Alive and Clicking, A Memoir by TS Satyan – A Review

Alive and Clicking - Chitra Aiyer Photography

One of my recent reads that I completely enjoyed reading – T. S. Satyan’s ‘Alive and Clicking’, a memoir. While he has been a wonderful photographer, he shows us the incredible writer that he is with this memoir. All of the book is written like as if he is recollecting things that happened just a few days ago – when actually it is from many, many years ago. All of his life, spread across many decades, recollected and written in a style reminiscent of a long-lost era. Rich with details and with his splendid yet simplistic narration, the book had me glued to his every word. I also read this book very slowly, taking it all in, and hanging on to his writing for as long as possible. Never is it superfluous or boring.

His personality shines through with his ability to see life like the way he did, filling the reader with simple joyfulness. I had to remind myself that he was no more when I was reading his book, since his spirit is so alive through out. While the book in its entirety is written in past tense, you still get the sense of being a witness to all the events and settings.

He has captured some of the rustic, simplistic scenes of rural India for magazines abroad and in this book, he goes on to describe how he went about shooting some of them – really, his commitment is absolutely commendable. Photography is so not about just what is in front of the camera, it has so much to do with the personality of the clicker – and from his narrative, it becomes evident that he was warm and down-to-earth.

He has been a witness to many a important events – and he shares them all generously with the readers. He said, “when you spend eighty summers on one planet with a camera in hand, things happen, events occur, and you have a bunch of experiences and encounters because you were there at the right time at the right place.” He recounts the times he spent with illustrious folks like Nobel Laureate C.V. Raman and film-maker Satyajit Ray; the significant moments he captured in the lives of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Pope Paul VI. He also recollects his experiences as a photographer in places as varied as Sikkim, Afghanistan, Arunachal Pradesh and Malaysia.

What also stands out is the no. of very eminent folks Mysore and its Maharaja college produced in that era – a lot of very famous personalities like R.K. Narayan, R.K. Laxman, Doreswamy Iyengar, were all his contemporaries or his seniors there. Mysore is a constant through out this book and with his beautiful writing, he describes the town the way it was in the 30s and 40s, almost making those of us who didnt even know the Mysore then, to miss it.

T.S. Satyan was an award-winning photojournalist and winner of the Padma Shri in 1977. He passed away in Dec 2009.

Pic Source:

RIP, Satyan.

Frames of Melukote

Like I mentioned in my previous post about Melukote, here’s the other post from the little trip. This post is mostly for the frames from the little town. The drive itself was extremely good – with the roads being good all the way. After we took the right turn from the main Bangalore-Mysore freeway into the country road leading to Melukote, the countryside immediately changed to being beautiful and well …. country like. Beautiful green stretches and wonderful sense of serenity – very typical of most of the interior South Karnataka roads.

Enroute - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

As we reached the little town, we saw the hill that we were going to climb. on reaching the town, we parked and walked around the main street, at the end of which is the Cheluva Narayana Swamy temple. The place is so small that even that main street is hardly busy and mostly just reflects the laid back lifestyle of its residents. It may also have been so, since we arrived there in the late afternoon.

I maybe repeating myself here, but what the place is, is quaint.

Here’re some pics from the walk around the town.

laidback everyday - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Entranceway to the inner main street - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Street Wall - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Verandah - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Colorful plastic - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Cauvery Electronics - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

A couple of interesting details noticed outside homes:

Details on a house wall - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Wall art - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Kids here made darling subjects, like kids anywhere do.

Kids on the streets - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Friendship - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Bright face - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Cheer - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Yummy licks - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Enjoying ice creams

Relaxing - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Enjoying a lazy afternoon, right behind his dad’s push cart.

So, the recent posts are more about photography than anything else, which is the intent – to post photo essays, where the pics give a sense of what it is all about. I hope you enjoy them.

Poems by my little girl

My daughter’s face usually brightens up when she speaks of some things – with a smile on her face and twinkle in her eyes, she usually tells me of her little imaginations and ideas. It then occurred to me to ask her to put some of her thoughts into poems. This delighted her no end, the thought that she could write her own poems.

Here’re 2 poems that she has written herself – her first 2. She will turn 7 in June.

In the Happy Garden

Flowers, leaves, and butterflies
In a lovely garden
The birds sing so sweetly
The tune flows along.

Roses, roses, roses
Red, pink, and yellow
The lily in the water
Floating happy pink.

The leaves in the garden
Lush and green
The butterflies so colorful
Fluttering all about.

What a pretty garden
So bright and colorful
Let us have some fun
Playing in the grass
Green so green.

 When tenderness meets tenderness - Chitra Aiyer Photography

Her little hand delicately feeling a tender stalk

Fish’s World

One little fish in a pond
One more came along
From a shark’s mouth
The shark came
From a deep blue sea.

He had fun in the water
But he did not have
Enough water in the pond
So he went back
To the deep blue sea.

Do leave your comments and my daughter and I will read them together. :) Thanks!

Climbing Up the Melukote Hill

Melukote is a quaint little town about half an hour from the town of Mandya. When you are headed to Mysore on the Bangalore – Mysore road, just after Mandya is a right turn towards Sravanabelagola. On that road, Melukote is after about 40 Kms.

I first visited Melukote with my B. Architecture batch-mates in our first year for the survey of the beautiful kalyani or the temple tank. We had then stayed there for about a week and I really liked how cute and peaceful the town was. Always had wanted to go back, and it is only recently that I was able to go there. Last weekend, my family and I went there with our friends, and though it was a small little trip, I will need more than one post to cover the trip and to include the pics that I want to.

My most favorite part of the trip was the climb up to the top of the hill where there is the Yoganarasimha temple. Even as we reached the town, we could spot the temple at the top and the pathway that led to the temple. What delighted me immensely was when I could even see the trees that lined the pathway leading to the top were none other than my favorite Frangipani trees.

We reached the town by around 3.30 pm and started the climb only at around 5.00. The idea was to reach up to enjoy the sunset.

Frangipani trees along the edges - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

The pathway is very nicely laid with little rest-stops with entrance-ways and the beautiful frangipani trees lining the entire stretch.

One o the many entranceways - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

This series, it was hard to make black and white pics because the colors were all too gorgeous to lose – beautiful blue skies, lovely colors on the people, beautiful golden light all around and the fabulous old granite stones.

Religious markings - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Here’re some elements that depict the religious activities that people seem to take part in while climbing – turmeric, vermilion, coconut pieces, the remains of burnt camphor.

People on the way up - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

The fallen frangipani flowers looked beautiful and welcoming on the steps.

Handful of Heaven - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Frangipani flowers are one of the most divine smelling flowers and this here is my daughter who was collecting the fallen ones on our way up. It delights my heart to see that she loves these flowers just as much as I do.

Looking up - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Daughter climbing up with us - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Juicy cucumbers - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

The fresh cucumbers that this man was selling with salt and chilly were juicy and crunchy!

Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

A delightful girl we met - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

A sweet little local girl we met as we climbed up – I loved her smile and of  course the beautiful golden light that caressed her.

Temple tower peeks - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

The beautiful blue skies and the peeking temple tower as we reached the top.

The temple tower - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

Neer Mor - watered down spicy buttermilk - Melukote, Chitra Aiyer Photography

At the last turn, just before the temple, were these buttermilk vendors. In South India, it is a simple summer drink – the flavored watered down buttermilk – awesome to quench the thirst and wonderful on the taste buds. We made a stop to enjoy the rusticdrink

Long post with too many pics, I know. But, really this is the cut down version. I loved this little trek up and I love the quaintness of this place. Will post more pics of the town, its beautiful kalyani, the temple and the views from the top.

If you like the pics and the post, please feel free to share it with your friends –Share

Chitra Aiyer Photography on ArtnLight

The very talented Vineeta Nair of ArtnLight recently featured my photography. Do drop by and check the post out.

Chitra Aiyer Photography on artnlight

I was touched by the amount of effort she has put in to portray my work. Thanks Vineeta!

About Vineeta Nair: She is an ex-advertising art director, who has one of the best design blogs around – she writes about design, decor and India. She also features homes, artists, photographers, local shopping and her travels. The artist in her makes the visuals of the blog very beautiful. What I really like is her mature design style – very sophisticated.

She is an independent design consultant with a growing decor accessories business. She personally designs and creates fantastic decor accessories – do check this link out to see her amazingly beautiful work.