Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts

This shot was captured from inside the National Pantheon of the Dominican Republic. The National Pantheon was originally a church, but today it serves as the final resting place of the nation’s honored citizens.

The guards and the flags were in the resting place – their colors dim – and the heat of the summer, the white light of which, made brighter the white walls outside, where life under the blue sky struggled and survived for another day.  The roof provided rest while the open drove mortals to seek shade.


Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

How an evening when the sun is about to set, waits for a period of twilight to author its piece of bliss, will transition to dusk when the river would reflect a different hue and the ripples might be less visible, and more admirable under the moon’s directive.

When the earth revolves and the time ticks, there’s a sense of doing and undoing marking people’s consciousness – the phase of the between is on a flow attempting to look and feel better.


Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra, Extra

In the fading twilight, the Caribbean Sea lends a calmness to a noisy park in Malecon.

The musicians showcase their skills so they earn some Dominican Peso and spend it on dinner for their family in the poverty-stricken nation. The three ladies, a gentleman and a child seem to be a family of their own, and though the ladies would love a musical start to a romantic night, sparing pesos may not be an easy decision when there’s the child and possibly more to bring up – and the gentleman on the left is the initiator of looking-elsewhere triggering a look-elsewhere reaction from the others.

Drama comes in handy when in a money-burns-a-hole situation. And the performer wearing the brim hat looks elsewhere too as he understands better the futility of their collective tune.


Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

Since we can take this challenge in an abstract direction, I thought of these two pictures, on the day of my son’s first birthday, when I tried to capture us in the mirror balloon.

Though we were in our living room, the balloon images brought us closer. The images shelter us so we love, trust and protect – and we may live in a wide wild world we’re sheltered.

My son’s confusion doubled when I held the balloon and clicked the selfie.Image

After I released the balloon and it went up to the ceiling, I tried placing the iPhone camera at a typical angle to capture us both. You could see him standing in the play yard, and me bending enough to be in the image.Image

Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Story

More than a decade ago when I was in Amsterdam, I learned about Sinterklaas.

When we were out in the evening, I saw people swarm a corner circling a figure, and when they were making space for others to circle, we saw the figure – with white hair and full beard, wearing a red chasuble and a red miter.


Though Sinterklaas looks like Santa Claus, he’s Saint Nicholas and a very Dutch character. Legend has it that Sinterklaas originally hailed from Turkey and was a well respected man loved by all. The feast of Sinterklaas is on December 6, but the evening of December 5 is when gifts are given to the loved ones.

Weekly Photo Challenge

When Elevator Becomes A World Of Its Own

We live in a 36-floor apartment building in a multicultural complex.

Each floor has 10 apartments, so a rough total of 360 apartments. There are four elevators in the building, and each elevator can hold up to 1500 pounds – so taking an average of 150 pounds each, 10 people may be the limit.

But then there are strollers, carts, luggage, bikes, which may not affect the weight, but they eat up the space.


In last five years, I haven’t seen any of these elevators carrying more than the allowed pounds of weight. You can reckon when the lifting device has been cramped enough, leaving no space for more than 10 people.

When there’s rush in the peak hours, people wait in line to use the elevators. After the first man in the line has pushed the button lighting the up arrow, all of us look above the elevator doors, exercising our necks for the moving red numbers to see which elevator does an Usain Bolt. Once an elevator has won gold, courtesy demands that we wait for the people already in it to exit – much like we see in metros and subways though there this courtesy may be least adhered to, but here I’d say 90% may pause for the passengers of the vertical-shaft-cage to come out, and 10% may hurry, mostly the first two in the long line, showing urgency.


Here are 5 instances in last 5 years I’ll remember for a long time:

1. When there was a line of about 9 people waiting at 6 in the evening, I saw this fine gentleman – after an extremely busy day perhaps in a demanding Fortune 500 company – walk up to the first man in the line, ignoring the other tired ones from perhaps poor companies who continued to wait. And he ended up being the first to walk into the elevator after it had opened and people had walked out. The irony was, I’d been the 9th in line and all the 8 before me including the unauthorized 1 made it – and though everyone was hurt at the discourtesy of this Fortune gentleman, I was bruised.

2. At 3 pm when it was not rush hour at all – no soul around – elevators were ready like instant coffee. I had a cart full of grocery to take up to my floor. I’d stepped into the elevator and when the door was about to close, a child, whose footsteps I’d heard only at the last moment, punched his hand in the gap of the closing door, therefore opening it. And he stood there holding the door for his mom who had possibly told him to punch the gap while she was still 15 seconds away. When she appeared she was pushing a stroller with a 1-year-old in it, followed by her another son who was maneuvering a grocery cart. I smiled and made space for them by moving to a corner which was a mistake, but then I had no option because the stroller, the cart, the mother and her two sons china-walled me from the door. There was no excuse-me or sorry from them which was fine, but what was not fine was – they had to get off at 34th while I had to at 6th (and we’re not talking about streets here) – and it pained them as much making space for me by exiting at 6th with all their belongings – and when the mother frowned at me, her eyebrows became linear because her flaring nose had twitched.


3. When I was in the elevator with about 7 people descending to the first floor – and before we could step out of it, a lady walked in and pushed the button of a certain floor she’d wanted to go. She was either an alien or had a misunderstanding that she was invisible. Her perfume was Chanel which attracted some of the men to her – and since only a day before that I’d met the Fortune gentleman I thought she could be the Fortune lady. The two folks including me who were stuck behind her, had to wait for all including the ones under the spell of her fragrance to exit before we could.

4. Most look like known strangers in the elevator. You may have seen them all these years but only recognize them from the elevator. And if you see someone on a particular day, it’s improbable that you see the same person the second time the same day. But a 10-year-old boy was in the elevator for 30 minutes, cruising up and down in the peak hour. Not just me, a lot of known strangers saw that known stranger. I’d gone out to buy some milk and had seen him going down with me, and when I went up he was there again in that very corner, unmoved and staring at nothing. We see this often in Light Rail when people who may have nothing better to do buy a ticket for $2 valid-for-2-hours, and they use the transport for the entire duration of its validity, purposelessly. So on my way back up when I smiled at him before exiting at 6th, he answered a question I hadn’t asked – ‘This is my way of busting the school stress.’

5. When a genius got into the elevator from the 2nd floor to go down to the 1st, he’d mistakenly taken the elevator that was going up since he’d failed to notice the up arrow. The two men who were already in the elevator – one had to go to the 36th and I had to disappear at 6th. The genius had no choice but whoosh all the way up to the top floor, check the oxygen level there before swooshing down to his destination. Quite a journey! And I must share, there are four staircase exits on each floor and it’s only 10 counts of steps from the 2nd to the 1st, and the genius was also brawny like Rambo.


Having said these, it’s fun to be in the elevators as we get to see several nationalities and cultures, who become known strangers, and who may be thinking about their respective countries while in an elevator in the US – and what’s manifest is some unvoiced communication broadcast from within their borders.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

It may be odd if there’s no oddity in offer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge.

MIT is considered to have and produce great minds and what we saw on the campus were some brainy creations. The pictures below justify the twist.

The Intellectuals’ Circle: What I understand is that 16 people can sit here, half facing out and half facing in – and only the half facing in could see one another without twisting much of their necks.  You may see a great idea coming out of this circle.Image

Pivoting Garden Bench: Now who will pivot here – someone with nothing better to do? Then what’re you waiting for – ‘Twist Away, Man!’Image

Backless bench: I’m sure this is meant for young minds – don’t expect old professors to sit here for long. Minds also have spines, and some spinal-twisting is mandated.Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

The Privilege To See, 24/7, The Tallest Building In The Western Hemisphere

It’s been quite a journey vis-a-vis the World Trade Center in New York City. When the dastardly act of 9/11 happened, I was on vacation in a remote village in South India. When the news spread in the US and outside, it was evening in India, and since we’d been out all day and were exhausted, I’d retired to bed without watching the television. Next morning, my grandfather woke me up as he wanted to show me something – and I stood in front of the TV and stayed there for 2 hours – it was a surreal should-never-have-happened moment.

In late 2002, though I had an opportunity to travel to Washington, DC – and I remember I’d spoken with the travel agent asking him to give me a stopover in New York City, and he’d sent me a tentative flight schedule – I couldn’t travel due to personal reasons. Then in 2008, my wife and I moved to the US, and we rented an apartment which gave us the downtown Manhattan view.

Of the four towers being built in downtown today, Freedom Tower is almost complete – is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere – and the fourth tallest building in the world. And we’ve been witnessing its growth, floor by floor, from the comfort of our apartment – its incredible progression from infancy to adulthood has been a stupendous feat: the skills, the workmanship – the will, the vigor and the conviction to regain what was lost.

And this is one privilege we’ve never taken for granted – so mornings and evenings, days and nights, weeks and months, and years — we’ve been awestruck by its evolution – by its majestic presence – by its symbolism of hope and freedom.

This is how it looks now, from the living room.Image

2008: When we moved to the US, and then moved into this apartment, there was no Freedom Tower in view, and though construction had begun, the whole project was taking longer due to several disputes among business leaders, real estate lobby and civic organizations. We loved the moon!Image

2009: As one could see for the first time, the building was budding, with cranes hogging some limelight.Image

2010: Before the arrival of the spring, the tower seemed to announce its arrival, saying, ‘Hey, start noticing me!’Image

2011: The structure looked tall here, obscuring the twilight of the summer. 70 floors up.Image

2012: When the Tribute in Light gave us hope year after year in the autumn, the Freedom Tower made its presence felt. 90 floors up.Image

2013: The day after the 408-foot spire was installed on top of the structure giving the tower its 1776 feet (and 104 floors). Apparently, 1776 was when the US got its independence.Image

2014: When the winter almost left us – when the dawn gave the view a golden hue – when yachts were back.Image

Last week, when I captured the FREEDOM at night!Image

How Facebook Brings Cheer and Then Gloom!


I feel a little disheartened but I think I should not let my emotions be overrun by someone who might be impulsive and insensitive.

I’ve been on Facebook for 6 years now - never been a die-hard fan – and all these years I’ve had friends come and go. They come (added) because either they or I have approved friend(s) request, and they go (removed) because either there’s been no contact with the friend or there’s been some exchange of words that hurt one of the two.


Last year, I sent a friend request to someone I’d known from before. Though we hadn’t been close friends then, we’d exchanged text messages and she’d also invited me to her wedding. I couldn’t attend her wedding and not because of that that we hadn’t been in touch thereafter for a decade – which was understood because we weren’t close friends – until I found her on Facebook. She approved my request, was very pleased to be in touch, and we were friends.

She liked my updates and commented on them, and I liked and commented on hers; she found my infant son to be super cute, and I found her 5-year-old son to be super loving – all this on Facebook while she was in India and I was in the US.

Then a time came when she sought my views about her probable move to the US with her son (she’s a naturalized American, I believe, and her son was born here, but she has also lived in India for several years). I was glad that she was asking my opinion (which showed our friendship was maturing!) and I advised her the way I should have.

My thoughts about how she and her son could live here included some pros and cons: a pro being, this is the best country to live in, and a con being, people might feel lonelier after sometime (my wife would agree). In responding to my thoughts, though she agreed and thanked me, she said she was an American citizen and that she knew some of those things already – to which I said I’d never doubted it, and that I was merely sharing my views since she’d asked them. She sensed that she was being rude, so she made an effort to be remarkably cool in her later messages, like wondering if my zodiac sign was a certain zodiac sign – and she even liked a couple of my updates.

Hoping that our friendship wasn’t as slippery yet as piled-up sleet would be after a Nor’easter, I asked her if she was on Whatsapp – and her response came after ten days in late Feb, which was unusual, because before that, each of her reply came within a day. Something was certainly amiss, and Facebook bought Whatsapp around the time.

images (1)

Day before yesterday, when I was sifting through my friends list I noticed that she wasn’t my friend anymore, and my instinct uttered a doubt that she had removed me from her list. There was a jolt, so I put two and two together, making sense of whatever I had said that made her irate enough to remove me.

Was that the word ‘lonelier’ – which I hadn’t certainly used because she’s a single mother, but because in the US,  you must entertain yourself without expecting others to do that for you – whereas In India, everyone’s interested in your life to the extent that they’d give you unsolicited advice after serving tea. Here, it’s you for you, and there it’s they for you (mostly) – and both can cause pain in the arse (going British, for a change).

I have always wished her well and tried to be as genuine as possible – considered her a good person and friend – and she wouldn’t deny that.

And it’s a fact that I also remove friends from my list but I select only those who haven’t been in touch at all – and if I had received even a single ‘like’ or ‘comment’ from a friend, I’d never delete that person. And I would definitely delete those who hurt me irreparably. Did I hurt her irreparably unintentionally?

So addressing my hurt caused by my sensitivity, I wrote a message to her on Facebook saying that I also look at my list once a while and remove the ones I’ve lost connect with it – that her removing me from her list must be due to a strong reason – but that, I would never have removed her from my list [remember she called my son super cute (she probably didn't mean that) and I called hers super loving (I meant that)]. In that message, I also wished her and son good luck, and gave her this blog’s address. She may or may not read what I’ve written here, but I wanted to get this off my chest. There has been no response to my message.

I have begun to understand that though we weren’t close friends, we haven’t been friends at all. And if I look at my friends list now, I may find a lot many who aren’t friends although they liked my pictures with tattoo.

I have also begun to understand that not only is unsolicited advice unnecessary but also solicited advice. And, one-must-entertain-oneself (and-advice-oneself) indeed makes sense – at least to me!

Keeping it real, and raw!

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