B’lore Photo Walk at Avenue Road

After one year and one month, the members of B’lore Photo Walk got together for a photoshoot at Avenue Road. I had seen a lot of photographs everywhere and heard a lot of stories about it’s relationship with shutterbugs in the city (as a matter of fact, I could recognize the various shops and locations on the street today just by recalling the photographs!). Even though I had seen some initial parts of the road before to buy books, I had never gone further inside to explore/shoot. Every time I see pictures of Avenue Road, there has got to be people’s portraits, colorful doors & windows, MAD rush, vehicles, more people, wires hanging all over the place, name boards, all kinds of stores dealing with stationery to sarees to jewelry and what not. In short, “absolute chaos”. However, today, we all mat at the old famous ‘coffee-wallah’ at the Mysore Bank circle at ~ 7:30 and started from there. Being a sunday and a little too early, all the shops were closed and the street was less of a hustle. This gave us an opportunity to explore the place in a completely different environment. Newspaper stands were being busy as old men discussed news with chai cups in their hands. In other places, young boys arranged books on the footpath. What is interesting is how these boys know every book they own with precision and can tell which academic course requires which book by which author (including different editions!) without even having received basic education themselves.

We walked into the crossroads along side (which were VERY small and had like a hundred protrusions from everywhere). How do families live here?! The garbage filled gutters would become a menace during rainfalls. Children walked barefoot to school on these streets. Cows, dogs and mice must have made a mutual agreement to live in harmony- just like everyone else. Experiencing a place like this in a city as big as Bangalore is like having a reality check. However advanced this city may be, there lives some parts of it as old as the 80′s. Some parts which may sell and deal with today’s items, but whose lifestyle and ‘feel’ remain the same for years. It’s a good thing in a way. It’s like a connection between retro and new. People may move in/out and the shops may get reinvented, but the street leads the exact same life for years.

Today’s walk wasn’t about clicking intensive cliched photographs of streets and people. It was about meeting the people with whom I started this journey around 2 years back. It was nostalgic to walk with the same bunch of folks with whom I began learning about my city and it’s different faces. It was also about meeting new interesting people! Even though we ended up shooting a lot (duh!), we got an opportunity to talk about our experiences and findings. I can just sit for hours together and listen to how this dude walked for eight hours in the rain atop a hill to get back to his home in Dargeeling or how this another guy got caught up at the Delhi railway station not knowing where to go, and ended up in a cab to Jaipur! In the end, if there is a plate of Idlis and Vada to go with the stories, even better!

Chicagoland

I fell in love with Chicago downtown as soon as I saw the skyline from the interstate highway many miles away. It was a good change from the plain horizontal view of Saint Louis to the populous land of the skyscrapers. My neck was titled upwards all the time as I laid my eyes on the beautiful old and new buildings – all compactly crushed together.

The plan was to explore the city (most parts, if not all) by foot. We started off by visiting the sky deck at Sears towers after crossing the millennium park and cloud gate sculpture – walking past many sidewalk stores and cafés. What a spectacular view of the city from the 103rd floor it was! This was followed by lunch at Giordano’s where we had the famous Chicago deep dish pizza. We then walked on the bridge to the art museum, recalling scenes from the dark knight as visible from different locations!

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Walking alongside lake Michigan made me want to own a boat one day (new addition to the #bucketlist!). Went up on a Ferris wheel after ages and also finally got to eat the famous Ben & Jerry’s ‘Americone Dream’ ice-cream at Navy Pier. Finally, we made our way to Devon street which has been settled by many immigrant groups, majority being Pakistanis and Indians (the streets are named as Jinnah street and Gandhi street). All the walking was exhausting, but was worth it (and was really fun). Chicago is a huge city and has it’s own life going (like any other big city of the world). I had missed the crowd and all the hurry staying in SL for a week, so it was a good change. Missed out on a couple of other attractions like the John Hancock center, etc, but it’s not like the last time that I’ll be visiting the place in my life – that’s for sure! Plus, just the view of the city lights at night makes it totally worth it.

There is so much more to say and show about my experience, but I am running out of time with a jam-packed schedule. I other news, this week’s going to be my ‘Monsanto week’. Also, I have finally started to transfer the photographs and upload them on my photoblog slowly here.