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Monday, December 22, 2014

The Myriad Shades of Magnificent Prague-My Video now on You Tube

The iconic Charles Bridge, the stunning Prague Castle which thrives on its legends, the legend of 'Golem, our daily walks in the incomparable town square, the Jewish quarter which brought a lump to the throat. I've tried to encapsulate all this. 

Not sure if I've succeeded but am happy that I tried.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

South South East- A Life in Pictures- A Steve Mc Curry Exhibition in Oman Opens

 Sharbat Gula, a Pashtun, probably the most iconic Afghan woman

 "Her eyes have captivated the world since she appeared on the National Geographic cover in 1985. The photographer remembers the moment too. "The light was soft. The refugee camp in Pakistan was a sea of tents. Inside the school tent he noticed her first. Sensing her shyness, he approached her last. She told him he could take her picture. “I didn’t think the photograph of the girl would be different from anything else I shot that day,” he recalls of that morning in 1984 spent documenting the ordeal of Afghanistan’s refugees." (Cathy Newman, National Geographic)
The portrait by Steve Mc Curry turned out to be one of those images that sears the heart, and in June 1985 it ran on the cover of National Geographic."Her eyes are sea green. They are haunted and haunting, and in them you can read the tragedy of a land drained by war. She became known around National Geographic as the “Afghan girl,” and for 17 years no one knew her name."
Last evening, 'South South East- A Life in Pictures' by Steve Mc Curry opened at Bait Al Zubair, Muscat and the legendary photographer was there in person. I really don't recall similar a moment in all my years  in Muscat as when Steve made his entry into the hall. Everybody present wanted to have a chance to meet and ( best of all) have a photograph clicked with him.  I was lucky, I managed both!
Steve addresses the gathering with 'The Afghan Girl' in the background
The exhibition which opened on December 16, will conclude at the end of February 2015. 

The exhibition of more than 40 images is a stunning collection of his work from Afghanistan, Burma, India, China and Yemen. Titled 'South South East: A life in pictures', this is the first time that McCurry has exhibited in Oman with the opportunity for his work to be appreciated and bought by all those interested.  
Another photograph from Afghanistan
Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than thirty years, with hundreds of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his credit.

The Burning Oil fields in Kuwait, 2000
Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, McCurry studied films at Pennsylvania State University, before going on to work for a local newspaper. After several years of freelance work, McCurry made a trip to India. Travelling with only a few clothes and some film, he made his way across the subcontinent, exploring the country with his camera.

Some months later, he crossed the border into Pakistan. There, he met a group of refugees from Afghanistan, who smuggled him across the border into their country, just as the Russian invasion was closing the country to all western journalists. Emerging in traditional dress, with a full beard and weather-worn features after weeks embedded with the Mujahideen, McCurry brought the world the first images of the conflict in Afghanistan, putting a human face to the issue on every masthead.

Another stunning series

Steve clicked by me while clicking something

Incomparable masterpieces

Magnificent detail

One of a kind

A memorable selfie with an obliging Steve

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Some Thoughts and Statistics on boredom

Statistics can be fun sometimes. Yet at other times they can leave us really amazed, with the enormity of what they actually represent.Such as what I have here.

Image courtesy- Internet

A fairly recent study conducted by the Daily Telegraph on 'Boredom' tells us that the average adult spends upto six hours a week, feeling completely and utterly bored with life.Looking a little bit further, that translates to 13 days in a year, or a total of 786.5 days of the average adult lifespan of 60.5 years.

According to Wikipedia, 'Boredom' is an emotional state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do and not interested in his/her surroundings. The first recorded use of the word 'boredom' is in the novel Bleak House by Charlers Dickens written in 1852 in which it appears six times, although the expression to be a bore had been used in print in the sense of "to be tiresome or dull" since 1768.The French term for boredom, ennui, is sometimes used in English as well.

Image courtesy Internet

As to the reason for this boredom- it simply boils down to having "little" or as came through in the cae of this particular study, what is perceived as simply not having "enough money."But I differ with that because I've personally met many people who are not 'rich'in the typically understood sense of material wealth but lead a peaceful and contented life on the whole- simply by virtue of the fact that they have the love and warmth of family and friends or  at other times, they are involved in community service-viz doing something to make others happy. 

One more key element of boredom is control.  Boredom often occurs when you have little control over your situation.  Waiting rooms, lectures, and airline gates are all places where you have little control over your situation.  Normally, we react to unpleasant situations by changing the situation.  If you don’t like a book you are reading, for example, you close it and do something else.  Boredom tends to rapidly set in when you are unable to change the situation.  

Finally, a real problem caused by boredom is that it leads you to dislike the things that are the object of boredom.  Here's a real  life example-In Class X, for example, I was forced to read Great Expectations  as it was a course book. While I adore reading, this book became a complete 'no no' as far as I was concerned.  I struggled to get interested in it and spent long hours staring at the pages trying to lose myself in it.  To this day, I really do not like Great Expectations.   The negative feelings that came with the boredom have stuck to the book.

As the authors of the review point out, these negative feelings can actually impair later performance.  Stress can decrease people’s ability to pay attention and can narrow people’s working memory capacity.  These effects can be a particular problem in school settings.  Students need to be able to work at peak capacity to get the most out of school.  So factually, boredom can create long-term difficulties for students.

What can you do about boredom?  Obviously, there are times when you are stuck.  If you are listening to a lecture that you cannot leave, then you just need to find a way to get through it.  When you have some control though, use your understanding of boredom to help you out.  If you can, try to do a meditation exercise to lower the 'extent of boredom' level.  If you can lower this to some extent, it will definitely help. Also, keep some music handy.  Music you really enjoy can help push out  distractions in the environment.  It can also positively influence your mood in positive ways to counteract the pain of being bored.  

Think about it- you could agree or disagree with any/all of what I've written above but then I'm sure you certainly have your share of life's bored moments.

Simple fact is, we all do...