One step at a time…

Phew. That semester was quite…overwhelming. And probably the best of them all. In every way except one. (Don’t ask) 

 

And now I have an entire month (or almost) to work and improve myself. To grow as an individual. Oh the endless possibilities !!!

Or while away time, binging on uncountable mind-numbing TV series, watching my brain rot away, and browsing the ever growing, omniscient, omnipresent Internet (probably imgur, HN, Twitter, Medium, svbtle, reddit, Mashable, in that order), combing my bookmarks and Pocket and Feedly for links of anything involving the lossy transaction of nondescript facts, memes, tweets and such junk. 

No, really !

Well, I really do hope to get something out of this, even if it is another batch of wine, a solved hexagonal rubiks cube, a properly set up Raspberry Pi, finishing Walden, hyperproductivity, an improved number of pages turned, an improved knowledge of Footballs greatest, more clicks on my A37 or more miles on the road.

Or code. Definitely. Yeah, code. An Nginx server, a tweet mining client and the likes. 

 

So although my posts have been too far too few, don’t be shocked to see one every few days. Yes, I said ‘every’ and ‘few days’ together. Don’t choke behind that wry smile of yours. 

Now go sit in a corner, watching (or rewatching ?) House of Cards, Downton Abbey and reruns of That 70s Show, while Manchester United probably end in the lower half of the Premier League table (what ? they might just !) and you overeat yourself to the other side of a Snorlax. And nervously waiting for the premier of Sherlock !

PS: Fletcher’s back ! And got to see Zaha play for the first time ! Though he needs more time on the pitch than (allegedly) in bed with a certain someone.

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Of lenses and old viewfinders…

I’ve been planning on doing this for a while now, but only just got time.

It was my dad and my aunts who told me that my grandfather was into photography. That’s how my dad got interested in it. Watching him got me interested.

Back in those days, i.e. early 1950s, it was quite hard to get a simple point and shoot. Instead you had your Pentax, Zeiss-IKON, Kodak, AGFA, Rolleiflex among the prominent camera makers. My grandfather had both a Pentax and an IKON-Zeiss with an AFGA lens.

My dad tells me that my grandfather had his own dark room, complete equipped with appropriate chemicals (hypo solutions, silver nitrate solutions), a photo enlarger, and would meticulously prepare his photographs. Another time, I guess. My dad too initially developed his own photographs. Lucky him.

The first time I remember being aware of any camera was my dad’s Minolta. Then sometime later, I remember him clicking with a Ricoh point and shoot. He handed it to me when I was, I think, 12 years old. And then, on and off, I’ve handled his Minolta, his later digital point and shoots from Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and Sony HandyCam. Now I have taken the Sony A-37 almost entirely for myself.

Recently back from Chennai, with a good bunch of photographs with me, I took to cleaning my Sony. You know, the casual brushing and all. While taking out the brushes my dad had, I came across two huge packs, stowed away carefully.

And then, the gold burst forth.

My grandfather’s Zeiss-IKON.

F/3.5 – 16. AGFA lens

My dad’s initials on them.

I wish I could’ve put up some test shots.

The lens hood, the yellow filter with its cleaning cloth.

The yellow filter was essential to Black/White photography, like to separate the clouds from the blue sky, essentially used to separate contrasting colors.

It was through these hooks that the filter was held.

And this is an IKOPHOT photometer. I’ve used it a couple of times, a few years ago.

The needle you see in the image is still very sensitive.

Still works. Amazingly well at that.

F/4 – 32. Tokina lens.

This is my dad’s Pentax.

My grandfather also had one. One that he had bought after meticulous research and calculation. All that and then it got stolen on a train journey. That incident really hit him. After that he was never the same way about cameras.

The ME Super.

Ricoh XF 30. Point and shoot.

My grandfather asked a friend to get a flash for him. This, sadly, stopped working a while back.

And the Minolta: 50 mm F/1.4. Alongside its telephoto lens: 70 – 210 mm.

The 400si.

70-210 mm. AF

Our first digital camera. Sony Cybershot, 3.2 mp. Point and shoot.

With a 3x optical zoom, when we first bought it it was quite expensive.

The Olympus FE 20. 8 megapixels.

Those dents along the lens you see are actually from the time my nephew threw it on the ground, jamming the lens at an awkward angle. We got it fixed though.

The Panasonic Lumix DC Vario. 14 meagapixels. Touchscreen interface. And an amazing camera.

Boy has this camera been around ! It’s gone to Auli, Nainital, Ranikhet, travelled abroad with my dad, to a couple concerts with me, been passed around my circle of friends… It takes good quality pictures with an awesome zoom. Very good value for money. Still my point and shoot travel companion. Never disappoints.

That’s it then. I have assembled all of the above in one photo below, the Lumix being an exception. Quite a collection I’ve got their, huh ?

The entire collection with all the tools and equipment.

I have deliberately not included my A-37 in this post. I think I feel that it’s still a part of the present; these guys, well they have had their time in the limelight.

Quite a trove, eh ?

My only regret is that I haven’t seen my grandfather’s Pentax. It was an F/1.2 or so my dad says. No hope there.

Oh, and also that I haven’t shot with a Leica F/1 as of yet. There’s still hope on that front, though. Slim, but still.

Image

A summer in Chennai.

4 weeks to the day I arrived in Chennai, I left it quite confused, not knowing whether I was going to miss that place or not.

My dad works in Chennai, and because of the simultaneity of my brother’s and my summer vacations, we, that is our mom and us, ended up visiting him.

For a month.

I’ve done this once before, when we visited my father when he was in Pune (he roams around a bit).

From a shaky start in the beginning, with no television and a wobbly internet connection, to buying my first Raspberry Pi, moving around in foreign crowds, planned (and notified, through their local newspaper !) power cuts, getting up early to buy the newspaper from a vendor, roaming around every other weekend somewhere or the other, and properly eating South Indian food with my bare hands, served on a banana leaf, and to downright fun on the last few days, I have got to say, it was quite a ride.

Early morning on Thiruvanmiyur beach.

A classic Breakfast. Note the absence of any spoons.

Graffiti in Pondicherry.

This guy set up post in front of my balcony on our very first day. The white tinge is because of an old telephoto lens.

One that makes you think a lot. That is, if you’re that kind.

For one thing, I missed the UEFA champions league final (no streaming at 128kbps). I missed the ENTIRE Roland Garros, and three Grand(s ?) Prix. Just missed the PRISM scandal break out on Hacker News. Missed Black Sabbath’s ’13’ (it is insane, by the way). Hadn’t updated my Arch system for the entire time. Missed the Red Wedding Sunday night rage. Missed Google I/O, WWDC. And I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of other things I missed I haven’t put down.

But then one evening, I was thinking (I do that quite often) and I realised it didn’t matter. All the sports I followed through live commentary; though it didn’t matter – Bayern won, Federrer lost, Ferrari sucked through those 3 races. Every other event or news I got through Hacker News. Followed I/O and WWDC through Engadget’s amazing live commentary blogs. Just finished the Red Wedding rage myself, and haven’t stopped listening to ’13’.

I also realised that the world goes on. It didn’t stop for me, or for anyone else.

I got through a couple of books. I almost got my website up. I got bored of the beach. And I really got to know my A-37 well because of all the shooting I did every weekend, visiting nearby and new places. I loved their Rs 95/- only theaters – saw three or so movies.

I did a lot of walking, used way too many hand signs and gestures to get myself understood, and learned to love the time I spent with my family.

We managed to visit some place every weekend. In the four weekends there, we visited Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, Thanjavore, and Tirupati.

Amazing view from the Rock Temple.

Rows of massive columns.

Looking up !

One of my favorites. The beggars actually managed to look at the camera and smile.

Full moon while coming back from Thanjavore. That’s my dad, clicking on his Samsung.

Model, to scale, of Aurobindo ashram.

Aurobindo ashram. They don’t let get nearer than this if you haven’t already booked a visit a few days in advance.

Sunrise in Pondicherry. Alas ! Too cloudy.

French influence in Pondicherry extends to more than just street names.

Graffiti in Pondicherry. Part 2.

Almost every street was named like this in the French Quarters.

Auroville, Pondicherry. Entrance.

Notice the dogs snoozing at the feet of the statue.

A well-earned sleep.

Fortune telling, with parrots. At Ganesha Rathas, Mahabalipuram.

What used to be a hand-carved statue of a god, Mahabalipuram.

Just look at the detailing.

A little history upon entry, The Five Rathas, Mahabalipuram.

The Five Rathas, Mahabalipuram.

The miracle rock, Ganesha Ratha.

Caves near the Ganesha Ratha.

And the rains came.

I tried thrice or so to go capture sunrise at the Thiruvanmiyur beach, once even in Pondicherry, but to no avail. The weather always managed to play foul. Still I got some.

Another personal favorite.

Quite a month, eh ?

The accidental eavesdropper.

I recently submitted a story for the annual literary magazine of my college. It got printed. I didn’t want to post before it got printed. So here it is !

— — —

He woke up with his head throbbing. He opened his eyes slowly. It was dark outside.

It was night ! How long had he been out ? Where was he ? Marie will be furious !

As more of his environment swam into focus he saw that he was lying in a bush, a neat one at that. He tried getting up, using his arms to prop himself. But as soon as he did so, his arms gave way and he fell, his head spinning around.

Okay maybe I should lie here a bit longer. 

He heard a few hushed noises. Two, he discerned after a while. A stern voice, a woman’s was saying, “celebrating all right…flocks of owls, shooting stars…Diggle…never had much sense”. He supposed he was in someone’s garden, toppled over from all that partying the night before.

It came to him in flashes. He had been with strange people, dressed in different robes and pointy hats – he had met a few celebrating and hugging each other in his usual hangout place after work. They were so bent on celebrating that they had ordered several rounds for everyone present and had proceeded to go berserk, partying and gallivanting across London. And somehow he had gotten caught up in all that mess.

Marie would be furious.

He had gone all night and the next day with them celebrating god knows what ! It had been the craziest time of his life. He couldn’t figure out what had happened after a point in his memories, it was all so muddled up. They had been strange people though; all the while they had been chanting … some name – he couldn’t remember – and speaking their own language and waving small wooden sticks around as if they magicians or something.

His brief reminiscence was broken by the sound of a loud roar of a motor – an engine ?  It was quiet but in that quiet night, it was quite distinct. And near him. The owners of the voices were in the porch.

The voices seemed to have been waiting for this event. They greeted the third voice with questions. He grasped some more. “…fell asleep as we were flyin’ over Bristol”. This was the new voice speaking. Rough, heavy and labored.

The third person in the trio now spoke, a calm, old voice,”…scar forever… better get this over with.” Then someone sniffing, a rough, loud sniff and a “there there” from the lady again.

Robbers ? Odd group, if so.

They put something on the ground. He almost missed the soft thud of something being softly put down. Some more murmurs.

He realized he could almost get up on his own. But he dared not; these people were behaving strangely. He stayed put.

Then he heard shuffling of steps, and silent murmurs.

Probably saying their bloody goodbyes!

There was the motor again. And it softly receded into the distance.

Finally when heard no more and the motor was at a distance, he got up. By now, he had almost regained control of his limbs and was staggering out from the porch towards the gate of the house.

There was no sign of anyone. He looked around the neighborhood. It was a darker night than usual. None of the street lamps were on.

He looked at the porch. He saw a basket with a blanket inside it. He moved to check it out but turned, startled, as he saw something bright fly from the corner of his eye.

What was that ? 

Suddenly the night was bright again. The street lamps were lit. And the sound of the motor was gone.

Okay what did those guys make me drink ? 

Freaking out, he’d feel better when he was at home; he staggered out of the gate.

On his way out, he noticed a small sign, smartly placed, declaring the house to outsiders. But as he turned round the street the only thought which went through his mind was:  Marie will be furious !

He had forgotten all about the sign which had read:

No 4, Privet Drive.

I am an amateur Vintner. This is my wine.

This isn’t your usual vintner’s (if you do call a vintner usual!)post – how s/he posts the recipe used and goes about each step telling the good and bad of the what, how and when of making wine at home.

I have been making wine at home for a year now. This is the latest batch.

Beautiful color.

White wine. Beautiful color.

My dad started making wine about two decades ago. He helped me last time. Unfortunately last time, I was too involved in learning the process to actually record it with a few pictures. This time I did get a few.

Its quite potent and mildly sweet. I actually wanted to gauge its strength but for lack of time, could not.

I didn’t want to post the recipe here. I wanted people to focus more on the outcome, the romantic beauty of Vinification. A recipe turns out to be classically ugly, with its lecturing tone and follow-me-blindly procedural.

But if people do want it, I’ll update this post with a link.

I have shot these with my Sony A-37.

PS: the classic and romantic split is derived from my current read, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Cheers !

Wine for two.

Wine for two.

A weekend of tuneful nirvana.

This is the Bacardi NH7 Weekender Delhi I attended, in October. I know this post is very late. A whole of 2 months late. But I had to put these up.

 

Setting up the sound at the Dewarists stage.

Dewarists Stage.

 

 

Swarathma.

 

Them Clones.

Them Clones.

 

Moving towards the Black Rock Arena.

Another stage for couples.

 

The Dewarists tree. You lit it up by generating power through pedalling.

Papon.

 

The East India Company.

 

 

Amazing lights.

 

The tree at night, all lit up.

 

Gearing up for the Midival Pundits (I think).

 

Finally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my best finds at the festival. Blackstrat Blues.

 

Soulful strumming.

 

 

Later joined by these two.

 

Megadeth.

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Ocean.

 

The last song of the concert.

 

 

 

A few lessons from this summer..

Okay. I had 11 weeks off from college this summer. 8 of those involved an internship. Needless to say my summer was wrecked. And hectic.

With my internship taking up more than half of my days from Monday to Saturday ( yes a 6-day week ! ) I never actually had time to catch up on all those carefully crafted plans and indulgent lists made before the internship, during the first week or so. Those lists and plans got flagged down or ended up as botched attempts as soon as I realized I travelled 2 hours to my place of work, each way.

During this unappreciated preview of my adult life, I found some treasures and realized quite a few epiphanies.

1. Pink Floyd (esp The Dark Side of the Moon) still heals the day. The psychedelic experience, besides still being shockingly relevant –

“..And you run and you run

To catch up with the sun

But it’s sinking

Racing around

To come up behind you again

The sun is the same

In a relative way

But you’re older

Shorter of breath

And one day closer to death..”

-Time, Pink Floyd ( Dark Side of the Moon )

just puts you in a completely different mood, soothing your mind; warm, caressing, trance-like music that fills out the voids with its queer and unimaginatively complex harmonies.

 

2. Life without the web, the internet can be shockingly painful. For me, at least, not having an internet connection when I’m at my laptop or the iPad can be very, very dull and painfully restrained. The very immediateness of subjects, to be looked up without a  moments notice has gotten addictive. Because I recently shifted over to Open Source and I’m constantly learning new things on the web through forums and courses, not having an internet connection was, to repeat again, restrained.

Believe me, I’m the kind of guy who collects and reads a lot of books, a huge music collection to listen to, a more than acceptable social life, is a sports fanatic and its not like I was craving for the web while on the Metro back home. But if my laptop has some issue (usually some linux device driver problem in the beginning) the instant craving, shamefully, takes control.

3. Spain still beats the heck out of any footballing nation. Not even Germany, the Netherlands or her Royal Blunder – England could do anything about that this Euro. Although I’m all for the competitiveness of the English side of football, the Spanish side pretty much ruled every base in football, except for that freak of nature – Chelsea – winning the Champions League. But more on that later.

4. Roger Federer still rules the grass season. Though at the time of writing, he lost to Murray horribly in the Olympic finals. But the way he’s holding and smiling at his silver, me thinks he might just be trolling Andy Murray and the entire British nation. Oh and yeah, Nadal is still the King of Clay.

5. Delhi University cut-offs remain ridiculous, mocking and laughable and I just pity those looking for seats there this summer. The JEE is a mess too.

6. You can probably earn a college degree online (at least a Computer Science one ), what with all the free courses shrooming up on the web. Don’t believe me ? Check out this link and then talk.

7. To drive is to attain nirvana. Having got a little more than 600-odd km on the road under 4 months, I believe I was destined to drive (stick that is). My dad being my role model here though, I have come to hate most of the traffic in Delhi with their retarded sense of traffic rules and self-righteousness.

Nonetheless be it a hatch-back or an SUV, I can probably drive the wheels off it, given enough time and asphalt. And costly, precious Petrol.

8. John Mayer’s “Born and Raised” is the perfect album to drive to. (You know, apart from Sabbath, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Maiden and Metallica, Alter Bridge, Audioslave, Floyd, Hendrix, Foo Fighters and probably Coldplay) With its soft sounds humming you to peace, not even the most retarded of drivers can shake your composure. His previous works were good enough with him hitting a low point with Battle Studies but I believe he’s really come back with this one.

9. You can probably spend an entire day browsing through Hacker News, and still not get to the bottom of all the cool links and knowledge of the users and commenters. It boasts of a user base of people genuinely passionate about topics they post, and almost all links, questions, projects and topics to be found here, from economics through math, science, tech, startups, to astronomy, are assured to be deep and insightful.

Regular visits, probably once or twice a day can be enlightening on many different levels.

10. I think I probably need to write and post more often. Hope to do that during this half of the year.

How was your summer ?