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Wednesday, February 11th, 2009 | Author:

Like it or not, Our faces get smeared all over during this time. ‘And no one minds’



Last year, last day


Category: Events, Photos, Uncategorized  | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 | Author:

Hi, I wanted to share some pictures shot last year. Extremely grateful to my bosses for giving me an opportunity to maintain this hobby. Thank you all for reading!

A temple at Gopeshwar

A temple at Gopeshwar

Alaknanda at Srinagar (Garhwal) The river near this sleepy town gave a surreal experience

Alaknanda at Srinagar (Garhwal) The river near this sleepy town gave a surreal experience

An Ashram

An Ashram

An evening by the river

Near Auli

Near Auli

Barrage near the National Park

Barrage near the National Park

Feels like god- Owner’s pride

Feels like god- Owner’s pride

Chowringhee- Vintage beau

Chowringhee- Vintage beau

Church - Delhi-6

Church - Delhi-6

Downtown Rishikesh - The city still has a relaxed feel

Downtown Rishikesh - The city still has a relaxed feel

FRI- The Forest Research Institute, Dehra Doon - One of the best buildings, I’ve come across. An architectural delite

FRI- The Forest Research Institute, Dehra Doon - One of the best buildings, I’ve come across. An architectural delite

A Monkey

A Monkey

An evening by the river - Random shots

An evening by the river - Random shots

Outside a temple- There are more takers than givers

Outside a temple- There are more takers than givers

Red Fort - Will remain our forté

Red Fort - Will remain our forté Red Fort - Will remain our forté

Rishikesh - Always a home

Rishikesh - Always a home

The Vagabond

The Vagabond

Smoke pillowing out of a factory - The factory chimney at the backdrop of a sunset

Smoke pillowing out of a factory - The factory chimney at the backdrop of a sunset

Sunrise - 1st Jan 09

Sunrise - 1st Jan 09The set-ting

A place near Dehra Doon

A place near Dehra Doon

The Girl

The Girl

River Ganges - 'Pure'

River Ganges -'pure'

Wait - Ain't long

Wait - Ain't long

Bullet yogi

Bullet yogi

Saturday, February 07th, 2009 | Author:

Loneliness

To whatever there is a beginning
Must there also be an end?
If one does precede
Is the other pre-ordained?

Ceaseless the onslaught
Of the balled fists of Time
How long can I hold on
If you are no longer mine?

Memories keep knocking
Then hammering hard
Then I hear the swishing
Of a thought go past

I avert my eyes
I don’t want to see
You leaving me alone
Why won’t Time let me be?

Walking on the Beach

Category: Photos, Poems, Thoughts  | Tags: ,  | 8 Comments
Friday, February 06th, 2009 | Author:

480BC in the narrow Thermopylae pass in the northern Greece 7 thousand of Greek soldiers waits to face the largest force ever assembled, over 300,000 soldiers of the Persian Empire. Greeks were led by the 300 deadliest fighters The Spartans, their job was to hold that pass or die trying. In the Thermopylae pass, few stood against many for freedom and made their last stand.

Xerxes led the largest fighting force ever assembled, some of the historians still believe that their number was over 3 million. The Persian Empire was very big its border extends from the Indus River in India to Nile River in the Egypt. Xerxes invested lot of money and 5 years to assemble that army, built ships and buy food for invading Greece, his intention was to burn the Greek city Athens to punish them for supporting a rebellion against Persia 25 years ago. Xerxes sends a man to find out what lies in the way. The man discovers 7000 Greek soldiers blocking the east of the pass. The Persians out numbred the Greeks nearly 50 to one. In a strategic move the Greeks have chosen the Thermopylae pass as the battle place which is a narrow pass of around 200 yards in width. Leading the Greek army is the great Spartan king Leonidas one of the 2 kings of Sparta who was chosen to lead the army by all the Greek city states to go and hold the Thermopylae pass.

Xerxes waited for around 4 days to attacks and finally attacks on fifth day. About 150 yards away from the Greek army, thousands of Persian archers launch a barrage of arrows. Leonidas and Spartans waited all their life for this moment as they were born for battle.

Around 530BC 50 years before the battle of Thermopylae Spartan king Leonidas was born and inspected by a Spartan elder. Sparta at that time was a hard core warrior society. After birth every child was examined and was decided if he is fit to live in the society, if the baby has any imperfection, they didnt allow him to live. At the age of 7 every male child including leonidas is sent to the army camps for training. Leonidas was a strong baby and was spared by the Elders to live and was sent for the army training where young Leonidas will live, train and learn to kill or be killed, for the next 12 years. At the age of 18 his education completed and he enters the Spartan army.

This is the time for every Spartan mother to feel proud of, while handling his son the shield she would tell them in Greek Come with the shield or on it.

581BC one year before the battle of Thermopylae a Greek spy discovers that the Persian king Xerxes has assembled his army to invade Greece. The Xerxes plan was to burn the Greek city state Athens to the ground. When the Athenians discovered the intention of the Xerxes they quickly realized that they are going to need help. Despite their poor relations the Athenians reach their one of the major regional rival Spartans for help. Before deciding whether to help the Athenians the Spartans consult the Oracle (one of the most sacred Greek shrines). According to them the death & sacrifice of Leonidas will save the Sparta and Leonidas agreed to help the Athenians to battle the Persians as he believed that he is the descendant of Heracles and Gods have chosen him to save Sparta. The counsel of Sparta isn’t convinced and allows Leonidas to take a minimal force of 300(all with father and son) chosen by him.

Before the battle of Thermopylae, Xerxes sent a messenger to negotiate with the king Leonidas.
Messenger:
Don’t be stupid Spartans, lay down your weapons or prepare to die, you are facing the largest and the strongest army ever assembled, our arrows will blot out the sun.
One of the Spartan: Then we shall have our battle in the shade.

The Spartans used their shields to avoid the barrage of Persian arrows.

Stuck in the narrow pass the Persians could not break the human walls(phalanx) of the Spartans and were slaughtered.

Sooner the Persians began to realize that it was not the best of the idea to launch themselves on the Spartans waves after waves.

End of the day the Spartans killed many and lost few which gave them a hope of Victory, on the other side Persians were trying to find a way to surround the Greeks land force from behind.
Next morning Spartans and the Athenians took their respective positions prepared for the second Persian attack. In the noon Xerxes decided to march 10,000 of his best fighters (also known as the immortals) to the front.

Xerxes believed that the immortals will end the action, but the Spartan phalanx were so rock steady that even the immortals were not able to break it and were killed. One of the main reasons of failure of the immortals was that they had never faced such a highly skilled, trained and tactically flexible fighters like Spartans.

After 2 days the Persian body count was enormous.

After the second day of battle a Greek traitor named Ephialtis revealed the goat path to Xerxes in order to get rich quickly. Seeing that he can’t penetrate the Greek defense, he decided to use the path and ordered 10,000 of his soldiers to march and climb up the hill in the dark to surround the Greeks from behind. But this path was not unknown to Leonidas. Before the first day of the attack Leonidas had stationed 1000 people(Phoceans) in the pass. But when the Persian approached the Phocean land, the defending force was missing. Now the Persians have a unhindered path. By this time the Leonidas was doomed from above and behind. In the mid of the night Leonidas knew that the Phoceans have deserted the path.

Knowing that he has been out flanked, he decided to order his army to retreat, leaving only around 300 Spartans.

By the dawn all of the Greek troop retreated except Spartans and around 700 soldiers from Greek city state of Thespia as they decided to fight with the Spartans to the death(very few know about this). Now Leonidas and his 1000 men were surrounded by the 10s of thousands of Persians. Cleaned and prepared for the battle the Spartan took the field for the one last time. Third day fight began and the Spartans & Thespians fought like mad, they had nothing to lose as they were destined to death. After some time all the Spears & Swords of the Greeks were broken and they were fighting with whatever they could.

Somewhere in between the fight Leonidas was struck with the Persian arrow fire and fell on the third day.

There was a great battle over the body of the Leonidas, finally the Greeks recovered the body. At last the Persians called their archers for the one last time.

The last stand of the few hundred men will always be remembered.

Ē tan ē epi tas

Thursday, February 05th, 2009 | Author:

A Session with a Delhi based photographer, Mr. OP Sharma, Hon PSA, FPSA, India with vedainformatics. It also happens to be his first online interview.

Photography – is speed, precision and capturing a unique moment of the day. It is about understanding the light. As with the advent of modern technology and products, Will technology bypass art? Mr OP Sharma a well known veteran of Fine arts defies, “Never. Phography is a combination of aesthetic sensibilities, creativity and foremost ability.” So does this implies that we would stick to the traditional forms of photography and resist new changes? Pat comes the reply “I am not against technology or mechanics of any form. It is a good thing as long as they are not misused and I am not going be a part of the wrongdoing.” Is he against Photoshop software, “There are methods older than Photoshop I know how to use Photo shop, but my suggestion is when a camera in itself can do many things and if you can shoot an appropriate picture, why Photo shop?”

Photography as a subject was taught in the schools four decades ago, “ I started teaching photography at Modern School Barakhamba Road in 1960 but the system got changed by the Morarji Desai government and today it is an optional subject as SUPW.” What will the students derive out of photography, “ there are so many creative aspects of this subjects. And in the schools the basic grounding happens and by the time they (students) are older it becomes easier for them to learn few things about this subject.” Explains Mr. Sharma. Photography is a blend of science and art and one needs to understand both the aspects in order to deliver better output.

On asking about the scope and definition of creativity, Mr. Sharma retorts, “Creativity is the most misunderstood phrase these days. Creativity does not happen on a day-today basis. It happens once in a while and it grows with an idea that germinates in your mind and develops with time. I feel that creative works happens quite a few times in the whole lifetime, in any field and just not restricted to photography.”

On Mr Sharma’s limited presence on the net, the veteran takes a dig by saying, “If there are good things about the internet there are 99 other flaws even. The internet arrived about 20 years back in India the kind of projection analysts made that time is no where close to reality in today’s situation. There is still limited access to the internet  If  I take India as whole plus usability is a big question. There are lot of wrong means on the internet, that is the reason I have till date not given any of my work in this domain. I want to protect my work from scrupulous people.”  He further says, “I have been a teacher for more than 40 years now and gained immense knowledge from the service I have done. There are things which would have been nearly impossible for me devoid of this path.” On asking about e-learning or online tutorial help, Mr Sharma smiles, “I will not be required anymore if I do that.”

I thank him for an insight.

My take

I keep getting surprised by the amount of work people have done in this domain, In India and especially abroad. I feel that the scope is much more outside, encouragement and recognition are definitely add ons to creative people involved in visual media. I second Dr. Sharma’s view that the internet has belittled authentic work done by real artists. I also view his take on plagiarism which he and people like him fiercely protect.

At the same time the amount of reach and the impact, the internet is vying to make in the next few decades is surely outside calculation or imagination. New media has opened gateway of information with the advent of neo technology, digital and computerized  communication vehicle. These tools involved is perhaps widely being described as a mode of social change. A cardinal change from traditional information sharing to community based platforms where interactivity is the buzzword. The very word popularity has catapulted with the phenomenal rise of communicating  tools like blogs, online videos, internet and chats and photosharing websites like Flicker or Twitter to a movement, of a kind. Dr. Sharma, we need to move ahead and change with times. I have heard a quote, probably by Charles Darwin

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”

Monday, February 02nd, 2009 | Author:

What could be a better way to unwind after a hectic day than with some heavy petting? Now, now, this is a family blog site – would I be suggesting what you just thought? What I meant was that personal experience and tons of research over the years show that a pet can be an enormous stress-buster. As Josh Billings once said, “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” We all could do with some unconditional love each day, don’t you think?

I’m an animal lover and find it difficult to restrain myself, especially when confronted with baby animals. Can anyone remain indifferent when confronted with a litter of frolicking puppies? We’ve always had at least one dog at home. There were a few memorable years in my adolescence when my grandmother had six dogs of various breeds running around the house. I believe that all my adolescent angst was made more tolerable because of these dogs. Each time I was sad, had a fight or was generally put out, I would sit by myself and one of the dogs would find me and stay with me, unquestioningly, till I felt better and was ready to face the world again. They never judged me, never expected me to say something intelligent or even ask for attention. All they wanted to do was to be there with me. Can you imagine such unconditional support from anyone else?

My favourite portrayal of the limitless love of animals and man is exemplified in the video clip below:

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace. – Milan Kundera

Then there was my first Labrador, Lucy. She seemed almost human in her understanding of what was happening around her. Each time my mother and I had one of our frequent battle of wills, she would rush between us, stroking each person in turn with her paw and licking our hands to calm us down. She would sit by me and lick away my tears while I coped with the travails of teenage life. I sincerely believe that only a dog has that special way of making you feel loved and needed and of telling you that you might just be the most wonderful person on this planet. Such is a dog’s love for its human. The dog doesn’t want anything in return.

One experience I will never forget is when my dog saved my daughter’s life. We had this huge German Shepherd, Tarzan, who we fondly thought of as our guard dog. He was scared of firecrackers, smoke and even puppies, but in the minds of his loving parents (my husband and I) he was this fierce watchdog with a loud bark. One afternoon, while I was upstairs napping in my bedroom and my daughter was entertaining herself playing in the garden, I heard Tarzan barking relentlessly. He usually did not bark this way. He seemed to be extremely troubled by something and my first thought was that my 4-year-old was trying to kill him! I quickly went down to investigate and found Tarzan standing between my daughter and a Cobra, who was ready to strike. I almost fainted. My daughter was intrigued by the snake that had somehow managed to find a way into our garden. Tarzan had sensed its presence and kept barking at it so that it could come no further towards the house. My daughter was standing 2 feet behind Tarzan with her ball, as though she had just missed playing with the snake because of the dog’s intervention. While Tarzan kept the snake busy, I took my daughter away and managed to call the watchman. After this, the watchman took over, caught the snake and took it away. Tarzan immediately calmed down and so did I.

Tarzan saves the day!

Tarzan saves the day!

But it isn’t just dogs who can be a man’s best friend. Any pet can have that stress-relieving effect on you. I’ve kept fish and turtles and for a short while I even had a cat. I could spend hours just staring at the fish swim lazily through the aquarium. It was such a soothing feeling. The cat was more of a challenge because unlike dogs who think the human is GOD, cats think that they are GOD and we are there to serve them. So having the cat jump up on my lap and curl up to get her belly scratched was a feeling similar to having climbed Mt. Everest – I had won the love of a feline!!

One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why.  ~Author Unknown

You don’t have to take my word for it – just look at the vast body of research that supports the positive effects of owning a pet or even spending time with an animal on the mind and body. A study by researchers at UCLA School of Public Health has demonstrated conclusively that men living with AIDS who owned a pet suffered significantly lower degrees of depression than those who did not own a pet. Not only the companionship offered by the animal but the exercise involved in walking a dog or cleaning up after birds and cats helped keep the men with AIDS active and happier than those who did not need to look after a pet.

Similarly, there are numerous studies that vouch for the fact that having a pet at home actually helps lower blood pressure, alleviate feelings of loneliness and increase social support by helping us meet other animal lovers when we walk the dog. A study of 92 patients who had recently suffered from angina or a heart attack reveals that while 28% of the patients who did not own pets died within the next one year, only 6% of the patients with pets suffered a similar fate.

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.  ~George Eliot

There is nothing more comforting than pups snuggling against you

Almost like something out of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a study also found that patients who watched fish swimming in an aquarium during oral surgery experienced greater degree of relaxation (as measured through blood pressure and muscle tension readings). Pet therapy has been used for several years now, with trained animals visiting various nursing homes, hospitals and hospices in the US on a regular basis. The patients exposed to pet therapy not only reported a positive impact on their sense of well being but doctors also found marked alleviation of symptoms and faster recovery in these patients. Trained dogs have been helping children with learning disabilities learn to read. Children with autism have also found to benefit through interactions with animals.

If you take a dog which is starving and feed him and make him prosperous, that dog will not bite you. This is the primary difference between a dog and a man. – Mark Twain

This irrefutable body of evidence brings me to the next question – How do I know what pet is best for me? You can choose from dogs, cats, birds, fish and even mice and hamsters. The kind of pet you opt for should suit your lifestyle, preferences and temperament. After all, we don’t want to add to the existing stress levels by choosing a pet that needs more attention that you are able to take time out for. You also need to ensure that the pet you choose is suitable for your living space. For instance, a large dog would be a menace in a small flat.

You would also need to get information about food and medical care the pet would need, the cost involved and whether you are comfortable taking on the additional responsibility and cost. The best place to get information is by visiting a neighbourhood vet. There is also extensive information available on the net. Also remember to consult your doctor regarding any allergies that you or your family members might experience. Many people are allergic to dog and cat hair.

There also are a lot of misconceptions about various animals, which need to be rectified at home before you bring in a pet. No dog will bite unless provoked and a dog’s lick does not infect you with germs.

Hugging someone can only spread love not germs

And talking about misconceptions, let me tell you about the time when my daughter bit the dog. Remember, the fierce guard dog, Tarzan? My daughter was about 3 years old at this time and she loved playing dogs, except she had her rules! For instance, the Labrador wasn’t allowed to lick her face although her face was at the same height as the dog’s face and therefore the most accessible part of her body. I once caught this strange interaction between Maya (my daughter) and Zoe (the Labrador). Zoe would lick her face, Maya would slap her in response, so Zoe would lick her again to apologize, so Maya would slap her again and this went on for about 10 minutes till I stopped them. But I am digressing. I wanted to tell you about how Maya bit the guard dog! At this time of her life, Tarzan was taller than Maya but loved her nonetheless. He loved being with her and have her treat him like a horse, ball catcher and general guinea pig. On this particular occasion that I want to recount, Tarzan kept nudging Maya with his head to play with him but she was busy colouring and so kept pushing him away. But he was persistent and kept nudging her till she got really fed up and turned around and bit his neck, tearing away a chunk of hair in her teeth. Poor Tarzan was in shock and tried to lick Maya to pacify her. I, of course, ran to wash her mouth and give her a piece of my mind – humans don’t bite dogs and that’s a cardinal rule.

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.  ~Robert Benchley

Coming back to my personal experience, I find that the cost really isn’t that much, and certainly massively outweighed by the benefits. I have also seen the benefits owning a pet has had on my daughter. It has helped her focus on something beyond her own needs, made her take responsibility on her young shoulders and feel a sense of achievement through her efforts at looking after the pets. I believe these are irreplaceable learning experiences and I know that they will stand her in good stead as she grows up and interacts with the world at large. The greatest achievement I think has been that my daughter has developed a sense of compassion and love that I rarely see in children her age. When we go out shopping, Maya always makes sure we visit a pet store and bring home some chewy things for the dogs. She always insists on going with us whenever we need to visit the vet, just to ensure that the dogs were getting the proper treatment! And she is unable to see a hurt animal on the road. I am a better person because of Maya’s concern for the well being of animals at this tender age of five.

So let me leave you to think about how you can lead a longer, happier and healthier life by owning a pet with this quote:

The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.  ~Author Unknown

As a parting shot, enjoy the “Animal Song” by Savage Garden to some of the cutest animal pictures in the video clip below:


Monday, December 08th, 2008 | Author:

Chits were distributed and picked randomly for the selection

Some of us decided to have a game of carrom, sort of a mini competition, with the winner will get treated with aalu ke paranthe and soft drinks. An impromtu competition led to several nervous moments laced with anxiety and anticipation. All went well and we are even thinking of making it as a permanent feature. Everyone played really well. Nice being a sport.

Category: Building The Web, Photos  | Tags:  | 2 Comments
Monday, December 08th, 2008 | Author:

Chandu baazigar

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Monday, December 08th, 2008 | Author:

Things getting a little serious

Close watch

Rizwan Sir aims

Some people have their priorities set!!!

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Monday, December 08th, 2008 | Author:

Boss at Play

Haar kar bhi jeetne waale ko ‘chandu’ kehteh hai!!!