Painter II




Tempted as we were to take up Usha Devi's invitation to join her for lunch we had to decline the offer to keep on schedule. The little village of Gue that's gained fame recently after the discovery of a 'mummified lama' was not initially on our plan, thanks to Google Earth it found its place. One of the best drives off the main road the Gue valley was an absolute pleasure. we were even graced by the elusive Ibex on the way back. 

The Mummified Lama



Happy Teachers Day!

Paan wala
This might be a little in the day, but all the same this one is for all those who inspired me to do more with my camera (my best teachers). All my batch mates at college, my gang of friends, my brothers, Mr. Sanjeev Seth, Mr. Raghunathan, Mr. Daruwala, Mr. Shekhar, Dr. Wilson, Mr. Sampath Kumar, all my clients and most of all those of you who have come to me for advise and guidance, thank you for constantly inspiring me to push my work to a new level each year.


When at home tea has always been served soaked in a teapot with the milk and sugar separate, but for me right from childhood it just never did it for me. What still works for me is "cooked tea" as my mom likes to call it. Every visit to the villages of my state give me the chance to down cups and cups of this refreshing tea. Yesterday was one such long day where a friend and I visited 7 families and enjoyed tea at each home. Every home has its own recipe for the brew, some add Ginger and Tulsi (my favorites ), others might add Cardamom and Cinnamon, but no matter where you go in UP you'll always be offered water and tea  ( चाय पानी ) before anything else, just one of the reason I love my state!

Kashmir the Floating Market

Kashmir - The Floating Market

सीढ़ी (ladder)

Ladders have always fascinated me, as a child it was the only way I could reach the first branch of the Cryptomeria tree from where I could then climb higher than any one. It was the ladder that let me reach the roof of the cottage we lived in to a place otherwise inaccessible. There has always been something romantic about the way I have looked at the ladder. Its been more than a bunch of rickety steps on a wooden frame, its more of symbol to me. That little push that we all need to get the ball rolling, from where we are all can then take it on and keep it rolling, faster and faster!



पतंग उड़ना (flying a kite)

पतंग उड़ना

My fingers have bled, I’m dark, but I became even darker, got numerous lectures, but at the end of it I did learn to fly a kite. It’s a skill everywhere on the planet I am sure, but from what I have seen here in India, it’s a little more demanding.
With no one at home who flew kites and friends too who were not helpful out here, all I had was a neighbor who’d fly his kites with skill that I have not witnessed anywhere else. Shankar bhaiya was the god of kite flying as far as I was concerned.
Like with all things in life, here too hard work paid off and at end of months of hard work, I was able to send my kites way off into the horizon and often loose them there too.
Kite flying taught me patience, it taught me to believe in myself- both of which have helped me tremendously with my photography.  To be able to get a kite to rise when its gone so low that you can’t see it, when you can pick it when it looks like it has to, it must crash into the house or water tank not so far away it.
Its not just about getting some paper stuck onto a bamboo frame to catch the wind…..  it’s about knowing how to keep yourself afloat at times when you feel there is nothing to carry you forward, to stay afloat when it looks like you’ll crash, its about learning that you CAN if you believe.

One from Trunk

Documenting CARE's interventions during the floods in Eastern UP - September 2009
Now for those of you who are questioning the choice of caption for this post - no I dont store my photographs in a trunk but then 'one from the HD' hardly has any romance to it! (poetic license ??)

Some time in the September of 2009 I got a call from Amelia at CARE, "where are you? we need you to help us!". Over the next few minutes I was explained how I needed to help. Two days later we on the road to eastern UP to evaluate and document  the work her colleagues were doing for the people who's lives were destroyed by the fury of the Ghaghara.

We saw a lot work and despair in area, some of which I try not remember too often, one image has however stuck in my head from the time I shot it four years ago. The contribution that the non governmental organizations to the development of our country is something that we need to salute and appreciate. This post is for all my friends who work with  NGO's all over the country and specially in UP.

Thank you for doing what you do!

Aam Panna

Aam panna
I'll have to thank Chandan for this one, would not have stepped out in the scorching summer heat to spend some shooting when I had work to finish, but then in addition to being a good photographer Chandan's a quite persuasive too!


On a recent shoot in Siliguri, WB I was shooting a building when I noticed these rather interesting shadows across on the opposite wall. Based on my calculation I had about half an hour to finish the shot I was taking and move over to take this photograph or so I thought!

By the time I had finished the shot I was taking and moved over to take this photograph the sun had not set but a cloud had come in! So with no shadows forming the tea brewing on the ground floor seemed to be a compelling choice I had to fight hard to resist.

But I would not have it, I decided to wait and wait some more, looking at the cloud and telling it to move! (in cloud tongue)  And it did, giving me about half a minute to take a couple of shots with even better shadows than the ones I had seen!

There’s always a reason for everything .... Destiny, Karma, Luck, Timing, what ever you’d like to call it .... its out there.

The floating garden

A vegetable vendor after a successful day at the market on his empty boat.

Central Park

All your photographs are great (but I have seen them before!)

We often visit places like Old Delhi or Baneras and while looking thru the camera take photographs that feed on the visual vocabulary that we have accumulated over years of going through magazines, books and journals. As we’ve  turned each page some where deep within, we’ve told ourselves that this is how we needed to shoot if we wanted to see our works out there. This leads to responses like, ‘all your photographs are great but I have seen them before, what’s new about them?’

Last evening at Nazar’s ka Adda, Nupur wanted to know if this was correct/right ? (and I, just in-case you’re wondering, was not talking about the way some one’s work was torn to shreds by the constructive criticism)

Here’s my take, most of which I shared with the participants last evening. Lets leave photography aside for a while and talk of some artists, artists that I hope most of us are familiar with: Picasso, Miro and Dali. Picasso became famous for Cubism and other work that I struggle to understand even to this day. Miro the surrealist master whose child like works of art are part of innumerable museums around the world. Dali my favorite, and in my opinion the greatest of all the masters is better known for his melting clocks and other equally evocative surrealist works. (One of my all time favorite photographs is one taken by Dali himself.)

When we study each of their works a little deeper and we find that Picasso too painted realist works, as did Dali and Miro in their initial years. Each one of them began with an all to familiar vocabulary and then went on to create something new.
YES it’s perfectly right to go ahead and take photographs that speak in an imagery that is all too familiar. Nothing wrong with it at all when you start! You go out when you are first beginning to master your camera and challenge yourself with this done-to-death imagery. Once you have mastered it you should get bored and then go ahead and look for a vocabulary of your own. The important thing here is moving on once you have conquered the first level, when the challenge ceases to exist.

You need to give your self time, its not like you’re going to go out there the first time you pick up your camera and come up with a whole new imagery. You need to let the thoughts in your head collect and then ferment till you’ll finally get a whole new imagery that will give both you and your audience a high!


Rabri in Old Delhi
Before any one suggests there is nothing rubbery about what the old man is cooking, and yes its called Rabri. This childhood favorite for me,  is a North India specialty. I remember how we'd wait for the annual trip to our favorite shop to gorge on mouthwatering dish. Cooked in a shallow karhai for several hours its a pure milk dish with sugar, dried fruits and a whole bunch of other goodies. 

A Farmer



Winter wonderland

Winter is the best time of the year from, love the cold. As a child I loved getting under a nice heavy and puffy cotton quilt for a good nights sleep and I still do, here's the man who makes sure it keeps me warm!

Winter is here!

Just in case the dense fog outside your window, or the icy wind, and the dropping mercury some how failed in driving home the point: Winter is here! And as you can see some of us are enjoying the cold!

A New Year!

Fishing in the cold!
This morning's papers were all about how Lucknow my home town was colder than Shimla a hill-station north of Delhi, and I too felt the extreme cold when i walked out onto the balcony to have my morning cup of tea and call home to check on my folks.

The day was spent driving from one village to another, meeting folks, drinking tea and eating stuff at the local tea stalls. As the sun began to bid the day adieu we reached a village where a band of brothers and their aunt were fishing in the cold.

Taking breaks to shun the cold with their shivering bodies the boys were all smiles as they literally sieved the water to collect the tiny fish for a special dinner!

Its supposed to be colder tomorrow but the boys say they'll back and I am sure they will (with the same big smiles)!