Rajiv Chopra

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

Where Does The Innocence Go?

Innocence. Future Lost?

                                                                                   Innocence. Future Lost?

The Indian Press is all the rage about the lynching and killing of a Muslim man for killing a cow.

Cow slaughter offends Hindu sentiments, and the cow is our Holy Mother. We are not allowed to kill and eat her, but we are allowed to poison her with plastic.

Politicians and the media throng the village to make brownie points and to make whatever point they want to make.

Meanwhile, the villagers are at pains to tell both, the media and the politicians, to kindly bugger off.

The Hindus of the village stand shoulder to shoulder with the Muslims of the village, and say, ‘leave us alone. we are friends and neighbours.’

Yet, they are not allowed to be alone. The politicians and the press would arrogate the right to speak on behalf of the villagers. The villager, you see, are simpletons and idiots.

Look at the kids above. There is innocence in their eyes, and their body language speaks of friendship and sisterhood.

When, and how, are they taught division and hate?

When does the innocence go? They are children and are not allowed to be exposed to the ways of the world.

Where does the innocence go?

I thought that religion preached love for all.

Am I mistaken?

Monochrome Madness. Country Jail

    Country Prison

                                                                                              Country Prison

This is my submission for this week’s Monochrome Madness, which should be back after a while.

This is a country prison. As you will see, it does have a colonial heritage. It was used extensively about 20 years back, when many of India’s bandits and dacoits surrendered. They were then put into this open jail.

As the bandits died away, the prison was abandoned.

Oh… I did not use any third party plug-in for this. I converted to B&W in PS, then to sepia, and then I added noise.

One Four Challenge. October Week One. Urban Madness

Urban Madness

                                                                                       Urban Madness

I warn you, I may go a bit woozy this month.

This is the first week’s offering. I did not apply ANY creative filters or anything to this photo. All I did was to saturate the colours a bit.

Looks a bit mad, right?

Number 11. The Last Dispatch From Hira Singh

“But, as I said in the beginning, Sahib, there are reasons why the British must rule India yet awhile. We Sikhs, woul would rule it otherwise, are all divided”

                                                               — Hira Singh

 Alas, while this is India’s tragedy, it does mirror much of the tragedy of the world.

The Turks came into India and set up the Delhi Sultanate. Delhi was founded in 736 (so they say), as a city, but it was the Turks who first made it a major city. Then, the Afghans came into India in 1526 and set up the Mughal Dynasty. Delhi became a greater city.

The Turks and the Afghans became Indians over time. After the decline of the Mughal Dynasty, the British sneaked into India. They never did consider themselves to be part of India, and with them came the decline in India’s political and economic fortunes. England enriched itself at the expense of India, and when they left in 1947, they left a bloody mess in the form of a divided country.

It is easy for us to blame the British, and while they do bear much of the blame, we Indians also must take our share of the blame. In 1857, Hindus and Muslims fought together.

The British forces consisted of Hindus and Muslims fighting against the Mutineers.

A house divided.

After the Mutiny, the British rulers drove a deliberate wedge between the Hindus and Muslims. This lead to the formation of Pakistan, and I also think that this is when the seeds of modern terrorism were sown.

Yet, we as Indians, allowed ourselves to have this happen. When the British came in, they came in by forming alliances and turned king against king.

While they messed up the country, it was fair game, in a sense.

We deserved to be ruled and messed up.

Today, we do not seem to have learned the lessons of the past. Not just from a Hindu Muslim perspective, but also from the perspective of caste and regional politics.

We have developed a sense of nationhood, no doubt, but this can be strengthened.

However, if I were to turn this into a global issue, I only say – look around you. We are a world divided. The more we seem to have become ‘educated’, the more we seek differences rather than similarity.

The only question is, who is stronger? The world has become a more complex place. Despite the flood of data, and news bytes, we struggle to make sense of it all and turn this into useful information.

Weapons of destruction have become more sophisticated, and the people who send others into battle often do not feel the immediacy of conflict. They direct the messages of war and division from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices.

The problem now is deeper than it was 160 years ago. It is easier to spread messages of division today than it was 160 years ago.

Are we in control of ourselves?

Do we need the Little Green Men from Mars to come and knock some sense into us? The question is not as facetious as it may seem.

One Four Challenge. Week Four. Urban Sunset


This is the final rendition from me. I have been absent from WP, and may continue this way for the next few days. I have been busy with visitors as well as some heavy editing work. The editing load will continue for a while

Here again, I did not use any plug-ins. I used the burn and dodge tools to create selective contrast. I also used the selective colour adjustment in the green channel.

Do you like it?

The previous week’s renditions are shown below, so that you can see the somewhat subtle progression.


Urban Sunset

If you look carefully, you will see the changes week by week. Subtle, in a sense, I think.

Next month, I will go wild…

One Four Challenge. Week Three. Urban Sunset

Urban Sunset

                                                                 Urban Sunset

This is Week Three for you.

Again, I did not use any third party plug in.

I created two 50% neutral grey layers, and then used the burn and dodge tools to create some localised contrast. Why the burn and dodge tools? These are techniques I used in my dark room days, and I love them. They are simple, effective, but must be used with care

The Dispatches of Hira Singh – Part 10

“I believe no two men fight for the same thing. It is war in each man’s heart, each man fighting as the spirit moves him”

  • —Hira  Singh

Now this, my friends, is one deep statement. I actually cannot write about this in one post, and I do not want to bother you with too many posts on this.

Let’s go around a bit. One of the things that I read about, many moons ago, was a theory in physics called The Many Worlds Theory. I don’t know if it ever became popular, but I think not. It was inspired, I believe, by Schrodinger and his cat.

As per the Hindu concept of Maya, the world is illusion, and we live in our illusions and perceptions. To that extent, there is no one world. We all perceive the world differently. Look at it from the perspective of a photographer. We all photograph a scene differently. We are not the same. We cannot be.

This is a problem that we all face in our daily lives. Of course, corporate captains talk a lot about leadership, team spirit and the lot of that stuff.

The result of an uncoordinated team is the loss of market share, money etc

In the army, the result is lost lives and lost territory.

In families, the result is dispute, fractured individuals etc.

We strive to create unity, as leaders or managers. Yet, as individuals, we strive to maintain our own sense of individuality.

Think about this.

I have been, at the same time – leader and ‘follower’. The word ‘ follower’ irks me. I prefer to say ‘team member’, with a boss on top. I have believed that my boss should show direction, guide, but let me get on with my job. I have always rebelled against bosses who tried to micro-manage me, and my rebellion has often cost me. Yet, stubborn person that I am, I have not changed. I mellowed, but the core did not change.

My spirit moved me. I find the same thing with my photography. I do straight work for projects. Yet, I increasingly move towards interpretative photography, and I seek to impose my perceptions on my images. The same goes for my writings. Unless, the spirit moves me, I cannot write.

So yes, I cannot help but agree with Hira Singh, when he says that no two men fight for the same thing. It is a conundrum that we shall forever have to live with. We have to recognise this, and we have to mould ourselves accordingly.

The lessons of war often spill over onto other aspects of life. We need to recognise and respect this.

Hira Singh was a wise man indeed.

The Dispatches Of Hira Singh. Part Nine

“I tell you sahib, obedience that is worth anything, must come from the heart and understanding”

– Hira Singh

I actually don’t have too much to add to this one, neither for it nor against. I believe in this one, and I don’t want to be the Devil’s Advocate here.

We all experience this, I think. The curse of the Lip Service. Whether it is to marriage, or work, or beliefs, or public service or whatever. There are so many of us who are self-serving and the only thing that we actually do, is to believe in the miracle of the Spin Doctors.

Is this something that we have come to believe? That the ultimate axiom in life is the truth created by the Spin Doctors?

Thus Spake Loki: The Return Of She



I searched for her, year in and year out for many years. One day, I fell asleep. This is a silly thing to say, of course. I sleep every day.

Yet, there was something different this time around. I slept. At least, I think I slept. What was I dreaming of? Was I dreaming? Or, was I awake, and dreaming that I was dreaming?

Once again, I was in a dark place. It was eerie. There seemed to be a fog. There always seems to be a fog during these dark, eerie nights. It is almost like a horror movie. I wonder if the fog is in my mind. Is the fog within us? It is funny how, during a wet summer day, the fog can be calming, soothing. Yet, when we think of something scary, the fog seems sinister.

How much of this lies within us? How much of this is a projection of our own fears and doubts onto an external world.

Where the hell was I? As always, I seemed to be in a sinister forest. Again, another cliche. Damn this. Are we doomed to live within cliches? Why? Why?

Where the hell was I, and why was I here? I walked. I did not stumble. I moved the branches out of my face. Damned branches. Damned dark. Damned fog. Why was I brought here?

Suddenly, I saw her. There she was, and all I could see was her face. Her eyes, those hollows in her face were hidden behind some spikes. Had they gouged her face? Why was she smiling?

She seemed to be enjoying the prospect of the pain of being gouged. But no…. She was not being gouged. She had a sinister smile on her face. She was enjoying my discomfiture, my fear. She could smell it. The spikes were big.

I sense them. I feel them moving. They have a life of their own. I feel their pointed tips on my skull. They threaten my survival. They threaten my sanity.

Her smile is implacable in it’s coldness and it’s evil. She has turned sinister. She is dead, and yet she is alive.

What is going to happen? Will I join her?

I want to…..

I don’t want to….

1-4 Challenge. Week 2. Urban Sunset


For this week’s rendition, I took the same HDR base shot and just did a B&W conversion in Photoshop

All I did after that was to apply a slight curves adjustment.

It is, as you can see, a very simple edit, with a slightly watered down effect

For week 3 & 4, I will build upon this in different ways.

I had mentioned to Ben that, this month, I will not use any Topaz or DXO or Nik Filters. None…


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