"Most good photographers stop taking pictures after seven in the morning."
My stomach sank.
Anurag is one of those old-school chaps who think that to live life to the fullest, one should start by the completely pointless activity of waking up early. My father would love him. In fact, one of the earliest arguments I had with my dad was when he insisted that I wake up in the morning, and - of all things - tend to the garden.
Now don't get me wrong - I'm all for the green revolution, planting more trees, and making the world a rainforest, especially since taking photographs in a rainforest would be fun, but I could never pick up the shovel and start digging so I could plant a plant, or tree a tree, or whatever it is that horticulturists do. Even now, in the comfort of - where am I - ah, the coffee shop, when I think of gardening, my mind goes numb, my body aches, and I have horrible flashbacks of the time when a quiet sunday afternoon reading session was rudely interrupted by parents who had finished with the day's gardening and required my assistance to "add finishing touches", which in my family stood for "carry piles of compost out the gate, all the way to the end of the road, and dump it in the dumpster".
Thus, life found my dad and myself in a rather awkward situation - I had a father who considered his garden to be his first-born and his son to be a freak of nature, and my dad had a son who, for some reason he could never understand, preferred to sleep away through the morning when the lark was on the wing and the snail on the thorn. As in all households where the head of the family is an avid early-rising horticulturist and the tail a sensible chap who knew exactly what mornings are for, there was a bit of a strain in the otherwise cheerful and warm atmosphere. often, this strain culminated in in my dad taking potshots at me with scathing remarks like, "this would never have happened to an early riser", as I lay in bed with an toothache. No, we managed to save the tooth. Root canal. Painful. I have never shown my tricuspids to a dentist ever since.
Getting back to the point at hand, Anurag made one of those statements that made my stomach feel like it had hit an iceberg at full steam.
"The best time to take photographs is in the morning, before seven. After that, the light becomes a little too harsh."
That did it. Time to kiss nature and street photography good-bye, I thought. From now on, it's going to be indoors in strictly controlled conditions. Not very exciting, but a man has his limitations.
However, there have been situations in my life where events take a turn so as to render me awake in the morning. Most such events involve working through the night, or watching movies through the night, or working while watching movies through the night. So it happened that when I was stationed in Haridwar for almost a month, I found myself in one such situation. So Kakkar and I decided to do some carpe diem-ing and take off for the ghats in the wee hours of the morning, so we could watch the sunrise at the banks of the ganges. And I remembered Anurag's advice in time, and took my camera along.
And grabbed some tea on the way back. In fact, it was quite an efficient trip, and we even managed to get back to the hotel soon after dawn, which is, undoubtedly, the time of the day when men of reason go to bed.
Unless you want to spoil a perfectly good day by waking up and tending to your garden.