Friday, 4 January 2019

物の哀れ

The Japanese term mono no aware (物の哀れ) is said to be untranslatable, but English-language Wikipedia contains a valiant effort:
the awareness of impermanence ... or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.
Some of the best books and TV/radio series can evoke this feeling in me, sometimes at two levels: existential mono no aware, as well as an awareness, even while I'm reading or watching, and consequently a gentle sadness, that the book or series will end.

In 2018, I was lucky to discover such an example in each of the three aforementioned genres: A Month in the Country (a 1980 novel by J L Carr), the Detectorists (a BBC TV series which ran from 2014–17) and Cabin Pressure (a BBC radio series, 2008–14).

You're welcome, and happy new year!

Friday, 28 December 2018

গদাই

Say hello to my li'l friend Godai; the courtyard is his kingdom and the clotheslines are its frontiers. His exam results came out last week. He came fourth, but he's not that happy because last time he came first.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Pet Peeves

Pet peeves at Paramount, a grand old sherbet shop on College Square, Calcutta:


Hat-tip to Anasua, who both spotted the signs and suggested the caption.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Street Photography

Last summer my friend Aditi gave me her ticket to a Death Cab for Cutie concert that she couldn't go for.

There are several songs – Belle and Sebastian's Boy with the Arab Strap comes to mind – which I had no special liking for, but which grew on me after I heard them live in concert. So it proved with Death Cab's Your Heart is an Empty Room. Ben Gibbard sang it with a sparser arrangement and more emotion than he does on the studio version (I later dug up another live performance similar to the one I heard), and I found I rather like the chorus: And all you see is where else you could be / When you're at home / Out on the street are so many possibilities / To not be alone.

For whatever reason, it makes me think of a photo I took in Camden Passage in London, almost seven years ago.


Friday, 21 September 2018

Turnaround

With digital cameras, I can get a good sense of how a photo turned out just by looking at the LCD screen. Furthermore, taking out the SD card and copying files feels like a chore, so it is often days – or even weeks – before I get round to transferring the photos to my computer, and sharing them if I'm so inclined.

With film, once I finish a roll, I am desperate to see the photos. This month Anasua and I started developing black and white film at home, and I was persuaded to do this partly because of the faster turnaround time: photo labs in Copenhagen take 10 days or more.

Last weekend we were visiting friends in Munich. On Sunday they showed us around, and I took some photos. Tuesday we were back in Copenhagen, and that same night we developed the roll. By Wednesday morning I had scanned and shared them with some of my friends and family, and today, as you see below, one is on my blog. Of course with digital, in theory I could have shared them almost instantly, but in practice it often takes me longer than five days.*

I usually enjoy being shown around by locals, and Munich was no different: we got to see things like river-surfers on the Eisbach. Slow-speed film (Ilford FP4 Plus 125) is not ideal for action photos, but luckily it was a sunny day.


*I present this merely as an interesting irony, not as an argument for film photography. Perhaps there is only one true justification (thanks Saha).

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Cormorants at Moonrise

Some days after I finish work, I cycle down to the lakes in the centre of Copenhagen. Watching the birds makes for a pleasant change from staring at a computer screen. Last night I stuck around longer than usual – long enough to see the Moon rise over Fugleøen (Bird Island) where the cormorants roost.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Curiouser and Curiouser

Thanks to my well-documented penchant for list-making, I have whole notebooks filled with lists of all kinds. Here is one I recently found, from a notebook I kept in my first year of college. It starts out like a regular to-do list, but then... well, see for yourself.


In case you're wondering, the list starts at 3; there is no 0, 1 or 2.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Cabbage White

Our rocket plant has been looking a little poorly of late. I had assumed it was just feeling the heat, though I have been watering it diligently. Today, on closer inspection, I realised it is playing reluctant host to a small army of cabbage white caterpillars, the so-called "bane of allotment holders all over the British Isles".


I let them be, in the hope that they will pupate soon and the rocket plant will bounce back from this ordeal. I would also like to see the chrysalides, and maybe even the emergence of butterflies.

Cabbage whites have cool-looking eyes; here is one I photographed earlier.