Take52 Challenge: Week 14 – Peephole

The first of my promised catch up posts for the Photography Challenge I’m part of on Facebook.

Week 14 – and I’m hanging in there but I must confess I was quite at sea with the theme. I think I was overthinking it and so was predictably lost ๐Ÿ˜› Also, those couple of weeks had ย that old ‘restlessness of spirit’ rearing its head again, and I wasn’t ‘with it’ for a while. And yet ‘peephole’ isn’t the most difficult of subjects…of course I was thinking & looking so hard that I forgot to ‘see’ the peephole in my main door ๐Ÿ˜‰ We had some great pictures in the group as always and I despaired of ever getting the right shot…until I remembered our trip to the farm for Junior’s Birthday and an idea presented itself ๐Ÿ™‚

This is what I love most about the Challenge – other than the fact that it has made me keep my camera close at all times – that it forces me to think and to persevere & of course the unexpected thrill of finding the right picture when I’m on the verge of giving up! So it was that for the first time in this Challenge, I went with a picture that I had already taken. Here it is and you can decide for yourselves whether it fits the theme.

Pigeon-holed!

Here is anotherย shot that I also liked…although may I say that I’m not very fond of Pigeons. They are incredibly dumb birds…but they make good pictures ๐Ÿ˜‰

Pigeon-hole

And then my friend S (who’s also part of the Challenge), fashioned a simple but effective peephole with a printed page, taped it to her camera and clicked away with amazing results – so of course I had to try it! Turns out I’m not as skilled a ‘Peeping Tom’ as I aspire to be ๐Ÿ˜‰ I took a lot of pictures mostly of the flowers in my balcony…of which I’m sharing one here. Couldn’t get my hands on printed paper (go figure!) and so used a coloured one instead. And then of course having finally ‘seen’ the peephole on my main door, took one through that and played around with it in Photoshop. I love the Oil Paint filter in Photoshop and how it transforms a picture into a painting ๐Ÿ™‚

Turned out to be a pretty fun Challenge after all ๐Ÿ™‚ And all this talk of Peepholes is making me think of Alice in Wonderland for some reason :p A rabbit-hole is a sort of glorified peephole after all non? And look what adventures she had ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s to Adventure People! ย 

Monkton Mondays!

It’s been a while since I was away…you know how it goes…you go a vacation and no matter how short, it takes days to prepare before and weeks to get back to routine after ๐Ÿ˜‰ Or at least I like to pretend it does ๐Ÿ˜› So it was, after our Easter weekend getaway in Ooty – a hill station in the Nilgiris, in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. Detailed post will follow just as soon as I can get through the ton of pictures I have to sort through.ย 

I must also write that this will probably be my last Monkton post for a while. As much as I enjoy them, I’ve been doing them for so long that I’ve used allย of my favourite pictures and unless Mr. Monkton does a fresh lot of illustrations, I feel like I’ll be forced to repeat many of them. I’ve been toying with the idea of using illustrations from the The Happy Pageย while waiting for new pearls of wisdom from Mr. Monkton. I love howย their minimalistic illustrations manage toย convey a myriad of emotions ๐Ÿ™‚ and they fit ratherย well with my Blog title and theme. Unfortunately…I can’t seem to think of a cool alliterative title (I have a thing about alliteration as far as titles go :P), so all suggestions are very welcome!

Although I’ve been away from the Blog, I’ve been busy with the camera and am still very much a part of the CameraShy Take52 Challenge. Will update those posts as well during this week. We’ve had some interesting challengesย these last two weeks ๐Ÿ™‚ And so to the start of another week, just a few days left and we’ll be in May – almost half the year done in the blink of an eye! As of now the things that occupy my mind are getting a dog (although that’s perpetually on my mind!) and our trip to Kabini in June and then Goa – for a month long break after – by which time hopefully the Monsoon will be in full swing and we’ll be rid of this wretched heat! Tomorrow, Junior has a ‘Leadership Summit’ in school – can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with ๐Ÿ™‚ And so let me wrap up this last Monkton post with a big Thank You’ย a la Monkton…To all of you for reading and for making writing a joyful experience – I’m very grateful! I hope you enjoy the Tin of Good Things ๐Ÿ˜€ย 

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I know I will!

Happy Monday People ๐Ÿ˜€ย 

Take52 Challenge: Week 13 – Delicate

Delicate – such a deceptiveย word. I’ve always thought that. Like petite. It conjures up images of things easily broken, damaged; suggests a lack of inherent strength, of ‘hardiness’ – in both things and people. And although in many cases this may be true, in many others I find that the inherent strength of the delicate (whether objects or humans), far exceeds that of the obviously strong – whether physically or mentally. Christie used women in ‘delicate’ health all the time and they never seemed to die on their own! No indeed – they never died until someone tired of waiting and went about murdering them ๐Ÿ˜› Perhaps that’s where I first learned to bewareย the word? ๐Ÿ˜‰ And if you’ve ever worked with babies like I have, you’ll know all about their iron grip!

This past week – Delicate was also the theme of the Challenge. I didn’t want to go the obvious route (when do I ever?!), but explore the ‘delicateness’ in the abstract – our minds, our hearts, our thoughts, our dreams, our egos – seemingly fragile yet capableย of herculean strength when needed. I thought of the dream catcher I brought back from my trip to the Grand Canyon. It has hung from my bedroom window in every house I’ve lived in since – swaying gently in the breeze, filtering my dreams, protecting me from nightmares or so I like to think ๐Ÿ™‚ I love it though and I love the thought of it and it seemed to fit the theme. It did help that it had a few delicate beads and feathers! I added the quote because it’s a favourite but also because I’m still learning to let ‘negative space’ just be! I’m working on it, I promise ๐Ÿ˜› Here it is…Delicate Dreams…

Delicate

And once I was done with the Challenge, I decided to take a few shots of the weeds in the gardens – another deceptively delicate species ๐Ÿ˜‰

What’s your take on ‘Delicate’? Share! Do!ย 

Take52 Challenge: Week 12 – Score

I was in Goa for the week this theme was announced and busy with things other than the Challenge. The most obvious interpretation of the word – “Sports” is NOT something I’m interested in at all; and so this was the toughest challenge for me so far. I struggled to come up with ideas and when I did, it was almost always too late and someone had posted before me! I took many pictures of my son playing cricket, but I couldn’t find any that hit the spot. I came back home to Bangalore 5 days later…with time running out and still stuck. In desperation I took a few shots of a Beer Mug with ‘scored’ glass but it didn’t feel right. Then while cleaning out my junk drawer I found my eye-test result and as it so often does – something clicked! And so I took this picture for the Challenge. It is my first monochrome submission and I’m quite happy with it ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

Eye-Score

Of course in keeping with Murphy’s Law…once I was done with this picture, I began to get a few more ideas and on delving into my archives, I found a few pictures that seemed to fit the theme! What would you have shot for this theme? Do share!ย 

Monkton Mondays!

I keep meaning to write and when I finally sit down to do so…I see it’s been 3 weeks since I last did! I could apologise but I’ve been busy having good times ๐Ÿ˜› I mean…one has to occaisonally go about and do happy blog-worthy stuff no? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Lets see…last I posted was just before we left for Goa for Junior’s spring break. What followed were four glorious days of fun and frolic with friends and family ๐Ÿ™‚ Break was longer but I had carefully choreographed the visit so it sou;don’t exceed my tolerance threshold! Make of that what you will ๐Ÿ˜› but if you’re anything like me and/or know me well, you’ll understand why I can only manage short bursts of joy in Mom’s home! Believe me it’s better that way for the both of us ๐Ÿ˜‰

Back home in Bangalore and we still had a weekend before school re-opened, so we visited the Banerghatta Biological Park and took a safari. There’s also a zoo which we avoided on advise from most friends who said it was totally avoidable. The safari was great fun though, and although the animals are in a controlled environment, it’s nonetheless exciting to spot a lion, a bear and a tiger…lolling around and sleeping off the dry summer heat ๐Ÿ™‚ Junior was beside himself with joy and I’m always happy to get that perfect shot. In June, we are off to Kabini – to visit the Nagarhole National Park. I’m super excited at the thought and am crossing every part of my body and mind in the hopes of seeing a tiger in the wild!! I’ve heard one once in the Kaziranga National Park and the sound still gives meย gooseflesh in the best possible way.

This last weekend Junior turned 6 ๐Ÿ™‚ He still isn’t bothered about parties and so we did a cake-cutting in school, the day before and spent his Birthday morning visiting Martins Farm and playing with the farm animals there; while in the evening we saw Aladdin – a musical play where we met several of his classmates and they all had a ball running around in the manner of headless chickens ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜› I think they all enjoyed the goofing around more than the play!ย You know how little boys can get! And whileย I was looking for books as return gifts, I discovered Tullika. I’d heard of Tullika of course – an Indian Publishing house that does fabulous children’s books but didn’t know that they also offer special Birthday packages! Ordering the books was a piece of cake thanks to the prompt and extremely helpful Aneesha ๐Ÿ™‚ I picked my books and sent them a list and sat back and relaxed. They sent me the books wrapped in gorgeous wrapping paper that matched the book covers complete with printed Thank You cards!! They even sent Junior a free book as a Birthday gift. Truly awesome service Tullika!!! Thank-You once again, especially to Aneesha who co-ordinated with me ๐Ÿ˜€ Cannot recommend them enough!

Add to all of the above,ย planning a trip to Ooty on the 17th of this month, my ongoing Photography challenge and reading East of Eden…and you know I’ve been a busy bee! Wellย that brings us unto today…the first day in a long time that my mind feels peaceful enough for aย return to a routine. Hubby’s Birthday is coming up on Friday, but since no gifts are to be given nor expected – it’s all cool ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜› And so to Mr. Monkton…It seems only fitting that I should dedicate this week’s post to Junior – who brings me more joy than I imagined possible and more hope that I believed existed. He makes all sadness bearable and all happiness happier ๐Ÿ™‚ And there are times when I look at him and wonder what it is in me that deserved him…whatever it is…I treasure it and I treasure him โค :* Now enough with the sappiness and lets get to it!

a-birthday-blessing-edward-monkton-6006096-0-1342798896000Happy Monday People ๐Ÿ˜€

Never miss a chance to dance in the rain!ย 

Take52 Challenge: Week 11 – Unlucky

This was a tough one! Bad luck doesn’t always make for great pictures – or so I thought! Turns out I was wrong. Of course ๐Ÿ˜› We have some fantastic pictures on the site…a blend of concepts and techniques that make for fascinating viewing! As always the process of learning continues.

So of course I was thinking about Luck and what it really means. Some people believe Luck is being prepared and ready to seize an opportunity as it arises. Some people, and I must include myself in this category, use it to define events, good and bad, over which we seemingly have no control. Perhaps the lack of control is an illusion? A question of perception? But when I think how minuscule we are, how ruled by circumstance, how reliant on the judgement and skill of others like us, in most situations, then I have to believe in some mechanism or underlying unifying force/aura/energy, call it what you will, that nudges the Universe in any one given direction. Of course our choices have power! They can sway the Universe too, I just feel that ever so often they are acting in conjunction with the ‘Unknown’! Or perhaps that’s just me indulging my dramatic side and my penchant for the mysterious, for Fantasy ๐Ÿ˜‰ Whatever the reason, I do believe. Coz how else can you explain why one person wins the million-dollar life-changing lottery, while others spend millions of dollars on lottery tickets that don’t win them a penny?! I think Luck adds a fun dimension to what might otherwise be a humdrum existence…being prepared all the time is very wise indeed but I’m not sure it’s much fun ๐Ÿ˜› Well not for me anyway – I’m much to instinctive to ever be prepared; but I’m prepared at all times to be instinctive ๐Ÿ˜‰

And on that very confusing and rather silly note, lets just get to the pictures shall we? ๐Ÿ˜€ I know, I know – I ramble…it’s what happens when adult interaction is at the minimum ๐Ÿ˜› The first things that I thought of were ‘black cats’ and ‘salt spills’ and in the absence of real, live cats, I decided to practice my photoshop skills and superimpose a stock image of one on to a picture of the Moon I had taken recently. Then in the same vein, I added some text to my picture of spilled salt which I had carefully arranged to spell Luck. Although I liked the way they turned out, none of them seemed right. Then I thought of the Snakes & Ladders game that is a current favourite with Junior and since Luck and games are so closely linked in our psyches, I decided to go with that. I used my Macro lens (it has become quite a favourite of mine even when I’m not actually shooting Macro), and clicked away! I quite liked the result. Let me know what you think, will ya? ๐Ÿ˜€

And here is the picture I took for the Challenge…

Unlucky-Dice

Here’s to a Lucky Weekend People!

May the Luck of the Draw be always in your favour ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

Monkton Mondays!

Today is Holi – The Festival of Colors! Like all things Indian, there are myriad stories that surround one festival ๐Ÿ˜‰ My favourite of the ones surrounding Holi, is the story of Prahlad, son of the Demon-king Hiranyakashyapu. How’s that for a tongue-twister eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Well, in manner of all Demons – old & new, this one too got so full of himself, that he declared that the World should worship only Him and none of the 36 million odd Gods that were around. However he harboured a fervent devotee of the Lord Vishnu (The Protector), in his own home, a fact that was like a humungous thorn in his demon-hide! The young prince Prahlad was pious and steadfast and under The Lord’s protection – a fact that saved him from several attempts on his Life. I think his Dad once tried to have him trampled to death by a mad bull elephant – NOT cool! Finally King H called on his evil sister (I wonder if she was a twin), conveniently named Holika (you see where this is going?) for help in killing his son. This is why I say – Family is overrated much ๐Ÿ˜›

Holika had a magical cloak (move over Harry!), that protected her from Fire. Supercool methinks! So anyway, she sat on a burning pyre, and on her lap sat Prince Prahlad, calmly meditating on The Lord’s name. I’m telling you – Meditation is the way to go People! And Lo and Behold (God, I’ve been dying to use that expression!), the cloak miraculously flew off her and onto the Prince, saving him. Meanwhile Holika was Toast! I must confess I feel a little sad for her, but then I’ve always enjoyed the Demon in me ๐Ÿ˜‰ But for the rest of the goody goody World – All’s Well that Ends Well! Good once again conquers Evil and one more festival is added to the ever-lengthening list ๐Ÿ™‚ And for those of you who are interested in the end of the story – The Lord Vishnu appears in the form of a lion-man, grabs the evil King, sits on the threshold and literally tears his heart out!! Oh yeah – Beware the Vengeful God People ๐Ÿ˜› Then the good Prince P becomes the good King P and everyone is happy except the dead and we all know they don’t count!

The purpose of the tale, other than it took me down memory lane and was fun to write ๐Ÿ˜‰ is to explain why we light a huge Bonfire on the night before Holi, and call it Holika! It signifies as always the triumph of Good and a phoenix-like renewal from the ashes of loss. I wonder if Rowling ever read this story? ๐Ÿ˜› Last night we witnessed our very own Holika and she was pretty fiery ๐Ÿ™‚ And although playing with colours traditionally follows the Holika, times they are a-changing my friends. We played with colours yesterday morning, because it was a Sunday and so – convenient ๐Ÿ™‚ It was fabulously fun though and Junior who’s been terrified of playing before, was happy to smear colours on us and himself and even willing to be drenched by water guns ๐Ÿ˜€ some of which by the way, could easily be mistaken for army-issue! He’s growing up and it makes me a little teary, but well – c’est la vie.ย 

In other weekend news – finally began Steinbeck’s East of Eden and am already half-living in the Salinas valley ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m just about a 50 pages in and already I know this is going to be an unforgettable saga of gargantuan proportions. Sorry for the floweriness ๐Ÿ˜› Have been wanting to use ‘gargantuan’ for ages too ๐Ÿ˜‰ And so on to Mr. Monkton…I chose this image because it reminded me of how ‘In the Groove’ we were yesterday – dancing to the latest Bollywood numbers, coloured faces grinning maniacally, carefree and happy! It was a good feeling! A Wonderful feeling ๐Ÿ˜€ I FELT it! And it’s very clear that ย Ms. Bunny feels it too ๐Ÿ˜€

groove-bunny-edward-monkton-10g-tin-of-mints-44204-p

Happy Monday People!

May you always find COLOUR when you need it ๐Ÿ˜€

Take 52 Challenge: Week 10 – Angle

It’s all about Angles this week and suddenly I see them everywhere! This is the first time this has happened for me…that I’m literally seeing the subject of the Challenge everywhere, in everything, all the time! It’s rather overwhelming not to mention a tad weird ๐Ÿ˜› They are truly ubiquitous – whether in Nature or the man-made World, whether geometrical or metaphorically, as nouns or verbs…it’s all a matter of perspective. We’ve had some lovely angled shots this week…some soft, some sharp and some downright dramatic. Angles tend to do that – add drama. If you sense a metaphor coming, breathe easy ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m steering well clear of them this week. There’s such a thing as too much thought and I’m just not in the mood. Although I must confess that was my intention when I began to write. You’re congratulating yourself on your lucky escape aren’t you? And the fickleness of my mind?! You and me both ๐Ÿ˜›

Last week for the Roots Challenge, I shunned Mother Nature and went man-made. This week I embraced Her ๐Ÿ™‚ And like most Mothers, she didn’t disappoint ๐Ÿ˜‰ I found this plant with dagger-like thorns encircling its thick stem from top to bottom – a throwback to some medieval torture instrument ๐Ÿ˜› They were protecting the most delicate greenish-pink buds that offered a wonderfully soft contrast. The flowers however I didn’t like very much…they were flat and lacked the alluring innocence of their younger selves! See, I promised no metaphors! How am I doing so far? ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was harder to get the right angle than I had imagined. Translating 3D into 2D is tough and doesn’t always work. I took a lot of shots and finally chose this one…

Natural Born Angles!
Natural Born Angles!

Here is what they were protecting…

DSC_0472

And here are some others I took just for fun…

The Weekend is upon us People! ENJOY every ANGLE ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

Take52 Challenge: Week 9 – Roots

I should have posted this last week but better late than never! The theme of the Challenge was Roots, once again a word with many meanings and as many interpretations, several of which I’ve enjoyed viewing on our site. I love that about this Challenge, it’s making me look at things from different perspectives ๐Ÿ™‚ Again, I knew I didn’t want to take a traditional ‘root’ picture. For one, there weren’t any interesting roots or even root-like objects in the near vicinity. Lots of trees but with their roots tucked safely underground! So I decided to grow my own…and since I have a non-existent green thumb, they would have to be grown from something that I could not destroy ๐Ÿ˜›

I came across ‘water candles’ on Youtube while surfing for ideas and decided to try them out. I’m not a ‘crafty’ person (pun unintended!), but these seemed simple enough and I wouldn’t have to go shopping for material. I have plenty of used candles and a million wax crayons thanks to Junior! So into my little fondue pot went the chopped up candle wax and a brown crayon and in 5 minutes, I had some nice bubbling, melted wax. I must say I felt very accomplished ๐Ÿ˜‰ Then I poured small amounts of the melted wax onto a plastic base with a votive previously fixed, and dunked & swirled immediately in a bucket of water. The instructions said ice-cold but I didn’t bother with the ice. It was fun to see the strands of wax stretch out and rise the instant it hit the water ๐Ÿ™‚ They looked more like icicles than roots but I didn’t care. I used my macro lens to get up close and personal with my waxy roots!

Roots of Wax!

Last week, I also managed to download Photoshop and Lightroom – Finally! Now that I have them I’m looking forward to learning more about editing. I think it’s a great way to add some more fun into the photographic process. I’ve been using Youtube to study Photoshop tutorials and learnt recently how to blend two pictures into one, inspired by my friend Wendy who used the technique to create a wonderful image for the Roots Challenge. I used it to create another picture which if I had got done in time, I might have submitted for my Challenge. Then I found a rather nice ‘root’ picture that I had taken a year ago in Bombay and I used Photoshop to change it into a painting (an effect I really love). I thought it turned out rather nice.

As for Roots – I’ve just posted about how ‘Rootless’ I feel in my soul and how this ‘rootlessness’ feels authentic for the moment. So for now – it is what it is, and if ever I do sprout some myself – I promise, you guys will be the first to know.ย Meanwhile for those of you with Roots – Bask in their Glory ๐Ÿ™‚ And for my fellow ‘Rolling Stones’ – Enjoy the Ride!

Monkton Mondays!

It’s been a mixed weekend. Spent the first half of International Women’s Day in School at the PTM with Junior. All was well except that I was down with one of those inexplicable attacks of the common cold – you know the ones where you were perfectly fine the day beforeย (or so you thought!) but woke up to a hundred sneezes? Yup! That’s the one! Well, Mom had to be on duty, cold or no cold, predictably; and so she was, again – predictably. Dad was…lets just not go there shall we? Wouldn’t want to begin the first post for the week with a rant against husbands. So passรฉ n’est pas?!

Junior has found his footing in school, more or less. He’s happy to go, happy to learn and generally happy for the most part ๐Ÿ™‚ Fingers crossed for Grade 1 in August! The second half of Saturday I spent ‘zonked out’ in bed. There is no better term to describe it, I promise! It was the sleep of the afflicted and it was restorative to say the least. Woke for an hour around dinnertime, when Hubby redeemed himself a tad by taking the Munchkin and himself out to dinner and bringing me back some Pepperoni Pizza. And before you jump down my throat saying Pizza is not appropriate nutrition for the afflicted; let me jump right down yours and say IT IS ๐Ÿ˜› Proof lies in the fact that I felt much recovered on Sunday and was able to attend my first Sunday Soul Sante – a Bangalore institution of sorts I imagine, a fiesta of arts & crafts supplemented with the requisite food stalls, fashion show and live music ๐Ÿ˜€ The traffic was killing but luckily the venue was practically in our backyard, and I had fun wandering around with Junior, discovering little treasures, for an hour or so. That’s my limit in a crowd that size…longer is unthinkable!

I don’t know whether this is a part of growing older too (so much of what I feel and experience seems to be), but routine weekdays are now ‘easier’ than planning weekends ๐Ÿ˜› This morning for example, I must confess to feeling a disproportionate elation on the arrival of Monday ๐Ÿ˜‰ Perhaps the fact that I look forward to writing this post and a new theme in my Photgraphy Challenge has a little something to do with? Possibly…whatever the reasons, it feels good to be alone, in a silent house and able to write; able to think. Also I’m happy to report the number of sneezes is down to 10 ๐Ÿ™‚ and that I have finished my latest Julian Barnes book, Levels of Life, which has reinforced my love of his writing manyfold. He writes about grief (don’t they all?!), but he weaves magic with his insight into ‘grief’ and ‘the mourning process’ as he sees it, so that in the end it doesn’t leave me feeling as depressed as I expected it would. As always he tells not a conventional story – that is not his way – this reads more like a philosophical essay perhaps – I’m unsure of where and how to slot it, which for me is part of its allure.

Through ballooning and photography, and the journeys of three fascinating real-life characters (completely and utterly unknown to me), who are ‘put together’ and ‘torn apart again’, he explores the mysteries of the human heart and mind and weaves his way to the story of his own grief, his own journey, his own process. All this is in 118 pages! Along the way, he taught me a few new words too, ‘divagations’, ‘recidivism’, ‘solipsism’…words that I had to look up and that are now happily a part of my consciousness. Every thought he offers, every feeling he feels, felt real and resonated with forceful impact, no doubt because of the loss of my own brother 5 years ago. I identify on a gut level where he’s coming from. No explanations required. Needless to sayย I’m in complete agreement with one of the judges who awarded him the 2011 Man Booker Prize, who called him ‘an unparalleledย magus of the heart’. I don’t know of a better way to describe his writing ๐Ÿ™‚

And so to Mr. Monkton – I must confess I’d almost forgotten him in my Barnes soliloquy ๐Ÿ˜› but not quite! What with Women’s Day (although everyday is Women’s Day in my book!), and finishing this book which may be obviously about grief but is just as obviously about love, I think this thought of Mr. Monkton says it all. I’ve always thought that we women never do as good a job of loving ourselves and other women as much as we do with the men and children in our lives. And I firmly believe that’s it’s the only way forward! So here’s to self-love without which I believe there can be no form of lasting love at all.

The-Only-Way_Monkton

Love Yourself People! You’re WORTH it!ย 

And then…Pass it On ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Monday!