Apr 112012


My grandfather (dada) Calamur Mahadevan (1901 – 1962) – geologist, scientist, nationalist, feminist, father, husband, friend, teacher. Prinicipal at Andhra University. A man who educated his wife after their marriage, and insisted that she go out and work with the less privileged.

My Grandmother (dadi) Satyavati Mahadevan (1916 – 1993)  - poet, musician, writer, wife, mother, grandmother… My love for the epics and the Gods comes from her.

My father (standing extreme left), My Uncle – periappa (extreme right) and my aunt (attai) in the centre. A few years before they were all married . Their father loomed large in their lives. His death anniversary was on the 8th of April. I can tell you, they are still to recover from his death.

I wish i had known him.

Jul 232011

Macro, in photography, is an extreme close up. They also can be a pain to shoot because the slightest movement in the object leads to a blurred image. the interesting facet of macro photography is that the image is usully many times the size of the original object.

Macros can be of anything. My first exposure to macro photography – actually macro filming – was almost 15 years ago. We were filming a project – the client was Bajaj, and the brief was to show the audience – mainly roadside mechanics – the correct way of fixing a 2 wheeler. It took us for ever to shoot. There were multiple issues. Firstly the object – usually a tiny nut or bolt – had to be lit up. Usually this was made of steel and would reflect light. You had to account – in terms of light- for the human hand bringing an implement – a spanner, a screwdriver – to fix that object. Given that the human hand is flesh and blood, dark and doesn not reflect light – you needed to compenate in terms of lighting. And then, because the camera would focus on such a small field, the slightest movement would lead to the shot going out focus. And just when everything would be correctly aligned the client would walk across the frame and say -but this is not what i want. That project taught me two things

  • How to shoot macros
  • Patience and the ability to curb my inner homicidal maniac

Death by shooting macros.

One would think that I would have had my heart’s fill of shooting macros after the project, but it worked the other way. Macros became a challenge. Seeing them, framing them, and shooting them. The advent of digital cameras made life easier – because I could shoot without worrying about wasting reel. In the last few years since i got my DSLR – my tendency to shoot macos has increased.

If you are an aspiring photographer, there is no better way to improve technique than shooting macros – they are a pain to shoot. And like all things painful they improve your ‘character’.

Coupled with my tendency to shoot macros is my tendency to shoot portraits – but that is for another post.


30 day Project Day 16 - dying

I shot this on Thursay at the Sophia College Gardens. A dying flower. there was something innately graceful and dginified – and terribly beautiful about the double shaded hibiscus

And, this is one from yesterday. Had gone to visit my friend KS -after a long, long time… lots of conversation and laughter. And some time spent on developing an interesting business idea. But, amidst all the fun – shot a few macros – this one of a fake flower

30 day Project Day 18- white and yellow

KD got me the 35 mm f3.5 lens when he got here from the USA – i have been really enjoying using it. Amongst the things that photograph well with the lens are portraits

And this, again at Sophia – a bud that looked like an alien soldier

30 day Project Day 16 - bud3


Have just begun reading the absolutely engrossing book “Poor Economics” by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. The book is an easy read, without trivialisng the issue. Ages since I read anything in the area of economics. And, i realised, while reading the book, how much I have missed it – and how easily it comes back to me.

Memory is a strange thing – wonder where it stores all the unused data – and how does it manage to keep things so crisp and fresh ..


Returned home by rick driven by  this rickshawallah from Allahabad. At the 4 bunglow signal, while most cars were stationary – A Benz broke the signal. The rickshawallah said “woh sab mombatti leke brashtachar ke khilaf sangharsh karenge …lekin khud kanoon todenge”  - (they will carry candles to protest corruption, but will break the law themselves)…

We got talking. His father was an honest cop from Allahabad. Apparently he took a bribe once following which his youngest son fell very ill. At which point of time the father promised God that he would never again take a bribe. The rick guy is a BA in Economics – chooses to drive a rick rather than bribe to get a Government job. Will go back to UP to vote in the elections. He believes that neither the Congress nor the BJP have a chance in the State, and it is going to be a fight between SP and BSP – dono ko mein pasand nahi karta hoon (i don’t like either of them) he said. But, he is going back because ‘vote dena mera dharam hai” – it is my duty to vote.

He also said that ‘jaati hamare dimag mein hain. kyonki mein ricksha chala ta hoon log mujhe ullu bhi samajte hain.’ – caste is in our brains, because i drive a rickshaw – people think i am aslo stupid . He hopes to buy a second hand large car next year to start a taxi business…

Aug 012010

Was at the dentist yesterday. To have extracted a molar in the lower jaw that had been killed by the wisdom that grew in a strange way.

The dentist took out a particularly mean looking instrument.
“what is that”, i mumbled – the jaw and lips numb & heavy with local anesthetic.
“a bone cutter’, replied the dentist – without missing a beat.
He then smiled and said “don’t ask me any questions”

after that, I didn’t.

Am I the only one with visions of Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman in the Marathon Man – when sitting in a dentist’s chair, I wonder !

Jul 302010

…. this morning.
It was a normal Friday morning. Got up bright and early to get to college. Finished lectures. Began driving from Sophia College to Bandra.
Just as soon as you get out of the main gate at Sophia, you drive down a narrow winding road to get to Warden Road – then Worli, then Bandra. Usually it is fairly smooth driving.

When i got to the end of the narrow road, the road had narrowed to 1.5 lanes. there were trucks parked on the right of the road – construction trucks – that were brining building material. Some of the old bunglows on this road are making way for high rises.

There was a signal, a few cars ahead of me, and I was waiting for the lights to turn to green. In the side view mirror I saw a truck rolling back. There was no place to move. The only place to go was ahead, and there were vehicles there. I pulled the hand brake. And waited.

Crunch. I heard glass go crunch. Trust me, it is a scary audio effect. The video was worse. A few tons coming down slowly against your car. And suddenly it stopped rolling. Someone had obviously pulled the hand brake on the truck. I could hear my heart thumping, my hands shaking and my brain slightly off kilter.

The lights changed to green. I moved out. Turned onto Warden Road, pulled over and checked for damage. The body of my car is fine but for a dent. The rear lights on the drivers side, and the tiny window on the rear were shattered. The truck was coming down at an angle -would have probably hit the driver. Was terribly lucky.

The shakes came later. I drove for a bit. pulled over at worli sea face and sat in the car for around 20 minutes till i came back to normal. Then i drove home to leave the car and get to work !

Sometimes, it doesn’t help just being a good driver, or even a safe one. It’s also a matter of luck…. Today I got lucky.

p.s. it is a good job that the Tata’s build their cars like tanks. :) the Indigo Marina (that i drive) is a battle vehicle. we should possibly send it to the front !

May 222010

Every year, at around this time, I trudge down to Mumbai University – Kalina to correct/moderate papers.

I, for my sins, am the chairperson for one of the papers. When asked the first time what does the chairperson do – I was told, quite seriously, ‘woh na, paper submit karta hai, aur reciept leta hai‘ .

As usually, the papers were a mixed bag – some good, some pass mark quality, some that have you chuckling, and some that have you shaking your head in sheer wonderment and asking ‘who taught this’. When you have paper after paper that spouts out the same garbage – you know that it is not student error, but teacher error !!

In any case, here are some of the best responses:

a) Educated people in India live in the cities and speak and read English. We (as in these) watch English channels. The rest of India that is illiterate speak their mother tongue or vernacular languages. They watch regional language channels because they don’t understand English because they are illiterate.

b) Hindi is the mother tongue of India. Over 99% of India understands and speaks Hindi except South India which speaks Dravidian and North East that speaks Chinese.

c) Rajiv Gandhi is the grandfather of Rahul Gandhi and is the farmer prime minister of India

d) Indira Gandhi’s daughter Sonia Gandhi is the chief of the Congress Party

e) The British started the AIR in 1757 and DD a few years later to keep the Indian people subjugated

f) The Gandhi family fought for India’s Independence – Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi all went to jail when the British wanted to stop them from attaining independence

g) Hindi is the National Language of India.

h) People who don’t understand Hindi are anti National

i) Hindus speak Hindi. the non Hindus speak other languages

j) People in villages are poor and illiterate

h) villagers like to watch music, dance and soaps. City people like to watch news and IPL

k) the BBC was used by the British to keep Africa and India under control. That saved the expense of having a big army

l) People who are poor do not have television sets and hence do not know what is happening

m) poor and illiterate people in villages cannot afford DTH and do not know what is happening in IPL

I can see these nameless, faceless students anchoring news – not very long for now….