Three and a Half Hours at Nandi Village

Nov 2017

Copyright © 1993- Ganesh H. Shankar
Life has been too hectic and philosophical for last couple of months. It took some time for me to settle down after the departure of my mother a month ago. I was waiting to get out of the city to spend some time in nature. An office outing to a resort near Nandi Village came at the right time. I drove down with a few colleagues and we were the first few to reach the venue. I did carry my new camera which I wanted to try in the field for the first time. A few spots along the road side were interesting. I parked my car at the resort and a started walking along the village road with a few of my colleagues. There were grape and flower orchards close to the road. When I saw a scarecrow (mannequin) in a nearby rose field I thought it is a good enough subject to start the day!

Creation - A human by a human

Life is abundant on this planet earth from hottest desert to coldest snow-covered peaks. How difficult is it to create a simple "life"? As simple as a bacterium? Human desire to create life has been a long project. My understanding is success so far is very limited. Is creation of life beyond our reach? For my limited knowledge life still remains a beautiful mystery. My intuition says it will remain so!

While I was trying to find a few good perspectives to make some images a villager came by. Before he asked any question, I told him that I am from Bangalore, a concrete jungle nearby and the village and the rose field was beautiful. He shared his challenge of living in the village with limited resources. We quickly agreed that the grass is always green on the other side. I made a few more images and returned back to the main road. I could not find any of my colleagues. They all went back to the resort. I decided to explore the rustic village life and started walking further, alone.

Everything appeared very genuine and close to the nature. Hanging roots of a banyan tree appeared beautiful against morning backlight. A monkey just crossed the road and sat near a home. Two clothes are getting dried on a wire next to the road. A man comes in a bike with cut grass for the cattle.

Who am I here?

These are just some minor details in the larger scheme of things. What does it mean? If at all it does?

I moved on.

I saw a cow gracing next to the road and a cattle egret looking for its food. Neither the cow nor the bird appeared to be in any hurry. My clock probably was skewed and probably was running faster. When I sat down to make an image the egret flew off. However, the time in the cattle's world continued to tick at the same slower rate. Time is after all an illusion, as Einstein had taught us.

An Insignificant Moment in the Nature(?)

When did I stop enjoying these apparently simple things in nature? Fortunately, I am still not blind towards them.

As I moved further I found a few sheds where folks were indulged in making pottery. I entered one of them and enquired whether I could photograph them. They were happy to permit me in. I got lost for about an hour at this place, making a few images and talking to them. My new camera was put to good test at this place.

Gallery of Light

God and Symmetry

Why does simple repetitions often look aesthetic? Is it because things in the God's world (Nature) are simple, at least at the outset for us to comprehend to some extent? Does the sense of beauty as experienced by other life forms, say birds for example are similar? Do dragonflies (with compound eyes) or birds of paradise have similar sense of aesthetics? I doubt. What then governs those differences? I am sure Nature does not exist for only one species. Does nature then consist of only "beautiful" things, beautiful to at least some life forms that exist? What is beauty? How is beauty related to well-being? and to the evolution? I tend to think they are very related. But then, oblique light falling on a well-organized mud pots in the room also looks beautiful. At the outset repetition and spot lighting is what I think makes this beautiful. Pots themselves have no sense of beauty. They have no evolution interest. Buyers don't buy them in mass to display them at their home. Evolution does not appear to explain all about beauty too. My quest to gain some objective understanding these apparently subjective subject led me to volumes of philosophic literatures, Kant and Schopenhauer included. Still it is very unclear.

Beauty - What is it?

I moved on to another similar pottery shed where a couple were busy making pots. The lady was preparing the mud by stamping and kneading it. I took her permission to make a few images. She agreed with a smile on her face. Light coming through a single window in the poorly lit room did all the justice. Beauty, purpose, genuineness all came together. Light was lucky to touch those mud covered, unpretentious, lovely legs working hard to make a living.

I went around a few more sheds hoping to get a glimpse of the day in their life and frozen a few more moments.

Anticipation (?)

Fruit of Hard work

Time seem be taking its own time at this magical place. Calendar showing the month August on that rustic wall, now in November, did not bother them, and me, either. In fact, I kind of liked it. I don't know why I have been running so hard for all these years. I slowed down, virtually at least.

Time - A Portrait

They now are ready to have their lunch after a few hours hard work. They were kind enough to talk to me. They willingly answered my (probably stupid and novel) questions. Needless to say, they let me photograph them and share few minutes. It was time for me to express my gratitude and move on.

I moved on along the street further, saw a rural government run school. Kids were busy doing some drawing sitting under trees within the school campus. I wanted to make some images but I knew getting permission to make images there was tough. I continued.

As I moved further, along the road side I found a small sickle making kiln and a well arranged set of newly made sickles. When I was curiously looking at them I heard a giggle. Sitting behind the kiln, the sculptor and his friend were proudly smiling at me, a stranger on their street. I exchanged a few notes and shared a few lighter moments with them. They posed for an image. All they wanted back in return was to see the image on camera's LCD display.

They suggested I visit the temple in their village.

I entered the premises of the very old, historic temple. Monkey on the wall of the temple provided an interesting contrast. All that ages are what we make. Nature remains fresh, forever. Is the notion of time man made? I am sure Einstein had profound knowledge of this. For lesser mortal people like me it remains a mystery.

Inside the temple premises I had an emotional experience which probably I will remember forever. I saw a very aged lady, probably in her nineties, who had difficulty walking, praying loudly, humbly and helplessly -

"Mother, this is definitely my last visit to you. Please don't leave my hand. I just can't walk, I can't come again, I can't come again, I caaaaan't come again, Mother. Please, Mother, protect me."

Having seen my completely bed ridden mother for a year I could very well relate to her helpless pleading. Belief gives the strength. Belief is the personal truth. The real truth beyond 2+2=4, though a priory, is not obvious, thanks to our sensory limitations. Reasonableness of not having sufficient reason for a belief has been proven unreasonable by Kant. Kant continues to live in my mind, forever. I hope the old lady will be able visit the Goddess again.

The Last Visit (?)

While I was photographing at the temple I saw two restless young photographers with digital SLR cameras following me. It appeared that they wanted to have a conversation. My slow photographic approach with manual focus lenses probably have made them waiting and restless. When I looked at them one of them came rushing and said -

I have the stuck OSI issue, can you help resolve this?

I was puzzled, never had or knew about the "stuck OSI issue" in my life so far. Thank God, I could help him resolve the issue, however. It appeared that the camera was in auto ISO mode and the lens cap was on (or probably his camera the camera in very low light). The ISO appeared have got set at some very high value resulting probably in noise, which he wanted to change. He appeared to be interchangeably using "OSI" and "ISO". Anyway, I could help him resolve this complex issue!

It appeared that they wanted to extend the conversation about photography in general. I got scared since one of them was using Canon and the other one was having a Nikon SLR. Having yet another religious debate in my own religious and philosophical world was not encouraging. I thought of telling those budding photographers that photography is not about OSI or ISO and not even about light. It is about life. However, I didn't say anything. I thought either they are too young or I am too old, probably the latter. This is the phase every photographer will go through.

I moved on.

Watch on my wrist started vibrating with joy. When I looked at it it read "10,000 steps". The resort was still a kilometer away. I just made my last image before packing my camera.

A bird silently flew away from my world. I hope it returns.