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.

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!

Guest Blog – 5 years in 500 words!

I haven’t hosted Adam here before, but he is THE BOY that I keep talking about. Show him some love. 

Downloads

Time stretches back in the form of memories, highlights, edited collections of things we choose to retain. If you had just 500 words to talk about about the last 5 years what would you choose to include, what would you omit, what would you not even be able to recall? How do we select what memories are worthy?

I’d remember first and foremost meeting you, I’d recall with film like quality the first time our eyes met, our first conversation about the beer you were drinking. I’d remember shutting ourselves in as a storm raged outside, the tranquility we’d feel in shutting the world out. I’d remember following Stephen down remote coastal paths, as if on a voyage of discovery. I’d remember our first place together and how hard it was to get here to this point, sitting here now thinking of the last 5 years. I’d remember falling in love.

If I had to pick one unifying factor that encapsulated the last five years it would be travel and expanding horizons. When I went to Cyprus in 2010 I hadn’t been abroad for 10 years, since then I have been on a 3,000 mile European road trip that took in 9 countries, visited my sister when she worked in Germany, been to Spain twice, to Slovakia for my brothers stag do, spent a week in Bangkok and visited India twice before eventually relocating here in 2014. I always thought I had an adventurous spirit buried inside me that wanted to get out and see the world, and now here I am living in India, 5 years ago i’d have found that impossible to imagine.

My family has changed a lot over the last 5 years. The older generation, who were the rocks for so long have found themselves more reliant on the support of the young as time inevitably began to take its toll. In 2011 my Granddad died, I don’t use the words lightly but he was a great man, constantly supportive, always kind, always putting himself second to our needs. I draw inspiration from his memory as I try to make my way in what can sometimes be a vastly confusing world.

In July 2014 my younger brother got married. I think i’ll look back on the memories of that time as some of my fondest. Everyone important to me in one place, wonderful weather and true happiness, something that shouldn’t be underestimated in life, something that can be all too fleeting.

I’d look back to the 2010 version of me and tell him not to give up, that there are new experiences and unimaginable things ahead, that what perhaps seemed like a dreary existence wasn’t going to last forever. I’ve never been one for 5 year plans or planning the minutiae of my life, sometimes I have thought it has been to my detriment. But as I look back across the last 5 years i’m glad I just allowed things to happen, because allowing things to happen can take you to places you never imagined.

Guest Blog – Dalliance

When Kevin Morris was born, NASA put a man on the moon to celebrate. Hoping to cash in on his highly validated fame, I decided to beg him desperately ask him nicely to write a post for me. Read more of his lovely posts on New Author Online and his other guest posts for me here. And don’t forget to show your love. 

A big thank you to Anju for allowing me to twist her arm and publish a further guest post on her excellent blog. Thank you Anju!

My latest book, Dalliance is an eclectic collection of poetry and prose. Many of the pieces explore the connection between humans and the natural world which we are part of but from which we seem to shrink away ever more.

My poem, Autumn Rain was written while seated in my darkened lounge on an autumnal evening. The sound of a few solitary fireworks mingled with the noise of the rain falling on my garden below. The bleakness of the weather, together with the sound of fireworks fizzing, only to die away instilled in me a feeling of melancholy which led to the composition of Autumn Rain,

“Rain you are lonely, crying outside in the darkness.

A few sad fireworks fizzle and die.

Me, sitting alone on my sofa. Rain, is it you who are lonely, or I?”.

In other writings I examine the darkness which lurks within the human soul. In Dark Angel, for example we see man obsessed with a sinister presence or, perhaps the darkness lies within himself and he is merely projecting his darkest desires on to the mysterious “Dark Angel”,

“I love you because I can tell you my darkest secrets, things which

would make the strongest of men go blubbering in search of their

mummy. You judge me not,

my blackest fantasies are your deepest desires.

In the depths of night when all but the vampire sleeps we speak of

philosophy, of the darkness which lurks within the human heart. You

are always there

for me, my girl beautiful and serene. You laugh in time with my

laughter and weep as I weep. Never changing, fixed, immortal caught in

the brightness of

my screen you are my virtual girlfriend, a machine”.

By no means all of the collection is dark. In Early Morning Caller, for example my annoyance at being awoken in the early hours finds expression in the form of humour,

“Why do you ring me at halfpast two? Tell me, please do.

The sound of my mobile echoing around, dragging me from sleep profound.

I answered the phone, no one there, cursing inwardly I return to my lair.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, refrain from calling me at halfpast two!”.

You can find Dalliance; A Collection Of Poetry And Prose here.

Guest Blog – Women’s Shoes

Some people collect stamps. Jonathan Myers hoarded women’s shoes. Neatly labelled the footwear stood on shelves in a wardrobe dedicated to the purpose.

Natalie. He remembered the girl. She had stood at a little over 5 feet 3 inches in those black stilettos, her long black hair tied up in pigtails. Martha. A slim busty Blonde wearing blue slip-on gym shoes, which now stood, neatly labelled next to Natalie’s stilettos. Jenny. Plump Jenny with her greasy black hair. She had arrived smelling of stale cigarettes and alcohol. Her white trainers now stood next to Martha’s gym shoes.

A click downstairs caused Jonathan to jump. Only the freezer going through it’s cycle he realised. He should, he thought be used to the sound by now. Lucy. Well spoken Lucy. She hadn’t been your typical prostitute. Her cut glass accent, expensive black leather handbag and those hand-made leather shoes set Lucy apart from your average working girl. None the less there Lucy’s footwear stood, neatly categorised, next to slobby Jenny’s trainers. Jonathan smiled at the contrast between those 2 girls who, in life would have had nothing in common. Downstairs the freezer clicked once more. It was a monster of a refrigeration unit, the kind one usually finds in supermarkets. None the less it was essential for it prevented the huge slabs of meat from defrosting, a household model would have been unable to cope with the task.

The door bell rang. Jonathan closed the wardrobe door, exited the bedroom and descended the stairs.

He opened the door to a leggy blonde wearing a long coat which, despite it’s length failed to wholly conceal the girl’s thigh high leather boots and short skirt.

“Hi I’m Jess”, the girl said smiling at Jonathan.

“Come in Jess” Jonathan said.

“Wow that’s a bloody big freezer” Jess said as they passed the refrigeration unit in the hall, “What do you keep in there, bodies?”

“Of course” Jonathan said, with a smile.

When Kevin Morris was born, NASA put a man on the moon to celebrate. Hoping to cash in on his highly validated fame, I decided to beg him desperately ask him nicely to write a post for me. Read more of his lovely posts on New Author Online and his other guest posts for me here. And don’t forget to show your love.