Tiny Gods

September 2017.

When it came to jubilation and celebrating local festivals, I always shied away. I didn’t participate as I feared someone would pull me into the center and make me dance. I feared public attention a lot. I would still peep through the window and look at a procession. I would smile looking at my friends dancing and involuntarily shake my legs.

This year was different though. A silent Ganapathi Visarjan procession crawled through our street. Nothing like I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t a pompous one though. They weren’t any show-stoppers. Their idol wasn’t colorful. It was muddy and dull. The vehicle they used to transport their idol was decorated with colorful papers. The next thing I know, I rushed into my bedroom to grab my camera and ran back to join them. I asked them, “Can I join you?” Yes, they said and I couldn’t thank them enough.

It would have been a half-kilometer walk to the nearest lake where they had planned to bid adios to their Ganesh idol.

Yes! it was this bunch of tiny tots that made my day more memorable. The vehicle was no big truck but a tiny bicycle that they shared in turns. The emotions they carried was pure and untouched by the worldly attachments. They danced and laughed. They had nothing to ask the Almighty. They were rich and generous. One of them offered me some prasad, that I usually avoid politely at most of the gatherings. The youngest of them all, wept incessantly when the idol had to be parted.

We tend to learn a lot while we grow and forget what we have been taught. It is good to be a child and never grow. Until next time, “Ganapathi Bappa Mhor ya!, Purchya Varshi Laukar ya”

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Exposure!

They met at a high tea party. Gaurav – a commercial photographer, Vidyut – a restaurateur and Amara – an interior designer. They loved each others work so much so that they began a whatsapp group to share updates and to meet regularly. They became good friends and always hanged out at Vidyut’s restaurant.

A few months passed. Works kept them busy and like every other group, this went dormant for a long time. They stopped the mundane good morning and good night messages. Vidyut types in the group:

They met that weekend. Vidyut requests Gaurav to do a photoshoot of his signature dishes that he wishes to put up on the marketing materials and various other places.  He added that Gaurav can use these images in his portfolio and would get a good exposure as these photographs would be sent to all the leading food magazines and blogs. Gaurav usually doesn’t work for free, but he felt that it was okay for him to do it once, since Vidyut has now become one of his close friends.

A few weeks after that, Amara called up Gaurav.

A: Hey Gaurav! How are you buddy?


G:I am doing great Amara! How have you been?
What made you remember me? 


A:I am doing well, Thank you! Gaurav,
I am participating in a nation-wide interior design competition.


G:Oh that’s wonderful. All the best.


A:Hey it’s not that easy,
there will be competitors from all over India.


G:You will do fine. Don’t worry.


A: Gaurav, I need a favor from you.
Please, do not say no. Please… please… please…


G:Alright! Alright! But what’s the favor?


A:I need to submit my project images to the panel.
Please help me create my portfolio. I will pay you for this.


G:That’s okay. We can sort it out later.
By when do you need the photographs?


A:Actually it’s quite urgent!
I need it by day after tomorrow.


G:That’s a very short notice.
I fear if we could do it by then.


A:Oh please don’t say so. I know you can do it.
By the way, how much do you usually charge?


G:I charge INR 10000 for a session.


A:10000? That’s too much!
I cannot afford to spend so much.


G:Don’t worry about the money.
Pay as much as you can.


A:Hey thanks for your help.
Actually, it is a great opportunity for both of us.
This is going to be a very big event and
you will get a very good exposure.
Even I will recommend you to my designer friends.


G: Thank you!

Amara gets her project clicked by Gaurav and she eventually won the competition. A year passed and these guys were little out of touch. Gaurav had a great news to share with his friends. He initiates the conversation:

They were excited and ask for a big celebration. Gaurav adds:

Sure guys, why not? But before the studio is up, I need a favor from you both. Amara, could you please design the studio for me and Vidyut, could you please organize an event at your restaurant for me when I set this whole thing up for my family and friends? I am running too tight on budget so I will not be able to pay you much. Please let me know 🙂

Gaurav waited for a few minutes, and assumed that they might be busy at work. He spent his day planning for his studio. He checked his phone for any updates from these guys a couple of times during the day. The day passed. He woke up next morning to check the group for any response he might have received that night. He did…

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PostScript:

This is a light-hearted sarcastic approach on what happens when you offer to work for free. Most of you would relate this to a real-life scenario. Time and again, photography/design or for that matter anything that has got to do with creating something that is not there, is taken for granted. See how professionals reacted when asked to work for free, here in the PetaPixel article.

Ending this with a quote by Subi Samuel:

“If you throw peanuts, you will attract monkeys”

and the famous Joker one-liner:

“If you are good at something, don’t do it for free”

Continue reading “Exposure!”

Hyderabad

Hailing from the city of the Nizams, I shouldn’t have taken for granted about the lovely place that I live in. Charminar is a magical place and always inviting. I have lost count on the number of times I had visited this marvelous structure.

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Reading newspaper is a regular chore of these men, who discuss politics and current affairs every morning at the Mecca Masjid.

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The much talked about Charminar, getting a paint job and some restorations.

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Street hawkers and the locals have a strange dialect, which is very close to Hindi and Urdu. The dialect is known for its stark sarcasm and many movies have tried to adapt it but failed miserably. However, some local movies have managed to maintain the subtlety and humor. (See: Angrez 2006)

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Bird-feeding is an activity that draws the crowd to this holy place. Hundreds of pigeons flock around and a few regular visitors feed them on their hand. When asked about it, they responded that Pigeons are one of the most peaceful birds on earth. Feeding them brings peace upon us. And kids have a good time running around the flying birds. It is a sheer delight to watch.

Gear used:
Nikon D90
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F/4 G ED VR Zoom Lens for Nikon DSLR Camera
Nikon 50mm Nikkor F/1.8D AF Prime Lens for DSLR Camera
GoPro Hero 4 Adventure Edition (Black) Action Camera

Hampi, Karnataka

Hampi is a magical escape from the city noises to a serene and intoxicating spread of history. Looked like every local was spiritual and was in a world of their own. Hundreds of hippies flocked this mystical landscape.

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One of my travel companions captured from the highest point in Hampi.
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In the kitchen of the resort where we camped.

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Proud of his mustache.

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People used ferries to cross the river that divided the land into two.
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Some rode Enfields and many rode TVS Excel.  I stood at this point where these travelers crossed the river. For me it was an unusual sight as I never saw a foreigner ride the cheapest moped of India.

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I wish I had a longer stay to soak in the essence of Hampi. This cafe played some good movies and served some good food as well.

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The ferries would have a mix of travelers and local people who strike a conversation and have fun.

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Crossing the river is a routine task and many have their own way of doing it. The locals have this special kind of boat that they use to sail from shore to other.

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At another side is a contrast to the ruins. Farmers, tilling the land all day long. Pictured in this image is a boy who plays within the radar of his mother’s vision.

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Everyone had a purpose. Pictured in this image are a group of old men and women who were on a pilgrimage.
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A lone traveler.
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Looked like a mini-Goa.

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Some consider this river Holy and take a dip to wash off their sins.

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There were a lot of monkeys.

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Trip along.

Gear used:
Nikon D90
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F/4 G ED VR Zoom Lens for Nikon DSLR Camera
Nikon 50mm Nikkor F/1.8D AF Prime Lens for DSLR Camera
GoPro Hero 4 Adventure Edition (Black) Action Camera

Goa

July, 2012

Going to Goa, it’s like one of the highest priorities on every Indian’s bucket list. Your dream of being there is not complete until you set your foot on this land. And the people with whom you reach Goa, are the ones that you will never forget in your lifetime. They are your true friends, who defied all hardships to make this trip happen. I went there with a bunch of photography enthusiasts and I bet I remember each and every one by their name. Most of them I was meeting for the first time.

I reckoned that we were going there on the first month of Monsoon and purchased brand new rain jacket and a sweater assuming the weather to cool down in the nights. I lugged around my ~10kg tripod and clothes for 5 days. The weather was sultry and carrying around this luggage was a pain in the butt. Lesson one on travel learnt: Travel Light!

The trip organizer arranged for a van for us to travel all around this tiny state. First day was great! We halted at Calangute, freshened up, had a decent breakfast and went sight-seeing. As we were on the shores of Arambol beach, a red-eyed young boy offered us a boat-ride and asked if we were interested. We were a group of ten, and it was only photography in our mind. We agreed unanimously. It was only when we tore across dense bushes and small houses, we started feeling skeptical. All through our mind we were wondering where we were being taken. We walked about a quarter kilometer before we could see the backwater, and there stood the boat. An old one with a single oar.  Looked like we were isolated from the hustle and bustle of Goa. It was serene and exquisite. Throughout my childhood I was made to believe that all that’s beautiful and hard to believe comes with a catch. I was wondering what that catch would be.

With all our inhibitions, we sat on to the boat, wishing that this trip ends quickly without us being kidnapped. 😀   Loved the thrill! The more we sailed, we were getting more relaxed and happier. After about fifteen minutes, we decided to return to the beach. Also there were signs of heavy rain. We were about to turn around and that’s when the oar slipped into the water and drifted away from our boat. We were now assured that there’s some conspiracy involved. We were in the middle of the water when it started to rain, adding to our dismay. We held on to a branch of a mangrove and tried to get closer to the oar. We paddled using our palms. Somehow in the end, we managed to pull the oar back and sailed back to the place where we started from. That half an hour was a gripping one and would always remember throughout my life.

That red-eyed boy was very calm throughout. For him our safety was very important. We went by his looks and imagined all unfortunate things that could happen in a strange place. Lesson two: don’t go by someone’s looks. You never know someone, unless you interact with them.

The second day was lazier, the group that we were with had been to a pub and partied hard. They couldn’t wake up till late in the morning. My photography friends and I, felt that we missed out on the golden hours and cribbed all day long. We soon realized that it was not good to blame anyone. Like us, they had their plans too. We decided to rent bikes. And that was an awesome decision when we think now about it. We were able to go to remote places and got some wonderful clicks. Lesson two: Bike is the best way to travel in Goa!

Everything was cheaper, beers and food. That being an off-season also stopped us from having some season foods that we craved for. We missed some, we hit some. It has been five years now, I remember every moment spent at this magical place on earth. Will I go there again? Its a definite yes!

 


Gear used:
Nikon D90
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F/4 G ED VR Zoom Lens for Nikon DSLR Camera
Nikon 50mm Nikkor F/1.8D AF Prime Lens for DSLR Camera
Manfrotto tripod with head