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Mallick Ghat is a well-known name among the ghats or river banks along the Hooghly in Kolkata. Being a resident of the city, I feel privileged to have been blessed with opportunities to click away around the city. For someone who loves capturing life in streets, it could not get any better. Here are a few clicks of Mallik Ghat, the story being told through the eyes of Trisha - the explorer, observer and storyteller. Trisha is a character that I hold very close to my heart. She sees the world in her own way, and presents it to the world in a way, unique to her.

The walk till the river bank - Trisha stops at this closed window. There is something every closed door or window wants to tell us. The difference between knowing and not knowing what's beyond, is only a knock. There's nothing right or wrong though. It's just a choice if you want to knock or not.
Trisha says - When you have clarity, you can flow through your days effortlessly. Clarity is paramount. Seek clarity. Take your time. Explore. Question. Don't just flow with the flow, grow with the flow. Be better, even when you are trying. Be better at trying. As Rumi says, what you seek is seeking you. When you seek clarity, clarity will come. But you have to be an honest seeker. This is a view of Howrah Railway Station from Mallick Ghat.
Mallick Ghat is a place where devotees come to take a dip in the holy waters with the intention to expiate their sins. It is all in the faith that one holds. If one decides that they would choose their future actions based on righteousness, Trisha believes that karmic debts can be expiated. The ghats are also a place where last rites of departed souls are performed.
As Trisha takes in this scene, it reminds her of those exotic places, pictures of which she had seen earlier. Doesn't this look straight out of dreams? A place where you'd want to just be, breathe in, and just allow things to unfold... as they are?
Street photography is somewhat a much misunderstood medium, feels Trisha. Mostly street photographers are thought as people without a heart. On the contrary, most street photographers actually have to connect with a scene even before they click it. Can you imagine the depth of emotion that goes there? Some photographers even cry after clicking a shot. They don't show their tears or anguish though. Photography and presentation thereof is an art, let us allow that to be there. Photographers are only doing their job, some of them earn the little living that they can through the highly competitive medium of photography. Just like any other job, let us respect this too.
A short walk from the ghat takes you to the biggest wholesale flower market in Kolkata - Mallick Ghat Flower Market. Trisha loves flowers. Have you ever thought of the destiny of flowers? A marigold will flower like a marigold, a jasmine will flower to be a jasmine. Humans are like that too. Each human is unique, meant to be someone unique to her. 
Don't these lotus buds look like the petals of a lotus itself in full bloom? The soft pink touches Trisha's senses like how these beautiful blossoms adorn Goddess Durga when she comes down with her kids once every year.
There goes a basket of someone's livelihood!!! Or someone's proposal to someone when they say "Will you marry me?" Or someone's flower vase? Or someone's altar at home, a temple, a church, a mosque, a gurudwara, a monastery? Trisha can feel goosebumps as this thought crosses her mind. Doesn't this make you feel connected to everything too?
Trisha had a tough time capturing this little birdie. Shot at a shutter speed of 1/1000, it was a test of patience and agility both at the same time. It was worth the wait, feels Trisha. 
Ask what you want, the Gods are here. Trisha smiles as she takes in this scene. So many faces of God, why worry!? Whom do you look upto for support when you feel down?
Why is he scowling so? Perhaps he wanted a dress in brighter yellow???!!!!
A bird's eye view of a part of the flower market is enough to give you an idea of the vastness of the place and the business. This place literally feeds the city with flowers. Trisha loves the catchy blue by the way.
Trisha couldn't take her eyes off these sunflowers. She bought a bunch for herself, but not before clicking a shot of this man, waiting in the hope of someone to buy flowers from him.
Trisha wanted the last picture of this story to be really special. What could be a more fitting finale than a shot of the mighty Howrah Bridge itself - the pride of the country, the connection between one ghat to another, in fact one city to another with Howrah Station along one side. Each time someone covers the distance of the bridge, there is a silent prayer that goes to the Mother Ganga. This is not just a bridge, it is the heart and soul of a city - the City of Joy, a city that reaches out to one and all and says - come, contribute and share the Love, share the Joy.

Have you been to the City of Joy? Are you from the City of Joy? Can you feel how Trisha feels? Which one is your favourite click from the above? Do share with Trisha. She would love to know :-)

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It has been few years that we have ushered in the era of the selfie. So much so, that I am beginning to wonder if I am too late to write this article! Then on second thoughts, I chose to still go ahead and do it. I see many people (who used to be averse to phone selfies) have also begun to take selfies seriously, and have started clicking them as well! Being a photography enthusiast, I keenly observe, and I tend to spot the scope for improvisations in a picture. I cannot undermine the importance of a good selfie being instrumental in how your viewers or most essentially, you yourself – connect with You.

Ever since I started taking selfies myself, several people have come up and complemented on them. I realized that it was more about technique that made them stand out during a time, when so many filters were not even there!!! In this article, I have put together 10 tips how you can click better phone selfies for yourself. Selfie photography is an art, that can be improved. Hope you will find these tips useful ?. I believe these should also be helpful for anyone who is shy and uncomfortable for selfies...

  • 1) Get comfortable with yourself – See, it isn’t always about looking your best and clicking a selfie and posting it. What is striking is how you see yourself when you are not looking your best. Feeling your best is what can make even the most simple selfie turn out to be your top grosser of the week! The pic below was clicked when while during one of my travels, I had fallen ill. I was not in my best form so to say. I clicked the pic and posted it. It helped me not just try out something new, but reinforced my confidence as well. Self confidence can do what skill sans confidence will not. If you are not sure, just try clicking some at home and post later.

  • 2) Use a self timer – That way you will be free to pose your way. Just prop the phone up somewhere and let the timer do the job for you. Even for my videos, I have often used a pile of books to support the phone as I have talked away!!! The below picture was shot with the phone propped on a window sill.

  • 3) Try clicking in the portrait mode, without the beauty mode on – Yes. Please do that. Because you want a number of effects to try on, on the same picture after you click it. You can always use the filters to edit later on to check which ones look best to post! And, try practising clicking in the portrait mode (the vertical mode) rather than the landscape mode (horizontal one). The square mode should be specifically used if you want to upload the picture directly from your phone as your facebook profile picture.

  • 4) Try out different angles – The same angle often gets repetitive. And try experimenting with not looking directly at the camera and say cheese. Yes, there is your “good” angle, or "high angle" shot, but you never know, a straight up shot can also do wonders! Here's a shot of me not looking at the camera.

  • 5) Let special additions tell a story for you – Mehndi on your palms? How about being a bit creative about the shot instead of just posing with your arms extended? Trying out a new jhumka? A close up of the ornament will add the extra spark! Travelling? How about a selfie with the cab door open?

  • 6) Make the best use of doors and windows – Because that’s where natural light comes from. Your selfies take an interesting turn that leave people wondering if it is a selfie at all!!! The below one had done just that for me.

  • 7) Be mindful of backgrounds – It is best to avoid distracting backgrounds and use one that actually makes the picture stand out. However, if you are posting a travel picture, or are in an event, you would probably want to take a selfie or a groupfie with the background in view. Make sure to turn off the “blur” effect in that case. I love the below groupfie from Rishikesh!!!

  • 8) Use a mirror – I cannot stress how effectively a mirror helps you in taking meaningful selfies. Throw in a cool caption, and you’re done. "Be your own best friend" was my caption when I had posted this one.

  • 9) Use the phone’s front flash with discretion – I prefer not using it and making use of natural or the ambient light only. The flash will blow out the exposure to a level that you wouldn’t like it. The pic was taken from the "down angle" which is not usually preferred, but look how the backlight adds effect? If the flash would have been fired, the entire frame would have gone all wrong. 

  • 10) Use a prop – This picture was my Woman’s Day click of this year. The flower and the sunlight worked as perfect props.

Last but not the least - Practice. Practice. Practice. If selfies are your thing, keep clicking I would say. But do it on purpose. Like any other skill, you will get better with practice. If you focus on the likes, you might be moderately satisfied, so focus on building up on your overall confidence with each click, let the likes be showered !!! :-) 

By the way, do you want to take a guess which one of the above are my favourites? Tell me in the comments below. 

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"Somewhere in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya..."

Last year, was a year of travels. More than the thirst for experiencing a new place, travel for me is more about self-discovery, soul-work and connecting with the Self. As an ode to the traveller, just jotted down a few lines that chose me to write them down. Here goes...


All you know, is that you just know. 

That it is time. Not earlier, not later, not some other time. 

That Now, it is the Time. 

To Love, To Live, To Let go. 

So, I took the road, which, they say, is less traveled. 

But did I ever perceive it that way? 


All I knew, was that it was my Path, the path that came naturally to me.

The path that beckoned my Soul. 

The more I traveled, the more compassionate I became. 

The more turns I passed, the more fearless I became. 

The more stops I had to make, the more calm I became. 

The more unknown it felt, the more self-doubt I overcame. 

With every destination that I reached, the more humble I became. 

Suddenly, it all made sense. 

The journey that I am on is called the constant journey of Becoming. 

And you know what’s the best part? 

Everything was right there. Within me. And I never realized. 

There was nothing extra, that I became. 

Yet, I became. Becoming, I Am.

So are you planning your next Business travel? How about adding a few more activities in addition to client meetings and product presentations? How about packing in a few extra kilograms of enthusiasm and mix business and pleasure when you travel? How about being a Bleisure traveller?

Business travels can be quite extensive and stressful, and hence many travellers are now opting for bleisure travels. Organizations too, these days are open to the idea given that this adds to the enhanced work-life balance of their employees. I used to work with an IT firm and occasionally travelled on business. Thanks to my love for exploring new places, I soon discovered that I was a bleisure traveller. Let’s talk of five tips how you can take your business travel experience to the next level by being a bleisure traveller.

Plan ahead

You might have limited time in hand, so find out how you could add a day or two into your itinerary. Including non-working days / holidays in your itinerary is a good practice, since you know you will not be required to be back at work on those days. These are great opportunities to meet up friends and relatives in the city as well. If it is a new city you are visiting, find out more about the places of interest that would interest you. It is best to round up to a few places you really want to visit rather than going overboard and including everything at once. The distance from your client office to such places, the distance between airports to main city also needs consideration. Adding a few hours and taking late evening flights is a good option.

Choose the right place to stay

Unless you are someone like me who enjoys her own company equally as she loves interacting with people, staying in out-and-out business areas could make you feel like you are living in a ghost town during weekends with nothing to do. So try selecting a place that is closer to places you want to go, or where to and fro travel is easy and less time-consuming. If that’s not an option, then you can always hire a car and zoom off.

Ask your colleagues / business partners for advice or let them help you go sightseeing

Your colleagues / business partners in the city will be only too glad to help you shortlist places to visit according to your interests. So seek their advice and in case you are totally new to the city, it is a great idea to have them come along with you to take you around. This could actually help in fostering work relationships.

That's me and my colleagues during one of my business trips to Chennai. This pic was taken at Buhari, our stop for dinner after an evening walk at Marine Drive.

Know your Company’s expense policy

Have a good look at your company’s expense policy to see inclusions and exclusions for allowances food, stay and leisure activities. It is best to maintain transparency and keep the bosses informed about your plan in advance. You never know, they might even suggest you some ideas.   

Manage your time efficiently

While the sense of satisfaction after a successful bleisure trip is immense, bear in mind that everything depends on how well you can manage your time. If you have an early morning meeting the next day, then attending a late night concert might just get you drained, so be selective and practice responsibility in your choices.

Have you tried bleisure travel? Let me know your experiences.

I have found myself travelling extensively during the last four years or so. It all started with business travels - I used to work with an IT firm, and soon I realised that love for traveling was something that was only waiting to be discovered in me. I have been lucky that opportunities to travel solo and with groups, have come my way and I was mentally prepared to take them up. Yes, whether you are travelling solo, with friends or with large groups, it does take a lot of preparation. Travelling solo, with friends and with large groups, has made me come to the understanding that travelling is after all, a highly effective method to know yourself.

With the number of group tour operators increasing by the day, offering customizable plans, deciding which group to choose itself becomes a challenge. However, when you know the purpose of your travel, you can narrow down your choices and select what suits you best. Having said that, however physically prepared you be, there will be certain aspects that you need to understand  before setting out. Traveling with a large group is preferred for a number of reasons. Especially with interest groups coming up specializing in a kind of tourism such as mountaineering, cultural, etc,  it has become more alluring because here as you travel, you get to meet people sharing similar tastes as yours. However, just like working with teams, travelling with a group does have some unwritten rules which, if you follow, you will be promising yourself a rich and fulfilling experience. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when you are travelling with a large group.

Be sure of the documents required and maintain timelines :-

Many people prefer travelling with a large group as most of the “back-end” work – such as tour-planning, ticketing, and insurance are all done by a third party. But there’s still a lot to be done by you. Please bear in mind that without documentation provided by you, these activities are not possible. So, to save yourself and the tour operator from last minute hassles, make sure that you submit all required documents, NOC’s etc, well ahead of the last date.

Know and study your itinerary :-

The tour operator should be able to send you a clear and well-written itinerary by email. Ensure that you are aware of a “single point of contact” with whom you can connect up when you need. Take a good look at your itinerary, places listed, inclusions and exclusions. Do some research; look up on the internet; ask friends for more information about the places. All this will help you know what to expect, what could be your learnings and therefore build up the excitement in you.

Talk about your preferences and limitations :-

It is important that you inform the operator beforehand about your preferences or limitations, if any. That includes your meal choices, whether you are a senior or are travelling with a senior, are you travelling with a baby and any physical conditions that you feel you should inform the operator about (for example, those that restrict movement). This will alert the operator and help them make necessary arrangements wherever required. Check the accommodation options. Most operators provide accommodation on twin-sharing basis, so you must be either open to that or be willing to bear the charge for single accommodation. For those travelling with family and friends, this might not be an issue, however if you are the only one joining the group, then you will have to take this into consideration.

Be open to itinerary modification while on the trip and no-modifications :-

Yes I know this point comes as a surprise, but anything is possible, right? I recall during my visit to Thailand, soon after our visit to Wat Pho – the temple of reclining Buddha, it had started raining. The city was then preparing for the royal cremation of the King of Thailand. Roads were diverted and due to the heavy downpour, there was a huge traffic jam. We had to wait for quite a long time outside the temple, for the bus that was supposed to pick us up from the spot. The delay cost us our last spot for the day. We tried asking the tour guide if we could squeeze that in the next day’s schedule. However, since we were supposed to take the return flight the next day afternoon, sensing that it would be too big a risk, hence we had to let that go. I remember two members took the chance, set out early the next morning and successfully made a trip to the spot we had missed, and also reached the airport on time. On the flip side, there might be a few places that you may want to visit, but those might not be included in the schedule. You need to either accept that, or bear the extra cost of exploring the places yourself if you wish to. It is advisable however, that instructions given by the tour operator should be strictly followed, especially when in a foreign land, you must be willing to go by the rules of the place and ensure the trip stays comfortable both for yourself and your group members. 

Meet up with your group members at least once before you begin your journey

Many tour operators hold a kick-off meeting, make sure you attend that. Most of the tour do’s and don’ts are announced here.  Also this is a good chance for you to see and talk to the other members travelling with you before you actually begin the journey. It warms everyone up and is a great ice-breaking opportunity. 

One of the pictures from our Thailand trip. Clicked at Pattaya.

Make friends with the guide

Here’s a bonus for you - my secret weapon. Being an explorer at heart and soul, my motive is to identify and understand moments, events and culture. Guides are storehouses of information. So who better than your tour-guide to tell you about offbeat places and activities? So, it is best to listen attentively and ask questions. You never know, guides could even help you gather information even beyond the scope of one particular trip!

Be flexible and open minded

It’s amazing how as you travel, you learn and grow. I love to travel solo, but travelling with groups has strengthened the virtues of patience, wisdom and compassion in me. The topmost challenge of group travel is that where there are many people, there are going to be many opinions, and sometimes it will seem difficult to adjust with everyone. But you don’t need to make it feel so hard. Stay relaxed, know what you are here for, your focus is on exploring places rather than getting into any confrontation. Your comfort level is important, so it is for others. Adopt an understanding attitude, respect personal boundaries and cultural etiquettes. That will ensure a pleasant experience for everyone in the group. After all, that’s what travel is all about – an experience to remember and talk about for years to come.

My first group travel was with a gang of 7 sprightly women, to a place called Daringbadi in Odisha. Most of us knew each other for just a few days! We did not have a guide, but we did our research and planned the trip ourselves. It was a good time knowing each other and enjoy living in the moment. Our major sources of information were the hotel manager and the driver who took us around.  Read about my trip to Daringbadi here.

So, have fun, and try out travelling with a group if you haven’t already. It’s definitely worth a try.

I often hear people question the need to use DSLR cameras in photography these days. With new-age mobile devices that are easy to carry around and the variety of apps and software available, capturing images has now become easier than ever before. Why then, would people want to get bulky DSLR’s, and expensive lenses? On the other hand, there are the advocates of the DSLR camera who keep saying one cannot reach higher levels of creativity without the DSLR. Is the battle real?

When I started, I was using a simple point and shoot which had only the “Auto” mode. By “Auto” we mean that the camera selects the best settings by itself according to the scene, you do not have the option for adjusting them yourself. Then I got another point and shoot that also had a “Manual” mode and “scenes” mode available, so I started having fun experimenting with it. I seldom used the “Auto” mode and found myself tweaking the settings all by myself. For me, the freedom to be able to feed in my own settings was more than enough then, no matter how good or bad the pictures came out! Slowly but surely, I started to feel that I outgrew the camera. I wanted more. That’s when I got my first DSLR. And the rest is history. Today I own two DSLR bodies and four lenses to work with. In the meantime I used two awesome camera phones, I am using a third one now – just to understand smartphone photography deeper. In some instances, I have clicked the same scene with the DSLR and the phone as well, just to understand the difference.  Some people didn’t quite get it as to why I was interested in mobile photography since I could very well use a proper DSLR for the purpose. My point was simple. It was never a question about choice between mobile photography or DSLR photography. It was about experimenting with image-making, and that is possible with the help of any device you choose. Bear in mind that there are a number of DSLR owners who use their cameras in auto mode only during vacations, which is absolutely fine because that works for them. On the other hand, I know a number of people who use their smartphones to produce great images which they use for branding purposes! What you want to do with the pictures is also a point you need to take into consideration. Better image quality will yield better quality prints. With feature-packed image editing tools such as Lightroom and Snapseed, your smartphone can produce images that are great for the web and also for small-size printing. Take a look at the picture below. I shot it on my smartphone and edited in Snapseed. It's all about the environment, the treatment and how you want to present your picture to the audience. You can do that with any device, use any editing methods and get awesome results. 

Moral of the story? Well, the question isn’t about what device you use. It’s about the level of learning that you are at, how deep you wish to delve into the subject and how can you utilize the devices that you have. As a beginner, or an enthusiast, your aim is to learn the techniques and understand what works in what scenario. I suggest do not be attached to one particular device as a beginner. Try various devices, modes, apps, whatever. Once you get the feel of it, and reach a certain level of confidence, you will know what device you need, exactly when you need. You will then choose your devices, instead of the devices choosing you. Let your passion speak for you to understand yourself. If photography is what fuels your energy, keep exploring it and grow with it. If not photography, then it could be something else for you, and that’s ok.

With advancement in technology, the battle between the smartphone and DSLR camera has intensified and is here to stay. Each have their merits, and it is upto you how, where and when you want to make use of those merits to your advantage.