Thursday, 26 January 2012

Seeing is not Believing in Photography

Often, perspective, angles, optical illusions, and lighting might transform a mundane object into something unique, something totally different! Shooting a tall object from its base might help to exaggerate its height, while photographing an object from above might make the object seem shorter, smaller than it really is! Sometimes, it is a natural phenomenon which creates an illusion. The colours of the rainbow are the result of the refraction of light while passing through drops of rain. In the same way, the setting or rising sun looks larger than it really is, because of two reasons, firstly it is seen relative to objects close to the Horizon, like trees, poles, buildings…etc, which are absent when the Sun reaches the Zenith. The second reason is refraction or bending of light. The atmosphere acts as a lens, and it magnifies the image of the sun. It is for this reason that the Moon in the snaps below seems to be squashed, perhaps because of a wide difference in the temperature in the air. Light passing from cold air to hot air tends to get refracted as when light travelling from above gets refracted when it passes through water.




It is not that the size of the rising sun increases or diminishes, rather it is an optical illusion caused by the heated atmosphere acting as a magnifying lens, a convex lens, and the fact that the close by objects relative to the sun seem to highlight/exaggerated its size! Blame it on relativity!
Lighting thus plays, perhaps, the most important role in photography! I noticed some condensation drops hanging from the roof of my bathroom. In normal lighting, they looked rather unique, hanging from the roof, but not falling down! The use of a flashlight however transformed the whole ceiling into a night sky with clusters of stars surrounding a giant star!


And this is what the ceiling looked without the flashlight!
The use of torch, resulted in yet another transformation of a common, rather mundane sight:
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How we celebrated Republic Day in the St.Thomas School, Jagadhri

Standing in the center are Mr. Chauhan and the Principal Mr. Rodrick Rajive Lal
After the Principal unfurled the Tri-colour, the National Anthem was sung, and the assembly was addressed also by the Principal. There were also some cultural items that reminded us about the significance of the day! There was a Skit that portrayed the 26/11 incident and how the Nation fought back. Another rather interesting skit was a mono act musical/dance rendering of the theme of female infanticide!The school Choir, pictured above regaled the gathering with some very well rendered patriotic numbers!
After the end of the cultural program, a few teachers and students stayed back for the coup de grace, the staff versus students cricked match. It was a wonderful event which was  entertaining, and gave the gathering  a few laughs! The staff won the match by half a dozen runs.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Sleepers

They sleep without food, nor drink, nor
Cold nor heat, can set them down! They
Sleep the Sleep of waking dead, while
Glory n fame pass them by!
With patient sighs they watch the world,as
Dithers it, o’er price and wage! For know
They not of waste nor haste, as they lie
In casks of wood!
Of heat nor cold, know they not, as they lie
In casks of wood! Their time is past,
Regrets are waste, a world they left with
Strife and waste!
They dream a world, fair n wise,
But dream it is, no less no more! Of stock
Nor share care they not, as they
Lie in casks of wood!

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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Kindles, books, and plain paper - pen?

sI look wistfully at a well written note or a letter lying in front of me, appreciating the strokes of the pen, the regularity of movement, and the preciseness of the lines, neither drifting down, nor up or sideways! My parents, both teachers of repute in their times used to tell me that a person’s character was reflected in the writing, so I often tried to mend my hand writing to within accepted standards! During my early teens, especially when I was about thirteen or fourteen, there was a great craze about having pen-friends, so I too had pen friends from all over the world. Each letter was a work of art, especially since it was the culmination of  a large number of discarded attempts, crushed and forlorn, dumped in the dust-bin, the result of an error which could not be deleted with the press of a key! The paper was special, it came in a costly letter-pad! In those days, my fingers and the entire wrist danced a graceful dance as they wrote in a beautiful hand, today, my fingers fly or flit over the key-board, but then there can’t be any grace in the rather swift-staccato pecking of the key-board!
One can argue, however, that use of technology has benefitted everyone by making work easier, faster and more convenient! The fact that I am writing a blog, and that you are reading it might never have taken place if I had to write the same in pen and paper. It would never have the reach that the internet has given me! However, the grace of a beautifully hand-written letter has had to give way, to the soft-copy, the bytes that have been entered with the help of the key-board! I still marvel at the beauty of a handwritten application over a typed application, because the handwritten work is a work of art, a mirror into the personality of the person who has written so well. Unfortunately,  now I use the key-board more than my pen!
The use of technology, computers and computer peripherals in education has been increasing steadily, making the use of the blackboard, the manual type-writer, and that ubiquitous cyclostyling machine (where you had to cut a stencil, Kores or Gestener) rather obsolete! There was a lot of excitement when I was asked by my then Manager, Mr. Anil Virmani, to go for the Intel Teach to the Future programme, a programme aimed at training teachers in the use of computers as teaching tools. I was selected for the Master’s Level, became a teacher-trainer, helped set up a computer lab in the school where I was then teaching. I developed PowerPoint slides for teaching of Formal Letters, Report Writing, Process Essays…etc to students. Today, things have progressed further, and you have interactive blackboards, you have Smart Classes, and in higher education, the use of a lap-top has become the norm! Now we have come to know about how the Kindle and the Tablets might make a foray into the sphere of Education, with the  low cost of the Akash tablet making it an affordable option! You can have whole text books on a Kindle, and you can use Wi-Fi to connect to a server on the Akash and access a resource of textbooks! Today we have E-books on computers and even mobiles. I have a few E-Books on my lap-top and even on my Android Mobile Phone, but have never been able to read more than a couple of pages! Nothing beats the sensation of paper on your fingers, and the convenience of putting the book away only to pick it up later on! The weight of a book is reassuring and satisfying!
I wonder if the advent of cheap technology and the use of Tablet P.Cs. might not spell a doom for text books, and other books as we know them? I wonder if the days of beautiful Hand writing are finally over! The L.P. record (vinyl record) gave way to the compact disk, which in turn has given way to the Blue-Ray, so, does it mean that the book will soon give way to the Kindle? Soon, schools will become obsolete, and computers will become teachers, and the teacher as we know him or her will become a thing of the past, and a book will become a curio and my writing will become the ranting of a puritan, an Orthodox, and old fashioned Teacher! Today, as in the past, I continue to be a book worm and I continue to be a Member of the British Council library in Delhi. I can’t think of a life without books. I love reading books, and especially fiction,Science-fiction, History,Para-Sciences, and anything worth reading!  I enjoy browsing through magazines on science, computers and photography.Although I have a Master’s Degree in English, I remain interested in Physics, Biology, and Chemistry! This interest in diverse fields has resulted  not  from the presence of Tablet P.Cs. or Kindles, or perhaps Lap-tops, but rather from the number of books and magazines that I like to surround myself with!
So then does all this technology mean the end of schools and teachers and class rooms and libraries and text books as we know them? Will we stop going to school, and instead will our teachers be very much at home, as computers that teach us and assess us as we progress into our studies? God forbid, that the human element in the teaching process should be eliminated! Such an eventuality would rob us of our essential human element, and transform us into machines and robots, without individuality or identity. It is good to use technology to improve the quality of Education, but then we should beware of the possibility where technology begins to use us! The lesson, “The Fun they Had” appearing in the C.B.S.E. class seven English Literature  text book( a short story by the famous Science Fiction writer Issac Assimov) describes a world where no one goes to school, and teachers have been replaced by computers, and a book is a quaint, if rather strange object for Margie!

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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A Song for a Dream

I  dream a song of   birds that fly, in sky  so  blue, of
Air that brushes past  my cheeks, O, to sing
  My  dream   of   flight!  O’er    meadows  green,  with
Wings  so swift and  clouds  so  still…! O’er 
Seas   with  sailing  ships  that race,  each  other,
As they skip, o’er the waves like skipping ropes!

I dream a song of  birds that fly, in sky so blue, of
Hidden lands,a dream so sweet… of meadows
  Green and Swans so white! Where fairies fly,
And angels smile, a ball that bounces awn n’ awn!
I dream a song of golden hair, all so bright,
Of towers high and tears of love, of world so nice!

   Dedicated to my younger Daughter, Ekta

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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Should we force our children into a Rat-Race?

It is a known fact that parents often impose their failed ambitions and goals and ambitions on their children. Children often become extensions of parent’s failed targets, and failed targets. Even educated parents impose their ambitions on their children and this results in the children being forced into a vicious circle of competitions and comparisons. Unfortunately, parents find it very difficult to let their children be!
As a Principal of a well known Public School in Haryana, I am often surprised to see parents cajoling, threatening and pleading with their children to recite a Nursery rhyme or count till ten or twenty prior to getting admission to the Pre-Nursery class or the Nursery class! In many cases the child is moody or cranky, and refuses to comply with the parent’s wish! I then tell the parent to take the child out and offer him or her some chocolates, or make him feel relaxed, because ultimately, I realise, on talking to the child that he is smart enough!
In many cases it is just a case of the child rebelling or imposing his own whim, that he will do as he wishes! I warn the parent not to scold or threaten his child for not dancing to his tune.  Often I end up scolding the parent for not letting his child be! Unfortunately, in a competitive world, most parents would appreciate it if their child would rattle off a Nursery Rhyme in one breath or perhaps recite one to ten! Prior to appearing for the process of admission, the child is initiated into a rigorous regime of rote memorising a rhyme or rattling off one to ten! The poor child who comes for an admission to the Pre-Nursery or the Nursery class, he is accompanied by both his parents and both his grand-parents, and when the child retires into a dudgeon, his grandfather comes  forward, cajoling his grandson to recite Humpy Dumpty! I tell the parents and grandparents not to stress the child, because, in any case, I notice that the child is smart enough, I tell them to buy him some chocolates and bring him back to me! It seems as if the child is an extension of the aspirations of, not only the parents but also of the Grand-Parents, who want their child to be admitting in the prestigious school of which I am the Principal!
After passing through the imposed and artificial rigours of the interview for admissions to the Nursery Class, the parents then prepare their children for the myriad competitive exams for tiny-tots! The common desire of such, “enlightened” and, “educated” parents is that  their child should, “win”! Parents transmit their stress, and anxiety to their children about what would happen if their child did not come first! We have numerous baby shows in which the children are trained by their parents as if they are pets competing in a “Pet Show!”
During admissions to the Pre-Nursery  or the Nursery Class, I notice when I step out of my office, parents conducting rigorous and vigorous rehearsals with their tiny tots for the forthcoming process of admissions! It brings a smile on my face, but inside I feel angered that their parents should be forcing their children into the vicious circle of competition! Who are we to judge our children by their performance in competitions, knowing well that God has given them a set of abilities and gifts which are waiting to be discovered!
After the numerous competitions that the child is pitted against, the time comes for the board exams. The child is then sent for coaching so that he might achieve the marks to get admission into the science stream. Parents suggest that the most lucrative career options for their children are medicine and engineering. If the child fails to get the requisite marks for these prized streams, then he is derided and compared with other children who have managed to get through!
After the child graduates, the child is further initiated into another round of comparisons, how does he earn, is his company an ISO company, will he get the desired bride? What dowry will he get, and the questions go on!  After the child gets married and he becomes a father, his child is initiated into a yet another cycle of competitions! The whole process is repeated! I often wonder whether it is only Engineers and Doctors who are the most successful people on this Earth? What about the artists, the lawyers, and the educationists?  How about the writers, and the PROs.? What about successful poets and writers who add spice to our lives?  Are they not successful professionals? What would happen if everyone became and engineer or a doctor? Is our success as Human Beings always assured by the marks we get in entrance exams? Do we as parents have the right of labelling our children as, “hopeless” or “useless” based on their inability to get through that entrance exam? Why can’t we let our children be? Do we have the right or imposing our failed goals and ambitions on our children?
If our children are gifts from God, then should we not appreciate them for what they are, distinct and unique from what we are? Perhaps, they come with a different set of abilities and talents!  Shouldn’t we appreciate them for what they are, distinct and unique from what we are? For all parents, their children should be winners in all sense! It doesn’t require an entrance exam to make them our prized gifts, to be appreciated and admired for the unique gifts they bring with them! Our children require our appreciation and admiration! Parents should not be wanting in these encouragements!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Perspective in Photography (Importance of Angles in Photography)

PWe are so used to photographs that have been taken with the normal and straight angles. You would have the predictable landscape  portrait mode and and the usual straight lines. As they say, normal can some times be boring. Photographing even the most common objects can become an exciting challenge when you try to take snaps from unique and uncommon angles. Taking photographs from bottom up might lend a rather distinct quality to the snap, making it even more so, special! Take for example these photographs of a high power electricity cable pylon! Focussing the camera at mid-point, or the top could give the photograph a rather surreal quality! Look at these photographs and notice how surreal the Electricity Pylon looks:

The angles in this photograph are rather unique and they have been exaggerated by the orientation of the photographer!
A slight twist in perspective lends a distinctive “feel” to the photograph, as exemplified in the photograph pasted below. The same pylon photographed above now looks different, because by changing the perspective and angle, you have essentially highlighted another aspect of the object, namely its angularity!
The lines in the above two photographs converge towards a point at the top vertically! the lines lead the eye to the top, exaggerating the height of the pylon:
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It is not just pylons and high rise buildings that offer interesting subjects to photograph, but in fact, tall trees also can offer ideal objects to photograph. The best position would be at the base of the tall object. Once you are positioned at the base, you should then aim for the best perspective, a point at the apex of the converging lines:
In this case it might be said that the effect is absent! This however is because the tree is top heavy!
However, it is not just vertical angles that lend a rather surreal effect, a horizontal orientation can also lead the eye to a particular point point in the picture:
In the above photograph, which has a horizontal orientation, the eye is lead towards a point towards the centre, lending a sense of, “depth”!
Photographing Clouds can also lend a sense of height and space as in the photographs pasted below:
To conclude, I believe photography is all about leading the eye of the viewer towards a particular point, lending the viewer your perspective, lending him your eyes, letting him see things from your perspective!

Sunday, 8 January 2012


 The seventh of January was part of a busy weekend for me as My Brother - In – Law from Ghaziabad, my Brother from Gurgaon, my Parents and family had arrived. After a short discussion we all decided to go on a brief outing. On enquiring from from some people in Yamuna Nagar, we were told that Dakh-Pathar  in District Dehradun would be an ideal place for an outing (Dakh-Pathar is about 75 Kilometres from Yamuna Nagar). Moreover, we were told that we would be passing through the Kaleshar Reserve Forest, and we would be able to see some migratory birds in the Wetlands of Assan.

While passing through the Kaleshar forest, we came across a lot of monkeys sitting on both sides of the road. This particular monkey seemed to be rather interested in the attention he was getting from me!

The trees, gentle curves , the steady climb, and the road lined with trees on both sides, meeting in the middle like a canopy were a welcome sight!

We proceeded towards the town of Paonta, where the well known Gurudwara Paonta-Saheb is situated.We were surprised to see a store under a well known retail chain found in the urban cities in the town of Paonta Saheb, and guess what? Everyone decided to barge into the store to buy, of all things, Deodorants and and Tee-Shirts!

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While everyone was busy shopping for stuff in the departmental store, I was busy snapping photographs of some kites sailing on the thermals!
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After leaving the town of Paonta Saheb, we proceeded to a spot called Duck View, a favourite resting spot for people travelling to Dehradun. If you are lucky, you might be able to see  Siberian Cranes and Ducks while you sip on your tea and bite into the patties at the restaurant. The place is generally called as the Assan Wetlands. It is home to a wide variety of birds both rare, and extinct and also a resting place for the so called migratory birds.
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On the way to Dakh-Pathar we came across some wonderful mountain Scenery reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands!
After reaching the Dak-Pathar barrage, we were directed to a scenic picnic spot where we spent a couple of hours. Mussoorie, I was told is barely fifty-five kilometres from Dakh Pathar. The name Dakh-Pathar,  was given to the place because of the rocks that used to drop down  a waterfall. We bought our  entry tickets to the Park  and entered the park where we were greeted by statues, flower-beds, exotic flower, set against a back-drop of  amazing, eye-catching Mountain ranges!
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In the park we were greeted by some geese and this little bird which seemed to have such a wonderful and a rather modern hair style!
Besides the birds, there were some rather exotic looking plants including some rather unique cactuses:

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On the whole it had been quite a wonderful outing for all of us, especially since it was at a short notice, and it was not very far from my home in Yamuna Nagar. The scenic Beauty of the mountains, flora and fauna was a visual treat for all of us! Everyone felt so happy, especially since it had been a welcome change from the mad rush and confusion and chaos of Delhi, Ghaziabad, and Gurgaon!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Christ Church Jagadhri, Haryana Annual Sports Day

The Annual Sports Day of The Christ Church, Jagadhri took place on the First of January, 2012. There were a lot of games for everyone, tiny tots, and Grandpas included. My brother, Sanjay took a few photographs on the occasion which I have pasted below. The spirit of togetherness was exemplified by the fervour and zest with which members of the congregation of the Church turned up in spite of the overcast weather. The Sun decided to peep through the clouds finally!


DSCN6943The Viewing Stand

Tiny Tots in action



Looking for sandals?
The fleet footed in action
Preparing for the race
And in the above two snaps we had some guests  from Gurgaon


                                                                                And the support volunteers
The Convenor, Mr. Sanjay lending a helping hand!

Final instructions being given to the contestants


The Grandpas also participated!




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