Postcard to Friends

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My friends can’t believe I took that picture. No one believes I stepped out early morning with my camera. I’m quite infamous for my late nights. My perfect day starts around noon and this is officially my first early morning outdoor picture and later I remembered a distant friend once asked me and I told him, I take pictures and he smirked “No way, photographers wake up in the wee hours and head places…”
Ignorant fool, I thought of him then and believe me, he is an idiot. He made a mean remark, I’m sure you’ll agree. 23 days gone since I walked on the beach, that quaint, peerless morning….let me say, true friends look beyond what time you wake up.

The Salad Guy

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It took a couple of seconds but then it struck me in a flash. I was driving at a speed of 70 on a remote state highway passing through the outskirts of a tiny Indian village.

I backed my car, went over, asked him to cut me a fresh bowl. “Dude, you’ve styled your hair?!”

“Brylcreem” He snorted “By the way, Mister, there ain’t much left on your head” (That’s the picture moment)

“Ahem…I’m a writer”

“Quit it. I love to chop but in a restaurant kitchen, the oven heat and closed room messes my hair. So I’m here in the open. Got it?”

The Guard

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queen in her isolate room
her waning life, capsuled
been long, she stepped out

pictures of her vernal bliss
framed to calm her fading sight
mirrors condemned
queen scorned
they are mean

Man on the door
trades her world…
his watchful eyes
on the young queen
strolling in the palace gardens
first day of his job
since then…

she knew it all along
but prefers the sanity
of unspoken madness
Her antsy heart, pounds
for a trivial reason
and he awaits
outside her walls, uptight
“when will you call?”

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Dynamo

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I stay in her house when I visit Ladakh. Her son is my dear friend though he doesn’t approve of my relationship with her. She is fond of me, very much and ditto. As of date, I’ve secured a few mother figures to compensate for one, she’s a special one. There was no water supply for three days and you need the water in the storage tank for cooking and bathing, leaves behind dirty linen unattended and that’s a reason suffice for the wayfarer to set out in the afternoon, hunt a spot by the banks of Indus river, make us wash our clothes on rocks and it was an event.
A picture of her after she wrapped.

Darwin Asked for Window Seat

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Tip to street photography

When you look at a bunch, call out “Aye”
You’ve got their attention?
Perhaps not all of them and they’re moving away…
Be quick. Call out again “Aye” and with one hand wave at them, smile and click.
That simple.

Just kidding. 😀

On a serious note, Darwin came to India. Yes, he did. Trust me. We were briefly together. You’ll find out.

Now he was told, when in India, don’t trust the locals. Be very clear and emphatic. He included me too. Everyone loves to hurt a poet, doubt his writings, his intentions. Moreover they say if you’re a street photographer, you’re doomed unless you live in New York, date a curator. Don’t laugh. I’ve seen it in movies. A double jeopardy and I’ve got a beer belly.

Coming back to the story.

“BOOK….Me…A…Window….Seat” Darwin did as told.

The local guy diligently responds “Aye! done, sir”

No flights to the city he wanted to go. Poor Darwin. He should have first asked “Is…There…A…Flight…To…xxxxx”
(Destination details are withheld on request)
He’s on the tractor in the picture below. You won’t spot him. He’s on the other side and he strictly told me “No pictures. My reputation is screwed if the paparazzi finds out”

I told him, trust me, the paparazzi doesn’t care for you. But my drinking habits and love for friends on WP…Noway he was going to believe me. He’s a smart guy, no denying that.

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He survived. Lucky old man. He had to. Look at the picture. One guys slips, takes a few along, chain reaction. So you ain’t just taking support but holding the other guy, making sure he doesn’t fall off.

That night with a broken back, he wrote the obvious.

When he narrated the incident to a techie friend, showed him my pictures, was a Eureka moment. Alright, not Eureka exactly, “Show me the money” moment. The Techie guy had a revolving belly (Running naked was out of the question) and traits of an Indian. (Happens if you’re working in Silicon Valley)

“Hands free” initiated a small but significant advancement in mobile technology.

Now here’s the catch. Darwin became famous for his discovery but discovery is stating the obvious. You surely get credit for the discovery but no money. Why? It was always around. You broke your back on that trip, discovered. laws of nature, physical phenomena and abstract ideas are not considered patentable..No monies, sir!

However, a practical product or process based on the discovery can be patented.

The techie, yes sir..made it big!

Me?! I’m not as dumb as Darwin. I told the techie “I deserve money for the pictures”

He raised his hands “I ain’t buying your pictures. I just had a look at them. No monies for you. Try Etsy”

What has the world come to? No one cares about morality. High time. I request bloggers who write about inspirational stuff to take up the issue of morality. No money, sir but do it.

On a really serious note. Take a breath. Forget everything I’ve said. Look at the pictures again. Look at their smiles, their undying spirit.
I think of the time, I clicked those moment, priceless and every time I look at these pictures, they put a smile on my face, gives me a reason to go out again, call out “Aye”.

This is it. Eventually….
Moment of joy is, when you create art. Before and after is commerce.
I’ve got a camera and a pen and this is my passion and all I know is this.
Not many care for what I do but who do, are a reason enough.

Fate Sealed

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Pulp of the heartwood
Embeds my poems
Laddered with the stench of pigments and dyes
Ink rollers and the water rollers
On the plate round
Inciting the offset
To impose
His ignoble authority
My imperious puke in blind uniformity

I won’t be I
No more
Shuddering amongst the bestsellers
Discounted, pleading for attention
Your fluttering slave forever
The heartwood grumbles its forsaken fate
Brahms performs scrupulously
Stop rewind play
Quintet

What Will You be When You Grow Up?

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70’s in India was a period of limited exposure. Kids then had no clue of Chinese toys, cartoon channels, pizzas or Mac Donald’s unlike today. No television instead a large-sized radio was the only home entertainment and we had our ears glued to a fifteen minute play every night on All India Radio before wrapping to bed. In fact I vividly remember, my first ever introduction to the world outside was Chinese food but cooked in Indian style although my father never took us to a Chinese joint. He detested Chinese for screwing Indians real bad in the 62′ war.

My parents did like movies. Twice a month, we watched random movies but each time Amol Palekar’s movie released, we had to watch it first day last show. Any theater would do. My mother had a huge crush on Amol Palekar, a mystery my father and I never did figure out but he made sure to book tickets in advance. Messing with his wife meant a huge financial blow as nothing less than a visit to a jewelry store could possibly calm her down.

Amol Palekar
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On Sundays and school holidays, I’d go with my father on his scooter to our highway gas station. That’s my family tradition. When the son turns five, he’s got to learn stuff about his family business and I was my parent’s only son.

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This is how it works. When I passed out from school, my father asked “What’s next son?” I told him I wanted to study further. When I finished my high school, he checked again “So, what’s next son?” I asked “Can I go to college?”. He smiled with worried eyes. But when I abruptly quit college he was the happiest man on earth. “Son, it’s high time you join our family business. I’ll get you married to the prettiest girl from our community in a year’s time and send you off for your honeymoon. How about – Mount Abu? Manali is too far and cold,Mount Abu is just a four hour drive. You can take a bus and son; you got to realize value of money”

Anyway, life did not transpire as they had planned. A story for another time.

My father’s gas station is on a large chunk of land, he owns on the state highway. When he started way back in the 70’s, he rented out excess land to two enterprises that complemented his business.

Shankar, better known as Madrasi was a dark stout guy with large shoulders and an over-sized but stiff belly, ran a tyre repair shop. He slogged from six in the morning till he hit his whisky bottle sharp at eight in the night. He had the cutest smile and a perfect set of white teeth and none dared approach him for any job after eight p.m. His drab room had a large poster of Jayalalitha (A south Indian actress) in dancing pose and the rumor was he spoke to the poster in the night, though in the eighties as he grew older, he found his true love in Silk Smitha.

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Silk Smitha
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Sharma, a skinny, shrewd man got the bigger pie of land to run his vegetarian restaurant. To begin with, he knew a few drivers from his hometown who plied on that highway frequently. At his own risk he offered them fuel on credit but charged a monthly interest of 3%. My father took his share of money from interest accrued.
So here’s the deal. If you dine at Sharma’s restaurant, you can park your truck overnight, rent a makeshift bed for a nominal charge and buy fuel on credit.

Despite the horrors of my family tradition, I looked forward to my Sundays. The countryside breeze, smell of gas, cheap toffees for free was nothing less than a day’s picnic, but the most eventful moment was getting inside a truck. I’d wait for the most colorful, swanky truck to stop by and the drivers never refused to let me in for a peek. The size of truck overwhelmed me as a child. My tiny hands holding the massive steering wheel, watching myself in the large rear-view mirror, looking at people from above, listening to Bollywood music on a treble pushed up stereo made for my few good childhood memories. Each time I entered a truck cabin, it gave a sense of its owner, his mobile world stacked with choicest collections from places I hadn’t had a clue of then. Pictures of his wife, kids placed in an angle his eyes won’t miss while driving. Then those drivers seemed as perfect husbands and fathers to me. “I am a king on a giant chariot, always on the move” remarked one driver, I had met.

We visited a family friend on a Sunday evening right after my day out at the gas station. On the dinner table, our host triggered one of my worst blunders, “Son, so what will you be when you grow up?” I shot right back “I’m going to be a truck driver.”

That was the quietest dinner, we ever had.

* Thumbnail pictures are sourced from the net.