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So I was sent to Paris during the glorious French winter of 2009 for a job training. Quit the previous one in September (they moved from center of the city to a ghetto in the outskirts (own space, but what do I care about that), thus my commute became sitting four goddam hours in a car from what was a fifteen-minutes stroll, and this became the mythical final straw that broke the camel's back), took a small break which now feels like a haze, and joined this new one in November. In no time my new employer figured out that I'm absolutely useless without some serious training, and thus I landed in their Paris office.

While in Paris, I managed to not to do much outside work, except for the obligatory tourist gig on a weekend. What follows is the result. Obviously there's much, much more I should have done other than staying curled up in the hotel room. But like always, there's a next time. There ought to be, and, note to self: when that occasion comes, dude, you better be the master of your own schedule.

picture dump )

In Madurai.

Oct. 9th, 2009 08:08 pm
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two friends

In Madurai,
city of temples and poets,
who sang of cities and temples

Here's a poem, A River, by A K Ramanujan.

Here're a bunch of pictures, by, err, me. There should have been more, given that this is Madurai and Madurai is the kind of place that is full of people and things and sights that a camera can devour. But I have grown lazy to carry a camera all the time, and grown shy to poke that thing on people's noses. So it happens that insentients get most attention, willing sentients get some attention, unwilling ones not so much. As it happened in the final edit, the more interesting pictures are that of sentients.

What a conundrum.


Jan. 21st, 2009 10:40 pm
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Here is a bunch of old pictures from Gokarna, back from 2007. I was just reminded of them by [ profile] purely_narcotic's group invitation in flickr. (Thank you.)

Keralappiravi dinam (the day Kerala as we see it on the map today was born under the provisions in the State Reorganisation Act 1956: November 1, 1956) fell on one of those days. This we celebrated by walking about under the sun on the beach sand, with intermittent supplies of beer made by our favourite alcohol baron's bird-logo'ed company. (Right, November 1 is Karnataka Rajyotsava also, to be fair to the lovely people that's provided us with economic refuge. Salut. Merci.)

On the other hand, legend is that Parashuraaman (alias Parashurama, alias Parasuram) hurled his mighty axe all the way from Gokarna to Kanyakumari, and then rose from ocean the glorious People's Communist Democratic Republic of Kerala. Until the first democratically elected Communist government actually happened, and them filthy Comminists brought the Kerala Land Reforms Act (1963) into effect, descendants of the original Brahmin settlers to whom Parashuraaman had relinquished land rights (this was out of caste allegiance, I believe) ruled over all Kerala landmass. (Feel free to form your own Brahmin hegemony conspiracy theory, or variants, or counter-theories thereof.) Anyway, this is the mythological and perhaps historical significance of Gokarna, at least for us beef-eating, rum-drinking (this bit about food-alcohol habit is not vast generalisation, my Highly Scientific Observational Study has proven this to be correct) abnormal Indian populace. So while there, we naturally joked about throwing another axe in the same general direction in order to claim some more expensive real estate. After all we owe it to the original land-grabber, don't we.

Now, what's interesting about this picture is that four of us saw the same thing and shot it in more or less the same way.
  • Here is a picture [ profile] maxaud took, with his digital SLR, with a 50mm f/1.8 lens.
  • Here is a picture blackfin2 took, with his digital SLR, with his almighty Canon L-series lens.
  • And here is a picture lomax13 took, with his paavam film SLR and a paavam "kit" lens, on Kodak Ektachrome (E100G or maybe E100VS) slide film. This by far is my favourite of the lot.
(Right, pseudonymous sissies, all three of them.)

I believe this is sufficient reason for continued love for film, even in its humblest incarnations: those days I carried an old light-leaking Yashica Electro 35 GSN with me, and this was shot on some very ordinary Kodak Colour Plus film or something. (I actually like the light leaks.) We further discovered the very cheap Sterling 125 B&W film (Rs 35/roll, no more) in a Gokarna photo studio. Apparently this is Lucky film or something bulk-loaded into rejected film canisters. It'd have been wonderful if I could find some more of that to play with. (Results from this film are actually quite decent. I haven't made prints or anything, still.)

(I apologize for using too many brackets, including this one.)
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Sidharth (alright, [ profile] mat_attack), Vivek and I had been to Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole a weekend back. We strayed about, moved around in creaky-jumpy vans and buses, gawked at temple porn art, drank beer, did not watch the adult movie in a local cinema hall as planned, drank some more beer, speculated a bit about life back then when kings were kings and the rest were mere losers, hatched plans for Sid's upcoming Booker and Filmfare winners, and had an overall good time. Children and sometimes adults (even the infamous Badami monkeys, I would say) came to me asking to be photographed, and so the LCD preview came much handy. (Now that is truly something to appreciate about digital.) These are my people and I love them to bits for their generosity. However I now have the problem of ending up with too many pictures. It's aggravated by these places being such that every nook, corner, cranny and stone has a story.

As always, I regret going there with little homework. (Not even a cursory glance on related wikipedia articles, imagine that.) Badami and whereabouts are not as touristy as the neighbouring Hampi (notable is the nearly total absence of souvenir shops and guides), so the plan to buy a guide book and do some instant research did not work. So it happens that we just have not explored or appreciated the place well enough. But as always, there should be a next time when we would do this BetterTM, correcting our past mistakes.

+9 )
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HPTDC's "Himachal Paryatan" bus was to start at 11am from Manali bus stand, but it started at 11:40am. At the rows of dhabas along Rohtang pass, we were allowed half an hour to eat lunch. But nothing, not even a boiled egg, was served at the end of that half an hour. Our bus conductor was annoyed, and asked his driver to start anyway. My friends were equally annoyed, argued and stayed over until everything ordered were served and plates were licked clean.

You could say that it was a slow start day.

And then the bus broke down around 3pm, as we were climbing Rohtang La. Help arrived from Manali at 7. They worked through fog and dark and cold, and finally the bus could be started again at around 10am. We were supposed to reach Keylong and settle into our tents (the fare included tented accomodation in the HPTDC complex in Keylong and dinner), but we reached there at 2:30am. We ate dinner, slept for maybe two hours, and were ready to start again at 5:30am.

The driver, like everybody else, must have slept for two hours. And this guy was under the bus in the night, helping to fix it. After this he was driving through that thick foggy dark night for quite some distance. And he's to take us through the rest of this rough road, for the entire day, until we reach Leh. You would expect that there would be another driver or an assistant for such a long (two days) trip, but there was none. This is supposedly a luxury bus, but clearly HPTDC did not want to risk a real luxury bus on this route.

It was kind of unsettling to sit right behind the driver, knowing that this guy has hardly slept the previous night. We reached Leh at 10pm without incidences -- except for an overtuned oil tanker blocking our way for about two hours.

And I thought I knew what hard work is.

"Hard work is hauling bales of hay or cleaning sewers. Scientists and engineers should be grateful that society is willing to pay us to have fun," said Leslie Lamport in an old interview. So true.

(picture dump.)


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