The right kind of ripe

Subhas Chandra Bose Statue, Calcutta
Rickshaw Traffic, Benares

Scooterist and Rickshaw Passengers, Benares

Jama Masjid and Bazaar Crowd, Delhi

Indian Border Security Force Soldiers at the India-Pakistan (Atari-Wagah) Border, Punjab

Holi Festival Day, Red Fort, Agra
Grand Turk Road, Durgapur, West Bengal
Finally found an article that convinced me of Teju Cole's wit: an enlightening counterargument on the beauty of photography taken by giants like Steve McCurry. Don't get me wrong: I'm a fan of Curry's photos, but it would never cross my mind to look at the bigger picture, at his collections, for example, and how Cole argued that "a sequence of photographs, taken over many years and carefully arranged" reveals something far more than just a collection but a worldview--an ideology, if you will.

Raghubir Singh is a photographer I haven't heard of, and would never have if it weren't for this article. Yet it's true that Singh's photos of India has so much more to offer since it "evades compositional cliché"--it's busy and noisy, and yet it veers away from the mystical, exotic experience that the Western perspective has subscribed to: the concept of the Orient. The photos above is a testament to Singh's eye. His is just as masterful as Curry, and it's a shame that the former had never been as widely recognized. (I even mistakenly attributed the first photo, Subhas Chandra Bose Statue, Calcutta, to Curry.) I liked how Teju skirted around the idea of mentioning Steve Curry's nationality and its tense relationship with the subject matter, on how his collections and curations has reinforced stereotypes as he framed India's landscapes. In writing about thorny, controversial issues, Cole's essay has both tact and grace. Where other reviews might be tempted to blatantly write about this issue (and the dynamics of photography and power in general), Cole decides to cite Beyonce's video to point out its increasing relevance.

Thimphu


This made me want to go to Bhutan.

Slips

I was half-amused when my niece added me on Instagram. We had a ten-year gap. We used to be really close until they left for New York. Back in 2010 she did not want me to leave for Manila "because you seem like a big brother to me." I had to hold my tears until I reached my room upstairs and remembered staring at this hardbound book by David Sheff which had been bought by my aunt at a nearby Borders in Palo Alto. The last time I've seen her was 2012, that Year of Magical Thinking, when I still smoked cigarettes and listened to Why? and poured all my feelings at my Livejournal blog. On her Instagram account she writes a bit of poetry, a bit of #artsy photos, a #selfie here and there. At my defunct Deviantart is our photo together in one of those bus rides around Edgewater, she clutching her V-Tech toy camera (with slides in the viewfinder), I taking the artsy photos with my Canon SX100 IS: there were heavily-photoshopped macro shots, light-years before the advent of the #nofilter movement; food photos that's just not mouthwatering (pre-#foodporn); and photos of feet on dried leaves or on subway platforms that would become the precursors of #fromwhereIstand. Now she was taking those photos with her iPhone. Pretty soon my three-year-old son will take the same photos ten years from now, and she will feel a slight revulsion when he adds her in the future. Someone in the family--maybe my Dad--used to tell me that the fastest way to cook rice in a rice cooker is to get busy. In this case, I had unexpectedly left the house for two weeks without notice, and when I got back I found out that the lights were on (my bad), the same musty cabinet had the same shirts, and that there was nothing different aside from the rice cooker, now filled with a profusion of mold. There were bills at the gate's built-in mailbox, and then there was a sealed envelope. The stamps were from a faraway place. Just when I was expecting a typewritten note or a handwritten letter, there was none. Maybe it had one about The Little Prince, but it dissolved a long time ago. I tried to examine the paper more closely, finding clues, feeling hints of light and heavy writing strokes, but there was none. I could only guess about what it meant or said.