Father of the Bride

I havent explicitly said here on my site that I take up wedding/events/portrait photography assignments. But, I do. I have been updating my Facebook photography page with samples from my assignments.

What do I try to achieve while shooting at weddings? I strive to shoot moments as they are, and to find beauty as and when I capture these honest moments. I respect the space and happenings around me, I do not direct the proceedings, I do not stop the proceedings, I do not interfere; I simply observe and capture.

Of the many things I observe and capture, one of the things I do watch out for is the emotions of the father of the bride. There is a special bonding for any father with his daughter; and on the momentous day of giving away his daughter’s hand in marriage, typically his heart melts. I remember my own father from my wedding; I could sense what it meant to him … the giving away.

The following pics are from a recent wedding I covered …

Wedding Assignment - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Wedding Assignment - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Wedding Assignment - Chitra Aiyer Photography

He is being consoled by some of the womenfolk in the family.

Wedding Assignment - Chitra Aiyer Photography

As he wipes away his tears, there’s the mother watching her husband in one of his most tender moments.

Rest of the sample pics from this wedding are here – Chitra Aiyer Photography

Please Note: These pics are private property. Please do not reproduce in any form - print, media, email.

Attitude Shift, Shashikant Joshi

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One of my friends, Shashi Joshi has recently finished authoring the book - Attitude Shift. Attitude Shift is Sanskrit wisdom for contemporary life and leadership. Very relevant to many spheres of today’s life.

Shashi is a Sanskrit enthusiast; he shares his infectious joy of Sanskrit wisdom, both practical and spiritual, through his blog and a rapidly growing Facebook community called Practical Sanskrit.
He holds a BTech from IIT Kharagpur and an MS from University of Minnesota, USA in Comp Sci. He is an IT veteran.

In the book ‘Attitude Shift’, he revisits, explains and interprets ancient Sanskrit maxims for contemporary life and leadership. Powerful ideas are introduced in a conversational style, small bites. There are no quantitative charts, diagrams and dry statistics — just stories, anecdotes and enough trivia crumbs to keep you engaged.

Read the FREE PDF here http://thinkingheartsonline.com/attitudeshift

What’s more? The book ships for free to anywhere in the world. The soft copy is available for Kindle too. The book isnt in stores.

You can order directly from the website for FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING. Visit http://thinkingheartsonline.com/attitudeshift

The book is very reasonably priced and I am sure you will have much to take away from the book.

Attitude Shift on Facebook

Introducing Aksharit, the first ever word game designed for an Indian language

I have the pleasure of introducing Aksharit; the first ever Indian language word game created by a team of 3 IIT graduates. One of my friends, Rajat Dariwal, is one of the 3 people, the team that created Aksharit.

Aksharit won IIM Calcutta’s National Business Idea Competition “Ideas to Implementation” in January 2009.

Aksharit What is Aksharit?

Aksharit is an educational aid to enhance language learning.

Akshari is one of the first Indian language word game ever made. Given the vast number of English word games available in the market, and their availability in 30 world languages, out of which none of them are Indian languages. One of the main issues for this lack of word games in Indian languages is the use of ’ which are non-existent in English. Aksharit addresses these issues to generate a rich and enjoyable language learning experience helping students from learning recognition of ‘Akshars and ’Matra’s, to correct spellings to enhancing their vocabulary, all through a fun medium.

Here’s more about Aksharit from the creators:

The game has 4 versions covering all age groups. The games were tailored to help children of different age group with specific learning objectives.

1. Chotu Aksharit Paheli: These are a set of 4 small games with simple picture crosswords on them. They help those children who are beginning their Hindi learning:

  • Recognizing the Aksharas and Matras; associating them with their respective sounds.
  • The way they combine to form words.
  • Building some basic vocabulary with the word meanings reinforced with attractive pictures.
  • The first game uses only a few Aksharas and Matras. Once the children complete this they play the second game uses the next set of ‘Akshars and ’Matra’s, so and so forth.

2. Aksharit Paheli: This game has 2 boards with picture crosswords which cover all the ‘Akshars and ’Matra’s of Hindi language between them. They help children reinforce letter recognition and build the vocabulary further. Student misconceptions like mirroring (confusing “I” and “i”, “e- vowel” and “ga”), errors due to similarity in shape (“Ga” and “Qa”), skipping ‘Matra’s while reading (reading “pustk” as “pstk”) come out. The first board is simpler and doesn’t involve the use of ’Matra’s. This is played once children are familiar with all the ‘Varna’s. The second board has words with ’Matra’s as well and slightly advanced set of words.

3. Baal Aksharit: This game has a board with empty spaces to fill words in crossword fashion and mechanism to score points. It requires children to scan through their vocabulary and building those words on the board to gather the maximum points for which the spellings need to be correct. It is geared towards vocabulary generation, spelling words correctly and basic dictionary checking to see if valid words are formed (by them and moreover by their opponents) along with Mental Math to computer scores. It can be played at regular intervals in classes 3, 4, 5, and 6.

4. Aksharit: In this game, children form words from the given ‘Akshars and ’Matra’s. All the words made on the board need to be connected in crossword fashion, which is significantly difficult. Apart from the need for an enhanced vocabulary and stronger mental Maths, now the game involves higher order skills such as – strategy, making and spatial skills to identify the possible ways in which new words can be connected.

The game involves a lot of thinking and generates ample conversation giving opportunities to the educator to moderate it. Children of varying ability levels and age groups find it challenging at their own level. It sharpens the students’ vocabulary since without ample alternatives, connecting words would be difficult. Mental Maths now involves multiplication with double word and triple word scores. They are now ready to be encouraged to use the dictionary increasingly, either to check the validity of other players’ words or to look for new words with their set of ‘Akshars and ’Matra’s.

The Design Team
Rajat and team
Rajat and Madhumita, completed their B.Tech in Computer Science from IIT Bombay in 2004. Thereafter Rajat went for pursuing M.S from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh and Madhumita joined the animation studio, Rhythm & Hues, in Bombay. They were somehow drawn towards working for the Indian education system since college and when they didn’t find their respective jobs fulfilling, they decided to give it a go. They have been teaching Science to grades 6th and 7th at Rishi Valley School for 4 years since. Inspired by the high motivation and engagement levels of children while playing any kind of games, they have incorporated a lot of games and activities in their own teaching.

Manuj did his B.Design from IIT Guwahati in 2007. As his college projects he invented a lot of creative games related to primary and middle school education. Aksharit was also born then.

  • It has emerged as a very effective educational aid for language learning.
  • Its Hindi version is being used by 1.2 Lakh children across India. This includes various states like Chhattisgarh, MP, Rajasthan, West Bengal; organizations like Eklavya, Vidya Bhawan Soceity, Digantar; schools like DPS Dubai, N H Goel World School.
  • In the pilot conducted in 1000 govt schools by the State of Chhattisgarh it received an overwhelming feedback, owing to which it is likely to spread to another 32000 schools there.
  • INTEL and NOKIA have launched it in a big way on their
    respective platforms as well.
  • Other than Hindi, Aksharit has been developed in all the 10 major Indian Languages.

More about Aksharit here - http://www.aksharit.com/

Charminar – Hyderabad’s ’shaan’

The first thought when I saw the Charminar was ‘hey, this isnt as imposing as I thought it would be!’ The Charminar was a pleasant sight amidst the hustle and bustle of the busy streets in the old part of Hyderabad. The proportions of this beautiful structure almost makes it sweet-looking; it really is one of the nicest monuments I have seen.

We parked the car at the Chowmahalla palace. And after seeing the palace, we walked to Charminar. See map below. ‘A’ is Chowmahalla and ‘B’ is Charminar.


View Larger Map

As we turned left, I saw the Charminar up ahead … Hyderabad 2010 112

… and I was really surprised to not find it belittling! This is in spite of having seen many many pics of it all over the internet.

Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the 5th ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty built Charminar at the end of the 16th century, shortly after he had shifted his capital from Golkonda to what is now known as Hyderabad. Apparently, he built this famous structure to commemorate the elimination of a plague epidemic from this city. He is said to have prayed for the end of a plague that was ravaging his city and vowed to build a mosque at the very place where he was praying. The mosque became popularly known as Charminar because of its four minarets.

The structure was at one time the heart of the city. There is also a legend of an underground tunnel connecting the palace at Golkonda to Charminar, possibly intended as an escape route for the Qutub Shahi rulers.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see it very elegantly designed – again, the surprise factor was about not finding it imposing at all, even when we walked right under it! The carved intricate details were very beautiful.

Hyderabad 2010 113

Hyderabad 2010 114

Hyderabad 2010 115

looking at this, both the daughter and I marveled at how lace like the edges were

Hyderabad 2010 116

We could see people at the first storey, however, we didn’t go up ourselves. It was in the middle of the afternoon and the place was very very crowded. We didn’t want to wear the kids out. We had already spent a few hours at the Chowmahalla palace and we still had to walk around in the neighbourhood. Perhaps another time!

Hyderabad 2010 117

Some interesting trivia excerpts about the Charminar from Wikipedia:

  • The actual mosque occupies the top floor of the four-storey structure.
  • Each of the floors was meant for a separate branch of learning - before the structure was transformed by the Imperial British administration into a warehouse for opium and liqueurs. Sad!
  • In 2007, Hyderabadi Muslims living in Pakistan constructed a replica of the Charminar in Karachi.

Charminar overlooks another beautiful and grand mosque, the Makkah Masjid. Will post about it soon. Here’s a view of the Charminar from the Makkah Masjid.

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the little boy is my son enjoying running behind the goats at the Makkah masjid ..

The famous Laad bazaar is right near the Charminar. It is famous for its exquisite bangles; it is the daughter’s 2nd grade school comprehension worksheet about the Laad bazaar that got me planning our Hyderabad trip. Will post about the Laad bazaar too.

All pics in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.

The road to Hyderabad

So, as promised in the previous post – here’s the first of the posts about the trip. We hit the road after breakfast the first day of the Christmas vacations. After crossing the Bangalore International airport in Devanahalli, it took us about 7 hours to reach the Hyd city limits, and this included 2 relaxing stops – both about 45 mins long. The route is NH7: Bangalore - Chikballapur - Bagepalli - Penukonda - Anantapur - Gooty - Kurnool - Jadcherla – Hyderabad.


View Larger Map

The only thing about this route is we didnt find too many by-the-highway rest areas. Just a couple of decent ones – 1, a Kamat just after Chikballapur and another an hour before Hyderabad. This is a pretty good one, a nice newly opened restaurant on a lake side. You even see trains chugging along at a distance when you are seated here.

At the end of December, which is when we went, the entire stretch was a 4 lane divided freeway, including fully ready bypasses for all the towns on the way. So, this helped it make it a very peaceful, uneventful cruise through and through. Also, the entire stretch is on the Deccan plateau, which is located between 3 mountain ranges: the Western Ghats form its western boundary, and the Eastern Ghats its eastern boundary. Both the ghats rise from their respective nearby coastal plains and nearly meet at the southern tip of India. The Deccan plateau is separated from the Gangetic plain to the north by the Satpura and Vindhya Ranges, which form its northern boundary.

We got to appreciate how absolutely flat the land was – we could see the countryside from horizon to horizon and saw the road stretch ahead of us till the horizon too. No exaggeration. The countryside is beautiful, not in the everything is green and bountiful like the western ghats side of Karnataka. This is more drier, and yet peaceful and beautiful in its own way.

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

the never ending sight of the road ahead of us

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

the beautiful countryside, bright blue sky, and a sense of calm

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

the beautiful contrasts of people’s clothing and their freeway surrounds

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

While the blue sky was a blessing for photography, the car’s tinted glass helped too :)

We reached Hyderabad as the Sun was setting. We couldn’t believe how easy the long stretch had been with the kids. The best thing to do with kids is to always give them the required breaks to run around, play, eat, use the rest-rooms, and they invariably make great companions on the road.

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bangalore to Hyderabad - Chitra Aiyer Photography

We got on the never-ending flyover, as the kids call the 10+ kms flyover from just outside the Hyd airport till the center of the city. We reached Banjara Hills, where we were staying, within minutes.

More about the places we visited in the subsequent posts

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All pics in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.