Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 12, 2010

On funky days, you see deep blue without exuberance. Gray scales, without nuance. Yellows without radiance.

The world is flat, and that's that. So they say, and maybe it's true.

But some days you get lucky and by chance you open a few files and flip through images of better days.

Here is Photo-A, grainy and generally of poor quality were it not for the instant it captured - a snapshot of the dim and smoky Piano Bar of Malate and two creatures smiling at the lens.

Ink sister G, the girl with a lotus on her wrist, peeks behind the silly mug of D, who has salt on his head and pepper between his ears. They are friends, as intimate as a Salbutamol inhaler is to an asthmatic.

There was a time when D wore the tag "photographer" comfortably, perhaps even the brand "photojournalist", because that was what he mostly did then, in ways better than most -- splicing questions sideways.

There was the minutiae, there was the big picture. And there was the moment.

It's still the same, he'd probably say, yet nowadays he thinks aloud and says he "would probably never go back for fear of repeating himself."

"The circus is overrun by clowns," D says. Geckos upon geckos. But he says he is "thankful for the ride while the ride was still a ride, and he is grateful for the souls who virtually invented" it, like Henri Cartier-Bresson.

G knows this and supplies Bresson's description of the craft free from the blur of posturing: to giants, it's just "the joy of taking pictures... yes, no, yes, no... Yes."

G knows.

She sources words from arcades and fields.

When she has to, shelves are stocked with good things in the right size, color and curve. When she wants to, the grassland yields bones, beads of dew and things that bleed.

In the photograph, D leans on G, which he does in everyday life, and G leans on D, which she does in daily reality. Each one is the absurd vice of the other, an exact dose of excess able to still churning lakes and generate tempests.

On the computer screen there is another image.

It is a somewhat hazy shot of an office scene in Katwarya Sarai in Delhi, taken the day after the annual gathering of social movements in Bengaluru ended.

The Indian intellectual Anil Chaudhry, who delivered the assembly's keynote speech, is sitting on a bed and chewing tobacco. Anil's reputation usually precedes him; he is serious and doesn't suffer fools. But tonight he appears tolerant. A joke has penetrated his usual detachment and he is looking far away and suppressing a grin blooming on his face.

Beside him the gruff militant Willy D'Costa is laughing.

What has triggered the mirth?

After a high noon temperature of 43 degrees Celsius, rain fell like spears that night, which coated roads that began to hiss with the wet tires of auto rickshaws racing with cars and trucks. Sidewalks became muck, leaves and stem plummetting upon contact with the dense force of the shower.

A cold breeze had blown into the room and prodded Guman Singh, pickled defender of Himachal Pradesh, to make a prediction.

"If the wind dies down," Guman muttered, "the water will remain frozen till it hits the ground. I know this wind. It is from the Himalayas."

Willy the atheist turns to him and counsels prayer.

"Let us pray hard for hail then. We have plenty of whisky but we're out of ice." Anil Chaudhry pretends he did not hear Willy but he is unsuccessful.

On funky days, you see deep blue without exuberance.

The world appears flat and remains so till slivers of luck pass you by, sometimes in the form of a postman who sends through snail mail tiny wings.

One day, from good friend Michael Simon a parcel is sent with sunshine from Melbourne, said to be a fine place with odd habits and limericks.

Michael's an interesting man, born with an odd gizzard that turns ale into extra charm and brain cells.

A handwritten note from him points inside the package to a book titled "Clancy the Courageous Cow" -- for Luna, who received it happy and who beamed out a smile that floated up and lingered for days in the stratosphere. #

Photos by redster

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