Archive for September, 2008|Monthly archive page

A face you cannot forget

Emilio Morenatti’s haunting photo of a child!

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Yo Mama!

Remember the poem recited by Robert Di Niro in “Meet the Parents”? Well I reproduced it below:

My Mother”, by Jack Byrnes.

You gave me life,

You gave me milk,

You gave me courage.

Your name was Angela,

An angel from Heaven,

But you were also an angel of God,

And he needed you, too.

I selfishly tried to hold on to you,

While the cancer ate away at your organs,

Like an unstoppable rebel force,

And now we’ll meet in Heaven,

And I shall see you

Nevermore, nevermore, nevermore.

A random search for something today led me to a poem not unlike this one.

Call me insensitive, impassive , rude or obnoxious but no matter how cute and touching the poem is, I cannot help compare it with the De Niro piece :-).  A real gem this one!

Tabletop Classics

What started off as an idle experiment at home one insomnia-ridden night became a passion. Crudely armed with a cheap tripod, a glass tea table (dark tint) and a cheap neon table lamp I shot my first table top in absolute darkness of my living room using a Canon Powershot S3 . The object was a 1:18 scale model of the 1955 Mercedes 300 SLR Coupe ‘Uhlenhaut’ gifted to me by my dad 6 years ago. Later I used a can of Diet Coke and also a bottle of wine with a wine glass. But diecast model cars seem a better option. Their photos put life in them.

Last weekend, I shot my second car, a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ using a Nikon D80. The 320 hp roadster broke the world speed record at Bonneville salt flats.  Only two of these Roadsters were ever made ($9500 just for the chassis !)-one for Clark Gable and the other for Gary Cooper.

Interestingly, Mercedes too made only two of the 1955 300 SLR Coupe designed by Rudolph Uhlenhaut. The open top original version won the second Mille Miglia with Stirling Moss behind its wheel. Mercedes reintroduced the 300 SLR after 48 years in 2003.

It is costing me quite a quid to indulge in this hobby. These tinny classics actually cost between Rs 600 – Rs 2000 each! I hope I can acquire a few more rare classics and photograph them.

1935 Duesenberg SSJ

1955 Mercedes Benz 300 SLR

Ruminating Patalkot

It has been almost a month and I still dream of the monsoon magic of Patalkot. Sometimes I wish I lived there amongst the tribes.

Imagine:

  • No  track of technology, fashion or markets
  • No need of an MBA
  • No Ipods, laptops or cellphones or roaming charges
  • No packaged water, cheesy pizza or low carb diets
  • No DishTV, Aaj Tak, bad movies or broadband
  • No cars, petrol shocks or parking dilemmas
  • No power outages, pollution or bad sewage system
  • No medical insurance, pension planning or tax returns
  • No credit cards, verification or cyber laws
  • No competition or capitation fees for kindergarten admissions
  • No masters degree abroad, H1B visa or stamping!
  • No job hunting!

Just live in a paradise, grow food, trees and even medicines. Walk barefoot, breathe fresh air, toil the body and keep fit. Live minimally and and live off the land. But I guess I will be stiff bored in two days without the usual poisons. We have come a long way from living off the land to crippling our lives badly by just losing the cellphone!

Patalkot is a home to the Bharia and Gond tribes and is situated in a deep horse shoe shaped valley near Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh. The forest at Patalkot is secluded in a valley far away from civilization. The tribes have been pretty much self sustained, growing their food, sourcing clothing and building their homes without dependence on the modern world. They also possess an astute knowledge of rare medicinal plants local to the valley and their application as a cure to a lot of ailments. It is a skill they have been passing down the generations. Had Dr. Deepak Acharya not documented about it, I would not have heard of it. It was this site that kindled the desire to do the central India road trip.

Destiny turned a full circle when I reached Patalkot. A man came over to me at this place (pic) wondering why I was here (I was flashing my Nikon with a 300m ‘long tom’ like a bad wannabe!). The man turned out to be Dr. Acharya himself who was on a holiday visit (it was August 15!) to his favourite place on earth. Dr Acharya probably took me to be a realtor looking out for fresh pastures to kill! According to him, the government of MP was contemplating a golf course here (see the pic above) to tap tourist potential and ‘develop’ the place. So far their efforts to reach out to the tribes in the valley (see below) consist of electricity to one village (Rathed) and a primary health center where no doctor ever goes (why exactly would these people need a health center when they have all the cures within their forests). Otherwise, the people here have been living the same way as 500 years ago. They grew millets and maize and sold it at the nearest ‘civilized’ villages in their vicinity.

They had a pretty life until probably civilization touched them and things started to go southward for them. Exploiters and forest mafia began cutting their trees, harvesting rare medicinal plants and tearing the ecology apart. A lot of rare species of herbs have already vanished from the valley due to the unchecked pilferage. To add, the government scheme of rice for two-rupee a kilo has weaned away the tribes from their traditional farming to selling off their indigenous wealth for cheap food. The new generation of tribals having tasted life outside their valley refuses to carry the legacy of traditional medicine or indigenous farming. They migrate seasonally to towns and cities in search of livelihood. The lack of water accentuated by the mass deforestation also forces the tribals to migrate to cities and towns every summer. Dr Acharya tells me that deep in the valley is another valley (the term ‘patal’ probably refers to it) even deeper where the Bharias did not even know the existence of salt! Now that they tasted salt, they wish to taste the rest!

I was in a prominent mall in Chennai last week wading through the mulling crowd. Lack of space, fresh air or natural climate within and my mind naturally sought the rain drenched Patalkot. I looked around and found a lot of brands – of clothing, brands of jewelery, shoes, accessories, fast food, and gadgetry. Globalization is a major shift in lifestyles of the civilized. What I saw around were fruits of globalization – mindless consumption. We have migrated to a new lifestyle; one that hinges on dependencies and we only moved from old ones to new ones (read my list of Nos above). Somewhat similar to the indigenous tribes of Patalkot.  Only they migrated from a life of self sustenance to that of dependence. They had no definition of economy before but now they are entering the strata called ‘poor’. A whole eco system is therefore vanishing.