Festival of Flames

I have always loved photographing objects and people. I remember pestering my mom as a kid to buy me a camera. Of course, we couldn’t afford it then. I bought a basic Kodak analogue camera as soon as I started working for about Rs. 1000 or so. But soon I realized that it is extremely expensive to load films and get them developed, so it sorta didn’t take off as well as expected although I did click loads and I still have pictures to show that.  

My second innings with photography started when I bought myself my MotoRazr V3i. I know, its not a camera. It’s just a mobile phone, with measly 2 mp, But during my girlie trip to Ooty and Kodai with my Cuz, I took some really great pics with it.  It became my life’s mission to buy a digital camera after that.  

Of course, I still couldn’t afford it.  But when we moved to our new house, I had decided to buy a new digital camera even if it killed me financially. With that new resolve, I became a proud owner of my Olympus, FE 210, 7 mp, 3X optical zoom camera. I was in love with this tiny silver gadget. I still am, darling, even though I have become a proud owner of another Casio, 14 mp, 4x optical zoom, so-compact-it-looks-like-a-mobile-phone camera.  

With my new Point and Shoot, that’s exactly what I did. Pointed and Shot. and took some great pictures. of my family, friends, stuff that liked, stuff that disgusted me, everything. Some of them looked different, some really bad, some fairly decent, even if I may say so myself. Few of my friends who saw the pics kept pushing me to enter those in competitions or exhibitions. However I was not confident enough to do anything of that kind yet.  Having said that, I decided I will rush my pictures to one of the competitions, if not for winning, at least to get the feedback on the pictures.  

Before I bought this camera, I was following the “In-Focus” photo contest held on company’s website for a long time. I would religiously go through these pictures and read the photographers’ views and dream that one day I will feature there. Not an easy task, mind you, since every month there were hundreds of photographs sent for this competition and those that won or got honorable mentions were absolutely brilliant pictures.  

To my utter amazement and delight,  I received an e-mail stating that I was the winner for April 2007. Whoa..I just couldn’t believe it. They were featuring my picture on the company website and an article on my techniques(huh?).  I also loved the name they gave the picture; “Festival of Flames”  

Picture of a torch that was used to light the oil lamps in the entire street on a November evening. The fire, dark clouds, November wind and the twilight made an enigmatic combination.Whaddya think?  

Festival of Flames

 Here is one more i took in of the same object. These pictures are not manipulated.  

Fiery Beast

 

I find fire very soothing and love the shapes they create.   

P.S – I am not a pyromaniac 😀  

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Conversations with God

I am not a Christian and we don’t have the concept of Confessions in my religion. But this weekend I did have an imaginary conversation of sorts with the Lord.

Me – Father, forgive me for I have sinned.

Lord – (In a tired voice) Okay Child, What have you done This time?

Me – I broke a Vow

Lord – Your marriage Vow?

Me – Not really. A Vow to myself that i will make my life a little more organized. That i will lose 10 kg in 3 months. That I will not binge. That I will handle my finances a little more wisely.

Lord – Phew..How did you break them?

Me – Lets see..5-6 impulse shopping trips last month..My CC bill must have gone up to where you are sitting.  Being Gluttony throughout the month – I just polished off a nice big bag of cheesy nachos and My room is such a mess that i cant seem to find anything i need without searching for at least 20 minutes. Is there a penance for all these sins?

Lord – I am afraid not. Even Lord cannot forgive certain Sins 😦

Me – But I said “No” to that yummy halwa at lunch yesterday, I also dint buy that lovely white skirt that fit me like a dream(But cost a fortune too), and I helped mom cooking (Lord is disintegrating slowly, not paying heed to any of  my pleas)

Etched in Stone

V is in town and I am milking it for all its worth. Enjoying my little trips with him to all our family members, immediate and extended. One of the first things we did when he came back to town was visiting my Mom-in-law. It also coincided with a felicitation ceremony that local Rotary Club had for my Sister-in-Law. She is one of the bravest women i know and more about her in a future post.

On the way back from MIL’s on Sunday, V decided to take the Chikmagalur route, instead of our usual Shimoga route to Bangalore. My Brother-in-law, our niece and us visited Belur and Halebid temple towns in Hassan district on an impulse on the way.

These temples were built in early 1100s by the then ruling  Hoysala dynasty. The main deity of Belur temple is Chennakeshava, while in Halebid is Shiva.

A salute to the sculptor of these beauties who immortalized the ordinary stones as works of art. To take pictures in these two temples are a challenge though, as you will be baffled about where to look and what to focus on. Each centimeter of temple is a masterpiece.

The broken statues and magnificent ruins stand testimony to the invasions and plundering done by foreign invaders over centuries.

 

      

Temple Corner

                        

Intricate work

Stone Pillars inside the temple - Each pillar has a different design

Stone rings on a pillar - Each ring is a different piece thats put together to look like one single unit

Corners of the outer wall
Corners of the outer wall

 

 

Each panel has different design

Stone Flower

  

Kalyani

At the sides of the temple entrance

  

At the sides of the temple entrance

Pillars outside the temple

Outer walls of the temple

The Big Bull – Wasnt able to capture this in a single frame

  

        

At the sides of the temple entrance

  

At the sides of the temple entrance

Here are some pictures that I took from the new Casio EX- Z5550, a 14 MP compact camera. I am in love with this tiny friend of mine, as it is soo easy to carry, like a little oversized mobile phone.  

 

Our Tryst With Destiny

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

First image that flashes my mind when i think about Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore is the picture of a visage with a long white beard, something like prof.Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series. This kindly face is the home to one of the most brilliant minds in the history of mankind. A nobel prize winner for literature in 1913, he has written books like “The Wreck” and “Gitanjali” (For which he won his Nobel Prize). Who can forget the heart warming tale of a young girl and a dry fruit seller in “Kabuliwala”.There are some of us who believe that Nobel commission honoured themselves by selecting him for the Nobel Prize.

So beautiful were his poems, they gave rise to a new era in music called “Rabindra Sangeet”.

Here is a poem stuck in my head for a long time. 

Our Tryst with Destiny

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls;
Where the words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening
thought and action–
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,
let my country awake.

What a prayer!!! Every sentence in this poem gives me such goosebumps.

Gifting Wisely

“Calculate karo, Khush Raho” – States an advert for one of the ICICI products, I dont remember which. Not very far from truth, that statement. Its always easy to manage your finances when you calculate and budge well in advance. All of us remember birthdays and annivesaries only when we see updates on FB or orkut. Then there is harried running around to buy gifts. In the end, it usually will be an expensive useless gift.

Like i always say, lists are the key. Make a list of all the people that you want to gift and the occasions that you would like to gift them for. Remember you dont have to give gifts for every occasion for everyone. You can choose one special occasion, like an anniversary, a birthday or any other special day.

Plan in Advance – Identify what gifts they would like in advance and make a note. Every June and December, you have various departmental stores selling their wares at a heavy discounted prices. Take advantage of them.

Be creative – You dont have to repeat the same things for everyone. For example dont buy a pack of 10 tees and gift it to all your family. Buy different things for each one.

Personalise – Can you buy a nice coffee mug with the picture of two of you? or their children? I got photo calendars made for each home in my family with some special pictures that i had. It costed me about Rs. 200 per calendar and it will give them happiness through the year.

DIY – Can you make photoframes? Candles? or bags? – is there a great picture that you took? you can print them on the canvas and frame them. Handmade gifts are special. People really appreciate and cherish them. It will make you feel good about giving a piece of you to someone else.

Think Differently – Gifts dont have to be tangible. Can you cook a great dinner? Invite the birthday gal with her closest friends over for dinner. Throw a great anniversary dinner for your friends. Another great idea would be to bake a cake if you know how. I am sure your friends will appreciate the efforts.

Be Unique – Pick up gifts from your travels, you can get some great bargains in flee markets and small craft stores and keep them in your closet. Most of us give out all the gifts once we come back from our travels. Its a good idea to save these gifts for special occasions. It helps to keep an inventory, so you dont give the same gift twice.

Re-gift – There are several items in your closet which you will never use or used before. I recently gave a few sarees that i have never worn to my mother and my Sister in law and was pleased to see how much they liked the stuff i would have never found the time to wear. Jewellary that you no longer wear, or the gifts that you have received, but have no place in your house to keep – Re-gift them wisely for the person who may have a use for it.

Buy Online – Online shopping is definitely cheaper and wiser. For one, you are not getting into an impulse shopping (hopefully) and you will get that delivered at home, saving your gas and other expenses. There are quite a few sites that offer great deals. My personal favorites are perfume2order.com, ebay.in and sifymall.

Sell online – There are many things in your closet, that you bought for someone and it cant be gifted to anyone else? or are there things that you received as gifts that you cannot use? Sell them on ebay. You can make a tidy sum of money that you can add to your gifting budget.

Gifting, one of my friend says, is a necessary evil. I disagree. Gifting is for those warm fuzzies that you get when someone appreciates your gifts. Gifting is fun and you dont have to burn a hole in your pocket to gift all your loved ones.

Wise gal’s guide to Wardrobe Maintenance

Maintaining your wardrobe is not much different maintaining your garbage..I know when we open our closets, there are more garbage than wearable stuff, any day. However that doesnt stop us from buying that gorgeous dress that fits-like-a-dream, or that sequined top eventhough-i-dont-know-where-i-can-wear-it-to. My wardrobe is always full of these impulse buys. Those impossibly high heeled shoes, that lovely rich blue bag and of course those heaps of clothes.

As always, I turn to Japanese for their time tested wise ideas. Those of you familiar with 5S (Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke) methodology know what i mean. Here are some suggestions for maintaining that discipline in your wardrobe, and actually (believe me) having more clothes to wear from your own wardrobe.

1.Seiri – Unclutter – Tidy up – First step in clearing your wardrobe is to be ruthless in clearing it.

Take out all the clothes that you havent worn in over 3-4 months. Make three baskets – Just like your garbage.

Basket one – Re-use – What Can be worn again – With a few repairs that you can make yourself or your neighbourhood tailor can make for you. You will be surprised how nice it feels to wear all those old clothes once again.

Basket TwoRecycle– What you just cant wear –

Can your cute cousin use those sequinned tops? Your maid would love you for those old cotton kurthas..Those impossibly high heels? Gift it to your colleague at work..or your best pal who was coveting it. You will get rid of your junk and  become popular in the process.

Dont feel like giving some stuff away that lovely top gifted by your boyfriend 10 years ago? but there is no chance you’ll fit into it? – Get it done into a lovely oversized cloth tote bag, or clutch purse or cushion cover. Use pieces of it onto your other clothes like applique.

Another idea would be to give it away to old age homes or orphanages. There is nothing more fulfilling than when that special piece is worn by someone who could use something really special.

Basket ThreeReduce – The ones that cannot be worn nor can be given away – Give it to your maid, who can use them for mops or your janitor or the neighbour rag picker. Remember one person’s garbage is other person’s livelihood.

2.Seiton – Orderliness Keep all your clothes neatly organized.

Remember clutter begets clutter. Keep your jeans, trousers, formal tops, kurthas and whatever else you have in your wardrobe in separate piles. Keep them colour coded if needed.

Keep all your accessories for each of these clothes handy.

Keep all your shoes in shoe rack. Again keep each category of shoes, stillettoes separately.

Keep all your bags separately and where you can easily take them from.

3.Seiso – Shine – Ask yourself everyday – Am I confident enough open my wardrobe in front of my Mother-in-law or that critical cousin of mine? – If the answer is yes, then more power to you girl. Cleanliness is the state of being.
Keep unwashed clothes in the linen hamper for washing.

4.Seiketsu – standardize – Once you have organized the wardrobe, key is to maintain it the same way.
Every time you wash the clothes, fold them cleanly and keep them in their respective piles.

5.Shitsuke- Discipline – Train yourself to detect any disorderliness in your wardrobe.  Review them every weekend..correct anamolies.

Does it sound very boring and clinical? Trust me its not – Its one time activity and once you have done it, its just maintainance. It just takes me about half an hour every weekend. And its nice to go back to a clean room after a hard days work.

Wise-Gal’s guide to saving money

I have always been a bad money manager; making un-wise decisions about money is my second nature. “Eternally broke” were the two words that described me perfectly.

Over a period of time, however, i have discovered, you dont have to live frugally or be a miser in order to save money. Its just about making few minor changes in your lifestyle- By that i dont mean, give up on your eating out or stop having fun, like most of the money saving tips suggest you.

Over the period of next few days, i would like share, what i have learnt about money and how to save it without having to give up your little indulgences.

This week, lets look at how to save money while going grocery shopping in Bangalore.

  • If you are in the habit of buying groceries as and when you need it, or weekly, stop that immediately. It is advisable to buy all the groceries you require once a month, except perishables which can be bought weekly.
  • A grandmother’s advise, but time tested and true. Dont go grocery shopping when you are hungry.
  • Make a list of all the things you will need and stick to that. If you must buy something that is not in the list, then check if it is a necessity and it must go in the list for the next month.
  • Save these lists and bills. It will help you compare your expenses month on month and helps budgeting too.
  • Check your grocery lists carefully. Does it contain things like maggie and ready-to-eat foods? Avoid it. It keeps you healthy and wealthy to eat freshly cooked food. Google search to get the recipes for easy-to-cook dishes. You can enjoy the process, eat fresh food and your family will love you for innovative ideas.
  • your newspapers carry with them fliers for various departmental stores every week. Cut out the coupons for discounts if any and save them. It will come in handy when you are going shopping.

These are what I have learnt about grocery shopping. Feel free to add your own ideas to this. Happy Saving 🙂