Meandering Around Minara Masjid

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Revisiting the area around Minara Mosque in Crawford Market was the same yet different this year. For one, it was not raining which was a positive relief to me. Carrying an expensive DSLR camera around in pouring rain wasn’t an experience I was looking forward to.

All of you, who are new to this page, must be puzzled already by the oblique references. You can go back to an earlier post aptly named “Twelve Pots A Simmering” for more details. I was in the streets near Crawford Market in Bombay where during Ramzan food stalls crop up and swell in size as they get ready to serve the devout Muslims breaking their fasts after sundown. The virtual cornucopia of food attracts foodies irrespective of their religion, bloggers intent on covering the nuances of this eat street and photographers keen to photograph it all.

I claim membership of the last three groups and had plenty to keep me occupied. The food was delicious and the glow of the bare bulbs cast interesting shadows as I tried to capture the spirit of the place.

We didn’t go for the quails this time but there was plenty for the carnivores. Beef, mutton, chicken in various forms all lovingly coated with a thick layer of oil accompanied by tandoori or roomali rotis (flat breads) and parathas . There was kidney, trotters and tongue for the adventurous and desserts galore.

A stomach filled to dangerous levels prevented me from trying out the delicious biriyani but didn’t stop me from making the obligatory visit to Suleiman Mithaiwala. From the previous year I remembered that the malpua (a kind of deep-fried pancake) was too eggy for me, but the delicious mango and saffron phirnis (rice puddings) didn’t let me down. With a promise to be back again I wrapped up this three-hour food and photography marathon.

Chinese and Grill is one of the well-known restaurants of this area and a special mention has to be made of the extremely colourful, but of dubious authenticity, dish of Thread Chicken these young men were obviously enjoying. Enough to keep the cash registers ringing through the night.

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Calcutta Chronicles

To me Calcutta is the place I go to eat, shop and meet up with friends. The camera stays neglected in my bag, which is a shame, considering the fascinating locations just around the corner.

So I dusted my camera out its bag and accompanied a school friend and keen photographer to a photo-shoot in and around the streets of North Calcutta specifically Chitpur and Bagbazar. It was a typical winter morning cold and misty and it was interesting to document the scenes of a city waking up from its slumber.

The lanes and by-lanes reminded me of Varanasi but somewhat cleaner and considerably less chaotic. The peeling paint, political slogans and the ubiquitous tea shops created a picture of an old forgotten world where things have not changed much over the centuries. The stray mongrels and muffler clad people moved in a world of mist and smoke from the clay unons (ovens).

By the time it was eight am, the light was decidedly better and the roads were bustling with rickshaws, vendors and people off to work. Just before leaving Chitpur we decided to check out just one more lane and hit the jackpot. The small workshops down a narrow alleyway were crammed with karais or woks in various stages of production. There were men with huge hammers beating the woks into shape; wielding welding torches and smoothing surfaces and edges and putting the final touches to these gigantic cooking pots.

Bagbazar, the citadel of old Bengali aristocracy, cleaner and with wider roads, had remnants of the old buildings now in ruins, speaking of a greater past. After some hing (asafoetida) kachoris and jilipis (jalebis) in front of Girish Mancha, we decided to call it a day.

South Bombay Revisited

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Photographing the area between Fountain, Gateway of India and Colaba streets has always been a particular favourite of mine because of the impressive architecture and the variety of people on the streets.

It was the first time I was there on a Saturday morning and wasn’t disappointed. Here are some pictures of Bombay as it prepares to wake up to another day.

And a few splashes of colour.

Shivaji Park

Its seven o’clock in the morning and Bombay is already busy. The newspaper man passes me on his rounds, then the milk man. A young man in shorts jogs past me while an elderly couple is catching their breath on a nearby bench.

I am at Dadar Shivaji Park on a Sunday morning and the grounds are full of cricket lovers, playing on makeshift pitches parallel to each other. The vendors are there too; after all when there is money to be made, the Bombayite doesn’t miss a trick. There are peanuts, tea and juices too for the health freaks.

This bustle of humanity, the flying dust and the dappled sunlight in the trees is a photographer’s heaven.

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Faces

Yesterday I was at Bandra-Kurla Complex to watch the Women’s Marathon. The offices at BKC are all shiny and modern with all sharp angles and glass everywhere. Can’t help wondering about the amount of energy being consumed to keep these glass houses cool and habitable.

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Access to the event was difficult and I wandered off to look at the people instead. It was a mixed crowd. Participants, budding photographers and couples with or without their children in tow. It was quite crowded and I was struggling to get a clean frame.

Finally I exchanged my 17-55 for a longer lens and I was able to step out of the crowd and still get close. And of course the chances of being spotted being less the expressions were more candid. Sometimes it’s good to break the rules.

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