A picture from my first walk with an SLR. My cousin’s Nikon FM, if I remember right. It was 1986, 28 years ago. He loaded a roll of Ilford FP-4 and asked me to go out and shoot. To see if ‘I had it in me’ to be a photographer. The state government organisation that public transportation service was called Bangalore Transport Service’ or BTS. It was known for non-punctuality and unreliability.
Isaac Asimov wrote a series of novels from 1942 through 1993 – the story of The Foundation. With the help of Wikipedia, here is a synopsis of the relevant part of the series, which will help me to put forward a tendril of an Idea.
The premise of the Foundation series is that the mathematician Hari Seldon spent his life developing a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory, a concept of mathematical sociology (analogous to mathematical physics). Using the laws of mass action, it can predict the future, but only on a large scale; it is error-prone on a small scale. It works on the principle that the behaviour of a mass of people is predictable if the quantity of this mass is very large (equal to the population of the galaxy, which has a population of quadrillions of humans, inhabiting millions of star systems). The larger the number, the more predictable is the future.
Using these techniques, Seldon foresees the imminent fall of the Galactic Empire, which encompasses the entire Milky Way, and a dark age lasting 30 thousand years before a second great empire arises. Seldon’s psychohistory also foresees an alternative where the intermittent period will last only one thousand years. To ensure his vision of a second great empire comes to fruition, Seldon creates two foundations—small, secluded havens of all human knowledge—at “opposite ends of the galaxy”. The first Fopundation is not aware of the existence of the Second Foundation. While the First Foundation is equipped with superior physical power, the second is made up of a group of people with special ability to read and tune the minds of others. They are called Mentalics. However Seldon and his plan is unable to see the emergence of a powerful mutant called Mule, who is a Mentalic as well. He threatens the very existence of the Empire and the Foundations. However the second foundation manages to stop the mule and restore order in the galaxy. They also create an impression in the minds of the first Foundationeers that they have vanquished the second foundation and hence remain anonymous as they should be.
The current socio–political scenario and the recent history of India to me seems very similar to what happened to the Galatic Empire. If one looks at the recent history of our country, many crucial events that have brought us to where we are today, seem almost scripted. I am fascinated actually when I see India as a neutral observer – the decay of the society, stupidity of most of our political leaders and emergence of two individuals who seem to have the ability shape the minds of the people whom they have never met – Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal. I wonder who the ‘Mule’ is in our case? I wonder if there is a design behind what’s happening in India. I also wish that there is a Second Foundation somewhere that will eventually guide us to a better country, a better society rather than the uncertain state that we are in.
I met a certain Mahesh Shantaram few evenings ago at this lovely restaurant called Vinite in Panjim. Over Uraak and good Goan food, he explained about his new photo project to explore the relationship between politics and the people, as India prepares for the most interesting general elections. Next day I saw workers of Congress party preparing a little stage for an election meeting at Uccasaim, a little village near Mapusa. I photographed few frames as a dedication to his project.
The meeting was held at the junction, near the church where everyone meets for vada-pau, omlette-poyee and chai in the evening. So no one really had to go anywhere else. Vada and soft drinks were distributed by the party workers. Everyone had a good time it seems…
I asked directions to a store. I was near 8th Cross, Malleswaram. “Saar, it’s on 8th cross, down but not full down” he said. I understood what he meant. Anyone who knows Malleswaram would.
For those who are not familiar with Bangalore – Malleswaram is a north-western district of Bengaluru city. It developed as a suburb during the great plague of 1898, which caused many people to move out from the city center. It was once quiet and beautiful. Like all other parts of Bangalore today its crowded and noisy.
8th Cross, arguably the most famous road of Malleswaram that runs east-west on an incline. It’s full of interesting shops and eating places. ‘8th cross full down’ is a term used to describe the bottom part of the road. ‘8th cross down’ is the middle part !
Last week as I walked up8th road, sun was setting, the light was brilliant. I was shooting and a gentleman got out of his car and introduced himself as Anil Kumar, actor. He played the male lead in the 1975 Kannada film ‘Bili Hendthi‘ (White/Caucasian wife). I was just eight years old when I saw the film in a theater in Mangalore. He chatted with me, said he still acts and models if he gets jobs that suit his age! I did a portrait.
Abandoned homes with their sea shell windows stand next to beautiful Goan homes, well looked after. Paths lead to the forests on the hills. Light filters through the leaves as children go home. It seems like fairies live here.
The village of Uccasaim in north Goa, right behind The One School Goa
As the population and tourism and the number of packaged goods increase – so does garbage. Mega cities of India have already drowned in the garbage they create. Goa too is slowly heading in that path. The little village of Bastora is not in the tourist map. And there is no garbage management plan per se. The picture on the left of the diptych can be used in a picture post card on Bastora. But if you walk few feet from to the left, rotting and not so rotting garbage comes into the view. Plastic wrappers, condoms, plastic bags, insulin syringes..etc..etc. What do we do? What do we do?