Let the words flow. Let the pictures speak

OFAB: The Journey (Part III)

Chapter 3: Destination Hyderabad

A cup of hot lemon tea, and am set to begin on another phase of a recent journey, the one from a billion event.

Keep things short so that we can get down  to the matter at hand quickly, shall we, gentlemen?

Being the first flight for me, all things, no exceptions included, foreign, it was only natural, to be at the airport early. Two hours before departure? No, not that much though. Anyway, I reached the airport via a Volvo and got down at the satellite bus station, picked up a trolley, loaded my luggage and walked towards the airport to get a glimpse of what was awaiting me.Five minutes later, I was standing in front of the ticket counter, not sure what to do. I had a ticket in my hand, and being smart that I was, I knew about the existence of what’s called boarding pass. However , since the whole thing was foreign to me, I didn’t know where I was to get it, or whether the paper that lay in my hand itself would suffice, etc. etc. I decided on checking the ticket counter, found the Kingfisher counter, saw there was a small queue in front of it, joined it. As I was waiting for my turn to come, I found a lot of people walking through the doors that lay nearby. Each one walked in to be greeted by a security personnel, showed some papers and after a brief glance were allowed to walk in. I told you I was smart. I quit the queue, walked towards the doors. However there lay quite a few entrances and people around seemed to have their own choices. While there were a few with queues formed in front of them, there were others with literally nobody lined up. I chose the empty one. Walked up. As noted, a security guard asked for my ticket, I had only one paper which was related, which I passed it on to him. He glanced at it and asked for my identity proof. I produced it. Another quick glance, post which, I was allowed to walk through. *Yeah, the ticket and identity proof was returned back to me*

I walked in to feast on  the sight that lay ahead of me. *No. It wasn’t the filmy way, where the village bumpkin visits the city life for the first time and gets awestruck and stuff. None of that happened. **And hello! I am not a village bumpkin alright. Get that straight.** * As I walked in, I found another of the kingfisher counters, which I was pretty sure, was for checking in. I went to the counter and produced my ticket. *Actually I didn’t have anything else to do, did I?* The kind lady behind the desk, I say kind because that’s what they are meant to be, helped me through the procedure, the result of which I got a boarding pass. I accepted it as if it were a key to something. *It was only a card with my flight details scrawled on it.* I was told to head to some gate* I don’t remember which because, now flight has become more like a routine. **How can you forget the first one, do you say? Ok. I am not all that bad at memory, alright. It was gate no. 7. Happy?** oh wait! I am not boasting about being a frequent flier alright. After all, I flew only four times. It was only to give some finesse, that I added it. You can cut it off now.*

The boarding gates at the Bengaluru international airport happens to be in the first floor. So went up to find another security check awaiting me. This was those scanning wala security. Beeeep Beeeep stuff. I was asked to keep my bag, laptop separate, all metal objects in it, out of my pocket, all mobile phones in the bag. I did as asked and five minutes later, I was standing in front of a man who was equipped with a metallic scanner who scanned me down and let me pass.

I found my assigned gate, took up a place nearby and settled down with a novel I had. Since I had skipped lunch, I soon began feeling hungry. I had heard about food being served on the flight, but the flight was still a good two hours away and I was sure I couldn’t stay hungry for all that while. So I went down to the restaurant there, and a while later, was found munching on some rice item, looking around the place.

When you have a book in hand and you are a book lover, *Bah! Its obvious only a book lover would have a book in his hand, no? Yes. And no. Even a non book lover is forced to hold a book in exchange for a pass result in his exams.* its amazing how fast time flies. I soon heard the boarding call for my flight and rushed to stand in the queue. *It was my first time. So the stupidity.* Ten minutes later, I was in a bus which was travelling towards the flight. Twenty minutes later, I was comfortably seated. Forty minutes after walking through the gates, we were airborne. *The airport musing has begun again. Sorry! I am not the one to blame please. In fact, if were not for my timely walk out on the pretext of drinking water, I would have been a part of it by now. Can you believe it? Like just about an hour and half from weekend, no way! I think we can have one like for three hundred and sixty five days a year. Oh wait! Guess what, it over. Very quick. I likes it.* I was on one of those two seat-er, on the non window side. My co-passenger who happened to be some IIM prof or something, was kind enough to let me have his place, when he found me trying to shoot out of the window. For a person being on air for the first time, I was absolutely awed by the sight that lay beneath my eyes. I shot a few shots, yeah, but soon preferred to enjoy what I could see to what the lens could.

I reached the airport with an hour to kill before the scheduled time and once again the book came to my rescue. Two hours, a packet of biscuit and a few calls later, I found the rest of the crew finally arrive. It was not until another thirty minutes later, when we were given a go ahead sign. As we pulled out of the airport, I could hear the driver explaining about the things around. I tried catching a thing or two, but then decided rest was more sweeter than the facts.

Probably due to the heavy waiting, I felt quite exhausted and was altering between being asleep and awake. Every now and then I would watch a building or two pass by and then get back to the beautiful blackness.Another day, another cup of hot lemon tea, we begin again. *erm.. I had to finish off most of what I got, to get myself writing.* **The past event had to happen twice with a week’s break in between preceded by a little work which was the culprit behind the break and the inclusion of another set of stars.**

I was told to expect a lot of heat, but since the room was air conditioned, I really didn’t think much of it until I walked into the lift the following morning for the breakfast. From 8th floor to the 3rd was all that was required to acquaint me to the heat. *Shrugs off thinking about it* A hand full of hours and it was already show time.

Kart Kave,  The track, happened to be just behind the hotel, or rather, we stayed at a hotel which was situated just in front of the track. Thanks to it, we didn’t have to take much of the heat. Anyway, walking into a underground, my first impression of the track was, “Wow, I am going to have a wonderful five evenings ahead”. The place was given the form of a cave with the help of POP and the lighting present was only adding to the beauty of it. Now since the lights were facing the walls, the ground was almost in dark except for the track which was lit by the light affixed to the ceiling. The day began with a flag off preceded by a few flash fired. Yeah, they were from my camera. In case you had forgotten, I am the official photographer for the FIDA event (south zone) *Now before you ask, for as long as I know, Hyderabad has been a part of south zone. In case my knowledge proves to be wrong due to some different analysis that you did, or some new search engine you referred to, I request you to refer the previous line and forget you read this.* and am supposed to be capturing the important activities taking place at the event. *Now if you get down to ask me the definition of important, I would tell you important as per the dictionary but from my point of view.* So I had my tripod out and got down shooting. Being my first date with the tripod, I was having a good time shooting around, using certain settings I had always dreamt of using ever since I got a camera. *Before you begin scratching your head, thinking where this tripod dropped down from, let me tell you, I bought it before heading out to the airport. Didn’t scratch your head? Good for you.** Erm.. Even better for those leech tribe that has been making a living off your head 13 degree off north pole, yeah! Right there.** *Getting into my second venue, my dual personality was growing stronger as I continued to take pictures of each and every contestant that passed by to test the track. Thankfully, I didn’t have to endure the, When can I get this photo, Are you putting this up on facebook questions.

As I sat down to review the day’s pictures, the thought of the wonderful five evenings ahead, was crumpled and ready to roll into the bin. I indeed had beautiful shots, more than half of them panned beautifully to include a kart in beautiful motion, but thinking of it, I would end up having the same action, day in, and out all through the week. Also capturing viewers meant having to visit the gallery which lay exactly opposite to the pit lane, the steps leading to the same being at the extreme end of the other side. Given the number of laps a contestant was given, the speedy laps and the time I needed to capture the contestant post race, coupled with the hurry a contestant always came in with, I had practically little time to be else where. Now that meant a challenge to capture something different.

Come day 2, we had a guest coming down to the kart in the form of Raymond Wong,  the CEO of Exxon Mobil. That meant day 2, practically gift wrapped for me. It was certainly good to have the CEO of one of the oil giants to pose for you. We had another flag off, *I don’t need to tell you it was gift wrapped too, do I?* following which the day’s trails began. In spite of all the gifts coming in, unexpected as they were, I had my plan chalked out, thanks to which, I could reduce the pan to a very great extent and include everything else, thereby getting myself out of the, “Ade raga, ade hadu” mood. (Same tune, same song)

The following two days went by smoothly, as I only had one thing to do; stick to my plan, and the shots would follow. They did witness a little dancing around the tracks as I had  to keep running between the pits and the open area in amidst the track to switch between being a shaadi-wala photographer and myself. However since the former was more of just a routine procedure and the latter a practiced outcome, it didn’t much to get through it.  Add to it the minimal number of contestants registered, we were usually free within a few hours after which it would be time for us to test our skills on the tracks.

Back in the school days, end of Saturday always meant a sense of happiness. Why? It was Sunday that followed next, idiot! Coming into the event too, end of Saturday meant a sense of relaxation as Sunday meant, the day of shoot. As it goes by without saying, the day of shoot is a expected gift wrapped day for me. With the TV crew choreographing every little thing, all I have to do to get a piece of their cake is be there and click. However not everything can work your way and those are times when you need to adjust yourself to adapt. Unlike Bengaluru, where the shoot took place in the noon before the final day’s trials, due to the track presence being at a very prominent tourist spot, add to it, the being of a Sunday, it was obvious, the track owner would like to keep the track open for the visitors in the noon, the shoot for the Hyderabad regionals was scheduled to take place post the final day’s trials. Now that meant a few more hours on track, which in turn meant fewer hours of sleep.

If given a choice, I usually prefer to let the sun wake up before me, but not every time you have a choice and this was one such time. My flight was scheduled around 9 which meant I had to be at the airport, an hour’s journey from our hotel by 8. That was not all. The other fellas with me who were scheduled to go to Mumbai had their flights an hour earlier than mine, which meant I had to give up another hour of sleep just to wait at the airport. Thanks to one of the admin team member, Shuja, who offered to drop me to the airport, I saved myself an hour’s worth of sleep. *Yeah! A hour’s worth can be a lot when you don’t want to be waking up early.*Another venue, probably one of the challenging ones, done with.


Photographs of the Hyderabad regionals:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

 P.S: I have been extremely lazy in getting done with this one. I began writing on the 24th June, 2011. *That should tell enough about it. If it doesn’t keep staring at it, until it does.*

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