A Dream Come True

Drove down to Cochin from Coimbatore mainly to drop my daughter who is studying there. Had been hearing about the Cochin Biennale – a culmination of art forms from different parts of the world!. This happens only once in two years.

So, just took my camera and a few lenses and stepped out towards the Boat Jetty in Ernakulam. I decided to take the boat to Cochin as it was faster and more picturesque.

Got down at the Fort Cochin boat jetty. There were many like me who had come to see the Cochin Biennale. The streets were abuzz with tourists from all over the world. I started walking towards the Aspinwall House, which was the main venue for the Biennale.

There were may mural paintings on the walls of the street. One such painting caught my eye.. the detailing was so realistic!

After a few minutes walk reached the main venue – Aspinwall House. It was a very old group of buildings in a very big compound by the waterside. The organisers had made the whole place look exquisite without spoiling the heritage look of the buildings. Each room had the work of an artist with a brief note about the art form exhibited and the artist at the entrance to each room.

The open space between the buildings were also used to display creative work by artists from far and wide..

never felt that the simple coconut husk – coir – could be made into sheets with intricate textures!.

another set of work by local artists..

artifacts and antiques..

and art forms from waste…

Mechanical creations…


Bold expressions….

true to life paintings..

perspective paintings….

…. and more…and more….

follow me for more pics from Cochin Biennale, to be posted soon.


Interesting Personalities

It was approaching summer holidays here in Riyadh, where I work, and I decided to pack my bags and go to Eastern and Central European countries. Planned meticulously for over a month; which all places to visit and what to do in each city. Thanks to information available on the net, I was able to square in on three places – Prague – Czech Republic,  Budapest – Hungary and Vienna – Austria. I had a criteria for selecting each place. Prague, due to its historical artifacts, Budapest, for its scenic locations and landscapes and Vienna, for its historical connection with music and art forms.

Then came the most demanding part. Where do I stay in all these never visited places by me? One of my colleagues told me about the site AirBnB. I checked the site and found some accommodation suited to my liking and very affordable. I started inquiring with each of my intended hosts for my stay. Prompt came their replies with assistance as to how to make my stay comfortable and enjoyable. I chose my local hosts. So far unknown people to me or to say, strangers till the day before.

I left for Prague. The flight was delayed. The taxi I had booked had waited for sometime and left. That was my first experience. I took another airport taxi and proceeded to my local host near to Florance. It was not difficult to locate the place. My host was there to welcome me. A nice room. Met another traveler like me from Paris who was staying in another room in the same apartment. Surprisingly, I could strike a conversation with ease with my host and the other guest.

The next day, my previously arranged local tour guide took me all over the interesting places to see.

She was a student as well as a founder of an organization associated with media and publicity. We talked all the way and I was going on capturing the interesting and scenic beauty of Prague with my camera. We could have walked easily about 10 kilometers on that day. Prague was a small place and all places to see were in walking distance.

My guide, Hripsime Arakelyan, Ripa in short, was an interesting person.

Very focused and smart. She was doing her PhD in International Business. Also she is the founder CEO at Olympeah. International Representative at “Beside Woman”, an NGO organization. She was also volunteering at World Bank. So much confidence and enthusiasm to prove herself!

The next day  I took the train to Budapest. Could chat with many fellow travelers during the ride to Budapest. Reached Budapest and my local host there was texting me with direction to reach her place. It took hardly 5 minutes to reach the apartment.

She was an artist. The apartment was full of painting and carvings. The whole place had a Bohemian look.

My host was very nice and we could immediately start talking about painting and photography. Both depended on the incidence of light falling on the object. We had a lot to talk.

Next day she took me to her studio, which was about 100 kilometers outside the city. A beautiful, calm and serine village. I could see more of her creations there as well as the work done by her fellow artists. She asked me to explore the mountains and told me that I would really like the beautiful hills and valleys.

Breathtaking captivating views welcomed me all the way to top of the hills. I just soaked myself in the beauty of the surroundings. I don’t remember how many snaps I had taken there on that day! A few locals thought I was lost and greeted me. Some suggested some more beautiful surroundings I could feast my eyes on. I walked on and on untiring and aimlessly.

The return trip from the studio was adventurous. My host’s car broke down. And another artist friend offered us a ride back to the city in the night.

The next day I took some directions from my host and went around the city. It was a wonderful feeling all the time. Budapest had its unique locations to view and enjoy. I was very happy to see a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a park. I was amused by the care and pride with which the local body was maintaining the gardens and the surrounding.

My next journey was to Vienna. Again by train. The country side as it whizzed past the fleeting train was a joy to my eyes. Two fellow passengers, an old couple from Mexico, had a problem. They had misplaced their journey ticket; however, had the proof of payment. When the ticket inspector came, he understood their situation and said it was alright and they could travel. I could see the sigh of relief in their eyes. They broke into a conversation. Generally as to where I was from and what I was doing. Yet another interesting personalities.

Reaching Vienna, my local host there kept me posted as to which metro train I had to take and which direction I had to come out of the station. And spot on, I reached her place in a couple of minutes. The apartment was spotlessly clean and well equipped. Unlike my previous hosts I had the whole place for myself. The few minutes we chatted were very informative. She left behind one mobile phone, just in case I had to call her for any help. So caring.

The next day my local tour guide met me at an agreed meeting point in the city. She was a qualified guide. Straight away we started our tour of the city. Another feast to the eyes.She showed me around beautiful and interesting localities, churches, buildings, palaces and parks.

My guide, Maria, another interesting personality. She was an artist. She was a dancer and was studying for her masters in dance forms.

A very energetic and talented person. We could easily talk on subjects of mutual interest during our walk through the city. She completed the designated number of hours of the tour and we parted, only to become fiends.

I took the train to Prague the next day. My return ticket was from Prague. I went back to the same host with whom I had stayed earlier; but, this time my room was different. It was a bigger room with a good amount of sunshine through the windows. I enjoyed my stay there.

Next day went to the castle area, some places I had not seen during my earlier visit.

And time came for me to say good bye to Prague. I took the flight and returned back to Riyadh, from where I had started my journey ten days earlier.

I was very happy to have met so many interesting personalities and getting acquainted with them throughout my journey in Europe. This is what makes me happy. To meet different personalities, getting to know them, exchanging views on areas of common interest. That is the wonderful part of any journey – meet as many interesting personalities as possible!


“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” – Paul Caponigro

The value of portrait photography was not know those days, back in 1986, in my little home-town of Calicut. Thankfully, I had a few very photogenic friends who used to pose for me. I tried all the tricks, all the theory in the photography books, in practice with my first SLR camera. You never know how the photo has come till it got developed at the local studio. And believe me, it was really expensive those days. Somehow, I manged to save some money for my ‘expensive’ hobby.

The learning was tough. You get 36 exposures in one roll of film. I used to trick the camera by carefully loading only a very minimum part into the lead sprocket (the one you crank or the camera cranks by itself after every shoot) and get 37 or sometimes 38 exposures from one roll! And one had only very few options – 100 ASA or 400 ASA. Made many mistakes those days. So many mistakes = good learning!

My excitement went overboard when I got an appreciation for my entry into the then “KODAK Moments” photo contest. I got a lot of tips and advice from the film fraternity at Madras (now Chennai). I shot many shoots for behind the scenes and for setting continuity for various directors. Had a chance to rub shoulders with some of the greatest cinematographers of those days.

One of the early days’ model whom I shot a portfolio is a well known cine artist of today. After I lost both my cameras, when my car was stolen, there was a lull in my passion for photography. There were other priorities in life.

My IT career took me to different parts of the world. My perspective of what is beauty and what is art had matured by then. I was able to enjoy the lights and shadows, the panoramic views, breath-taking waterfalls, mud paths, buildings, personalities, ……the list goes on and on…

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

My intention is to transform the art and beauty from a uni-dimensional plane photograph to a three dimensional portrait. By adding the highlights and shadows, the portrait gives the illusion of depth and brings out the curves and contours at their best.

my experiments and learning will never end. The other day, I was rampaging through my entire collection of photos to find the one best photo which I could share; but, alas.. I am clueless..


I was contemplating whether to go to Bangalore by the National Highway (NH) or by the less known State Highways(SH). These are two routes to travel between Bangalore and Coimbatore, two cities in the southern part of India. While most of my friends and frequent travelers recommend NH7, I always prefer the less popular SH. I have traveled by both these routes many times. How do I feel while travelling through these two routes? [the RED dots represent the NH and the GREEN dots represent the SH]


The National Highway is a beautiful piece of concrete infrastructure. This has opened up the transport from North of India to the Southern tips of India. Really a masterpiece! The government spent billions in making these National Highways and still continue to collect toll from every user of these roads. Between Bangalore and Coimbatore there are about 10 toll collection points on the National Highway. It has six lanes – three each side – separated by well maintained medians.

The State Highway is a beautiful piece of meandering tarmac through nature at its best! The road is very even and smooth, except for a very small stretch of uneven terrain. There is no median to separate the traffic on both sides. There are no toll collection points anywhere on this route.

This brings to an end the physical differences between the two routes. Now, going on to describe the feeling I get while travelling through both these routes – let me start with the NH. Bangalore is known for its traffic jams and not so good traffic discipline. By the time you turn into the NH, you would have already got a taste of couple of traffic jams. This pent up agony and frustration is amply displayed by all the drivers by the time they reach the first toll gate. All the 4 to 5 toll-gates would be lined up with long queues of all sorts of vehicles. You will always seem to feel that the lane next to you is going faster than yours – Hobson’s choice! The mental and sometimes the verbal cursing starts from here. To add to this, often you see one or the other truck drivers haggling with the toll gate collector on the toll amount, totally impervious to the long trail of vehicles behind him! On one occasion, I had got down from my car and walked past some ten odd vehicles in front to see what was all the huge argument at the toll gate? I tried to impress upon the truck driver that he has to pay the toll or he is going to block the road for the rest of the day! Wow! it worked and he paid up and the line cleared! Now what?.. the already pent up frustration has now exponentially increased two folds! Now you have three lanes and it is free for all. Every one of the user of the NH feels that he has all the right to take absolute ownership of the entire road – now that he has paid the toll – and he will freak out either from the left or from the right (in India it is right hand driving, so one has to stick to the left side of the road), with the only ambition to be the first in the line of vehicles. He however does not seem to realize that the same thought process is going on in every single driver on that road! So, he has competition! Now the fun of driving is gone.. it is now a blatant display of car power (vehicle power).. a Ford 2006 model overtakes a Toyota 2012 model…. finished.. you should see the look on the face of the Toyota driver! ..within minutes he would slam his gas pedal to the floor and you see him trying to crawl from left and right and left and then.. finally he makes past the Ford 2006.. It is a cyclic reaction and you can see immediately a lot of followers for the Toyota 2012 driver. Speeds of 120 kmph (kilometers per hour) are a bare minimum to show one’s superiority on the road. This mad race goes on till you hit the next big town or the toll booth. Your speed has now come to a crawling 10 kmph (if you are lucky; else it can even go lower than that!). Then you see the local buses that have a mandate to reach the finish line ahead of the bus which had started earlier! If you glance at the faces of these drivers of these buses, you will feel as if they are flying a fighter jet. They will be always at the edge of the seat with one hand always on the air horn lever, blasting away for clearing the road ahead… they will overtake you from left or right or even nudge you aside to speed past and brake at amazing stopping powers right in front of you to pick up the odd traveler who had flagged the bus to stop. So by now your frustration level has increased exponentially 10 times! One does not realize that the average speed that one gets on this route is about 60 kmph. so you can guess the speeds of 120 kmph and how short lived they are! On an average you will need six hours to travel this route..

I have said a lot about this route.. now let me go over to the other route (the one I always like). I start off early morning to get a glimpse of the morning sun casting its glory on the country side. Here is where my photographic mind takes over. I observe the reflections of the sun on the rivers and the ponds by the way side.

Morning sunimage image

The road twists and turns through the picturesque country side and the sun climbs up in the sky to add more reflections on the water by the side of the road..

image image

I stop by a line of trees dotting the two sides of the road to have my packed breakfast. I could not concentrate on the food; since the scene in front was more fascinating with the sun casting shadows of various forms on the road..


On this route you would not see any speeding vehicles.. only some local villagers shuttling between two villages..image ..You continue through the thick forest and see occasionally some wild-life. If you are lucky you can spot elephants, deer,  bear, the Indian buffalo and many varieties of birds – big and small…finally you reach the tallest point on the ghats.. Dhimbam.. imagethis point is about 1100 meters above sea level.. there is an old rusted board indicating this on the side of the road..image

there is a way-side tea shop,  where I sip a steaming hot glass of teaimage before starting the decent of the 27 hairpin bends to reach terra-ferma. The road has sign boards all along to respect the nature and go silently without disturbing the animals. By the way, the animals have the right of way on this road..image this is very true.. recently there was an accident on one of the bends and traffic slowly piled up on both sides well into the night.. one heard of elephants wanted to cross over to the other side of the road and were obstructed by the line of trucks.. one baby elephant tried nudging a truck; but of no use! The driver of the truck along with the drivers of the other trucks moved their vehicles around to give some way for the elephants to cross the road. Once done, the elephants crossed over to the other side of the road..picture reproduced from a local newspaper.news paper

Once you reach the plains, picturesque temples beckon you. image

Then there are way side guardians of the local villages.image It is believed that they guard the village from untoward happenings and from evil-eye..as I travel on, my eye catches a line of terracotta horses; again, the deemed protectors of the village. image.. I take a few pictures and move on..

I reach home completely relaxed and fresh from all the wayside scenes! I check the time and see that I have taken just about six hours to travel, including all my halts to take pictures and maintaining a constant speed of about 80 kmph.. bottom line.. more mileage due to constant speeds of 80 kmph, no toll (saving of about 10 USD) and of course enjoy nature all the way!