I had observed the interesting scene from the upstairs for over ten minutes (I would have had no idea about it had the security guy—after I had already taken a couple of shots—not told me it was quite invitingly odd for a person to stand at one place and keep staring like that for fifteen minutes) before figuring out what to do about that. Luxury cars on the sale show at an open showroom at the bay of the largest shopping mall in Delhi.
Down there were people of all walking speeds—some looked casually at the show as they walked and passed on by; some streamed on for cares outside of my field of vision without even caring to cast a glance at it to find business there; some lingered there with no obvious reason with the long-staring patience of a chronically unlucky angler or of a seasoned detective with nothing to detect or a weathered photographer without a camera whose business all in the wide world is to stare at people buying cars; every now and then some young boys and girls from pre-earning ages to a couple of years into working strayed excitedly for a while into the bay and posed, often pouting their lips or displaying a broad smile from ear to ear out of nowhere, in front of the cars (not very close to those otherworldly things they are not so confident to dream of) for a photograph or a selfie before they disappear in a minute or so; a few stuck around there, climbing in and out of the cars, as if in a virtual test drive at the busy bay, posing for the photographer who took photographs of whoever came behind the wheels; leggy beautiful salesgirls in body-hugging black shirts, skirts and semi-seethrough leggings were busy briskly plying about their business with glossy formalities in their hands and the young salesmen—apparently perfunctorily but immense patience—were talking with or explaining things to inquirers and those who hand the bank in their pockets while their companions where checking the cars nearby.
Now I had what to do—I set the camera: 1 sec exposure, f/16, ISO 100. To “ghost out” the movers and blur the lingerers a bit to superimpose the passage of time on the scene. I trained the camera, focused it on one of the headlights, and while the shutter button was in the midst of responding to my pressure and milliseconds before it fired the camera, the mall blacked out, but the shutter button continued and the camera obeyed.
Accidentally the result was interesting, though it was more than just a bit too dark, with the headlights looking like two pairs of monster doe-eyes glistening in a totally dark world, and the ghosts of the relatively fast movers had disappeared in the unhauntably dark shadows. I would have missed it during the blackout if I had not set the exposure down that long, and yes, luckily the aperture of that much high value. I decided that I could compensate for the underexposure in post-production. Yes with some greening grains.
Here I have turned up the exposure demonstering the doe-eyes to reveal the human business going on there though still in the dark.
The stirs of life slow down to rest
at sunset—they don’t like the dark much.
The streets, closed malls and parks—
they are left to the homelss, dogs, cats,
lost newcomers and nocturnal tourists.
I sit on a shapeless rock growing out of the sand.
Through the sunset. After the sunset.
Dull sounds of oars hitting gunwales—yea,
I saw some lazy boats off the shore in the twilight.
The sound of water lapping against the shore.
A dog barking at a far distance.
Nameless noises of being wriggling in the silence.
A cat teaching its kitten cat tricks
on the white table at my room verandah.
Idiot. Useless things.
There are more important things.
I have brought my eyes back to myself
and keep them about myself only to sense
almost imperceptible ghostly shadows
coming into their curtailed field.
I look at nothing particular—
I just remain capable of seeing.
I sit on the shapeless rock growing out of the sand.
Through the sunset. After the sunset.
The sounds of a familiar language are brought
by the wind, the wave forms twisted into unintelligible shapes,
into a strange language or a non-language.
Just the voices kept intact as humans’.
They must be walking arm in arm in the sand.
In love. In the breeze. The evening soon to pass.
Long tuned to the silence and pressures in the nocturnal air,
you can sense the presence and absence
of movements around.
My mind sits at the center of the quiet
weaving a thought without an idea in it.
Thought in bokehs of ideas.
My photographer friend would say
this is a beautiful scene.
Waiting for dinner at the table on 27 December (it was my birthday and I don’t consider birthdays as special–I don’t celebrate my birthday), I was attracted by the two waiters staring at something behind me and discussing it. The way their heads popped up from behind the bronze resting Buddha at the counter was quite a cinematic scene.
Did a whiff just drift past the rock?
A faint life drenched in the grainy past ghosting around?
A swell of faded memory rolling over under the dark?
A forgotten smell reminding of ancient familiarity?
The footsteps clatter fainter down the lazy steps
winding down the rocky hill in the moon
with the rustle of a hand rubbing
against the rough walls hewn off the hill,
so clear like the night contains nothing else.
Sometimes at nights
slow whiffs would wax and wane,
and the rock in the hilltop wind
would soften to the contents of the night.
Even as I looked, I didn’t see
how it seeped into the port–
the ship of shadows docks
with dancers dancing in the dark
mixing darkness with dance and dancers,
the mix filling the mould
bubbling out sound and silence.
In the absence without pressure,
noiseless sounds ooze out of the ears
to creep for a flash unsensed
before yielding to the yawning thirst.