Saturday, September 24, 2016


I took this picture of a French Bharatanatyam dancer at Mahabalipuram in 1975. I have posted two other pictures of her, here and here:

She came to Madras to learn Bharatanatyam and assumed the name Menaka, as probably the ultimate among all the mythological seductresses.  But her real name, she 'divulged' to but a few locals, was Verushka, and she claimed to be a Russian princess. (Because of her imperial bearing, real or put-on, only some of her contemporary dancers from France especially, and Europe generally, know the real story, but in Chennai and in Delhi, I have known her to be taken very seriously, and her arangetram was performed at no less than the Chidambaram Palace at Chidambaram.)  The then French Ambassador to India came to Madras, Pondicherry and Chidambaram to see her perform.

Upon her unrelenting persistence, I took pictures for her publicity brochures for performances in Paris and other European cities, despite my sense of inexperience in taking pictures of temples, but more especially, of people at long distances.

Her pose and the setting reminded me of the Devadasis ("servants of god"), traditional temple dancers who were supposed to be serving the gods' sexual needs, but in reality ended up serving the needs of the temple priests and influential visitors to the temple. The Devadasi system was outlawed in India in 1988, so the tradition and its practitioners have almost completely disappeared.

For more information about the Devadasis, see the links below:

The blog of Dr. Avanthi Meduri, a scholar of subaltern studies, the Devadasi system and a practitioner of Indian classical dance, a friend who spent prime time with us while in Madras, at the time when she was teaching at a university at Chicago; she is currently at the University of Roehampton in UK.)


Google for devadasis

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Cloud Forest

now you see it
now you don't
it's one eye-blink away
from gone

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Envy Green

Envy, that so much of mankind finds succor, comfort, justification, emancipation, and even the Beyond; definitely, positively unaware that there is no beyond, but living and dying. The other Living, plants and animals, are not even aware of bliss, not to mention their own existence, let alone beyond. Only Man among the living, is aware that he is born, and lives in countless diverse ways through an infinite variety of means which he adopts for that act, needs to believe that there is something beyond his demise. Therefore, this solace. 

Green is the color of my inability to even touch that solace, let alone live with belief in it. That Green, is my envy, my loss.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Postprandial Siesta

Mahabalipuram, 1978, after a great South Indian lunch (saappadu) at one of the several eateries during gentle winter noon, among the ancient rock sculptures and temples.

More pleasant than taking the picture was envying them.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kashmir on Fire

In Man's history of war, peace, greed and lust for territory and whatever goes with it, a time always comes when the cause and reasoning are not only challenged, but all factual veracity is wiped out. Human tragedy in political and other arenas that he both suffers and inflicts, ceases to be within reach of comprehension, and, irony of ironies, if solutions are reached, their being right or wrong is not only ignored, but becomes meaningless.

What then, one can pertinently ask, Is History? A bunch of variable lies.

Photo-collage by me, using broken glass image by Amarjeet Singh Nagi for India Today.

Sunday, September 11, 2016






Moonraker was the eleventh James Bond film, made in 1979, with Roger Moore as 007. In my personal opinion, James Bond films succeeded not because of the quality of writing by Ian Fleming, which was, to say the least, less than mediocre. They succeeded, and continue to generally succeed, because of Albert Broccoli, who masterminded the production, style, brand, and severe adherence to the principles on which the first few films, starting with Dr. No, were founded.

The Bond series continues to entertain without malice or hurt, or making any serious point; a policy which it continues to hold, and which, in my opinion, is its biggest selling point. The Bond movies are also notable for great trademark music by John Barry.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Flower Shower

This is a double exposure taken by me in 1965. When I look at it, it seems to express the essence of spring; a quiet kind of joy.

This old song from 1954, a non-film song sung by Geeta Roy, who later became Geeta Dutt, immediately came to mind when I recently re-discovered the picture. The first line means, "The breeze blows gently, causing the buds to joyfully open into flowers... "

Haule, Haule Hawa Dole, Kaliyon Ke Ghoonghat Khole
Aaja More Man Ke Raaja, Piya, Piya Papiha Bole

Haule Haule Hawa ....

Kaare, Kaare Badra Chhaye, Kaun Sandesha Laye
Sawan Suhawan Aaya, Piya Mere Tum Na Aaye

Haule Haule Hawa .....

Birhi Gagan Roye, Mere Do Nain Royen
Piya Tum Paas Nahin, Kahan Kis Desh Khoye

Ghan, Ghan Badra Gaaje, Jhan Jhan Payal Baje
Chhayi, Chhayi Haye Bahar, Tum Bin Jiya Na Laage

Haule Haule Hawa 

(See translation)

Friday, September 09, 2016

Shadow Play

fill the mindscape

unfixed in size
criss-cross events
drained of people
places, significance
unknown, nameless, unfelt

the blinding light
of exploding neurons
of millions of nerve-endings
obscures the definition
between consciousness
and dreaming
with needle-sharp
shafts of light

casting shadows of doubt
shadows of shadows
of shadows

Bhashwati wrote:

Ah ha your new photograph looks like the cover of a thriller.  Ominous too. Casting shadows of doubt.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Hope Amidst Darkness


if large is small in larger
then small is large in smaller

Monday, September 05, 2016

The Unique Ganesh, Lambodar

Lambodar ('heavy stomach'), without a stomach.

Dr. Krishnamurthy, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, and before that, with the World Bank in Washington, D.C.; retired and living in Bangalore, had a unique (so I was told) Ganesh statue. One day in 1981, when I was staying in Bangalore at Taj West End, he came to my suite, bringing this statue to show me. Apart from educating me on its uniqueness, he wondered if I could make a pedestal for it in my factory. I found it difficult to design anything for it, but I came out with this solution, which satisfied him and his family.

As I post it here, I hope that those who view it would find it amusing, interesting, or, at the least, intriguing.

Sunday, September 04, 2016


After I took this photograph of the daughter of a friend, I was reminded of the poster that Satyajit Ray designed for his film Devi:

Friday, September 02, 2016

Mother, now Saint

(I conjured and took this photograph in 2003,
 in Coonoor, using only light and reflection.)

1910 – 26 August: Anjezë  (Agnes) Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was born inSkopje, now in the Republic of Macedonia.

1920 - She left home at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary.

1929 - She arrived in India, and began her novitiate in Darjeeling.

1931 - She took her first religious vows as a nun. At that time she chose to be named after Thérèse de Lisieux, opting for the Spanish spelling Teresa.

1937 - She took her solemn vows, while serving as a teacher at the Loreto convent school in Entally, eastern Calcutta.

1946 -  She experienced what she later described as "the call within the call". "I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith." 

1948 - She began her missionary work with the poor.

1950 - She received Vatican permission to start the diocesan congregation that would become the Missionaries of Charity.  Its mission was to care for, in her own words, "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone."

1952 - She opened the first Home for the Dying in space made available by the city of Calcutta (Kolkata).

1979 - She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace.”

1980 – She was awarded the Bharat Ratna.

1997 – She died. 

After Mother Teresa's death in 1997, the Holy See began the process of beatification. This process requires the documentation of a miracle performed from the intercession of Mother Teresa.

2002 - the Vatican recognised as a miracle the healing of a tumor in the abdomen of an Indian woman, Monica Besra, after the application of a locket containing Mother Teresa's picture. Besra said that a beam of light emanated from the picture, curing the cancerous tumor.

2003 – She was beatified, the first step towards sainthood. A second miracle was required for her to proceed to canonisation.

2015 -- the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis recognised a second miracle attributed to her involving the healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumours.

4 September, 2016 - Her officially-granted and anointed canonisation as a saint.

The above was gleaned from Wikipedia. It does not reflect my views on religion in general, Christianity of any persuasion, or the processes they pursue and impose, with belief or otherwise, on multitudes of interconnected rituals, the recognition of miracles, and the process of canonisation.

Living in India, and specifically having spent in Calcutta the years which formed my intellectual systems and the confines which would guide obstinately my existence, I was aware of her being there. What I want to convey is that there did arise in me admiration bordering on worship in humility, which included small symbolic acts by me of charity and succor. However, my admiration was not unmixed. Later, many doubts about the definition of good and evil, and what motivated either, arose as more and more questions took possession of my mind. Mostly I did not find objective and absolute answers. I live a life condemned by doubt.

Since my adolescence, I have wondered about honours conferred on a person after his or her demise: I was ambitious, and perhaps worthy of recognition in several intellectual, philosophical, sporting and other social activities, which brought me popularity, friendship and admiration. At such times, now eons ago, I asked myself, what if none of these are recognised during my lifetime, and what if I did receive some kind of posthumous reward. Would I know about it, and if not, what would be the purpose to me. This question still worms its way into my system.  

This is not to devalue Mother Teresa's sainthood, or anything that happens posthumously.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Industrial Light

... & Magic (inspired by the name of American director /
 producer George Lucas' VFX and animation studio)