Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Yaa

Anant Chaturdashi, the final day of the Ganesh Chaturthi is when you will hear this chant everywhere in Mumbai. After rejoicing for 11 days of the festival, it is finally time to bid adieu to the elephant headed lord. It is a bitter-sweet experience, as the last 11 days there is something or the other to look forward to everyday – pandaal hopping throughout the night, late night snacking, catching up with old friends whom i otherwise do not get to meet this regularly, family get togethers, MODAKS (nuff said:P) and the overall religious element in the air.
As a tradition i have been shooting Ganesh Visarjan (immersion) since the past three years at Girgaum chowpatty, but this year was particularly challenging thanks to the rains which never seemed to stop. I haven’t encountered rains in the last three years on Visarjan day. Have always too lazy to compile a blog post since 2008 of the Visarjan day, thanks to the post-Ganesh Chaturthi blues. Trying to change that this year. So presenting a few scenes from the Visarjan day at Girgaum below.

Beginning with the Lalbaugcha Raja, which i came across while returning home for my society’s Ganesh Visarjan. I was quite lucky to come opposite the same path as the procession. Have heard stories of people waiting in 20 hour long queues to get a glimpse of the King, but sadly i do not have that kind of patience. Just like the 11 days where people throng to get darshan, the Visarjan procession of the Lalbaugcha Raja starts off around 9am and the immersion finally happens around 6-7am the next day. The distance between Lalbaug and Girgaum Chowpatty – around 7km. But it is expected as the sea of humanity surrounding the idol, is insane. The idol passes through a lot of non-Hindu areas (such as the one from where the image was made), but the crowd never seems to dissipate. I saw people from all castes eagerly waiting to get just a glimpse of the revered lord, and the roar that went up as people saw the idol was deafening.
My society’s Ganesh idol. I simply love the detailing in the eyes.  Not meaning to boast, but have to yet see an idol with that kind of detailing in the eyes.

This was probably the smallest Ganesh murti i have ever seen. It was barely taller than my index finger  and could easily fit in the palm of my hand. Offlate, eco-friendly idols have been gaining a lot of prominence. 

Two devotees who were single-handedly carrying the idol for the immersion. This is quite a rare sight as each idol is accompanied by friends, family members. But then, at Girgaum, you are never really short of people on Visarjan day:) 

The bridge becomes a perfect spot for the media guys to report from. Of course, permission here is not granted unless you have a Press card. I had one, but passed it. But it is funny in a way to see the sheer discrepancy in the density of people below the bridge and those on it.
While one idol had the five-headed Naga surrounding it, another one was using the Nagas as  a chariot.

This Ganesh idol did remind us all of the wonderful World Cup 2011 victory. Sad that those same cricketers are facing all kinds of abuse now that they have performed badly in one series.  

This is one idol that left me quite impressed. Reason: closely observe where the idol is resting. 

These are the strong hands that keep the trolley on which the tall Ganesh idols rest in control when the idol has to pass any slope on a road.
Approaching the beach for the immersions.

This the sea of humanity on witnesses on the beach. And my camera has captured a very small  sector of a huge scene. 

My Friend Ganesh: Pudhchya varshi lavkar ya
This is a post on the Ganesh Visarjan from three years back : Ganesh Visrjan 2008
Take Care,

A Self Portrait

I’m a huge fan of reflection. Have explored it on the blog in Walking Tall , You Are Not Alone, Victoria Memorial Reflections 1 and 2 and so on. This time thought of attempting self portraiture. The place, ah well, I’ll let that remain a secret for some time now.

Take Care
Update: Came across this interesting piece on Self Portraiture on the Better Photography website.

Shaping the pot

Was just going through one of the blogs on my Blogroll called Project Dharavi which is documenting the life around Asia’s largest slum. The members includes writers, painters and photographers who are documenting Dharavi through their medium of choice.
I remembered doing a photo essay as a part of my Journalism school assignment which also revolved around the same theme. I was visiting Dharavi for the first time back then and was completely impressed with the enterprising individuals i came across there. Leather tannery, farsan making units, lantern workshops, hand painted diyas were just some of the many cottage industries i came across there.
I mainly concentrated on the Kumharwada or Potter’s Colony. Since i had gone shooting just a few weeks prior to Diwali that year, the potter’s colony was buzzing with activity. Here are two photographs from that series, where i finally came across a potter who was shaping his pots on the potter’s wheel. I was tired of seeing the electronic wheel where ever i went. I know it was convenient, but having grown up with the vision of seeing pots being shaped on the wheel (which was rotated manually) i guess i wanted to see it live.

I guess it is about time i make another trip to this wonderful place.
Take care
PS : Working on the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2011 photo blog post. Stay tuned.

Shades of Truth

Was walking around Colaba yesterday outside the Jehangir Art Gallery. I couldn’t find one of my favourite artists from the Pavement Gallery, the footpath outside the art gallery. Maybe it is the rains, i thought. I recalled a profile i had done on him back in my Journalism school days, as a part of our project. This was the very first profile i had ever attempted. The text is pasted below. He has appeared on this blog many times before as The Perfectionist and the unperturbed artist. This is one long post, so don’t blame me if you are bored:P

Shades of Truth

His weapons of choice are quite modest. A clip pad, four clips, Staedtler charcoal pencil, and a blade to sharpen the pencils. The fingers that make such confident strokes are frail, but the spirit is indomitable. At 60, Vijay Balkrishna Parasnaik, is probably the eldest artist around the Pavement Art Plaza.

Having done his Diploma from the esteemed JJ School of Arts in 1978, Parasnaik has been working for nearly 40 years now. He has worked in various capacities ranging from Visualiser to Art Director to Studio Manager. Companies range from newspaper houses like Indian Express to advertising agencies like Age Communication. But his first love has always been sketching portraits. “I had an interest in this art-form since my school days. My father, the late Balkrishna Parasnaik, was also an artist. His artistic genes have really helped me”, adds Parasnaik.

Born on the 2nd of October, 1948, Parasnaik is one person who totally shares the same view of life as the great personality who shares his birthday: Mahatma Gandhi. In fact he resembles Gandhiji even in his food habits, for Parasnaik is a pure vegetarian, surprising considering he comes from the Konkan belt. “I have never had friends who indulge in drinking and smoking. In fact if possible, I even avoid anything that has onion and potato in it”, he adds.

How does an artist find his mood to indulge in his art on a bustling pavement like the Jehangir Art Gallery pavement? “I am not a slave to mood. I can work at any given time and under any given circumstances. My work gives me immense pleasure. I work here from 3pm all the way to 6pm, everyday. Most of my work is done at home, but this atmosphere is ideal for me. I am not affected by the passersby. I hardly ever look up from my portrait”, says Parasnaik, making it sound so very simple. “There was no concept of pavement artists, when I started off. Now this pavement has become a gallery of sorts”, says the lanky artist, conspicuous by his traditional hat and soda bottle glasses.

But isn’t it illegal to display your art here on the pavement? “Displaying art isn’t illegal. Thanks to Cowasjee Jehangir, the owner of the Art Gallery, struggling artists have got a chance to display their work. Since I am the oldest artist here, my place is fixed and no one tries to occupy it. That ways I am respected among the artists here. But even otherwise, I face no problems from the BMC or the police. They are very co-operative and never harass us”, Parasnaik clears the confusion.

Most of Parasnaik’s clients are middle class people who want to get their portraits sketched, for which Parasnaik charges a nominal Rs.500 for an A3 size page. “I work according to orders. Most of my clients come back with more portraits to be sketched. I rarely do live portraits, as I get very little time from the pending orders. But when I do, I charge only Rs.200 for them”, adds Parasnaik.

He avoids charcoal sticks and thinks that Indian branded pencils add a shine to the portraits which is undesirable. Parasnaik uses the expensive Staedtler pencil as it gives the portraits a matte – finish.

Parasnaik has never felt the need to display his works in art galleries. “This pavement is my gallery, and my work does all the talking. I don’t need the crutch of an art gallery for that. My work gives me the motivation that money never can”, says the humble artist, whose students have gone on to having solo shows in the art galleries around town.

Certain things don’t change. For the pavement around the Jehangir Art Gallery, the mob surrounding a lean artist will always be there. “I am 60 now, but that doesn’t mean I will put up my boots. I will continue to go on and on, as this is my only motivation”.

— October 2008

Take Care


The Man and the Sea

I love capturing sunsets on beaches. I also love just walking for hours by the shore, letting the sea water play footsie. On one trips i found my cousin also indulging in these activities, so i captured him while he was trying to have some kinda conversation with the waves lappin at his feet. He was blissfully unaware of him being photographed. I had a wonderful time capturing a human element against the background of the vast sky and sea. Indulged more in diagonal shots as i feel the normal rectangular frame gets boring after a while. A little experimenting never hurt anyone:)

Take Care


L – Shaped!

The stretch from CST upto Flora Fountain is great if one is fond of Architechture Photography. As most of the buildings face east, one gets enough light falling on each buildings to go about shooting in the mornings. After i got my S5 IS, i took it out for a test ride one fine weekday. One comes across many such arched pathways, with artistic pillars supporting them. In the above photograph my main idea was to capture the light and shadows of those pillars. It formed a right angle, well almost.

Take Care


Canon S5 IS here!!

I finally got my dream gadget, as a self gift on my 24th bday, the fabulous prosumer Canon S5 IS. Ever since i started getting familiar with the manual mode of my Canon Powershot A400, i used to feel that i wasnt completely satisfied with it as i had moved beyond point and shoot stuff. The features though great for a newbie, were somehow not enough for me, as i wanted to explore more. At the same time i didnt have the cash to go for a complete pro DSLR. So the next best option was to go for a pro-sumer camera.

Pro-sumer as the name itself suggests, is a camera, that lies between professional and consumer compacts. “The features of a DSLR, the convinience of a Powershot”, so goes the tagline for S5 IS. After much research, i narrowed down my options to the S5 IS.

Features. Well i wont go into much details, just a brief lowdown on the features. For detailed reviews one can always visit dpreview.com. Canon S5 IS is an 8 MP camera, having 12x Optical Zoom (yea that like 4 times my prev camera). IS stands for Image Stabilization, which prevents blurry images formed due to shaky hands at times. Its got Aperture Priority mode (f 2.7 to f 8.0), Shutter priority mode (1/3200 sec to 15 sec) and your Program, Custom and Manual modes. ISO is upto 1600. Macro is of 2 kinds, one is normal Macro and the other is Super Macro (whose dist is as low as 0cm). Also its got a 2.5 inch swivel LCD screen. The ergonomics are too good.

My happiness knew no bounds when i held the S5 for the first time and checked it out. Finally i was checkin the S5 in real, not on the net. The black body and the very picturesque lens setup made me go wow! I can write paens about the look of S5 IS, but ill stop here lest someone doubt my inclinations:P

I used it a couple of times, and needless to say, the results were disastrous. I used to feel that knowing the theory of apertures and shutters was enough to give you an idea of composing the shots accordingly, but sadly thats not true, as i learnt. I still am struggling to get the Aperture and Shutter speed correct. Many other factors like manual focussing, ISO also play an important role. Its an uphill task i gotta say. But then it took me two and a half years to get fully acquainted with A400. Of which one and a half year was spent only using Automatic mode. So i guess it’ll take a while before i am completely comfortable with S5 IS. Since engg exams, this is the first time that i feel i am up against a challenge. Gotta say, it keeps you motivated. Photography is never going to be the same for me again. I guess, the journey has just about begun!

Take Care