Thursday, November 19, 2009

I was a photographer once

And that long time ago I made some pictures that were made into a book. This is a preview of that book, should you want to see it and pass it on to friends who have not seen the book or the pictures.

I'm sorry I don't update the blog anymore. I really don't feel like a photographer anymore. I take photographs but its not the same thing really. If I do begin again, you'll be among the first to know. Until then enjoy the preview or the review whichever it is for you.


Saturday, August 01, 2009


Work is something I've been thinking about for a little while. I had no insights at all to be entirely honest. I have a few vague notions about how to approach it. I didn't have any questions clearly formulated so no good digging. Then I heard Alain de Botton was going to talk about work at the festival of ideas in Brizzle. I thought I would go and then predictably forgot. Ever since if I stumble on an article or talk video I watch it. This one was worth sharing.

It articulates so clearly why I hate the word 'loser'. And so many other things. Listen to him. Now I need to pick up the book.

A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Secret Lives: floating around the net

Hey there,

A few people have told me recently that a pdf of the entire book has been passed around the net. Be nice guys, that was a lot of work and is important to me. It's not meant to be viewed as a pdf on a screen, which is most likely uncalibrated and far too small to do the images justice.

Besides passing a copy around like that means someone, somewhere, can poach my images and use them without permission or payment. I'm assuming that most of you that read this wouldn't want that to happen to me. So if you have a copy or know who has one and is passing it around, delete it, ask the person to delete it. If you know the source of the leak plug it and let me know who it was, and I'll offer the person a good piece of my mind. And then get a copy of the book!


Monday, July 13, 2009

At the top of the world, everything is falling down.

Gomuranjan in Zanskar

What can I tell you about the Himalayas that you don't already know? The Himalayas are falling down. At an astonishing rate. In the time we were there we saw 5 or 6 avalanches and landslides. We heard a few more at night from the illusory safety of our tents. If the mountains continue to grow, they grow faster than they fall down, which you imagine is an astonishing feat when you see the rubble that litters the Zanskar valley.

We walked into the Zanskar valley over the Shingo-La pass after having started from Palamo, near Darcha. When we reached Kargiyak a tiny village in the valley, we stopped, stayed a day and then we walked back. It was all accomplished in 9 days. No part of the walk was lower than 4000 m above sea-level and the pass was just over 5000m. It took a while to get used to so little oxygen, it took even longer to get used to the weight of the packs. I never did get used to it, I got helped a lot. The dust made me stumble all the time. The dust got everywhere. I've decided I hate snow, particularly sun-melted, soft snow, but really all snow.

But the pain was always forgotten when we pitched camp and when I looked around. I forgot a lot, my mind stopped whirring. I was tempted, no matter how briefly, to go live in Kargiyak and teach in the Sun school there. I found myself partial to mountain men. I fell in love a few times, facilely. I laughed at myself what I hoped was enough. A lot of things that would normally have been mundane, felt magical. Although I was exhausted with the traveling and the contingent living by the end, I would gladly resume now. Eat, walk, pitch camp, eat, relax, eat, sleep, resume- it's a pleasant rhythm to live by. It helps that where I am now feels equally adrift and contingent.

Lots of things happened, exciting, strange, bizarre, even mundane, as they do when you walk through strange places that are almost inaccessible to the world outside. I'll might tell you sometime. Here are a few images in place of the words.

Zho/Dzo in Kargiyak

A lake at the top of the Shingo-La pass

Walking to Khi

Walking to Khi

Gompa in Kargiyak

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Come here, Sunshine

We went for a walk in Leigh woods again yesterday. The flowers are different ones now, bramble and honey-suckle. The copper beeches were the colour of old clotted blood. We saw a roe deer and swung on our swing which was new and improved this time. The rain had beaten the garlic down and the woods still smelt of it from the broken stems. But we were happiest and staring like little children in wonderment when we saw Sunshine.

Here is Sunshine, and you might see why we were so pleased.

What a beautiful bird! What an amazing sight to see this bird flying behind this gent's car down a road through the woods. It landed on the car which went up and down that stretch giving it a nice flying session a few times.

I am no fan of exotic pets. The wildlife trade is very destructive and kills a lot of animals. But apparently there are many parrots that are bred at the country of destination and are not imported which is the major cause of mortality and morbidity in such pets. I hope this is one of those. It surely was a beautiful and healthy looking bird. And much more surprising than the peacocks I heard in Cornwall.

I kept hoping to see the parrot and owner as a pirate at the Combustion club, but sadly no.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Some day if I get really good, or lucky, or some combination thereof, I will be able to say this about one of my pictures: "But I'm not at all bored of talking about it."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Leigh woods

Bluebells in Leigh woods

I went walking in Bristol's Leigh woods this last weekend. Quite the beautiful English woods. Hazel, Hawthorn, Sticky willy, Beech, Yew, Laurel, Oaks and Ivy, Nick, my flatmate told me the names of the trees and plants we saw because I lamented not knowing their names. Then he ruthlessly quizzed me on them and tut-tutted at my poor recall. Pointed out a badger hole, no badger though. Freshly hatched flies swarming over water. The ferns were unfurling from the ground. There were buttercups here and there. I saw for the first time the ground under the trees carpeted with bluebells.

And with garlic! The woods even smelled of garlic!

Garlic in Leigh woods

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Bristol's not full of graffiti or street art, or at least no more or rather less than other European cities that I have seen (few that I have seen). But it does boast one rather famous artist, Banksy. I have seen a few of his, one at the end of the post, but here's just a few others from around home and work.

This one from a closed pub down the street I live on.
It resonated a lot with how I feel right now.

On the wall of the Highbury Vaults, an old and lovely little pub with a garden full of
metal statues of animals, that we used to go to often. Reputedly the place where
some criminals who were to be hanged went for their last meal.

And the famous Banksy on Park street, on the walls of a sexual health clinic.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

One rainy day in Bristol

I looked out my kitchen window and this was what I saw. (Go on click on the image to see it full size.) (I feel like I am breaking a nice little rule or two here.) It's a good portion of the Clifton end of the city of Bristol. And a big red thing, red and gray thing, that looks a bit like a missile, sticking out of the top of a building.

That building is the Royal West of England Academy and it's hosting Crimes of Passion, a street art show. I finally couldn't wait any longer (sorry, V) and went and saw it. Here's a few favourites from the show (Urban wildlife included.)

There are a few that there is no use reproducing here, cause they have to either be seen at that size or up close, or are very very Bristol. You have to see them for yourself, like the Bristol city dinosaur and associated map and the red, black and yellow Bristol images.

Glorify and Persecute
First lessons(?)
The Helpful Panda
The things I miss the most right now
Bacchanal (The things I don't) Rings a bell somehow
And here come the beasties: Bag lady

The chav
The can eater

And finally, the drunk (!) cans: the prey species

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ordering the book from Scholars without borders

And finally you can order the book and pay online from here!

Only so this post isn't a single line long here's what a few people have said about the book:

The Benagluru Pages
The Hindu (a while ago)
Timeout (also long back)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Do something about Bangalore becoming unsafe for women

I`ve been reading some really scary things happening to women in what was my city for a long time. Read about them here. This is really disheartening; I grew to love Bangalore as much as my hometown of Bombay. Both of these were relatively safe cities for me and this is a rare thing in India when you are a woman. You can read about a few of the incidents that happened in this post.

The Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward Women, which I am quite proudly and naturally part of, is along with many others organising protests and actions. I wish I could be there helping out in some way, fighting back, doing my bit to keep a city I love safe, but I can`t. I`m stuck in Bristol and it will be a while before I will be back.

But there are those of you who are in a position to, so get involved! Do something!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009



(with apologies to Virginia Woolf)

The rustle that is obvious to your ears was nothing to her. A distant susurrus, hidden under the drumming sensation of many bodies moving against each other. And rather than hear, she felt. Outside, the warmth had begun stretching longer; the sun undid the snow into runnels of water, spreading little spikelets of green on the ground. Deep in the den, the changes were smaller, yet enough to shake her torpor away. The earth flexed its supple spine shrugging off the winter and set the urge upon her.

Her ancestors had come to this northern land when it was still under water, covered by a lake the size of a small ocean. In this fresh water, there was food for all; frogs and fish, snails and insects had kept their bellies full and them healthily glowing in their radiant shiny, smooth skin. They had thrived and become many. The water that had brought them abundant food also fissured the earth’s interiors into dens, one of which she was now waking up in.

Her sleep had been a long one, she spent more time under the ground in these dank caverns than above on the surface where her kind belonged, under the suns burnishing gaze. The winters in this northern land were cold and the icy fingers of frost reached deep into the earth. Her forbears had escaped into the dens that lay below the frost line, a meager but necessary oasis of survival in a winterland. For mere survival it was; of earth’s trip around the sun, she was condemned to spend only a third above. She cursed Proserpine her fortune every chance she had.

And yet time it was, the sun advanced, her blood ran faster and the cave warmed up with the motion of a few thousand waking bodies. She could feel her mood lift as she thought of the sun after months of immobility and hunger, the promise of release made her mind scream with impatience. But before release, before sunshine, before warmth and food, she remembered there was always the final test. She prepared herself for the coming task.

And then when she felt ready, she dove into the thick coils of the many that were making their way to the exit of the den. As her eyes adapted to the new brightness, she saw those she had known would be awaiting her arrival. They saw her and began their onslaught. Not a few, but hundreds at once, they began approaching her at close quarters, circling her slender body closer and closer, they flicked their tongues at her, smelled her skin. What they smelt seemed to prod them further into action. Like her they too had slept long and hungry, yet they had woken earlier and waited for her holding their hunger for food at bay. They announced their intentions by rubbing her body with their heads, coiling closer all the while. She did not repel their advances, her smells were calculated to elicit and encourage them. They climbed onto her, one upon another in a frenzy of hope, until she was the centre of tightly packed ball of bodies.

The bodies wrapped around her provided her with much needed warmth after the winter sleep. They worked faster and better than the feeble rays of the sun. The men, now wrapped around her, had left the den earlier, soaking the weak sun over days preparing for her exit and that of the others like her. Now they pounced on each woman they could find hoping that they would be the chosen ones.

This many-coiled embrace that she had willingly accepted, even encouraged, slowly melted the cold bones of her body. The pressure they exerted forced the air from her lungs and the winter seemed to leave with it. She had passed the test; her ruse had worked again. She remained there calm, nothing could be taken from her, she knew that it would stop when she wished. And as easily as she had turned it on, she began to turn it off. The mass of men around her, sensed it only a little in their frenzy. They rubbed her smell off as they continued to seek her favour, the female they could no longer surely identify. To them it seemed that they lost the scent of their quarry; that the alluring female had merely moved a bit further from them. They felt no anger, merely confusion as she faded from their senses. Quietly, imperceptibly, the slender body disappeared into the ball. Slipping coil over coil, by merely trying less, it surfaced above the tightly packed mess of bodies.

Like a rope uncoiling from a spun top, picking momentum and warmth from his former embracers, he disappeared to look for someone his own to hold and have. He went off in his own direction searching for the smell that they all followed. Warmer now, at their expense, the glint off his scales had the look of the twinkling of an eye. All he hoped for now was not to be had and as he had had them.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ordering Secret Lives

To begin with sorry for the long long absence. But here is at least one thing some of you have been waiting for. Tata book house finally has the book up for sale!

Those of you in Bangalore, I strongly suggest you just drop into campus go to the book store which is quite close to the entrance and buy the book there. The book will soon be available in the Chennai branch as well.

Those of you elsewhere, who want to order it, you can order it through the inquiry form on their website. Alternately send them an email / call. They'll give you a quote for the book + shipping (with reputed couriers), you'll have to send them a cheque or DD / bank transfer and they'll ship you the book.

I realise this is a bit more complicated than the usual procedure, but that's the best there is as of now. There's something in the works with Scholars without borders which should hopefully be easier, but is not quite there yet. More as it happens.

PS. SWB quite boldly say this on their website "Need a book that is not listed on our site? We can source any book (published in India or even elsewhere)-just write in!! Our email addresses are and" So if you prefer their payment options you might write to them and ask them. This is where you can find contact address for the publisher.