Monday, December 19, 2011

A Sudden Memory

I was sitting at the dinner table when I remembered that it is my grandmother's death anniversary. Many questions came into my mind.
I also remembered how she died. Old and alone and in pain. Away from the people that she loved and who loved her back. She only had the people that she found odious for company in her last hours, not that it mattered a lot because she was to ill too know who was with her. But still. And that it is now only 6 years that sh is not here, having got 8 children into this world, I wonder how much more is she than just a dim, fading memory now. 
And where does one go. I know she had this morbid fear of dying but she died. But where did she go or is it just that she ended up in smoke.
What comforted me was that maybe she just came alive for a moment when I remembered her. And now that I am writing about her, a part of her with all her faults, malice and goodness will live on. 

Sunday, December 04, 2011

In Praise of the Commonplace

I have been writing an extremely boring and irritating book chapter about something I know nothing about. And there is a voice that tells me to write something about something that I know about.
So let me talk about photography. Or rather my article of faith.
1. A photograph should look like a photograph. I have no need or time for a photo that looks like a painting. If I wanted a photo that looks like a painting, I would much rather have a painting.
2. There is a photo, there is beauty everywhere. One does not have to go to an exotic location (all the time) to get a photo. There is always something to be found around you.
3. Less is more. There is no need for clutter. In real life, I am an extremely untidy person. But I like my photos to be clean with a few straight lines.
4. Don't cheap out. In whatever you do, equipment, effort, vision whatever.
Have fun. And others will follow some day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Expensive Stuff

A few days back, I was at the contemplation phase of taking a decision that needed to be taken for some time. And a couple of my residents came to me talking about  a couple of guys who died before their time. And this spurred me again (after a previous splurge on the Nikon D200) on to a bigger splash. That of the Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRii.
Man, if it wasn't such a beautiful piece of glass, I would have checked into the Psychiatry OPD and asked for an urgent admission into the ward.


It's Been Some Time

Yeah. I know. Photography, wife and kid, academics and misc other activities have taken up most of my time. And yeah, I know that I should be here more often.
So here is me, starting to try again. Like an addict, who, again is trying to remain sober.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hooray For Noise Pollution


It is about 1 AM, and I cannot get to sleep. And it is not even noisy any more. About half an hour back, there was a party going on. Very close to where I live, and past midnight, the stillness of the night was being broken asunder by very loud music, and people dancing.
Was I being disturbed? Probably yes. I could not sleep and I wanted to. But my mind would go back to the thump of the bass, and the fact that the watch told me that it was way too late. Probably booze flowing too. I could find the keys to the gate, and after a while I jumped over the iron bars and walked into that house. I knew a couple of persons vaguely. I was filled with a rage that surprised me. And I was full of vile abuse, and said all I had in mind. Shortly thereafter the music stopped.
Its been half an hour since, and I am still wide awake and I spoiled someone's party.
I am so sorry.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Looking back

I was going through some posts in my blog today and suddenly it dawned on me. I have been on blogger for almost five years now. And there are certain conclusions that I could draw.
1. The readership of my blog is still crappy. I get maybe 7-8 visits in a day, and sometimes not even that.
2. The annual frequency of blogposts has gone down alarmingly.
3. The quality of writing has remained the same or maybe has deteriorated with a few bright spots.
4. I still think that I used to, and still do write fairly competently.
5. Reading some of those posts brought back a host of memories, more good than bad.
6. I love my blog.

Gurudwara Nankana Sahib-Pakistan

My most viewed picture on flickr, and by a long way. And it is not even a good picture.

Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar by Shubh M Singh
Qutub Minar, a photo by Shubh M Singh on Flickr.

This saturday, I went to Delhi to get back a lens that I had given for repair. Luckily, and many many rupees later, it seemed to have been fixed up OK and seems that it wants to stay that way. Anyway, I had a few hours to kill and I decided to kill them at the Qutub Minar. I have seen it from afar on a number of occasions, mostly from the metro, but never actually got around to the sandstone myself. And I must say that it is one of the most interesting things ever.
The way that architecture involved, the hindu elemnets, and the people milling around. All made for a very interesting and enriching afternoon. I took my 300mm for a walk as well, and it is now ok.
As an aside, I realized that the Saket metro station is probably closer to the Qutub minar than the Qutub Minar railway station.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Lion Capital of the Ashokan Pillar in Vaishali

It has been a long time since I was in Vaishali. I got down on a train that was way too late at the Chakia railway station and made my way through unending paddy farms and water to the Kesaria stupa. The first view of the stupa through the bus was immediately electrifying. And it grew as I walked and climbed through the terraces and the headless statues of the Buddha in the Bhoomin Sparsh mudra. And before I knew it, I had missed the last bus to Hajipur. So I hired a cab and a very expensive cab at that who sulkily dropped me off a Kolhua where I saw this lion who had been waiting for me for a thousand years and more.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Books I am Reading These Days

There are some books that I am reading these days. SOme of them are books I turn back to again and again, and some that I am reading now and will probably not go back to in a long time.
In the former category are 3 books:
1. Si-Yu-Ki by XuanZang and translated by Samuel Beal. Always something new to discover. You can just open it up at any point and be sure of having fun.
2. The Life of Hiuen Tsang by Shaman Li and translated by Samuel Beal. A comapnion volume to the above.
3. On Yuan Chwang's Travels in India by Thomas Watters. A book that is a commentary on the above books. Sometimes unnecessarily abrasive and sarcastic, but ok as a source of digested knowledge.
4. The Ancient Geography of India by Alexander Cunningham. Absolutely indispensable. And full of startling insights.

In the latter category is:
1. The story of my Assasins. By Tarun Tejpal. Now this author who is probably better known as the editor of Tehelka magazine follows a certain method to his madness in writing. This effort is a biography of various people and one follows the other. It is deviously funny and in some sections I just could not stop laughing out aloud.
2. River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh. As usual, painstakingly researched, deliberate and absorbing. But no where as brilliant as the Calcutta Chromosome.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Back Home

Its been a month and some more, and I am back. Through all those hot, sweaty days and nights that were spent under a slowpoke fan, and those mornings spent in the dread of having pockets picked in a public bus, I waited for this day. And I waited for this time more than I have waited for anything else. And for a change, I got it.
Its good to be back.

Monday, April 04, 2011

An Unrant

Well, how does one unrant a rant, or take back some words (thankfully not all), and generally eat a humble pie?
I chose to blog about a blog to unblog a blog.
In 2007, the Indian cricket team decided to decimate itself (I still remember the flummoxed look on Dhoni's face as he was out leg before to Murali) in the West Indies. This time it decided to make amends. And I must say sorry for having written bad things.
But Then, we are Indians and we are passionate about our cricket. And sitting at one place without eating or pissing just so that India wins a match has to count for something. The spontaneous euphoria and celebration, dad going out at midnight with a box of sweets in his hand, loving Navjot SIngh Sidhu's matching turban and cravat in spite of everything has to count for something.
True, Dhoni has the luck of the devil, but like a devil he does end up on the winning side more often than not. Keep rolling man. Tendulkar, you deserve to be in Rashtrapati Bhawan.
It was so beautiful to watch the men win, Sreesanth happily jumping at the end of it all, maybe he will make something out of his career after all (other than romancing Riya Sen in corny TV ads).
And the next morning, I felt like I had something to do with the victory. It was personal, and I had a strut in my stride to prove it.
I love you guys.

I love you guys.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some Railway Travails

Originally uploaded by Shubh M Singh
Lucknow redux..
Well, for all that it's worth....and for reasons beyond comprehension of my smallish brain and smaller gray matter therein, I was in Lucknow as a witness in a court case. I did not see a crime being committed, nor did I commit one. I had seen a patient once and as a result was called. As it turned out, I wanted to go and so I did.
I got on the Garib Nawaj express from the Old Delhi railway station. The train was at a station and the crowd suggested that there was a stampede just waiting to happen. But anything for a 1st AC experience. As it turned out, the only good thing about a 1sst AC compartment if that there is lot of leg space for tall people like me. And a Surender Mohan Pathak paperbark in English kept me company for most of the night. One thing that struck me most forcefully though was the sheer possibility of traveling in a private coupe on a long train journey with a loved one. Must try that out sometimes. Anyways, I reached Lucknow right on time, 5.30 AM, it was wet and rather cold outside. I reached KGMC and rudely awoke my hapless host.
To cut a long story short, my day in Lucknow was taken up by the court appearance, the lawyer being scandalized by the claim I put up and the fact that by the time the business at the court was over, there was no time and very little light left for some good photography. For food, well, Aminabad is nearby and Tunday's beckoned. Only one mouth, one stomach and little time. However, the kakori kebabs in chotte nawab got my undivided attention. Luxury kebab: Kakori Kebab.
On my way back something strange happened. About 6 am the train stopped in the middle of nowhere. And kept still there for what seemed to be a longish time. Eventually after about an hour, I got down from my rather cramped side-upper berth and had a look outside. It was raining and I suddenly realized why we were not moving. There was no engine!!! Apparently, we had run into a good's train that was being pulled reluctantly by an engine that finally gave up about there. As a result, a mid-track pow-wow has ensued which culminated in the engine from our train being commandeered and taken away. As a result, we watched initially in bemusement and later with irritation as trains overtook us. Finally after about 3 hours, the engine backtracked and after some industry finally restarted on its job.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


Some of my readers (well about one of the two who read this blog about once in 6 months) have been complaining that I dont write as much as I did earlier. Kind of stands to reason whenever I look at the number of posts each year that this blog has been on. And sometimes it kinda embarrasses me.
So I decided that on this cold January morning, when it is cold and gray outside, and slightly better inside, I would spew out more venom against myself this year round.
And yes, my new year tradition of welcoming the new year continues. Only difference this time was that the tumbler was of crystal and the booze was Johnnie Walker. I have finally decided that Jack Daniels doesn't work for me. I mean its dark and tastes too much like rum.
And the book this time was Jinnah India-Partition Independence by Jaswant SIngh. Wife and son remained the same. Wife was sleeping (as before), son was not.
So guys, see you around hopefully more often this time.
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