Saturday, December 29, 2012

You have just sealed your fate

Like one young girl in Bangalore said "If a rape victim can fight for her life for 13 days and if the Government can send her to Singapore for treatment, then what is stopping the government from sending the Rapists to Saudi Arabia for  a fitting punishment"

The Indian Governance and the Government - you have sealed your fate today.
You have just lost the next elections. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Calcutta streets Part two

While still on the subject of the Rickshaw pullers, here is one guy getting ready for his morning run. (at least he has some footwear)

There is some sort of a number painted behind every rickshaw.

Is this the registration number? I have no idea, maybe  someone from Kolkata can enlighten me on this.
As usual when there is a brawl on the streets all eyes are riveted there. It could be the stationary rickshaw

or the  rickshaw puller along with the passenger, oblivious of the impending danger of vehicles crossing in front of them.

Looks like things are sorted out and people are moving on.

Some observed the fracas from the safety of their shop, like this tailor who I presume makes these small pouches.

I am still trying to figure out what those pouches are used for. It can’t be a mobile pouch as it is too big for that. Is it a money purse for the ladies to be tucked away in the saree?
Talking of tailors, I was observing the dexterity with which this guy threaded the needle.  He must be definitely on the wrong side of fifty but he needs no spectacles to do the fine work.

As you can see, the other two machines on his sides are not in use for a long time or the wheel would be shining from the hand contact that takes place while starting and stopping the machine. It also speaks of the slack in the business, where once upon a time this shop must have been super busy trying to meet deadlines. Blame it on the thriving ready made garment business.

While walking along the narrow lanes saw some of the name boards. Wonder how old this one was.

A mother waited patiently as her son quenched his thirst with sugarcane juice

You will find these small cane crushers set up at intervals. The flywheel ensures reduced effort by human.

The newspaper stand is well displayed with papers on the makeshift table as well as strung out at a height so that people can see it from far

And for those who can’t afford to buy a copy of the newspaper, these free reading boards are available at strategic locations on the road.

In case you are wondering about the gadget in the picture below, it is the iron getting ready for pressing clothes

There are two irons which are kept hot on a coal grill. When one loses its heat, it is kept on the grill and the one on standby is used, thus maintaining the continuity of work. Trust me, its better than the electric iron, and cost effective too.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Calcutta streets - Part one

It is always interesting to observe people and if you can capture the same on camera, then it will put a smile on your face when you go through the results later.
Had been to Kolkata (Calcutta) recently and was there for four days. Right from the chai wala on the street who offered us tea in the mud pot, to the shop keeper who caught up on his forty winks, it was fun capturing all that happened around me.

The rickshaw puller weaving through the busy traffic is a common sight in Kolkata. 

I hope to make a video on the same, but the best I liked was the taxi service in Calcutta. Almost all taxis are of the Ambassador make. You may have your doubts about it being road worthy but they perform well, stop at your beck, and will take you to your destination. No hazzles about the charge, they go exactly by the meter and will tender the exact change.

I liked the way the Taxis were maintained. If the factory fitted bonnet locks are not working, they have their own cost effective way of designing a lock.

Their driving is neat and move about on the road with ease (managing not to scrape the vehicle with the other vehicles)  

The vehicles get washed daily morning. There is no dearth of water supply.

There are regular ‘washer boys’ who do it for a nominal fee.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Great Indian Weddings

Attending weddings are fun, or so it may seem to most people.
Have attended quite a few and I must say each region (of India) has a different way of celebrating the event.
Some of the most sober (and poker faced) ones are the ones that I have seen in my own community. The guests just come, eat and go. Some of them don’t even bother to wish the couple. And after reaching home they discuss about the amount of gold the bride was wearing (or should have worn)

Recently I attended a Bengali wedding in Calcutta. There are a lot of rituals and customs that are followed, but on the whole it was fun and colourful.

It was nice to see that all the guests took a keen interest in the proceedings. I tried to capture most of it on video but it was a tough fight wading through the multitude of the relatives who were milling around the couple.
I was lucky as far as the lighting goes, as the marriage hall was very spacious and well lit. I also found that every time I was strategically placed so that all the events were happening right in front of me.

Even though there was an official photographer, you could see that practically every one was trying to capture a slice of the action. 
I managed to get a lot of footage but the challenge was to edit and compress it so that the viewer would not get bored . Finally I managed to do it……. a three day event compressed to 33 minutes. Attaching here a part of it (about 10 minutes) 
Like I said before, it is colourful and lively.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Trams of Calcutta

Calcutta (now Kolkata) is the only city in India where the trams are still running and I am happy that the government is not planning to take it off the tracks.
Visited Calcutta last week for a family function and I made it a point to have a ride in one of the old jaunty jalopies. It runs at its own pace, the frequency between trips may be far and few in-between, but it takes you from point A to point B, does not pollute, and is cheap.

The closest point for me to board the tram was the Maidan station and I am glad I did that as I could capture these slow moving carriages against the backdrop of lush green surroundings.

Brought back memories of the trams we had in Bombay which went off the tracks in 1964 (did write about it earlier)

While I took the ride, I was observing the driver and realized how alert he had to be. He has his left hand on the accelerator, his right hand on the brake and his leg operates the warning bell.

There are no rear view mirrors, so every time when the tram stops he goes to the side and looks back to see if all has boarded and then takes over the levers. There is no way he can apply sudden brakes, so he has to be always proactive and on the look out for the pedestrians crossing. His worst night mare must be driving through the thick of the city traffic, so his leg is continuously jangling the bell.  

At times the carriage is almost empty and the conductor is relaxed.

We had a mother daughter duo who was begging while making an attempt to sing a Hindi song with the help of two pieces of tiles to keep the rhythm. (it worked something like a castanet)

I did capture some good still and video shots of the journey and tried to make a five minute video of it.

About the video
Holding the camera steady in the tram was a challenge. So having the elbows (and knees) slightly bend I made it work like a steady cam. Many did not know that I was holding a camera so that ‘staring into the camera’ situation did not arise. I managed to capture some shots of the passengers inside and some lovely view of the race course and its fence outside.

After putting together all the snippets, the final task was to wave that magic wand known as Music.  Somebody rightly said that music adds magic to any video.
Getting the right music for this video was the challenge. Went through many Bengali songs but none of them went with the tempo of the movement of the tram. I tried the  popular song Ekla Cholo Re by Kishore Kumar (a very old one) with some lovely Bengali music but it did  not blend with the  rhythm. But when I tried Ekla Cholo Re by Amitabh Bachchan, it blended perfectly with the slow pace of the tram. After completing the video, one of my friends commented “this song goes unnoticed in the original movie (Kahani) but here the song and the video compliment each other perfectly”
After a few days the same guy said “why don’t you put it in a CD and send it to Amitabh? I am sure he will like it”
I said I just know that he stays in some Jalsa in Mumbai and don’t have the proper mailing address. Moreover, he is such a busy man making so many people crorepatis with his multiple choice answers that he won’t have time to look at a 5 minute CD from an ordinary mortal from Pune.
"Don’t you worry about that"  he said "just burn the CD and keep it ready, I will get the address for you"

Now I am really tempted to send that CD as I am mighty pleased with the outcome of the video. Maybe something rubbed off on me from the homeland of Satyajit Ray. 
(to see the video click on the picture below.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A man for all seasons

You meet some people in life and then depart to meet again. One such person is Mathew T Ninan who was my school mate. The last time we met was in May 1969. That was the time when he came down to Bombay (now Mumbai) to meet me and we painted the town red (including watching our first adult movie - Dustin Hoffman’s “The Graduate”)
After that he went back to his home town and I lost contact with him and had no idea where he was or what he was doing.

Last year I accidentally met his uncle who gave me Mathew’s mobile number and told me that he was in Bangalore.

So finally last month we met in Bangalore.

43 years is a long time and we had a lot to catch up. So we talked and talked for almost four hours. Or rather I let him do most of the talking and I listened as he had a real checkered life. He worked for Schlumberger oil rig that took him to practically all over the world and his escapades and experiences were worth listening to.

I liked some of the principles that he followed during the course of his life. In his own words “If he can do that job, then why can’t I? OK, he may be doing it in a week’s time, and it may take me a month today, but I can improve on it and do it in a week. Maybe I will end up doing better than him”  This attitude of his made him take up all the challenging jobs that came his way. He ventured into the deserts of Libya where his counterparts refused to go, helped some companies set up base in Vietnam, described how the desert looked when the small crustaceans came up in the night to lay their eggs.. . . . . . .  the list is endless. 

During the course of our conversations his wife joined in and listened quietly. At the end she confessed that she too was not aware of some of the minute details that her husband had gone through in his life.

As he was showing me around the house I saw this one room stacked with practically everything. When I asked him he said that this was his workshop in the house. He never called a plumber/mason/carpenter/electrician to work in his house. He did everything himself.
 I was really impressed by this and his small tool room, which was packed with all the handy tools that is required for maintenance of a house.
His fish tank was worth a click.

At the end of the day he was kind enough to come all the way from Koramangalam to Hormavu to drop me back at my brother in law’s place.
We will probably meet again in December when I fly down for a function in Bangalore. Maybe there will be more updates on this at that time.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nursery Furniture

I remember, when I was small there was a cradle which was supposed to be my bed. Come to think of it I remember it clearly because the same cot was used for my brother and my sister when they were born. There was this one side which was like a “cage door’ that would slide down making it easy to pick up the baby. I don’t know from where my dad got it, but it was made of wood and was light.  It was something similar to this cot below.

By the way this picture of the Ashton Cot is from the site Nursery furniture.
One of the hazzles the parents face is feeding the child. It’s a real messy affair. I found this folding high chair very practical and it looks like a light weight one.

As we grew up the choice of the toys were also limited. Now a days the availability of toys and its accessories are just mind boggling. So when its a birthday (especially of a child) then we are always in a fix as to what to buy for the child because the house is already flooded with so many toys. For example this Chota Bheem toy basket that I found here at hoopos is something that any child would like to have.
Just that secure feeling that all his toys are safe with Bheem while he is fast asleep.
One of the things that I liked is the organic Peggy bear wooden peg. Its real cute and one of those things that a child would like to gaze at while drifting off to sleep.
Some of the bathroom accessories are also eye catching like this tooth brush holder.
I found this in the nursery room and bathroom accessories.
 All said and done the variety and option is to the advantage of the parents - and the kids who enjoy it.