Sunday, February 20, 2011


I wonder why people get upset and rave and rant when a train or plane gets delayed. (if you have a connecting flight then I can understand the anxiety)

Or else a railway station or an airport is a nice place to observe people, their movement and their mannerisms.
Just look around you and you can see a sea of faces. Each one in their own world.
If you can ignore the most common irritant factor (the cell phone) then its an art to observe people.

I traveled from Mumbai Airport to Cochin recently and found it rather interesting. This young man looks oblivious to all that’s happening around him, thanks to the music that he is enjoying.

Then here is this guy who kept checking this monitor every five minutes, must be desperate for some information. Could he be a scientist? But we cannot classify people from their hairstyle, can we?

Meanwhile here was this staff being super efficient (as is required at a bustling place like this)

It is interesting to see how people approach the body search platform. Some step on to the platform with the attitude of “why the hell do they want to search me”

Gone are the days when the pilot could walk in through a private door, run across the tarmac, hop up the steps, jump into his cockpit seat and start fiddling with all the switches and knobs (Frank Sinatra style) Now they too have to go through the routine, like a regular passenger (and their bags too get scanned)

Kids are a different story. They are amused by the whole episode (and the guy who inspects them try to put them at ease by talking to them in a friendly way)

Once in the aircraft, people get restless and is almost on the verge of asking “why are we not taking off?”

They don’t realize that once we were "pushed back" we were taxied to the take off side lane, waiting for that Indian Airlines (Express) plane to land.

Once that has landed, there is another Indigo aircraft waiting in line to take off .

It is only then that your pilot takes you to the start point of the take off tarmac.

It is no mean feat that a flight takes off (or lands) every 3.5 minutes at the Mumbai airport (I timed it) You should be thankful to the guys at the control tower for managing it so well. I mean reading Arthur Hailey’s “Airport” is one thing and to see it being actually carried out without a flaw is another thing.

It is amusing to see the airhostess going through the motion of showing you how to inflate a rubber dinghy or operate the oxygen mask. Can’t blame them as they have to repeat the same drill on every flight (as it is mandatory as per the safety rules)

Take off is one thing which brings different expressions on the passengers. Some cling on to the hand rest with eyes closed and a short prayer on their lips, while others just relax and take out their reading material and start reading.

Once you are airborne people relax and either settle down to have a nice snooze or catch up with their reading…….

while the staff go about their usual work of distributing food…..(I found the staff quite efficient)

As for me, I prefer looking out of the window to catch up with some wonderful scenes and wonder if the Wright brothers got to see the same things that I see today from high up above……..


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The travails of a photographer

At weddings, professional photographers do their bit and then they take the bride and groom “for location shooting” and finally produce a big album and some CDs (followed by a big fat bill)

I wonder how many people do actually watch those CDs. If you analyse it, the main reason is the length of the CD.
I thought there should be some way by which one does not get bored by the visuals. I took some pictures of a wedding that I attended and made it into a movie which runs for just 7 minutes. (The movie is attached at the end of the post)

It is not very difficult to photograph events and people.

Apart from the bride and the groom it is interesting to click people when they are in their natural best. Take a good close up and you can identify the colours on the eyelids

or may be the sharp stilettos.

It is easy to click when people are relaxed:

For every one good photograph there are about 10 that goes into the thrash can.

For example I spotted a photogenic face and tried to capture her (from long distance of course) The first one was not very complimentary and out of focus too, so lets skip it.

The second , third, fourth and fifth were all partially blocked by people’s back or hand or a waiter passing by with steaming starters…..

Finally I got one right.

Now what is the point in keeping this in my camera or in my computer. The right person who would appreciate it the most is the person in the photograph. Just imagine her joy when she sees herself in a good stance or a good profile. So I send it across to her. (or better still I will send the link of this post to her)

That brings us to the topic of the photographer. He is always behind the camera and he is seldom shot at.

Last month I attended a wedding in which I wore a brand new colourful Kurta with matching jute chappals. But I never got to see how I looked in that Kurta. I am a shy person when it comes to being in front of the camera but still there is always that curiosity to see how that brand new colourful kurta looked on me. No I did not see myself in the mirror at home as the full length mirror was occupied by wifey. (you know the last minute rush to get to the venue in time)

At the venue they had adorned me with a colourful turban and Johnnie said that I looked smashing with the turban and the kurta but I have yet to see how I looked.

May be like this:

Or maybe like this:

Or I could have been like this:

(by the way that is Johnnie dancing away to glory)

I even thought of looking at myself in the mirror of the hotel elevator, but that elevator had no mirrors. It only had see through glasses by which you can see the panoramic view of the traffic jam down as you go up !!

They say that the boy’s side has a particular turban and the girl’s side have a different coloured turban. I don’t know which side I was from, as I have no idea what they tied on my head !!

I am no great fan of the Face Book, but in the recent past I have been scanning the profiles and photographs of all those who attended that wedding to see if I can spot myself in that kurta and turban. Some where by mistake somebody must have clicked me in a crowd or something like that, but no luck so far.

Its been a month now and the search goes on…….. and if I don’t find it, please inscribe on my tombstone “Here lies the man who does not know how smashing he looked in a colourful kurta and turban”

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cochin and Elephants

The last two days of our stay in Kerala were spent in Cochin and Ernakulam.
The view from the 10th floor of the hotel was pretty good.

The only problem was that we had to depend on the mini bus to take us to the city.

The first day was devoted to Jew street and visiting all the historic churches nearby (more on that in the next post)
There was a Tribal mela held near marine drive.  We ambled around for some time and the thing that caught our attention was the ice cream !! (more of ice and less of cream)

A stroll in the mall at Marine Drive turned out to be a good shopping event for some.

We were lucky to witness the last day of the eight day long festival of the Shiva Temple at Ernakulam (near Darbar Hall) where the deity is taken out on the caparisoned elephant in procession.

This elephant is accompanied by eight other elephants all decked up.  
I was observing these elephants, the huge giants that roam the earth, but so docile and submissive to the quick orders from their mahout.

Their eyes speak a lot.

 Pretty feet in chains   should be an apt title for the picture below.

The changing of the coloured umbrella is a ritual that takes place here with the accompaniment of the  Panchavadiyam.

It is said that the best available chendavadiyam artists are arranged for this occasion.

The instruments used for the Panchavadiyam are Timila, Madalam, Ilatalam, Idakka and the kombu. 

Blowing the kombu is not an easy task as can be seen by the way this boy is straining on it.

It was fun to watch the crowd, some eagerly following the drum beat and keeping a count of the 14 beat adanta taalam, while others waiting for the next programme to start.

(I believe there was some variety entertainment after that as I could see these sound mixers busy fine tuning their work) 

We moved out of the Durbar Hall ground and entered Avenue Regent Hotel. The air conditioned comfort and the soothing drinks put us at ease and was a good prelude to the dinner that followed.
I found the food quite good and a special mention should be made about the magician who mysteriously appeared as soon as we finished our buffet dinner.
Well, this video that I made with the still pictures should explain that sequence better:
(wait for the complete video to buffer and then replay it so that you get the right effect with the music)