Friday photo: Bioscope

This Friday, a peek into the past…


This is one of the few images I got from this year’s Kala Ghoda Arts Festival – being there was a bit like being at Dadar station, waiting to get into the local at 8.30 am. The unending waves of crowds took me back to my early years in Bombay, to the rather unpleasant faces of the city.

Even with all the tight security, hundreds of people shopped, zipped in and out of workshops, ate pain puri, gawked at street installations (and posed for photos in front of them – our own Eiffel Towers) and generally had a most enjoyable time everyday.

But perhaps it is time to expand the scope of the festival to a larger area?

Also see: Friday photo series

Friday photo: Apsara

I used this week’s Friday photo as an excuse to dig deep into my ancient photo archives. And I came upon this old favourite. Apsaras in stone and in flesh – at the Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap.


This is what I had written about these apsaras in a story on these temples for Mint Lounge – “When I first catch sight of them, the apsaras are resting on the cold stones of Angkor Wat. One is flexing her foot, mimicking the action of the stone apsara dancing just behind her on the wall. The others are talking to each other in muted tones, bored expressions on their faces. The American tourist, khaki shorts and all, walks up to them and points with his camera, and they spring into action instantly. As a group, they strike well-rehearsed poses, peacocks flanking the line-up, the boy with the lion’s head in between, a dancing apsara on each side of the utterly discomfited tourist, as his friend clicks. As they pose for the camera, for a dollar, I notice the boredom doesn’t shift from their faces. Shot over, they get back to rest mode without so much as a smile at their temporary benefactor”

Also see: Friday photoseries
My story on the Siem Reap temples in Temple Performance and more on the town’s apsaras in The apsaras of Angkor.

Friday photo: New Beginnings

“Courage,” the Old Year whispers as it ends,
Weary’s the world and penitent and sad,
Waiting the touch to make all mankind friends,
Yours be the luck and strength to do it, lad.

~ Harry Irving Phillips

Happy new year! Hope this year is exciting, happy and peaceful in every way for you.


Here is to new beginnings…

Also see: Friday photo series

Friday photo: Maheshwar

This Friday, a memory from Maheshwar, near Mandu…


In Mandu, every brick, every building, every nook and cranny whispers stories about the legendary love of prince Baz Bahadur and Roopmati. Though this love story unfolded in the mid 16th century, Mandu itself took shape in the hands of the Parmar kings in the 8th century. Mandu was originally called Mandapa Durg, meaning ‘a fort with pillared halls.’ It is also said that emperor Jahangir once exclaimed, “I know of no other place that is so pleasant in climate and with such attractive scenery as Mandu in the rainy season.”

Read on about the magic of Mandu

Also see: Friday photo series

Friday photo: Football

In Bhutan recently, I watched a group of young monks (monklings?) release an entire day’s worth of pent up energy on a football. It was late evening at the Chime Lakhang monastery at Punakha and prayers were over the day. What started as a listless kicking of a ball around the field soon gave way to a boisterous match between a dozen monks, and soon there was nothing but a blur of red across my line of vision. A few monk(ey)s who were not into footie, were turning somersaults on the grass or just chasing each other with sticks and stones. One solitary monk sat at a safe distance munching on a fruit, while another stood by the goal post staring into space, letting everyone freely score goals.


Kids will be kids, monks or not.

Against the white and coloured prayer flags in the background, this half hour was one of my favourite Bhutan experiences.

Also see: Friday photo series

And other stories from Bhutan

Friday photo: A thousand spires

On my mind today, Prague.

I just finished a piece on Prague for an inflight magazine, and everywhere I turn, there seems to be a story on this city of a thousand spires, easily one of my European favourites.

So, this Friday, a view of the old town from the top of the Old Town Bridge Tower, well worth the huffing and puffing up each of the 138 steps.


Also see: Friday photo series
And read more Prague stories here

Friday photo: Alphorning

A couple of weeks ago, I learned to play the alphorn in a small village in Switzerland. Okay, learned to play is way exaggerating what I actually did – which was, learned to blow into the alphorn to produce what sounded like a musical note. To a very generous ear. Great fun (to me, not to the listeners). Greater fun, listening to Werner Erb (the bearded one) and his friends play effortlessly for a good fifteen minutes.


Listen to him play Amazing Grace here…

Also see: Friday photo series