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39 days to Chicago Half – Also, a quick visit to Hyderabad

Biwi flew to Ahmedabad last Friday. Five days ago. She will return to Goa the coming Friday. The morning after she left, I went running again. The same six kilometers as the previous day. Slightly faster though. Later that night, at around eleven, I took a taxi to the airport. Izaz bhai has been my reguar cab driver since past few months. He usually wears a white shirt (uniform). He was wearing a t-shirt when he came to pick me up.

‘You are looking younger in this t-shirt’, I complimented him.

I meant it. He spoke for a while about the need for uniforms during day-time and all that. When we reached the airport, he decided not to charge me the extra night time fee. ‘Some other time sir’, he said smiling. So sweet!

My flight from Goa to Hyderabad took off at around one in the night – and because the entire row in the aircraft (on my side of the aisle) was vacant – I slept occupying all the three seats. Tried sleeping rather. Didn’t succeed much. It didn’t help that the flight was a short one.

I landed between two and two thirty and slept for about an hour or so in the transit hotel at the airport. One can book a room on an hourly basis at this airport – which is pretty cool. The room was absolutely tiny though – not much space around the bed. But the bed was cozy and I could relax somewhat.

I was in Hyderabad to shoot an engagement function of few hours. Val – the girl, had been my junior in IIT. I headed the design department for IIT Madras’ technical festival during my last two years there. In the final year, Val had worked for me as a photography coordinator. Her job had been to make photographs based on the requirement of the rest of the design team (for brochures, posters etc.). Now, after so many years, I was her photographer! Life comes a full circle. I mean, yeah not exactly full in this case, but what somewhat circulish?

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The function got over by around 11. My flight back to Goa would depart only at 03 pm. So I called up Radha and asked her if she was free and if we could catch up. We ended up catching up. Even if it was just for fifteen, twenty minutes. And even if the restaurant where Radha took me could offer nothing more than veg pakodas and sandwich (which we could not finish anyway, given that I had to rush for the airport and all that).

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I liked the hairstyle of the cab guy who drove me from the Goa airport to my flat.

‘Dominique, you have got a great hairstyle’, I told him, while on our way. I don’t remember now whether he thanked me for this compliment (which I genuinely meant) but I do remember him explaining to me how his hair used to be so much more silkier when he was younger. ‘I am sure’,  I said. He didn’t give me any discount once the trip was over.

Next day, I tried getting up in the morning (to go for my run) – but failed. So I did some weight training instead (later during the day). This was day before yesterday – 15th August – India’s Independence day. Po – the rockstar, wanted me to come over to a restaurant-cum-bar in the evening, where he was performing, and shoot a video for him. I did that. It was also good to note that, that place was serving beer even on 15th Aug! Things that can happen only in Goa! ? By the way, you so totally HAVE to view the short clip below to see how amazing Po is on guitar (it might take you a while to guess the song though)! ?

Po’s rocking guitar skills

Yesterday, I tried once more to get up early enough to go for my run. Yesterday, I failed again. So, did some weight training again. Today morning, I finally got up. 0530 AM. Yay!

But I was so sleepy that I sat on my chair and slept again (didn’t have a great sound sleep last night). Tomorrow morning, I will get up and  do a 8k. There are only 39 more days to go for the Chicago Half and there is only so much that I can screw up when it comes to training!

PS: the feature image is a photograph that I made in the lounge of the hotel, where the engagement was held (Park Hyatt, Hyderabad).

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I took out my new Samsung Note5 to shoot raw photographs

Biwi and I went for a monsoon trek in Goa yesterday and I thought of trying out my phone-camera capabilities in a real-world scenario. I got myself a new Samsung Note5 about two weeks ago. Those who want to know how many “megapixels” the phone-camera has, fuck off. Everyone else, yes, so what was I talking about? Phone-camera capabilities, right.


I love the fact that this phone has the option to shoot photographs in DNG (equivalent of RAW mode that bigger cameras offer).

The above photograph shows me trying out the phone-camera on the first day of receiving the phone. I showed this image to biwi today and the only thing that she had to say was – ‘how booby I look’. ‘You occupy just 20% of the frame’, I sighed.


For those who don’t know what shooting in DNG or RAW means, well, simply put, it captures a much wider range of exposures (and overall range of colours) in a single click (of course limited ultimately by what the camera’s digital sensor is capable of). Now this really is very important for most professional photographers – except may be those who work in the news industry and don’t have enough time to edit there images. Because only when you have a raw digital photograph, you can truly extract the colours and give all your images a consistent look, that pleases you. Trying doing the same with a Jpeg image is just a software gimmick (based on smart algorithms). A Jpeg file simply doesn’t have the extra information on colours and exposure (captured from reality) to rely upon. As an upside, a high resolution Jpeg image would only be around 4 to 5 Mb in size, compared to 25-35 Mb that a raw file will end up taking (or more – based on the camera type / resolution).


A racing event started as Biwi, I and a few more trekkers waited for a bus (that would take us to the trekking start-point). I was so happy – I could begin testing my phone-camera capabilities even before the trek had commenced 🙂


The starting point for the trek was about one and a half hours bus ride from Panjim. From there, it was a roughly two hours trek to a waterfall. There wasn’t much climbing involved – but the route was slippery at many places. And it kept raining for most part.

A walk on a leaf is a delicate act! 😛



All the images in this blog-post were copied from the phone to my laptop and then processed in LightRoom. Most were shot in DNG but not all. The picture above where biwi is posing in front of Santrem waterfall, was accidentally shot in Jpeg. It still is a good photograph but do you notice, compared to all the other images, it lacks that certain depth and richness and vividness of colours? If you don’t, you don’t have to shoot in DNG really! 🙂 And if you do, well, this is why having raw images is important!

Let me also talk about a small issue with Note5 that makes it very easy for you to miss storing raw images (happened a lot with me yesterday).

You can save raw picture files only when you shoot in a “Pro” mode that the default camera app offers. But “Pro” mode is not the default setting of the camera-app. You have to manually change the setting (it takes a single click though). The camera then retains the “Pro” but only as long as you don’t go for video. And this sucks. I was shooting few video clips too yesterday, using the default camera app. And every time I would go back to taking pictures after that, the “Pro” mode was deactivated – and that meant no raw files. 🙁 I didn’t realize this many a times – and ended up with several Jpeg only files 🙁 I hope that as I start using the phone-camera more often, my muscle memory grows and takes care of this issue (by making me automatically check the mode before shooting).

What is a monsoon trek without some slippages and falls? 🙂 By the way, the blur that you see in the above two images was unplanned (and though it works for these two, I lost many shots because of it). The learning is, you cannot rely upon the camera app’s default ISO and shutter speed settings (even in good light) to shoot action / fast moving stuff. This is probably more of an app issue though – or may be there is a sports mode (that I am yet to explore) that doesn’t let the shutter speed fall below say 1/200 seconds. Until then, I will stick to manually setting up my ISO and shutter speed the next time I go out shooting.

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So what are my concluding thoughts?

I think it’s a brilliant camera in the right hands. I already know it would not be very effective in low light – but the same goes for my GH4. From morning to early evening though – I don’t think I need to carry any additional camera for street photography (or when I am on a vacation). I shall try shooting with my phone more often now and see how my feelings evolve. What do you think of these photographs by the way? Still want to buy a DSLR to get better pictures? 😀

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That craving for an audience

I remember when I had just started blogging (back in IIT  – 2005/06), Dhakkan (and I am sure others in my hostel-wing) would tell me how obsessed I was with waiting for a new comment and then replying to it and then waiting for the next one and on and on. Nothing much has changed. The blogging world is certainly not the same (after Facebook and Twitter took over internet), as every blogger would acknoweldge. So of course I no more expect comments on my blog. I don’t blog much anyway – relative to how I was in IIT and for the first few years of my corporate job. But the wait for an audience to listen to what I have to say, look at what I have to show and read up and acknowledge what I have to write, remains, be it on Facebook or Instagram or my 3 Minute Stories. As strong as ever. It is so me. This craving for an audience was the reason I left my business consulting job four years ago, that otherwise offered me such a structured career path!

I always called my blog shit.

‘Phres blogshit’ has been the tagline for Vatsap? ever since I bought this domain name (and has never ever changed). That was so because I believed my writing sucked (I am not so harsh on myself anymore – but love the tagline nevertheless ? ). So although I was neither very proud of my writing skills nor my knowledge of the world, I still wrote – posts after posts, because the world of internet had opened up the access for strangers to read what other strangers wrote. I hoped that someone somewhere out there might end up liking my shit. Which did happen eventually. In fact, I am still in touch with some people, after all these years, who I happened to know about, only because they bothered to read my blog-posts. And leave comments. To think of it, my writing (however shitty I thought / think it was) had a major role to play in turning MRP to my now Biwi.

Moving on to the present times, every time I make a 3 Minute Story, I desire for the world to watch it. The world obviously doesn’t. Sometimes even before I venture out to shoot, I already know that a particular story has a limited audience. I go ahead and shoot and make one anyway. Because I love the job. But until the entire world has not watched it, am I happy? Certainly not. May be one day my audience will find me. Till then, I need to keep getting better at my craft. I need to tell stories so good, and in such a way that everyone feels like making their friends and family watch them.

Just recently, I was in a company of various artists (of all kinds, from painters to illustrators to installations artists to clothes designers) for over a month. Some of them told me how they didn’t care if any one got their art or not. They did it for themselves. I can never think like that. I always care. That craving for an audience – I live for that.

Anyway, let me also include some photographs that I made this Friday when many in Goa (where I live) celebrated Sao Joao. If you could care to read my ramblings, I am sure you will like the images! After all, there are things that I know I am not so shitty at! ?

Siolim, Goa, India. 24 June 2016.


Man. Always in conflict with animal.



For some reason, I love this last image – so many different kinds of couples (and quadruples) have come together so nicely for a fraction of a second in one frame. This is all that photography means to me. It wasn’t easy shooting on this day. It kept raining a lot and the crowd was chaotic. But I am happy with whatever little I could return home with. I also recorded a live song being sung by someone on stage, and using that, plus some of these photographs and a lot more additional audio effects, created a multimedia artwork that you can check out on Facebook if you want to (it’s on insta too).

So yeah, that’s it for now. A lot more work to be created. A lot more work to be shared!

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Gunehar diaries #6 – the wrap up post

The Shop Art Art Shop Residency and Exhibition got over on 14th Jun. I returned to Goa last evening. And it’s time for a wrap up post. I still remember how I had felt first, on reaching the village  – “now that I am in Gunehar, I wonder what stories I am going to end up with, in the next three weeks” (quote from diary #1). As it turned out eventually, I didn’t end up making a story on any of my first ideas (house with the best view, village life, struggle of artists etc. – diary #2). Even the sniper project that I started in the second week (diary #3) did not lead to anything exciting other than a dramatic fight scene (which I started showing as a story in itself, but gradually just retained the most interesting parts of that video for a jingle that I made later). Diary #3 also mentions a “juicy conversation” (quoting below) and that finally did become a story [you can watch it here on 3 Minute Stories’ Facebook page].

…villager approached me…  …shared a lot about his life. Pretty juicy stuff for first meeting – how his first wife had an affair and dumped him, the reasons why he doesn’t like his father, a foreigner who has promised to adopt his children and take them to England and things like that.

Made DharmSadhu click a portrait of mine with a super-fake smile, one day; to be used for “Artist Profiles” posters (that never got made eventually).

The stories that I eventually did create and screened have their origins in my thought process by the end of second week –  “…find one specific subject in each generation category and then shoot him / her + do a bit of interview to put together something that at least resembles a story”.

The first story that I finished editing was on Maniram (sharing it below). To read up more on how this story happened, you can visit my blog on 3 Minute Stories.

By the time I wrote my last diary from Gunehar, I already had two more stories ready + 1 super duper cute jingle. You can watch Indira and Chhangu’s story on Facebook (the video description on FB also explains how the story happened). It’s a simple story about a woman and her hopes and desires from her teenage son.

The exhibition part of the residency was only two days away. So I started tidying up my shop (this residency was not only about making documentaries, but also about managing a space like a multimedia installation). I am not a space person, so it took me considerable time and effort. I am thankful to Eeint (the bottle guy from diary #5) who helped me with some good ideas about setting up the space.

3 Minute Stories Shop in Gunehar.
Because I didn’t like a single picture of my shop taken by anyone (after it was setup), I finally had to direct a photograph myself, with biwi as my cameraman. Biwi had come over for few days in the third week, then left for a trek in Manali and then, joined me again in the last 5 days of the programme.

The final week was more about screening my stories every time someone came to my shop. I also found enough time to edit a new story (the juicy one, mentioned above).

My village multiplex offered a variety of seating arrangements 😛 Maniram – protagonist of one story, stares from the screen at Shivang – the kid who features in another story.
Children were frequent visitors to my shop. The Italy Holioke was their favourite screening.


I would also go out once in a while during power-cuts (that were rare) or during rains to make images.

Ran into a guy who said he worked in Goa for many years, selling tshirts. He has a German girlfriend who wants to invest in a cafe / guest-house in Gunehar. He took me to his house and made tea for me as I clicked a picture of his niece and her neighborhood friend.
Terra’s landlord spends moments of solitude in his house, as it rains outside.
He introduces me to his new baby goat, after the rain stops.

Two days before the event / residency ended, there was a dance programme by the villagers and a trial Gaddi fashion show. There would be an even bigger function on the closing night, but I didn’t take any pictures then; so sharing the ones from this prior evening.

The hero of my 3 Minute Jingle from Gunehar.
The gathering was 3 to 4 times bigger on the closing ceremony two days later.
Gaddi fashion show models await their turn.
Not everything happens on stage. Some happen under it too. Especially for those who can fit in! 🙂
The young audience.
The old audience.

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After his own performance, God and His mother enjoy performances by others.
Ken’s 360 degree camera tries venturing into new territories, during the Gaddi fashion show.


A true God always finds His devotees.


Unfortunately, after all the amazing time that I had in Gunehar (sans the falling sick and accidental formatting of memory card once), the biggest shit that happened to me, was during the closing ceremony. 🙁

Maniram’s story had just started when 4T decided to change the angle of the screen. Yes, in the middle of the screening with thousands of villagers watching. I am sure 4T just wanted more people to get a good view. But everyone who has set up a home projector that has couple of wires going from here to there, knows that it’s a fragile setup and any lose wire can shut off the screening. While in a home setup, that’s fine because it usually doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to sort things out, in a public screening, it can lead to chaos. In my case, because of the abrupt and unplanned change in the way the screen was put up, I had to readjust my projector and in the process, the sound cable probably got loose from some point (and there were too many points). Sound stopped. And I could not figure out why, for about a minute. So yes, the screening stopped. So did my heart. 4T soon announced on mic that because most villagers had anyway seen my movies, it was ok.  And I guess it was indeed ok for many. But boy, what a heart-breaking moment that was for me (I can still feel the pain). I was in pain and I was angry. For many hours following that, I kept wondering how amazing it would have been, had 4T not tried adjusting the screen in the middle of a screening. But then, was it really his fault? He just forgot to take into account the fragility of the whole setup when he decided to do what he did. He only wanted more people to watch the screening properly.

The local singers took over the stage immediately and I zoned out, unable to focus on anything. I am sure majority of the villagers had indeed already seen the stories in some screening or the other, as 4T had rightly said. But I also knew many in the audience had not. And in any case, this was not about who had seen the stories and who had not. For me, it was simply the biggest gathering of audience who were watching it and that’s a difference experience altogether.

Eeint saw me dissolving in the background, and could read my expressions. He hung out with me for a while. Some villagers offered booze and I tried to feel normal again. But in spite of trying so for few hours, (I even went up the stage, dressed like a Gaddi and did a bit of drunk dance), I finally realized I had to deal with the fiasco on my own. I had to let it sink in, stop blaming anyone and move on. Shit happens all the time and that evening was just my unlucky day. While the rest of the artists partied till late night, I chose to skip my dinner and went to sleep. Sleep came very late. It was the worst possible way the festival could have ended for me.

During the last night, someone took away this chap’s cap and placed it on my head to make me look like a complete Gaddi. We did run into each other later and he got back his cap.
Real kids playing with painted kids in Gunehar. Artwork by Kaki and a team of Kangra miniature artists.

‘Where had you disappeared last night?’, Kaki asked me the next day. She added that everyone had missed me and all of that. I wondered if I should make an excuse. I didn’t. “I was not in a great mood yesterday”, I gave her an honest reply. I think she understood.

The bigger question is, does one fiasco really take away all the wonderful things that I experienced during my 4 week stay in Gunehar? No, it doesn’t.

So to sum it up, I would love to wrap up my Gunehar diary on a happy and positive note. My stay was about:

  • back to back hard work, doing something that I really liked doing;
  • creating films on purely personal stories for the first time;
  • screening my Gunehar stories for several days, both for villagers and visitors (who often complimented – but then I never take compliments too seriously – most people do it out of politeness anyway, don’t they? 🙂 )
  • consuming amazing food on most days (and a crazy variety) – thanks to my (now) friends from Goa;
  • getting to see, meet and interact with so many different kinds of artists;
  • McDowell’s No. 1 every single night :D;
  • and last but not the least, growing up some more, as an individual – with a new life experience.

May life be interesting always. Full of things to write and talk about, like this! Over and out for now!


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Gunehar Diaries #5 – 2 more days for the festival to begin

Most artists are more or less approaching the final stages of their work.

They have to. 🙂 The festival starts from 7th and ends on 14th (June 2016).

Eeint – an artist from Delhi, repairs his bottle work after heavy winds left many of them broken.  A drunk guy came soon afterwards and left behind his empty whiskey bottle. “You guys are in need of empty bottles I can see”, he remarked before leaving. So very helpful!


Terra prepares to carry her clay houses from her shop to burn them in a locally made brick furnace.


Bluehair met with an accident day before yesterday. That left her with a crushed big toe. The injury is so serious that the toe might even get amputated. 🙁

But we all are hoping for the best. I was told her toe has already shown some signs of recovery. And that means she could end up keeping it, if nothing goes wrong. She is admitted to a hospital in Palampur and some of us plan to visit her in the evening. She would most likely return home once she is discharged from the hospital. All of us are slightly disturbed and sad about this, but then, such is life.

I have three stories ready + 1 jingle that is a story in itself. 😀 I think I have enough extra footage to create few more as the festival starts (I am thinking may be two more). Pretty proud of myself! The stories are not online yet. I would slowly release them once the festival starts. Or may be after 14th, when it’s over.

Biwi showed up and stayed for few days before leaving for her trek that started in Manali.

She even brought with her, our projector from Goa. It’s being of much use here.

Villagers enjoy screening of few stories in my “ArtShop”.

Biwi also helped me make my shop look better (painting, sticking papers and all such things). The work is not yet complete but should hopefully look much neater in the next few days. Biwi also took few dance classes for the village girls, for a possible performance during the festival. I look forward to her returning on 10th.

Biwi interacting with the village kids.
A village girl poses for my camera in my shop. I have a big print of this (and few more faces) now, that I plan to stick to one of the columns.
A poster that I have gotten printed in a huge 3X5 feet size. There are couple of more – will try using them in a way that they give a village multiplex feel to my shop!

Life in the village is going on as usual in the meantime. My interactions with villagers declined somewhat over the last few days because of all the editing and shop beautification tasks that I was upto (still am). But I did go out once in a while to capture some of what I saw.

A girl waits for her turn to get Kerosene from Ram’s ration shop.
A villager takes cover during a short spell of rain. I almost never see anyone carrying rain-coats here, even when it rains every few days (albeit for short duration).


I ended up meeting Vishnu again (had mentioned him in diary#3; a guy who works in a perfume factory in Chandigarh, misses his village when working in the city, but also gets bored when he comes to village for short duration). I shot him working with bullocks in one of his fields. Often, his nephew and niece would take over. Later he took me to his house and made me see parts of the village I had never been to. He returned to Chandigarh the next day.

Vishnu’s nephew works with bullocks as his niece observes her brother. Sister in laws help remove weed to prepare the field for rice plantation.

A funny thing happened. Pinkhair who is an author and is an integral part of the Shop Art team, (blogging regularly about artists and the development of the festival) is from New Zealand. So I shared my New Zealand Holioke with her. She loved it, showed it to Eeint and then slowly everyone ended up seeing it, one by one. It was proposed that I show them to the villagers too, when I screen my movies. And guess what, I did so. Since then, both that and the Italy holioke are like hot favorites here in this village. In fact, they care more about those videos than their own stories! 😀

While I screen inside a dark room during day time, the screenings shift outdoors during the evening – for half an hour.
Villagers – mostly kids, absorb the beauty of Italy via the Holioke that Biwi and I made last year.

In less than ten days, it would be time to leave this village and I have this feeling, I might miss this place for quite some time.

Alright, let me go now and decorate my shop. The huge posters that I have, need to be framed so that they can be put up on the wall. And then there is always some editing to do. Villagers want more and more stories and I don’t want to let them down.

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Gunehar Diaries: #4 – How I lost some video files and other such things

This Sunday, I created a half-baked 3 minute story (that I don’t want to share here because, yes you guessed it right, it’s half baked 🙂 ), transferred the video to my phone and started showing it to every villager who cared to watch.

So the villagers now understand that I am not just some random guy shooting shit with his camera, that they will never get to see.

This has made my life easier because now they are coming up with more ways to help me find subjects, stories and all that.

Village kids watch my half-baked 3 minute story on my phone. By their expressions, they probably approve of it.

I want to focus on views and lives of people of different generations in this village (oldies, working adults, college going kids and possibly a young kid). One of the biggest challenges that I have with this approach is – there is no clear cut well defined “story” really  – something that I have always depended upon over the last two years since I started 3MinuteStories. I am dealing with it anyway. Don’t ask how. :/ This week’s plan was to find one specific subject in each generation category and then shoot him / her + do a bit of interview to put together something that at least resembles a story. Could it get boring? Possibly yes. Is there anything else that I can probably do? Can’t think of much. Fortunately, I already do have somewhat exciting subjects from each category and for many, I have already shot this and that. Working hours are going up slowly – with all the hard core editing required and stuff. So blogging might go down a bit.

A film-maker from Quebec (Canada) happened to be in Gunehar for few days. He sat with me one evening, looking at some of the work-in-progress stories. He advises directors and film-makers on their stories, professionally. It was nice to have his feedback. I hope it helps in the final output.

Oh by the way, day before yesterday, I accidentally formatted one SD card, without copying the video files to my hard disk 🙁

They were clips showing villagers working together to re-divert part of the river water to a channel. The channel takes the water to the fields. Majority of villagers own farms and this is the time to sow paddy. So they really need water in the channel. Heavy rains about two weeks ago (before I had arrived in the village) had set many boulders and stones rolling all over the river-bed, damaging the channel and blocking the entry of the river water to it. After few days of combined effort by the villagers, the water is flowing back to the channel now. I have shots of that. But I lost shots which showed the blockage of water. And that’s kind of sad. 🙁 This was like the only “clear-cut” story that I had accidentally stumbled upon. I have already tried almost every possible software since past 24 hours. Nothing worked! I am moving on as I type away this blog.

The villagers working on the river project, asked me to show something. My phone came handy. The goat was clearly more interested in the film-maker than his films! 😛

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It rained later that evening. I put on a rain-coat (borrowed from 4T), wrapped a plastic around my camera and went out to shoot whoever I could. Till it got very dark and rain stopped.

Kaki and her friend take shelter under a shop. Her wall painting is coming along nice.
Bluehair. Blue sky. And some lens flares.

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Howmuch – the pop-artist from London, has an intern working for her now. “I am a bad excuse for an Indian”, she keeps telling everyone.

That’s about it for now. Let me get back to editing and hopefully I will also have some video-story to share when I return to my blog next.

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Gunehar Diaries: #3 – Turning into a sniper

I am well now. Just a bit of coughing, that should go away soon. I hope. I found an unused wooden plank, painted a signboard and put it up in my “shop”.

Yesterday, I also setup a tripod in the shop and shot like a sniper from a fixed vantage point.

The idea, for one of the 3 minute stories that I plan to create, is to combine actions taking place in a limited frame, shot over multiple days, and give it a structure in a way that a seamless story evolves – without any interviews or voice-over. This sounds as complicated as it would be to execute. But worth trying nevertheless. From just few hours of doing my sniper thing, I got one very interesting piece of action.

Now that I am well again, I have resumed the process of hanging out in general and letting the villagers get familiar with me. The villagers are super friendly and love to talk. And I love taking their pictures. As you can see.

Gunehar’s favourite spot in market to hang out. Especially in evenings.

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Howmuch – a pop artist based out of London, smiles during a work-break. Kaki is apparently lost in deep thoughts about how the Kangra painting that she is working on, would come out eventually.
One of the Kangra painters from Himachal (working with Kaki) waits for his chai. He would be part of one of the video stories (3MS).



Terra (extreme right of photograph) and the village children outside Bluehair’s artshop.
Bluehair and her balloon. Children and their balloons. There is a balloon for everyone.


Why are the balloons sperm shaped?, I asked Bluehair. Oh fuck, didn’t realize that, she replied.


Because of my fever, I could not shoot farmers cutting wheat from their fields. Now that I am well, everyone is already done cutting off the wheat.

I had become friends with one farmer – let’s call him Vishnu. He works in Chandigarh but had taken few days leave to be with his family, so that he could help in the whole wheat harvesting job. I have some interesting conversations that I had with him, on camera. He told me how women and girls worked more in this village than men (men feel shy to do agricultural work), how he wished he could be in his village only if there were enough jobs, his possible engagement and so much more. But the only footage that I have of him, other than him talking is when he was packing up the hay and loading the wheat in a truck. It would have been so awesome to have shots of him working in the field and carrying the load from the fields to the place where sieving happens. Will see what I can create from whatever little I have.

Another villager approached me as I was sitting in my shop and shared a lot about his life. Pretty juicy stuff for first meeting – how his first wife had an affair and dumped him, the reasons why he doesn’t like his father, a foreigner who has promised to adopt his children and take them to England and things like that. Need to listen to more stories. Need to shoot more. Things are getting interesting by the day. Will get back with more dope soon. Everyone in the village is now waiting for some rain. Getting too hot during the day.

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Gunehar diaries: 2 – I have some broad story ideas now

Today is my third day in Gunehar and I have already fallen ill.

It started with a moderate cold when I got up in the morning. And since then, I’ve been feeling pretty feverish. I can only hope that the body temperature doesn’t rise. Fingers crossed. My ‘shop’ has been identified. I should put up a signage soon – once I feel better. As of now, even creating this blog-post is a pain. But laying on bed and doing nothing is probably even more painful.

My art shop. Technically, a villager’s house in progress. But should do. The entire village is busy cutting off wheat from fields, drying them in any open space that they can find (like what you see in this photograph) and getting grains out. Rains could start any time now and if the wheat job is not completed before that, it’s going to be a big loss to the villagers). Picture by DharmSadhu.
Every house (or may be almost every house) in Gunehar has a miniature temple in their courtyards that’s home for a God that dresses in yellow.
A village kid helps Terra in her preparation for a terra-cotta project that she is upto. Terra, along with Conman are possibly the only artists here who have already started work – that can be seen.
Conman with his cast and crew, seek help from 4T – the organizer.
Takecare, one of the caretakers. Looks more like a model than a care taker. Every time I carry water in these wine bottles from the restaurant to my place, I find kids discussing amongst themselves if I am really carrying water.

Yesterday, I roamed around, up and down the village main road (the length is just around 1 Km or so) with a camera, clicking away pictures. I would have done the same today had I not fallen sick. The process has been helpful both for me and the villagers (I guess). I want them to see and recognize me as a photographer to the point that they don’t care any more. That’s when interesting stuff would happen. And from being a photographer, I would turn into a film-maker who can manage to capture the reality the way it is.

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Story ideas are slowly taking shape. Some of the potential ones are:

  • Whose house has the best view? – I can find say three people who are proud of their houses and try to explore if they care about the view at all! Who do I think has the best view anyway?
  • My take on “life in a village” – could become pretty boring unless something unexpected happens while I am it. Their is lot of typical village activity that can be captured, but I need to figure out a thread to weave them together, in a way that they become a story of some kind.
  • Mystery of the blue and pink hair – we have two women here who have got bright coloured hair. I am wondering if something interesting comes out when I start enquiring on what the villagers think about the coloured hairs. Do they care? Do they have an opinion? How do I know their opinion is candid and not “for the camera”. What is the real reason these two got their hair coloured?
  • The struggle of few artists to bring back a dying artwork to main stream – I have maximum clarity on this story. Kaki is working on Kangra wall paintings with few Himachali artists. What they are doing should help more people take notice of this particular art-form.
  • I also like what Terra is upto (the lady working with clay in one of the pictures above) – and have this feeling that I can extract some story from there. The ideas are pretty vague at this point of time.

That’s it for now. Pray for me to get well soon. Will get back with more stuff soon.

art snaps travel

Gunehar diaries: 1 – the beginning


Now that I am in Gunehar, I wonder what stories I am going to end up with, in the next three weeks.

I reached this village in Himachal Pradesh yesterday. The day before, at Delhi airport, I met Conman – an interesting film-maker from Singapore – also participating in the SA/AS residency. I had flown in from Goa and he from Hongkong. He teaches production design in couple of film schools. He also acts in movies and commercials. And he has made few feature films as well, including one documentary on the homeless in Japan. Conman recently had a heart attack and had to undergo a surgery and has to carry emergency medicines with him at all times. His project in Gunehar will revolve around involving the village children in making of fiction movies (most likely a continuation of something that he had started two years ago in the first edition of this residency).

After few hours, Kaki – another fellow participant from Delhi, found us at the food-joint outsider terminal 1. It was past eleven in the night. We soon teak seats in Raju driver’s Innova. 4T – the main organizer of the residency had sent Raju driver from Himachal to pick us up from Delhi. It took us about 10 hours to reach the village. I didn’t get much sleep.

Conman trying Sprite at a dhaba to deal with his suspected diarrhea. Somewhere in Punjab / Himachal – on route from Delhi to Gunehar.

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4T, the organizer of the program welcomes us on our arrival in Gunehar. Also seen in the picture, is a sleepy Kaki.

Some participants had already reached. Few more would arrive later in the day. We were shown our rooms, spread across different houses in the village, along a common main road.

family.friends Goa chronicles snaps

Misre & Misri visited us in Goa – a picture story

Last week, we hosted Misre, Misri and their cute little daughter (let me name her Pinga – will explain why later). By the way, I just checked the last time Misre got a mention on – and oh my God, it was such a long time ago – the day I had killed him.  Anyway, let me come back to the present. Misre is alive and kicking of course.


Misre, Misri, Pinga and biwi (left to right of photograph)

We took them to Miramar beach the first evening. We are lazy of course. You would agree if you knew where we live (hint: very close to Miramar beach 😀 ).


Misre evaluates his journey of being a father.


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Why is papa so dumb, wonders Pinga. :P

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It was Misri’s birthday the next day. Misre would also celebrate his, few days later. Somewhere in between, while at a beach, I asked biwi to take a new profile picture of mine. I look like I just had sex on the beach and am pretty happy about how it went but don’t want to show that on my face. Or may be I just look like I am not sure what to do when I am supposed to pose.



Pinga puts on her slippers to go out and celerbate mumma's birthday in a restaurant.

The family takes a quick walk after the celebation is over.

One evening, Pinga shows me how I look when I am clicking pictures.
PS: yes, that is what I use my cycle for, these days :D

Thanks to Misre and Misri, I finally went and saw from close quarters, the mini swimming pool that we have in our building. I got back with some amazing father daughter moments, I must admit. I didn’t swim of course. The pool is too small to swim properly. Also, I am very lazy. Wait, did I mention that already?

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Pinga, shocked to her core, moments after daddy dipped her inside the pool without any warning.


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Raising a child requires many skills.

As days passed, biwi and I decided not to be so lazy and go to some beach far from home. It was Misre’s birthday.

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Biwi on the left, Misri and Misre in the centre and a random couple on the right (of the photograph).

Pinga's reaction on seeing Jon Snow return to life. :P

I think this is the right time in the picture story to explain why I have named Misre’s and Misri’s daughter Pinga. Soon after she landed in Goa, Pinga became her favourite song. She made us (and her parents) play the video a million times. Galla Goodiyan was her equivalent favourite too, but it would be awkward to call her Galla Goodiyan. 😀 So Pinga it is.

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Misri and biwi do a little dancing as a live band performs in a restaurant where we are to celebrate Misre's birthday. Misre is busy looking after Pinga. I am busy taking pictures.


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And thus ends the picture story. Misre, Misri and Pinga flew back to Chennai yesterday. To compensate for Pinga’s absence, biwi and I have started talking to each other the way she would talk to us – “will you play with me Amrit?” and things like that.