Regret is a four letter word.

We all have a long list of things that we regret. It’s of many types; we either regret not doing or saying something or regret the fact that we did do it. Anybody who claims to breeze through life without having felt this emotion is either lying or has attained nirvana.

Regret is that nauseous feeling that threatens to overwhelm you after you eat way too many sugary treats or when you realize that guy you were with last night, doesn’t look half as good in the daylight or understand big words. Thats when you feel regret but think f**k.

What ties all sorts of regret together is the fact that no matter how much we try, how hard we work what’s done is done and cannot be reversed. Sometimes you let go of a good thing only to realize too late what it could’ve meant in your life and sometimes you’re too late in preventing something that shouldn’t have gone on for that long anyway.

Most importantly, rarely does regret involve only you, it affects and is bolstered by other people and that is why don’t selfishly try and assuage your guilt by trying to compensate for what you’ve done. Once the time has passed, stick to your decision and live by it because justifications mean nothing.That’s why they say life is so long, it takes a split second to make the wrong choice but forever to live it down.

Published in: on November 1, 2011 at 6:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Gateway to Mumbai

A man pretending to hold the Gateway up between two of his fingers while posing for a photograph, camera-toting photographers trying to sell heavily photo shopped images of the monument and women selling miniature versions as keepsakes. These and more shenanigans are daily occurrences at the Gateway of India, Mumbai.

The Gateway remains a wry observer, seemingly oblivious to the crowds that gather around it but the imposing, yellowed gate with its four domes and weathered inscriptions gives away its age. It always evokes a second glance from tourists who gather to admire its beauty, locals who come to admire the sea breeze after a hard day’s work or just passer’s by.

Even with all this activity, there’s still always a hush around it. It’s almost like it’s a wise old man, whose reputation precedes him. He’s seen it all, he’s done it all and so you can’t help be awed in his presence. That’s what the Gateway if India is to Mumbai. Revered. It has seen Mumbai through everything. Bloody murders, bomb blasts, terrorist attacks, pick pocketing and run of the mill con artists. It has been witness to decades of celebrations; a romantic proposal by the sea and even just a day’s outing for a family. Candlelight vigils to protest against atrocities commemorate a day or an event; it’s seen and heard everything. It keeps everybody’s secrets. People say that they make unique memories at the Gateway and the truth is, everybody does. On March 31st 1911, the foundation stone of the Gateway of India was laid making 2011 its centenary year. For 100 years it has seen the city develop from an English colony to the financial capital of an independent nation, from a trading town to a bustling city; it has seen kings, sailors, fishermen, lovebirds and tourists pass through. A passageway to Bombay in the old days, today it sits and watches the streets of Mumbai as the city scurries along at a mind boggling pace. Even though it was famously inaugurated in 1924, its foundation was laid way back in March 1911 to commemorate the visit of the then King of England, King George V and his Queen, Mary to Bombay, as the city was formerly known. From 1911- 1920, its construction was interrupted to build a seawall and reclaim land, forcing construction to resume only in 1920.

The Gateway captures Mumbai’s all encompassing spirit and diversity. It brings together the architectural style of the two most at odds groups, Hindus and Muslims. With an arch that is an ode to Muslim architecture and decorations in the Hindu style it acts as a mirror to the streets that accommodate groups of people who are drastically different from one another but live, breathe and die side by side, in the same salty air of this cosmopolitan city.

The Gateway was meant to be accompanied by an esplanade but lack of funds forced a delay and change in construction. A sign of things to come perhaps because Mumbai is infamous for projects that have been abandoned midway or shoddily done because of cost constraints, like the Worli Bandra sea link that took double the time it was meant to, to be built because of delays caused by lack of funds. The roads of Mumbai are notoriously bad, repaired every year and disintegrating with the first monsoon showers.

Back in 1911, acquiring 21 lakhs (29,358)for a monument was a big amount and it was borne largely by the Government of the country and contributions from rich business families of the city. The Sassoons, a wealthy business family donated ten lakhs () towards the construction of the Gateway; a tradition that dates back to the 17th century wherein rich families of the city would donate money to develop their city and even today, they play an important role in the functioning of Mumbai.

It’s often debated whether it’s government that keeps Mumbai running or the dozens of rich business families and their connections. It is no stretch of the truth that the rich and the powerful have security that could rival that of the Government in our country and on many occasions, the whims of the rich have overpowered what is right and legal.

Salman Khan, a much loved film actor ran his car over a sleeping man and injured three others and was shockingly found not guilty of culpable homicide nor was he jailed in this case for even a few days while incidents of rich kids being involved in hit and runs scarcely make the front pages of newspapers. Even when they do, somehow follow up stories neglect to occur.

It’s often been described as the city of dreams; that big city where millions from under developed parts of India come to pursue greener pastures.

Very few go on to attain these dreams, like Dhirubhai Ambani who amassed his great fortune after relocating to Mumbai in 1958. He went on to feature on the Forbes list of the world’s richest men. The majority of movers however have to satisfy themselves with working in factories, as taxi or car drivers and maybe even domestic workers.

Says driver Kartik Yadav, “ Mumbai promises greener pastures but when you reach here it’s an entirely different story. It’s a struggle, it’s a fight to survive but the more you give this city, the more it gives back.”

It may promise greatness and the stars may cloud your eyes but the city is as unruly ass the waves of the ocean that can take you down as easily as let you ride on them.

At the end of the day, it is simply a stone archway but what makes it ever so important is the fact that in a city that’s constantly changing, fluctuating and sometimes struggling to survive, this 100 year old Gateway is still standing.

It’s witnessed bloody murders, bomb blasts and broken hearts. It’s seen crime, crowds and catastrophes. It’s been witness to the whims of the rich and the wails of the poor and even though Bombay has changed to Mumbai and it’s people labour everyday with themselves to survive in this land, the Gateway remains constant, forever.

Published in: on July 31, 2011 at 9:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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The grocery store of the masses- Bhaji Galli

 

A whizzing of flies is in the air. They sit atop the coconuts that stand in the very first stall of the lane and if you listen carefully, almost sound like a welcoming jingle.

Being able to hear them is rare as the noise of the street is so overwhelming that it becomes difficult to even hear the voices in your own head. It is after all, in every sense of the word a street vegetable market, Bhaji Gallli where vendors and buyers come together, burgeoning stalls and bargaining voices.

Oversized and overused umbrella’s shelter the brightly coloured fruits and vegetables from the harsh Mumbai sun and the even more relentless rains but flecks of mud nonetheless make it to a these wares. Flecks that are sneakily wiped off when the customer’s backs are turned.

More than 60 years old, this long meandering lane at 17, Shankar Seth Road, Bhaji Galli, offers a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in small stalls along with a quirky peppering of items such as metal vessels, plastic wares and oddly enough, a little shanty selling only fancy ribbons.

The smells in the air are confusing, there’s a whiff of garlic here, the smell of wet leafy vegetables there and somewhere in the midst, the scent of juicy plums.

You can find ordinary Indian vegetables and fruits here but as you venture into the heart of the market, exotic wares like Celery, rosemary, thyme, cherry tomatoes and purple cabbages make their presence felt.

The vendors have a kind of brotherhood, nobody slashes their prices beyond an accepted rate and most customers have their favourite sellers.

The stalls on the street are rented or even bought. Om Prakasah from Uttar Pradesh was attracted by the lure of the big city and came to Mumbai seeking fortune. He has his fields at home but decided to get into the fruit business and has been a fruit vendor at the market since ten years. “ You need a BMC license to own a stall here, which I don’t have so I rent out the space for Rs.6000 (₤ 84) a month.”

The opulence of the vegetables and fruits and the simplicity of the market and its lower middle class vendors form a sad paradox. Little boys younger than even 14 wander the lane offering their lifting services to customers, customers who only want the freshest fruit and the greatest variety in vegetables while the boys can scarcely afford even half a fruit.

As the vendors shoo these little men away and turn their backs, they dip into the somewhat spoilt fruit basket and wander away with a stray litchi, grins of accomplishment on their faces.

Much like the women who feel they’ve struck a great bargain and the vendors who think the same. It’s a continuation of the streets of Mumbai, where the rich remain rich, the poor remain poor and they both like to think they’ve outsmarted one another.

 

 

Published in: on July 23, 2011 at 7:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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International Pillow fight day 2011

If you always associated pillow fights with teenage girls in pink nightgowns having slumber parties amidst a shower of fluffy feathers, think again.

International Pillow Fight day at Trafalgar Square, London on April 2nd 2011 was anything but that. There were rules, no one could hit anyone that wasn’t armed with a pillow and there was a dress code that asked for pyjamas.

A whistle went off at 3:00 p.m at Trafalgar Square and the pillows went flying. It was like a battle with people bashing their pillows onto the heads of their friends, their acquaintances and people they didn’t even know. Televison crews and photographers crowded the square eagerly filming the spectacle as onlookers too afraid to partake in the fight watched the ‘fighters’ in amazement.

Everyone in the square fighting with their soft, bouncy weapons had let down their inhibitions and were truly letting themselves go with no qualms of being seeing in their night clothes in public nor ashamed of being adults and fighting in public. Laughter, screams and surprise attacks followed and within 30 minutes the square was covered in white fluff.

International Pillow Fight day was celebrated across the Globe in a number of locations including Australia, India, Brazil among others. 130 nations held their own pillows fight according to the Daily Telegraph.

 

The Pillow fight day which is the brain child of Kevin Bracken and Lori Kufner who started the practice in 2008, view it almost as an interactive art installation. No official permission was taken to stage this fight at Trafalgar Square but Londoner’s came out in large numbers to take part in this event.

The pillow fight even helped Japan as 5 pound worth pillows were available at the location and the proceeds went to the aid of Japan.

All in all, it was a bit of weird event that pulled all sorts of people to attend it. There were photographers and viewers who wanted to see just how crazy people could get in public, there were those who had issues to work out and swung their pillows almost like weapons while others just came out to have a good laugh. And a good laugh was had by all.

Published in: on April 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Nancy Spero exhibit at the Serpentine Gallery

Feminist. Artist. Vocal anti-war crusader. Nancy Spero’s art gives you a direct insight into who she was and what she stood for.

The American artist’s exhibition at the Serpentine Art Gallery, London features a mix of her work. As you enter the gallery you are greeted by a video of Nancy showing women how to invigorate the womanly presence and expel the male one from their life. It consists of her hanging up intimate garments all over the room.

The first and most dramatic piece is what is entitled ‘Maypole: take no prisoners II 2008’. It’s overwhelming as it casts a gloom over the entire room. Severed heads painted on flat steel pieces hanging from ribbons, that’s what Spero thinks of war. The decapitated heads are painted in sombre dark colours, with thick brush strokes that exude a certain rawness. It looks almost as if the artist has declined the use of paintbrushes and used her fingers instead. The faces aren’t intricately painted but manage to convey expressions of pain, emptiness and almost look skeletal. Almost all the faces look identical, a subtle hint that perhaps war changes everyone, in the same way?

Moving on is a collection of her paintings on paper. Among this collection are what she entitles ‘lovers/fornicators’ and ‘great mother’. All these paintings have the same quality about them, they are very basic and almost childlike in their execution. They lack detail but still manage to tell a story. Again, she has used only blacks, browns and greys in the pictures.

The brush strokes are almost conflicting, criss- crossing each other. Its as if her use of colour and brush strokes expresses her anger, frustration and discontent with society. Great mother is a silhouette of a woman, lying on her side with four tiny faces under her. It looks almost like a bitch birthing puppies, perhaps alluding to the fact that she was appalled at the way women were treated in society, only meant for giving birth and taking care of young one’s.

Her paintings have a liberal use of what some would call offensive language ‘fuck you’ makes its presence felt more than once through the exhibition. She isn’t afraid to use controversial images as one of her paintings shows swastika’s on top and the bottom half of a man’s body with Swastika’s coming out of his penis, almost like he’s urinating them.

Another series of paintings are more war driven, they follow the same dark colours and rough strokes format. ‘Sperm bomb’ represents her anger towards men and war. Her paintings through her career make strong statements against male dominance, the futility of war and the suppression of women.

‘Azur 2002’ is a serious departure from the style we’ve seen so far. The paintings are bursting with colour, heavily detailed and consist of images from Egyptian and Greek mythology, which are a stark contrast from her realistic subjects. Here she uses symbolism to communicate while her works above were more obvious and to the point.

She rarely painted light subjects, if you want to see rainbows and flowers this show isn’t for you. Her technique consisted of more than just images, she often combined them with collages and text. This text was strategically chosen and picked to drive her point home.

Through her 50-year career, Nancy Spero was a crusader for what she believed in. She passed away in 2009 and the exhibit at the Serpentine is the first showing of the artist’s work in the UK since her death.

Nancy Spero

Serpentine Gallery

3rd March- 1st May

 

Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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‘Coverlook photoshoot’ at Elite studios

Free, free, free! I have to admit when I, like most people hear this word I have one of two reactions. Yes, I’l do it/I want it or er, this can’t be for real.

Next time this word is thrown around in a conversation, I’m going to think long and hard before I respond  no matter how exciting the prospect seems. The reason?

The ‘coverlook experience’ by Elite photo studios. I got a call from Elite photo studios one day asking me if I wanted to take part in a ‘promotional photoshoot.’ First reaction: No.

Then my friend did make an appointment with them and asked me to go along with her for a day of free pampering. They promised professional hairstyling, a makeover, session with a photographer and one free photograph. It sounded tempting and I had an enthusiastic friend for company so I agreed.

One fine thursday morning, with four dresses changes, hair freshly washed and faces scrubbed free of make up we went over to the studio, very fancily located near Oxford street.My friend had paid a deposit of 70 pounds for both of us. It was disaster averted when we found that the studio was real, legitimate and had people walking around inside.

The first thing we were asked to do was fill in a sheet giving names of ten of our friends so they could get an opportunity to be a part of this experience and we did this gladly under the allure of a free goody bag. (Which never came!) An hour later, we had been made up by extremely professional artists and we were ready to walk the ramp, anywhere. At least thats how beautiful we felt.

Three hours of posing for a woman who used us as the sounding board for her life’s problem’s and contouring my body into more shapes than a pretzel, I was just about ready for my one free photograph.

Thats when the mini-bomb fell. Between the two of us we only got one photograph. This one photograph being ‘promotional’ and ‘free’ can be best used as a passport sized one. Albeit a very glamorous passport sized photograph.

If you want to purchase any of these photographs they costs 75 pounds each and the more you buy, the cheaper they become and since we were students they were kind enough to extend us the courtesy of paying in installments.

All in all,  to me it was a disappointment. I spent four hours in the place and I didn’t even have a single photograph to show for it. Not even a passport sized one. So the next time you get offered something free, think about it once, twice or even three times !

Click here for Stefanie Soehnchen’s coverlook experience.

Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 9:09 pm  Comments (1)  

Disinformation’s ‘Origin of Painting’ exhibit

A darkroom and soothing music playing in the background. At first, you barely notice the music as it washes all over you like the first drops of rain. Then it engulfs you much like the heavier downpour with grey clouds in the sky that overwhelm you into darkness.

It sounds ethereal and eerie at the same time, peppered by random voices spewing words at intervals. It’s almost like the music is coming from beyond the grave.

Once you’ve adjusted to this strange sound your eyes turn to the incandescent images in front of you. The wall is full of graffiti and shadows of human figures. A flash of bright light, a click that sounds like a camera and the feeling is that you’re being watched.

This is at Joe Banks ‘Origin of Painting‘ exhibit at the Usurp Art Gallery, Harrow.  Inspired by a poem by William Hayley that talks of a woman who is enthralled by her lover’s sleeping form. By the light of a lamp his shadow appears on the wall and she traces his portrait.

This exhibit is a very interactive painting installation that was created using sound and light.

Art can be difficult to define, interpret and even more so to create. When an art exhibit gives visitors the unique opportunity to be a part of the art and help create it, the understanding follows.

It seems basic enough. You get a device that allows you to draw on the walls. You hear the camera click and position your body against the wall and in an instant your image is up there for everyone to see but in truth this exhibit is a delightful combination of science and art. The music is electromagnetic noise.

The soundtrack basically catches electromagnetic activity in the lighting that illuminates the exhibit. It consists of synthetically created radio chatter and even picks up stray radio voices that account for the words that come up in the soundtrack occasionally. They lead a ghostly air to the ambience.

The way that people’s images are captured on the wall is interesting as well.


Its not just about waiting for the flash to go off and positioning yourself against the wall, the mechanics of it are more complicated than that. It’s a live painting fashioned with 35,000-volt electric discharges.

The effect is disarming. The darkness overwhelms you and the power to create your own image even more so. It also brings you face to face with what would happen if you vanished, as visitors’ watch enthralled as their own images disappear in front of their very eyes. Watch a video here to get a taste of this exhibit.

‘Disinformation’ was first created in 1995 using electromagnetic noise as the basis for art and music installations and has been a part of more than 70 art exhibitions, 11 solo exhibits and played at numerous concerts.

Tucked away in a tiny lane of London, Usurp was launched in Harrow only in 2010 and prides itself on being an artist-led not for profit art collective. It specialises in supporting contemporary art endeavours and anything that challenges norms.

It’s for everyone and anyone that has a love for the arts.

Writers, sound artists, painters and anyone that calls themselves a creator has been showcased at this gallery.

Past exhibits include ‘Whispers in shallow window’ which was a combined effort of a live musician, photographer, video artist and writer. Usurp is anything but mainstream instead it’s a bit eccentric, modern and Disinformation fits right in.

 

 

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 11:18 am  Comments (1)  
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Facebook add new relationship status options

Some people take photographs explicitly for their facebook profiles while others judge relationship seriousness based on their partner’s relationship status.

Facebook is definitely important in today’s fast paced and technologically oriented lifestyle.  We use it as a tool to judge our social life, our popularity and sometimes even to check if our lifestyle is accepted by society.

As of February the 17th 2011, the social networking site has given its approval to gay and lesbian relationships.

Same sex couples now have the option to give their relationship a more legitimate and formal tag. The relationship status options were single, in a relationship, engaged, it’s complicated, in an open relationsip, married, separate and divorced.

These have now been expanded to include; in a civil union and a domestic partnership. ”This has been a highly requested feature from users,” Facebook’s Andrew Noyes, manager of public policy communications, told the Huffington Post.

This change is open to facebook users in the United States, The United Kingdom, Canada and France among other countries. These options are then being scheduled to be made available in countries where same sex marriages are legalized.

The Gay and Lesbian movement has been fighting for its cause for decades all over the world. Is its acceptance by this popular social networking site a sign that things are changing for the better?

With these options being available on a universal, social platform is facebook telling the world that it’s time to accept people as they are?

The essential question remains, should your personal preferences determine what rights are afforded to you or not?

Does being a woman and being in love with a women mean that you shouldn’t be allowed to tell the world what your relationship stands for?

10,000 B.C is when humans started making artifacts that suggested the appreciation of homosexual eroticism. Are we as humans that backward that in the many years that have passed since we still haven’t been able to accept  homosexual relationships without judgement?

I really hope not.

References

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358195/Facebook-adds-civil-union-relationship-status-options.html

Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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E-books threaten sale of paperbacks

E-Book sales have overtaken paperback sales on Amazon’s United States site and this years Man booker prize judging panel have been issued with E-readers.

Since the dawn of time, humans have constantly upgraded themselves to suit the changes in the world.  From caves in the jungles, we moved on to concrete buildings, from leather skins as clothes we went to haute couture. Is the replacement for the printed book the virtual book?

E-book readers allow readers to carry around 20, 000 books in their pockets. Sales of e-Books are steadily increasing as the variety and convenience they provide is higher than a real book. US Amazon’s latest financial report reads that for every 100 paperbacks 120 e-books were sold.*

To read E-books e-book readers are not necessary. Phones like the I-phone and other smartphones have applications that allow readers to read books on their devices. In this case having virtual books opens you up to a on- the -go library, a luxury heavy real books provide.

According to 21 year old reader Kamakshi Ayyar,”E-books are great obviously, considering the amount of paper we save.” Another factor that contributes to eBooks being more appealing is the fact that even without an e-book reader one can download books onto a computer or a mobile phone and read it conveniently .Some sites offer free downloads on books and many virtual books are available at lower prices than paperbacks.

There does seem to be an argument in favour of the printed word. Writer Jan Swafford writes, “People perceive written word differently than the one they see on a screen. My first drafts look good on screen but on paper, after what amount to several drafts on computer, look like a battlefield.”

The UK still lags behind the United States in terms of purchasing e-books. Publishers are trying to figure out the future but those at the Digital book world conference 2011 predict 2014 to be the year when e-books finally overtake the printed books.

Readers however insist that real books will never die. Reader Ramya Menon says, “There is a threat to lovely books from these sleek electronic contraptions but personally I would never give up the thrill of reading a real book. The smell of the pages is oddly comforting.”

References

*www.telegraph.co.uk

* http://www.independant.co.uk

* http://www.slate.com

Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 7:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Beatle mania continues in 2011

Fans on the Abbey road crossing

Fans on the Abbey road crossing -captured by the live cam

A woman crosses the road at the zebra crossing as carefully and as slowly as she can. Then she repeats the exercise at least 5 times.

If you see her from one side you’d wonder if she was crazy. On the other side however you see a woman clicking her photographs as she walks on one of the most iconic roads in the world. Abbey road.

Abbey road is just as the name suggests. It is just a quaint street with a zebra crossing.

Really nothing exceptional about it except for the little fact that the Beatles walked on this very road and created an iconic album cover.

Even on a grey Friday afternoon, the street is filled with wannabe Beatles, fans from across the world who attempt to recreate that image where the four band members walk coolly across the road.

Some are barefooted; others carry cigarettes just like Paul McCartney while some even go so far as to wear full white suits in an attempt to channel the late John Lennon.

The best part is abbey road studios have a live web cam attached to the street that captures these fans as they try and recreate that image. The worst part though is that there is no signal at the crossing.

Fuming motorists have to sometimes screech their cars to a halt as fans try to stop in the middle of the road to get the perfect picture. Even though the crossing was given *grade II listed status for its “cultural and historical importance” no measures have been taken to give fans a little space to enjoy it.

I love the place. There’s just something about music that makes me happy. There’s music for every mood. For when you want to dance, to mope, to love or to laugh. The Beatles have rescued me more than one time.

There is no better place to enjoy their music more than in the place they created something special. They’ve given me hope, happiness and a high through their songs.

And more than 40 years later, in a quiet London street the Beatle mania continues.

* References- http://www.wikipedia.org

Published in: on February 7, 2011 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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