August 11, 2023

The Radius Of Life


Three Kings Chapel, Cuelim (2009)

It was evening when we took the narrow road up the slope before passing steps that zig zag up the laterite hill to the Three Kings Chapel perched on top.



View of Paddy fields from Three Kings Chapel

The chapel looks south over the vast paddy fields of Velsao and Cansaulim that stretch past Arrosim, narrowing in Utorda and gradually petering out near Majorda before Betalbatim ties up the loose patches of green approaching Colva into a thick knot of  cement constructions that’ve gathered pace over the last two decades with no signs of letting up anytime soon.



Rice Fields of Velsao and Cansaulim belt (2009)

Only fragmented patches of rice fields now dot the countryside past Colva and Benaulim thanks to the beachside housing market boom driven by investments flowing in from Bombay and Delhi, and elsewhere, serving as beach homes for the affluent to visit in the winter and bring friends along when Delhi gets too chilly for the Dilliwaley.  

A was at the wheel as we drove along the road through Velsao along the South Central railway line hidden behind trees and houses. One of the two railway lines through Goa, the South Central line emerges from Vasco before making its way to Karnataka, the other, the Konkan Railway, meanders along Goa's coastline.

It was summer approaching monsoon when we idled along to the languid rhythm of Goa.

A light breeze blew in from the sea. The air was thick but we felt light to be out and about Salcete, taking in the sights of South Goa, reminiscing of my childhood in Margao as I usually do when in Salcete. The paddy fields were dry, awaiting the approaching monsoons a little over a fortnight away.

No sooner we turned a gentle curve approaching Burdi and we came upon a group of people standing roadside and looking in the direction of the paddy fields.

A found a shoulder wide enough to accommodate his four-wheeler and we got down to join the curious group.

 


Men fishing in a shrinking pond of water

In the backdrop of rolling hills a shrinking patch of water, turned dark from congealing in the mud over the dry summer months, held a group of seven men in knee deep water dragging a fishing net through the water.

Cattle egrets foraged in the fields in the distance, fenced off from the hill beyond by an unbroken line of coconut trees curving along the road we had just driven along after descending from the Three Kings Chapel atop the hill.


Men pull fishing net to catch fish in a rice field

With monsoons approaching work in the khazan fields across Goa gathers pace. Water catchment ponds in fields fed through sluice gates regulating water backing up inland from estuaries and rivers are cleared of debris and readied to channel water to rice fields when the Kharif season gets underway in the monsoons.

A thickly set man speaking Salcete Konkani stood on the edge of the pond shouting instructions to one of the men carrying a stick and beating the water to get fish moving in the direction they were pulling the net. Most of the workers, darkened to the colour of still water, were not of Goan origin, labour migrating to Goa for work and dismissively known as ghanti locally.



Shrinking over the summer the pond, fed through a sluice gate controlling the inflow and outflow of backwater from the other side of the road, had shrunk, reducing the ‘playing’ field for fishes that had made it their home having arrived with the water irrigating the paddy fields.

A largish fish trapped in the net made several heroic attempts to break free, propelling up each time the net held it down. A man with the stick would walk up to it and beat it down with heavy swings of the stick before it finally went silent, and the pond was serene once again only to be broken by several smaller fishes making similar attempts but to no avail. The man with the stick would have none of it.

Serenity is on the surface, mostly!

Given the effort the seven men were putting in to drag the fishing net towards the edge of the pond it was likely to be a substantial catch.

The tumult of fishes trapped underneath, beating at the water furiously to escape the net, must’ve been considerable, their panic in the dark water smoothed over by the smothering net and invisible to eyes looking on from the road.

At what point would the trapped fishes resign to their fate is anybody’s guess, their resignation bringing along a sorrow to fill the depths of an ocean, and deeper still.  

Summer had reduced the radius of the pond and shrunk their circle of life small enough to become easy pickings for anyone who cared to net them.

Not unlike life itself!

August 10, 2023

Probus Club, Up A Step, Down A Peg

 



A club is no ordinary matter in India. Starting one is matter of pride to individuals called upon to join it, a stamp of approval bestowed upon the individual, signifying his/her worth to the collective that has decided to be clubbed together, a coming of age event no less.

At least it used be not too long ago when people would meet other people in person.

Other times a club merely formalises a group who decided one day that it’s time they need to be known by a name, a collective identity, to be derived from the name they settle on, a name to identify their persona they want the world to know them by.

So whoever decided to name their club Probus in a dark corridor in an old Goan building was under no illusion as to what they thought about themselves . . . .


probus (feminine proba, adverb probē); first/second-declension adjective

1. good, serviceable, excellent, superior, able

2. (morally) upright, honest, virtuous, moral

 

But the thing with the world is it doesn’t always look at you how you look at yourself.

Man proposes, Goa disposes.



 

For, before long someone decided to hold a mirror to those who called themselves Probus, adding a rejoinder, knocking them down a peg or two.


Graffiti on the wall

gandu (Noun), (plural gandus)

(India, vulgar, slang) An arsehole, an idiot.


It’s used in other more colourful and incendiary contexts, none any more palatable than the above so I’ll leave them alone, to live on the streets where they come to life in more corners than you'd care to count, its myriad meanings burnished in the rage of their usage. 

To share further blushes, some kindly soul likely decided that a part of the context was served better whitewashed, leaving us guessing what more was said of the probus brothers and sisters.

 

NOTE: On another note, in a more saner world, the one that preceded the one now, Probus Clubs had their moment in the sun.

 

May 26, 2023

Toothless Lions



 Goa.

The lions had lost their teeth.

The old house had lost much else!


October 20, 2022

Leheriya In The Light

 

Leheriya Fabric On Sale Jaipur

Jaipur, Rajasthan


The Sun slanted through an opening between buildings perched on a narrow lane, lighting up leheriyas on sale in a shop manned by an elderly Muslim man whose years showed in his eyes, sunk between high, bony cheeks.

It’s in the texture sunshine acquires from illuminating spaces that lends light a character, and verve, triggering memories and reminiscences. And lanes become welcoming even if the people living there are not.

Light is life!  


October 17, 2022

Horses Under Window

 

Artwork On Wall In Amer Rajasthan

Amer, Rajasthan

 

The horses are long gone

And so are the Royals.

There’s finery no more,

Nor pomp and splendour.

The Window survives

In the echoes of hoofs

Memories drudge up,

Nudging silences to life

And, life into silences.



A Procession Of Horses Art On Wall Rajasthan


June 20, 2022

Dad

Time elapsed. Memories did not. Presence is absent. Absence is present.

Not a day goes by when I'm not reminded of you. You'll live as long as I do. And beyond.

I wonder which star in the sky is you. Maybe the brightest one there is.

To return is to never have gone away, well almost.

August 20, 2018

Bakra Eid And Kota Goat


No sooner the bespectacled Muslim man, accompanied by two others, took his place on the platform with a large goat by the luggage compartment he quickly drew a small Sunday crowd of fellow passengers waiting for the same local train toward V.T.

With Bakra Eid (Eid al-Adha) around the corner it’s common to see goats appear on the streets of Mumbai and adjoining suburbs, munching on feed in front of shops and neighbourhoods before being led to slaughter on Bakra Eid, the Muslim festival of sacrifice. Needless to say the goats have little say in it.


As more people gathered around the goat, the Muslim man betrayed signs of nervousness, repeatedly looking in the direction of the train. There was no sign of it. Gradually he warmed up.

A little boy and a youth accompanied him. Clad in white salvar kurta and skull caps the three stood out in the sea of people crowding the railway platform without the large goat to accentuate their identity further.

“This goat is from Kota,” he said looking at me. “See its ears, they are long.”


He pulled the ears as the goat looked up at him, almost in affection, barely wincing as he pulled its ears at full stretch. They were indeed longer than any you see of local goats. The goat’s ears hung flat and long.

The Kota goat was a mix of black and white, easily over three feet tall standing on its long legs and at ease in the crowd surrounding it. It was majestic in its demeanour, stately in its bearing and cut an admirable figure in the crowd, little aware of the gruesome fate awaiting it at the hands of butchers on the day the Muslim world celebrated the sacrifice of animals as a festival.

“How much did it cost you,” I asked him.

“38,000 rupees,” he replied before adding 2,000 rupees more to the total to account for transportation form Kota in Rajasthan. “Total the Kota goat cost me 40,000 rupees,” he said.

The goats from Kota are raised for dairy and meat. Known as Karoli breed which I believe this goat belonged to, Kota sees large populations of goats on sale for slaughter as Bakra Eid approaches.   

A large goat, a costly goat is a symbol of wealth, a differentiator and a mark of prestige. Nothing less will do for those who can afford them and show them off on Bakra Eid.


Later in the day I came across another goat tied to water pipes on Modi Street in Fort. There was no crowd except for three people who kept a watch over it. The goat faced the wall. It only had a little more than a day to live.


August 09, 2018

Sidewalk Scribbler


Crawford Market
Crawford Market Building (on the right)
We emerged from the subway on D. N. Road and walked past the majestic Times of India building toward Crawford Market.

Victoria Terminus (renamed CST)
If it weren’t for the crowds on the footpath, I’d look for reasons to take this route on leisurely walks about town at every opportunity, for, the old Raj era buildings that rise roadside impose their majesty on the seeming chaos presented by scurrying humanity largely centred around V.T. (Victoria Terminus), disappearing into and emerging from it with the same alacrity as headless chickens except the masses align with a method in the madness of Mumbai, or maybe not.

But the crowds preclude any such thought, most times that is.

The Gothic stone buildings resonate of a city that arose on the back of the vision its builders and planners, primarily the British and the Parsis, and to a lesser extent the others, gave it – one of architectural grandeur and splendour befitting its potential as a great port city, a harbour as much for ships as for the commerce they generate on trade routes Mumbai (Bombay) sits on.

BMC
From old photographs of the city it’s still possible to sense the interplay of Bombay’s Raj era architecture with its then sparsely populated streets, their relative emptiness a perfect foil to the architecture, allowing the majesties in stone impose their royalty onto broad streets, never letting up.

With little or no distractions around, I imagine people at the turn of the last century went about their lives aware of their place in the grandeur around, almost taking it for granted, each making space for the other at the same time each lent the other meaning with their presence.


But things have changed. The peace of the Mumbai of the old has been punctured by the pace of migrant influx largely from the North that’s accelerated over the last decade to the extent that the only peace to be had is if you can fashion a bubble around yourself in the midst of swirling crowds and keep your head down.

Enter the smartphone! A device you can lose yourself in even while all around you are seemingly losing their minds.

Even better, immerse in a book. Many still do on their commute to work though not as much outside of the commute as one might expect, say, in gardens and benches around the city except Mumbai has barely any benches streetside where one can rest awhile and open a book if only to flip pages.

Mumbai is a largely ‘Standing Only’ city to those seeking some respite out on the road.

Sir J. J. School Of Art
And if you cannot afford a smartphone, or books, or a home then the options are even more limited in seeking a bubble to cocoon in except in the one instance I came upon close to three years ago when we walked down the footpath past J.J. School Of Art and Architecture toward Crawford market.

An old Muslim woman sat hunched over a book and a notebook on the pavement, writing in the notebook verses from the other book she balanced on her outstretched leg, oblivious to people walking past her, oblivious to honking cars roadside, oblivious to life itself.


Hair oiled and neatly tied into a pony tail, dressed in an old and worn salvar kameez, she peered through her glasses while copying into her ruled notebook what I can only imagine to be Urdu text possibly from the Koran.

I cannot imagine what else it could be if not the Koran.

Her possessions were stacked by her side on the footpath, carrots strewn to one corner, a water bottle re-purposed to hold some cooking oil, cheap steel plates and cooking utensils.


Her footwear was placed neatly behind her; a rose graced an ankle strap on one. It’s likely she was working on her writing bare-feet out of respect for the Holy Book in her lap.

Everything about her was orderly and dignified. Everything single thing.

This was as unlikely a sight as any I’ve come across among the homeless population I see on my commutes and travels across the city, and for this reason alone I could not help but wonder of the circumstances that conspired to push an obviously educated Muslim woman, likely sans her immediate family, to a lonely, homeless existence on the street at the mercy of the Municipality, and without any obvious way to support her as far as I could tell.

What fate had intervened in her life to turn her onto the streets of Mumbai?


Was the book she was copying from lent to her and so she was making a copy of it for her own use? Or was it the case that she owned the book but was copying it down to practice her writing or maybe to better commit to her memory the content of the book? Or was it a way to keep herself busy and retain her familiarity with the written word?

I had no way of knowing.

As we walked past her and put some distance between us, I turned around for a glance.


She was still bent over her notebook scribbling into it, nary a glance to the bustle around her, a forlorn figure dwarfed by commuters, alone and destitute. She was lost in her bubble however temporary a moment in the likely permanence of her own state.

Around her the British era buildings lent the Mumbai skyline a majesty matched only by the homeless woman bent over a book in quiet concentration, at once contrasting with the teeming multitude of sounds hiding moments of contemplation for passers-by in the moment they noticed her.


August 08, 2018

Prakash – Light, And Enlightenment




If there’s a definition for a hole-in-the-wall business then you need look no further than Mumbai footpaths. 

While it’s not exactly a hole in the wall where a hand reaches out through an opening in the wall fronting a room at the back, Prakash Light House comes pretty close to it, in more ways than one.

Prakash Light House functions from a footpath some way off Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai. A small cupboard space knocked back into the building's facade holds drawers and open shelves stacked with boxes of armatures for electrical motors, electrician tools, meters and plug points affixed to cupboard doors that open out onto the street and close behind it.

The armatures stacked in the shelf were a veritable advertisement for various armature brands – DCA, DCK, Electro Power, HID, Topline, Hongyu, Dewalt, and Hitachi among others. If you need any further evidence of the extent of Chinese penetration into Indian manufacturing space, you'll find them on this shelf.    

A short platform, not more than four feet long and barely a foot and half wide, enough to work on electrical motors sent in for repairs, juts out on the footpath. The owner sits facing the shelves, his back to the street, while he works on straightening out electrical appliances.

To a corner of this platform or work-bench, facing the street, sat a seemingly contented cat, keeping the busy owner company. It was an unlikely pair from the looks of it.


If I were to hazard a guess, I’d imagine the cat having driven a fair bargain with the owner to provide him company, rather eyes on the street while he has his back turned to it, in return for a ledge off the crowded footpath. In time I’m sure it came to share his meals as well.

Everything about this small setup seemed perfect, right down to the name of the shop – Prakash Light House.

“Prakash” is Sanskrit for “Light” and is a given name in India to males. Used metaphorically, “Prakash” (Light) is used to indicate ‘enlightenment’, rather ‘source’ of enlightenment.

If ever the shop needed additional emphasis as to the nature of business conducted within, Prakash Light House more than sufficed.

It’s not uncommon to name shops after the owner. If the shop owner sitting at his work bench was Prakash himself then whoever named him after ‘Light’ was prescient to know what awaited the child in the future.

Curious, I asked after the cat’s name and a man sitting on the other end of the workbench, likely the owner of the adjacent footpath-shop, replied, “Kaloo”.

“Kaloo,” I repeated to ensure I’d heard it right because the cat was not black to be called “Kaloo”.

“Actually, its name is Kalidas,” he clarified, implying it’s easier to short-name it to ‘Kaloo’.

“Kalidas as in named after ‘Kalidas’ the famous poet?" I responded.

Both smiled.

“Yes” came the answer, “named after the poet Kalidas.”

I smiled at the thought of Kalidasa, the legendary Sanskrit poet and dramatist from 4th-5th Cent. B.C., living on in the soul of a seemingly bored Mumbai cat who couldn't be bothered to fish for food if it could inveigle lodging and boarding from the owner, passing contented purring as poetry.

But who knows. Facts are sometimes stranger than fiction.

And so the last piece fell into place.

‘Prakash’ as ‘Light’ (read shop), and ‘Prakash’ as ‘Enlightenment’ (read ‘The Poet Cat’) covered both bases, and it took a cat to do it.


August 01, 2018

A Double Act At The Airport

Sometime back I travelled to the Santacruz Airport before A caught his flight out of Mumbai for home after landing the US Visa for his upcoming US trip at the time.

He spoke of the travails of getting the visa and was enthusiastic about his role supporting his team on the US expedition.

We didn’t have much time to catch up before his boarding call. It was good to see him after long.

The snacking area outside Arrivals was crowded with people either awaiting arrivals or accompanying those departing.

Come to think of it, there isn’t much of a conversation to be made when you’re counting down the clock. More often than not, if you’re not compulsively eating then you’re compulsively checking your feeds on smartphones when you're not conversing.



That day however a kitten decided it’d relieve the ‘waiting stress’ by going after the dog’s tail as it made its rounds to tables looking for scraps of food.

The tail acquired life, and life acquired the kitten and those sitting at tables and elsewhere in the vicinity. The dog couldn’t care less. This pair was a team if ever there was one, beguiling snackers with their adorable act. Hustlers no less but eminently welcome.



If there was anyone stressed by the thought of flying that day, it’d be safe to say this double act will've calmed their nerves.

February 18, 2018

You Came, (Am) Happy




The first contact with a rickshaw on a crowded and noisy Mumbai road, from the time you hail it as it rolls along the road and you get a look at the rickshaw driver trying to catch his eye as he slows down to acknowledge you, sometimes barely appearing to do so as he sizes up your fare worth, lasts little more than a second or two.

But to a commuter seasoned from travelling in and around Mumbai, that second or two spent taking in the face of the rickshaw driver, and his general demeanour will often reveal in surprising clarity the likely result of their attempt to hail it.

Faces say a lot, most times that is.

A couple of years ago when I saw Suresh Pawar’s face I knew he wouldn’t turn me down. And he didn’t. Soon I was to find out why.

~

“The main thing is the customer should feel comfortable,” Suresh Hemji Pawar replied in Marathi, his eyes fixed on the road ahead.


After getting into his rickshaw at Mulund Check Naka I was pleasantly surprised at finding a designer carpet cover the passenger side of the three-wheeler’s floor, a rare sight, my first in over a decade of travelling in auto-rickshaws here in Mumbai and anywhere.


Most rickshaw floors are bare metal except during monsoons when many rickshaw drivers will cover the floor with rubber mat to protect the metal from rains blowing in and from passengers’ stepping into the back of the rickshaw in wet footwear and umbrellas dripping rainwater.

Mumbai’s monsoons and humidity levels can quickly rust metal. In other seasons there’s nothing to cushion your feet from the rumbling metal.

So it was a surprise to see the designer carpet in Suresh Pawar’s rickshaw, the kind you rarely see in homes now, more because they need maintenance and people now are not only more casual in their tastes in general but hard-pressed mentally to expend effort in maintaining anything, likely driven by their soul turning consumerist, celebrating change rather than getting into the mach-mach culture of retain, repair, and reuse.

One indication of lesser demand for such carpets is now I see fewer carpet sellers making rounds of neighbourhoods where I live, used to live, and where I travel to on my jaunts elsewhere.

The design is common to Kashmiri carpets and used to be a rage in the years gone by when households sought to communicate a “rich” ambience about their drawing rooms centred on showcases, with pride of place reserved for the colour TV that beamed two channels if you were lucky.

In homes with windows brightly lighting up living rooms, the heavy carpets came off well, their greys, browns or reds contrasting positively with the light unlike in poorly lighted rooms where they would add to the gloom and dreary, and misery if the owners matched the mood.  

I’d find it hard to sit long in those living rooms. That was then when I was still cheery and bright and lively.  

~



I shifted my feet to take in the designs at the first traffic signal at Teen Haath Naka. The carpet was aged, holes dotted it. But it didn’t matter. What did matter was it sought to lend a living room feel to the tiny back of the rickshaw in the middle of rousing traffic bumping along potholed roads, cushioned by the bolster serving as a shoulder-rest on the side of the rickshaw. Small pleasures.  

While its absence wouldn’t have made travel any less physically difficult than it was, its presence, as with trappings generally, lent the mood a positive spin, maybe comforting even, as Suresh Pawar had intended. Pawar is a surname common to Marathas and Dalits.

Suresh Pawar’s rickshaw bounced gently compared to most rickshaws I’ve been in that rattle until your skeleton reminds you of every bone that makes it whole or one that is missing. The treatment is thorough.

I wasn’t surprised in the least bit that Suresh had ensured the shock absorbers worked well. He looked the upright, no nonsense, methodical sort who had his principles and lived by them, a not uncommon trait I’ve come across in some Marathi-speaking, Maharashtrian rickshaw drivers, a socialist demeanour so to speak.

I gathered courage and rested my back against the backrest, comforted in knowledge that I’d be insulated from the worst jerks on the road. I felt welcomed.

It’s instructive about the state of affairs how a rarity becomes luxury when in fact it should be given.



After all, the first thing you see upon getting into his rickshaw is – आपण आलत आनंद आहे (You came, (am) happy).  आपण (You / yourself) आलत (came) आनंद  (happy/joyous) आहे.



At first I had blindsided आ, the letter common to each of the four words, and tried to make sense of पण लत नंद हे before realising my mistake.


 

 Suresh Pawar had laughed it off, saying, “even when read separately (without ) they’ve meaning.”

He had a point. Though our journey came to an end before he could elaborate on the meaning the words had separate from आ, it was apparent if you could see the obvious.

पण “but” लत “addiction” नंद “joyous” (is) – read consecutively reads as “but addiction is joyous” even with a bit of a stretch with 'लत' 

Addiction to what is missing unless it’s to the hospitality as Suresh Pawar made evident with his “The main thing is the customer should feel comfortable.”

While  ननद (Nanad) is more commonly used to reference the husband’s sister, a term restricted for use by the wife, it is also substituted by नंद (Nand) in some regions of India.

I got off to Suresh waving at me as he kicked his rickshaw into gear, with an ‘Anand ‘ look about me the brief encounter had facilitated on a hectic day.



~
Other – 

नंद वंश (Nand Vansh) was a large kingdom in ancient India, dating 5th – 4th century BC with Pataliputra as the capital before being overthrown by Chandragupta Maurya. The Nand dynasty came to be known for their military prowess and immense wealth.  

नन्द बाबा (Nand Baba) was the head of a tribe of cowherds (Yadav caste) known as Gopas, and came to be known as the foster-father of Lord Krishna after Krishna’s father Vasudeva took the child Krishna to his brother, Nand, to raise him. 


February 17, 2018

Hamara Bajaj In Bora Bazaar




Of late it no longer feels like a long walk from Kala Ghoda to V.T since the time we took to winding our way through Bora Bazaar, dodging people and vehicles without taking our eyes off the myriad stationery and other shops and happenings along and on the narrow road that runs straight before exiting a short way off the iconic railway station.

We both revel in the old world charm of the place, from the shops, the people and the wafting conversations. It’s a place that calls to the organic nature of its character, a bazaar that’s more like a neighbourhood than a place of sterile commerce.

It helps if you’re in no hurry to get someplace, a luxury we were fortunate to have early this week, and a relief after the interminable wait for our turn with the token at the bank round the corner.

The little ‘nothings’ along the way make long walks a breeze. This time around it was the unlikely appearance of an old Bajaj scooter with an empty sidecar.


The scooter with the sidecar seemed to appear out of the blue before slowing down to find a way through the busy Bora Bazaar street. 

An old Bajaj scooter with a sidecar is not a common sight anymore though I’ve seen a few of late, so when one made an appearance with an elderly couple in crisp white that set off their presence against the alternating greys of the bazaar, the character of the street reverted ever so slightly to the good old days as I’d imagine the bazaar to be.

The gent astride the scooter kept his eyes on the jumble of the traffic ahead while the lady took in the view about her. The scooter seemed to be family, a comforting presence by the virtue of having served them for a long time, beginning with middle class aspirations for mobility, upward as well as transportation.

It was a Hamara Bajaj moment no less, even if far removed from its origins, and era.

It didn’t take long for the iconic tune to well up in my head as they floated ahead, their demeanour set firmly in the middle-class and family values from an era long gone, when a newly energised middle-class tuned in to Hamara Bajaj on their telly in the eighties.

I tried to imagine their youthful faces from three decades ago, of the moment they were handed over the scooter, their first ride together, the space they made for the third person in the sidecar. I must have smiled at the thought for I caught a worker looking at me with a bemused look on his face unless I imagined the reason behind his seeming bemusement.



We paused to let the scooter pass before catching up with it as it waited to pass a tempo carrier, blocking access to pedestrians seeking to squeeze past them. I didn’t mind in the least.  

Every once in a while, hurdles by way of vehicles jamming the considerable foot traffic are more an opportunity to pause and take in the sights jammed cheek by jowl on either side of the street than an irritant.

This is all the more true if one does not have to catch a train from V.T. which  however most people do as they stream in a single minded march, head high, eyes fixed in the direction of the exit the moment clocks strike six and offices across Fort begin to empty of workers from all over the city and beyond.

Some things haven’t changed even if the Hamara Bajaj era did!

~

I’m writing this to the tune of Aa Chal Ke Tujhe Main LeKe Chalu wafting from the kitchen. “My dad used to sing this,” K tells me as I let the song wash over the Hamara Bajaj one, reaching further back in time to an India of a time long before me.

December 08, 2017

Transition: Moments in Crossing, An Exhibition Of My Street Photographs


Click to enlarge

My street photography exhibition – Transitions: Moments in Crossing – opens at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai, next week from Dec 13 to Dec 19 (all days), 11 am – 7 pm.

The 50+ photographs going on display were made over the years of commuting to work and travelling around the city on weekends, and on travels beyond the city, each instance providing a window seat into teeming masses immersed in the everyday of being.

I sought. maybe I didn’t really seek, moments that place the everyday in historical, cultural, traditional and geographical contexts. And where they don’t, I sought moments devoid of drama or in the very moment of promising one.

They are about people, their immediate and far contexts, and their lives on the street. Moments caught in transit. Moments that came to stay with me. Moments that cemented my impression of the place and its people.

I’ve attempted to turn the fleeting into a temporary permanence, seeking their meaning as much in what the framed moments seek to reveal as in their act of concealment for, meanings live in dualities, and die in convergence.

Among the places I'll be featuring are Jaipur, Delhi, Bundi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Nashik, Kolkata, Goa, Murshidabad, Bijapur, Benares, Afzalpur, Baroda, Pushkar, and Mumbai among others.

~


Click to enlarge

Why Transitions?

In the street I seek to make memories of my time on it, seeking moments that bring alive its character in frames frozen street side, anchoring the memories to unfolding dramas, often unscripted, mostly ordinary, sometimes unusual, occasionally unexpected.

Each picture seeks to sit at the convergence of anticipation and surprise to remind me of the delight, however temporary, at seeing this materialise first hand, transforming the street forever, its character now tied inextricably to that one moment as it transitioned from the banal to delightful.

For, on the street the degree of separation between the innocuous and the piquant, the ordinary and the novel, the dreary and the absorbing is often so narrow as to be invisible unless in a tiny sliver of an opening when life reveals its magic in a fractured moment while transitioning from the banal to the prosaic, the shutter comes down at the very moment of transition, freezing life in all its quirks, conflicts, endearments, forebodings, intrigues, and contradictions.

It’s these transitions I sought on my meanderings, seeking meaning and the meaningful, where a seemingly plain moment crosses over into the unexpected at the moment its form and function align together to delight the eye and invigorate the senses.

~

Click to enlarge

Do come over and see the exhibition, and if family and friends are not averse to seeing yet another India-centric exhibition of photographs, bring them along too, and help put the word out. Thanks in advance.

Venue: Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai
Duration: 13 Dec – 19 Dec, 2017 (open on all days).

Timings: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

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Exhibitions

2017 – Group /  Gulf Photo Plus, Dubai, UAE.
2017 – Group /  Darkroom Gallery, Vermont, USA
2017 – Group /  PH21 Gallery, Budapest, Hungary.
2017 – Group /  South x Southeast Gallery, Georgia, USA.
2017 – Group /  Slifka Center, Yale University, Connecticut, USA.
2014 – Solo    /  Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, India.
2012 – Solo    /  Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, India.

Awards & Other

2017 – Finalist, Daily Life category, 10th Pollux Awards.