Wednesday, February 8, 2012

People Series I

The Todas of Ooty
Young monks at the Tibetan monastery of Bylakuppe, Coorg
A Koli woman at Elephanta
Flower sellers outside Dadar Phool Market, Mumbai

Elephanta, a photographer's delight

A 10-year old's idea of  picnic has got nothing to do with age-old sculptures of gods and goddesses or a long flight of stairs that promise you the charm of a bygone era. The visuals that occupy its mind would be that of a picnic basket with sandwiches, cookies, a large mat, a picnic hat and some soft drinks. But what do you do when you have adults who are not well-versed with the city and its surprises? You just stride along. You don't have a choice.

If I were to give a vivid account of my first visit to see the Elephanta Caves, I wouldn't be able to do that, because the only part of the journey I remember is the boat-ride that we took from the Gateway of India to Elephanta Island. I guess that was the only thing I enjoyed and hence I am able to recollect. Everything else is a big shapeless blur. After that whenever I heard people say that Elephanta Caves should be part of their Mumbai itinerary I scowled at their plan.

But as they say, this city never stops surprising you. And it was my turn again. The irony is that it took a man of German origins to take me back to Elephanta. Hah!!!

My buddy's buddy from Germany was in India to shoot in and around Mumbai. And as usual, the tourist itinerary had the place Elephanta mentioned on it. So we got going. And this time, honestly speaking,  the boat-ride didn't excite me much. It was just about OK. But what lay in store were a good number of frames to be captured with my camera.

These caves are located on the Elephanta Islands, earlier known as Gharapuri Islands or the island of caves. You can read more about them here.

These photographs speak a lot, but I still wouldn't vouch for these caves as the perfect spot for sightseeing, what with the dirt and filth around it. But yes, magic can be done with your camera. And hey, beware of the damned monkeys!

Festivals of Mumbai - The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

India, the land of festivals. Every month of the calendar* has something to offer to the different cultures in this country. While some festivals are about the advent of rains, the others are to celebrate harvest. To put it simply, we do not face a dearth of festivals in this country. And Mumbai - the melting pot of cultures - welcomes every festival with equal gaiety and pomp. Though let me warn you, there are some festivals which haven't managed to find a place in these calendars and hence there is a possibility of you missing them. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is one of them.

The city is home to several artists and performers who have carved a niche for themselves, both nationally and internationally. Hence, it is only justifiable that the city hold a festival for its people who keep the momentum of life going on with their colours, steps and expressions. Thus was born the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, a festival that transforms a little precinct of South Mumbai into a festive extravaganza.

Kala Ghoda  or the Black Horse is a place in South Mumbai, India. Although, the name has a horse in it, the place doesn't have anything to do with the hoofed animal anymore. Even the statue of King Edward VII on his black horse (that's how the name came into existence) has been relocated to another place. But the name stayed back, refusing to move. One of the living witnesses of the city's colonial past, Kala Ghoda is surrounded by museums, docklands, cinemas, art galleries and libraries.

The year 1999 saw this precinct draw in a large number of artists, performers and the general public to host its first arts festival, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, a kaleidoscope of cultural events. Since then, there has been no looking back.

This year's festival is almost at the closing stage, with just three more days left. As usual there were wonderful events to look forward to - heritage walks, installations, performances by Indian and international artists, puppet shows and more. But hey, it's definitely not too late. Make the most of the next tree days and have some fun. And if you miss it, don't frown, they are going to be back next winter.
Kala Ghoda 2011

Kala Ghoda 2011

Kala Ghoda 2011

Kala Ghoda 2010

Kala Ghoda 2010

* We in India follow the Gregorian calendar. The Hindu calendar still finds a place in our homes, but only for specific events, occasions, festivals and auspicious days.