Monday, 23 March 2015

Chitpur Local Photowalk

With a name that sounds like a local train, Chitpur Local is an event, or rather a collection of events aimed at reviving Calcutta’s Chitpur area, which was once known for its association with “Jatra”, the popular Bengali folk theatre form. Two photowalks were part of Chitpur Local and I decided to join in. Chitpur gets its name from the temple of Chitteshwari, and Chitpur Road (now Rabindra Sarani) is one of the oldest roads of Calcutta. Old roads = old architecture, I thought, and hence decided to join in. But the theme, I was told wasn’t flat architecture, this was more in the nature of street photography, and the best photographs would be used to create picture postcards of Chitpur. I decided to do what the pros do, shoot with a “prime” lens. A prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length, no zooming. I chose the only prime in my arsenal, the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM, and turned up at Lal Bazar Police Headquarters, on the corner of Chitpur Road and Lal Bazar Street.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Yumthang Valley, Sikkim

North Sikkim Travelogue Part 2

For 2 ½ hours we were enchanted by the beauty of India’s 2nd highest lake, Gurudongmar, but we finally had to make a move for the equally beautiful grazing pasture called Yumthang Valley, in North Sikkim. After a short stop for lunch, I and my friend Prasenjit reached the little town of Lachung, where we would rest for the night. Our tour operator had set us up in a top floor room and we had a beautiful view of the mountains from our window, and since I can never sleep peacefully in a new place, I woke up obscenely early, and managed once again, to get that “sunrise in the mountains” shot, that so fascinates tourists.

Sunrise at Lachung

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim

North Sikkim Travelogue Part 1

Yumthang Valley and Gurudongmar Lake had been on my travel wish-list for a long time. Both of these places are in the Northern part of the Indian state of Sikkim, high in the Himalayas of North East India. Our travel agent in Calcutta suggested we add Dzongu, a forest valley that has been reserved for the Lepcha peoples of Sikkim, to our itinerary. Since I am not the type who treks, me and my friend Prasenjit chose to do the normal tourist thing, i.e. travel from Calcutta to Bagdogra via air, and take a car from there to Gangtok, Sikkim’s capital. A four by four would then take us for our week-long vacation in the mountains. I don’t know why, but to me, music always sounds better in the mountains, and I find myself quietly staring out of the car window at peaks and valleys, listening to classic rock. Sikkim is magical, they say, and the first piece of magic happened as we pulled in to Gangtok. I had just turned on Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy album on the iPod, and as if on cue, as the first strains of The Rain Song started playing, it began to rain! We arrived at out hotel as it was getting dark, to the sounds of thunder echoing in the mountains.

Thunderstorm in Gangtok

Monday, 2 March 2015

Gillander House, Clive Street

It is fairly simple business to pigeonhole a building based on its architectural style. The Writers’ Building is Greco-Roman. The High Court is Gothic. The Esplanade Mansions are Art Nouveau. But one building in Calcutta completely defies such pigeonholing, partly because it was designed by a man who was a musician, alongside being an architect. The man in question is Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel, and the building is Gillander House.

Gillander House