'twas a dark and stormy blog

tales on a bright and sunny morning :)

Over exposed sky — September 14, 2016

Over exposed sky

Once upon a time, my dad gave me a black, boxy camera. My first.

We were in Dehradun. Amaranthus (Amaranth?) flowers in the garden, sun and the clouds in the sky. It was winters, I guess, but I can’t remember anymore.

My Dad loved photography. That day he gave me the old camera and told me its mine. He even got me a ‘cut roll’ – a roll of film made by cobbling together the leftover frames of other unexposed films – of black and white film wound up in a green ORWO casing. ‘Go out, try to click a photo’ he told me.

The camera had no focus mechanism, no aperture control, just a ring to advance the flim by a frame…trrk, trrk, trrk, trrk…and then a button to take a photo…click.

Dad had come out to click photos as well. I now know that he was using a Nikon F5 with a 50mm lens and Kodacolor Gold film to make photos in those days.

Back then the cut roll would cost 45 rupees. A fortune for a kid who was just learning long division and couldn’t yet imagine unimaginable numbers. Probably a fortune for the kid’s dad too. Photography was an expensive hobby! Over the next few years, once every now and then, he would give me money, tell me to go to the photo shop, get a roll of Kodacolor Gold (he began with 200 but grew a preference for 400 over time) and get myself a cut roll as well.

This happened right till the time he stopped clicking pictures – when I was in middle school – and locked the camera away, never to pick it up again. I do not remember the photos I made with the other cut-rolls, but I can recall the Dehradun morning.

The first photo.

I was mesmerized by the blue sky and the white clouds. So I pointed my camera skyward and clicked.

My first photo.

Later, when the cut roll was exposed, it was white. ‘Over exposed’ Dad had said.

I saw the white photo and was fascinated and disappointed at the same time.

When all the photos were printed, of the 12 (or 16?) frames in that first cut roll, 5 photos came out right. The Amaranthus in the garden was one. I was a bit let down by the fact that I could not capture the color, the deep magenta-purple-pink, of the flower in the sun.

My dad thought it was a good photo and put it up as a part of the exhibition of photos shot by kids two even three years older at my school! He wrote ‘Shaurya Agarwal II-A’ in the margins of the  Amaranthus photo with a black marker before putting it up on the cord board in the space assigned to me. I felt very proud. ‘The corners of a photo are very important’ he told me. I remember nodding, as if I really understood the importance of that advice.

At the exhibition, I remember him talking to Bro. John Bosco, then the principal of my school, himself a photographer. I remember them discussing how the photograph had captured the shadows just right, how it had ‘potential’. I remember them telling me that I shouldn’t worry about who is praised in the exhibition. That the other photos were clicked by the parents and were being passed around as clicked by the kids.

Next to my photo, a kid had put a color photo of his coloring pens, he was in class III-A. I did not know yet what a cliché was, so I simply smiled at the photo. All I could think of was that my black and white photo was not as beautiful as the Amaranthus I had seen.

Years have passed, I click photos of the sky, clouds, sunset, clouds, sunset, sky, clouds, sunset. Too many landscapes. The photos don’t over expose anymore.

I have not seen Dad in over 5 years, may his soul rest in peace. I have not seen an Amaranthus flower in over 20 years. I have not seen Bro. John Bosco in over 30 years. I have never clicked a photo that was as beautiful as the thing I saw when clicking it.

But I look at the sky a lot and I want to show that white photo to Dad again and see if he says ‘It has potential’.

Over? — June 23, 2016



I reminisce about the times gone by and how I could’ve lived a better life and then I see around me, people trying, moving around, talking, keenly looking into the headlights of the cars coming at them in the dark and I realize, I am still living my days.
It’ll not be over till it really is. I can still make something of it.

A Wet Dream Of A Nightmare — December 15, 2015

A Wet Dream Of A Nightmare

A Wet Dream

Inconsistently consistent and consistently inconsistent and not consistently consistent or inconsistently inconsistent. Even though consistently inconsistent and inconsistently inconsistent may be inconsistently synonymous consistently consistent and inconsistently consistent are consistently antonymous.

Do people who want to run efficiently repeatable assembly line workflows of effective processes, who want an automatic automata to spell ‘automaton’ automatically on the press of a button, who want clear concise clarity on the thoughts parked in the parking lot, who want a succinct description and a presentation with pictures of the linguistics of communicae, who bear their bosses bottoms and bear their bottoms on the rung below them, whose erogenous zone is located on their superior’s rectosigmoid, know small words like alive and evolve?

Short answer? Yes they do, because even they can read the dictionary and search the internet for the meanings and usage of words and related conceptual convolutions.

Long answer? No.

But then again, Imagination and creativity are just a little more entertaining that their antonyms. Entertainment is of no value when you can be perfectly perfect and effectively happy without it. I know at least you can be.

Vision, imagination, resourcefulness and creativity. Fuck that shit!

Smiley face.

Show a paradox, hide another — June 22, 2015

Show a paradox, hide another

…but, how is it possible?!

it’s impossible!

I have realized that the two wrawls are not equal and in between them lie all possibilities of stories and drama.

A man goes back in time to save himself. You don’t question the time travel, but you question how the man could save himself because that is a paradox.

If time travel were possible, then the paradox could exist. If one paradox could exist, all manner of paradoxes would exist. It’s contradictory, but true, it’s a paradox that does exist. So, if this one does, all should.

Hence, time travel and hence the man saving himself from his future. 

Quod erat faciendum. Quod erat demonstrandum. 

Taking you from “it’s impossible!” to “…but, how is it possible?” without letting you think that time travel isn’t, is all the craft a good storyteller needs.


Small souls — March 29, 2015

Small souls

They are inconvenient because they are thinking, human minds that are constantly learning new things. They are not your pet dog, they are not circus animals, they cannot comply, because their survival depends on exploration.

That child depends on you for emotional and psychological security, not just money.

My neighbour is hitting his child and I can hear him scream through the walls. The child alternates between hic-cup-y sobs, coughed out pleas and loud complaints.

The Man:
He is a noble member of the great Indian middle class. Servant class morality, melded with utter mediocrity. Double standards on everything. Behind the façade of self-respect and dignity, he lacks both. He seeks avenues of power, not in the real sense, but where he can subjugate a fellow human and feel less insignificant than he really is. Such moments are rare in the outside world, so his need for significance drives him to establish dominance over his helpless family. Sometimes this goes too far. Like today.

The child is shouting “please!” and “why?”.

The Mother:
I am pretty sure the mother, a “housewife”, would be looking helplessly, asking the man “politely” to stop abusing the child. These polite requests are sometimes hollered so that they register above the din of the man’s middle class brain rebooting and the child’s helpless screams. She should’ve been an independent woman, taken the child and left the man forever, but no, she stands there, equally responsible. She chooses to remain insignificant, inconsequential, inferior.

When today is over, the mother will caress the child, listen to his complaints, will soothe him and will say “let it go, he is your father” and spit stories in the child’s face that make the father look like a mythical hero. This subtle betrayal will register in the child’s psyche, but, he is still too young to articulate it in words, too young to ignore the only soothing sounds around him. The child will remember that even his mother, was an accomplice.

The Child:
He will bear the session, yet another one in a series. He will learn to hide things from his parents, learn to hide himself, learn to steal things, learn to steal himself away, learn to be small, learn to let go of the ‘values’ and ‘virtues’ in order to simply survive, gain disrespect for others and for himself.

In his teens and twenties, the son, comparable to the father in size and strength, may unknowingly exact revenge on the parents for all these betrayals.

However, the father will win the endgame. The son, the forever soiled survivor of these ‘sessions’, will grow up to be just like his father. Mediocre.

The tragedy is that on the son’s 30th birthday, the father, mother and the son will meet and think warm, happy thoughts about each other.

Mr. Father will turn grandfather, Son will turn Father and then it will all go on again, in a cycle, unless one offspring decides to subvert every single pattern of thinking that he has inherited from his family.

to my little love child — February 27, 2015

to my little love child

I had you on a November day
though I really met you first
in August
that time 15 years later

Lorn all that while
I found
you, and felt alive
that day

I am selfish
I can’t deny

All of you, for


all of it
I am

none of it
is me

I lost you for a while
and I found you again

scared, uneasy, jealous, needy

all of it
I am

none of it
is me

on a cold

when the snow at my feet
and the cold in my face
and the lights above me

All I wish I held
in my palms

was that
of hope
that is
your hand

The lost bicycle and the sea shanty — March 18, 2014

The lost bicycle and the sea shanty

I imagine myself as a man who has lived life with no ego and with a lot of dignity.
It may turn out in the end that I was one with a lot of ego and no dignity. The symptoms certainly are all there.

Ego, dignity, is it not the same coin?

Bicycle Thieves, a film about a man who starts at the top, ego and dignity. Then like the times and the nation he is in, loses it all. Towards the middle, he goes to the same lady soothsayer that he had pooh-poohed his wife for visiting. Ego gone, trying to keep his dignity (or vice versa?) he tells the sage about the bicycle. “You’ll find it straight away, or not at all…” she tells him back.

Was she talking about the bicycle or his self-respect?

The film ends with the protagonist losing all dignity, becoming a thief (hence the plural in the title, I guess) akin to the one who stole his life in the beginning of the film.

Aristotelian tragedy. Achilles’ heel. The fall of an infallible hero who has a fatal flaw.

Was the fatal flaw of the hero in Bicycle Thieves his dignity? Or was it his ego? Or was it the fact that he could not distinguish between the two?

If that is the case, my fate is sealed too.

Unless, I can leave the shackles of self-respect behind and become the true beggar, the thief, the pirate that I may really be.

The genuine article. Truthful, if ugly. The urchin. And may be then, when I can show my true colours, I might even hoist them all and croak my sea shanty.

“Yo, Ho haul together, hoist the colours high
Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die”

Right now, I search for ego in the losing of all ego. Stuck in a loop that spirals down.

Note to self: try harder, don’t be a lost cause, like that bicycle. That was a film, this is not.

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