Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Park Outside Our Apartment

If you are familiar with colonies in New Delhi, you would know that they all have parks within them. Usually more than one - our colony has, I think, four of them. I am familiar with only one of them (not the one featured here) and that too only how they look at night because I did quite a few rounds of the colony while training for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. I would come back from work, change and head out. I could not use the park opposite my place (the one featured here :) as the lights were off. It was only last weekend that I stepped into it because I wanted to figure out our Nikon DSLR 5000. The photos in the link are a mix of pics taken last weekend and again today and my first attempt at a photo blog.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where You Are When It Rains

It does matter you know. The rain feels good or bad depending on where you are. Have a look at the normal associations people have with rains. Probably the only good association that comes to mind is the smell of the wet earth. Other than that, its probably traffic jams, screwed up schedules, sitting in your hotel room waiting for the rain to ease up so you can continue your holiday. Ever been in a Bombay local train during or after a shower? Trust me, its one memory you don't want.

I love being at home when the rains come in, especially if it is a weekend. To laze around in bed or in the balcony with a cup of coffee in hand and a book to read - divine! Only need a hound curled up at ones feet to complete the picture. It feels very cozy and nice. An additional benefit is I can avoid going out to do the chores by making like Milli Vanilli - Blame it on the rain. Even if we have to go out for dinner or a movie, it feels good to drive through the rain (provided it is a short distance). Get into the theatre, eat some popcorn and when you are out the rain probably has stopped and the streets are nice and empty.

When I'm in office, it feels just the opposite. Especially if there are a couple of meetings to be done. Just the thought of driving through traffic, find a parking spot, walking through the rain (because an umbrella is never handy when you need it) and then sitting in an office when your clothes are wet and the ac is blowing - brrr, sends a chill down my spine.

One of the terrible-est experiences I had was being stuck in the massive rain that took place in July 2005 in Bombay. I had to walk from Borivali to Vile Parle, a distance of about 25 kms. I took me about 7 hours to complete that journey. Luckily, one of my colleagues who stayed close to my place was with me and we managed to brave the rains together. Man, it was a mess. At certain points, the water on the road was flowing so strongly that we nearly got swept off our feet. People were stranded everywhere, be it pregnant women or children staring out of school buses. We finally made it to my colleagues home late at night, to find that there was no power and there wasn't even enough water to drink, let alone shower. The power came on the day after that and finally the wine shops opened :) After a long shower and a couple of beers, we headed out for a movie and some hot food. Talk about coming back to life.

In different places, the rains come in different forms. Many times, Bombay showers come out of nowhere, soak you completely and just before you head into shelter they stop. In Kerala, the rain keeps 'crying' non-stop. Never more or less in consistency, it keeps pouring consistently till you get sick of it. In Delhi, its like a threat. The skies remain dark and the humidity reaches an all time high but no sir, no relief from the sky. I think Chennai showers are still more 'normal' than the others but the massive puddles on the roads remain long after, even when the sun has been blazing. Its just where you are when it rains baby and how you feel....

I had the privilege of doing my graduation in a college with a huge lush campus of 365 acres, covered with a zillion trees. When it rained, we used to head for 'campus walks' sometimes. It is a completely different feeling, getting totally soaked, walking through slush among trees that keep dripping down with water. Once we were lucky to see a monitor lizard which was caught in a drain. We left a tree limb for it to climb out and safely moved away. I recently tried to re-capture the feeling when I was headed back from the gym. I had already called ahead to tell my wife to put the geyser on so that I could dive into the shower after my long walk of 200 meters. It was barely drizzling and I took my cap off after 50 meters because I just could not feel the rain. Maybe I didn't get wet enough. Maybe I was too jaded to get that 'close to nature' feeling, especially with all trappings of a crowded colony. I just wasn't satisfied but man after I took a shower and sat down to read with a cup of coffee and a book -, it did feel DIVINE!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Digital Cameras = Instant Gratification

Gratification - the state of being gratified; great satisfaction
Gratify - to give pleasure to (a person or persons) by satisfying desires or humoring inclinations or feelings

I read an article that said that the sales of DSLR cameras has jumped to 80000 units last year from 40000 the year before. This year it is expected to touch 200000 units. Initially I wasn't very happy that my wife had contributed to the 80000 mark because it meant an outlay of Rs 33000 (she argues that I have no right to be unhappy because I never contributed).

I love the camera though. I got up on a rainy morning, took a cup of coffee and sat in the balcony. I turned my head and suddenly saw raindrops just about to drip off our 'X'mas tree plant'.

I jumped out of the chair, got out our Nikon and clicked off about ten snaps from various angles. I also took a couple of more snaps from our balcony as the whole scene looked so nice and green.

You ever used a DSLR? Its got a really nice heft to it. It doesn't feel flimsy like a digicam. It feels like a real camera. Lots of dials and symbols on it and if you are feeling lost, just pull up the menu. Well I haven't gone beyond the auto function - what they call point and shoot :) The pictures come out real good. Click click click and if you don't like what you got click click click again.

At that time, Dad was an amateur photographer. He still has two beautifully leather encased cameras, one a Japanese Ricoh and the other a Russian Kiev (I think). I called him today cause I wanted some details about the cameras and he started to wax lyrical. He told me the difference between the two of them, that one was an SLR and the other was a Range Finder. One of them had a 'leaf shutter', the other (I was lost by then) was to be used carefully because when the flash function was used, there was a danger of too much light leaking in because the shutter speed was to be reduced from 1/1000 to 1/30 ........ I begged forgiveness and cut the call because my reduced attention span was not capable of taking all this in.

Unlike us, my Dad had to buy the Ricoh second hand. He had to be pretty careful while clicking the snap because he couldn't just hook the camera to the laptop to see the result. Also, the moment he tried to capture wasn't waiting around for a laptop to boot up. He had to pay the photo shop the development charges and then wait for a couple of days to see the results of his 'click click click'. The funniest was when he took the initial snaps with the Russian camera only to realise that he could only correct himself through trial and error - cause all the instructions were in Russian.

I can rationalise this when I think that technology has progressed since then to make things better and more convenient so I shouldn't be a sap who moans that things were better in the old days. Also our generation is placed better financially with a hell of a lot more 'purchasing power'. Dad left me with an apt anecdote which I will leave with you as well. He was taking photography classes and he went to show his teacher a snap of a group of children. The teacher said "If you were closer to the children, it would have turned out to be a much better photo". Dad got angry and replied "Do you really think that the children would be waiting around for me to take their picture?" The teacher answered (Zen-like) "That is why there are only a few great photographers in the world". I hope I have made my point.......