Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run?

Archive for May, 2012

100.

And 100 posts!!! Though I hate the sound of the word. ‘Essay’ is so much nicer, if a little high-falutin’. ‘Piece’ sounds nice. Yes, I like the sound of ‘piece.’ I think I’ll stick with piece.

Or maybe collection? Or collage? Or compilation? Maybe even a montage or a mosaic, though that’s a tad graphic for my taste.

Word-play aside, the times they are a-changing seems like a nice theme, so here goes :

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The latest Student Council, in its first week in power, has managed to get the paan-suTTa-Thela adjoining the campus wall shut. After a grand run of 31 years, apparently. Very surprisingly (I’m surprised), I’m on their side. My problem with smokers is not so much about individual expression or human rights or even healthcare and the eventual burden on the taxpayer.

Its more to do with the dropping of inhibitions that comes with intoxication. And mistaking complete freedom of thought for intellect and rectitude in equal measure. It makes me cringe to have to listen to some very distasteful talk among six or seven people in a group and then have it justified to me with references to Darwin and Evolutionary Biology, as some girl walks by trying to stay as far away from the bunch as possible, and six pairs of eyes follow hungrily. And this, when all I want to do is take in a little second-hand smoke, and well, indulge in a little moderately distasteful talk IN PRIVATE.

But I forget. “Girls like the attention,” I’m told. “They just act like they don’t.”

Seriously, what is it with the average Indian yokel’s equation of unintentional sexual harassment with manliness?

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Ever tried driving with AIR’s Vividh Bharati playing on the radio? I come from a staunch radio-listening family raised on years and years of Vividh Bharati and even so, I find the task impossible. I have to strain to hear the male announcer’s slow baritone or the female announcer’s measured pauses. I have to listen to them enunciate “gAon JhoomritalaiyyA se Chunnu, Munnu, unke mummy-papa aur unke parivAr ke bAki sadasyon ki farmAish” before they get to the actual song. It just seems out of sync though the same songs on a CD would be great. It simply doesn’t work.

Somehow the vacuous mile-a-minute chatter of modern-day FM radio programming works. A song, some chit-chat, some flirting, some giggling, another song, ad infinitum. It just works, though I’m damned if I could handle an hour of that indoors.

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Speaking of driving and traffic, ever noticed how the weekend traffic is different from weekday traffic? It’s as if everyone who would normally take the company bus to work seems to pull his/ her car out on the weekend and ambles through the streets, not a care in the world beyond finding parking. And trying to parallel park. The traffic density is so much lower but it’s so unstructured; it almost takes longer to get anywhere on a weekend.

Start commuting people, learn to drive!

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Oh, and one little Lifetime-achievement-Oscar-acceptance-speech.

A lot of people have been kind enough to be nice and ask me why comments are switched off and why I went underground, etc.

I pondered over the question for a while, trying to turn a vague feeling into words, till I found the following lines in V.S. Naipaul’s ‘The enigma of arrival.’

Man and writer were the same person. But that is a writer’s greatest discovery. It took time – and how much writing! – to arrive at that synthesis.

But what of the man and what the man thinks of the man (the same man) and what the man thinks others think of the man (again, the same one)? To believe in, let alone accept the universality of all human thought and effort is probably the hardest thing in the world. The pathological is always more convincing. Repressed biases and complexes, a fear of judgment and ridicule, the need for approval get in the way.

All you can do then is to be the ostrich.

Like someone said, “Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.”

And maybe write like nobody’s reading, while you’re at it?

Oh wait, that would have made a nice title.

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Photography clubs. Gah!

Yeah yeah, I know you read the title and expected some surrogate advertising for my photography. Yeah, now STFU and listen. Oh, but be nice and do look at the pictures. Then GTFO.

Anyway, so. Curiously, if I wanted to say that in Marathi, I’d just say aso. Get it? Aso, a-so; anyway, so. Never mind. Of course, that’s no way to start a sentence but then grammar is probably the last thing you’d be looking for, in a post titled ” … Gah,” no?

So, everyone and their grandma’s second cousin seems to own a d-slr and is going about taking pictures. And posting them all over the place. Normally I wouldn’t be giving one number Rattus Posterius, or even a fraction, but it’s all in my f***ing face which bothers me no end.

So here’s a mini-rant. With some a lot of foul language. There’s been a lot that’s been said on the topic and this here is one of the bestest rants ever but then, Imma be such a wuss if I’d stop and make way for others. Of course, it helps that all the older rants are by non-photographers criticizing the overall behaviour of photographers in general; I’m merely dissing their entire artistic output from my ivory tower.

  1. Black and white – Stop f***ing doing that. It’s pissing off. If your picture’s contrast settings are off (as in, the not-quite-perfect-wala off, not electrical-digital-binary off), it DOES NOT work. Stop. Black and white does not make your picture artistic, it just removes a lot of data and makes a bad picture look bad and confusing. Redneck photographers such as moi don’t like being told they’re stupid. Lay off it.
  2. Selective colouring – @^%#&#!!!! Selectively turning parts of your picture black and white is just f***ing retarded. Do you see things in partial colour? Does anyone? Do you? Answer me, DO you? Hmph. Its just a flag or its a leaf or its a bleddy commode for crying out loud. Selective colouring is like stringing flashing neon lights around the important parts of your picture, saying “Get yours here!!” I mean, if you really need to do that, or if your picture looks better for it, then that’s just a case of bad composition.
  3. Titles – Just call it by its real name, will you? This one’s beaten to death but I’ll say it anyway. If you see a girl walking/ sitting/ eating alone, do not call it ‘loneliness.’ She probably has weird friends like you, trying to sneak a picture every now and then, thinking of calling it “radiant smile” later. Come to think of it, that is a lonely-ish situation. My bad. If she’s staring into space, do NOT call it “introspection” or “inner beauty,” she’s probably just stupid. Besides, you look stupid when someone doesn’t play ball and comments on your pictures, “frendzz, myself thinking that she is not doing the introspection… maybe she thinking yebout baayfrend… LOL!!!” I could write a ton on stupid “LOL” comments but let’s leave that for another day.
  4. Children – Stop taking pictures of children. If they aren’t yours, it’s just bloody creepy. Someone once put a picture up on FB of a wee kiddie’s eye, with the reflection of the photographer visible in the aforementioned eye. Brrrr… COPS! COPS! COPS! No, seriously. If they’re your kids, say hi to them from me, buy them a chocolate maybe, but DON’T take their picture and put it up on a public forum. Read my lips, DO NOT. If they’re not your kids, frankly, you deserve to be burned at the stake. If it’s just your reflection that you’re so in love with (narcissistic much?), grab a mirror and a box of tissues. Keep it simple. And private.
  5. Remember this well – and here I drop all attempts at humour and frivolity – street photography is always invasive. This is an accepted fact. The fact that you used a telelens to take a picture unnoticed, from a distance, just does not cut it. Get consent. Get consent from people who understand what that means. This eliminates children by definition. Seriously, most sane people don’t want pictures of themselves scratching their junk out in the public domain, no matter how profound you think it is.
  6. Guesswork – Do not ask others to guess what you’ve done or what your picture is saying. What are you, four?
  7. Main building/ faculty hall – If you’ve been at IISc for any length of time, you’ve probably taken a picture (I have too) of the main building or the faculty hall at some point – day or night or twilight. Good for you. Now go look for a new subject. Sure, its a nice building; sure, its very photogenic; but really, there are only about 4 ways of taking a picture of that building. All done? Now move on. More photoshopping won’t help. I don’t like yellow buildings surrounded by black trees against violet skies; I’m not high.
  8. Selective blurring/ bokeh – Yeah sure, blurring the background puts your subject in the highlight; have you thought of a subject though, before whipping out that camera?
  9. Exif data – Stop asking people for their exif data. Its just plain stoopid. Its a damn art, man; you don’t improve your pictures by looking at someone else’s pictures and asking them how long the exposure lasted or how open the aperture was. That’s like going to the school topper and asking him/ her if he/ she preferred studying while lying down or sitting in a chair. Look at what the picture says, think it, feel it, and then reproduce the emotion. Don’t expect a lab manual for photography; they have insta-something for that.
  10. Finally, stop spamming. Take a good hard look at your picture before uploading it on a photography group. Get a couple of others to do it; leave the mutual back-scratching for the spa-weekend. The fact that some of us have all the time in the world to spend on Facebook does not mean that we do not value that time. There’s a lot of good stuff on the net that I’d really like to look at. Stop wasting my time – SHOW ME QUALITY.

With a little help from my friends

I love the intro to each ‘how I met your mother’ episode, with the quick montage of images – some blurry, some distorted – and all devoid of any extraneous detail so that all I’m left with finally is a memory of a sequence of smiles and eyes. And a memory of all the fun times I’ve had too, that I’ve wanted to freeze, right there.

Every now and then you’re in a group of fairly non-random people discussing fairly random things which, by right, should be nowhere close to funny and there, right there, you kinda stumble out of yourself, vault into a time many many years later, look back, and know that this, this moment, is one which you’re not going to forget for a while. You’re going to remember the exact table in the exact watering-hole, who’s sitting where, who’s jostling whom and who the joke is on. You’re going to be sure that the joke hinged on someone on the next table but you likely won’t remember the face of this purveyor of mirth. You might or might not remember what’s on the table but you’re going to remember who snorted his or her drink out of his or her nose. And how that led to more hysteria.

And in that moment you will feel an infinite sorrow since you’re already somewhere in a decidedly darker future, thinking back on a better time. And just like that, the cloud shall pass as you realize that you’re that much better equipped for this dark future you foresee, thanks to this evening.

Live it up.

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And as always, the original song, but in a very strange version.