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Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Magic of Photo Apps

Let's say that I ordered a cup of coffee at my favourite coffee shop last week. If I know one thing about the coffee at that place, is that it's always spot on and made exactly the way that I like it - hot, very strong and with a nice design drawn on its surface. But this time it was even better, for it had a ‘smiley face’ on it. 

So of course the lure of clicking it instantaneously was irresistible, and I succumbed. A few great photographs later, I sat back satisfied, finished the coffee and went on with the rest of the day.

Sometime later that evening, when I looked at it, I remembered that I’d been presented with an iTunes Gift card by my daughter Neha and quickly downloaded a few free photo apps, in addition to purchasing a few. And that was how my journey into the magic world of photo apps commenced. A month lat-er, I must have spent a few hundred hours experimenting with photographs that I’d clicked earlier, with some truly amazing results!

Image courtesy- Apps Blog

For instance, if I take you back to that original smiley faced cup of coffee, it's now travelled through exotic places such as the Niagara falls, Paris and Australia. Going one step further, I then managed to take that same photograph and put it up on the wall of a conference room where US President Obama and his aides had just settled down to a meeting.

Sounds unreal? Well, let me assure you that all of the above and much, much more is now possible via the magic world of Photo Apps. Try it and once you get a taste of it, I strongly suspect that like me, many of you might get hooked onto it for life! So to help you get started, here are a few of my best ones - iPhoto, Pixlromatic, Pic Collage, Dyptic frames and Adobe PS Express. 

Of course, there is a whole wide world out there and once you really start with it, you will fine-tune many of your personal favourites. But do remember to write in as I’d love to know more about them too.

NB- This piece is an excerpt from an article originally written for my column 'My Take' in the Muscat Daily

Monday, December 26, 2016

The magic of Hauz Khaz fort, New Delhi

" Where journeys end, stories begin".

As a student of History in college followed by Mass Communications as a post graduate subject, I firmly  believe in this beautiful and intriguing phrase. And from the time I actually started writing fiction as a novelist, I've had a wonderful opportunity to have free reign over each of the characters, places and situations that I've first created in my head- then put on paper.

Have I tired of it? In two words, absolutely not.

So in this short piece where I focus on the oft neglected, yet popular with the college going crowd, the  Hauz Khaz fort, I'm going to use that same creative licence and hope you like it.

Emerald green waters, a mysterious walkway, boat rides for those who want to and a place to let your imagination run riot.

You never know who you might meet.

You see, some people claim that they have heard sounds of voices, tinkling of anklets and mysterious shadows in the deep of the night. And with that intriguing thought, its time to focus on the whys and hows of this fort.

Walking into the Hauz Khaz fort and marvelling at the magnificent trees

Established by Alauddin Khilji  in the year 1284, unfortunately, this fort hasn't been maintained or looked after with the respect it deserves. Sadly, the  walls are broken and many of the the engravings faded. 

Built in the ‘medieval history’ era, this fort marks the beginning of the rule of Delhi as the capital of the first Muslim rulers in India. The word 'Hauz' comes from the Urdu language and means a 'pond'.  The  King  of that  time, Alauddin, had commissioned a large pond in this area for the convenience of the inhabitants of Siri Fort, the second city of Delhi. Initially named 'Hauz-i-Khas',  later Firoz Shah Tughlaq got this tank rebuilt as the royal baths and renamed  it 'Hauz-Khas.'

Despite all the odds, and a degree of neglect, this fort still fascinates tourists and locals alike. Its wide lawns are great for kids to play on. With a host of alleys and secret passages, people absolutely love the feel and atmosphere of this fort. For photo enthusiasts, the fort is a great  subject, particularly during sunset and sunrise. The fort overlooks a wide pond which is home to many birds and flowers, adding to its overall charm. 

The beautiful pond

To get a real feel of the fort, please click on my You Tube video just below.

The stories these walls could tell- unending.

As I started by saying, "Where journeys end, stories begin."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why we love life's little boxes

We all love them, those little boxes that we like to keep our lives organised into because that gives us a semblance of control over our lives. Or so we like to think and believe until something or someone comes and shakes us out of that belief. As I learnt to my discomfort, just the other day.

Life's Little Boxes
( Image from  the internet)
My life is planned to a very large degree and I have certain days of the week allocated for different activities that I’m involved with. Since most of them entail leaving the house by about 8.30am, the cleaner has been clearly informed that the car must be cleaned and ready by 8 am, (just in case I decide/have to leave home somewhat earlier).

And this is an arrangement that has worked rather well for some time. That was until last Tuesday when I reached the car and to my surprise found him just about starting to clean it. The time was already about 8.25 am and I had to leave, with or without that cleaning. Approaching him, I probably had a certain kind of look on my face, and he knew exactly what had caused it. So in anticipation of what I would say to him, he started to apologise, but I wanted to tell him once and for all that being late the next time was a complete ‘no-no’. 

All he did was just lift up his trouser leg and show me a huge bandage covering his foot and right upto his ankle and tell me, “Madam, Yeh chot lag gaya hai.”(Madam, I’ve hurt my foot.) I did not know where to look, let alone tell him anything more. Managing to barely mumble words to the effect that I hoped that he had shown it to a doctor, I got in and started my car. 

But not before I heard him say, “Madam, I’ll finish the job right after you return.”


Then there was this other time when I saw a well to do individual approaching his vehicle in a public parking and start shouting at a poor man cleaning his vehicle. The reason for that - apparently the man was cleaning the car with water that was not too clean. 

That moment will remain etched in my mind and heart forever. The sheer anger and contempt on the man’s face as he shouted at the cowering thin and tired man. But even more, the look of shame and humiliation on the victim’s face as I passed by... 

Life's little boxes-inexplicable sometimes and very hard to forget most of the time.

( Excerpt taken from my column 'My Take' in Muscat Daily.)