Monday, September 04, 2006

The View from Saturday

Saturday is a fine, fine day, don't you know. I mean, how can it not be when you spend all day doing three things you enjoy most: reading, eating, and photography.

It begins by haring across town to the British Library to be able to spend at least one hundred minutes of wonderful self-indulgence, and I also get to be a geeky student again. Then it's one of two things: a movie or photography. If it's a movie, the time I leave the cinema determines whether my camera runs away with me first or dinner does. Whatever the order, the meal usually has only one address - Crystal Restaurant near Wilson College on Marine Drive.

In a hyper-expensive city like Bombay, Crystal is a boisterous, rundown place that serves vegetarian food at prices hardly credible. Where else in Bombay could you order 14 butter rotis, 2 plates of rajmah, 1 plate of aloo jeera, 2 bowls of kheer, and 1 bottle of water and pay only 175? And to say the food is merely superlative is to insult it. I think it's the best North Indian food you will eat - outside a home... or a dhaba in Amritsar, I'm told.

I studied not very far from Crystal and ate away my undergraduate years there. Those days I loved it because I was perenially penurious and Crystal was great food really cheap. Today, I love it because not only is the food great but everyone's equal - no reservations, no special treatment. Everyone wants a table, no one's willing to wait in line. The waiters don't always know your name but they smile genuinely. No culinary flatulence while "discussing the order."

As an aside, I must admit that the prices at Crystal have gone up since 1998 - the rajmah was 20 bucks to the 25 it is now. :-)

The photography? Where shall I start? This is St Thomas Cathedral in Fort, Bombay. Here, I was regaled by a constable telling me about how a student of JJ College was taking photographs near the CID headquarters and was promptly taken in as some manner of spy!

He stayed talking to me for nearly two hours. Time punctuated only by him explaining to other cops on his own beat and others that I was this worthy young woman who was doing no harm - only photographing "aamchi Mumbai."

St Thomas Cathedral, Bombay

This is the front entrance of the Institute of Science, Bombay. One of my most fun photography jaunts ever. Imagine long exposure shots - about 10-14 secs - with my subjects moving all over the place after I released the shutter!

The Institute of Science, Bombay

The epiphany for the night: Saturdays keep me sane.

The title is borrowed, I admit. Surely - but slowly - more on that later.


santu said...

Your photographs (well some of them) especially the ones of the sea and the latest editions from saturday are gorgeous.. I moved to India only 3 yrs back and when it gets me down I see the pulse in your pictures.. How it sets my heart aflutter to start the rundown of my body allover again on 'a brand new day'.. yes i love bryan adams so its borrowed too but hey in a world of anu maliks and yes a r rehman (despite his heart rendering music), its always only inspirtation they say :-)

Anonymous said...

You've got a great blog. I especially love the photos! Keep going.

Geetanjali said...

Good lord, in all those many times that I walked through that entry, I NEVER once thought it looked as beauitful as it does in your photograph! Brilliant work ma chere!

Parth said...

Awesome awesome photos. Coincidentally, yesterday I was talking to my Dad about town side. He is a Wilsonian, and Crystal Restaurant came up. Talk about coincidences.

Anil said...

Ah, we are back to posting regularly now! Lovely to read you as always. I liked the second photo a lot. But if I may offer a suggestion without offending you, perhaps a straighter (and more conventional) composition would have been much better? The light is gorgeous in the second. These seem like digital photos, are they?

Extempore said...

@Santu: Welcome aboard! Thanks very much - these are photos I'm very proud of. More coming up - by and by! :)

@Anon: Err... thanks! Leave at least an initial the next time... dying with the curiosity is not fun! :P

@Geets: Thanks, chicklet! Will let you know as soon as I post the one of the full front facade. I think you'll like it.

@Parth: Thanks so much! Crystal is all time favourite... have you been?

@Anil: Well, I am not sure about regularly but I'm hoping it's a start. :) Thanks for the vote of confidence, love.

Well, the composition of the facade was conventional but somewhere in PS, I managed to botch stuff up and it got saved with this orientation. :( I am going to need to get the whole roll re-scanned methinks. And they're both film. I usually try not use digital, esp for night shots. Am most curious, what made you think digital?

Casablanca said...

I love this saturday. Sounds very refreshing. Mine is quite similar, except that you should replace the photography with shopping. And more shopping. Did I mention shopping? Sigh, I'm gonna die as a woman with no money and a 100 shoes :(

Anonymous said...

you'll end up making me fall in love with Bombay.

Geetanjali said...

@ Nocturne - You mean you haven't already?

Anil said...

Bcos the photos were so clean, free of grain. Normally, this is a hallmark of digitial. Either you were using very slow film or the scanner used was really really good.

Now I'm curious, why not digital for night scenes? I'd think night scenes are best for digital as then you will have the convenience of rapidly changing iso when needed. Of course, noise will be an issue at higher iso's but if you stick between 100-800 on a decent dSLR the immediacy of results on digital can be quite gratifying.

God, I don't believe myself! I'm actually singing the praises of night digitial photog when I can count on my fingers the number of times my lazy ass has gone out to do night shooting!

S said...

Well, looks like it really is looking up.. Two posts within a span of 7 days.. Incredible.. The doing good to the body does good for the soul too, eh? :) Keep it up babes.. And I still dont have the photos.. I dont want any excuses this time.. Will have to be handed over to me over our dinner at Maharaja.. And these photos are quite lovely.. Though I feel sepia would have looked better and the sky a little lighter..

shashi said...

Nice photographs...
sometimes the place we see routinely, looks beautiful in photos. Then I should say...its a creation of photographer...and you came up to that standard

lakesidey said...

Nice pics :) And I do recognise the source of the have you been, young lady?

Extempore said...

@Casa: But what a way to die, my dear!

@Nocturne: Is there any other to feel about Bombay? :) And there are some pics up my sleeve, dearie... just gimme some time to post.

@Geets: You, chicklet, be after my own heart.

@Anil: Well, both were shot on my favourite film, the Fuji Superia 100. Mighty expensive - :( - but fine grain and superb colours. I agree about the immediacy on digital and perhaps, I'll convert some day. Thanks for the feedback, love - it is greatly appreciated. :)

@S: Well, given the way this project is going, I am not sure when I'll be able to post next. :(( Yes, will give you the CD and will also send you the sepia versions.

@Shashi: Welcome aboard. Thanks so much your very kind words... I hope you'll still think the same when you see some of my bloopers! :)

@Lakesidey: Thank you, old friend. I must meet up with you soon but it's just been mad here at work... will send mail or call by the weekend, I promise. *hug*

{illyria} said...

these are fantastic! i wish saturdays for me were as soul-stirring, but my hours are just effed up and i have work six days a week.

~the girl FKA transience

Faultless Wanderer said...

the final epiphany of the night - bob dylan.

the pics r nice :-)

Anonymous said...


I came across your page when I was looking for Crystal restaurant, Mumbai.
I must say you described crystal pefectly, would like to add the Kinda music owner usualy plays(I simply love that,quite old songs which u will like more when u are in crystal) and second thing the kind of tables and chair restuarant have, just remind u your college canteen (though this time furniture was changed, when I visited last time, dont know why).

Its really reminds me old days, which I would die to enjoy once.
Plese keep the good work going,really a nice and wonderful blog, will appreciate if u can stick the photo of crystal too

Thanks and Cheers