After the Storm



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.


Used Boots and Crumbs of Memories

He sleeps like a man dead with his eyes half open
Who does not seem dead on a baroque couch.
What he has seen, a lot–accreted on those eyes
Like a civilization–don’t let the snow-laden eyelids close fully.
A headful of life to sleep away, and a few crumbs
Of new memories to pick up from under life’s table,
Under meaty munches and hearty laughs
Among fidgetting fashion boots and colorful stilettoes.

When you’re broken and can’t fix it at all
You want to throw away life like used boots.
But you ain’t that hard, are you? Your life becomes
A town you built, brick by brick, one after another,
A town you hate now, but one you can’t ever leave.

Heavy Foreign Coins

Thirsty city steaming after a long foreign rain,
The warm wet streets throwing its colorful neon lights
Back up into the thick night. Greetings, laughters, cries,
Indistinct weather chats, swears, sirens, horns,
All kneaded into a thick air going in and out of everybody,
Threading the towering black buildings through their bright eyes,
Threading in and out of hotel rooms
along dark and half-lit gullies smelling of urine,
Slow stilettos and boots giving momentary lives to puddles
That live quick colorful lives.

I languish wandering about the city with the languid wind,
My pockets full of heavy coins with foreign heads
Which I have long stopped throwing at the counters.