Rajiv Chopra

A Gypsy, Bismillah & Esmerelda The Spider Sit With Yama At The Vaitarna

One Four Challenge: July. Week One. Dead Flowers

Dead Flowers. Week One

Dead Flowers. Week One

This is week one.

It’s been years since I returned to trying my life at still life.

I dried out these roses, and shot them using a table lamp. I used a 60 mm macro lens.

For those who are interested in the steps that I took to edit this picture, I am attaching the screen shot below

Screenshot 2015-07-03 19.29.31


The Magic Frame: Isolation




When composing a photograph, I have often heard it say – isolate and simplify.

I spoke of simplicity the last time that I wrote about “The Magic Frame”. Let’s go into isolation. What they do not mean, when they speak of isolation, is that you go to a desert, or a lonely mountain and start shooting. That is a viable option for those who want to go off and become hermits. It is also a good option if the intent is to shoot isolated and lonely places.

What they mean, is that you need to isolate the central element, or elements, in a photograph and concentrate on them.

In my earlier days, my photos used to be a jumble of elements put together in a rather awkward fashion. I think it also reflected the state of my mind, where I wanted to have everything. I wanted it all – mystical insight, science, nature, literature, money, the hermit life, power, sex, no sex (because girls those days all wanted marriage). Life was a jumble and possibly this reflected in my photographs.

Over time, as I have learned, sadly, to make a few choices, I learned to say ‘nay’.

I would say that the same approach applies to composition. What do you want to focus on? A single element, or more?

If you want to include more than one element, then how do they balance out and interact with each other? Do they exist in a state of dynamic tension, or do they exist in harmonious balance?

How do you use empty space?

In the photograph above (badly edited, I know), I essentially focused on one element – the fisherman. The wide spaces of the water and the sky balanced each other, in my view, and helped to create a sense of wildness and emptiness.

There is one central element in this picture.

Simplicity goes with isolation when making a photograph.

Thus Spake Loki: I Am Water



I am me, but I am water. For those who like to be scientific, or believe that they are, I am composed of two atoms of hydrogen, and one of oxygen. My different molecules are held together by somewhat weak bonds, and I flow.

Despite the rather humble nature of my structure, I am versatile as some of you may well know. If not, you may well wonder, and ask

For one, I have the ability to dissolve many things, many substances. Some people have gone so far as to call me a universal solvent. There I am, showing off again. However, I must demur. While indeed, I possess the ability to dissolve much, I cannot dissolve anything. There are also limits to how much I can dissolve. Yet, this ability of mine does allow me to be used in all sorts of chemical processes in laboratories, in factories and in human, plant and other animal bodies. In my very humble opinion, because I have this property, I facilitate many vital processes.

Indeed, I would even say that my presence is necessary for many of these processes to take place. Look at what happens when a plant is deprived of water, or you are thirsty. Look at what happens when the soil dries up.

Would you not agree that I am a carrier? I help carry substances from one place to another. Brilliant, is it not? Of course, sometimes this has unfortunate side effects, like erosion. But then, I also allow people to ride my surfaces, using a boat. I facilitate transportation and trade.

You consume me to survive. When your digestive processes are complete, you need me to carry the waste out of your body, else it would remain inside, and we know what harm that can cause.

I flow, and it is by my side that many a mystic has sat by my side, watched the river flow, and attained enlightenment. Why, I was even mentioned by Hesse in his book, “Siddhartha”. At the end, Siddhartha attains enlightenment by the side of the river. For those of you have read Hemingway’s “The Old Man And The Sea”, the old man finds himself while fishing in the seas.

The fish live in my body, and this is good.

What happens when I stagnate? Mosquitoes breed, metals rust and sometimes, disease spreads. Keep me clean, I say.

What happens when I flow too fast? I erode cliffs, river beds move, and tsunamis take place. I can be gentle, yet when roused to anger, my fury can be deep indeed. Respect me I say, and I shall respect you.

I am all over the place. I cover the earth’s surface to a large extent. I am in the soil. I am in the air. I am in your body.

We are part of each other, one becoming the other. When you die, and become ash or dust, the rain soaks your remains and returns you to the earth.

Why do you then forsake me, I ask? Why do you pollute me, and treat me with scant respect? Why do some of you waste me, while others die of thirst?

We are one, you and I.

Respect me, and I shall respect you.

Forsake me, and I shall forsake you.

Find your true self in me, and I shall find my true self in you.


Documentary About a Man Who Planted a Forest Larger Than Central Park


This is brilliant. I am not often moved, but this video moved me.

When we are kids, we read about heroes, superheroes. We read about men and women who take up arms and go to war. Movies speak of those heroes who, single-handedly, win battles.

Jadav Payeng, from the North-Eastern State of Assam in India, is a hero. He is poor. Yet, he has re-forested an area larger than Central Park all by himself.

If this is not heroism, what is?

With men like him around, we can have a nice planet to live in.
Do watch the video. It is moving.

Originally posted on Check Your Premises:

“Forest Man” is a short documentary directed by Canadian filmmaker William D. McMaster that follows Jadav Payeng, a man living in Jorhat, India, who has been planting his own forest on Majuli Island in India’s Brahmaputra River since the late 1970s. The forest, which now covers more ground than New York’s Central Park, is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including rhinos, deer, tigers and 115 elephants. “My dream is to fill up Majuli Iland and Jorhat with forest again. I will continue to plant until my last breath.”

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5-5-5 Challenge. Day 5: One Day, I Died


One day, I heard a cry that rang out over the seas.

“The Great Pan is dead”, went the cry, and I knew that I had died. When I died, the world order changed, and i felt it in the breeze. I felt it in the disappearing glades. I felt it in the drying grass. I felt it in the crumbling mountains, and the silence of the rivers.


The Old Order must die“, said some people. “We believe in ordered systems, and these old pagan rites must die. These symbols of rampant, earthy sexuality must die, and we must cloak ourselves in the grey garb of morality. We must teach others how to live, the rules they must obey. We shall construct great mansions for them, and we shall make toys for them, to keep them happy. We shall rule over a new world order, and it shall obey our desire. Nature must be bent to suit our whim, our ambition, our desire. This is the New World Order, and it shall be good.”

I heard these voices at the time of my death, and in the years since. I have watched as the world has changed, as great columns of black smoke have risen in the sky. I have watched as the forests and the mountains have made way for the great advance of civilisation. My time, I knew, was over. And so, it was better for me to die. I would have been out of place in this new world. My time, was over.

My time was over, for the moment.

Centuries have passed since I died. Many things have changed.  Yet, the wind is changing. It will take centuries I think, before it will change.

But, I shall be reborn. My time will come again.

The rivers will once again sing their song, and the clean breeze shall blow. The mountains will rise again, and the trees and grasses will spread throughout the land. Animals shall live in harmony once more, and the Old Order shall be established one more time.

Wait for my coming, for the rebirth of Pan.


For this last challenge, I have nominated a young lady who calls herself A Wandering Story Teller. Let’s see if she takes up the challenge.


5-5-5 Challenge: Day 4 . Behind The Locked Door

Behind The Locked Door

Behind The Locked Door

A closed mind lies behind that locked door. A group of us pushed that mind into that closed room, slammed the door shut and locked it.

The events of those times are mostly forgotten by people of today. They took place over one thousand years ago. It was an epic struggle of mind against mind, of minds against minds.

The closed mind was insidious. It sat there in one spot, not moving, not reaching out. Yet, it’s influence was wide. None of us knew how this happened, but it infected other minds around it. It looked at happy, inventive, cheerful minds and infected them with it’s poison.

What was the poison, the disease, that it spread? It spread the disease of pessimism, close-mindedness, ultra-conservatism and outmoded beliefs. It cloaked them in the garb of morality and it preached its sermons on high pulpits.


It was very difficult to escape it’s influence. Very hard. Many minds were infected and diseased, and then a few of us decided that enough was enough.

A battle followed, a huge battle in which many great minds were lost. Yet, these minds did not worry about the sacrifice that they were making. They felt that this was something that was required to ensure that future minds were protected and safe.

Finally, the battle was won. This mind was locked in a cage, in a gilded box and pushed into the room where there was no window, no ventilation. Then, we locked the door, and fitted one more lock – and then a third. We could not be too careful.

A thousand years have passed. We dare not open the locks, even though we sense that the insidious influence is somehow returning.

The disease is spreading, and we know that the only solution is to destroy this mind. Destroy it at it’s root, and then hopefully the spread of the disease will stop.

Yet, we ask ourselves, as we approach the locks now covered with dust and cobwebs – do we dare to open the locks?


For the next one, I have decided to nominate the hugely talented Michelle Marie, to carry the baton forward.

5-5-5 Challenge: Day Three. Miao

The Cat

The Cat


I sit here in the alleyway, waiting for you. You walk, I crouch. You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see meeee…

Suddenly, I dart. I cross your path, and I sit and wait. I yawn and watch your silly eyes widen in horror. What are you thinking, you stupid human being?

That I, a mere black cat, by crossing your path, will bring you bad luck? I am a cat… Not an evil spirit, even though you silly twerps think I am.

So, I sit here, watching those eyes of yours looking like mini saucers. You wobble, you totter on your feet, you pause. I see the hesitation. You wait for someone else to pass, so that the bad luck is passed on to them.

You, my friend, have just come from a temple, and have prayed to the Gods, for peace on earth, and then you want to wait for someone to cross the path, so that the bad luck is passed on to them.

Interesting train of events, if you think about it…

God will forgive you, I am sure. You will go and pray again. You will cross yourself at the Church. You will read the namaaz and do whatever the Jews and Buddhists do. You will pray.

But, you will continue to pass on the bad luck, and you will fear me when I cross your path.

I yawn. I stretch my back, and gently walk across your path again.


5-5-5 Challenge. Day 2: Nobody Home


The door is locked, and the shoes are outside.

Look deeply, closely at the door, and ask yourself a question. What is the story of the people who lived here? Was there a happy family? Ever?

It looks like there was a family. Did they have children? Were they happy? Did the woman leave the man? Did he, then, in despair, walk away and leave his shoes outside the house as a reminder that, once upon a time, he was happy?

Or, did he leave the woman, and did she leave the house unable to bear the loneliness and the weight of the memories? Did she then leave his shoes outside as a sign of his perfidy?

Could it well be that there was no real drama at all, and that he simply left his shoes outside, because he did not want to carry the dirt of the streets into the house? If this is the case, then why is the door locked?

It is worth thinking about such questions.

What does a locked door, with shoes outside represent? What tales lie untold behind those doors, and in those shoes?

A poor family who once lived there, shared laughter, sex, jokes, fights, emotions. Poverty did not prohibit them from feeling joy, or experiencing emotion. One day, all this dried up. All that was left, was a pair of shoes and a locked door.

What tales lie hidden behind the locked door, and in that pair of shoes?

Wouldn’t you like to know?

For the next challenge, I have nominated a young lady who goes by the moniker “Mithai Mumblezz



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