Tag Archives: images

Stars: Candles of our Childhood

Stars. Hot balls of illuminated gas millions of miles away, results of narrow cosmic chances.

The same stars, due to these enormous distances, appear as pinpoints of twinkling light. And so distant these stars are, that the light that left them eons ago, reach us now. And in that way, looking at them is like peering into the past. But that is not the only way stars make us look back in the past. Some of us travel time in our own ways.

When I first wondered why stars existed, I was perhaps six or seven, enjoying my summer vacations at my grandma’s house. These were times of the mid-90s, and there was less pollution than there is now. Moreover, there were frequent power failures in Mumbra. As irritated as we were due to the extreme May heat, we were helpless. This was the time when color televisions were still not that popular, but I was still happy that there was a black and white one at my grandmother’s house. In my house, however, the only electrical appliance of note was a cassette tape. But these were useless boxes during power failures. My cousin and I were little, and not too comfortable playing in the dark, so we would often sit surrounding a lit candle after sundown, and this would really annoy the adults, because our shadows were proper hindrances to their chores. Consequently, the candle would be placed atop a small wooden cupboard. This was still manageable for us, as the light wouldn’t hurt our eyes now. We would sit in the candle-lit room till power resumed, or till the only source of light flickered away and extinguished, after which we’d run to the kitchen. It had the only emergency lamp in the entire house, but we avoided it out of fear of being scolded.

Just before one of these unpredictable power failures, our mothers decided to take us to the building terrace. They told us we would enjoy the cold evening breeze, though I knew the enjoyment was more theirs than ours. Part of the terrace has a sloping roof, with one half of the slope descending toward the rest of the terrace. We liked it immediately! Due to its smooth tarring, we could slide and roll on it. We enjoyed so much that we didn’t realize that the lights had went out. About half an hour later, tired of climbing a slope rather steep for our age, my cousin and I sat at its base, reclining and looking up at the sky. It was a beautiful sight! The waning moon hardly disturbed the darkness of the rest of the sky. I knew my cousin looked up, too, because we both were quiet. Being the younger one and looking up to me for knowledge, he asked, “How does the sky have so many stars?” I was as clueless as he was, and regarding his question carefully, I looked up again. Indeed, there were a huge number of them, so many that I had never seen so much starlight in one go.

“I think these are candles”, I replied.

“Candles? Why would someone light candles so high up?” he enquired.

“Simple. When there is a power failure in grandma’s house, we light candles so we don’t get scared. In the sky, when there is a power failure, God lights candles so that those living there don’t get scared”, I said.
“What is moon then?”

“It is the largest of the candles.”
I looked at the moon to escape the discomforting ambiguity of my answer.

“A candle?”

“Of course, or why would it become smaller every day?”

“But it becomes larger too, sometimes. And look at its shape. I don’t think it is a candle.”

“It appears to be a different type of candle.”

“Why don’t we have a candle like the moon?”

I was growing irritated, not because of my cousin’s questions, but because of my own inability to answer them. I remained quiet. At the same time, I was curious, too. Were these really distant candles? How did they last all night? They would flicker, but why wouldn’t they get extinguished? And why would someone light so many small but only one large candle? I continued to wonder, while reclining at my new favorite place in Mumbra. We drew imaginary lines between stars, forming patterns, mostly letters in our names. We wrote in different styles, inventing many of our own constellations in the process. For reasons I was not yet familiar with, I felt at peace looking up. The sky had a quiet way about it. The soft breeze had put my cousin to sleep, but I wasn’t really sleepy. We remained till power resumed, and our mothers took us away.

At times, when I look up now, I find myself remembering that night. I smile at the how stupid my answers were, at my lost innocence. I try to recall the patterns we created, but I am largely unsuccessful, perhaps because I cannot find many of the stars that completed our patterns. It saddens me, but it is not difficult to not think about it for long. We live busy lives now, and we have other things to worry about. Not that our childhoods were not busy, but somehow it was far more enriching and gratifying. It was easy to be curious about something as commonplace as a night sky filled with stars.

Stars. Hot balls of illuminated gas millions of miles away, results of narrow cosmic chances.

And it is because of one of these chances that we exist, and are capable of wondering.

(Image Credits: Marc Van Norden. Click here to be redirected to the  original image)


Music, My Healer

Music… What can it not heal? Bruised morales, broken hearts… Perhaps every negative thought that can possibly come in someone’s mind. For some, music is just a way to kill time, while others listen to songs for very specific reasons. I love Linkin Park for its lyrics. Though slightly on the sadder side and sometimes too loud (rock bands are, usually), its songs can take you to another world if each word is listened to carefully. One song, Roads Untraveled, that I very much relate to comes from their recent album, Living Things. I often find myself singing the lines below:

“Give up the heart left broken
And let that mistake pass on.
‘Coz the love that you lost
Wasn’t worth what it cost.
And, in time, you’ll be glad its gone…”

So beautifully written! Simple lines, and such deep meaning! Consoling and advising at the same time. These lines so easily guide you to the thought that it is important to move on in life. True, a broken heart is like a thousand daggers piercing your soul together, like a never-ending pain, like a tombstone on the grave of love no longer alive. But it CAN be healed and there is always room for hope.

Music, my healer
Music, my healer

‘Hope’ itself is such a little word with so much meaning that it can change how one perceives life. We all deal with little heartbreaks each day, so why can we not overcome those which are seemingly huge? There are always negative thoughts riding in the vehicle of the past. Let your hope be its roadblock. When the past begins to deafen you, focus your mind on the Chime of your positivity. Solace is just waiting to be acquired.

Capturing the Dance of Light, Shadows and Colors

“Sam, I want you to take this camera. It is your responsibility to take care of it and make sure you click as many pictures as you can.”

I was scared as my friend, Jamal gave me his camera. It was expensive, it was DIGITAL! I had never held a digital camera in my life before this. Most importantly, I had to click images of the wedding ceremony of someone who happened to be his sister (I consider her as my sister, too. We call her ‘D’). I could easily miss an important moment. The infamy for being absent-minded and the habit of getting lost in my own world was not at all helpful. What if I screwed something up? What if somebody got offended when I clicked him/her? I had no time to think. I got even more nervous when I could hardly figure how to turn the camera on. Jamal gave me a brief tutorial about the various functions in the camera, continuously reminding after every sentence that I must keep it on ‘Auto’ mode at all times.

Me: I need practice, not your 5 minute tutorial!

Jamal: You can do it. Just remember the basics, and…

Me: … And always keep the dial on Auto, I know it. Be with me for some time please, at least let me know how I click.

Jamal: Would you like to do some videography? I have a video camera, too.

Jamal won. I was intimidated. And like I was told, I went around clicking faces and moments, taking great care about the mode I had kept the camera on. By the time all the ceremonies were over:

1. I had clicked a total of 578 photos:

Yes, I remember how many pictures I had captured. Of course, some images were overexposed, some underexposed, some were blurred, some were plain unflattering. But that is the point of clicking so many photos – with each click, I learned something new. There are few things as fascinating as a bride’s smile, and I was not only in the best position to watch her smile, I was gleefully capturing it, as well.

2. Everyone knew me:

The good thing about Indian weddings is that people love getting their photos clicked. The camera was a fantastic medium for introducing me to new people. And the best part about meeting them was that I had seen everyone smile (people seldom make bad faces at something as fine as a camera).

3. I turned into a better photographer:

Contrary to what I had thought before the “assignment”, photography was not just about “taking photos.” I was capturing memories – memories people, myself included, would cherish for a long time. I was capturing expressions – the happiness, the celebratory mood that I got a chance to be a part of. But most importantly, I began to view the world differently. Getting behind the camera changed me forever, and I enjoyed it!

I am thankful to Jamal for introducing me to his friend, the camera. It is my friend too, now. It gets along well with me, and continues to teach me something new each time I interact with it. I literally view God’s wonderful creations with its eyes and marvel at them. I have more knowledge about the visual aspects of nature, the intricacies of  small things, and the beauty of the grand design. As I walk in the bylanes of South Bombay, I feel empty streets speaking to me. I love photography because it gives me courage to say the things in my heart that I probably wouldn’t otherwise say out loud.

I capture. I express. I learn.

“Imprisoned Love”

“A Long Wait”

“Bruised Memories”

“Tree Silhouette”

“Repentance for Majesty”

“Her Love For The Wind…”

“A Little Quarrel” 

“Walking with The Mist”

Check out how I see the world: