Confidence in nonsense is a requirement for the creative process

Posts tagged “India




They say

it gets easier..

the pain fades

the nicks and cuts disappear

bruises heal

as time flows .. the sharp edges smoothen..

but that’s just the surface, isn’t it?

All grimy cities have pretty facades..

Things that matter…

there’s a Marathi (my mother tongue) song which goes ‘rakat desha, kankhar desha, dagdanchya desha’..
hard to translate in English but it’s a love song for the land we live in describing it as bold, strong and rocky in literally full of rocks. It takes a special kind of love to describe something as rocky and yet mean it as a compliment.

This image is from the backwaters of a little mud dam located in a village some 100 kms from Pune. The landscape of India is what keeps me rooted here.. Because every time I spend 45 minutes in traffic for a 10 minute distance, get rudely called off by people on the road, face immense amount of resistance to good ideas just because of cultural attitudes or never get work done in public offices, when life is so busy that work days become 12 hour stretches with no time to spare for things I love.. I have to keep reminding myself that there is beauty here. It needs to be unearthed… Under the callous exterior there is tenderness somewhere. The scruffiness is brought upon by circumstance and not by choice. No matter how I hate the everyday life..I still love being here.. It seems to be a hard comparison to make. But how do you decide if you are happy even when days are spent in misery? Probably because at the end of the day, sleep comes with a satisfaction of being at home…
I don’t know.

it’s complicated…

As a 20 year old, I was devout. My faith in God unquestioned.

More than a decade later, I find myself sitting outside this beautiful temple on a hill surrounded my monsoon green.. a place where even the harshest of critics would attempt to consider the presence of a higher power..
and I couldn’t make myself go in..
I felt like a petulant child sulking in the corner..
Loss of innocence is a bigger loss than the loss of faith..


that’s how it is these days..
changes that I can feel
but not see..
nor understand..
just a sense of motion
and flow..

On the street..

A street moment that caught my attention…
The dear old lady was holding on for life.. but just look at her awesome posture

I’m copying Kieran today but with a silly poll..
the hectic running around of the past few days is catching up making me feel uninspired and hating all my photos..
burn out seems to be on it’s way again..

more drama..

lets keep this wordless and bow our head in awe to the grandeur of nature


Cause célèbre

This is to wish happy anniversary to my mom n dad. Not sure how big it is elsewhere but from whenever I remember we have always celebrated this day as a holiday. These guys are total goofballs with a terrific sense of humour towards life and a tenacity to face the many hurdles that came their way. They got married in 1978 after 9 years of dating with a lot of opposition. Even today I have friends who do not have the liberty to choose their own partners. Imagine fighting for that some 40 odd years ago.. Here’s wishing them many more happy ones to come!

PS: If you are wondering about the Chanel bit, Dad got a little 5ml No.5 bottle from Paris a couple of months before their wedding. The cardboard cover is all yellowed and in tatters. The perfume is long gone but I kid you not, that bottle still has fragrance as if new, after 33 years. I will prove it to you if you meet me. Anywho, that signifies their relationship to me. Timeless and uniquely fragrant.

Hope to find that someday for myself.

Fleeting moments of beauty..

as I look on
the world fly by
what the hell
happened to you

Sorry for the bad rhyme. This beautiful lady was waiting at the road side while I was at the traffic signal. Her calm manner made an impression on me and I was hoping to catch a glimmer of a smile or change in her expression..
instead she gave me this..
and even that simple movement of hers had so much grace..
i hope she has someone who appreciates her beauty..

Point of view

No, I did not ask those guys to pose for me. But again they decided to.

To those who might know, this is taken at Ishaanya, a furniture mall located in Pune, India.

Dilli Haat

It’s a permanent art and crafts bazaar located in south Delhi (very close to the INA metro station in case you are interested). Artisans from all Indian states showcase their wares and the shops are rotated periodically. It was shopping heaven. Guys you might be bored :)

A shop full of Madhubani paintings, done on handmade paper using vegetable dyes as colors. Talk of being environment friendly.

edit: Thank you Restless Mind for telling me the correct name of the paintings :)

Detail of a painting depicting Krishna with his Gopis

Mirror studded jewellery boxes

Embroidered bags

And more bags :)

And lovely colored bangles..

cute little handmade chairs used for who knows what

Little men happily playing music

A fantastic piece of art: Arjun's chariot carved in sandalwood. This baby cost a whopping 30000 INR (@ 900 USD)

wooden carved boat something similar to what you'd see in the backwaters of Kerala

I ended up with two beautiful wood murals. Photos prolly tomorrow coz I’m tired now.
All these are straight from the camera btw. Had no energy for processing.

Just another day..

This post a day project makes it glaringly and painfully obvious how humdrum our daily life really is..
Trying to inject a little bit of change, novelty or even wonder in each day by means of this project also is really hard sometimes. But at the same time, I have started noticing so many things around me. Yes, it gets annoying to people who are with me that I look at everything as a photo op but in my mind, I am looking at it as something worth matter how minor it seems..

This guy was tied to two ropes around his back and legs and he was cleaning the glass panes of my office building. Usually motor trolleys are used to carry these guys alongside the buildings, but maybe they were on strike..

This particular image was in my head for a few days now. Looking down from my office space in the lobby below.. this scene always makes me feel warm inside. Around 10.30 am people start gathering for a snack..a little read the newspaper..the morning sunlight, the orange chairs, the aroma of coffee and the comfortable atmosphere always has a calming effect on me. Feels like all iz well with the world..

Eastman Color

This is the inside of an auto rickshaw and as you can guess what attracted me to take this photo was the colors. Especially because they reminded me of the movies of the 60s and 70s. Something about those decades holds a fascination to me..the music, movies, people, the fashions..everything… I would have loved to be around during those times. It sounds more exciting because those were times when things were changing on a broader level.

PS: For those who don’t know her, she is a popular Bollywood actress.

The Yellow Line

gotcha! :D
well I was on the yellow line of the Delhi Metro..
My friend challenged me to take interesting shots while on the train.

How did I do?

People shots are always fun in India. Everyone automatically poses when a lens is pointed at them.. Here I thought I was being discreet and yet..

Not much..except his expression was a mixture of contempt, boredom, questions ..

too bright because it was noon..but trying to capture the curve of the rail just as we were exiting Gurgaon..

Some station.. If this one is discovered I might be sent to jail since photography is prohibited inside the stations. The guard made me delete all photos except those taken from the train..

The Red Fort

got a chance to visit the Red Fort this weekend. For the uninitiated it is a 17th century fort complex and the seat of the Mughal Empire which ruled over Delhi and most of India for almost 400 years. Later it was used by the British as a military camp. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site since 2007.

As usual we were too late so all I could get were a few evening shots ..

The eye cannot fit the whole structure in..let alone the lens. It’s massive and hard to believe that it’s located in the extremely crowded old Delhi. Its an impressively large and beautiful structure.. A lot of the riches are gone but the architecture and size still speak of the grandeur of days gone by..

The Delhi gate: the Prime Minister of India raises the flag and addresses the nation from here every independence day. (I did not know that)

The Diwaan-e-Aam which originally was used as a pavilion for the emperor to meet with the public

The air was full of stories.. wonder what it would tell me if I asked..

Day 28: of holding on..

..going through a difficult few days. Nothing new or out of the world hard. Just enough to disrupt normal life.
But still finding the energy and enthusiasm to take photos (even though there is a lag in posting).
It’s good to have a passion..

About the image: taken while commuting from work back home. For the uninitiated, I am in a 3 wheeler open-sided auto-rickshaw which is found in the Asian and some African parts of the world. Very polluting and unsafe. Not to mention that, it provides no protection against the elements. But it is a cheap mode of public transport and offers decent living to the drivers. Traffic and a dizzying headache were driving me towards insanity. And I was tired to no end. Does that translate in this image?


Of all the things that I missed, I missed the skies the most..


I have missed the blog these couple of months.. but being reintroduced to your home is a full time job..
This capture is from the steps of a temple taken just after sunrise when the winter morning fog had not yet lifted.. Technically it may be a bad composition because its too busy..but that was the feeling I got.. the day was just rubbing its eyes sleepily and yet there was so much already going on.. life never rests here. its never quiet. its never not crowded..

the worst part..

This little guy was running a tea stall .

And that is the hardest part about living in India..
having to watch extreme poverty and helplessness at every step..
People are hardworking, very few seem to be crying about their fate..but their eyes are either angry or have lost their luster.. Their fight is flailing all the time because circumstances are always just a little bit harder..
I know its a little selfish to be complaining about seeing this. But its the truth. I hate to see kids begging at the car window. Every time that happens, I hate myself a little for even sitting in that car. Everyone around me says that those kids are hardened enough and have their ways and means to be happy. But having seen the other side of the world, it just seems unfair. I hate this illogical pain to some and unnecessary prosperity to others….

When the clouds clear and the sun peeks out..

A random stranger who came to buy my sofa asked me “and you WANT to go back to India?” ..The surprise in her tone and the tiniest bit of shock took me aback. But what surprised me most was my own reaction. Without skipping a beat and with a lightness of heart that I hadn’t felt in a long time, I replied ‘Yes!’. And that re-ignited something in me. Something that I had suppressed all these years. My innate Indianness, if you will. Not the patriotic kinds nor the derogatory kind. Just the quality that allows us to live life by the gut. We love from there, hate from there, make big decisions using its signals. We literally speak and sing from the gut too.(No really! Try singing any Indian song. You WILL feel the vibrations in your tummy!). We are an emotional people. Its never about black or white but nor is it grey. Its about colors. All of them. Too many to identify. There are no rights and wrongs. There is only a feeling of the moment. We are cheaters but we are honest. We are lazy and sincere. We are black, brown, beige and white. We love free food but we are killer cooks. There’s poverty and pollution and traffic jams. But there are festivals and food and joy. There’s corruption and blackouts and no water. But there’s family and friends and home.There’s too many people. Privacy is almost impossible. But so is loneliness. We hate each other but will leave everything when someone we care about is in trouble. We will kick each other today and go back to being best friends tomorrow. We nod to say yes and we nod the same way to say no.
The rules are fuzzy. But the love is absolute.

And I for one… cannot wait to be back :)

Festival of lights..

Any childhood memory of Diwali is a happy place.. my favorite part ..building of the mud fort with elaborate details and make a huge mess.
Last time I have been home for Diwali was 4 years ago.. So the lucky folks in India ..celebrate on my behalf too!

Hope there is light and smiles :)


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Isn’t this world a wonderful place?

Many a perfectly good candidate of the male variety has been rejected for the position of my husband. More often than not, because he belongs to a different cultural group than mine. And no, this isn’t trite trashing of the caste system in India. The point I am thinking of today, according to what I recently learned, is called ethnocentrism.

“Ethnocentrism is the tendency to believe that one’s ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one’s own.” – from the ever so wise Wikipedia.

In effect it is the predisposition to see the world with the eyes of one’s own culture. Anything that fits in our culture is right. Anything which doesn’t is wrong. Black and white.

Kissing in public is completely normal in American culture. But you get sent to jail for doing the same in India.
Americans think that the British drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.
So ethnocentrism exists everywhere, because we(humans) are conditioned that way since birth. We always make assumptions about someone else without being aware that we are making an assumption.

Looking at it from a liberated mind’s view, ethnocentrism has a negative connotation. Living in today’s world it can bring to mind big bad things like hatred, violence, terrorism and racism. And sure, taking the extremist view, it is highly possible that ethnocentrism is the cause. And looking at it in milder day to day terms, it causes issues like Shiv Sainiks blaming women who go to pubs as morally bankrupt.

But I also see positives. The idea of having a group and believing it to be superior acts to provide a sense of belonging to people which is important for emotional well being. Americans are highly ethnocentric but they are also highly patriotic and believe that they have a better lifestyle than most of the world. This keeps them happy.

I read about this ritual of forced female genital mutilation that exists in some African cultures. Think about this:
A brutal ritual in which the clitoris of a girl or a woman is cut to deny her the opportunity to ever experience sexual gratification.

Are you back? The shock is apparently an ethnocentric response. And I think I wouldn’t mind being called ethnocentric if the opposite was to accept that its okay to treat anyone like this in the name of ritual.

So the first question that popped to mind was, why? Why does this phenomenon exist? Being a Darwin fan, I had to take the evolution route.

My humble conclusion: Because it allows to have large diversity of customs, traditions and ways of life. The more the differences, the more chances of developing better and stronger gene variety.

What do you think?


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Mere des ki dharti..

Image courtesy Darshi @

Image courtesy Darshi @

I always wonder if there is an age, when we start trusting ourselves to make big decisions, without freaking out. The myriad of answers that I have received to this question ranged from, ‘become ageless’ to ‘ignore the problem till it goes away’. As you can see, I have the most brilliant friends.

The reason for the preface is I am dealing with one such decision. Current state of affairs is such, that I am trying to understand the need for man to be near his roots. More specifically, spending his later life in the place where he grew up. My father has always maintained that when we reach middle age, the need to be at home increases and if not satisfied, may destroy even the strongest of people. Its an emotional need and one that you cannot really suppress. I am young, so I will not understand it till I get there. Now he is twice my age and has seen a lot more of the world, than I have. So I want to listen to this logic and shut up. But the truth is, I want to know why. Why do we feel this need? I mean even in my 7 years away, India has become a totally different place than I knew it to be. The friends that I used to have, have moved away or are no longer in touch. Family has been dispersed. The work culture has changed, the social pattern and lifestyle has changed. Today even in India, you need to call up people if you want to visit them. If someone says, ‘leave me alone’, you leave them alone. You no longer hang out at the ‘katta’ on your bikes, go to malls. So what I know to be ‘home’, is now a very different place, with which, I am not acquainted at all. And I will need to actually ‘adjust’ to living there again. But not withstanding these reasons, I will apparently feel that I should be going back.

And I am not disagreeing to this. I have seen it. Even a lot of people here in the US, after going through their careers, go back home to their small towns or big cities or wherever. My cousin who has been here for more than 15 years and is extremely successful has started feeling the need to return to India. And frankly, even I know that, I will be back there soon.

But no one has an answer to the why.. Why the willingness to give up a settled and sometimes even prosperous life and start a new life all over again in a place you hardly recognize anymore?
What is it, that ties man to his roots?

So you think you are special?

The middle class was the worst gift that the British gave India. Referred to as the working class in other parts of the world, it is a class of people the British created by using Indians to do their clerical jobs and keep them in line. Providing them with enough to gain their gratitude and in return asking for their subservience in their regime. After 60 years of independence, the situation is improving, they are becoming more educated and gaining financial stronghold. The recent surge in the consumer economy of India is a direct reflection of the increase in the improved life style of the middle class. So there is a change. But to a large extent, that change is ostensible. It is more of a rolling ball effect rather than a propelled one. And there lies my problem. Because the mental fabric of this group of people is still the same.

The ideas and concepts of life are confined to a square. And unless you are deemed special by society , you need to follow those rules or you are a social outcast. I have seen this up close. My parents however are far more progressive than their peers. I was given a lot more freedom to think and learn whatever I chose to and live as per my rules. But when it comes down to major life decisions, the square comes right back to suffocate. They eventually feel the pressure. Anyone who seeks to ask why, to dare, to take a risk and be something even slightly different from the norm is looked upon with suspicion. The list of ‘should’ rules our lives.

There is black and white differentiation between people who follow the rules and those who don’t. I am a cause of pain to my family because I think who I marry is far more important than, when I marry.. or because I actually like being independent. This causes me immense guilt. I would love to change these viewpoints…mine and theirs. Which however would call for conflict. When a tree is deep rooted, the only option to change its position is uprooting it. Which I would never want to do to my family. Because they are not bad people and I love them. They cannot be blamed for the ideas that were ingrained in them. They can be blamed for accepting those ideas without question. But then, they never felt the need to. So asking them to change their core today is basically the same thing as them asking me to go against my dreams.

So what is the solution? All I can see is that I have no choice for myself if I want to keep my family intact. I have the choice of giving my children the choice. However I am one person. And I do hope there are many more like me. But I see a lot of my peers think the same way as the elders. A friend told me he wanted a wife who will never go against his parents’ wishes. Another one said that he will hire bodyguards to keep his young daughter away from boys at school. Which is really disheartening.

Now, resistance to even a slight change in pattern, is nothing new. We have seen this happening in history all the time. It just pains me to see that this is still happening. That history has not taught us to be open minded. To accept that life is not a set of rules. Or is it the same fact that scares us? Because then we will be forced to actually be original..


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