This is shocking but unfortunately true. Our leading dailies make a business out of the photographs clicked by many of us. And they have the audacity to use them without permission , credit or compensation as well, even if they are against the copyright license. One of my pictures
got “flicked” from my Flickr stream
and got published in a weekly supplement of TOI’s called, “What’s Hot”, dated 18th July’08
. I happened to take a look at this supplement quite by chance because it was lying around and I had nothing better to do.
I immediately called up the editor of this supplement – a lady called Poonam singh – who said she will look into the issue. I wrote about 3 mails in all, asking for (a very meagre) compensation for the damages done as well as credit. For one, I never got a response in written – but of course that would mean acknowledging the theft. When I called up, I was told that it is common practice to “use” free images from the net! Flabbergasted at the audacity of this all, I clearly asked whether TOI staff was blind or illiterate to not be able to make out the clearly written statement on my flickr stream and my copyright license, both of which stated that my images can NOT be used without my explicit permission – ALL rights reserved. This is plagiarism in its full glory. Not only this, on asking for compensation, Ms. Poonam singh clearly told me that as a next step I could even go to lawyers and that this case will then be forwarded to the legal department of TOI. Huh? Was this a threat? Or a challenge? They actually go ahead, use an image with “all rights reserved” clearly mentioned on my page, have the audacity to state that this happens all the time – the “graphics designer may not know” and that I could go take the legal route?
Well, I clearly understand that it was not the editor herself stealing my image, but some downtrodden employee. But then undoubtedly, Ms. Poonam Singh, who represents the Times of India, is not performing her job of being an editor, if her employees are violating copyrights! Who is responsible for educating employees about copyright violation and the legal ramifications of it? How come the Indian publishing industry takes this so lightly, whereas the Indian IT industry (of which I am a part) takes IPR’s, patents and copyright violations so seriously that they throw out employees who download pirated mp3′s on their machines? I have undergone trainings on ethics a zillion times in my career. We have had several instances of audits, policies stuffed down our throats and what not. Why? Because the Indian IT industry takes this matter seriously. On the other hand, nauseatingly so, the Indian publishing industry takes this as its birthright!
The Indian Copyright Act, 1957; Section 63 – states that copyright infringement, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to three years and with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees.
The law is on our side, the proof is in our hands and YET victims like us, do not do anything about this. After I shared my story on flickr, I shockingly realised that this practice is so rampant! I now know of many more cases like me, all of us bleeding because our creation has been stolen and used for a commercial purpose and we could do nothing but helplessly watch.
When I asked TOI for compensation, I was told that they will pay what they pay to their own photographers, which is a grand sum of 250 INR. I am tired of using this word repeatedly, but yet again, I was shocked and told the editor to keep this princely sum with herself. I was then offered 1500 INR as a “last offer” since this picture had been taken and used without my permission (such euphemism for THEFT). Just who the hell is TOI to decide compensation for MY piece of work? I do not exactly shout this from the top of trees, but like hell they need to realise a couple of things. That photography is not just a passion with me, it’s also a road to an alternate career for me. That I take it seriously, I spend money in equipment, in attaining knowledge, I spend time, effort and my resources to make a “creation”, which later I SELL. That I am at this juncture of being somewhat known in the Delhi Photography circuit (not just amateur but professional as well). That I co-administer a rather active group of Delhi based photographers, which consists of the likes of Dinesh Khanna and Pablo Bartholomew. That I also sell my prints to well known connoisseurs in the same field. Just how the hell can the Time of India value my piece of work? That’s like stealing my Mercedes and paying me for a Maruti, mind you, only because they happened to get caught red handed? Yes, I am expensive, but did TOI care? They just stole my picture without asking me how costly I am.
I have no idea, how many such images are being used on a daily basis – they could be anyones, but I do know that this nefarious practice is increasing day by day. I also plan to start a “morcha” against this kind of theft. I know of a lot of cases already and if you know of any, please get in touch. All readers of this post, I would request you to please share it widely, so that we can attack this disease as a people and not as an individual. The next stolen picture could be yours. I will certainly take legal action against Time of India. Even if it proves futile, I would not like to be in a state where I am doomed to wonder for the rest of my life – what if.
UPDATE - this issue has been resolved, thanks to all of you for your support. I have received the desired compensation, corrigendum as well as a written apology. I’ll be updating about the details in a separate post.
Bring in the new year with brightness like the luscious red and freshness like the fragrance of roses. A very happy new year to all my friends here!
This was clicked through the car, while this person hurried to deliver flowers early one morning.
Made it to flickr explore 5th Jan’08, #167. And with that new year wish, I am certainly going to be more active on my blog. That was the new year resolution, ahem.
Welcome to my new abode online. All my material from the old blog is here as well. Some minor tweaking etc. would continue happening here for sometime. If you find anything amiss please let me know. In the meanwhile, taking a brief look at what all I plan to write about :
1. Hair today, gone tomorrow – hair raising tails.. long pending since eternity.
2. Photography of course. How can I not.
3. Pending tags and pending guest posts. Sorry Sakshi, the tag would be up soon. Amit, the guest post would follow soon.
4. Couple of movie reviews and photo essays.
5. My friends through the blog world.
6. Long defunct Finn times – I would surely try to revive it with travelogues and at least pictures.
7. A guest post on my new blog by my dear friend Aashish where.. err.. he talks about some rather controversial stuff about me, but for once I would let him.
8. And last but not the least – an interview I gave to NDTV’s Delhi channel.
For the real rose water spray and the real tinkling glasses of wine, one shall have to visit me in the real world in apna Gurgaon.
It’s the first anniversary of the lovely association with my “gentleman”. Those who may feel disinclined to clicking the embedded link, here’s how I feel about the gentleman (taken from my first post about the same).
“My hands taper gently and effortlessly. My feet come into motion ever so lightly as if things work on feather touch. I glide as we dance to the symphony of the magical music that we make together. I get intoxicated with the handsome facade and the smoothness of noiseless movement. The gibbous moon stares at us from above as we waltz together, the waltz turning allegro at times. But stopping gracefully was never a problem. Not a sweat on my brow, not a hair out of place. The litheness is remarkable. My head is still giddy with the vitality. There’s a jig in my step and a song in my heart.
If I can nestle comfortably in the lap after a long day, get wisps of my hair blown out of my eyes, get mesmerized by the dazzle of lights when we are together – why would I even agree with a darling friend of mine who insists that a brand new car should be treated like a newly wedded bride? My brand new car oozes gentlemanliness.”
With my gentleman I have indulged in many a “bondgiri” sessions and whisked across many a highway. I have also been aided a lot in my latest obsession – photography. A lot of sessions would never have been possible without the gentleman in tow. Needless to say it has been a smooooooth ride so far and I look forward to many other such times to come.
“What happened?”, I asked, having received an unexpected call.
“I called just like that”, she said, making me feel an instant twinge of guilt. But then I couldn’t be blamed for being startled.
“Where are you?”, I asked, hearing the unusual noises in the background.
“I am out in the park, taking a walk”.
“A walk? In the park? You?”, I asked incredulously.
“Yes”, she said almost sheepishly. “I even went for a walk in the morning.”
“That’s something!”, I added
“And I even had milk both times in the day”, she added in a school girlish voice. It was a rare first when I had heard her talk like this. My next impulse was to tell her that she could tell her mom – she would be so pleased to hear that!
Thankfully I curbed that impulse just in time before blurting it out impulsively. For I realised with a pinch yet again, that my nani, her mom, was not around anymore. She had passed away last year. In the absence of a maternal figure, the school girlish glee of my mom had got directed to her daughter. Me. It unsettled me a bit.
I had been maternal with her on other accounts when I had lightly chided her for not taking her health seriously, for not pampering herself, for not going to the parlour regularly like all others in her “age group”. But I had barely been faced with situations like this where school girlishly reported activities are meant to be applauded.
Some years back, one fine day, it had suddenly struck me that my mom had already been married and had had me at the age that I was then. Suddenly things fell into a very different perspective altogether. A life full of tribulations whizzed past, clear as if crystal. How it must have been to adjust into a family that was huge, joint and difficult, how it was to be married to an army man who would mostly be away on postings, and all this in days when the world wasn’t even a mesh of the densely connected dots that it is today. All this at the age I was then. Suddenly I felt as if under her skin. I could relate to her much more, understand her more clearly without having to communicate anything. But I guess that’s natural. For I am her reflection, my mother’s daughter.
Not so very long ago I bought a Kodak camera (a very basic model) for around 1K. This was much after I started working and the sole reason was to photograph memories. I am pretty much a memories, nostalgia, keeping a record through visual/audio means kind of a person. That camera was used solely for the purpose of tackling the problem of time just fleeting by and my not having a record of it. Then came a desire to record memories in motion, audio and still pictures. An official Japan trip ensured that I didn’t feel the pinch that painfully, when buying a handycam from Tokyo – a Sony DCR TRV 740E (worth 30K INR then). It was the perfect gadget, clicked beautiful still shots and made beautiful movies in spite of being less than 1Mega pixel in resolution! Unfortunately it was way too bulky and I quickly lost the drive to use it for recording “day to day” memories. I ended up using it only when I was sure I would get good photo-ops or when I was sure that I would not want to miss recording certain time periods or events. Though I had gotten keen on photography by then, I couldnt have afforded to pursue this expensive hobby using Film SLR’s or even Digital SLR’s. I contemplated buying a simple point and shoot camera which would not be so bulky and would allow me my little indulgences of not only recording memories but also some composed shots or “serious photography”. Then came a Finland trip during which I managed to spill orange juice all over my Sony Handycam. It still clicks beautiful pictures but no movies and of course the pictures don’t go beyond 1 Mega Pixel resolution. Eventually I bought a Canon Powershot S2 IS.
Then started my affair with photography and Delhi heritage. I would often take off to some monument and soak in the experience of another era altogether while trying to capture some of it in pixels (as could be seen in some of my posts here as well). It’s time to brush aside this elaborate bhoomika and gear up for some shameless self promotion :p. There was a photography contest organised recently by Delhi times and Canon India. Since I already had some pictures clicked with me, I sent in a lot of entries to this contest. There was a shortlisting round in which 7 of my entries got shortlisted in the Delhi heritage category. Much glee followed with this “photo exposure”. After this 6 final pictures (none of them mine) were voted for, via sms’s. Later, a ceremony duly conducted in the Ashoka hotel, got me a 2nd runners up in the women photographer category as well. The prize … is yet another camera! A canon IXUS 750!
The pictures which got shortlisted are from Humayun’s tomb, Lodhi Garden and Qutub Minar.
The grand prize winner’s winning shot (voted best in the sms round) is one of my personal favourites too. He gets a Canon EOS 350D.
Judgement of something like photography is always subjective. Personally some of my good shots got chosen, some of my mediocre ones did too and some of my personal favourites ones got left behind like this one.
One would never know the criteria for the eventual selection. Some of the shots which won some ppl prizes, invited a lot of skepticism from the rest of the participants as well. However, this was a great exposure, not only because this is the first time ever I have actually participated in a contest and actually even got something out of it; but also because I got to meet a lot of other photography enthusiasts who like me are amateurs who saunter off with their cameras in tow and get trigger happy. Much joy came in the company of such likeminded people. The memories of this particular event in my life have surely been captured well .
Freedom lies in being bold – Robert Frost
Last year on Women’s day I had written this and this about my experiences which formed a part of the blank noise project blogathon. This year the blogathon is back. The theme this time is “Action heroes” where bloggers are expected to blog about the times when they fought back sexual harassment. Though I had already written those instances last time, I am reproducing them here in this post as well.
There are ways and means to tackle that colleague who talks to your breasts or that elderly relative who pretends to be fawning over you but is actually lusting (you can always tell). One sure shot way to ward of a starer is to stare back. It’s not so easy. Staring back. One feels disgusted merely by glancing at the eyes which seem to be ripping your clothes apart. But DO stare back and very piercingly at that. One’ll instantly feel the urge to cast ones glance in some other direction quickly but DON’T. KEEP at it. However obstinate a starer may be, his testosterone still does not surpass his selfconsciousnness (in almost all cases). He’ll instantly look down, beyond, or back whereever he’s supposed to be looking. Of course, one needs to weigh ones options and actions a little bit keeping in mind all odds. One does not go ahead and take pangas with a gang when one is alone. But one can definitely be alert and quick (not just physically but mentally as well).
There has happened a particular incident of ballooning around holi where the guy made the mistake of being visible while throwing the balloon. He happened to work at a local barber shop, which I immediately stormed into and gave him a piece of my mind and some of the choicest abuses I knew. A guy there (a client) egged me on to give him a tight slap as well. I quietly ignored him since I didn’t want the situation to get so heated up and that guy seemed to be egging me on just for kicks. I cant say that what I did, would have made the ballooning guy stop it for his life. But it’s always best to bring the “situation” into notice. The fear of embarrassment is enough for some to at least think twice about it next time. There was another guy who tried brushing past me on a main road while I was waiting to cross it. The whole damn road was empty, but he thought that he would have a piece of my butt before I reached the other side. That guy was unaware that he was going to get the shock of his life. Though I felt like killing him, I merely held his collar with both hands and shook him so badly that he didn’t know what hit him. He tried running for his life, but he couldn’t. I was surprised with my own grip. Eventually he managed to pull off and ran for his life. It was only when everything was over and done with, that the “crowd” asked me what happened and if he was trying to snatch my purse.
There are umpteen such situations in everyday life and they would perhaps never end. Not only is it difficult to try and give such sick men their due, it is very much a difficult thing when you are left in a doubt about the intention of someone. At times things happen accidentally and unintentionally too. But at most times they are obvious enough to be brought to public notice. Even if the “crowd” does not react (and only watches) one should definitely make sure that one does not ignore it. A confrontational attitude is certainly better than an escapist one. In public transport one can always request ppl politely to stop pushing or plainly to stand a little away. The way one does it makes sure that even the ones who did it accidentally aren’t offended by your request and the ones doing it intentionally can not just go scot free. When it happens repeatedly in spite of polite requests, it’s time to stomp that high heel onto his foot or to shove ones elbow into his balls.
The best way to actually try and reduce something like this is to spread awareness amongst women that they can actually protest against it. I have grown up watching things happen to me and around me and even though I knew it was wrong I didn’t know what to do about it (till some point in my life). One needs to ignore minor happenings but one also needs to make sure that the ones which can be avoided, are. Things can get as ugly as molestation of ones own children or marital rape. There is no dearth of the levels till which harassment can go. Be aware, be prepared, be alert and be proud to be a woman in spite of the shit that happens.
Now that I have got your attention completely, let me tell you that the secrets mentioned here are Twilight’s and not Victoria’s. And they are not even about lingerie. Since I have got the page hits and the relevant clickable ads, and what with most people already having made a hasty exit from this page, I can peacefully share my secrets with a handful of people, and with lesser questions asked.
I was tagged by Amit for letting out 5 secrets out of the bag. Ritu had also tagged me long time back with something abt 7 things people don’t know about you or some such. Forgetful Patrix ruefully admits that he forgot to tag me for this tag. So here we are with some things (I think) a lot of bloggers wouldn’t know about me.
1. I wear specs/contact lenses. Yes. Specs started from grade 6th. And I happen to be from that generation of females who perfectly agree to “men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses”. So very aptly, I switched over to contact lenses when I joined college. Though it was strange that I had almost an entire batch of girls doing that along with me! Are we a country of myopic girls or what? I do wear specs on/off (here I must mention that I have state of the art rimless glasses) but I feel more comfortable wearing lenses. It’s only now that the likes of Preity Zinta and Sania Mirza have brought wearing spectacles into fashion. Still, complete field of view is something spectacles can’t quite give. I haven’t quite thought about a Lasik Laser yet, but some of my friends are pretty ga-ga over the results. Before I move to the next secret, I must mention that the IT industry (the advent of computers in general) has by and large benefitted the opthalmic industry. Almost every single person I know (with or without hereditary myopia), needs to start wearing specs after a year or two in front of the PC.
2. I have learnt how to play the piano (when I was studying in one of the many schools I did study in and this one happened to be a convent). I have also learnt the Sitar (in yet another school). Have also shed a lot of tears when my sitar broke in transit. Though my sitar’s poignant pumpkin-bash-death never made headlines like Ravi shankar’s did . In college since I had no other instrument readily available, I picked up the flute. Many an evening were spent playing soulful music using the acoustics of the main hall to maximum advantage. When I started working I revisited piano lessons for a while and then took some guitar lessons too. My guitar wistfully stares at me whilst I write this. The flute can’t since it’s in the cupboard somewhere along with other forgotten memories. Am not too rich to have a piano stare at me in the same fashion while it plays “showpiece” in the drawing room. In the poor days (read student days) I used whistling as the best option to create some music. Somehow my passion for music and its importance in my life (which is a whole lot), has never made it to this blog. Which is strange. But then this blog isnt abt me. It’s more about my observations.
3. This one usually comes as a surprise to people who know me as a person. I was a very shy, quiet, obedient, introverted kid. No hulla, no prancing about breaking things or generally being a PITA (pain in the a$$ for the uninitiated). A lot of adults fawned over me as a result. Hell, some even tried bribing my parents for adopting me. Most people would classify me as a studious, serious, simple girl with no “zabaan” to speak of or speak with. Did I mention cute as well?. Only the first bit of being studious is correct. “Cute” was probably one of those words that fits in anywhere and one can conveniently use when one doesn’t know much about a person. Of course most of the above are have-beens now. Including cute.
4. I have *rather* long hair. Though this isn’t much of a secret especially with people I have met, and what with Yogu making it an open secret; I mention it because it gives me a lot of interesting anecdotes to speak of. For example how this strange lady in Paris just caught my plait in her hand and uttered something in Spanish whilst I stood absolutely shocked, how the aunty who was assessing me as a daughter-in-law commented on the length of my hair with such glee that I could see that valuation-of-property look in her eyes, how the hair dresser refuses to commit the “crime” of cutting my hair, how I once lent my plait to this guy who wanted to get in the house from the terrace. Ok ok. I got rapunzelesque there. I have been asked a lot of times “how I feel” about having long hair (duh) and of course about how I maintain it and related yada yada. Well. It’s hair today, gone tomorrow! I have been planning to write a couple of hair-raising tails .. err tales about this bit in my life, out here. Would do so soon.
5. The final secret. I have been a member of that ubiquitous site – shaadi.com since some time. The experiences I have had through this site would even put the script writer of “Mr. Yogi” to shame. Those who are unaware, it would do them good to know that “Mr. Yogi” was a TV serial many many TV serials back where he sets out looking for a suitable bride. He meets all and sundry but eventually never finds anyone suitable. I think the serial was based on the life of our own Mr. Yogi here. Yogu, please to be suing them for looking into the future and making such an exact replica of what would be your life! Coming back to my search – I have met such namoonas of manhood through this site (no perverted puns intended) that I can write a best seller based on the experiences. No details about those here yet though they make for very interesting discussion and gyaan which I love emanating.
I guess this post more than makes up for the lack of an ‘about me’ on my blog.
26th January is a fine day. Where earlier every year on this day, I would wear a Khadi kurta and roam around photographing the naked streets of Lutyens Delhi which are otherwise blanketed by traffic; past two years have seen me exploring the ‘older’ Delhi’s. This year though I wanted to go to the ‘Rang De Basanti‘ fort, in the outskirts of Jaipur, I was heavily discouraged by Lazylump for its supposedly filthy reality. Eventually we decided that we would explore the history in our own backyard. The Qutub Minar made for an interesting subject. It was almost a new thing for me since I hadn’t been to this monument since 20 years or more! Talk about “ghar kee murgi daal barabar“. Not only did I not have any recollection of the monument/visit except the fact that I had wrapped my arms around the Iron pillar, I also never bothered about history then. History was just a boring subject which was overcome by trying to remember some pathetic dates (as if formulae/tables in maths weren’t enough mind exercise). I had thought that the visit to Qutub Minar would be overwhelming and exciting what with the associated history and my newly found interest in history after all these years. If nothing it would at least be nostalgic, since it might get back fond memories of the previous visit. And last but not the least, the extensive sunlit photography that I had plans for, would make sure that the visit would be a memorable one. But as we would see, lady luck had other plans.
Lazylump and I met in Gurgaon on 26th. Republic day and we dont check out the heavy discounts? Impossible! Unfortunately the heavy discounts had some heavy rates to precede them, so they didn’t entice us. After some mall dekko, we had a quick bite after which I duly showed him my place. It was so hot that day that we incidentally had to use the AC in the car! The visit home provided a welcome respite. But we forgot that summers were actually not here, but were only giving a trailer. The sun *had* to set at the same time and would – as and when in winters. We rushed out soon, since I had elaborate plans of catching Qutub Minar with the sun’s rays providing a good photo-op. But eventually we reached there when instead of sunlit photography only sunkissed photography could have happened. But who’s complaining! I had never thought that the sunset at Qutub Minar could look so spectacular!
We quickly bought tickets and rushed in (after being halted by the guard interrogating where I was from – a quick hindi sentence sufficed to prove that I wasn’t a foreigner!). We could see the sun setting fast and I was practically running in order to get the last few rays of the sun brightening up my pics. In the meantime, the sunset had accelerated and the sun had gained that momentum which just meant that it would sink faster now.
I really remember nothing of that time except that there was this tower and there was the sun and I had the camera. I rushed around, clicking pictures feverishly, trying to gauge for spots which would be a little higher and might be the recipient of some last dying rays of the sun. I took some quick shots of the 72.5 m high towering minaret – the tallest brick minaret in the world. Though it didnt appear intimidating due to its height (See Eiffel tower to know what’s intimidating), it appeared quite fascinating to see that the laborious endeavours spread over three generations of a dynasty and two decades indeed bore magnificent fruit! I clicked some of its nakkashi and some of its stories on high zoom, which was quite difficult without a tripod due to handshake (inevitable on high zoom). The first three storeys (from bottom) are each laid on a different plan, the lowest with alternate angular and circular flutings, the second with round ones and the third with angular ones only, with the same alignment of flutings, however, being carried through them all.
Unfortunately the sun was in a bigger rush than I was and eventually said a quick ta ta. That was it. I didn’t know that the timings of Qutub Minar are ‘from sunrise till sunset’. The guards came around like ululating bats. One just ducks and tries to make ones way through.
I went further away to view Qutub Minar from a distance – whatever little was possible in that limited area right next to the tower, since all other patches had anyway been evacuated. I clicked some typical shots of Qutub with some natural framing and then rushed over to click some intricate carvings of some of the gateways.
The red sandstone appeared so fresh, certainly not centuries old. I tried the sepia effect on one and it sure looks like a past era now.
The sun already set, twilight was fast approaching, giving everything a strange fascinating hue. In a rush, I didn’t even register where or what I was clicking. Whatever caught my fancy, came into my camera’s focus. The bit about getting overwhelmed with the fascinating history of the place never happened. It was only later that I realised that the captivating pillars that I had clicked and which looked very “hindu architecture” unlike the rest of whatever little I had been able to cognize, were indeed from that era. The columns had been rebuilt using the ruins of a temple built by Prithvi raj chauhan and they were part of a hall which now housed a mosque.
Unfortnately, I did not even glance at the Iron pillar which stands in the courtyard of the Quwwatu’l-Islam mosque, since so many uncountable centuries. It supposedly bears a Sanskrit inscription in Gupta script, palaeographically assignable to the 4th century. The inscription states that the pillar was set up as a standard or dhvaja of Lord Vishnu on the hill known as ‘Vishnupada’, in the memory of a mighty king, named ‘Chandra’ (Chandragupta II (375-413) of the imperial Gupta dynasty). A deep hole on the top of the pillar indicates that an additional member, perhaps an image of ‘Garuda’, was fitted into it to answer to its description as a standard of Vishnu. The pillar has been brought here from somewhere, else, as no other relics of the 4th century are present in the same complex. The pillar manages to attract the amazement of metallurgists all over the world as it’s still going strong after 1600 years with no or little signs of deterioration.
I really wanted to click a picture of the moon with the Qutub. Unfortunately with the guards rushing us about, I barely had the time to think about angles or unique framing so as to make an alluring capture. But eventually I was quite pleased with the results. They were probably just what I wanted. A silhouette of our desi leaning tower along with a bright moon (albeit not full – which I would cover some other day with ample time on hand). I clicked another twilight shot from the “hinduesque” mosque. Lots of smugness followed.
The guards informed us that we really better be getting out now since the “night time” entry was starting soon. Voila! instant change of plans. We would go out, come in again and do some night time photography of the Qutub now, which was something I always wanted to do. The night time entry started right after the sunset and at double the rate. On the way out I managed to click the ceiling of one of the structures leading out and then some pillars in the promenade.
Before that we decided to grab a quick bite somewhere. That’s when I landed across the Bhool bhulaiya which we also discovered ‘bhoole bhatke‘ to be situated right next to Mehrauli terminal. It’s an old dilapidated monument receiving absolutely no attention compared to its neighbour in the proximity. After some time we realised that it was night and the Qutub Minar was still not lit up. Inspection revealed that one of the phases from the power was out. That ended the Qutub photo session right there.
There’s a lot more in the Qutub complex than what met the eye. The Alai minar, the Alai darwaza, a couple of notable tombs and of course the Iron pillar, all have a lot of interesting trivia associated with them and all shall be seen in a subsequent visit with more time and lots of sun on hand.
Eventually I clicked a lot of pictures within the 30 minutes I was there. The plus point of the pics turned out to be the very fact that I thought would pose a difficulty. The particular time at which we landed in Qutub Minar, not only provided a good sunset, some sunny shots, but also some twilight shots and some silhouettes. The fast changing sky gave me a variety within such a quick time span. But as a downside, before I could realise that I had visited Qutub Minar, I found myself outside. No nostalgia, no history to overwhelm me, I couldn’t even see the complete complex. BUT photography smugness followed. Apart from a sunlit Qutub Minar photoshoot, I would try to get an aerial view sometime (till then here it is on google maps with an elongated shadow making it easy to figure out Qutub Minar). And I would surely get here on a moonlit night and click away at Qutub Minar, while imagining how the scene would have been set many many centuries ago.
In this year of the 007, the new year party had just the right kind of adventure. The predominant flavour this year at the new years eve seemed to be clearly – foggy (oxymoron unintended). I had plans to meet up with college friends in Vasant Kunj. We almost gave up after seeing the fog but then somehow persevered. Delhi had been completely engulfed in a thick fog blanket in the past some days especially in the later hours of the night. I had a fair idea that it wasn’t going to be an easy drive but I have driven in swirling fog earlier too. Clutching the seat, staring out at the looming white walls of vapour, backseat driving, that is. I couldn’t have indulged in driving in such conditions with the old Maruti 800 but now that the “gentleman” is here, I was sure I could take on such self indulgences from time to time. I had the pleasure of driving in thick swirling fluffs earlier some weeks back when I came back from Elevate one of these weekends. The fog on 31st eve was all that and more. A trifle bit more.
The way till Vasant Kunj was foggy but still vehicles could move. The moment I reached Vasant Kunj, I almost felt as if I was walking head on into a white wall. But then braving such adversity had kind of rubbed in with the earlier misty meetings with the fog. It was practically zero visibility. One couldnt see the road, or a vehicle in front. One could only make out blurry outlines of car blinkers, that too at about 5 feet of a distance. A lot of vehicles were just parked on the road. Perhaps waiting for the fog to subside is what they had decided on. The fools didnt realise that it never subsides till the sun comes out or till there’s some heat in the environment. After reaching that block in Vasant Kunj which was a place I was just not familiar with, it became practically impossible to drive as I didn’t even know where to expect a turn or a bend in the road. Driving close to the pavement was impossible because of the vehicle line up. Driving close to the divider was what I had to do. Unfortunately that almost resulted in getting onto a flyover that I had to actually skip. Thankfully I managed to skip it without bumping into any of the vehicles which were parked over the flyover with their blinkers on! Some directions on phone later, I managed to reach the gate of the block I had to reach and then had to ask my friend to come physically to guide through the inner bylanes as dearth of landmarks within the block would have left me spending my new years watching the white ghosts swirling by.
After much ‘walking-into-white-walls-not-knowing-what-is-beyond’, I finally managed to park my car and get inside a warm house. I had so far restrained from consuming some of the refreshments I was carrying and celebrating my own solitary new year somewhere with spectres (car blinkers providing me the necessary ghoulish new year lighting). But getting to the venue did the final trick and soon the host and I (all others were still battling white daemons) indulged ourselves. With the arrival of our drink carrying knights, the party kicked off finally a little before 12 (“We are men and army men at that, we dont need directions“, they said). Everyone had the poison they wanted. We all clinked a lot of wine glasses to begin with and eventually at the stroke of the midnight hour, popped some bubbly. The guys (the other females turned out to be not so adventurous given the weather and never turned up) got high on harmless champagne. Juicy secrets from college times (who had a ridiculous fancy for whom and did what) were let out very much like the champagne flowing into the glasses. The “boys” eventually ended up trying to straighten a victimised fridge, whose only fault was standing alone in a corner. Luckily for us, the fridge obeyed their commands and straightened up – more than the boys themselves. That battle won, we all dug into some veg tikka and some chicken tikka. Lots of laughter, some dance, more champagne (read chum-pug-nee), some more dance, some rounds on the phone with some other college friends outside the country, laughter all along with frequent assessments of visibility from the balcony. I was ever grateful to the fog gods for having descended upon us. It gave me a chance to not hurry up with a deadline. Eventually we decided to set out at 3am. The visibility was barely a tad bit better. I had to get to my place alone, so two of my friends decided to tail my car in their car (that was just an excuse for them sissies what with a perfect fog assist like me).
White phantoms, coming straight onto you while driving and dying on your car’s bonnet was neat. Soulful music at the hour was even neater. At some point since the visibility was absolutely zero and I was driving according to a map in my memory, I overshot a turn and landed on NH-8 at a point where a flyover was being constructed. The moment I realised I had taken a wrong turn and was about to turn around it dawned on me (literally) that a whole bevy of cars had been using me as their support in the thick white fog and had landed right behind me – all of us like sardines in a tin. Ever faced an expectant audience at the end of a performance? Well I have. I quickly courtesied to denote the end of it (pointed out the right direction for all to see) and sped away. I eventually reached home at 4am feeling all nice and accomplished for having done some bondgiri at the very onset of the year. Here’s for some bondgiri in your lives too! Wish you all a very funfilled, charming, spellbinding new year.