A Rare Flower

Why do we have the perspective that we have? What makes us think that that’s the correct one? What if we have been approaching everything the wrong way around?

To me, this new perspective seems reasonably pleasing. Let us now flip it around to check which one is more desirable.

Sapna Dhandh Sharma

Synchronised Cranes

Kew Bridge

When we talk about landscape photography, we usually would visualise trees, mountains, rivers, gardens, beautiful buildings and so on. Never would an evening’s dull sky with man-made machines spring to mind. Does it not mean that in photographs we seek escapism too?

With this photo, I am using landscape photography as documentary photography. So, I am not trying to escape into a world that is not always so beautiful around us. This is the reality. The ever-changing urban landscape and the ubiquitous machines.

Kew is a beautiful town, and this is the last thing one would expect of Kew from a photographer. That’s right. There will be expectations of colours, sunshine, flowers, trees and such. My photograph, in that sense, is anti-Kew.

This was not a planned photograph. As I often drive on that bridge, I notice cranes on the building sites. This particular evening, as I approached the site, I noticed three silhouettes in a synchronised resting position, with hundreds of lights in the foreground – lights in the buildings, of moving cars, on the tower and billboards, etc. The clouds and the rest were dark. I had to capture the shot, but had to do it from my moving car as one is not allowed to stop the car on the bridge.

Phone camera was the only option. Blurry is what I wanted. Blurry is what I got. Blurry is what looks best.

I think.

I converted it to black and white.

……. Sapna Dhandh-Sharma

My mummy, I want to be your daughter in every life.

I appreciate you, mummy. I appreciate your honesty, your selflessness, your courage. I appreciate your smile, your generosity, your gentle nature and your kind heart.

I appreciate how you value relationship over money, and people over material things. It’s nice to see how your happiness is not dictated by external things. It makes complete sense how you parted with all things material without a second thought or frown when it came to choosing between the two. And you asked for nothing in return. Not even a day’s work. You equipped me with all the skills – the cooking, the sewing, the washing, the cleaning, the reading, the writing, the driving, the DIY, all taught by you, but you never used any of this for your benefit. Never imposed. You don’t even know I make lovely food, because you never let me work when I visit. You spoil me. I snap out of the chapatti-making mode and become a lazy daughter around you. But one day I’d like to treat you to my cooking. I have decades of practice. Even a fussy person like you are bound to like my food. 

I often tell my girls about you being a hands-on mum who came to our school to find out about our progress. How you woke us up at 4 am on exam days, to ask us science and mathematics questions! You made us several cups of ginger tea to keep us awake and alert. I so wanted to go back to bed every morning. How you loved mathematics while I hated it. How you skillfully balanced the extended in-laws family life and our education is nothing short of being remarkable. 

You are a unique person in every sense of the word. I’ve seen enough world to say this with confidence. 
God bless you, my sweet sweet mummy. I want to be your daughter in every life.

P. S. I love mathematics now and my girls think I’m a hands-on mum too. 😊 

On Cloud Nine

This image was taken one evening on the way to the Royal Festival Hall where my younger daughter, Steffi, was performing.

I don’t want to write too much about it, except that I loved the scene as I looked up. I had my camera, and knew exactly what I wanted. It makes me very happy to have achieved that.

A sweet poem by Ruby Archer fits the scene..

A little cloud stood lonely
Amid the evening sky;
Doubting and fearful waiting there,—
No other cloudlet nigh.

Sapna Dhandh-Sharma

The Messiah Must Reside In Such Quietude

Sarkhej Roza, Makarba, Gujarat.

It was an early start. Ahmedabad has changed to an unrecognisable extent. I drove from there through S.G. Highway to Makarba one July morning in 2018 as per the directions given by Bubbles in a cutely sincere manner – two lefts,  then right,  then straight for 2 kms,  then three rights, and so on. It must have been the combination of her accuracy and my ability to grasp that I reached the masjid with sheer ease. The light from the golden torch was making its way to the earth before bribing its way into the roza’s courtyard.

Bhavna Ramrakhiani – Convenor of Ahmedabad Community Foundation

Bhavna stood there to greet me. Oh, what a beautiful face she had. Those eyes!! She instantly came across as a warm person willing to share her knowledge of the place. She spoke a welcome mix of educated English and raw Hindi. We entered the monument, removed our shoes, covered our heads.

Morning scene
Man reading the morning papers

A typical morning scene. Touchingly serene. A few men, unperturbed by my presence, read the morning papers. I felt at home. I kept taking photographs as Bhavna’s soft voice kept singing in my ears. We Indians are spoilt. Our history dates so far back that we casually declare a six centuries old structure as recent. We even neglect it. 

Morning arrivals
Sarkhej Roza

This was Sarkhej Roza, once the home of sufi saint, Ganj Baksh. To one side stood a stone pavilion in a sad state of disrepair and to the other, a courtyard with a masjid and quietly guarded tombs. Several mausoleums, an old well, hundreds of wide steps leading down to a dried tank and the infinite expanse. One part of the mosque, with its tall pillars reminded me of the Acropolis of Athens. It was too much for me to take in on a short morning tour. 

Stone pavilion in state of disrepair
Pillars of the mosque
Path to the mosque

Once in a while a person will walk the white-painted path, that led to the masjid, to speak in private to the supreme being. This path was also taken by the Sun to kiss the cheek of the messiah who must most definitely reside in such quietude.

Connecting with the messiah
Girl playing
Well-wheel spoke shaped like a bird
Spoke on the wheel of the well resembling a bird

A small girl jumped and skipped on the steps oblivious to all. A spoke of the well-wheel pulley made to resemble an exotic visitor to the Sabarmati River. A cormorant or a spoonbill perhaps. The little bookshop opened early. A few men sat selling to no customers at all. Bhavna enjoyed a nice chat with them. A silvery bearded man in immaculate white clothes and matching taqiyah takes over the shop. “Maybe he’ll sell only one book today,” I thought. I buy one. But he will remain all day no matter what. Dedication. Service. We all can learn.

Men in the book shop, Sarkhej Roza, Gujarat.
The Old Man with silvery beard and immaculate clothes. Sarkhej Roza, Gujarat.

The cleaner, with her younger grandson in her arms, complained about her useless son-in-law. From Bhavna’s story to this – it felt like I had changed the radio station. 

The cleaner with her younger grandson and running commentary

Her elder grandson played near the main gate. His angelic face captivated me so much that I took several photos of him. He kept changing poses. A young man sat on the chair. 
Maybe, that was the accused.

The elder grandson
Angelic face
The accused. Maybe. Maybe not.

My gaze locked on a woman sitting outside the room that housed the tombs. She was not present there. She appeared to be talking to someone. But there was no one. She then laughed, and continued to laugh. Her ankles were swollen. She was a regular I was told. She walked out as aimlessly as she had walked in.

She spoke to the spirits
Woman selling balloons

Outside the mosque, another lady sold balloons. “She’s my friend,” announced Bhavna. Where did these people buy such delightful smiles from when they could not even afford a decent meal? How can they afford such precious attributes?

On my drive back to Ahmedabad, and before I hit the highway, I saw the lady who spoke to the spirits. She was on her way to… nowhere.