Travelogue: What’s in a Face?

What really spurred me to take photographs was the way my camera gave me a ticket to converse with others and get an insight into their lives. Each exchange, albeit for a minute or two, presented me with a glimpse into my subjects’ past and present; I didn’t click them and move on, I took the time to know them and tell them about myself (but not too much, obviously…in fact I kept it vague to the point of lying). That in itself made every photowalk an adventure that went beyond the visual aspect, it was like a slice of life experience.

Having moved away from places where people were comfortable enough to allow me to be in their space and lives, I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to be a silent observer. Not every moment out in public is about making friends (luckily, I learnt this really early in life…). More recently, after looking through folders of images I wasn’t too happy with, I realised something: people can still be fascinating even if you don’t interact with them.

Now here’s the slightly more interesting part… The photographs I’ve posted below are of people I accidentally clicked while testing my exposure levels. I usually do this while walking and I decided to select images where the ‘subjects’ happen to be in focus (fortunately).








It’s Best to Walk Away and Hide

Tanisha Sharma

So there’s nothing on t.v- no funny shows that are hitting the right bone. Sure, some ”good” ones are winning it big time at the Golden Globes, but since you’re smart you know those awards were bought (ohoo!). If you don’t have an epiphany that makes you realise how crap television is getting, do not- I repeat DO NOT get with a group of people and think you can re-create SNL from the 90’s. It will not work. It well end badly. You may be reduced to tears.

Alright. So today my friends decided to get an improv group going. A person like me who’s only funny in the weirdest of places thought it would be a breeze being a wit-stirrer on cue…obviously not. We were rustier than a tiny screw-nail found underneath the structure of a paan ki dukaan.The only funny part of it all, is that one of us thinks we can ace it in front of a live audience. He is deluded. He will never read my blog, thank God. But he is what he is. A nut for arranging spots for us on the weekend. Am I being pessimistic? Maybe. I don’t know I just wished we had more than 2 hours of having a go at this stuff.

Tanisha Sharma

What is the solution to this shame-inducing situation? A walk down a lonely old alley, of course. It does the trick, I swear. You feel invisible and everything is so mellow around you- it makes you think that you’re not such a dead goose, really. Old alleys are also small, and ease you into that lovely familiar feeling of being swaddled as a baby. Swaddled.

I need to draw.

Pin Hole Me Down!

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle last year mentioned something about parts of India being in the 19th rather than 21st century (with regards to the whole tabloid revolution), and I always felt a little iffy about that statement until last week, when I came across this:

It’s a pin hole camera folks! And I bumped into it when I was leaving a market in Dehra Dun (a small ex-hill station 5.5 hours away from Delhi). Apparently there used to be an old man who would work this contraption, I didn’t see him around, instead there moped a snazzy man who presumably looked like his grandson. This camera has been in the same spot for years and people still seat themselves in front of it for a passport size photo.

It was sweltering , as Dehra Dun was experiencing one of its first extreme heat waves in history. This camera, bound by black electric tape seemed like one sturdy , relentless being. It withstands the dust of the street side, the jolts of passengers who offload from buses, autorickshaws or  ‘Vikrams’. The photos pasted on the side of the camera (like an imitation of those instant photo booths in asia) are sort of curious, as they seem to be from the 70’s if I’m not mistaken.

Like I said the heat was stifling and I needed to get a few shots with my new found love (the camera not the dude), so I very skillfully convinced a casual passerby to get a photo taken. I had to do the typical, wrinkling of the nose, wincing of the eye, reasoning how cheap it was anyway- all of no use, because seeing me with my own camera he thought I was working for a paper and jumped to the opportunity. I love how he’s posing, with that naive, serious, still stare. Chances are that he props himself up that way for any other photograph as well.

And there’s the ‘One Second Moment’  where the photographer undresses the lens-cap for a slight moment, to expose the soft film to the light, capturing the negative reflection of the image.

After that he mixes the (…err….well when I asked him he mumbled something that sounded like) ‘SigohoubulNatrayt’  into a bottle (very interesting looking liquid) and pours it into a dish that sits under the camera.

There sits my beloved in its unabashed openness….with the film inside the tub. After the man pours the liquid into the other compartment under the tub, he puts his arms through thick purple sleeves attached to the rear of the camera (the lewd being that he is) and fiddles around, washing the film with the fluid.

What he also does is that he passes the film through a sort of trap door under the tub, and pulls out a drawer with the negative image in its almost-final stage of development. He then rubs the film, airs it a little and then places it in front of the camera upside down to take the shot of the negative, hence for the final black and white ‘positive’ copy.

Like so. And then this big bellied man in a tight tee shirt , who was driving us, told  me to hurry up because he had to get the car fixed. Yeah, that pretty much ended my high. Nevertheless, it was one hell of an experience, and I’m so glad I got to stand in close proximity to this classic. I doubt this would be allowed to stand in such an accessible manner any where else in the world! I also doubt that my description of how the camera works is accurate.

But hey look, I can avoid ranting in posts at times! Ay?


A Week of Doing

I’m super tired and ultra tied up with tiny projects here and there! At the moment I’m working on a chapter from a friend’s life and I need to photograph a sketch I made of her at 1am…I’ve tried twice and I can never get the exposure right to get the details of the sketch in clarity minus the grainy texture of the paper…If anyone out there has any ‘Oooh what about-‘ ideas please email me!
On the whole, the week before last was a scary one. I had to double up as an editor along with a friend (we managed to edit and get the magazine printed together! The reviews? Outstandingly pleasant!) and an exhibition enthusiast (we got a mini exhibition ready, as exposed in my last post. I even took on the role  of an event photographer, capturing as many scenes of the fest as I could, and got backstage access to venues everywhere. Life was good…Until I nearly got busted out of campus!)  So here’s a run down of what my hands were up to during the past week:

Out of all the designs I fleshed out for the Photography Society, this was the chosen one!
I finally got down to making my 'Tea Time Thinker's Notebook'. Made from recycled material
The rear of the Book
Flippity Flip
More books made by me.This one is a travel journal with a design of an ancient Indian cow-to remind me of home
I did my take on the art work of a child artist in Singapore. This notebook is for pure thick and thorough writing
Where I got my Tea Thinker's Notebook idea from. I bought a book, added a cover and slipped behind it labels of teas I sipped

Meanwhile, the design for the magazine cover of Communique (our Mass Communications Journal) had cropped up, in need of a hand to fill its space and bring colour to its life. I tried my hand at it as well:

The first idea of a megaphone
A vintage classy-ish version was thought of next
And finally the end result, with the much appreciated addition of colour splashes done by my friend!
Flippity Flip! Some content inside, the photostory on the right is my own!
Work done by other extremely talented photographers
Another sneak peak!

So that was it. It was a frenzied affair, sprinkled with lots of kicking and screaming, but it was done! Doing things without stopping to imagine how it’d be like if you didn’t have to do stuff, is a real time saver and keeps your energy levels way up there. After having completed everything on my list, I felt like doing much more and now I’m familiar with the ‘hook’ of being a workaholic!


I Survived a Fest!

Barely a week to put up an entire photography exhibition from scratch in front of a crowd of 17000 (that’s right..Crazy ain’t it?), me and 16 other girls (plus their friends who got no credit for the amount of hardwork they put in) banded together with grudges and inhibitions to gather photo submissions from people who weren’t keen on coming to our annual college festival , and seeking numerous  permissions for various little changes from teachers and staff who didn’t really care! We managed to get it done, and here are a few pictures of what the results were like:

So that was that…And amidst the other drama we had regarding a certain company that kept on badgering us with their weird demands, I managed to get backstage for the Choreo Competition. Here are a few shots from our college team’s performance, see if you can follow the steps!

Review of the Jaipur Lit Fest

So last (or was it last, last ) week I went to the Jaipur literature Festival and yes, attended the Oprah shebang on day…erm 2.  Here’s a little snippet of her entering stage, and an intro by Barkha Dutt (yuck)

It ain’t too clear, but this is just proof and a little show n’ tell for you all…And my folks….And friends…And teachers who want to trivialize my Lit Fest visit (“Arey, Oprah was there na-thaaaat’s why you went!”).

While the above was going on, this was happening on the side:

These feisty women wanted to see Oprah goddamnit!

Nonetheless, I got to have a little chat with Shekhar Kapur (my Sister’s ultimate idol for making Mr.India) about possible escape routes from the ‘front lawn’. He got to sneak through special hidden passages, while I was made to stop and turn around at every door because I wasn’t ‘Special Tag’-ed enough. And anyway, I trotted off to catch a really remarkable book reading -without the author actually reading from the book!

Simon Sebag Montefiore.
A little Intro :


Now if you wanted to really be part of the JLT haute couture, this look would seal the deal
Inside a small part of the Diggi palace courtyard. The palace is now a small hotel
A very very good Brad Pitt look a like....Seeing Oprah from afar


And finally have some chaaah

The Suraj Kund Mela 2012. My First Mela Experience!

Entering the Gateway of The Suraj Kund Mela 2012, Faridabad, Delhi

They had fascinating crafts and clothing from every state around the country
When you walk in, you get the feeling of being in some village that has been stuck in time. Don't let the arid look fool you, because the mela was huge and endless. There were umpteen stalls that took over acres and acres (literally) of this land.
This year's theme is 'Assam' an eastern state famous for its 'Bihu'. They have a really long Assam stall-cafe serving you decent sized thalis and other snacks which I had never even heard of
States as far as Tamil Nadu had stalls show casing their famous fabrics. I was surprised to see better quality prints and cottons here than what I found when I was actually down South! And the prices are not ridiculous, considering the kind of material they had
It's good to go to a place where you can still catch people working behind the scenes. This is a man from one of the Assam stalls putting together flower ornaments
At the Lucknow stall a very personable 'Nawab' looking guy sat in the throws of running Chanderi Cotton. It was quite obvious that the stall owners/workers were accustomed to people with cameras
Click on the Image to Get a Larger Experience!
It was a beautiful day , with the sun out and the colourful umbrellas, lanterns and carpets from Gujarat and Rajasthan. What was better about the Suraj Kund Mela was the fact that there was an abundance of space, which allowed grand displays of crafts. You won't ever find such sights in any other crafts market
What I loved, was the sudden burst of 'Mela-ness' you got to see. While bending down to inspect the pottery, I was suddenly mesmerized by the old fashion ferris wheel up in the sky
I have never seen woolly shoes with woolly laces before! From the Himachal Pradesh Stall
Well they had put up a make-shift temple for the Mela.......
...With make-shift priests too?...Hmm.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with the term ‘Mela’  it means ‘gathering’ or ‘to meet’ or a fair.

The overall experience of the Suraj Kund Mela was an outstanding one. Set up in the folds of the Delhi-Gurgaon-FaridabadIt took me back to a time where people from nearby villages would collect for such an event. Stalls were put up showcasing such talents from every nook and corner of the nation. It really makes you feel proud…And you will definitely enter gaining the happiness of a child!

[Remember to click on the images to get a larger experience]

A ‘Howdy’ From Hindu College, New Delhi

‘Mecca’ The Hindu College Annual Fest

We read that it was the ‘Baap of all fests’ every where on every poster, but ended up spotting real interesting Baapus on the campus.

I presumed he was a gardener..But then again he could have been any other bloke chilling with the flowers and bushes.
There were quite a few of these extremely Hindu looking men, adding to the aura of 'Hindutva'
And if you stared at them long enough, they turned out to be quite creepy. Like Hannibal Lecture creepy. Mum said they're always high on drugs. I think I might have nightmares tonight.
The surroundings were spaced out and quite quaint
In some corner or the other, people did recreational activities, like balancing off each other with stern faces

What I loved about my visit to Hindu College, was the fact that I got to hang out a typical North Campus area with (boys) good maggi, street stalls, the sight of people everywhere practicing something or the other, loads of colleges all around, and the fact that it made me miss my own college even more. I walked out of Hindu almost whacking myself for taking things granted about the place I study in; its grounds, crowd and general homeliness to it, really bedazzles anyone who waltzes in.

Lavish Lunch For Two Si Vous Plais?

On Sunday, the 15th of January my Mom was treated to a special birthday lunch in the bustling and highly commercialized Sector 29. Although we felt tempted by the restaurants that sprawled themselves in that square opposite Bikaner, the dazzling structure of The Pllazio Hotel, with its old world charm was definitely the choice for the day.

Although many have poked fun at the name, which looks slightly misspelled- we chose to blame it on the numerology-alphabetology shebang and entered right in, smiling at the really warm staff.

The buffet lunch was being set up with immense precision by people who worked there. We spent 20 minutes (we were early) observing them as they inspected each and every mouse, cake, shrimp cocktail-replacing the ones that didn’t look great, and so on.

The decor , the home-stitched looking serviettes, and the fact that things were colourful and sunny in the inside, really perked my senses. I felt as if I had sat myself down at a really nice home party. But then again, the lacey looking skylines and the chandeliers, showed that they were following the must-have decor code for poshy swoshy hotels.

The salad bar was crazy….Well, okay I went crazy over it. It’s just really rare for me to find fresh, bouncy veggies around town, especially at buffets. I couldn’t handle it. My corns flew everywhere, my peppers slid off,  grapes when tottering here and there, I was way too excited. And look at it…Just look at it. It has to be a crime for healthy food to look so bad-ass.

It’s so hot you can see it bubble. Chicken and vegetable soup. It was stocky, salty and filling. The Greens inside were kept fresh and I was almost sure I would pour it secretly into a bottle, to douse myself with it at home. It was so good, I was stoked…Or stocked. haha. I feel high on soup just by looking at it. I swear if you stare long enough at it, you can see that it has a smile…Aww.

It was soup times two (and yeah the “soup song” bit of Kolaveri does pop into your head) . The roasted pumpkin soup could not be missed. It was smooth. Which is rare.  Good on you Melange (oh that’s the name of the restaurant in the hotel by the way). This was a world cuisine main. I had the cheese cannelloni , the cabbage dolma, a bit of zaffrani biryani. cottage cheese/paneer in some coconut-chilli gravy and pease n mushroom gravy, which was very generous with garlic and ginger chunks. My favourite touch to any dish…Okay, ‘any’ was a bit of a stretch.

The pan Asian plate. Chicken biryani, sweet n sour chilli tofu (brazed….is that what it’s called?), spicy beans, and Thai greens. each dish had some name that originated from a different city of place in China…But I forgot. I just hogged till my guts’ content.

The reason why the angle of this photo is slanted, is most probably because I was collapsing with excitement and vengeful , relentless hunger.  The round thing with a big dollop of cream on it, is called the Shahi Tukra and it was sublime. Not too sweet at all. Beside it on the right was a sort of cream roll, that had a strong aftertaste of rose (now we all love surprises like that one). The strawberry and cream pastry is what every chubby pubescent boy around the nation would kill an Aunty for. I mean…with love ofcourse. It was fluffy, light and the foamy cream smeared all over your mouth. It was fun. The dry fruit slice was also really nice, but better if they had bigger slices and offered tea with it. The mocha mouse ( I refuse to acknowledge that thing as a was just cream and a speck of a crumb at the bottom, dissected by a salty tasting cookie) was  a big no no no! finally the mother of all resistance was the chocolate swirl thing (if only I stopped to look at the names!). The chocolate was at the ‘Death By Chocolate’ level. Not sweet and bloody chocolaty. The cookie that formed its base, crumbled like a shortbread cookie. I loved it. I should have had more.

So now you know where to take a good normal date out (a person who eats and admits to consuming food), or a father, or mother or sibling. There were kids there too who got their own custom pizzas made (damn I should have done that! Oh well, there there, I’m sure there will be a next time!). The price? Rs.400 per head. Not bad I say. Go ape!