Prayer

I recently got acquainted with this girl for my project work. She is sweet, polite and some-what oblivious to many new things (like technology, etc). At the same time, she is very street smart. A thing about her that caught my attention the most was that she prays before every meal that she has. We’ve been having lunch together everyday, and before she digs in, she takes a minute to close her eyes and pray to her god – Jesus. Today, I asked her what she says in her prayer. She said she thanks Jesus for the food, asks him to take care of her family and friends, asks him to help the poor, and thanks him for everything in general.

I felt very uneasy at that moment not knowing how to react and just smiled. I would generally think like this – thank my dad for his job for that provides money to my family (and thus becomes the source of my lunch money), humans take care of other humans (so I should take care of my parents and vice versa) and accept the reality of the world (poverty, hunger, draught, inflation, etc). But then, I got thinking – she is smart and well educated to be aware of the world. Why would she feel the need to escape? How could she actually believe that Jesus had only 23 chromosomes (she really told me this!) especially having studied biology in such depth? The answer is – religion is not as feeble as we think it is. Sometimes, people have the need to rely on something -or someone- to convince themselves that hope and faith can be powerful. They are not delusional. They are aware and wide awake. If praying gives them strength, so be it. If religion lessens their burdens, so be it.

I have never been a very religious person (except when I think praying to ‘god’ is the last resort to make something really happen). I don’t get the idea of having to pray to some supernatural being for the food we consume or the clothes we wear. I guess I’m just grateful for my folks for having the luxuries that I have. I am not against any religious people or their beliefs, I just don’t agree with them. We did have such prayers in school in the mornings and before lunch breaks. Everybody just lets go of such things once they move on in life. But I have a sense of respect and appreciation for those who stick on to it. It takes a lot to be regularly dedicated to something, let alone your religion. Even if it’s something that’s as simple as praying.

The tradition of praying in the mornings and before meals exists in many families even today. I think it teaches people to respect things and other beings. It teaches them to have compassion and appreciate the things they have in life. I have reality checks about these things too, but never through religion. I may never follow it, but seeing someone else humbly follow it doesn’t disturb me. Everyone has different ways to cope with the world.

Sunday morning at Cubbon Park

I took my camera out after a long time on Sunday. Sharing some photographs from the morning photo walk with PIXELS group at Cubbon Park, located at the heart of Bangalore.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With sixth semester officially done, I now want to invest more time in making pictures.

Christmas ’11 in photos

I met my best friend from school yesterday and we roamed around talking and clicking pictures. Here are some images of the Christmas celebrations /decorations. Shot using my favorite 50mm lens (bokeh!)…I think it did a decent job with the lights, colors and mood..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Protest at PESIT – an account

Today, I witnessed something that was shocking, surprising, ruthless, emotional – all at once in college. A second year EC student committed suicide in his hostel room by hanging himself and without leaving behind a note. I got the news at around 9am while looking out of the classroom window where a huge crowd had gathered outside the boys hostel which is right next to our building. The classes still continued, with many rumors floating around. We had lab internals at 10am which was disrupted when a teacher walked in to announce that the day was called off due to the sad demise of this student. We were asked to leave the campus immediately. As I waked towards the main gate with my friend and the rest of the college crowd, we realized that the gates were locked and saw a big group of students shouting / protesting against the institute management (especially against the hostel warden). We didn’t know the real story yet and watched a bigger crowd gather near the main building and gates. Press and media had already arrived at the scene – students didn’t allow them inside the campus so they climbed the magnum gate and took videos. Cops came soon in jeeps and vans. Students continued to shout slogans against the hostel warden and the principal. I couldn’t fathom what the actual cause of the protest was – as some people shouted against the college rules while some were against the hostel warden. There were many mixed up issues about the whole situation. By this time, the crowed moved towards the main building along with the director as he struggled to walk through the crowd with the police without being pushed or pulled. Some unruly students then threw stones at the glass building and broke principal’s office. They were immediately made to stop acting this way by other students who went and calmed them down.

We moved towards the cricket field (due to larger area that could occupy everyone) to discuss the issue with the management. Agitated students gathered at the field to listen to what the director had to say. In between shouting and all the chaos – I gathered that an unofficial student union was being formed to discuss the issue with them – as 500 people can’t do it all together. A couple of students who had spoken aloud before – formed a group and would represent the student body. To calm us all down, the DCP took in charge and spoke up loudly. We obliged to her and sat on the field. First – the cops and media were asked to leave as it was now more of a student vs management issue. We told our problems to the reps. Some of which were:

  • 5 marks for attendance to be removed.
  • We should have 3 internals (best of 3) instead of the currently existing compulsory 2 internals. Follow the VTU system.
  • The minimum marks for semester end exam writing eligibility criteria makes no sense in the GPA system. It was asked to be removed.
  • Councilors and doctors to be in the college premises on most days. We have no medical center as well.
  • Support extra curricular activities. Not treat students as prisoners.

While these were some academic demands, there were many demands for the victim’s family as well – college should compensate for travel of his parents, cremation. Warden’s apology for his mishandling of the situation and letting in media barge to film the student – while he was still hanging from the ceiling. Apology for the late arrival of the ambulance which arrived 3 hours late. The principal also clarified that he had not given any statement to the media yet, and everything that was telecasted was based on assumptions.

The director listened to every point and agreed on most changes. (Some illogical demands came up too – which I have not mentioned and don’t think are necessary). I think the principal and the director handled the situation well, and took a stride to support the students. By this time, both the management and students were on terms. The student union announced a candlelight march in the memory of the victim. It was extremely intriguing to see such a huge crowd turn up for it in the evening (more than the number of people who were protesting). We lit candles – the teachers and the principal guided us through the campus starting from the boys hostel. It is the largest crowd I’ve seen in my campus – more than during the cultural fest times. It was something that I’d never though I’d witness in (my) college. It was an emotional and a proud moment.

My take – since the boy left no note, the blame game has started. Yes, the pressure is unbearable sometimes. Too many tests, reports, assignment submission along with project work takes a toll on us. But is suicide the last option? Certainly not. Many have survived this system (and even tougher ones) and passed through it successfully – with happy and depressing memories. Some rules can be removed or tweaked, but this kind of situation should never be taken advantage of. Some students protested today without sticking on to the actual cause and drifted towards irrelevant and illogical demands. Yes, this is probably  a good opportunity to make the management listen to us and bring reforms, but not at the cost of unruly behavior and breaking college property. But in the end, I think the students showed some great character by listening to the authorities and calming down. When this happened, the whole atmosphere changed and provided an opportunity to carry out talks and stop the chaos. One thing that sickened me was watching the video of the boy hanging being shown on television channels and media coming up with random cooked up reasons to justify it. Read more about how the media reported the issue here.

Amongst all this, we are just lost in between deciding what is right and what is wrong.

Deepavali 2011 and the changing times.

Deepavali 2001

Woke up at 5:30am to join the kids army of the colony to burst the loudest patakas to wake up the locality with a bang. Beginning of the most awaited festival. Prepared for it from days before by buying huge boxes of fancy crackers, new clothes and sweets. Spent the entire day on the streets blocking vehicles and hopping from one neighborhood to another. Consumed so many sweets given at every house. Twilight meant lighting diyas and arranging them on compound and all around the house. Collecting dry fruit boxes and diaries that mom got at work. After the day’s excitement, spent the last hours on the terrace watching the night sky dazzle with delightful rockets.

Deepavali 2011

Woke up at 9:30am to the sound of a cracker burst by a dude somewhere far away in the locality. Had breakfast while watching national news on television. Had a single piece of cashew burfi. Spent the rest of the day working on project, tweeting, reading and sleeping. Sat by the window and watched heavy rain and thunderstorms in the skies while sipping tea. Skipped lunch. The sun will set in a couple of hours and I’m going to light as many diyas as I can and decorate the house, to keep a small part of the old times alive in my life. Also, if it doesn’t pour again tonight, I plan to stay in the terrace on a floor mat, covered up in a blanket and stare at the night sky forever, probably thinking about how Deepavali 2021 will turn out to be.

Rock Pigeons at Lalbagh

An early morning walk at Lalbagh by the lake is something that everyone in this city should experience. Especially those who’re consumed by the daily street smoke and other exhausts. This is one of my favorite spots in the park (walk straight down from the west gate) seized by rock pigeons who’re fed by the walkers / joggers every morning. A single clap and you’ll see them fly around a chopped trunk of a tree and return back. A beautiful sight to witness for a few moments.



The next time you spot a pigeon, know that you are looking at one of the most intelligent birds on the planet. They have been used as messengers, race birds (sold for $130000+), life savers at sea (since they can identify & differentiate colors), etc.

Note: There are 2 more related photographs on my photoblog – here and here.

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!