Friday, July 9, 2010

My New Landing Page

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The India Trip

I am leaving for India in two days, 25th to be exact. My bags are somewhat packed. I was laying down on my bed, staring at the lifeless ceiling fan and wondering why I am not excited about going to India. It does not seem normal. I am not excited about seeing the people and the places that I grew up watching.

On further thought, I could point out a few things that are stealing the excitement away. Home is where the heart is. My heart is firmly planted in Jacksonville. This is where my job is, this is where my friends live and most importantly, this is where Laya is. So, the vacation is taking me away from my current home. I am also missing Laya already. We took naps together and long walks. She is being boarded at a good home with loving people, soft couches and other dogs to play with. Even then, I know she will miss me and I will miss her.

I am also not happy about a few disagreements between my parents and I. They take the sweetness away from the relationship, even if it is guaranteed temporary. I am dreading the flight and no more procrastination will work. The time has come to put one foot in front of another and get on with the journey. Travel opens your mind and I am hoping for it to open mine.

I am a little excited about meeting new people during the flight though. The last few international flights have been great in meeting new people and looking at life from a different angle. I am also traveling with more savings this time than any other. That is bound to be a good factor.

I guess this journey, the next whole month is a pot-pouri of mixed emotions and uncertain experiences. It should be interesting. I hope to get some good pictures, digital and mental when I return on 29 December.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pledges and Carbonated Drinks

One chilly morning in Jacksonville Florida, I woke up to a lot of hoopla on TV about the Gate River Run. Not thinking much about it, I proceeded to my second nap of the day. an hour later, the fastest runners had already finished the 15 kilometer run while thousands more followed. Waking up to this amount of adrenalin on TV filled me up with gumption. Never before had I hated my lethargy so much.

An iPod Nano, Nike Plus shoes and a registration on the Nike Plus website later, I was pledging one of my most original, heart felt and sincere pledges. "if I dont finish 15K Gate River run in 2009, I will give up Soda and sweet tea for 2009"

I have started to run but it does not seem to work for me. The aim of finishing the 15K marathon is not a solid enough goal for me. It is a too strenuous activity for a very distant goal. I dont particularly enjoy running. Moreover, the reason for me pledging in the first place was probably not as concrete as I thought it was.

Running to protest against my laziness is very negative. It makes me feel bad about myself. My other activity of bicycling to work and errands to be more active, save the environment and be independent from cars and foreign oil is much more positive in its goals.

Hence, I quit my pursuit of the pledge. I understand that there is a penalty. I have to give up soda and sweet tea for 2009. There should be a greater penalty for leaving the effort though. Something to teach me to think harder before going into a commitment. So, I hereby give up soda and sweet tea for the remaining 2008 and all of 2009. I wont be substituing it with beer. Just water.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

High End Strip Malls

Strip-malls are probably the most iconic sights of North America after SUV’s and McDonalds! Jacksonville FL probably is the Mecca of such iconic sights. The vastness of the city area has given the developers and planners untrammeled opportunities to build flat out inclusive of massive parking lots to park those gas guzzlers.

Even the more recent up-scale construction projects like the prestigious Town Center Mall is nothing but a glorified strip mall. You don’t create quality by replacing a Chinese Takie-Outie with a P.F. Changs and the mom-and-pop-Italian-restaurant by a Maggiano’s. In their defense, there is a prestigious condo complex attached to the mall that even in today’s market is selling at $300,000 plus prices. There is this one lane inside this strip mall that is brick paved with no cars and a little pond with colorful fish in it. Makes it look all cool and European. You almost want to wander into those streets and shop at the designer stores and be sure that they are paying for common area maintenance for these stylish streets and are charging you for it!

The town center mall is paradise for shoppers that think more is not enough but it is a crazy place for a cyclist that is trying to shed less carbon and lose some calories by cycling to his friend’s house. Well you see that they got rid of all those trees to put some walls up and stick expensive brand names outside them. The little gusts of winds pick up speed while those trees have ended up in some print out that will be glanced at once and then thrown away for the noble cause of maintaining a paper-less society. Uninterrupted, these gusts of winds rampage through the drab mall buildings and extra wide SUV spec lanes and create unnecessary head wind for the poor cyclist who was not enjoying the view and is now not enjoying the ride.

Battling the strong head winds, the cyclist turns into St. John’s Bluff, taking shelter among a few tall trees till a gas station approaches. $4.09 9/10. That head wind feels every bit worth battling against!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Weather and I

The first few days of summer are here. Today’s winds blew in from the south-east bringing in warmth and change. I write this with mixed emotions. Praise, some rage, a little self-appreciation and a whole lot of independence overcomes me as I bring my trusty old keyboard out and plug it to the back of the laptop. Typing on the keyboard should minimize the loss of gumption in this long-forgotten venture of mine.

I moved in to a new apartment two months back. This gives a lot more time to think about the things that are really important in life: life itself than ponder over spiral dreams of horsepower, women and logistics. I moved in alone. Well, Laya is with me, the only witness to my evolution. I trust Darwin’s ‘evolution’ and Gita’s ‘change’. I trust it to happen, even if ever so slowly and all I can do is to try to push in the right direction.

I have been questioning everything only to see that people are either too lazy to think and already have made decisions or they take a debate as downright confrontation. Maybe I need to surround myself with better people but what’s better? Where do I find better? Is anybody better in an honest debate than myself? If I take a stand, shouldn’t I be responsible to prove it? Then am I my best critic?

You see a lot of questions thrown around in the paragraph above. ‘Why’ is probably the most devastating of all. Why leads to observation and observation takes you out of the environment. Just like a photographer is always outside the scenery and the third umpire is never in the field. With observation comes responsibility, with responsibility comes seclusion and with seclusion comes the responsibility to not go insane.

A few weeks have passed and the winds have changed since I started writing this. I feel a responsibility to not be lonely too. I was one of James’s groom’s men at his wedding yesterday and being among a ton of family members of the bride and groom makes me feel a little lonely today. So what do I do about it? Join a club and meet more people. I have some options and will be exploring them. More than feeling lonely is the want to do something. Something that has minimal or no ‘me’ in it. It is easy to get a little self centered when in seclusion and lonely.

The changing winds have put me back into the scenery too, if only for a little while. From being behind the lens, I managed to creep in front of it. Literally. I have been photographing weddings and yesterday, I got the opportunity to be photographed. Not that I am portraying narcissism by saying that I like being photographed but it was a soothing change. The maid-of-honor also mentioned that I have a photogenic face but it was probably the zinfandel talking!

Tomorrow, I slip back behind the lens. Literally and figuratively. Tomorrow, I start reading, learning, thinking, judging, critiquing, questioning, prodding, analyzing and inferring.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Photography and Shek

I am recently doing a bit of photography. It has been one of the major reasons that keeps me from writing. My secret admirers complain that they do not get to read any more of Shek. Other than not having something significant to share with you, I do not have any motivation to write any more. If you read between the lines, you will find a hint that this post is a little serious.

Photography is like my mistress that is keeping my blood flowing when I am not in my marriage which is my job. Not getting into the relevance of the institution of marriage, I want to move on to comparing photography to a mistress. I started photography in June this year and have been fairly impressed with my liking towards it. I did manage to click some pictures that, for me, was sex on the lens. I always did see things differently but never knew that I would be good at looking at my surroundings like there was a view finder in hand. It does scare me that I am superficially good at this. Scares me because I may not be the best and I want to be the best.

How does one start photography? Take pictures and have other people review them. After this thought is processed in the mysterious brain, some words like Flickr, Blog, competitions are thrown in. I would like to concentrate on Flickr. In a business, a businessman only looks for financial advice from someone who makes more money than he does. That is my fundamental problem with Flickr. It is so infested by a bunch of amateurs that the quality of reviews through comments drop severely. Feedback is a vital part of any progress. Feedback plays a large role in molding the advancement and thinking of art. I want my mind to grow free. Photography is an expression, an art and like life, should be allowed to grow on its own, feeling its own way, finding its own counterpoint of expression. I'd rather have one professional photographer review my work than fifty amateurs. My stubborn mind does do a good job of keeping my thoughts from converting opinions to rules.

A photograph is art and should be treated like a painting is in a gallery. It is something to be stared at, something to be felt. Technically, it is not a moment in time but a small length of time, a video, a piece of moving happening life on paper. All 1/1000 th or more seconds of it. I blog to put pressure on myself to see and think and observe and then push the button. Life through a lens is completely different. Better different. You can focus on a subject and see how the background blurs out creating a completely new canvas unseen by naked eye.

My goal is to grab me an SUV (preferably a Toyota FJ cruiser, because I have a thing for cars and my dreams usually have well defined cars), grab Laya, the camera, the tripod, take a month's vacation and just go. No destination, no route.

My mistress can be visited here: Shek's Aperture and here: Jacksonville Daily Photo