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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
0 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 02-12-2011
0 project comment(s)
,
0 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Cities are poems made by man to dream about caves.  Cities are that corner of dark recess where the saber toothed tiger doesn't reach for fear of fire; flicker of torch illuminates the patch of surface that plays with ghosts of our minds; cities are the cramped refuge of lonely souls that recoil from the void of space.

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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
11 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 16-04-2011
0 project comment(s)
,
26 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
This short street can be truly called the artery of south Calcutta, which distinguishes the more hip side of the city from the remainder.  Last month I had to spend untold number of hours doing nothing but stay put within a few blocks of this street, lined by shops.  After spending a few day there, I decided to bring the camera along. Here are the result, in no coherent theme.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
11 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 02-01-2011
0 project comment(s)
,
32 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Last September a friend sent me six rolls of Kodachromes. I had to shoot them.  Sadly, I hardly had the time to do justice to them. So here they are; my last Kodachromes.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
0 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 21-08-2010
0 project comment(s)
,
0 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Some more photos of Peru, difficult to arrange in a coherent project, so here they are.  The site wants  me to write at least 150 characters, so I try.
DELETED_ADMIN ACTIVE    
Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
20 photo(s)
and 1 draft(s),
created on 06-08-2010
0 project comment(s)
,
2 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Two weeks in a new country is never long enough for a cohesive impression.  So here are some fragmented sets of images from my two weeks of travel in this interesting country.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
18 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 25-07-2010
0 project comment(s)
,
37 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
There are few places on earth that can rival the majesty of the Sacred Valley in Peru, curved by the Urubamba river originating in the Andean glaciers, ultimately running into the mighty Amazon on its course to the Atlantic.  This isolated valley has been home to a number of tribes who speak various dialects of Quechua since the pre-Inca times.  They have been credited with domesticating many species of plants, including potato, tomato, and several varieties of maize, having discovered terrace farming techniques, and apparently were master hydrologists adept at moving bodies of water through ingenious combination of natural flow and judicious plumbing. 

Here I offer a scratch on the surface--a mere tourist's impression of the people of the sacred valley.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 15-06-2010
0 project comment(s)
,
6 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
I never seem to take seriously the places where I live.  Lemme make an exception.  Lights of San Diego.  The light brings out the color.  Here are some random sampling of the lights and color of this city.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 24-03-2010
0 project comment(s)
,
25 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
At 5 AM last Saturday it was clear and balmy in San Diego, when we flew to Maine.  Flights were delayed in Chicago due to snow and ice, and probably air traffic logjam due to BA strike.  It was dark when we reached Portland, Maine, then a half hour car ride to Brunswick.  Cold and windswept. It rained too.  We returned on Monday by the 5:25PM flight. 
Friends.


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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 13-02-2010
0 project comment(s)
,
33 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
One of the lasting influences of the British in India is its railways.  Then there is the 3 tier class.  Romantic, laden with heavy memories for me; "cattle truck" for Ron S.  I took a 3 tier overnight to Varanasi.  The train was 6 hours late on the way there, and 7 hours late on the way back.

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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
8 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 29-01-2010
0 project comment(s)
,
22 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
It was October 1963.  I was nine years old, my brother three.  My parents and we took a small Dakota from Dum Dum--it was free for us because my father worked for an airlines company, otherwise we could not afford the fare.  The plane had to refuel in Patna.

It is that Benares I had to find this time.  Here it is.  Not the Varanasi of color, caught through a smooth digital.

My Benares is black and white, gritty, sharp as my own memory, though perhaps the reality blunted through the fog of time.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
20 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 24-12-2009
1 project comment(s)
,
76 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
 

Following the dedicated precision of Claude's color and composition, the inspired and searing realism of Sohrab, and a painterly postmodernist Nono, I can only wallow in mere cliché , especially because I was in Varanasi for only 24 hours.

 

It was partly a trip in nostalgia for me, because I returned there last week for the first time since October 1962.  That first visit was only six years following the shooting of Satyajit Ray's Aparajito (The Unvanquished)--I was then eight years old--my memory of Varanasi was not unlike that of Apu.

 

Needless to say, I found Varanasi changed beyond recognition.  Thin worn out bricks that lined the steep ghaats of those days are mostly replaced by embankments of polished red cement; quiet readings of the Ramayana under reed umbrellas in falling light, around which widows crowded, are replaced by blaring loudspeakers announcing trendy shlokas from Geeta and blazing mercury vapor lights attracting throngs of tourists waiting to see the garrulous spectacle of acrobatic sadhus doing aarati with lighted flames; the straw colored water of the Ganges with swirling silt, unto which I had once dipped ritually, is replaced with a tepid sewage black with the detritus of civilization, which is able to repulse even the die hard pilgrim, the change is palpable.  What else did I expect?

 

But I stop to think.  Underneath the march of time there still is the same play of light and shadow in the narrow alleyways that carried the sound of footsteps, of human, canine and bovine, for three and a half thousand years, the same dream of a quiet life, the same resigned desire to transcend life's injustices--raam naam satya haye--after that journey into flame on the steps of Manikarnika ghaat, has it really changed that much in this forty seven years, or for that matter in the past nearly a thousand years since Kutubbuddin Aibak razed the city?

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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 06-10-2009
0 project comment(s)
,
20 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
In late September or early October, Bengal is transformed to a festive mood.  Harvest festivals, in the form of public worships of Durga, Laksmi, Jaggadhatree and Kali (synonemous with Dewali) occur one after another within the lunar month.  Bengalees abroad try to catch this festive mood as much as possible--often within the confines of a rented space in a local public school auditorium if no specific building is available to the community.  The worship itself is perfunctory: the more devoted ones spend some ten minutes throwing flowers to the occasion.  The rest of the time is spent on women dressing up, I mean really dressing up, men taking photos, and I mean with real long lenses and quite sophisticated digital gear, lots of them, communal eating, and lots of music and dance, by local Bengalees and their little kids who seem to have the most fun, and then the crowning event--music by invited artistes who bring back memories of  a land far away.  Here are a few images of one such event.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
20 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 04-09-2009
0 project comment(s)
,
30 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Del Mar race track, where "the turf meets the surf"!

It is the engine that makes traffic jam
On my way to daily commute
On summer mornings and
Summer evenings
Merely a nuisance
But today I go in
Through that green door, if there is one

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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
14 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 23-07-2009
1 project comment(s)
,
9 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Here are City Lights, and the actors that play under these lights.  Faces under lights that talk of hard times, swing times, times of despair and times of confrontation, of times loneliness and times promise.  No more than simple snapshots, these are fragments of some of those moments under the lights of cities, fluorescent, incandescent, sometimes just sunshine.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
20 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 10-06-2009
0 project comment(s)
,
63 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
I have been in Seattle for the past several weeks.  Here are a few images of the light, color and life of this city.  This is also an exercise to get used to my digital camera.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 02-06-2009
3 project comment(s)
,
6 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Ghosts hover over the city of Phnom Penh.  In the last thirty years, the city has tried to shake off its ghosts, but it cannot.  We cannot let its ghosts go, lest their fate befalls us.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
19 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 22-05-2009
0 project comment(s)
,
22 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Now that is a rather ambitious project.  I fantasize about traveling to all these far away lands, to the riverine deltas of Bengal where tigers roam and porpoises blow their steam, to the wet mud of Okavango where crocodiles roll, or to the reed marshes of Titikaka.  I will have to retire first.  But I suppose I can always make this a series of projects, labeled I, II, III, etc., spanning decades during which PH will flourish and become established as a preeminent site for displaying and critiquing projects, in preparation to famous books by my esteemed friends, something of a Magnum dreaming of an opus of sorts. 

But of late I have been sitting on a stack of images that fit well into this theme.  So here they go. 

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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 12-05-2009
9 project comment(s)
,
13 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
On the morning of April 15, the Bengali New Year's day, the morning light was as strong by 5 AM as it is only in tropical summers, the sun blazed through the dust, cosine curves of a Spring cuckoo's luscious songs have already given way to the rapid trills of its nesting note, and my mother lay on a hospital bed.  On the evening before I had rushed to her from San Diego and found her comatose with metastasis in the bone.  I whispered to the nurse with my back turned, and suddenly mother was awake and was calling me, surprised, as to why did I come.  In Bengali she spoke only two words, "Babu, elije!!"

Just about 40 years ago, on a cloud-laden monsoon evening, raindrops on kochu leaves, she had sat on her balcony, her face cradled on the palms of her two hands, eyes looking into the distance unseen, when I had unexpectedly returned from the airport--mechanical failure had canceled the flight to take me across the seas for the first time.  Her face on that day was a mosaic of surprise, pleasure beyond words, and anxiety.  Today her face had no opportunity for expression but the words spoken through the oxygen tube had the same ring of pleasure mixed with surprise, and no less anxiety. 

I only had the night on that rainy day.  Next morning I had left by the 9:50 train for the airport, which took me away from India; I had not expected it at that time, but that departure held a finality that had ultimately made me a foreigner in my own country.

This night on April 14, forty years later, I stayed by mother's bed the whole night.  She was in terrible pains, drifting in and out of consciousness.  She asked for water a few times.  Near the daybreak she slept undisturbed for a few hours. 

As the New Year's morning grew deeper, nurses came to dress her.  I left to arrange for an ambulence to take her to an ICU, such that she could be put into deep sedation to ease the pain.  But that was not necessary.  She passed away quietly at 9:50 AM.
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED  
Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 12-04-2009
0 project comment(s)
,
2 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
At 8 in the morning my motodupe driver arrives.  A woman from Perth, whom I met in the Siem Reap to Phnom Penh bus, had told me about salt flats near Kampot.  We travel some 12 kilometers to a flat landscape divided into myriad neat rectangles, nearly all of them a shallow glass bed of salt water from the sea.  People were pounding on the dry rectangles’ to make the dark soil as flat as possible; then they open a little inflow into the rectangle and salt water flows in.  The sun dries the water fast, leading to super saturated brine, and salt crystallizes out of solution.  These crystals are then brushed into pairs of heaps.  Then these are brushed on to two flat bottomed containers made of woven bamboo, which are hooked onto a yoke, shoulders placed underneath, lifted and carried away into a large hut for drying.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
14 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 06-04-2009
0 project comment(s)
,
10 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
A motodupe takes me and the luggage to an in-town guest house in Kampot but it is too dingy.  Then he takes me some 8 kilometers out of town to a guesthouse named “Utopia” which is in my Lonely Planet guidebook.

A truly utopian setting; thatched roof bungalows with decks that reach over the tranquil waters of a small tidal river.  The owner, Max, is a German with a gray Ho Chi Min goatie.  His wife is Cambodian.  They have a daughter who is six, trilingual in Khmer, English and German, and a year old son.

I get a $8 single room.  Low ceiling—the Catholic floor, M quips.  The balconies open on to the river.  There is a moored boat, rattan sofas everywhere, a few hammocks, reflections of  a luminous cloud and palm trees on deep greenish water that is totally still between tides now.  The sunset is out of this world.  Bokor Hill is on the left.  I like this place.  I do not wish to go much further than here.  

I eat mushroom soup for dinner.

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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
12 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 25-03-2009
1 project comment(s)
,
14 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Orphans of the Garbage Dump

Mr. Cheun, part-time tuk-tuk driver who teaches chemistry at the local community college, comes sharp at 8AM. We purchase a bag of rice, some plastic bags and cut a water bottle into a spade-like contraption.

We drive across Phnom Penh to its garbage dump. Along a wide road lined on both sides by squat warehouses we arrive at a vast open space of undulating heaps of human detritus. Multicolored rubbish piled to the horizon, smoke in the air heavy with putrid smell; then the children.

They are camouflaged with their shirts and pants of veritable color within the colored patches of the garbage heaps. It appears like a colony of moving, throbbing, living beings.

While Mr. Cheun unties the sac of rice and gets settled with the bags, I follow the children, some as young as four or five, others teenagers, rush on with sticks and poles as a garbage truck drives in every few minutes and empties a load of smelly content into a new pile. Children probe through the garbage with an iron hook, quickly sorting the recoverable items for recycling, others for burning; a fire is lit nearby, a truckload is quickly sorted out, then the next truck arrives.

Mr. Cheun shouts out the news of rice. The children rush towards the tuk-tuk. But Mr. Cheung, an experienced teacher, quickly arranges them into three files. Little and tall, young and old, all in multicolored garments, some in rubber boots and gloves, some without, nearly all in hats, file on. Excitement is in the air for a small bag of rice; some have their hats ready—alas, some have porous baseball caps that leak nearly as much as are retained—others have the ends of their shirts, and those who have neither get a plastic bag. One hapless boy has dropped his capful on the soil. Five boys and girls kneel down to help him scoop up the rice from the soil, dry rice grains mixed in with the red dust of Cambodia. A slightly older girl comes by and offers a bit from her own bag. Amazingly, two nearby boys do the same. All the while, Mr. Cheun keeps doling out the rice in measured amounts. Eager hands, little eyes--they have as much interest in my camera and the view on its back panel as in the bag of rice.

We empty the bag. The children are quieter now; some have gone back to their work. We wrap up. A guy comes forward and asks Mr. Cheun to tell me to hide my camera on my way out. I ask no question and put my camera away, and take a last look over my shoulder at the apocalyptic scene under a scorching sun.

When will these children ask for an X-box or an iPod Nano?

ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED  
Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
0 photo(s)
and 1 draft(s),
created on 06-03-2009
0 project comment(s)
,
0 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
What can I write about the Angkor temples?  It is a spectacle truly to be seen to believe.  In sheer size, area, grandeur, detail, and complexity, the temple complex is just stunning, mind blowing, awesome.  The preservation is terrible, yet whatever remains boggles the mind.  Rows of walls curved with war scenes from the Mahabharata, another wall with Bodhisattva’s different incarnation’s escapades, another wall curved with war scenes from the times of the Angkor kings.  In a sense the lack of preservation adds to its mystique: some of the sites half engulfed by the seductive embrace of gigantic roots, one that Lara Croft had graced once with her seductive escapades. But there are also disturbingly stark friezes on Angkor wall, of rows of ancient prisoners tied by their necks on bamboo yokes, or victims heads being bashed in by a victorious army, starkly reminiscent of the not-too-distant Khmer Rouge past in Cambodia's painful emergence.

But to fall in love with a country is more than being awed by its spectacular art.  It is to remember in deserted back alleys of ruined temples, some over a thousand years old, surrounded by forests of trees that speak only through the screeches of parakeets flying high on its branches.  It is to remember the singsong tones as one exits a temple,

“Siiirrr, do you want wateeeee…
Only one dowwlaaa…”

Thin childish voices rise and fall like a note breathed through a bamboo flute. 

Here are a few images around the temples, viewed straight on, with little attempt at deliberate composition.  Just plain looking and shooting.

DELETED_ADMIN ACTIVE    
Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
11 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 03-12-2008
0 project comment(s)
,
15 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
"... like a photo school, and like most norms it gets tiring after a while, like an old marriage going downwards.... What have you done today to go out of the usual way? just inches out... hmmh?"-Luko
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED  
Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
16 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 02-11-2008
0 project comment(s)
,
19 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The day trip to Mukteswari continues.

[I did not read carefully the FAQ about the length of a project.  By now it is too late, so reducing the number of photos in the previous project would break the continuity.  So I have opted to make a new project as a continuation of "A day trip"
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED  
Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
20 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 12-10-2008
0 project comment(s)
,
46 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
I had one day to spare. So we took a morning train from Chandernagore to Tarakeshwar, then a bus to an incomplete bridge on the Damodar.  We crossed the bridge then took a rickshaw to the Mukteshwari, a tributary of the Damodar.  In the evening we retraced our path.  [Continued to part 2]
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
9 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 10-10-2008
1 project comment(s)
,
10 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
A mighty river emerges out of a glacier near Mount Kailash in the Tibetan plateau, which runs due east through a deep gorge at an average altitude of 13,000 feet for ~1,000 miles, then it curves sharply west and enters Indian territory through the deepest canyon in the world (16,650 ft).  The river  soon drops down to the plains, and so to accommodate the energy of the gurgling water the river expands its bed enormously--at places it is over 10 miles wide.  At this point it is called the Brahmaputra.  As it sweeps westward, it enters Bangladesh and then it travels south in two branches, the Jamuna and the Brahmaputro, both of which merge with the Ganges and one of its tributaries to ultimately drain into the Bay of Bengal through a vast delta, its waters traversing a distance of some 1,800 miles.

Brahmaputra was a mythical river to me, because my grand father told me stories of its restless courses, of frequent and unpredictable floods, of sand banks appearing and disappearing, revealing stone objects of pre Buddhist era Bengal and also inundating villages that would corp up on its sands, because his house in Mymensingh was right next to it.

I spend an evening on the Brahmaputra.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
6 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 24-09-2008
0 project comment(s)
,
10 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Despite the postmodern title, this is my series to wax nostalgic.
I visited Paroikora, a tiny village in Chittagong, in 1961.  It is the village where my father's line, the Dewan family, had its ancestral home and the chief feudal estate.  The feudal system disappeared after 1947, most of the property in Chittagong town and in the village was seized by the Government of East Pakistan from my father the sole heir to the estate, although he had left to live in Calcutta at least 10 years before that event.  His relations kept living in the village house until 1971.  In 1971 the East Pakistan army, supported by thugs, looted the house, burnt down one of the three main buildings, and killed a number of villagers of both religions who tried to intervene. The house remained vacant and ruined until the mid 1980s, when Dr. Gurupada Chakraborty, a well-wisher of the family who had studied in the village school founded by my grandfather, led a group of people from the village to establish a trust, reclaimed the land and the remaining buildings from the newly independent Bangladesh government, and ultimately made a small co-educational college of information technology and business in the village.  This has been possible only because of heroic endurance of the members of the board of trustees.  Another member of the board, a highly successful cardiac surgeon and a professor at the Chittagong Medical College, exclaimed, "Were it not for the high school that your great grandfather made in the village, and were it not for the scholarship he started, I would still be pushing a plow."  I think that is a bit of an exaggeration; be that as it may, I applaud them for the enormous good work they have done.  Feudal memory seems to have a long reach in this part of the land.

This series is my personal narrative of what I saw and felt back in 1961 as a seven year old, mostly written down in 1994, illustrated with a few images of our visit to the village this July, my first such visit in 47 years.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
5 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 20-09-2008
1 project comment(s)
,
18 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
My father had a 120 size Agfa Isolette, one with an uncoupled rangefinder and a bellow so the lens folds down into a compact form, which he had bought some four or five years before I was born, probably around 1950. 

I have distinct memories of him squinting with one eye through this camera, sometimes the white flash bulb would go off which he would remove carefully wrapped in a white cloth.

My father got himself a Canon Canonet in 1964 and since then he rarely used the Isolette.  When I went to college he gave the Isolette to me.  I did not like the camera but it was the only one I had for a long time.  The spring mechanism that coupled the shutter button to the actual shutter ceased around 1973 but I could bypass it by moving a lever in the coupling mechanism with a finger--so I continued to use the camera.  The last time I used the Isolette was when we were on our honeymoon, in 1978.

The isolette had not been touched for 30 years.  It lived in a dusty moldy cardboard box tied with a shoe string.  I had brought the camera with me to the US after my father died in 2001 but never attempted to use it until now because there is heavy fungus on the lens and the shutter did not fire even when I moved the lever--in fact the cocking spring appeared to be unworkable.

A few months ago just on a whim I sprayed a bit of WD40 into the shutter area, and like Lazarus rising from the dead the German made Compur Synchro shutter came alive.  So I got two rolls of 120 film and took with me to San Francisco.  I had made several double exposures (the mechanism that prevents double exposure does not work any more) and any exposure was only a guess (no meter whatsoever).  But I wanted to see how far a dead body goes.

Perhaps it is fitting to see America through this dead machine.  Are these the last throws of a dead and decaying relationship that we have been living with for the past eight years?  Whether we will continue to live with a cadaver will be decided in November.  For now, here are some blurry images, stretched color and mediocrity, scanned from negatives on a flat bed scanner.

To "A Rose for Emily".
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED  
Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
15 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 16-09-2008
0 project comment(s)
,
48 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
As in most countries that experience a sudden burst in economic growth, rural Bangladeshis are often forced to leave their idyllic villages to flock to large cities--Dhaka, Chittagong--in search of job, to a promise of earning some $4.50 per a month.  A far cry from the green rice paddies and gentle sway of boats on their waterways, in the city they live in cramped shanties, work on menial jobs as rickshaw pullers, brick carriers in nameless brick kilns, as ship wreckers in the wrecking yards of Chittagong, and their labor fuels the air conditioned life style of the city where a room in a hotel could cost over $300 per night.  Here is a brief glimpse into that part of life in Bangladesh.
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED  
Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
13 photo(s)
and 1 draft(s),
created on 07-09-2008
1 project comment(s)
,
28 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
My mother was born in Dhaka in 1930, seventeen years before the partition of Bengal.  Shortly afterwards she went to live in Calcutta.  In 1942, when Japanese bombs fell on Calcutta, she and her family retreated to Sherpur, her ancestral town in Mymensingh district a hundred miles north of Dhaka, and lived there for two years.  My memory of Dhaka, Mymensingh and Sherpur is as vivid as memories can be though I had never been to these places—it was a foreign country at frequent war with us—because I heard innumerable stories of these places and times on my grandfather’s knees, and both my mother and my aunt had written reminiscences of their war years spent in a sleepy feudal town.   Now that the land of my birth is as foreign to me as the land of my mother’s birth I thought it is a good time to visit Dhaka.  It was not entirely a pleasure trip, with obligations to give a string of lectures on my research work, but my mother came along with me and this was her first trip to this area since 1944.  We arrived in Dhaka in mid morning.  In the evening Kabbo, a spirited youth who was asked to look after us by my host, took me to a village at the western edge of Dhaka.  This evening’s take is my first impression of this land of river tides and shifting sandbanks, of cyclones and burquas, of hilsa fish caught from the Padma served baked over mustard paste, of a Muslim man in his fifties from Sherpur town weeping in grief as he narrated the destruction of the library of my great-great-great grandfather, of stories of ravaging mobs and rampaging soldiers killing and looting and raping, of cholera and starvation, of ancient Buddhist monks giving way to Sufi mendicants, of the waterways of Tagore’s inspiration, of Jibananada’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jibanananda_Das) longing for haunting eyes like a phulia*, of Gramin Bank and of Bose-Einstein statistics—of that other half of Bengal that I never knew.  I present these without any particular order and without any significant caption because these are merely my first impression.  If there is a story here it is simply that of an evening in a village through the eyes of a stranger.



*φωλιά, a bird’s nest, sometimes a bird

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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
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15 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 08-06-2008
0 project comment(s)
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49 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Here are my photos out of an evening with Chris Wallish (Prezentine) in Washington, DC.  He took me to his haunts, and I had a wonderful time.  Thanks to Chris.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
9 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 16-03-2008
0 project comment(s)
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54 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
She has never been easy to walk with.  
Her earliest walk I remember, along a tree-lined walkway in Pacific Northwest, a rain-washed spring afternoon, cherry trees in bloom. She waddled in zig zig at every new butterfly, running into the muddy slush, stooping behind earthworms trailing lines of wet mucilage on asphalt, as I struggled to carry the empty pusher. Now in youthful elegance she strides with springs under her heels, as I huff behind, struggling to keep up.  

In those early days, she talked about her pet tortoises, about rows of swamp nephetheses slowly digesting bugs in their cups, of how the sun not the earth that moves--“Silly daddy!”--Did ichthyosaurs swim…“C’mon do you really know anything? Even my friend Amelia…”

Today her questions for me have ceased and mine have begun; silent answers to be discovered.  I follow her along the streets of her city, keeping one eye on the street and the other on her.
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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
12 photo(s)
and 2 draft(s),
created on 17-01-2008
2 project comment(s)
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84 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
This will be a short series of landscapes of a few western states: Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Most photographs were taken with a rented Hasselblad XPAN.  Time was too short to explore this format well, so these are my early impression with this format.


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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
19 photo(s)
and 10 draft(s),
created on 02-12-2007
2 project comment(s)
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65 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
First I named this project simply, "Women". Something told me this was a bad idea.

Having courted only one woman in life, and married to the same for the past 30 years, what do I know, what CAN I know, of women.  There is one other, my daughter, who I probably know even less.

Francis Harrison (Furachan) reinforced this fear, and asked me to change the project. So here I try, through the glass darkly, to follow my own vision of what I feel about women in general.  My bleary, blurred vision of women.


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Project:
 © Animesh Ray (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 14-11-2007
1 project comment(s)
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67 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Monsoon in Bengal is the most beautiful, most wretched, most sought-after, and most reviled of all seasons. 

Rain comes at the end of a brutal summer, yet temperature fluctuates between 35 and 40^oC with 70-90% relative humidity.  Rain feeds the rice paddies and jute fields, rain means having to avoid starvation for millions of people, yet the same rains make many homeless and inundate fields of rice where water level often rises faster than the seedlings can grow.  Undoutedly it is the most poetic of all seasons in Bengal, yet it makes people home-bound and sick with enteric diseases and malaria, and power outages and leaking roof are misrable accompaniments to the poetic flourish. 

Here is my attempt to relive the memory of rains from over thiry years ago, when I had left Bengal and returned this year for the first time during monsoon. 

These photographs were taken over three days in July-August 2007.
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