3-3-1 – A time and space experiment

The first edition of 2-2-1 saw a collaboration between Norm from Classical Gasbag and myself. The idea was to capture the differences in culture, geography, traditions across various time zones. Luckily, the two of us weren’t the only ones who liked the idea. We’ve had a few volunteers for the project and while logistics will always be a nightmare, you will see more posts in the months to come.

Just to reiterate, the point of this collaboration is not to have a well-curated collection of flawless photos but to capture emotions, flaws and the flow of real life at a set time across borders and across the limits of time.

Say hello to Norm, the Classical Gasbag, and the creator of this series!

Indiana Lafayette USA
Morning on the farm

When it is 7 p.m. in Bangkok, Thailand it is 8 a.m. in Lafayette, Indiana, USA. From where I live it is only a few miles to downtown Lafayette and even fewer miles into the country. I considered going downtown to take a picture, but didn’t want to interfere with all of the people who were trying to get to work on time. I know that the traffic here is nowhere as congested as it is in Bangkok or any other major city in the world, but a rush hour is relative to what you are used to. So I opted to drive a few miles south and west of Lafayette to take a photo of a rural scene.

I originally planned on stopping in a little town named Romney to take a picture of an empty, abandoned old school house, and I did. But I was there too early; and since we are trying to take pictures simultaneously, I drove out into the country. In passing through Romney I realized that about 95% of the traffic there was by people like me. That is, they were all passing through. It seems that Romney is only a destination for people who live there. I wonder if it has always been that way?

Anyway, here is my picture of a farmhouse and outbuildings in the 8 a.m. morning sun. I hope that you like it.

This week, we are joined by Sayantan from Know-All’s Box, a blog I follow not just for its lovely photography but also for the enthralling tales he spins one static photograph at a time.

Kolkata India

 

We decided upon 5:30 pm Indian Standard Time, Friday evening. That time, I am usually in office. So, I had a geographical limitation. I had to take the photograph within walking distance of my office, and I did not have the service of my trusted DSLR to take the shot. So, apologies for the really poor photograph. However, I will try to redeem the situation by pointing out some of the things which I have tried to capture in the shot, and their significance to my hometown, Kolkata.

You will find 3 gentlemen standing in front of something which is overflowing with small packs hanging from invisible strings, while a yellow coloured car which is probably more in place in a city like Havana, passes by in a blur. And in the background there is a building which has the words “Forum Courtyard” written on it.

And in these 3 elements, I find the contradiction which probably defines the city today.

The contraption with the overhanging tarpaulin sheet, I actually one of the thousands roadside tea-stall which one can across the city. Kolkatans have learned to love their tea, thanks to the city’s vicinity to the famous Darjeeling, which is in the same state, West Bengal. Usually, you will find such stalls in the vicinity of offices and malls, as people working in these places love to take frequent breaks from work to have tea usually accompanied with cigarettes. You will also find them selling the odd omelette, instant noodles, cakes and chips, to feed the perpetually hungry bengalis. You can witness many storms being brewed over a tea induced adda, the favourite “timepass”of bengalis! All the Starbucks and Costa Coffees of the world cannot compete with the charm of the road-side tea stall.

The yellow coloured car is the good old Ambassador Cabs which you can find only in this city of India. Modelled after the British Morris Oxford, it is a car fast disappearing from the city, as people opt for the technologically superior Japanese, Amercan and German cars. The yellow coloured cabs are also fast disappearing, as the Ubers of the world push the old world cabs out of the market.

And looming in the background is the first mall of the city, Forum which opened back in 2003. You will find the latest and finest brands of the world selling inside. I dont really need to explain much about the mall, because malls across the world are essentially the same.

What’s interesting to me is the stark difference of the mall with respect to the average tea-stall and the rickety Ambassador Cab and the glitzy mall.

And then there’s me! 

Asiatique Bangkok Thailand

I was excited about the time and date chosen because it was a national holiday and I knew I would be out and about, doing something exciting. That’s not usually my style on holidays, preferring to melt into the couch on my time off but mum was in town and it was Songkran – Thailand’s New Year.

During the course of the day, however, I started to realise just how well we curate our experiences in order to appear the most ‘cool’, ‘exotic’, and ‘unreal’. I took a billion photos, keeping in mind the angle, the light and the story that would go with it. When the time finally arrived, I was doing something I hadn’t planned for the day. I was on a boat.

We were just strolling around a riverside mall – mum and aunt were tired and just wanted to grab a bite to eat. We had just missed the sunset, another great photo-op. Disappointed that life didn’t align itself in the way I wanted it to, I stopped looking at the time.

Just as we were heading home on the boat, the lights of the mall and the various food stalls came on like many twinkling stars in the sky. I asked my mum what time it was, she said it was 7pm.

Sometimes, you just don’t need to manufacture a good time. It just happens.

If you want to participate in this series, leave a comment and we will get back to you.

2-2-1 (two people – two places – one time)

I have been blogging for 6 years now and for the life of me, I cannot understand why I have never done something like this before. I am absolutely fascinated by how we can all exist at the exact same time but have lives that are so different. In a bid to truly capture this in a photograph, here’s a blog collaboration I am proud of.

It’s simple – we both take photos at the same time of day – e.g. lunch time OR 10:00 GMT (and whatever that translates to in our local time). Then we write a small intro to the photo. The purpose is to capture the sheer diversity geographic location and timey whimey stuff affords.

If you want to be a part of the project, just leave a comment to me or Norm and we will get back to you about how you can participate.

Read the full blog post here.

Classical Gasbag

Today’s post is different than anything that has been published here before. I am taking the opportunity to collaborate with my dear Internet friend Anju, from This Labrynth I Roam! We have been corresponding for quite some time now, electronically as well as by snail mail. Anju is currently living and working in Bangkok, Thailand and I’m here in Lafayette, Indiana. We often share photos that we’ve taken. That is how this blog post came about.

Recently I sent her a picture of a white barn in a bare field. She said that she thought it was beautiful. To me it seemed a far cry from the lovely pictures she sends to me of the colorful places she visits in and around Bangkok. Then it struck me that if each of us took a picture at the same time, and then wrote about the time and place, it would show…

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Guest Blog – Five Years in a Life

Karina from Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad has been one my oldest blogging friends and after a few awkward tweets, we became close enough to meet in person. You can read all about that adventure here. And while you’re at it, catch up on her previous posts for me here. For now, this is the story of the past 5 years of her life – they reached my heart as I’m sure it will touch yours. Show her some love. 

I jumped at the idea of writing another guest post for Anju because I love her and her writing and she is one of my oldest blog friends. I jumped without knowing what to write.

Five years seems like a short enough time; especially to someone who still thinks the 90s were less than 10 years ago. Spoiler alert, they are not. The thing is, almost everything about my life changed in the past five years, hell, five years is longer than my oversharing on the internet even spans.

Anju’s question really brought that up, because while I already realised that a lot had happened in the past couple of years, it never registered that dramatically.

I went from being a student to being a full time employee.

I went from daughter to orphan, passing the roadblock of being a caretaker.

I went from assuming I was straight to knowing I’m a lesbian.

I made a whole lot of friends spanning all over the world.

I travelled to more cities than I can even recall at this point.

I stopped writing to then write a novel and stop writing again.

I grew up more while staying childish.

And I kept thinking about all the things that did change until I remember the things about me that are so inherently me that they stayed the same because they always were and I find comfort in it. Some things will never change. Like me being an unapologetic feminist. It has been the label I have worn proudly for as long as I can remember because I never fit any standard definition of feminine and I didn’t want to. Now more so than ever. This may be the single biggest thing being queer certified for me. I don’t have to conform to anyone’s expectations and norms aside from my own. And that’s okay. Being a woman doesn’t mean you have to wear dresses and shopping in the men’s section doesn’t make you any less of a woman. And being a lesbian doesn’t mean I have to run around in men’s clothes either. I can be whoever and whatever I want to be.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, the last five years taught me to be myself. I’ve always been fairly in tune with my own being but it’s like I got permission to be me and just me. My lovely grandma still wants me to dress the way she thinks I should dress and while I find it extremely annoying and off putting I stay my ground because I have to. There is no way for me to not be me.

I’m afraid this post turned way more serious than Anju anticipated when she asked me to write something for her but it’s a faithful recount of my last five years. Some of those years were the worst of my life and they don’t include the day I woke up to the police hammering at our front door looking for my father who was hiding in the bedroom.

In five years I learned my own strength and breaking points. I met my true self.

Guest Blog – The Last 5 Years by New Author Online

Kevin Morris has been hosted here many times over the past 2 years and I have been honoured with space on his blog as well. While you can read his other guest posts here, you should direct your attention to an Anthology to raise money for Guidedogs where you can find many short stories, including one of my own (don’t forget to donate!). Show some love!

anthology-cover-jpg

Thank you to Anju for inviting me to write about the last five years of my life. Anyone who is still awake at the end of this post deserves a medal so, without further prevarication here goes!

The past five years have been extremely hectic. Holding down a full-time job, maintaining a blog, writing and publishing books have all kept me very busy.

I began writing in 2011-2012. To begin with I wrote purely for the pleasure of the thing. I had no idea that one day my books would grace the virtual shelves of those kind enough to download them. I am still in some senses a Luddite. Although all my books exist purely in electronic form there is, for me nothing like the feel of a beautifully produced book (especially of the hardback variety) and my dream is for my work to appear in traditional printed form, enclosed between the covers of a hard or paperback book. I am currently revising my collection of poetry and prose, “Dalliance” and hope that in addition to the eBook a good old fashioned paper edition will also be available for my readers to enjoy.

My first collection of short stories entitled “The First Time” first appeared on my blog and, in 2013 as an ebook. I continue to be moved by the generosity of fellow WordPress bloggers. There support has helped inspire me to keep writing. Thank you to everyone who has hosted me or in any way promoted my writing, I really do appreciate all your help!

The past 5 years saw the tragic death of my previous guide dog, Drew in March 2011. It was a normal day. I went into the office as usual and stopped off for a pint in my favourite local on the way home. Drew seemed fine however, during the night she began to pass blood and despite being rushed to the vet she sadly died due to a heart attack brought on by blood loss.

Following Drew’s death I was touched by the kind words of fellow bloggers, particularly by those who had also lost a much loved animal. To me Drew was much more than a guide dog. She was a close friend who helped me on a daily basis to live independently. I now have a lovely brindle lab/retriever called Trigger who I love to bits. No dog can ever substitute for a former much loved companion. My bond with Trigger is extremely close but no dog can replace a dearly departed friend. Each dog is special and possesses his or her own unique personality.

Thank you again to Anju for allowing me to lull you all to sleep with my ramblings. Sorry I mean to entertain you all with my pearls of wisdom!

Guest Blog – 5 in 5 by Classical Gasbag

Norm and I became friends over a floppy disk. It’s a long story that I’m saving for an important occasion but what started off as friendly information sharing became a friendship that now spans across a blogging platform, a mailing platform by some corporate called Google and a good old fashioned pen to paper medium they used to call letters. But before all of this, there was Classical Gasbag and that’s where I fell in love with a stranger’s style of writing. If you haven’t already clicked on the link, go read now. 

Norm

Five years ago I left my last part-time job and fully retired. I happily gave up my structured life of getting out of bed early in the morning and showering before my wife, Cindy, took over the bathroom so that she could get ready for work. I was never sure how long her morning ablutions and cosmetics application would take because she was often interrupted by telephone calls, or… Well, that’s neither here nor there. That isn’t the topic of this piece.

My life suddenly became unstructured. I slept as long as I wanted. Except even without an alarm to wake me, I still opened my eyes at 5:30 a.m. I watched the morning news, but I wasn’t going anywhere to talk to anyone about the things that interested me. I tried going to an occasional breakfast gathering of people with whom I had worked while I was still a State employee, but I invariably ended up seated next to or across from the people no one else wanted to listen to. Believe me, there were reasons no one wanted to listen to them. I stopped going after about three breakfasts. I learned the patterns of the mail carrier so that I could stroll out to the mailbox and share a pleasant word or two. Of course the only mail we were getting were bills and sales pitches for hearing aids and assisted living facilities. I started going to the Amazon website and ordering books and CD’s and DVD’s that were on sale so that something interesting would come in the mail.

That went on for a couple of years and then I discovered blogging. I had originally planned to use my blog to rant about things that upset me and to write stories of my life before I moved to Lafayette and met Cindy. I thought that if I played around with those stories I might eventually write a fictional account of my earlier life. But I also planned to write a post a day for a year. And Cindy kept telling people that they should read my blog. Well, I didn’t especially want those people to read about my past, and since I was posting every day I had to fall back on things that were happening every day as subject matter. It did bring some structure back into my life.

The best part of the Internet is not the ease of shopping, or of doing research, or even the easy accessibility to smut, but rather the opportunity to read what other bloggers are posting. Of course I’m only speaking for my crabby, old self. I only follow a couple of dozen blogs. I respect those writers and their visions of the world. That is why when Anju, whom I truly respect, asked me last year if I was going to do the NaNoWriMo challenge, I decided to jump in. It became my way of finally stringing together some fictionalized stories from my past. This year she asked if I was doing a reading challenge, so yes, I am. Now she has honored me by asking me to write this guest post. She is pushing my boundaries as well as adding more structure to my life. I guess that I have to admit that structure, even in retirement, is good for me. Thank you, Anju!