Saturday, July 30, 2016



I had not participated in any competitions, or even considered my pictures worthy of publication.  Mr. Srinivasan (Ilford) was the Secretary of the Photographic Society of Madras, and had grown fond of me after seeing my pictures at a couple of my one-man shows. He came home, and insisted that I should put up a few pictures in the All-India Salon (1982?). He selected a couple of them, and the above was one.  I could not believe it when I got a silver medal for this picture. This was the only competition I ever entered.

In addition, the Governor of that time, the Honorable Sadiq Ali, sent a request through an aide, saying that he wanted a print of this picture. That was a double astonishment for me, and perhaps my second or third visit to the Raj Bhavan, when I presented it to him. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016



 Does one really know, at that age, the meaning and purport of the word?  The irony is that by the time one has learned its meaning, one has generally already lost it.

(This is my first picture ever with a Rolleicord twin lens reflex camera, which was lent to me by a friend, the brother of this girl. In appreciation of this picture, he left it with me for the year that I stayed in a college hostel in Matunga, Bombay.)

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Glory

Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombay, 1975

crowning the vast expanse
to the name and the house
it heads: Tata
atop the Gateway to India

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


better hanged
or wounded?

Bhashwati wrote:
The bleeding heart is most lucid in its simplicity. i heart. 
Where there is a wound there is a way. To heal 
Ergo better wound than hang.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Field Well, Bihar

I took this picture when I was 12, during a class tour which I conducted, around Bihar. I was using a Kodak box camera which a friend lent to me. The man on the right was crouching close to the child in such a way that their figures were not distinct, so I asked them to move until I got a clear silhouette, in which I felt most satisfied with the positioning of each of the elements. My only regret at the time was that the background was completely bland, devoid of anything; a condition which today, from the distance of 68 years, has ceased to matter, and I have fallen in love with this composition.

Another reason for this picture's appeal to me today is the contrast between modern urban life and its relative appearance of peace and contentment.

In order to operate the well, the man on the right loosens his hold on the rope which is tied to the beam, so that it, along with the leather bag attached to the rope on the left, sinks into the water. Then he pulls the rope again, to raise the water-filled bag.  Now the man sitting on the left springs into action: he is perched on a rounded wooden trough. He pulls up the bag and empties it into the trough, from which it flows into a mud-lined irrigation ditch. Then the whole process begins again.

The child in the picture is probably unknowingly watching his own future. By now, his own child may be working the land, perhaps with a diesel motor to raise the water; if he or she has not fled to the city, for education or to look for work, or gone abroad; or if the city has not expanded to swallow up the fields.

Bhashwati wrote:

Photo is mighty good and the bland background is most useful.

It has actually given you 3 figurines engaged in enterprise.

One tall and elegant,
one sitting on its haunches
and the smallest one looking on arms akimbo.

 The last paragraph resonated and seemed very familiar because in the course of working in rural and urban areas, these are things that one has encountered almost every day. More chillingly the causes and consequences of mining underground water have been so devastating that this photo inspires acute nostalgia. And the child in the picture, close to your age, if still alive, must be yearning for that expanse of his childhood, when he has a moment to spare in the struggles of existence.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cat and Mouse

Can you believe it, that I took this picture; or that there is a mouse in it?

Bhashwati wrote:

Aap ki billi to bahut hi cool cat hai, kaise ghoor rahi hai.
She must be thinking of you, ye jaanvar itni ajeeb tareeke se kyun biatha hai, not in these words of course.
Only in its cat language with eye rolling tail thumping and tongue sliding.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Waves of Sand

as they grow, 
remnants of excavation, exfoliation, 
depraded and pulverised, 
towards a hollow
on the verge of collapse
as the last supportive matter is emptied

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Sister

Separated by four years, My Sister. I was born on her fourth birthday, and according to the customs of our family (Vaishnavite?), since we shared the same Zodiacal sign, Libra, and as she was named Rama, I was named Ram. My great dear uncle No. 7 (a large family?) very quickly bribed the young inmates of our building in Calcutta with peppermints to call me only Ramesh, so I have carried that extension of Ram attached to my name, for better or worse.

She was sixteen years old when I took this picture, which would be in 1948. I made her pose sitting on a chair on the roof terrace. As the background was cluttered with the innards of a terrace home (barsaati), like charpoys, chairs, drinking water pots, cooking vessels and so on and in, I rigged up the backdrop, a shawl, on the clothesline.

The rest is his(her)story, and mine. Both forgettable in the ocean of timelessness and the ultimate irrelevance of everything. 

Incidentally, My Sister was also the name of a very successful film, produced, I think, by New Theatres, and most known for music direction by Pankaj Mallick, and for songs sung by Saigal and Utpala Sen. I doubt if anyone today would have the slightest interest in this bit of information, which is given only to acknowledge where I borrowed the title of this post from. For those who are interested in songs of ancient, and almost or entirely forgotten, times of Hindi/Bengali cinema, the link is here

If you have come this far, thank you.

Pravin Gandhi wrote:
A few weeks before my mother died, Ramaben had visited. My mother was semi-paralytic. She had a great love for all "dikri's" and wd not let her leave, holding the hand in a vice-like grip when it was time for her to leave, even tho the conversation would be 1-way. I vividly remember that clasp with Ramaben God knows what communication flowed through that clasp, as if they both knew the impending. That was the last they saw of each other.

My reply:
Pravin: Your three lines contained the most sublime essence held in passing by two hands, one living, another slipping away in parting: dear and revered Kaki and Ben. Thank you for such excellence of feeling and expression.
Shyla Shanker wrote:
Well written ! I am sure you're story is relevant to you " but I must say she looks like kamla Nehru reminds me of seeing my mothers photographs .early morning enjoyed reading .
Mymoon Moghul wrote:
what a beautiful image sir...pretty lady too...thanks for sharing
Pravin Gandhi wrote:
Do you hv that picture that I referred to above?, else I'll look in my archives. 

apart from the overall compo of the pic, I am drawn to look in the direction of her stare... wonder what she is staring/searching with great interest/anticipation
Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy wrote:
...Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka Sabka Kehna Hai
Ek Hazaron Mein Meri Behna Hai...

...Nainon Mein Rahen To 
Sudhbudh Khoyen
Chhupe To Chain Haarein
Do Naina Matware tihare
Hum par zulm kare...

My Sister (1944) 'Meri Bahen'
K. L. Saigal
Lyrics: Pt. Bhushan
Music: Pankaj Mullick

Pravin Gandhi wrote:
apart from the overall compo of the pic, I am drawn to look in the direction of her stare... wonder what she is staring/searching with great interest/anticipation
My reply:
Pravin: She is staring and looking as/at directed by her inexperienced young brother, who had never held a camera with multiple choices of focus for distance, aperture, depth of field, exposure and film speed converse ratio, through a view-finder of a Japanese camera which was curiously lent by an elderly Bengali bhadralok.
Bhashwati wrote:
How neat.

the composition, the subject, the title and the accompanying text including the bit about the film.

If the photographer really was all of 12 years old, the output is remarkable.

In my very subjective 'view' stories both his and her, are what we can churn endlessly out of the oceans of timelessness and in as much they can never be irrelevant.
To forget or not to forget is not even a choice jee, What we live remains embedded in our consciousness does it not for as long as we last?

Metaphysics aside, what poise and dignity your sister exudes.

i thumb to the power n.

thank you.
Subhasish Bose wrote:
She is looking like NUTAN of swaraswatichanda.i read ur writing with heart......

My reply:
Saying that you saw Nutan in My Sister is one of the greatest compliments that she would have received during the time she lived. Nutan, apart from her pristine beauty, was rare; known for the dignity of her carriage, application in her acting assignments, and unknown for any kind of malice towards, or from, herself. I should know, as I have served as a member of the Film Censor Board, as well as the committee for selecting films for the International Film Festivals. Thanks very much indeed.
Charu wrote:
In the realm of irrelevance I must rhetorically ask why ' his(her)' in 'The rest is his(her)story, and mine. "?

Taralika wrote:

DrTaralika Trivedi Well caught,:)

My reply:

Charu: In the first place, his/her is not in the realm of irrelevance. WE are. The parentheses were an attempt both to avoid the presumption of considering our lives to be historical; and secondly, I felt that using the word 'history' would be misogynistic. Apparently my attempt at modesty has failed, as I am convinced it does not become me, at least as far as two evolved ladies think.

Taralikaji: Well-caught, in keeping with improvement in Indian fielding, which for more than half a century was much maligned in the game of cricket.

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This is Tinu at the age of about ten, in 1971.

That is how I, and probably some other members of my extended family, call her, lovingly.  She is Karuna, second daughter of my elder sister, Rama, and Kirit Sanghvi. (A picture of my sister, taken by me in 1948: )

Now she is all grown up, and is the mother of a son who is older than she was when I took her picture.

At all times, she is all over the world, including India, but her permanent home with her husband is in Bujumbura, in Burundi, where her in-laws have lived for more than a century.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Catamarans at Ennore Beach, 1949

In 1949, when I was 13 and on vacation to Madras from Calcutta, my uncle, who lived in the Sowcarpet area, arranged for me to take a day-trip to Ennore with his friend, Shankarlal Davey. Shankarlalbhai was a photographer who was known all over India, and even abroad. His work was published regularly in The Illustrated Weekly of India, which was the ultimate for Indian photographers and writers to be published in. He was carrying two cameras that day: a Rolleiflex and a Leica. 

When he asked if I would also like to take pictures, I nodded without thinking, as I was ignorant of the machinery and the mechanism. What I probably had in me was a sense of aesthetics.  He handed me the Leica, saying that his plan was to use a reflex camera. I did not know the difference between a Reflex and a View-finder camera, nor had I heard of the excellence of the Leica brand. I gratefully acknowledged his trust in me, to utilise his Leica safely, without knowing that I would never use one again.  

Ennore was a small fishing village, not the heavily industrialized suburb that it is today. I took a number of pictures of catamarans, the beach, fishermen, women, hutments. After a few days, Shankarlalbhai gave me the film and the contact prints, and told me that there was nothing worthwhile in the pictures.

Many years later, some friends in Calcutta saw these prints and had them enlarged.  Subsequently, at least nine or ten of them have been part of several one-man shows, both in India and abroad. I considered it a privilege that Shankarlalbhai visited two of my exhibitions in Madras (USIS, Max Mueller), which gave me the opportunity to tell him that I owed a lot to him for that sultry Sunday in Ennore, decades ago.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


the cost is high, more than the heels she wears
entirely unpredictable: the risks
the seduction is fraught with
are mostly dangerous, even fatal

the reward just one:
perpetuation of humankind
does anything in our universe need it?

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Friday, July 08, 2016

Coffee Burst

behind the beauty
the caffeine beast

(With apologies to those whose life and work become unfunctional without this elixir)

Bhashwati wrote:

Coffee ka phool is very gladdening. i think i will go to one of the CCD s in the coming days 

Lagta hai kaee logon ko wo tasveer pasand aayi.
The name is really nice.
and in line with the last few perky ones.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Smile on a Summer Night

I took this picture in 1970, at a Russian ballet performance at Chennai's Music Academy.  The dance from which this picture was taken was based on Ingmar Bergman's film, Smiles of a Summer Night (which in turn was inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream).

The reason for writing this is the manner in which I astonished myself by obtaining the picture in the quality that, at least to me, was most satisfactory:  I had very ordinary SLR camera gear, and I was supposed to write the review in the next day's paper.  Since someone else took my seat in the front row, I was in the fourth row instead, and had to fix an old-fashioned telephoto lens to my camera and then, to avoid shake during the long exposure that I needed, to insert the camera between two chairs in the row in front of my seat.

This caused pleasant disbelief, and today, as I post it on the blog, from a 46-year-old print (negative lost), a great deal of joy and satisfaction. I hope that my feeling will be shared by whoever views it, and will find justification.

Rubik's Cube?

Where is Rubik? Could even he solve this puzzle? 
Or would Rubik be puzzled himself, seeing the state of the world?

(Rubik's Cube is a 3-D combination puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik.)
Picture courtesy India Today

Neck Less

saved from the gallows
but not without enticement
a lot of exposure
through the netting

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Knit Net

ahead of fecundity
teasing, deceitful
short or long

(sourced from part of a poster, photographer unknown)

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Darkness Swallows Light

Bhashwati wrote:

Equally, light undeterred, can prise open opaque walls of darkness or inch its way through any available crevice and slowly spread to overcome darkness.
Very comforting thought which at this moment in human 'civilisation' does not look even like a remote possibility.