2006 The Blog that was

I turned to photography because I’m a lazy writer. And so it should be immediately noted that the imagery I typically sew together is meticulous, structurally obsessive, random and doesn’t necessarily concern itself with any sort of palpable beauty. I shoot photographs because I want to tell stories, just like some of my fellow bloggers do with words. While some may find that difficult to do in one frame, it’s all the more rewarding (for me, of course) when all the pieces fit together and transcend the petty limitations of four corners.

Here’s the story of how it all began. I started this blog some 3 1/2 years ago, as a bored seventeen year old, after I somehow stumbled on to a blog, then owned by Pyra labs. For the first two years amazingly I didn’t quiet know what to do with the blog so I filled the pages with something that read like del.icio.us meets livejournal. It was only then that I discovered flickr and photography – probably about the same time. Now non-structured grammatically incorrect gibberish doesn’t find many takers on the blogosphere so I had to restructure my blog to make it more accessible; after all what’s the use of blogging if there is no one at the end reading it. Pictures are a good substitute - firstly, I can by-pass all the inadequacies I have with words and spelling and secondly, if all else fails I’ll get a comment,” Nice pictures, Akshay”.
“Tell stories with photographs” – that’s been my objective for the last 18 months or so and hopefully that’s come across through my blog.

Another advantage of populating your blog with pictures is that come year end you know exactly what you’ve been up to throughout the year. Let us take a look.

January

Bhajji walli - [Green Grocer - Female]
A sabjiwalli at Byculla market, which was Bombay's muncipal vegetable market but then Bombay became Mumbai and they shifted the market wisely to Navi Mumbai [Vashi].You can still find the freshest and cheapest vegetables at Byculla. A picture I took roaming the streets of Byculla.

More on my plate
Top left: Bhaigan ka bhurta [mashed brinjal cooked on an open flame],Bottom Right: Rajma ,Cente: Dal fry, Raita and an Aloo [potato] and Mulli[radish] Paratha [stuffed bread]. Not in picture: 2 Salted Lassis and hot pulkas/rotis. All part of a meal I enjoyed at Crystals, go read about it.

Fortune Telling Robot.
A fortune telling robot tells does more than tell me my future.

Fishermen Starring into the Sun
Fishermen on Sewri Jetty on a Sunday Morning. I place the camera on the concrete for this shot, directly at the Sun.

I love playing word association and if you shout Sewree at me the first words that would come into my mind are 'trucks' & 'pollution'. Sewri is not place I especially like. The question then arises why am I on the Harbour Line train bound for Sewree ? The answer to that is - Flamingos among other things.


February

Taking in the Ruins
Silhouette of Hugo at the ruined Alter of the Franciscan church of Santo Antonio taken in Bassein, Vasai which possibly is Mumbai's only piece of the Renaissance.

Visual Art and the Basuri Wallah

Go to Gateway of India or any tourist attraction in Indian and these basuri-wallahs [flute players] are a dime a dozen but what made me take this picture was the visual art in the forefront - gives it a cool effect. By the way the basuri wallah picture asked me to mention his name which is ‘Haidut’ incidently. A picture I took for a series of post I did on the Kala Ghoda Art Festival for the KGAF blog.



March

Angkor Photography Festival Submission - The Two Indias
Shouting "Jeoorge Bussh Murdabad," breaking into "Gulli Gulli meh shoor hai Jeoorge Bussh Oil Chor hai" at the Anti-Bush protests in Azad Maidan.

Angkor Photography Festival Submission - The Two Indias -
Zareeq, works cutting old discarded plastic on a rusting cutting machine in Dharavi's 13th Compound.

It is hard to find an idle soul in Dharavi, it is a cesspool of activity, buzzing with energy and ingenuity, always fighting, always dreaming and looking to the future. It is then that I realised that the only idle soul in Dharavi was me.



April


"Dam-damachak", a road side Busker in the Old Pune quater of Budhwar Peth.

Old Pune to me is where time stops but the traffic does not, is where the people return your smiles and the decaying wooden facades are not just gateways but time machines into an India of the past. Sadly heritage structures are the number one casualty in the growing concretization of the city. Many such remnants of the Pune's rich past are slowly disappearing.

FISHING  Versova Mumbai
A Versova Morning.



May


Srinagar Reflections
Srinagar Relfects on the Dal Lake.

This is what our driver. Shakeel must have meant when he told us, "Kal dekhna, aap Jannat mai uthen gai" [Tomorrow morning you will wake up in paradise] . This was not the Srinagar we read about in the papers or see on the news channels. This is not the Srinagar of curfews and bandhs, of grenade attacks, of bomb blasts, of shoot outs, of encounters, of security checkpoints and bunkers, of armed men in uniform, of abandoned buildings, of sniffer dogs, of military convoys, of lurking fear and of 6000 missing young men. Sadly natural beauty is indifferent to the human suffering.

Posts on Kashmir here, here and here


Fisherman on the Dal
Fisherman on the Dal

How to beat the Indian Summer  = Step 3
Mumbaiya Guide to beat the Summer.



June


Shodows in Green
Floating Gardens of the Nagin

The Nagin lake is a peaceful cleaner smaller cousin of the Dall Lake in Srinagar is an unforgettable experience - is not only extremely relaxing but offers a close look at the almost amphibian life of the Hanjis, the boat people.


July


Boy on the beach,Bay of Bengal.
Foaming Tides in Orissa

Even if Puri was not a temple town steeped in history it would have survived for its stretches of golden sand, crusty waves lashing the shore and an unblemished skyline that greets you warmly. The beach, which is lined with local women selling an array of crystal and shell
jewellery and fishermen displaying their catch of shiny fish and glistening prawns, is a whirl of activity. The conical hatted local young men who double as lifeguards are as much a part of the beach as the surf and the sand and are a safe bet against the treacherous undercurrent.

Purity Part Deux
The Gods Roll On

The grand spectacle of the chariot festival of the god Jagannath of Orissa has been played out on the streets of this ancient seaside town of Puri for more than six hundred years. Each summer hundreds of thousands of devotees travel here to offer darshan, a ritual gazing, before the three grand chariots, the largest bearing the
timber image of Jagannath, and to labour on the thigh-thick ropes that pull the rodigious vehicles, through the streets of Puri.



August

Arbina shies away
Saira Likes to Draw, part of series of posts I did while volunteering at a girls Taleemshala in the Mevat Block of Alwar District Rajasthan.

Take Saira for example. Saira likes to draw, an activity which her teacher encourages. Give Saira a sketching pad and a set of crayons and her talent will soon become apparent to you. She fills up the virgin pages of her note book with scenes of everyday Chandolli life. Here is a pencil drawing of a buffalo soaking itself in a pond in front of the school - it was all very recognizable - and here is a picture of turbaned man chasing off a donkey (or a dog I'm not quite sure). And on this page is a picture of a shop, a small baniya ki dukaan, with things in front of it which could have been a sack of spices or perhaps people sitting down one could not tell - but as I said before they are excellent sketches and deserved their status of being pinned up on the walls of the classroom.

Angkor Photography Festival Submission - The Two India's
Relax ! Have A Char Minar

As our auto-rickshaw speeds across Hyderabad encountering only scanty Sunday morning traffic, the skyline changes slowly from ugly rectangular concrete blocks to that of white domes and minarets. The city sprawls among the smoothly sculptured rocks of the deccan plateau and straddles the Musi River. The change is only complete when you cross the Musi and you find yourself in one of the best bazaars in Asia, Hyderabad's ancient commercial center. At its heart is the Char Minar, a magnificent 400-year-old granite arch with four soaring minarets and wide arches opening out on all four directions.



September

Clay needs shaping
A Potter of Kumbharwada, Dharavi.

Kumbharwada, where a community of potters has been staying for many generations, is emblematic of the pressures on livelihood in Dharavi,Mumbai. The Kumbhars, a community of potters from Saurashtra in Gujarat, were first relocated here from South Bombay in 1932 (after two previous relocations, always to the northern edge of the city as it was defined at the time). They found a swampy, uninhabited district with plenty of space for their kilns and houses


October

Ram Leela - 5
Back Stage with the gods, Ram Lila at Cross Maidan.

Thirty minutes to "curtain rise" and Hanuman is still to attach his eyebrows and his tail has gone missing since the last performance; Ram can't find his right jhumka, Sita is straightening her [his actually as all Ramlila artists are men] blouse; Laxman is fiddling with Ram's bow and Ravana still not ready can be seen alternating between sips of a cup of chai and a beedi he borrowed from Sita. In other words it was all a messed up surreal dream exactly like the one I had about Jesus riding a Harley.


Phew !!! That pretty much concludes my year in Pictures. It's been an eventful year and I hope 2007 is as eventful. Happy Holidays and Thank you
for reading.




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22 comments:

Shivam said...

awesome, but what happened to november and december?

Anonymous said...

Hey Akshay, nice summing up.. liked the way you wrote it.. Those pictures are really nice.

Ravages said...

Dude! This is such a fantastic post - I find a few of my own faves in this collection, and many new ones.

I know I am the wrong person to say this - but your photography has visibly improved - the photos from Jan through Dec better the one that comes before it.

Nick said...

Hooray! Good wrap-up for 2006.

Vi said...

It seems like you've had quite the year. Hope the next and the dozens to follow has the same effect.

Looking forward to seeing more of your pictures!

Nitin said...

Akshay,

The compilation and the photography is brilliant!

A visual treat that goes beyond and tickles the mind.

jedi said...

:) great post to clear up the post-holiday depression and rev up the roadtrip-motography urge

Jo said...

Dear Akshay,

Have a wonderful year in 2007 and beyond...

sanguine said...

fantastic photographs .. abso loouurve the b&w ones .. cheers.

Anonymous said...

I agree when u have pictures words seem indequate to dicribe the moments and the another best thing abt picutes is that they not only capture the moment but also the emotions of that time...

BTW did u quite metroblogging ?? WHY ????

Anonymous said...

Overwhelming!
I like the fact that you have this explorer in you, bringing out a fine detail or two of places you've visited, all of it in a few lines. Makes me look forward to my own trip in the country..!

Will certainly look up those places!

Cheers!
Arco

Anonymous said...

Truly wonderful pictures accompanied by some really good writing. Looking fwd to more snaps in 2007. Happy new year!

bowerbird said...

Quite like the way you look at things ... the post 'Byculla souffle' was really nice and liked the others as well. I guess once you know something about a place from its past, its never the same again! I remember going through hyderabad once with someone who was studying the 'Deorhis' - the houses of the noblemen and knew a lot about the nawabi hyderabad. After that, whenever i was in an awful traffic jam near Mozamjahi market, i'd switch my mind off the horrid, honking cars and the horse-chariots would come into view. Of course, that takes a great deal of imagination!!!! but, no, it was never the same again. I'm sure Byculla will be a different experience now on! thanks!

Arch said...

Wow, what a year! Travelling to so many wonderful places in India...must have been a great experience.
Happy New year!

Anonymous said...

Nicely rounded off indeed, and what a fantastic collection of pictures! More of these in 2007, please...

Anonymous said...

hey thx for the wise words on my blog...all id like to add wud be that every change that we go thru empowers us with a greater chance of making a change around us, its up to us to put our experiences to the right use..

..newayz..uv kept a very nice blog..a wonderful way for indians away from india to catch a glimse of their heritage..wishing u an equally if not more eventful year ahead :)

Anonymous said...

i love you.
happy new year.
i have yet to do a good post about the previous year.

Anita said...

Hey Akshay:

When you had a small accident this past year and didn't post for bit, I checked out a number of your first posts. I am always curious about certain bloggers (the ones I like) to know what they were like when they started out.

And your journey amazed me. It was definitely a gawky teen turning into a handsome young man! The fact that your 'profile' said you were 19, had made me rethink that all teens are not in-coherent. But then I read your first few entries...:)

Also proved to me, that practice makes perfect!

I enjoy reading all your pieces - the pictures as much as the prose. Isn't it amazing how many writers are dormant inside all of us!

More power to the Internet - more power to us - the person of the year!

Anonymous said...

Excellent photography! And so nice to see Versova represented :)

vineeta said...

Loved seeing this as well, You've really come a looong way. Way to go! And I understand that bit about being a lazy writer- I belong to the same club :) that said I love reading you as well

IndiaBookmarks.Com said...

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Anonymous said...

I love the first picture in March. Powerful & telling. The sensitivity of your images reminds me of Ami Vitale's & Zoriah's work. And you've barely left your teens.
Manasi (found you on Flickr)