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..



Sagarika said...

Wow.. Wow .. Wow... esp at the jammu photo... dunno but that photo colour.. reddish made me crave foir an old album filled with out patnitop photos :D ... wesome stuff. loved the frozen lake too.. and yes somewhere all the photos speak millions about you.. have dropped in a two liner.. check mail ;) and yes all the best for the contest

Ananya said...

Very beautiful photographs there. :)

Vivek said...

Hi, I liked all the pictures especially the pictures of bridges caught my eyes. The best picture for me is - Bridges of Madison County.
All the best for the contest.

Chatterbox said...

Beautiful...simply stunning selection :)
Loved the colorful pictures and picking a favorite with wonderful shots is not possible :)
Good luck for the contest!!

Sraboney said...

WOW! U r a good photographer...They are all great...I liked the first one the best...You've caught not only the beauty but the stillness of the place...

Piper .. said...

Sagarika: That particular one is a scanned copy - hence the poor quality of the picture. But I love it too..:) Shall write back to you tomorrow.

Ananya: Thank you :) and welcome to my blog :) These arent my best photographs of course, but they are of the places that I have liked best! :)

Vivek: Thank you so much :) and welcome to my blog :) Hope you visit again! :)

Chatterbox: thank you so much :) Coming from someone who`s put up gorgeous pictures herself, that`s quite a compliment :):) These arent my best. But they are of the places I`ve liked the best.

Sraboney: Thank you so much :) I like that one too. I have a few great pictures of the covered bridges that have very good compositions - the colors, the angle etc. But I didnt want to put up mine or The G`s picture. :):)

Renu said...

WOW..awesome...specially the one from J&K and one from english county.

All the best for the contest !

Anonymous said...

You have some amazing experiences to speak about. Perhaps the only blog in this contest where words have a bigger impact the images themselves :). Great Job!

Rajesh said...

Beautiful images. Third shot is my favorite.
All the best.

My Travel Photos

Shilpa said...

Loved the 3rd one... Looks straight out of a postcard :)

moon said...

WOW...nice pics..2 and 3 rd i liked more....

no pics from kolkata?

Swaram said...

Awesome pics ... I luvvvved the Lake Superior pic the best :)
Gud luck for the contest :)

Anonymous said...

Picking five favorites must have been tough... but loved your selection... the covered bridges and the description make an amazing contrast to the Pooch experience!!!

Amrita said...

Yes they do Piper, and you have picked some of the best shots. I loved the shot of unspoilt UK.

Piper .. said...

Renu: :) Thank you! More than anything else, this contest has stirred up a desire to start a photo blog. May be I should.. :)

talkreviews: A polite way to say that the pictures are awful! :):) I agree wholeheartedly though - these are NOT the best pictures I have. But these are the five places which have had a profound impact on me. Also, I only wanted to put up long shots which could give a clear idea about the place in mention :):)
Thanks for dropping by. Do visit again! :)

Rajesh: Thank you :) I like this one too. That white house in the distance is Wordsworth`s house! He called this the fairest place on earth! No wonder! :):)
Do visit again.

Shilpa: :):) Thank you! This was exactly how it looked. It`s not edited or photoshopped! :) Can you imagine a place like that? :)

Piper .. said...

Sunder: Unfortunately NO! :(:( They are all family pics! And the good ones that I have from Kolkata are all in India :(

Swaram: Thank you, my friend! But why havent you put up an entry yet?? You hvae some gorgeous pictures!

IHM: It was! :( I had to resist putting up my best ones (which are really good :):) because there was no story to tell really. So I went ahead with the ones which actually had an impact on me. I`ll put up the good ones in subsequent posts :):)

Amrita: thank you so much :) Yes, I like that one too.

sm said...

beautiful pics

pal said...

Wow...speechless Piper. Beautiful thoughts behind all those lovely pictures. The Poonch pic psyched me out. Thanks so much for sharing. It gives the reader a sense that there are much more important things in life than their silly squables!

Sunshine said...

ohh the pics r gorgeous piper!! esp the 3rd one! it's like sthin u c in books & movies! lovely! :)

u shud start a photo blog! :)

Swaram said...

Hw nice of u to ask. I put it up today :)

Sandhya said...

Gorgeous favorite would be the UK one!

Piper .. said...

sm: Thank you, my friend :)

Pal: That particular one is scanned version of an old photograph! So the picture quality isnt too good. However it does hold some pretty intense memories for me :)

Sunshine: IN fact I have been thinking of starting a photo blog for the longest time. I did start one too. But I`m still debating about putting up a link here :)My pictures arent that good :):)

Swaram: I saw!! By far the bestest post, both in terms of the photos as well as the written text! :)

Sandhya: Thank you, my friend :) I like that one too!

Garima said...

Astounded...... Simply speechless.... Thesea re amazing pictures with a lovely descriptor! I can imagine myself in these places.
Very nice light and color pages! Wish you win the contest!

Piper .. said...

GNSD: :):) Aww..that is just so sweet! BUt you havent seen the other entries! My pictures are the worst of all the entries, my friend! But nonetheless, you just made my day! :)

Anonymous said...

Nice Pictures!
Loved picture #5 the most.
Have never been to Disneyland, but have been to Disneyworld in Orlando. It's always a magical experience regardless of age.

Anonymous said...

Nice Pictures!
Loved picture #5 the most.
Have never been to Disneyland, but have been to Disneyworld in Orlando. It's always a magical experience regardless of age.

Sunshine said...

they r good!! ohh do put up a link! id love to see them! :)

AD said...

Great pictures, Piper! Loved the variety of the selection. Good luck.

Piper .. said...

Puja: It was as magical as I had imagined it would be :)

Sunshine: May be I will, one of these days :)

AD: Thank you :):) great to see you here again :):)

Reflections said...

Awesome, simply AWESOME!!!!!

The pictures are mindblowing by themselves but ur words are so effective that we look at the pictures again and see more. I'm sure ur name is going to be in the winners list.
Remember I said CONGRATS first;-D!!!

Piper .. said...

Reflection: Nancy, you`re just being way too kind! But this is so like you, to always write such warm things :):) You havent seen the other entries - everyone has gorgeous pictures out there! And I was in fact a little ashamed of my entry. But now I dont care anymore :):) Your words have just given me the award I was looking for :):) Thanks a ton and a whole lot more :):)

PreeOccupied said...

Your photos are beautiful. And yes, they speak...

Piper .. said...

Pree: What a pleasure to see you here! :):) Hope you visit again! :):) And thank you for the warm words :)