Viva Sao Jao 2014 and other things…

Yesterday was June 24th. Yesterday was Sao Joao. Time flies by so fast. Last year, same time, Tota & Maina were in Goa, with Biwi and I. We went to a Sao Joao pool party in Dona Paula and our pictures came in the ToI supplement. It seems that happened only a few months back. Definitely not a year. Time flies by so fast. Tota & Maina are in Africa these days. Just when Tota was planning to quit his job, be jobless for a while and take up some traveling trips, he was given this new African opportunity by his Indian company. And he said, why not. So he is still working.

A few weeks back, an old acquaintance of mine on Facebook tagged me in a comment to a post. It was a post by someone looking for someone in Goa who could use his GoPro during the upcoming Sao Joao. I said, sure why not, I can do it. I am in Goa and I have a GoPro. That someone told me that he worked for a PR firm and Goa Tourism was one of their clients. The tourism department could make use of an individual’s video-documentation of the festival to promote it. But there is no money in it, I was cautioned. ‘But do you guys have a paid contract with Goa Tourism?’, I questioned back. I think he said yes. ‘Then why do you want to get a free job done?’, I shared my amusement. The department does not have any budget for this, I was told! I didn’t laugh on the phone when he told me this. But I could have as well laughed. Except that it would have been rude. But then I am not the politest person around anyway! May be I was in a good mood that day! So the tourism department has the budget to pay a PR firm but no budget for someone who can provide real content that can be used by the PR guys? So nice!

Anyhow, so I agreed to the shoot nevertheless. I had time. I was anyway shooting something or the other. Plus if the department did post my video on their site, I could ask for a link to ShaadiGraPher.com and that could increase it’s page rank in the future. So Sao Joao it was today. I went to Siolim. It’s about 30 Kms from where I live, up north. I went there because I had found out that a lot of people gather there to see some sort of a boat exhibition. I wondered what would the story of my video be? To answer that, I had to be sure what this Sao Joao festival was about at the first place.

Many many years ago, an angel told an old lady named Elizabeth that she would become pregnant and give rise to a great child. I guess the same angel also told something similar to Mary (who would give birth to Jesus later) at a later date. Now Mary and Elizabeth were neighbours. So Mary went to Elizabeth to share what she had been told (not realizing that Elizabeth herself was going to be a mother soon). So the story is, the unborn child inside Elizabeth’s womb sensed the arrival of the unborn child of Mary, and ‘jumped’ inside the womb. He would later take birth and get known as St. John the baptist (Sao Jao in Portugese). And it is his birthday that is celebrated on 24th June. He is probably the only saint whose birthday is celebrated! But history aside, in the present form of the festival, what people are supposed to do is, jump in water (I hope the ‘jumping’ connection is clear now that you know the story behind this). Textbook tradition is that the elders hide gifts inside water. I guess that would be to encourage youngsters to dive in! And because it basically is a festival of celebration, everyone drinks either before or after the jump. Last year, all I knew was that on this day, almost every swimming pool worth anything had hosted a party with DJ and music and beer where people could generally go and have fun. I never knew what it really was. This time, as I was driving to Siolim, I knew a little more. I wondered how much of the traditional celebrations I was going to enjoy.

I reached by 3 pm. That’s when the boats were supposed to come out. And they did come out shortly. A small stage had been erected on the banks of the Siolim river (or it could be a creek as one of the anchors referred to it). The river water was brown. I was sure I did not want to go inside water. Boats started coming in one by one. Some had mermaid mannequins sitting inĀ  them, others had huge flowers. I flew my quad-copter all over the place and more than anyone else, those on the boats loved it. They would wave hands and scream Sao Joao every time the quadcopter would fly pass them. Lara Dutta showed up for a short while on the stage. She has a house in Siolim where she often lives. Overall a fun evening. Hope you like the video that I made.

I wonder how long a life like this will go on…

[from few days ago...]

I hear the sound of the fan rotating above my head. I hear sounds of water dripping outside. Rains have picked up vigour since last couple of days. And when fans are on after a heavy rainfall, the air feels cold and pleasant.

I look at the sea outside. And I wonder how long will a life like this go on. A life in Goa with a sea-view and no office to go to. The last post where I had talked about fearful dreams, was written in Bangalore. I was there for a shoot. The same client had needed me in Mumbai a few days later (Bangalore me shaadi, Mumbai me reception – and that’s why). And then I returned to Goa. And since then, I have been in Goa. With no office to go to. With just the sea to watch. And biwi. I did take up two very small time shoots in Goa itself, but other than that, I really didn’t have much to do. I am not making as much money as I should be. We had been to NZ in Feb end and I am yet to clear off the credit card bills.

[present...]

I picked up a 2X3 white board yesterday (or may be day before). I am not sure why but since last few days I have been craving to have one with me. Where I can write down things that I feel like. No, not just to-do lists. But anything, you know… The kind of things one writes on whiteboards. Or draws on whiteboards. Now that I have it, it feels great. I can let part of my energy pass on to the board. Especially ideas. Ideas about how to position ShaadiGraPher better. Ideas about new documentaries. And things like that. I mean I have done it on computer. And I am sure I will be doing it on computer (noting down ideas). But a whiteboard is so on your face type of thing that it’s so much more charming than opening up a text file on your laptop.

It’s almost one in the night. It’s not raining. It’s kind of humid and chip-chip. And I am writing about whiteboards. Funny! But I was so much more funnier at a point of time! What has happened to me, I wonder! Not always, but sometimes! And I also wonder how long a life like this will go on… Not always. But sometimes.

These fearful dreams…

It doesn’t happen all the time but I do partly remember what I was dreaming about about an hour ago when I woke up. I saw all my colleagues in my last consulting company becoming managers and partners and being happy about it. I on the other hand, was well still trying to figure out what was to become of me. It didn’t feel great. I know what I lost when I left my job. But I don’t know what I am going to get now in life. I didn’t like the certainty of the future that my corporate life offered. But I also don’t like the uncertainty of the future that the now jobless life offers.

The business that I am in at present – wedding photography – is wildly competitive. That doesn’t mean I doubt my survival. But the moment you start working towards surviving, what you do becomes ‘yet another job’. :) And I definitely don’t want myself to turn into a wedding photographer for life. Or even photographer for life. That never was the idea. Wedding photography was a simple means to buy myself more time than my corporate life offered. Without significantly losing up on money. And it has served the purpose so far. I might be good at photography (and since a while, cinematography), but photography is definitely not my sole passion in life. In fact, I am not a ‘passionate’ photographer as some tend to believe.

The idea behind buying more time for myself was to use that time to discover that one thing about which I could care more about, than I cared for consulting. And as far as photography goes, well, I am not very sure if I care more about it than I did about consulting. I mean only if consulting could pay me as much as photography does with just a week’s work every month, I would happily go back to it. But that will never happen. Not even if I become a partner. And that’s why I will never go back to consulting. Or any other full time corporate job. But that doesn’t mean I have to keep doing photography. And that means, my quest to settle down with something I really care about, is a long long road. Full of uncertainties. And these fearful dreams. And I guess it’s still worth it.

So is there anything at all, that I think I would settle down with? Where I don’t feel what I am doing is just for the money (consulting) or time (wedding photography)? I guess, making movies sounds pretty cool at the moment. Pretty inspiring. And very very challenging. I have no clue how to get started in that direction and it is this vagueness that makes some of my nights sleepless. I want to make movies and yet I have not idea how to do that. I am glad that I have at least started to work on short documentaries. But it has its own challenge. No, the problem is not in finding people to make documentary movies on (thanks to the IIT network – I know a bunch of pretty cool people with interesting stories / ideas and companies). The real challenge is in creating anything that is as “interesting” as I would like it to be. Something which you simply can’t stop once you hit that play button. Creating a non-boring story does not come naturally to me, that I have realized. And so I wonder sometimes, will I ever succeed as a documentary film-maker and then as a movie-maker (when I am able to do that)? At this point of time, I only hope that the story-telling skill is something that one can develop over the period of time. And that is the only plan I have for my immediate future. Crazy life! What’s up with you guys? Your jobs keeping you happy? :)

The 3 minute story idea has generated quite an interest

The 3 minute story idea has generated quite an interest. To begin with I already have the following stories which I should begin creating as a 3 minute movie, one at a time:

  • A bunch of guys from BITS and IIT, are taking time out of their busy lives to create a robust app for common junta – the app enables junta to put pressure on government bodies when something (road, water, electricity) is not working. So that this crowd-pressure helps things get sorted out.
  • About a friend from IIT, who worked for Mckinsey, then joined the team under Nilekani that worked on Aadhar card and then started a company in the manufacturing sector (not too sure what story to bring out but will figure that out eventually – the subject is good, so finding a story to bring out should not be that big a deal)
  • A bunch of guys who have formed an organization that is trying hard to connect everyone who cares for film-photography, so that this digital age does not kill film. They also want Indians to understand that photography is about so much more than just clicking pictures and seeing them on your computer. Their story should give a whole new insight to what photography means to some people!
  • A friend from IIT who is working on an app that motivates people to leave their desks and get some action!
  • A Tambrahm who did engineering but always wanted to be a singer. Tried very hard. In Indian Idol, Chennai Idol and other such shows. Nothing worked. Finally went to USA for further studies and now works for a start-up. And wonders if he will ever get back to singing.
  • A girl who was transformed by her maths teacher from a shy, silent child in class VII to the class leader who would, as she grows up, take up debate and dramatics and never feel shy again (have got the contact number of the teacher)

Excited! Will keep you guys posted. And once again, those who love me and want to support what I am doing, it will be awesome if you could write a sentence in your blog about my work at ShaadiGraPher.com and use the following anchor text (instead of writing ShaadiGraPher.com) – “ Amrit, a candid wedding photographer“. When a lot of people write the words “candid wedding photographer” which is linked to ShaadiGraPher.com, Google remembers it like that. And helps those searching for candid wedding photographers, get a chance to see my work!

A request to my blogger friends

Now most of you know that more than a year ago, I left my job and took up photography full time. That’s my only source of living. Most of my client find me through my website ShaadiGraPher.com. And it’s not just because it has awesome pictures to showcase but because till some time back, it usually showed up on the first page of Google searches for a lot of queries such as “candid wedding photographer in India”, “top photographers in India” etc. I thought that was enough. But guess what, it isn’t! So lately ShaadiGraPher.com has stopped showing up for most of the queries and that means I am badly hit financially. That means, if this continues, I cannot pursue photography (and wedding cinematography) for long.That means like most of you guys, I will have to go back to corporate life. And live without a good reason to live. Unless some of you may be willing to help.

All I want you to do is, sign into your blog accounts (in case it still is active) and just put in a post talking about me. A line or two is enough. If you have more to talk about, your are my best friend! :) But most importantly, you need to let your readers know about ShaadiGraPher.com (with a possible link). I believe such links from blogs helps Google push up the site ranking. Facebook linking does not help much!

Now I don’t want you to do this favour just because I am requesting you to do so. Do that if you genuinely like my work on ShaadiGraPher and if you actually believe that people looking for the best wedding photographers in India, should at least get to see my work ,when they Google for it. Because if they don’t, I wouldn’t know know how to sustain in this area. Some of you might not have blogged in a long long while – may be I am giving you a good enough cause to help your friend stay away from the corporate life! Thanks in advance! Let’s see where this goes! And if you actually do end up talking about me (which I sincerely hope you do), may be I can draw a caricature for you in return :P