Berlin – The Wild Side

The video of two members of the Berlinkidz slinging from a rope tied to the roof of a high rise building in Berlin has gone viral since it came out. In the backdrop of the twilight of the sky and the haze from the lights of the Berlin sprawl – these guys take just a few minutes to scribble a few characters that resemble a South American ancient script. Or we them standing up on the roof of a speeding U-Bahn – with arms stretched crying the sound of victory. Beating the sight of building owners, tenants, and the law enforcement, these kids would go to the extreme of danger to leave their “mark”. Ego, adrenaline and the sheer excitement of the wild are the main factors driving them. This is a glimpse of the wild side of Berlin – the world that gets exposed to the mainstream through tagging, graffiti, and street art. For many this is considered vandalism, a mere destruction of public space. But street artists would argue – so are the advertisements and the thousands of billboards. What is visual pollution and what is not – is a topic for another day. But this side of Berlin has much to offer – raw and uncut.

Admittedly, this wild underground side of Berlin has toned down quite a bit in the last couple of years after a run of more than 20 years. When the Berlin wall came down in 1990s, a large section of the central city area called Mitte opened up. During the Iron Curtain era, this was largely abandoned and fell in the no-man’s land within the eastern section. Being so close to the border with West Berlin – no one really developed it. So when the wall came down it was not surprising to find garbage from WWII still remaining there. Broken jeeps, aircrafts, shells – not to mention the ruins from the war that were left intact. (Check out this book) . So people started making stuff out of it. Given that there was not much out there – the people who came to this area were freaks and misfits. There was already the Kreuzberg area in the West that was thronged by those who wanted a safe haven to dodge the German military service (yes Berliner had an exception). A combination of all these factors gave rise to a subculture that brought out the “other” side. Cheap living supported by major push from the government to gentrify these areas brought in people from everywhere – mostly artists who took to the streets as their theater. Today, many of them have gone to major commercial success. The Banksy effect is pervasive and Berlin has its fair share of commercially successful artists. Many street “purists” however, do not like them; and are not pleased with these commercial developments and would prefer to keep doing streets from the underground, away from material mainstream success. Such folks breed anarchy at heart.

Now personally speaking, ensconced in the mainstream, this subculture was outside my radar until a few years back when a friend of mine in New York introduced me to Parkour and street art in the Bronx and Yorktown area. I will get into the connection between the two later but like second hand smoke I was still a bit removed from what really went on. Walking around Berlin with a former member of the 1Up was an eyeopener. My first lesson was to understand the distinction between tagging, graffiti and street art. Graffiti is an outline with fillings of color – almost always done to make a personal statement. It is meant for other gangs or groups – usually a statement of ego and vanity. As simple as – “mine is bigger than yours”. Tagging is a basic form of graffiti – mainly to demarcate territory. There is a hierarchy within the gangs that ought to be respected. 1Up was one of these gangs that has an elevated stature in Berlin that others rarely overwrote. Tagging and graffiti also serve to contextualize the place. There are folks who keep tagging over and over again. Someone cleans it up just to get tagged again. Tags are also a mark of protest – one such was all over Mitte to make a statement against the commercialization of the area that has made that area so trendy and expensive that it is driving away the poor artists. Indeed, Mitte has become a very posh neighborhood now with art galleries and trendy coffee shops. Street art, however has a very different purpose. It is mostly for the viewers consumption. I was told that the newer breed of artists that are coming in are treating the street as just a window into the virtual world of social media. So they use the street to just get noticed and then conversation on art and commercial terms continue via social media. This is driving some of the old school graffiti/sprayers to other locales. I am told opportunities are opening up in other places in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. I did see that in Budapest last year and in Chile and Buenos Aires earlier this year.

As I walked around marveling at the details and the learning the stories behind them, I was struck with the variety of materials that are used. Although the staple is the paint can. Usually a beginner starts with chrome and black paint learning to do outlines. They have to be clean, proportionate and have to done quickly. It takes several months of watching, practicing outlines before they can give a test and join the group as an artist. Once they join, then go up the hierarchy. There are rules and its own set of highly rigorous governance mechanisms. A group like 1Up! has about 100 members – with a large percentage of girls. (Approach them at your own peril; gangs are very protective about their girls). Many artists use stencils. Multi-layered stencils are used directly when the artists want to keep the artwork for long. Other can do more complex work on stencils in the studio and paste the paper onto the wall. Of course, these wither, crumble and fade away sooner. The only thing apart from the materials that ensure longevity of the art work is the respect for the artist itself. The notion of transience and impermanence is central to the artist’s psyche. Whats pretty today will not be there tomorrow. Either will get overwritten or just gone and forgotten.

The most fascinating material I saw was the use of the fire extinguisher. It came to Berlin from the streets of Paris. Fire extinguishers are easily available – one just need to break and grab it from a public place. Fill it half with paint and other medium – then pressurize it with compressed air at a gas station – and you are good to go. It holds a lot of paint – so one does not need to carry a ton of paint cans. There is a strict protocol not to leave any material behind at the site so with it helps keeping your paint gear light. It takes a lot of practice to master the use with the nozzle though, but it is very effective. Without mastery bad things can happen. Notice the scribble near the famous astronaut – it is one such disaster. Although the guy who blew it was quite senior, he was not experienced in the nozzle control. Following the rules of the gang – he was apparently demoted and had to suffer a reprimand course of training before he was allowed back.

The recent trend is to combine parkour and graffiti art. Sadly, but not surprisingly, it has resulted in many casualties and fatalities especially when trying to do the epitome of all public places – the trains. It is the ultimate thrill of action art. I always associated action art with someone like Jackson Pollock  but this is of course a different league. No absinthe or LSD involved. Quite the contrary – the Berlinkidz don’t touch alcohol, smoking, and on a strict diet and exercise. Despite their dedication, the Berlinkidz are believed that they would either get hurt or end up in prison. Pushing the human boundaries to the limits of danger – both physical danger and danger from the authorities to make that personal statement is of course not everyone’s cup of tea. One artist told me, “the street is a very humbling place. You need to learn the hard way and then get erased soon. We do not come from art schools, but we learn and express through this rough cruel way.” I found this to be quite a paradox. But then like many things in life – I am too small to pass a judgment. I can see both sides to this quite vividly. It can be pursuit of an ego trip in a humbling way. The truth to me is to be able carry forward and bear these contradictions – co-existing with each other.

I learn a great deal from such excursions. Not the least of which is that beyond the apparent two dimensional view of what I see there is a third or even more dimensions that is not visible but it is there. At a minimum there is always a “story” behind these art pieces, which is not available to everyone. I am grateful that, even in a very limited way, I could get behind the visible and learn about some of these stories.

Note: Here is a collection of pictures – mostly taken with my iPhone and a few with my Leica M9.

Budapest – My Intro

How does it feel when you land on a new place?  A foreign land.  What gets evoked? And when you leave, what do you take away? How different is it? Pondering on these questions, revisiting them, looking at old pictures and so one, are all useful ways to live and internalize these trips and sojourns. With lives so consumed by the pressures of livelihood, and the changes enforced, it is easy to forget a vacation like a fleeting dream. Yes it happened but it did not make any difference.

I visited Budapest recently.  Eastern Europe has longed intrigued me. It has always been an enigma.  Behind the iron curtain, Eastern Europe was truly foreign.  Indeed, growing up, I hardly knew anyone from that area or one who ever been to that area.  Not surprisingly, it felt exotic in a rustic manner.  Every few years or so they would perform in Olympics or the World Cup usually putting together a very strong performance. They always gave an impression that they had the ability to punch above their waist. Once the cold war was over, the gradual exposition was equally intriguing. There was an aristocracy once with splendid buildings, that got smothered under the cloud of communism.  Really? Along with the communist drab, there was a history of art and architecture.  Hungary, particularly is such a marvel.  In many ways it is not like any other communist country; it had a lighter touch from the communists and enjoyed (if I may say) broader autonomy and discretion that some of its surrounding neighbors.  So what was it like.  What was it under the Austro-Hungarian rule and what happened during the communists and what is it today.

My interest in Hungary started with my early days of stamp collection, I had pages (yes pages) of stamps from Hungary.  My inheritance from my maternal uncle was partly responsible but then the other part was collected as gifts from friends and family over many birthdays.  Clearly Magyar Posta had posted a mark of in my memory.  Then there was football or soccer as it is known here.  The football that mattered in Hungary dates back to the 50s and 60s.  I heard the folklore from my grandfather and father on Puscas and the big deal when they defeated England.  Today, it was quite interesting to see that victory plastered on a giant wall in a parking lot in Budapest. Where can one find an event such immortalized that is over half a century old. It happens if there is a poverty of achievements or if it was truly a defining moment. It was clearly the latter that reinforced the Magyar identify after brutal war as the nation was picking up its pieces.

Well, my trip to Budapest was thus filled with anticipation and lots of speculation.  I was eager to get there.  The evening I was flying, there were attacks in Munich, but thankfully my connection was through Frankfurt which was not that bad.  In fact I was moved to an earlier flight and arrived an hour before my scheduled arrival in Budapest.  The landmass of Hungary is connected to the European mainland so it is not that alien – yet as the plane was landing it was strikingly different.  The houses were much smaller and more austere in the countryside. The green pastures were plentiful.  Large open spaces.  And clearly there were no modern look as one would see landing over Frankfurt, Schipol, or Munich.  The airport is small but modern. It was filled with people and some very pretty models getting ready for the Formula 1 next day.    While I was not able to go much to countryside, the short 25-30 mile ride to Hungaroring for the Formula 1 race on the Sunday (August 31) gave me a glimpse what a suburb and the sub-suburban looked like and by stretch of imagination – what a rural setting would be.

There are some major developments that took place in the last 20 years in Budapest.  Just after the end of the cold war, as I was told, the capitalists came in and there were a slew of quick investments.  In many cases they messed up with the architecture.   The lure of quick lucre is enticing.  Clearly the Marriott hotel where I stayed most of my days in Budapest qualifies as one.  Standing on the Danube on the Pest side, it is an absolute abomination compared to the beautiful buildings that line across the river bank.  Just cross over the Chain Bridge, another marvel built in the late 19th century by Szechenyi and you will get that loud and clear.  As my guide Zsusha pointed out – even the modern Sofitel hotel somehow was able to blend, but not the Marriott.

Looking into the city, one can’t stay away from the architecture.  It is everywhere.  The last day after several days of exploring and feeling the city and its people, the ruin bars and the hipsters, I was at the Boscolo, that houses the gorgeous New York Cafe.  I got transported to an imaginary past to absorb the lovely raw beauty of the city.  Lines of ornate houses. Indeed the end of the 19th century was the glorious period of prosperity.  The Belle Epoch in France, the Edwardian era in Britain and the glorious days in Hungary before the world completely fell apart and changed in the 1910s.  On the back of the industrial revolution Budapest became one of the prominent centers with a brand new metro system.  The Line 1 which goes down the Opera to the Heroes Square still has the old world charm.  At the turn of the 20th century, every country in Europe was looking for its own identity.  Budapest was no different.  It set ambitious plans – with the metro – with the lines of architecture.  In the early 1900s there were so many writers in Budapest that as John LuKacs in his book Budapest 1900 writes – there were so many writers that they complained that their readers turn out to be other writers.  My dessert that night in Budapest took place sitting in the mezzanine level and watching over the swarms of people seated at the central hall.  For a moment – thinking about a hundred years ago – who would have thought that the place would still be there under a different cloak, with a solitary Indian native on-looking their ghosts.  Hundred years from now, who knows who will watch the ghosts that I leave behind.

My morning ride through the streets of Budapest met with the city that has just slept. Yes – the parties go to the wee hours of the morning when men and women strut and duel with their shadows to return to their abode.  The taxi was speeding through the empty streets. I waited for my flight back to the west – first to Frankfurt and then to DC.  As I left I kept wondering of the guy I met one day in the Irish bar.  While I was clearly nostalgic and talking about preservation, he was tired of the old and wished Budapest developed, with better jobs, and better pay so that he does not have to work in Switzerland. While I was taking a romantic view dipping into the nostalgia of the glory once this city may have, he was quite tepid about my enthusiasm.  I then realized on my way back that an outsider eye will never be the same as that of the local. What is beauty to me may not be of much value to those who have to make a living out of it.  I sensed the same when I was in Istanbul a few years back.  And perhaps, thats why I am drawn to these places.  Who knows when they become so modern or disgustingly touristy that it departs from the roots of its past.  For instance, one has to look for those remnants in places like New York.  For now, it was comforting that I was able to gaze through the place, looked into the myriads of houses that are over a century old, people carrying on with their lives, each house with its own story.


Budapest’s Ruin Bars and Nightlife

It all began with Szimpla.  It is quiet by the day but as night falls and gets deeper into the midnight hour, this place is all jam packed.  Long lines and security marshals shepherd the scores of people who want to get a taste of the Pest night scene.  Szimpla was the first of the ruin bars in the Jewish Quarter.  The Jewish quarter, I was told, went through a renewal over the last few years.  What was once the center of Jewish life in Budapest until World War II, faded away like many things in the 20th century.  Despite the fact that the Jewish community was restricted and confined outside the old city wall, here in Budapest, compared to other places in Europe, the Hungarian Jews were much more integrated into the Hungarian society.  The architecture of the old Synagogue that stands nearby combined several elements from other cultures.  After the WW2 the quarter was decimated and ended up in ruins.  Yes, literally.  Some of the old houses still stand with Jewish symbols, but they clearly speak of an era that has seen better days.  Needless to say the Jewish history of this place is quite complicated.  The German Nazis were never here, so the atrocities and evacuation came mainly from Hungarian anti-Semites.  The history was no less brutal and the mass exterminations were quick and extensive.

Enough of this morbid backdrop.  Fast forward to Szimpla.  It started a new concept of converting the ruined buildings into bars. The bar itself has got thousands of antiques and artifacts from broken TVs, cars, mirrors – you name it. All blended to exude beauty, art, and expression of revival; of making something nice out of a dilapidated and derelict past. My guide and friend Zsuzsa walked me through Szimpla’s journey in brief while I kept sipping Fröccs, a spitzer made from wine and soda, that Zsuzsa treated me to.  She said, “Szimpla started as an underground experiment but then it caught on and others followed.”  Now ruin bars are set feature in the Jewish Quarter –  the area bordering Erzsébet krt. to Kazinczy utca.  As this area revived and gentrified again in the 21st century, sure enough we witness an influx of the Jewish community as well – mostly centered around the two prominent synagogues.  I had lunch at the Spinoza Cafe during my stay.  The cafe manager was an emigre from Israel and the owner from Holland.  What brought them back is a question I did not ask, but it was clear that they brought some character.  They had interest in classical music and the walls are all decorated with interesting art and memorabilia.  It was interesting to learn that the ruin bars are now under spotlight with the new right wing in power in Hungary.  Revelry and partying is not everyone’s cup of tea, but in Budapest this right-wing opposition is viewed more as a nuisance than meaningful position.  The underground movement has become mainstream.  But the cat and mouse with the authority is on.

What is behind the success of the ruin bars or the nightlife in general here in Budapest?  And nightlife is serious.  It goes on till sunrise on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  The biggest factor I noticed was that this bar/night scene is scripted not just with party-going tourists. In fact these places come to life with the locals.  The vibe, the color, the conversations are as local as much as they were touristy. But always more local than touristy, I would say. This is where the people hang out – local artists, young professionals, and even some middle aged people. During my stay if there is one place where I came again and again, in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening, as well as late night, it was this little strip within the quarter.  Each bar one is so different and the level of thought that has gone into converting junk into art is indeed remarkable.  One such place was the large building, Doboz, opposite Barack & Szilva with a huge courtyard with a large tree jutting out in the middle.  It is as if the tree is growing out of the building.  The facade outside the building is still dilapidated but has vibrant lighting that electrifies the street.  There was another with a giant screen displaying silent movie footages of 1950s/60s Paris (or maybe Budapest) and other cities to eclectic music.  Reminded me of the visual media exhibits from MOMA in New York.  Another bar was built on the grounds of the old electrical engineering museum.  I am not kidding. Indeed an Electrical Engineering Museum. Old circuit breakers, transformers and motors are all over and tons of Neon lights that are lighted once or twice a year. Sadly, it was not one of those lucky days for me. I was told they can’t afford the electricity bill to keep it lighted everyday. 

The concept of using junk and antiques to decorate is not just limited to the ruin bars. There were a couple of cafes that were all decked up with antiques – from communist era artifacts to defunct vacuum tube TVs, radios, and old phones.  In a way it made me feel an antique myself – as I saw my past unfold before me.  I would recall our first TV in the 70s and then the graduation to color TVs in the late 80s, VCRs and my grandfather’s tube radio that took an entire table.  These were gadgets that I grew up with and now they are all displayed as antiques.  I was introduced to an antique camera store near the synagogue.  The store was filled with Soviet era cameras – Zenit and FED and the East German Praktika.  I was tempted to build a collection – but then I don’t collect when I won’t use much. So it was better to get a glance and let it be. 

As I picked up the pieces through my past and present, I felt there was an overarching theme that consumed me in Budapest.  From my conversations, I learned there is a growing recognition of what sustainable growth is. The de-growth conference, which was under preparation during my visit was meant to question the very premise of growth – and the cost thereof.  As I write, the conference is over – and I wonder how that was. Did we question how much materials and resources we truly need? Do we view growth through very narrow limits and myopic vision? If we expand then are we bound to get a different if not opposite answer?

The concept of converting ruins or even old building into hip fun places is not new.  It has caught on and people told me Berlin would be another place to check out.  Over the years – I remember Tate Modern and the local Baltimore restaurant built on old power plants site. There are places that are stripped down and other built on top of the past.  In their own ways, people conduct renewal in their own ways. In Budapest – while renewal is at a grand scale and ruin bars are a unique expression.  Whenever my next visit – I will be curious what I see they become. Will they be in ruins? Or will they be also going through their cycle of wash-rinse-repeat.


The Home Look – DC

I have said this many times to many people.  I often struggle photographing in the Washington DC area.  I don find it to have the same vibrancy as New York or London, the color of India or Istanbul, or the character of Mexico city. Indeed, there are cities and places in the world that exposes itself as instant photography  As Woody Allen overused saying – one has to just show up and that will take care of 80% of success. DC not so! Not inspiring.  After all how many pictures of monuments can one take. Museum goers are interesting but to stalk them painstakingly for that one awesome picture is not easy either. It is not uncommon to draw people’s eyes and ire. And then there is the common issue, it is hard to detach from my place of work and family obligations to get into a certain way of seeing things around.  It is so much in the mind, and the mind is always occupied with something else.  So after overwhelming myself with all sorts of reasons and resignations, I let my cameras gather dust.  They are still gathering dust – but once in a while I force myself to go for a round. Every good photographer will advise to do a little bit every day – after all, we are using a tool that needs some motor skills. It is also getting the mind and the eye see things in a certain way which (trust me) is a lot harder to get into after a complete break. Yet I did not follow any of that.  But in those rapid bursts of forcing myself to go out there – I get something – not extremely thrilled but not garbage either, although most of the shots are garbage. It is all digital – so who cares.



My trip to Mexico city was long overdue. There are many reasons to visit Mexico apart from the obvious reason of being so close to the US. The food, the culture, the history are all major draws. But for some reason that did not happen until last December. Finally, it was in the last two years when I began to explore color photography that I got interested in Mexico. More specifically after talking to Alex Webb who mentioned that there is something about the color of light in those places that hits the stomach, I had my eyes and my planner set on Mexico.  Finally, muting all the voices that come up around security and other concerns – I made the trip.  Not knowing the language is a disadvantage.  Also being careful on where to tread is the smart thing to do in such places especially if you are working in the streets in an unknown place. I was lucky to find Alex Coghe who is an accomplished street photographer to provide a one-on-one photo experience.

For two days I worked with him going through the streets of Mexico city. Alex impressed me in various ways. As an Italian, he bears the feeling for light that is characteristic among Italian photographers – something that you can get when you see the work of Vittorio Storaro or Paolo Pellegrin.  You see in the films of Fellini.  So during the two days I was thrilled to get into the spaces where there was some play going on with light.  Alex mentioned he is deeply inspired by Daido Moriyama – not just the high contrast images of electric proportions but also when it come to the style of working.  He uses a compact camera to get close. He was using his Leica X2 where he could and a Ricoh compact camera in more intimidating places – very similar to Moriyama’s style of using a compact to shoot in Shinjuku area of Tokyo.  Shooting is fast, pre-visualization is the key to composition.

Alex is a very kind person and his friendly nature made my experience quite fruitful – not to mention the two restaurants he took me.  Here he writes about the experience and the photos posted from the food excursion.  The other aspect of Alex’s photography was his interest in blending urban elements into the pictures, which I found very intriguing.  Urban elements blended with how people go about doing their daily business bring out the modernity of life in a city. This is in the core of why I love cities and what I try to capture in the street expressions. Modernity is in a way how the new combines with the old. Decay and decadence not in just the structures and the visuals but also in the psyche and beliefs – largely all man made.  But at the same time the underlying spirit to survive and thrive and prosper – indulge in arts and culture, work, raise children, and find happiness amidst all odds.  A modern city also defines neighborhoods in their own way – with its own flavor, color, and sounds, which I saw from – Colonia Roma to Zona Rosa to Polanco.  Things changed exuding their own distinct character.  In short, an anarchy, an organized chaos of contradictions. In that sense Mexico city held its ground and made it a fascinating place to go around.

I cannot write about Mexico city without mentioning street food.  Cocinita Pibil in its fullest expression with the bone or in a Tamale was my favorite. So was the Taco Villemelon which had pork, pig skin, etc.  With Pulque, it is a just a greasy, tasty escapade – without which your Mexico city vacation is incomplete.  After food comes the need for music.  My last night was at the Sheraton Maria Isabel. Their night club Bar Jorango was quite entertaining.  The two Mariachi bands – a bunch of guys singing popular number numbers in Spanish that I did not understand and then a bunch of middle aged women playing a rock version of Mariachi as well. Overall, a nice excursion to feast all my senses.

One of my photography teachers at ICP – Joe Rodriguez advised me not to mix photography with family travel. I have been fortunate that I am able to take these trips as pure exploration of my photography.  Relaxing and fulfilling.


London and Dublin

Taking photos in London has always been challenging to me. London deserves special attention. And like New York there is so much to do in the city that if photography is clubbed with anything else, there is no way one can do justice to anything. In the end I am left with an unfilled desire and then the pictures don’t speak much. I have been to London many times, and yet not been able to take enough pictures. Hardly anything. It is hard to capture on the go. There is this rich history that is alive in those iconic sites. There is this huge body of splendid architecture from the old and absolutely stunning modern situated side by side – the Inns of Court along with modern architecture. There are streets and buildings that bear the names from the classical English texts – Dickens and Conan Doyle. There is cricket and the hallowed halls of Lords. The tube, Foyles. There are people of all kinds – interesting characters – and just too much happening to keep focus and attention. Time is always short and whether you get enough of the museums or lager and lime – well – it is just way too much. I wish I am able to live in London for a length period of time to take some pictures – some day maybe. The easiest way to get a quick overview is to take a walking tour, which is what I did.

The city stirs up my familiar colonial psyche that has always looked upon the mother country and its capital as the hallowed destination. Wrapped in the fables passed on my grandfather and the exemplary standards set by the British, there is a sense awe that permeates even before I get there. With a sense of reluctant but deep appreciation, I feel I owe this land for the language and everything that has allowed me to walk about in the international arena and also filled in with the curiosity of this once all-powerful country of the planet. This quest to find all of these – to discover – comes in direct conflict of taking pictures. For London is not Paris. London is vibrant, noisy, in many ways a filthy city that is on the move. The old charm is not really so much distinct like in Paris. Much of the city had to put a modern veneer during Olympics. There is no romance that I could find on the surface. It is not like The Kinks singing Waterloo Sunset. The London cabs are decked with advertisements these days. St. James and Picaddily look like Times Square. There is not much of a difference I see between cities these days as a matter of fact. On the surface yes, but then in the next layer – there is nothing much. Even the street acts were the same elsewhere – the woman plastered with silver paint feigning to be a statue – the parkours and street rappers – hard to tell whether they were from East London or from Bronx. But I am sure, beneath this layer there is a huge difference – and to discover that will give a lot of delight – but I have not been able to get it. The quest remains. Overall – a nice family union – meeting cousins, uncles, and aunts — just the right way to shift to the next leg in Dublin.

Dublin was mostly all indoors with an occasional walk to Grafton street. To me if you love literature, this is the city for you. The literary walking tour was the highlight where two actors banter and enact scenes from different iconic books – from Waiting for Godot to Joyce. Joyce permeates through and through – mainly because he has immortalized Dublin as a city. Several tours through the city – even a luncheon at the The winding stairs – a bookstore and a restaurant was quite interesting. Apart from that – a lot of Guinness. Strolling in Temple Bar. The visit to Trinity college was interesting – especially, the Book of Kells. Missed going to other parts of the country. Maybe next time.


New Years in Istanbul is an experience of a kind. One group of the population does not care about it – the other parties. My 10 days in Istanbul in late December/January 2012-13 was a fascinating experience – I have heard about the inherent confluence of cultures, times, and geography – all draped in layers of history. Yes these are the cliches that we all hear – but to experience it is another thing. And then to allow it to soak and sink in completely is of overwhelming proportions. It is a different world. In the last several weeks the places I so languidly strolled around – sipping on Ayran and Doner Kebabs have been razed with disturbance. Politics put aside – this is unfortunate. I hope immensely – things will become normal soon.

Reminiscing New York City

It has been almost 8 months since I moved back to DC. I spent quite some time last year shooting in New York during my brief stay from April to December. Here is a sample of that body of work…

Farmers Market

There is a certain charm and specialty about the farmers market. It speaks not just about the produce but also the shoppers. It is not just about buying something, it is why you are buying too. It is about supporting your local farmers and buying local produce. You can call it is trendy but to many it is getting produce almost from an extension of your garden. There is more to buying vegetables here; you come to engage in a conversation, and if you come too often you may form a relationship. And within this relationship you try to conduct the transaction. There is an air of connectedness, a sudden deceleration into a make-belief pastoral times… and for some shoppers, the basket has to exemplify the whole experience.