Im actually looking forward to the whole wedding rituals too...Sad that I can't click my own wedding ;). Taking off from work tomorrow onwards for 25 days. Will keep you gals/guys posted and hopefully can upload a few stirring snaps too from the travels.

NB : 40 D is back in my hand after quite a re haul according to Canon service center. Hope it sticks fine during the travels. Else my only back up is an Fz50 from Panasonic.
Adios for now...Will be back soon as a married man..hehehe

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Glorious Spring

I was in Kerala for 2 days since it was Vishu (New year for Keralites). It is always nice to go to Kerala during spring. (Though this time it was amazingly hot and humid - much worse than Chennai - the place I work out of around 4 days a week).
But the morning and evenings are as amazingly glorious as ever. As the slanting rays of sun falls on new blossoms, you can see myriad small birds hovering to have their share of spring honey. As the grand ol man in the neighboring villa waters his garden, the sweet smell of wet soil mingles with fragrances of the new blossoms. There is a earthen pot behind out garden where water is collected - it becomes the social bathing pond for an amazing number of species - bee eaters, tailor birds, treepies, babblers, robins,golden orioles and red whiskered bulbuls and atleast 2-3 species which I could not identify.

During one of my shooting trips, I followed a black cat in its quest for food. It planned and executed a brilliant attack on an oriental magpie robin. These are times when you realize the precarious nature of life in nature.

Also met up with old school mates at various stages of marriage - dating, engagement, marriage, wife carrying, child born etc etc. Why do I have a sudden feeling that I've now truly grown old ?!!!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


There are people whose works can transcend generations and seasons. The other day when I was browsing Monsoon (Coffee Table collections By Steve McCurry)I could literally feel the chill of rain and hear the sound of thunder. I could see myself sitting with my grandma and looking at the coconut trees in rhythmic unison with the muse of monsoon on a spent July month from memory. Steve McCurry is god.

Who won't be transported to the war torn Afghan looking into the green eyes of "Steve's girl". Who can't feel the serenity of Buddhism by looking at his Angkor Wat collection ? Or the pain of desperation in the eye of begging woman from India from his India collections.

For many of us who haven't quite "known" Ansel Adams and his pioneering work, Dykinga is often portrayed as the one who have come closest to the master. I personally would rate Steve up there with Dyk. His photographs are time/space machines - it travels as fast as memories, faster than light. Takes you across space and years. If that is not being "god" I can't see what else can be. Maybe there is a recency bias in my adoration. We are living in his generation. Just like we adore Sachin Tendulkar more than say Gary Sobers.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Phew !!!

Have been crazy month or so. Traveling like crazy, basically living out of suitcase. Covered a few cities that I had not been to before like Jakarta. Unfortunately, my camera is hospitalized still. The doctors (The canon service engineers) are still unable to figure out her disease. Hope she's back with me soon. Feeling kinda depressed without it around. I love just holding her, caressing her curves, keeping the view finder close to the eye, changing over to multi shot mode and keep firing at some random sparrow flying outside of my window.
Me and my girlfriend figured out a new place in Mumbai to shift to. Of course on rental basis since I realized that given my career stage, I cannot afford an own accommodation in Mumbai. But looking at the rental bill we are going to pay Im seriously thinking of shifting out of Mumbai. A rough calculation shows me that if I were to buy this house instead of rent it, I'd have to pay an amount for which I can afford to buy a villa in Bangalore along with my current dream machine Honda CRV. So now for the first time over the past 6-7 years Im thinking of shifting out of Mumbai ! It is really crazy. Recently when I was in Singapore, I met a class mate who is even planning to buy a house there. The amount he is going to pay is almost equal to what I would have to pay if I were to buy a similar apartment in Mumbai as close to office as it is for him !! What was it about PPP and all ?...With Indian rupees being 1/30th of Sing D ?!!!...Sometimes I feel like I should shift to some small company somewhere in Mysore/Hosur (or any such cities in South or even West for that matter - Baroda, Surat, Nashik etc) where even 1/4th of my current salary can give me a lifestyle that is better than this. So should we now speak of Intra country PPP ?!!!!

Reality and fantasy - Business and Photography (A random pic from a meeting room in Jakarta)- Taken with my mobile !

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Art & my unintelligence

We as a team decided to leverage Chennai's status of being a cultural hotspot. After much planning , we finally finished work early yesterday at 7.30 and went to watch what is called Purusharth (by a group fo artists from Bangalore) - which prophesied to integrate movements from the Kerala martial art form Kalaripayattu and Tamil Nadu's famous dance form Bharata Natyam.
The artists were beyond doubt supremely talented. Their movements were very rehearsed, perfectly stitched into cohesion and so well displayed that we were a bit awestruck. The hall half full of firangs, clapped off and on.
After 5-10 minutes, most of us used to the original Kalarippayattu and Bharata Natyam couldn't figure out what was happening on stage. Agreed, it was still nice to see the movements. But without music, traditional instruments we were at a loss to understand anything. There were many images which appeared on the screen behind the actors / dancers. I overheard a group saying "Wonderfully thought out post modern images". I felt it was a badly made media collage of skulls, dead bodies, movie stars and such other eclectic assortments.
30-40 minutes into the program we (The poor MBAs without much contemporary art exposure but with quite a handful who had learn Bharatanatyam for years on) started wondering what exactly was happening. We had NO clue - neither of the story, nor of anything that the dancers were showing. The audio was only numbers. So it went " 10, 13, 7, 25 8 minutes". This was repeated a few times. Then a few other numbers.
Suffice to say we did not get either the dance, nor the music nor the digital fusion over the back wall. This is not to take away anything from the people who made it happen. Im sure they were doing it with all sincerity and many in the crowd seemed to understand something (I overheard desolation, sex, sensuality, existence, meaning etc repeated in hush hush tones).
I was left wondering - Am I really so dumb ? Is that art better, which is appreciated by a smaller number of people ? Why should people always feel forced to appreciate that which is not manifest ? Is what is manifest a lower form of art than what is implicit ? Did the creator really mean what others perceive as the implicit to be part of what he created or is it a post facto analysis by "analysis crazy" critiques ?
N.B Similar doubts creep into my mind when commentators make comments during cricket matches which goes something like - Sachin has waited on it a fraction of a second more so that he could place the ball in the small gap between square point and backward point. Did Sachin really do that intentionally or is the commentator giving the credit based on the success of the event (of the ball getting placed between fielders).
I also remember a mallu movie where the protagonist sat smoking a beedi for 5 loong minutes. When it got some award, a critique was ga ga over how the act of smoking for 5 minutes showcased the complete desolation & loneliness that the character felt. How can anyone other than the creator of art make categorical statements about unmanifest meanings ?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Movies and life !

Since these days I am working for a non Mumbai client, I fly back to Mumbai mostly on Friday nights. To maximise the time we have at Mumbai, me and my gf decided to catch American Gangster early morning show on Saturday. It is a terrific movie. One of the best after Departed and Blood Diamond. Some sterling performances especially from Denzel.
In the afternoon though the very idea of great movies shifted by a notch. We decided to watch In Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. If you have missed this classic, dont wait. Go and get a DVD and watch it. NOW. They seldom make such great movies. And when one comes along you just celebrate great movie making.
The movie also made me think about what most of us are doing for our country / society. And after an hour of thoughts I came to the gigantic conclusion that I am a wimp. That I have done nothing useful in my life. (Ok that might be a slight exaggeration but not by a long way). When a movie stirs up such strong emotions, I'd personally declare it a hit. Notwithstanding how much it makes in box offices.

N.B My jinx with electronic items continues unabated with my new Canon 40 D going kaput in 3 months of small time usage !! Grrr. It just gives me an Err99 message and takes no pics. It tucked away in the canon service centre in Mumbai. I might well have to spent a fortune on that since I bought it without Indian warranty !!! :(

NNB : I started exercising today after months and months of thinking through and making excuses!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Chennai Man !!

Im in Chennai for the past 3-4 days. Most probably Ill be visiting this city every week 4-5 days for the next 4 months. Yesterday my gf had joined for some shopping and I was shocked at the crowd all around. And I thought Chennai was better than Mumbai when it comes to crowds / traffic ! Peak time traffic is same as Mumbai with slightly better roads maybe. But the number of people on bicycles will pretty much take away all the road advantages !
Took time off day before yesterday to go to Vedanthangal, a bird sanctuary close by to see the famed painted stork colonies there. It was a great experience though very few species seem to be there. Did click a few pics and thought it was a worthy trip.
Oh yea the dosas and filter coffee are every bit as good as they are famed to be :)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Uran - birder's paradise

Assume all had a grand NY party to welcome to the new year !....I have had a rather busy first fortnight in 2008 and hope that is not a sign of things to come ;).....
Anyways, me and Sandy took off to shoot flamingoes in Uran salt pans this weekend..She did not have the Pany FZ 50 though since only I was planning to shoot. It was the first outing for my new baby, Canon 100-400 L IS which I had gotten from the US of A...On the 40 D it felt like I was in gym doing weights....Im still very much low in the learning curve of long lens and the pics were definitely not of the same quality that I would get from my shorter focal lengths..But we did have a great time shooting in the morning half and then heading to Uran plaza (Though there are mixed reviews, we did like the place a lot - a nice getaway for a day at a budget less than 1500) for loads of beer and a nice lunch. It is as the regulars know the most famous eating joint in that part of the world..It is a very reasonable place and the ambiance is really lazy - hammocks, beds, easy chairs......And ofcourse close by around JNPT and Uran you have some of the winter migratory birds - little bit of heaven close to Mumbai...