Thursday, January 28, 2010

Suicide in Samsung

Most of us, the depressed IT souls of Bangalore somehow refrain from getting into Samsung for it's sheer Eternal-Under-Pressure work nature. Of course, there are few who love slogging day-in and day-out and earning BIG, who work for it. The snippets of life in Samsung that our friends update us quite often sound like - swipe in a minute later than 8:30 you get a warning, spend a minute later than an hour for lunch you're in trouble, they give you laptop but you can't take it home, 12 hours a day and nightouts happen every week, I keep praying for my weekends not to be disturbed etc.

With so much of "flexibility" given to employees its quite natural to expect such behaviours by VPs:

Samsung VP commits suicide

A deadline quite literally met!

Friday, January 22, 2010

International Flower Show, Lalbagh

Having lived in Bangalore for so many years, this was the first time ever I made it to the International Flower Show that happens every year around January 26th, Republic Day of India. I had many reasons this time - I was on vacations, I had macro lens and finally, my fiancée is here and I had to take to her out.

We traversed all three gates of Lalbagh, starting from the one near MTR, in search of parking and finally in the last gate, the one near Ashoka Pillar. The parking fee was exorbitantly high, I was charged Rs. 70 for parking it in a dust laden ground. We saw impressively long green gourds and snake gourds hanging from the support, followed by pumpkins of various colours as we strolled to glass house. Just before glass house, rows of stalls on either sides of the road were put up, selling agricultural produce, art work, spices and sundries.

The entrance to the flower show was from the side entry of the glass house. Around the periphery were displayed vivid and vibrant roses, chrysanthemums, cornflowers, dahlias, pinks, asters, cockscombs and many other beautiful blooms. The central area of the glass house contained a gigantic, colourful Qutub Minar prototype, made of red and yellow roses. There was also a sizable statue of Kaveri, completely made by colourful flowers, letting the river flow from the pot in her hand. Kaveri statue was surrounded by a sea of brightly coloured orchids, which looked like a swarm of butterflies.

In the long narrow passage of the glass house, there were Ikebanas to symbolize festivals of various beliefs...Holi, Gurunanak Jayanthi, Varahamaha Lakshmi Vratha, Dasara, Easter, Deepawali, Id etc. Also the pillars of the glass house were embellished with big floral balls which added a great aesthetic value. For photographers, especially of macro genre, the flower show is a great place to click some of your best macro shots. It's better to visit the flower show at mid-day since the light will be diffused by the glass house, the light may not be enough during evenings especially if you're shooting macro with apertures smaller than F8. For garden enthusiasts and botany students it's a great place to learn. Overall the flower show atoned the pain I took driving back in peak-hour traffic.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vacation in Malnad

Malnad, the colloquial form of Malenaadu which translates to mountainous region, is the greenest part of Karnataka. I feel lucky for hailing from Thirthalli, which is located in the heart of Malnad. Most part of my Christmas vacation was spent at my granny's place, a small village about 3km from Thirthalli town and surrounding places mostly in Shimoga district.

It was the betel nut harvesting season and people were as busy as bees peeling the betel nut, cooking and drying it, fighting and cursing the unseasonal rains. Betel nut a.k.a areca nut grows in areca palm plantations which are abundant in malnad region due to its tropical climate. The betel nuts come in bunches of drupes, after peeling the skin the central kernel is soft (hard if the drupe is dry) which is cut into two halves. When it fills the entire receptacle, its cooked with bark of jambhul fruit tree that gives the betel nut the purplish red colour. It's then sun dried for few days before its packed and sent for selling. Below are few photographs of the betel nut processing.

We got little time out to visit the great Kannada poet, Venkatappa's (Kuvempu) abode and his graveyard at Kuppali too.

We also lazed around in Jogi Gundi, Agumbe, a small natural lake in the middle of the forest. It was fun to sip sweet rum on the banks of the lake. The sunset point was disappointing due to various reasons - clouds, crowd and clutter. The place was dirtied to such an extent that I kept wondering why we Indians don't believe in "Cleanliness is Godliness". The idea of camping on Kundadri was turned down by the police officer who told us that it's unsafe in Agumbe to venture out at night due to Naxal problems. We had to sleep at Kasthuri akka's Doddamane. Though it was a torrid night worsened by mosquitoes. We also happened to goto the summit of Kundadri only to be disappointed more by mist and drizzle. But the best part of Agumbe was the simple pleasures of life we enjoyed by sipping the rum at Jogi Gundi and by the moonlit riverside.

We got to see the laidback town of Nagara too. Personally its one of my favourite places, I just love the red tiled houses, the fort of Shivappanayaka from which the panorama of the town is breathtaking, the little river that flows inside the town, the pools of Devagange.

I was also lucky to see the backwaters and storage areas at Sharavathi upstream in the town of Kargal. The town reminded me of Masthikatte, where I was brought up for the first few years of my life, well organized colony with silence as its most prominent trait. I made it to Jog falls too, but it hardly had any water flowing down the cascade, since the river is dammed at Linganamakki.

An architectural marvel was found in a tiny village of Bheemana katte near Thirthalli (on Agumbe road). A narrow yet beautiful cable bridge is constructed across the river here, which it seems attracts great crowd from nearby places. Though it's meant for pedestrians, the bikers somehow maneuver on it deftly.

I happened to do quite a bit of children photography. I love doing children photography for every moment is very elusive. The new EOS Speedlite 470EXII came in very handy.

The vacation of course was a great break from noisy, dusty Bangalore. It was a great relaxation in the verdant world of Malnad.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Annular Solar Eclipse Photographs

My sick leave was well spent today. Instead of curling down inside sheets, I went to my terrace with my Canon 20D, 70-200/4L, a Manfrotto tripod, polarized Rayban and a couple of old X-ray sheets. Though a telephoto of 200 is not really great for shooting eclipses, I thought of giving it a shot without having the slightest clue of what I could get. I used X-ray sheets as a poor-man's Neutral Density (ND) filter to photograph the event. Most shots were taken from f8 to f16, all mounted on tripod.

Presence of occasional fleecy clouds also made a lot good for photographing the event. It resulted in photographs which, I feel, could easily be on a cover of some dark Scandinavian metal band. The difference in the tone that you see in the collage are mainly due to variation in the tones in X-ray sheet. The weather and the ambience were great during the eclipse, the light was warm and perfect for photography and cool breeze made my life a lot easier on the terrace. For viewing the eclipse I used the combination of my shades and X-ray sheets.

It feels great to having seen and got an opportunity to click one the rarest celestial events. Below are few photographs. Click on each of them to view'em large.