Friday, May 28, 2010

The persistence of Memory...(my own!)

Back in the past when digital cameras were a dream, I owned a good old Kodak 500. The pictures were on negative photo films! I remember the excitement of planning out each picture carefully and the endless wait till the film was developed! I miss that part of my life sometimes.. Technology has made all of that antiquated now. And life a tad boring (if I may so add!). However, it is in this age of digital photography that I find myself fascinated by what a camera can do. It is amazing how one can transform a seemingly ordinary place or an object into something remarkable. And so I go, in search of the incredible - an alchemy of sorts - in my venture to touch the commonality of things and cast them into gold.
According to the contest rules by blogadda, I need to put up only FIVE of my best travel pictures. Since it is near impossible to pick just five, I will dedicate this post to the five places which have had the most profound impact on me. Each in its own different way. And I hope they touch a chord in you as they did in me.
Please click on the pictures for a better view.

1. Bridges of Madison County
No. This isn`t about the movie or the book. This is the story of our visit to the covered bridges of Madison County. Yes, The G and I drove down 300 miles to Des Moines and from there, to the small village of Winterset,Iowa to create what will remain one of the most special memories we`ll ever have in our togetherness.Endless rambling pastures. Slow,sensual rhythm of the wind-mills,unmindful to the passage of time. Absolutely nothing for miles except grey overcast skies, the covered bridges and the two of us.We took to the road in search of something undefined, yet so clear.We went there looking for Francesca Johnson and everything that she stood for - the lonely existence of a suburban wife; the passions that stirred in her soul briefly and with such power; the everyday struggles of love, hope and loneliness here in the middle of no-where . We ended up finding ourselves. All over again..

2. Lake Superior, Minnesota
Sometimes when I flip through old family albums, I see big sad eyes and a resistant smile of a 9 year old stare into the camera. Or clenched fists of a gawky 15 year old.Or drooping shoulders of a 20-something caught unawares. That`s who I was. And then I gingerly turn the pages of the album, the edges now yellowed over time. And I see bright, happy faces and a fiery smile lighting up the frame. No more clawing fists, bleeding lips and bruised souls. Pictures taken here in Minnesota, which I have grown to love as my new home. That is what Minnesota does to you. It makes you happy.
The G and I have a wacky ritual - one amongst many - we drive up north every Christmas in a raging snow storm to usher in a new year. There is something intriguing about the white wilderness of the great lake. It is peaceful. It is untouched. And it does not freeze. This picture was taken along one such sugar-dusted, icy shoreline and it continues to remain a personal favorite.

3. Grasmere Village, Lake District, UK
The unspoilt English countryside. Just as I had imagined it would be. The pints of cider just taste better out here and the smiles seem more genuine. The Sun more guarded. The moors greener. The air more crisp. The sheep look up startled, while the ducks mock at tourists in wooden punts.An endless patchwork of fields and rambling hills with an occasional break for a tiny little wooden fence.Rustic footpaths and wooden bridges where you look over your shoulders every now and then, expecting to see a horse-drawn buggy. And you almost do. Rose bushes creeping up on the moss-covered stony walls in unexpected warmth. And bushy hedges fiercely guarding little cottages. Farmers still building wood and stone pasture walls by hand, years of history in each perfectly placed rounded rock. Here time runs a little slow and the pace is relaxed. It felt strangely liberating. Like I was free to breathe again.

4. Poonch, J&K
Those three years I spent at Poonch, J&K, by far have had the deepest impact on my life so far. Not the Kashmir that most people know of, but life under the most primitive living conditions. Shell proofed bunkers. No running water. No electricity. Generators going off at 10 in the night. Writing letters in candle light and willing my adamant mind to play dead and fall asleep. Having to wait for hours before getting a call through to Mom Dad and barely managing to hold back tears and not choke up. Hating every moment of the dark sleepless night and yet feeling proud at having survived the day. A few lonely tears over the people I`ve lost every now and then, those who shall never return back home; and silent prayers for mercy. Locked up in my room and listening to my own voice for inspiration. Pushing my limits and knowing that I can move a step forward yet again. Looking back, those were jolly good times. Not something I`d like to repeat. But a profound experience all the same.

5. Disneyland, California
By far, the most radiant picture of the lot. The trip to Disneyland was a dream come true. Amidst all the colors and the dancing and the smiles, I felt a tear drop landing softly somewhere deep inside. We are all the same, I thought. We, who come from varied nations, across varied cultures and religions; We, who stand here in our togetherness, clapping and dancing to the same tunes and the same happy parade, we are all the same. We breathe the same air, sleep under the same sky which carries the same old moon on the same silken thread. The same things make us happy - yes, all the hundreds of us who stand here celebrating a vibrant Disney parade in unison. And yet we will go our separate ways, back to our own circumscribed spaces and hide behind phony carapaces of religion, caste, skin color or nationality. We will no longer be the same crowd that stood together to enjoy a happy parade. Ironical, isn't it? We, who are all the same but for self-created barriers, seek to destroy that which we have helped create?

Do pictures really speak a thousand words? You tell me..


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - 2

Of Raindrops and green whispers..

Please click on the picture for a better view.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Catharsis of Insoluble thoughts..

I have a problem. I am a person who must have an opinion on everything.
That`s not the problem. The problem is that I feel the need to voice them.
There was a point in my life when I was proud of who I was. Proud of the fact that I could speak my mind loud and clear. I was honest and upright about things. Not any more. No, I havent stopped being candid. Just that I have stopped feeling proud of it.
People dont necessarily like candid people. I dont understand the dichotomy. People appreciate honest deeds but not honest words. And it leaves me confused. If I disagree with you and give you reasons for it, you dislike me. If I say the same thing under the guise of smiles and cotton fluffs and such like, I may stand a chance. Better still, if I acquiesce! People seek out audiences that reflect their own perceptions of themselves. They do not care if I actually believe in them and their ideologies. They simply want me to convince them that I do. They want complex and braided acts, all garnish and frills and words.
But I cannot give that to you, I say. I cannot be what you want me to be. I cannot live life in a reactive mode for long. Because after a while, something snaps and I find myself rebelling. A ball of fire slowly rises and bursts forth. So much so, that many who stand close, have to move aside so as not to get torn in the blast. Not worth it, I say. Definitely not worth it. And so I go about as I normally do; annoying the people who demand conformity and twisted acts in return for frivolous banter over home cooked dinner. I refuse to be 'politically correct'.
But then comes a time when I get scared.
Imagine being caged up with someone whose brains have been eaten away by disease. Imagine being unarmed, with nothing but your words and your thoughts. You scream at the creature to stop. You shout out reasons why it should not attack you. You see blazing eyes and a moving tongue that doesnt know when to stop. And you know that the thing cant see, nor hear you. It cannot be reached. Not in any way. Never through your words. And yet there it is, breathing and moving around in front of you with an agenda of its own. Now that is horror, I say. That is what scares me. That there are several such creatures hovering in and around.. And my words are not enough to make them stop.
The only conclusion I can draw therefore, is to simply keep quiet and ignore till I am harmed. To keep my words to myself. Because, for people who decided to leave their brains behind as they were growing up, my words wont make a difference anyway..

"People want nothing but mirrors around them, to reflect while they are reflecting too. Like the senseless infinity you get from two mirrors facing each other along a narrow passage. Reflection of reflections. Echo of echoes. No beginning and no end. No center and no purpose. That is what people want."
Dominique Francon
The Fountainhead

*The example quoted is from The Fountainhead too*

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - 1

I confess - I didnt have the faintest clue about 'wordless Wednesday'. I thought it was something started by Swaram! But of late, I have noticed some spectacular pictures during random blog hopping and realized how beautiful a concept it is, to be able to speak to your readers through pictures. And so, without getting too 'wordy', let me begin a new trend on my blog too.
I promise that the subsequent wordless posts shall all truly be wordless! :):)
For now, allow me to explain why I have chosen these pictures to be the first ones of the series.These two pictures are actually a patchwork of a few letters that Dad had written to me, when I was away at college. Each one of his letters have been a guiding light in my life. Some are even funny (like 'dont quarrel'(!!). I cannot accommodate them all. But here`s a glimpse of a few.

It has been a little over a year since Dad went away. And even though sometimes I still hurt so bad, I have been able to look at these letters and smile. And so, here I am, sharing my most precious possessions with you. Letters from my Dad.
As I mentioned earlier, all subsequent wordless posts will be just that - wordless! :):)
*In case you cant read the hand writing, I`ll be happy to oblige*