Rainy Day Bombay

It’s been raining for well over 24 hours now. I’m not sure exactly when it started since my flight landed yesterday in a downpour and it hasn’t let up since. I took the opportunity to have an inside day, the first since I’ve been here that I didn’t leave the house at all. It might also be because this is the first day I’ve lived alone; A. and M. moved to their new apartment and R. doesn’t come for another couple of weeks. In Chicago I’ve gotten very used to living alone. It can be good to stay with other people since everything is so new here, but in such a crowded city it’s also nice to have an option for solitude.

I spent most of the last week in Gurgaon, a suburb just south of New Dehli, which is quite different from Bombay. I’m not a fan of suburbs in the US, and the distaste extends to India. Gurgaon is full of office buildings, hotels, and malls. I was shuttled between the three in a car and never even got a chance to walk the streets. The hotel experience was pleasant enough, but in a global kind of way where I could have been anywhere in the world if it wasn’t for the idlis at the breakfast buffet. It made me feel lucky that the IDEO office is in such an interesting neighborhood.

If I had gone into Delhi I would have most likely seen the giant rallies in support of Anna Hazare, a Gandhian who has been fasting in support of creating a strict anti-corruption law called a Lokpal. Giant crowds have been a constant presence in the city, and smaller marches have been happening all over the country. In Mumbai they were prevalent enough for me to have a small faction pass directly under my apartment last week. Just now, breaking news, the parliament has given in to his demands and he plans to break his fast in the morning. It will have lasted for 12 days, which is amazing considering that Anna is 74 years old.

On Friday we drove to Jaipur, which we thought would take 3.5 hours but ended up taking six. The drive took us through towns and villages, good roads and terrible. Most of it was in Rajasthan, an Indian state I’m thinking about spending more time in when I take a vacation in October. For me, one of the more noticeable and interesting aspects of the drive were the camels. They were being used mainly like horses, pulling carts or equipment. I guess they’re very common in that region, which has large desert on it’s western border with Pakistan.

I just put some new photos up on Flickr, but I’ve accumulated a bit of a backlog that I still need to share. I while ago I switched to shooting only RAW images, which gives me a lot more flexibility in how I can manipulate them after shooting, but requires that I “develop” each one since a RAW image is sort of like a digital negative that needs to be worked with. I’ve always been reluctant to shoot in RAW since the images are 4-5 times the file size and require the extra processing step. I’m a complete convert now though, and I wish I had tried it sooner. It’s amazing what you can do afterwards in Lightroom, rescuing an over- or under-exposed photograph that I would have been scrapped before. It’s also fun to do the developing, to consciously study each photograph and work through the possibilites. It has some of the positive aspects of the traditional darkroom, without worrying about mixing the fixer wrong.