Friday, December 9, 2011

Where love affairs begin but never end…

 “Every corner you turn, expect to find something you will fall in love with.”

I do not mean the Italian men or women, (although I want to!!), but the place. And the place I am talking of is Firenze or Florence as the world calls it.

Florence, set on the Arno River is a lively, magnetic, romantic and unbelievably busy town oozing with architectural brilliance. Amongst many other things it is the birthplace of the Renaissance and is known as the Renaissance City. You can keep coming back to the town and not get enough of it even though it is relatively small. The town is an important part of history, and why wouldn’t it be after giving birth to world class artists like Bernini, Baroque, Michelangelo and Medici amongst others.

Stand on the Arno Bridge for hours and see the sun come up or go down, but you will not get tired of it. Get lost in the magnificence of an architectural marvel like the Duomo or overawed by Michelangelo’s David, but what you will fall in love with, eventually, is the city’s charming cobbled lanes and vibrant life that it exudes!

Someone had once told me that you can only “see” the city once you walk through it and there has never been a truer word. The place is a treasure chest of art and history- every corner we turned, every piazza we visited there had something delightful on offer. You can walk on the streets all day long absorbed by the busy-ness of this town.

Piazza della Signora, the town’s largest and busiest square emanates a bit of everything. Evenings fly by as you sit among the locals and while your time away in carefree chatter. You turn from observer to awestruck admirer while admiring the monumental structures of David (a fabulous copy of the original of course) along with other architectural wonders surrounding them. It’s almost as if Baroque, Bernini, Michelangelo seemed to think of the piazzas as their canvas as they set to immortalize the area with their work. People just sit there reading, accompanied by soft music played by musicians nearby, enjoying some alone time. This social gathering in the evenings is a ritual ardently followed by all Florentines- it is the only way to know the town gossip and what is happening in their neighbour’s lives.

In one of these cobbled and often crowded by lanes, a hungry soul finds Gusta Pizza. A restaurant that presents typical Italian pizza albeit with a lot of heart and love…literally! The speciality of this cosy little place is that their pizza’s, on request, are made in the shape of a heart. Their love for pizza and for the customers who buy it is clearly felt. For dessert one has to visit The Diner which offers the most mouth watering of dishes known as the carrot cake and as it melts in your mouth, even with a full tummy, you are left craving for more.

One of the most memorable places in the whole of Florence and every art lover’s fantasy is the Uffizi Gallery and the Museo Del Duomo, both are must visits. The Gallery houses the works of every sculptor, painter and artist the world worships- Bernini, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Tiziano, Rembrandt, Botticelli or Dante- you name it. It is truly awe-inspiring.

Some of the works are so good that many tourists end up buying a lot of these souvenirs as gifts or for personal use. Florence in that way is a shopping haven with something there for everyone. And the only advice one can give to a tourist is being a good haggler, always helps!!
Italians and style go hand in hand. Enter Ponte Vecchio and you will know why. It is only in Florence that one would find specially made rings of the most beautiful kind with a lot of filigree work which makes it really hard for men to control their better halves from lightening their pockets.

At the end of a long day when one seeks nothing but a place of relaxation, they visit Piazzale Michelangelo which not only gives you a breathtaking panoramic view of the Florence but is also home to Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David.

It’s like what the Eagles once said,
…you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave…

 Claudio Spadi performs to a crowd with the Arno Bridge in the background

 Panoramic View from Piazzale Michelangelo

 Michelangelo's David at Piazzale Michelangelo

Riot on the streets near the Duomo

The Arno river, an eagle eye’s view.

Duomo of Florence

Sumptuous Gusta Pizza

View from the Uffizi Gallery

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jilted Lover's

The calls began to fade, the laughter died, love flickered and all that remained now was a few broken hearts and a lot of silence.

That was what it came to now! It was never like that though, but somehow, it had became so. Things died. Love died. She seemed to be perfect for him and his world revolved around her. They were young, incredibly infatuated and it almost bordered on unabashed possessive love…nothing ever happened and it seemed as if it had already. They shared feelings so strong that it sent tingles of happiness down their spines.

He acted like only a lover would, all foolish and stupid- blown away by the way she looked, closing his eyes taking in deep breaths of her as she passed by. He treasured every bit of her. Loved everything about her. The only date he ever remembered was the night of the 20th December, the 1st time she met him wearing a blue jacket and scored a knockout. Young love-the beginnings of a first love began to spring. It moved him to incredible heights of bliss every time she was around. Excuses to meet, fumbles when talking- everything, everything happened when she was around. And he couldn’t stop it. He tried hard to make an impression. But it had already been made. He just didn’t know it.

She on the other hand- opened up like a book and yet kept something guarded, something secret. She couldn’t get enough of him and showed it and yet there were things she kept hidden. From him. From the world. Things she believed would burst her little bubble of happiness. Or make him take things for granted.
Poles apart, she often wondered how they came to become so close, almost inseparable- what made her fall for him. It was a question she still stumbled with. What had made him the one? He charmed her, made her happy, let her be herself. Yes, that was it. She no longer was a façade, in front of him. She was allowed to open up. She was heard. She was wanted. And that was all that she craved for.

Everything moved on but time had stopped for them. They lived for each other and everything else merely existed. They lived far away in a small bubble of their own, untroubled with all the things around them.
But then came the test. There always was one- the test of love, the test of time. They believed they were too good for it. He believed he was too good. But he wasn’t.

School ended, college began, he met new people and began to lose a grip on things. In an effort to fit in, he began losing his place in the heart of someone he already fitted in. He hoped she would understand and she did but all it did was to feed his carelessness- he started losing out on the one thing he knew was the most precious.

The calls decreased, the texts became sporadic. He got taken over by the new environment, enveloped in it; he wanted to establish himself in his new environment and in the process broke all his established relationships. The people he loved the most, he hurt.

He hoped she would understand. She did and waited for it all to end. But the faith she had in him kept draining…decreasing just as everything else had.

Some part of her still awaits the return of the boy she had fallen for but he, for his part, has gotten lost in the mêlée of things and can’t find his way around…

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Big Bhandari Bash

This is for all those who missed the big Bhandari wedding bash…

One dance after another, the stage was set ablaze as families from both sides gave entertaining performances. The Bhandari's very own Shahrukh did one hell of a job. The oooh's and aaah's of the not so young and getting eyed at by the nieces and ladies from bride's side said it all!!

 But the one who actually stole the show was the bridegroom himself- he did what one would call a side stage dance!! Eyes only for the bride he was oblivious of everything that was around him. Love had made him blind and what they shared was what I had only read about- fairy-tale love!! Not for one second did he leave her side. And if he was whisked away he made sure it lasted only a second long.

At the baraat as I danced our socks off as did the others- for joy and for love, for fun and just because that’s what baraati’s do!! I glanced towards the "man" who we did all of this for- and I couldn't help but notice the excitement he was poorly concealing to get married to and get near bhabhi. He was clearly bowled over by this maiden. They were in love and it was written all over his face.

I guess even the horse Manku da sat on felt the entire weight of his love. I am sure he wondered why his rider had the sudden urge to move so much just like the pesks (read: baraati) in front of him.

We danced with every ounce of energy in our body and so did manku dada. So happy and so in love. His friends did the best to make him wait agonizingly long and enjoyed the various looks of anguish that flashed right until the moment they reached the phera's with even the pundit playing games with him. He just couldn't wait to be married and his updates on Facebook proclaimed the same too, inciting so many of us to make fun of him too.

This was the 1st wedding that I've attended in my life and I am so glad that it was this one that I made it to this one- meeting cousins, spending time with them was one of the good things but seeing such unabashed love between people was quite the experience that I will never forget in a lifetime.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Face with no name…

The softness of her hands…that touch…it was something that I wanted to feel for so long. I had missed it, I had yearned for it, I had gone looking for it. I knew it was there somewhere but I just hadn’t found it…yet.

A few hours were all that I had spent with her and yet it seemed like they were the most precious few hours of my life. I found myself thinking of her night and day; every minute; every second that I spent around here…I could feel within me the strong desire to be with her, around her. It was hard to believe how I had changed, how she had changed me. I had turned into that which I did not know was in me- a hopeless romantic…

~                                                        ----*-----                                                                                  ~

A cold winter evening it was, when I first laid my eyes on her, in a park. She seemed to be lost in a train of thought and I did not think it prudent to disturb her. Yet I could not resist myself from going and sitting next to her. She lured me towards her- like a fish to bait, an irresistible pull.

I just sat there observing her every movement, those blue eyes-cheery and determined yet unfocussed, a long streak of brown hair falling over her eyes in a fringe. I was high on the cherry perfume that lingered about her person.

I was intoxicated by her very being.

We sat there in silence, for what seemed to be an eternity. She was a dreamer; lost, in a world of her own while I found myself glancing at a dream myself, one which I had never had. I kept gawking at her, unabashedly, trying hard not to make it very apparent and failing miserably. I just couldn’t help it.
The simple fact of the matter was that I was in a trance; I was mesmerized by her.

~                                                        ----*-----                                                                                ~

A soft wind blew today. A cascade of maple leaves blew my way as I walked a road going nowhere. I felt dreadfully alone, the leaves seemed to be my only friends. They seemed to greet me, knowingly. I loved coming here, ever since that cold winter evening. It was the one place I could relive those magical moments what seemed now, to have happened several light years ago.

Every time I came by here, I felt an unexpected thrill. I hoped against hope that I would get a glimpse of her. But it wasn’t to be. I did not have a number; I did not have an address. Hell, I didn’t even know her name. All that I had was a photograph, deeply embossed in my head.

A photograph of her.

I had tried finding out about her. But to no avail.

Every time I came here all I remembered were those blue eyes, the fringe of brownish hair, that cherry perfume and the face with no name. Every time I came through the park, I felt that unexpected thrill, my heart beat quickened but those few moments of jitteriness were translated to another long wait.
I coerced myself, again, into believing that the next time I walked by- I would see her and talk to her. That little spark inside was still alive.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Extremely Proud of Myself....

Rarely does one get a chance to see his work published in the newspapers, be it articles, photographs or anything whatsoever. For me this is the third time....and each time that I get to see it. I feel proud. I feel like I have achieved something. That I have done something.
And as luck would have it, this is the third time I am seeing some work of mine being published...and the feeling is something else altogether....

This time, I was lucky enough to work with one of the nicest people I know- Shantanu Verma who was kind enough to make me a part of his Pune Diaries team. And because of him, my photo's got published.

Do check them out....

Thank You Pune Diaries. Thank You Shantanu Verma....

The happiness I feel today is one only a few feel. And I am lucky I am one of those few.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lou Majaw's Tribute: A performer, an entertainer

The man sang the lesser known songs of Bob Dylan, many of which even I wasn't aware of. He sang with spirit and energy I have never seen on stage...Sadly it was one tribute I did not enjoy...for the sole purpose that he "rock"-ed the songs of Dylan.
Having said that, as a photographer I had a fabulous day for the simple reason that Lou Majaw loves the shutterbugs going click-click....


Monday, July 18, 2011

The ramblings of a fan.

Harry Potter film review.

A series that played a huge part in entertaining us for a better part of the decade, a grand saga came to a rather disappointing end.
Maybe the weight of expectations was too much for director  David Yates- the fact that the film had to go out with a bang, the fact that there needed to be a fitting end to a series that has been so intricately merged with our growing up et al. But in this last one…the one movie that actually mattered the most that was supposed to be the grand finale, I would say, he faltered.
His reasons for faltering were many maybe it had a lot to do with screen writer Steve Kloves amongst other things. Maybe the exhaustion of having written dialogues for all the Harry Potter movies save Order of the Phoenix, showed. It is extremely hard to fit a 500 page book into a screen-time of 2 hours and 15 minutes, but having said that, there was always something missing in this epic finale. It was just not there…
An ardent Harry Potter book lover who has the contents of the book right on the fingernails, would probably trash the film by using phrases like “Epic-fail” and “complete rubbish” “killed it” “ruined it” etc. etc. I, on the other hand, would not like to overshadow some absolutely brilliant scenes and acting put together with the fact that some very important scenes in the book were not in the film.
Technically this film was fantastic and the special effects in the movie will blow the viewer away. But then again, one would have preferred that the film be made non 3D like all its predecessors. The 3D used here did not “enthral” the audience throughout rather it seemed to serve the purpose of earning the extra buck for Warner Bros. as if it actually needed it!! Having said that, there were portions of the film that did actually take your breath away especially the scene where McGonagall builds the shield around Hogwarts and when Voldemort actually manages to crack it or the epic battle between Harry and Voldemort.
That apart, there is a considerable amount of content in the film or rather the lack of it that left the viewers disappointed or should we say waiting for more. I guess one can always ruminate on the fact that there could have been so much more…yet I feel looking back at it all, one should feel happy about all that was….