Posted tagged ‘Mylapore’

“May I take a photograph please??” – Encounters of a Photographer with a store manager and a few dozen cops!

May 28, 2014


Photography not allowed

Photography not allowed

“May I get an interest free loan for Rs.10,00,000?” is what I suspected the store manager heard me uttering, judging by his facial contortion that presented incredulity and insult mixed with an expression that I’m sure was last seen in the faces of French aristocracy before 1789.

“What in the god’s green earth did you ask then?”, you may wonder. Before I tell what I asked, I advise reader discretion. Kids below 8 yrs, pregnant ladies, people with heart conditions are advised to stop reading and go back to indulge in activities that are soothing to the senses, like viewing my photographs here.

So here is what happened. It was a lovely evening with the sun slowly retiring for the day in the areas that fall 5 and a half hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time, behind the towering east gopuram of Kapaleeshwarar temple in Mylapore. I couldn’t but resist exploring the multi-storey buildings for getting a better view of the sunset for the sole purpose of clicking pictures. After much analysis, I zeroed in on the top floor of a shop nearby the temple from where I could get a decent view of the entire temple complex with the setting sun behind. Being the “Rules Ramanujam” that I am, innocently stepped into the shop with a Camera in my hand to seek permission. Not less than 1/3rd of a second passed, I was surrounded by atleast 3 people throwing suspective glances. I’m sure the authoritative figure amongst them was wondering if he should call the cops. Better sense prevailed. But even then I saw no sign of his stiff facial expression easing out. He asked me ” What do you want?” in a tone that I’d rather preferred he called the cops. I gave him a quick background on my motive, presented my credentials and requested permission to shoot the temple from their premises. Being a supervisor with no prerogative to take independent deicisions apart from stopping random strangers entering the shop with a camera, he decided to check with his boss, the store manager. After multiple calls to multiple departments in multiple floors, the supervisor got hold of the manager and requested him to come down over.

I greeted the manager with a wide smile, shook hands and asked him “Can I take pictures of the temple from your premises?”.

What happened next is what is described in the first paragraph of this post.

After he comprehended that such a request could even come and after the initial pang of anger subsided, he regained his composure and said “No. No permission for such things will be given.”. Taken aback by the bluntness (idhu vera mokkai..not this), but happy that I didn’t get his palm and finger prints on my cheeks, I showed him my portfolio on temples and requested to re-consider. He proudly said, “We have never given permission for photography and we will not give in the future also.” in a manner that exceeded the stiff upper lip ‘begaviour’ of the British aristocracy. Persuasive pest that I am, I asked him “Is there any specific reason you don’t allow photography from your premises?”, for which he replied “There is no reason. We just won’t allow.”.

Considering the consideration that I’m a man of self respect, I turned around in slow motion and walked towards the exit while my mind played this music .

Angry Chennai thatha preventing photography

Angry Chennai thatha preventing photography

Doing a bit of Googling (I’m not one of those that use the fancy word “Research” as a substitute for Googling), I found that this is a common problem all over the world. Post 9/11 everyone is a bit jittery about being photographed. Especially the police.

Some Police Quotes I’ve personally heard:

You can’t take pictures after 10 PM

You can’t enter the beach after 10 PM

You can’t use a tripod

You can’t take pictures in the park

You can’t take pictures of people

You can’t take pictures of landmarks

You need permission to take pictures in public

What do you achieve by taking pictures?

But the following one takes the cake:

You can’t take pictures of the war memorial because if you publish this in the “computer”, the terrorists will note this down and bomb this

Idhukku mela naa enna solla!! But indeed there is a positive to this. If I roam around the city for one more year, with all the laws I hear from the Police, I may end up as a lawyer!

Disclaimer – This post is merely a sarcastic attempt in explaining the low tolerance levels in India for street photography. Although the events mentioned are as real the Chennai police’s lathi.

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Indian Spirituality & Tea Kadai Testimony!

November 12, 2012

Disclaimer: All characters, incidents mentioned here are fictional and yeah I don’t take responsibility for anything written in this blog 😛

What’s common between Mylapore & Nanganallur in Chennai, one might ask. And the answer from an unobservant, un-Mycroft-like mind would be that both have lots’a temples. But for a keenly observant mind, it goes much more than that.

People from the United States, if you’re wondering from where the Indian whiz kids that make up the majority of Silicon Valley’s  start-ups and boot-ups come from, its precisely from these two places from the city of Chennai. Chances are, any 60 and older person you meet in these two places has a son or daughter studying in Stanford, MIT or any other top school for Science & Technology or working in top companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook etc.

And all those 60 and above persons would have visited the US atleast once and some of them may even be green card holders spending 6 months in India and 6 months in the States. Overhearing such 60 year olds while standing in line to meet Mr.Kabali in Mylapore, I happenned to ponder over the vagaries of life yet again. And I decided at that moment, unlike last time when I got enlightenment in the Japanese town of Suzuki, I would this time seek answers from an Indian guru meditating atop the sacred hills of “Tirisulam”, for the lack of vacation leaves this year.

After an arduous task of driving through peak hour Chennai traffic and negotiating the slow driving of America going Mylaporites and Nanganallurites near the Chennai airport, I reached the foothills of Tirisulam. Deciding to take a tea break, I took a seat(or a bench) in the tea shop close by.

Sipping hot water with a slight tea flavouring, I pondered over the discussion I overheard in Mr. Kabali’s abode. It went like this :

Mr. Subbu..what I'm saying is.......

Mr. Subbu..what I’m saying is…….

“Mr.Vaithy: Hello Mr. Subramaniam! How are you? When did you come back from the States?”

“Mr.Subbu: Hello Mr.Vaidyanathan! I’m very good. Just came back last Sunday. In Singapore Airlines. This time I strictly told my son, who is working in Facebook, to not book in any other flights!!”

“Mr.Vaithy: Ya ya! They are the best airlines. Enna service enna service!!! So how was life in Palo Alto??”

“Mr.Subbu: What to say Mr.Vaithy!! It’s a materialistic life there. Only in India do we find Spiritualism. Only Spiritualism gives comfort to the mind. All these western countries are running behind money!!”

“Mr.Vaithy: Absolutely Mr.Subbu. Spiritually enriching life in India is the best.”

And the conversation continued on the nature of spiritually enriching life in India amongst other topics such as 2 hour powercut in the state, Arvind Kejriwal and the Bama vs. Rukmaney contest (although I think this was about Obama vs. Romney contest..oh what the hell..I may have heard it wrong).

My deep thinking was disturbed by loud discussion between two guys, who were most probably drivers of cab services that ply to the airport, who came to the tea shop as well.

“Enna pa…night full duty’a innikku??”

“illa pa…en duty over.. just now dropped a family in the airport who is sending off their son to US.”

“Yaen pa…why is everyone going to the US?? India’la thaan we have spirituality and happiness!!”

“Innapa solre?? In India everything is centered on Money. US is exact opposite of that!!”

“You’re telling the exact opposite!!! How do you say this??”

“Listen – Based on what are Indian marriages arranged?”

“Mostly family decides based on the couple’s caste, family status, available properties and also if the boy and girl like each other.”

“Right. But what will happen if the caste, family status and properties don’t match but the boy and girl like each other??”

“Then they will not proceed with the marriage!”

“Right. So caste and money are the fulcrums that hold the marriage together. Agree??”

“Hmm…I’m not sure!!”

“Take your time!! Think about it. Also consider this. Why do we not encourage our kids in sports, or other non-science courses?”

“Ennapa ippdi kekkare?? If they study something non-science and play sports, how will they make money?”

“So we believe children will be happy only with money and not by doing what they like.”

“I’m confused!”

“It’s easy. What I’m trying to say is, Indians base everything with money. But say we are a spiritualistic country. Whereas in the US and other western countries, they marry out of love and do jobs as per their liking while money is a positive cause-effect.”

“But What about our temples? Our peace of mind due to our spirituality??”

“What peace of mind? When does a person in India lives with peace??

  • He struggles to get his daughter married to a rich family.
  • Makes his son study science while restricting his other talents for sports and arts.
  • Ensures he earns well abroad in the States or Europe.
  • Basically we search for spiritual peace by accomplishing material goals.
  • I don’t know what spiritual peace is but one thing i’m sure of is it is definitely not what we have in India.”

“So you’re saying caring for our kids to have a prosperous life is wrong??”

“Ofcourse not. All I’m saying is, don’t call yourself  spiritual when your peace depends on materialistic accomplishments.”

“I don’t understand a thing man!! All I know is, I get my “spirit”ual peace in TASMAC :)”

Off they went. But things began to clear up for me. Now I have no need to go uphill to meet the sage. This Tea kadai is my bodhi tree.

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