Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The 60 Sec Film Festival

The Batasia Loop was commissioned in 1919 to take care of the sharp fall of 1000 feet when the Darjeeling train leaves Ghoom. An Engineering feat, back in those days. There is a war memorial at the Batasia Loop in memory of the Gorkha soldiers of Darjeeling. 

On the upward journey the train halts there for ten minutes and I alighted to take some pictures of the surroundings.

I was almost done when I heard someone singing the National Anthem. I saw some people standing in attention while a boy was singing. I managed to capture a little video footage of the tail end of his singing. 

When it was over I asked the parents about it. They said that they had just asked him to stand next to the National Flag so that they could take a picture of him, but as soon as he stood there he decided to sing the anthem catching everyone by surprise.   

Later on the way back I could get a good pan shot of the Gorkha memorial when the train circled it. 

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is considered a World Heritage under UNESCO and its one of its kind in India with the track crisscrossing the road all the way from Darjeeling to Ghoom. 

Last week there was a Film Festival held in Pune, where entries were invited and the challenge was to tell a story in 60 seconds. I suddenly thought of the footage I had with me of the train. I thought, what can be better than to merge the World Heritage train and the Indian National anthem culminating at the Batasia Loop. But the real challenge was to fit it in one minute. I finally uploaded the film and submitted it. It was screened but did not make it to the finals list.
Talking of the Film Festival there were some good entries and I particularly liked “The Chocolate Cake” which won the best film trophy. 

Like I keep saying, if you get the right cast, half the battle is won. The shopkeeper and the child were perfect for their role and they were equally good in their performance.  

The Festival in itself was good and a new experience for the Pune people. There were some minor flaws which could have been avoided, like pictures screened in the first half were screened again after lunch. But the thing that irritated me (and others) was the DJ and his loud music. They feel that they are showing their efficiency by blaring the music. (some fine print should be included in the contract when hiring such guys, no playing the music beyond so and so decibels)
I have uploaded the first cut of my film on YouTube which runs for 72 seconds.
Hope to do better next year.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Urban Sketchers

Its been more than four decades that I have been in Pune and I found this gate at Koregaon Park always locked with a board outside saying “Botanical Survey of India” 

I took it to be one of those government offices where getting in won’t be easy as you have to obtain the “permission” from the right quarter.  Well, yesterday I did get a chance to get in, as the Urban Sketchers of Pune were visiting the place to sketch the Heritage building Moti Mansion which happens to be in the premises.
Moti Mansion was the home for some renowned elites of the first half of the twentieth century.  More on the heritage part later. 
I was fortunate enough to be in the midst of so many artists and to see them produce wonderful sketches and paintings with ease in a short time. 

Each one had their own comfort zone for painting, like some were comfortable standing and painting while others had an easel stand. 

Some had low slung chairs while others just squatted on the floor. 

Many used the brush directly (without any preliminary  sketches) I found sketches being made by fountain pen, sketch pen, charcoal and finger, marker pens which goes to prove that creativity is in your hands and you can create it by using any medium. 

You can see some of them in action in the ten minute video I created.

I was worried about this lady as her water colour bowl was perched at an impossible angle always threatening to tip off and ruin her creation.  

It was good to see that people from all age groups took part in the sketching. 

Coming back to the historical background, this piece of land belonged to Sir Shapoorji  Bharucha of Bombay. It was jointly inherited by his family members after his death in 1920. One of the owners , A Nanjee built this large house here and named it Moti Mansion. 

 You can see the etching AN (A Nanjee) on the glass of the doors and windows.
Moti Mansion was leased out for some years to Mir of Khairpur, who lived in the Mansion. (Khairpur was in Upper Sind and was forcefully annexed to Pakistan by the British) Thereafter the property was looked after by the Shapoorji Bharucha Charity Trust till 1977 when it was bought by the Government of India for the Botanical Survey of India.  

After having a look at all the paintings, I am tempted to dabble with the paint and brush.

On second thoughts, I think I will stick to telling stories with my camera.

Getting together for the mandatory group photo after the session.  

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Masters of yesteryears

Everyone has that one teacher (or teachers) who stand out in their life and they never fade. It is very rare that you meet your teacher after three decades. I am talking about Mr M G Ghokale who taught us Engineering drawing when we were undergoing training at Telco (now Tata Motors) 

Met him today at a friend’s son’s wedding.

It is said that if you can master the art of reading an engineering drawing, then designing a component is an easy task. This will be vouched by all those who underwent tutelage by Mr MG (that is what we used to call him) He was very particular about the letterings and the dimensioning practices that are used in engineering drawings. 

At the bottom you can see the date and MG’s signature.  That is almost 44 years ago. (I still hold on to my old journals)  I remember the piece of advice he gave “always carry a small diary and a pencil in your pocket. Ideas will hit you at the most unexpected time. Jot it down immediately as you are bound to forget it later”  This is so true.

I also admire (and practice) the method he taught us about “remembering things” He demonstrated this in our class. He asked each one of us to name any two objects. He said he can later reproduce what each one of us named (at random) There were 30 of us in the class and he did deliver what he promised. I had mentioned Typewriter and Rose. He said the trick to it was “I just visualised Joe sitting in front of a typewriter with a rose on the typewriter. That picture was frozen in my mind so its easy to reproduce it if you mention any one of these three things”  

Somewhere along the way he left the nine to five job to pursue his passion “creating special surgical instruments” He is now 79 and still indulges in his passion. I am told that surgeons take him to the operation theater where he can actually see the requirement of the doctors and then design and create the instruments. What a wonderful way to live a retired life. Every day is a challenge.

He has won the Industrial Merit Award in 1990 and the Bharat Gaurav in 1996.

Coming back to the Engineering drawing, I think it is no more required now as everything is created by the computers and there is no thinking involved.

But I am happy I learned it the hard way as it helps me in my day to day life.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The root bridge

I just stood there in awe looking at that root bridge. A classic example of the symbiotic relation between humans and nature. 

This bridge is about 180 years old and it is over the Thylong river.  It is worth mentioning here that the four major clans, Khongsar, Khongthohrem, Khongliar and the Nohwet village had a major role to play in the creation of this living root bridge.  You have to go down about 450 steps from the road level to reach the bridge.  

The entry fee to visit the bridge is only ten rupees and it is managed by the Dorbar Shnong Nohwet.  

I noticed that there were volunteers from the village who kept a watch on the bridge. You can walk across the bridge but stopping or taking selfies on the bridge is not allowed. You can see one of the tourists being adamant about clicking a selfie inspite of the volunteer telling him to get off the bridge.    

As seen all over the North East, there are dust bins provided at every possible corner.  

This sign board talks about the dos and donts. 

Looking at it from a different angle, you can see the tree is supporting itself as well as the bridge.

Sustainable living architecture that will live for generations to come.

Walking around the river bed I had a closer look at the life around the river. This guy was waiting for his lunch 

While walking down the steps I heard a lot of chirping sound and finally located one of them. Can’t believe that this little one could create such a racket. 

Clicked one more picture from further down the river.