The old lady at Ulsoor Lake

On a sunny Wednesday when Karnataka had a bandh and there was no public transport, I had quite an eventful day learning to love my city more. I'm a Bangalorean - in mind and heart and soul. I was born here, I grew up here during my teen years and I am back to this garden city as a working adult. Yet, there are so many places I've never seen or ever been to even when its a stone's throw away. I'm guilty of having never been to Lal Bagh, Cubbon park in the evenings and until yesterday, Ulsoor Lake as well.

Ulsoor lake

After eating some aloo paratha's for lunch at Vijul's place, we decided to head out to Ulsoor, or as Bangaloreans now call it - Halasuru to explore the area. There's a pretty cafe with a roof top view of the lake that I simply love to sit at. Urban Solace - a place Keerthana told me about, has dim lit lights with orange and yellow paper lampshades, a gorgeous view and wine too. On Tuesday evenings, they host poetry reading sessions that are open for anyone to attend, read and participate.

Journa-doodling :)

She has really long hair that reaches her bum, sings extremely well and is one of my favorite people in ze world :)

While walking into Urban Solace, I saw two old ladies - around 70 years of age. They were probably catching up while enjoying the warm breeze the lake brought in.  One of them wore a beautiful orange pattu sari, and smiled while I knelt down to take a picture of them talking. She asked for the picture but I had to explain to her that I was using film and I wouldn't be able to. Much to her disappointment she smiled faintly and nodded while she watched as I walked into the cafe.

On my way out, I found her sitting on the steps of the house all alone staring at the passing cars and little kids from neighboring construction sites who were playing with rough stones and wires. She smiled at me again and I couldn't resist walking up to her to make a conversation.

The lovely Lakshmiamma

Her name was Lakshmi-amma, she spoke in a very lucid tamil and being a tamilian myself, I found some pleasure in communicating with her. She lived down the road from Urban solace with her son and daughter -in-law. She relocated from Vellore 20 years ago and had been living in Bangalore since. I told her that my grandmother lived in Madurai, she smiled and said "Then we're neighbors!!"

In conversation

I thanked her for letting me take a photo of her amidst the holding of hands and goodbye hugs, to which she said she let me take one of her only because I resembled her daughter-in-law!

The lake has isolated circular concrete constructions with huge trees and blades of grass shooting out of the ground. The walkway is lined with pretty colorful trees blooming red, orange and yellow flowers. Some were different shades of lavender, and some were white. We walked in, took pictures of little kids, admired the determination of the canoeists, kayakers and of course, the fishermen on their round boats.

fishermen and canoeists

Streaks of sunlight peaked through the clouds while crows and pigeons flocked around the lake. The area is insanely beautiful but there's so much garbage and waste in and around the lake, it makes me incredibly sad.

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We sat and took some portraits of each other in front of this natural frame, enjoyed the breeze and drove back to the Bowring lassi bar. I couldn't have asked for a more fun day with Vijul, exploring and driving around the city.

So, go learn to love your city more :)

Analog, I kinda love you!

Double exposure of me and the sunset from one of my secret trips earlier in November :) I recently just bought the Diana mini and i'm in love with it. My first 3 rolls, needless to say, were absolutely terrible. Except for maybe 10 photos. I've been asked, "Vee, why are you going back in time? There's digital, its so convenient!" and all that jazz. To be honest, I've always been fascinated by old vintage things. I did some research and tried weighing out the pros and cons of old polaroids, LTRs and other instant kodaks. From thrift store hopping in the west village over my summer in NYC to online window shopping at Etsy, I've done as much looking as I could until I stumbled upon the wonders of Lomography. Now i'm not saying it substitutes the greatness of the Rolleiflex or the Seagull (which are also two cameras I considered buying), but its cute, just as convenient and its analog!

Diana Mini

My diana mini takes 35 mm film and has the cutest flash and I absolutely love it. Since its not as handy as the Iphone or even a small digital camera, I make it a point to take it out with me atleast 2 times a week on any of my solo photowalks.

Neon, Neon!

I happened to go on one more of my secret trips recently! I went absolutely crazy using my analog and although i may have misjudged the height of all the things I've taken pictures of, I still absolutely adore these photos. Because, in my opinion, its so important to embrace all that you experience in the process of learning something new, that includes bad pictures.

Half Frame Diana mini.

Now to answer, "Why are you  going back in time and using film?!". This is because I love the idea of having to think before you take a picture. The beauty of not being able to instantly see what you have photographed and take multiple ones and pick your best, is probably what I enjoy most about it.  Analog for me, has made me a better observer. I have begun  looking out for what exactly I want to take a picture of, and how I want to take it. As an amateur, its not exactly the easiest thing, - to get your angles right, understand the exposure, the ISO etc. but its still a learning process that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

A double exposure of a Mexican and Italian Restaurant

I'd have to say my favorite feature about the Diana is the double exposure. Its just so beautiful. The myriad of colors and images that play with the viewer's eyes, forcing one to imagine what each of the elements in the photo would look like individually, is quite wonderful. Apart from that, I love the grainy effect it produces and the square size of the pictures.

I've never really been a fan of DSLRs although I do love the clarity in the photos that come from them.  But it's definitely not for me. I find it extremely bulky and I don't find the rawness of the things being photographed. My french teacher gave up digital and has been using analog for a few years now and I can see why she loves them.

Black and White Double exposure of the sea line and the waves hitting the sea shore.

So, I hope you pick up an analog some day! :)

 

I found July in November

Your knees locked in the curves of mine

Round floor beds

Orange and white sheets

I trace you with my fingertips

outlining your unshaved chin; your firm chest.

dust collects on your windowsill

just like I collect memories of you,

of drunken nights and smiling eyes

I kiss you, so you kiss me back

your arm, cups my breasts

Lucy,  Darling Lucy..

Your chivalry is not conventional

its adolescent –

handsome, rough

I turn to reach out to you

to find you, to pull you closer

into the sweaty layers of passion

but you’re slipping

into the peachy sunlight,

frighteningly distant, too far out to control

Void / devoid

the sunlight tickling my eyes

insecurity slowly creeps in

my heart races, faster; against my will

making my toes painfully numb

your absence makes me hollow

you walked into my dream last night

and hugged me to bed, baby

“baby,” - you said, “I wish you were here”.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

This is one of my favorite poems and this picture instantly reminded me of it. I took this photo on a sunny day in my hostel building. I absolutely love the geometrical aspect of this picture. No edits!

 

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free Where the world has not been broken up into fragments By narrow domestic walls Where words come out from the depth of truth Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit Where the mind is led forward by thee Into ever-widening thought and action Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

-Rabindranath Tagore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream A Little Dream For Me

I was wide awake at 5 am this morning, tossing and turning on my makeshift bed on the floor. Back pain has driven me to find solace on my hard and scarred floor. I cover my ears, protecting myself from the freezing cold of the air conditioner. My mother always said, "Cover your ears if you feel cold, it'll make you instantly warmer". She was right. I felt the shiver slowly drain down my spine hitting each and every nerve on the way, making sure I felt the convulsing warmth and chilliness at the same time, twisting my body into a tiny fur ball making me clutch on to my pillows to find some warmth. I could increase the temperature but that would just makes it very hot a few seconds later. My body is like a broken thermostat – changing its temperature as and when it feels like. I'm thinking of other things, pictures I want to take and stories I want to write. Or maybe I'll let the picture recite its story to me. It could be my teacher and I could be its student, making notes, taking details, explaining the shades and tones in the way I know best. For instance it says, "There is a palm tree, blue skies and some vignetting around the edges - write me".

I get excited, frantically searching for some paper and pen, immediately erecting my back to concentration. I write, "She wore her comfortable red shorts, the one her aunt Cathy from Virginia gave her. She paired it with a crisp white top and a summer hat. A black and blue diana camera in her hand and a brown sling bag around her shoulder, she walked out of her hotel room into the ever inviting fresh sea breeze in Nice. She enjoyed photography and switched from Digital to Analog 3 years ago. Her dad always said, " Vee, people are getting with the times and moving digital. Why are you moving backwards?" She always admired the beauty of analog, its ability to take the perfectly imperfect picture. She liked the idea of having to think before taking a shot, think about what she wanted to take a picture of, how she wanted to take it and who was to be a part of it. She was the creator of each photo.

Her favorite was a picture of a huge palm tree, with long ripe hands and a strong body. The skies were clear blue, reflecting the depth of the ocean. It had a few streaks of orange in the horizon and a smudged black vignetting around the edges. That was her first photo in Singapore. It marked the beginning of a new adventure. To her, it signified freedom and simplicity. As she walked out the spinning door, she was secretly hoping her first picture in Nice would be just as meaningful and memorable."

I pause and put my pen down, wondering if its too much or maybe to little and loose ended. I hope the photo is satisfied with the story I spun out of it. Maybe it was a story I wrote for myself, a story that I want to write after I take a picture of something that beautiful.

I hit my grey clock hoping it was 6:30, but its only 5:22 am. I increase the temperature anyway; peel off a layer of my quilt and throw my leg over my pillows. The cool air just about makes it perfectly nice for me to try and sleep. I smile thinking of nice summers and beaches. The picture is framed in my mind like a Van Gogh painting. I close my eyes and seed back into sleep. Slowly.

A few minutes later, I find myself in a nice white shirt and red shorts walking along the beach in Nice.

If I can’t have it right now, I am allowed to dream it! Aren’t I?

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Date A Girl Who Explores.

Have you read Date A Girl Who Reads by Rosmarie Urquico? If you haven't, please do! My post is a little writing exercise I put myself through and an addition to the "Date A Girl/Boy who.." series! I hope you enjoy it, share it and can identify with it :)

Date A Girl Who Explores.

Date a Girl who gets excited at the chance of taking a long walk discovering the tiny alleys of a neighborhood. Date her because she would rather be outside in the scorching heat finding that new bookstore instead of lazing in front of the couch watching “Jersey Shore”.

You will find her talking about a new art installation in a tiny gallery that her friends didn’t know existed. Date her because she is just as passionate about surrealism as she is about street art. She will meet people who have dissimilar interests and ask them a million questions because she is as curious as a colorful wandering butterfly. She will take you to the unveiling of a photography display that’s in town for a week; she will beg you to go with her to the new Andy Warhol exhibit even though she has no knowledge about pop art, only because she is enthusiastic to learn.

Take her to the Saturday flea market in Brooklyn, or the farmer’s market in Union Square. She will revel at the sight of an old typewriter or a vintage camera. You’ll find her talking to the tomato sellers; asking them about their stories, their families.

She will always listen.

You’ll know she has a wandering eye when you’re ranting about your apartment woes and she drifts off mid-conversation pointing at a passing van painted with owls. She will treasure a little postcard over any fancy meal at the best restaurant in town.

If you look through her collection of scavenged items, you may find little concert tickets, blue beaded fish bracelets, visiting cards of different cafes, a novel she picked up on the side of an abandoned parking lot, colorful green and red tissue papers, coasters from her favorite bars in different cities, countries even. Her collection is a million little memories that would mean nothing to anyone else but her.

When you talk to her, you will know she has a flair for words, as she does for scrabble. You will be consumed, in mind and heart, by her experiences and anecdotes that you can feel the adrenaline gushing through her speech, as she vividly describes her White Rock camping trip in Arkansas or river rafting expeditions in Dandeli. She will relive those memories, in that very moment as her muscles take shape to show her beautiful smile, her pupils dilate in excitement changing the tone of the conversation but forever altering the colors of your sight.

She is a people person. She loves meeting new people and making new friends as much as she loves the comfort of her own bed. Whether it’s a 45-year-old Australian couple she met at a rooftop bar, a 40 year old lawyer she met on the Hudson River or a shy 24-year-old American boy she fell for at Fulton Station, she will know what to say and how to say it well enough to leave a trail of her scent behind, making you long for her company just a little whiff longer.

Invite her to your city. If she loves you enough, she may even make a secret trip out of it. Watch her peel the layers of emotions, moods and colors as she beautifully captures each street corner or every treetop with her camera in a way that you probably would have never seen it. Allow her to transform your vision, disintegrate your previous reservations and make you fall head over heels in love with the city you used to be in love with, when you first moved there.

She appreciates and respects her roots. As much as she enjoys the independence of living alone and traveling the world, she does miss falling asleep on her mother’s lap, her sister’s silly laugh and her father’s big warm hug. She knows that every trip back home is one step farther from her next journey, but one step closer to these strong ties that keep her grounded. She loves her family and friends who have been a constant reminder of how far she has come; from seeing her as the little girl eating masala dosas in the school canteen to the woman cooking her own meals in a makeshift electric cooker.

Talk to her about music. Let her sing you a song or two. Her taste in music is as distinctively different as the changing seasons. She will take you to the cozy café tucked in the heart of Duxton Hill allowing you to discover that new artist you are now talking about on Facebook. Whether it’s a little slow jazz Sinatra song or an amazing guitar solo by John Mayer, she will sing it to you the way the street singer - Jess, sang it to her at Court Sq. station.  Go with her on these little journeys; finding new singers, getting lost in transit and she will make you realize that your worries are so little compared to those who have nothing and are so happy with whatever little they make out of their passion for music.

Better yet, teach her an instrument.

Date her because she is eager to learn. Because she yearns to learn a new language, write a new story, help construct a new Lego set or even paint a new picture. In that process, learn from her how it is always okay to fail and start afresh, start something new, something that is yours.

No matter how far she goes to explore the corners of the world, know that you will always be a postcard away. In that way, you are there in spirit; holding her by the waist as you’ll stand on the east river looking at the diminishing skyline, or giving her a hand while hiking the Machu Picchu. No matter whom she meets along the way, she will always be a phone call away for you.

Join her when she lies on the green grass and stares into the vast beautiful sky. Allow her to see that in you. To find the depth of your knowledge and the length of your personality and respect you as you are. Make sure you do the same. If she lets you in, you’ll be as happy as a puppy and as content as a sleeping bear.

Date a girl who explores because you will always have something to learn from and teach each other. Because life is too short to be selfish about knowledge and too colorful to only see it in black and white.