It has been long that I have gone out there and strolled in one of the favourite photography destinations of Pune, Mandai. I was in dual mind whether to carry my DSLR or to just go out there and make the maximum use of my phone, which gives a range of colours and works brilliantly in low light. Yes, I went out there taking my mobile phone only!
Light is the primary step for photographing, Mandai being established during the British times it has the blend of old, rusty feel and perfection when it comes to the sense of placement of the building as a whole. The Mahatma Phule Mandai spreads up to an eight-acre land right in the prime area of Pune, with eight entrances. The Mandai has a centre and then there are wings in which fresh vegetables are brought in by the wholesalers and retailers for the Punekars to buy. Since the tradition has been, it opens around 6 am and slowly opens up to a full-fledged market where one gets access to all types of vegetables, fruits and nowadays it’s also electronics which you find, around the periphery.
So, today all my intention was to explore and absorb this place and photograph the most common things found in here, uncommonly and candidly.
Places that we visit frequently have different purposes altogether, we get used to a pattern when we visit them often. This time my sole purpose was to break the routine of chopping vegetables and other household shopping but to only photograph. With my Oneplus 5, Mobile phone, out I was and as I wanted to challenge my skills and also wanted to put the phone on the test. The mobile camera factor is challenging in situations like these, since capturing expressions and moments is my forte, entering into the personal space of anyone is something, which I have to do. But, when it comes to mobile cameras and their zoom quality, it does get difficult as the photographs tend to pixelate.
Considering the location of Mandai it is the best time to visit this place is just after the setup is done, the sunrise; the best light is then all throughout the year and slowly the hustle-bustle increases. Mandai a place where you come across colours, emotions, everyday need products to the smallest cultural shops on the streets. It is a small outing for a shopaholic. Mandai, is the melting pot when it comes to buying and selling all sorts of goods. There is a vast nature of personalities you would come across in here, the aged one who is engrossed in the newspaper, the over-enthusiastic youngsters very new in the business. The plausible working culture comes as a surprise, that men and women do and can work together.
Every photowalk teaches a photographer something new. Lights, colours, and the right angle used one can know about a subject without making a note or talking to them as such. Observing helped me photograph all these factors closely. The way everything was well arranged from the smallest material in the shop was extremely intriguing. Finding expressions through the materials, junk items is a task and considering I was giving myself the only liberty of using my phone was a talent in itself. Spotting the right combination by placing myself correctly without letting people know that a photograph was in the making, phew! It is indeed a task; Street Photography is one hell of a job. Most of the photographers from the city often visit this place hence, the people here have gotten used to cameras being used around. But, for me, street photography has always been a challenge.
Mornings, in here provide fresh, new products on carts and shops. Flowers, veggies, fruits are the most colourfully placed and so admirable. There are designs made out of the same and are aesthetically and attractively placed! Controlling the temptation of buying anything is a test of the man’s mind and heart. Thus, photography is the best way to distract and photograph the beauty and simplicity of Mandai. It is admirable how gigantic this place was. To just have to look up and glance at the walkways, which are given for the people to walk. So comfortable and huge. The architecture is surely something which one can explore to one’s best abilities. The architecture of the British era has always been so fascinating. Places all over India have influences of the British culture in their own old buildings and prominently seen. The enormity of the building is hardly believable.
Then, in those times population was also not the concern. One can then imagine that yes, the building of Mandai was a manageable building, as the other part of the place, namely Tulsi Baug and Sadashiv Peth wherein they fall at an acute distance but yet not that close. As I covered most of the place, paying a visit to the ‘Mandaicha Ganapati’ was an obvious practice. ‘Mandaicha Ganapati’ is one of the first five most highly respected Ganpatis from Pune. One can visit the temple in the hours mentioned and can take the blessings. Visiting the Ganapati always gets a smile on my face as it is the lord of knowledge, intelligence and a deity of life. As, I left the periphery of the temple, finding frames in the scorching heat the Sun started hitting the eyes. Pune once was a city where the weather used to be cool and pleasant all throughout the year. Neglecting, the weather change is something one comes across when you go to crowded places like such. Keeping up to this and coming across dehydration is a very common thing.
Mandai, or the city area as commonly exclaimed; has a special way of showing love. There are two ways, Puneri sarcasm, and Puneri misal. The latter is what I was looking for. Sarcasm is something, which, one comes across, anyway! Misal was calling and I had to go to the most acclaimed one, Shree missal. Yes, and the day started on the best note! Good food and good light makes me wonder more and wander more.
Wanderlusting, in your own city, once a while is good. You do come across surprises, stories and the infinite amount of observation that leads to a complete package called constant learning and exploring.