Man of Word

Vysakh R on his last night (11 May 2017) at JNU, New Delhi. I designed this word-cloud portrait on the night of 14 May. The words are from a couple of my unfinished poems.

Two Years Worth a Lifetime

4 January 2017. After I had avoided humans, particularly those who are by default called friends in every sphere of my life for a very long time, Preety Jankeepersand and I met, had tea and paratha at Brahmaputra and walked for long in many secluded areas in the JNU campus. Preety, a kind and self-conscious girl from Mauritius,  has been a friend of mine who has been helping me when and where no other person would actually give a damn. Most friendships demand mutual investment and that reciprocity needs to be simultaneous lest the friendship expires. Preety has proved a different person–in her characteristic combination of quiet and frankness, and affection and aloofness, she would repeatedly and patiently get through my silent irresponsive solitude and do a few things to help me (calling me sometimes, writing to me often with some important information I need to act on) before she leaves quietly. She knew without somebody helping me I would not do certain things despite the consequences. Not many people would be so generous as her at least to a person like me–so aloof, so unpenetrably silent and incommunicable. I would ever remain indebted to her. So happily.

That afternoon we talked about a lot of things. Life in general. Plans for future–what we wanted to do in life, after the linguistic course. I had my camera with me too–I told her I wanted to take a few photographs of her. To remember her by. The easier way.

I had photographed her before too. This evening was calmer and quieter and we were more relaxed. But unfortunately, when we arrived at this particular place–a beautiful one, one we would unlikely visit on any other day–the sun had already set and I had to turn the ISO up and lower the shutter speed. Far beyond I would normally go for. (We did not plan to come here–some beautiful peacocks attracted our attention and we followed a couple of them which we saw and we ended up here.)

Though I wished we got to this place earlier, she was so cool and beautiful in her blue shirt and jeans in that twilight. We agreed we would come to this place again. Earlier. We have not yet gone there again.

I took six or seven photographs there. She was calmly beautiful in all of them. In her quiet and cute beaming beauty. Now the course has ended and she will go back to her country and I will muddle through following my dream. In difficulty. The time has come for me to publish the few photographs I have taken of her. Here are two of them. Up above.  I will add the other photographs too here. And various versions of the same photographs too.

I will remember this friend of mine. Ever in my life. Clearly. Without a cloud.

Smile from the Blue(s)

He was an interesting character in the surrounding I found him in. What he was dressed in, how he moved, how he walked, how he bore his body, how he sat, what he did, where he was. I was immediately interested, and the interest remained alive for the whole while (the thirty or forty minutes) we were almost next to each other. My balls were not big enough for that much close proximity😁😂😅 to take a shot without asking him first. I have had quite a few dramatic experiences (which are quite a lifetime’s adventure not to be repeated, to some people) in my short photographic journey. Earlier that very day, some Myanmarese policemen made me to delete some photographs they did not want me to take back into India. The Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel at the border entry gate had also made me to deleted five invaluable photographs. Deleting them was like undergoing an abortion.

Photographically a rude and aggressive person, I don’t like most of my photographs taken after communicating with my street and found subjects. Something is usually lost from the situation in the photograph. If we both are available for a long enough talk to establish sort of a contextually required mutual understanding, I like (and sometimes prefer) talking with them. That is a different aesthetics and the subject behaves differently, in a more relaxed mood.

That day we were not available for such a walk-up talk, but he was too close and aware of my presence and every movement I made, and I did not want to regret not having photographed him. I requested him. He immediately smiled broadly. That was something I had not seen in the last 30 minutes or so, and that totally changed the scene. I lost something forever, and gained something unexpected. I photographed his smile. I still miss his face without that beautiful smile. That was quite something.

Faces #1

Gosh, those huge and too bright and data-killing reflections in Mohit’s glasses. I did not think they would turn out so bad. I could have removed them and repaired the affected area, but I have decided to leave them as they are. They are part of the fun we had last evening, with the nice funny guy holding the light for us and me not so much into moving him and his light-holding hands around so much.

Mohit’s Body

We had fun taking photographs at the gym one evening a week or so ago. Though the sun was already down and we did it in the gym building courtyard surrounded by tall trees in the park, the result was not that bad. That was really fun. I very very rarely have fun in my life. Most of the fun resulted because of a guy, a fellow gymmer, from whose mouth relevant jokes and funny words come out nonstop like bullets from a heavy-duty machine gun muzzle at work. He would add pose instructions once in a while, and Mohit, a cool guy of less speech, would smile, laugh and follow his instructions, and he would even wait for directions at times. That guy would say in Hindi in his signature funny way in a creaky voice, “Arre, make it a bit sexy, yaar. Pull down the pants, too.” Mohit did.

We had agreed to shoot again using some homemade light equipment. We did it last evening again. Mohit was with a man I had never seen before. We were thenbjoined by another stranger and then by that fun guy. I was glad that he came. (I have to ask his name–I usually don’t ask, maybe a bad habit, but yes, even if I ask, I just forget just a few moments after people say their name. The people, their essence are more important to me. But yes, when we have become friends, and closer and closer, names become part of their individuality. Until then, each individual bird and animal, such as dogs and squirrels in the park, is no less than human individuals to me. I love them all. I am just a too small container to hold all the love and beauty in the world.)

This time I took the light with three very small watt bulbs (two 15s and one 20). This time too we did it in a fun way. We laughed a lot. We were having so much fun that even a bulb exploded and that rather added to our fun. Yes, after the gum lights (they were flattening and unwanted) were turned off, our spotlights were a bit too poor for the results we wanted. I had to turn up the ISO far above my usual limit till 1600. Added to that, holding the shaky light amid jokes and shooting at a slower shutter speed, that contributed quite a lot to the pictures. Blurs and uneven light distribution (the light was concentrated unduly to one area or the other of the body, but yes, as the light-holding guys were unaware of light matter in photography, I just did not interfere much except when it was unacceptable. I just let them do it how they did. Just a few very general directions.) But all of us loved the pictures.