The Sullied Fibre Glass Windows of ISBT

[notes from a series I'm shooting on Modernist Buildings in Delhi]

The Death of Modernism
[Main Departure Hall, ISBT, New Delhi, 2010]

Bus terminals always induce this feeling of nausea in me. It might be the diesel fumes, but come to think of it - vaporous diesel has never really bothered me. It is probably the pent up anxiety of a long journey to come. I'm sure it has everything to do with school buses.

Walking through the subterranean levels of ISBT(Inter State Bus Terminal) Kashmere Gate, my hypochondriac self, swallows tufts of dust to put that feeling in my stomach straight. Dim-lit bare concrete columns block out the the mid-day winter sun. The cacophony of grunting state transport buses mixes easily with the apprehension of waiting travelers and the slow high pitch calls of bus conductors. It is hard to walk through the soothe and shadows and not perceive , perhaps wrongly an element of danger. It is a different feeling from the nausea, this one hits you a little higher in the diaphragm and makes your heart beat a little faster. It's difficult not to feel alive in a bus terminal in India.

The Death of Modernism
[The bus arrivals and departure levels of ISBT, 2010]

I climb a level higher into the waiting area and the world changes. You see glimpses of the bloodlines of Le Corbusier's vision in Rajinder Kumar's design. Broken fabricated chairs and derelict ticket counters fall into a certain insignificance under the rhythm and scale of the three storied columns, rising like a great forest in the dulcet light. It is this light, filtering from above from sullied fibre glass windows, that draws my eyes upward to the higher reaches of mildew covered concrete. There is never politeness in scale, it always meant to be imposing and remind you of your insignificance. Only welcoming when seen in whole, even then it hits you with a certain decibel level. They should be playing Wagner on loud speakers but instead the only thing you hear is the tired shuffle of weary travelers.

The Death of Modernism
[The geometry of the conical light windows sullied by Delhi's dust and grime, 2010]

The Death of Modernism
[The upper atrium of ISBT. 2010]

Up a narrow ramp and you bear witness to the building's facade. A geometry of concrete windows, stacked rhomboids rise over a terrace to the sky. On the inside the light get dimmer as the angular parallelograms go to work painting incomplete triangles of light and shadow. The light is where sleeping men in patched up blankets find solace from the Delhi winter. I emerge onto the terrace again and into the winter sun. Where bored babu-log huddle together in a small circle, eating their lunches.

The Death of Modernism
[The geometry of the facade of ISBT, where babu-log eat their lunches, 2010.]

The Death of Modernism
[The geometry of light and shadow in incomplete triangles painted by the front facade of ISBT, 2010]

Lying around me is the mish mashed mosaic of the Old city. Remnants of the now broken wall of the walled city, remind me Delhi is an ancient city older then Rome. Yet the this medieval wall co-exists with the modernist geometry of ISBT and the even newer glass fronted metro station a few meters away. The irony being that Delhi is also a new city, it's collective memory not more then 100 years old. What I hope to do through this series(and coming posts) is plot the anxieties of the 'nation building' generation of 50's and 60's through modernists spaces, outcrops of the Nehruvian dream and see what relevance they hold visually in in 2010s.

Hello Again.

Dharavi on Medium Format

I started this blog, I can safely say many years ago as means for an exploration. First there were the faltering steps of a confused engineering dropout. I was new to this world and there was much my sheltered middle class upbringing had not deemed to teach me about myself and the country I was now an adult citizen of. Having falling off the well institutionalized path, that would have eventually promised me a job and a share of great Indian middle class dream - I had to teach myself by the ways of the university of life. I spent the last year of my teenage youth in my room at my parents house in Bombay, pretending to be a photographer and sometimes even giving my mind the liberty to think I was a journalist of some sort but the only thing I was sure I was - was a failure. The only salvation I found was on the comment sections of this very blog.

The second more important salvation came on the streets of Bombay. The pictures were at best mediocre studies of neighborhoods and class. I could easily say, large parts of the city I had lived in almost all my life were an invisible mass and like most of middle class India I barely interacted with it beyond my class. The camera is a great tool to build that personal intimacy, it gives one license to talk to or at the very least acknowledge people and places you would otherwise miss. I was earnest and coupled by my mediocre insight - my pretending paid off and instead of writing my IGNOU economics paper I shot my first assignment for Tehelka. Rahul Bhatia who how works at Open, wrote the story, ironically it was titled, "Dating a Gorilla" on soap stars in Bombay. My life with photography has been like 'Dating a Gorilla', or perhaps an orangutan with a gorilla like grip.

I must admit to having made some mistakes since, the foremost being plagiarizing a travel piece I wrote for the Hindustan Times on Byllakuppe, in Karnataka - a mistake that made me concentrate more on photography and even more on the art of the multi-level photo-story.The rest is pretty much in my archives, except for the last 2 years when I decided to say goodbye to this place.

After some thought I have decided to restart Trivial Matters. I return to it eight years after I started it, 25 and a confident and I would like to think a respected practitioner of the photographic art. I have just moved to Delhi and it will help me piece together and articulate my stories better. I hope to find the same salvation here, that I found many years, that made me believe I could do something and was more then a nineteen year old failure.

I'll leave you with some pictures from my last two years. More posts to follow.

No time for love. Srinagar. Kashmir
[Lost Generation of Kashmir, 2009]

No time for love - Srinagar
[Lost Generation of Kashmir, 2009]

Koshy's Again
[Girl at the Cashier' at Koshy's,Bangalore. 2009]

[Man Inspect Painting at a Thrift Store in Boston, 2009]

[Girl at Chai Shop in North Goa, 2010]

[The night I stayed over, 2009]

Kaushik and Noor
[Kaushik and Noor at Gangaram Hospital, 2010]

Fish Out of Water
[John Second in a Ezerzala - Ludza, Latvia. 2010]