Survival through eight years in deep waters – that could be what the lead photograph symbolizes. Perhaps this thought will have special inspiration for Varta in its ninth year.

The lead photograph is one from the relatively recent albums. I shot it in 2012 during a boat trip from Barkul on the banks of Chilika Lake in Odisha to Kalijai temple located on an island in the same lake.

Going further back in time and up the coast of Bay of Bengal, long time friend and fellow queer activist Rafiquel Haque Dowjah captured the second scene below on the Digha beach in 1998. This was after we’d rescued the eight-legged wonder from a group of boys who were getting a kick out of holding it up for photographs without a thought for the pain they might have been inflicting.

This is a close-up photograph of a photograph from the article author’s albums from the 1990s. The original photograph is a daytime mid-shot of a small, blackish crab on the beach of Digha, a sea resort on the southern coast of West Bengal state of India. The crab is faced away from the camera. While its pincers seem intact, one of its legs on the left side seems to be damaged. The crab seems to be moving away from the camera. There is a thin film of water on the golden sand and the sunlight reflecting off the water is captured to the right side of the photograph. The contrast in the colours of the crab and the sand make for a striking image. Original photo credit: Rafiquel Haque Dowjah

So what’s there to eat in the birthday party? While Rafiquel could only find some capsicums in locked down Mumbai, Varta reader Martin Black from Dundee in Scotland has sent in some low-hanging cherries.

This photograph simply shows a daytime close-up shot of two yellow capsicums lying inside a vegetable vendor’s cane basket. The capsicums happen to be in a position such that they have formed the figure eight. The colour of the capsicums contrasts in a pleasing manner with the brown weaves of the basket and the green of some lettuce leaves lying next to the capsicums. Photo credit: Rafiquel Haque Dowjah

This is a daytime medium shot of a bunch of deep red cherries hanging from a tree in Dundee in Scotland, UK. There are eight cherries prominently visible, though there are more hidden among the leaves. The photograph has been taken from an angle somewhat below the cherries, and the branches and leaves of the tree form a pleasing green canopy through which bits of a grey sky can be seen. In the background, behind the tree, seems to be an open grassy area. Photo credit: Martin Black

This inspired me to look around for more fruits hanging around in my neighbourhood. If grapefruits are not your thing, I’m happy to share my breakfast peyara with you.

This is a daytime medium shot of two green grapefruits hanging close to each other from a tree in Kolkata in the author’s neighbourhood. The photograph has been taken from a position below the tree and from an angle in which the two medium-sized spherical fruits seem to form the figure eight. The fruits hang amid thick foliage that forms a dark green canopy, with the sunlight shining through the leaves and branches in some places. Photo credit: Pawan Dhall

This photograph shows a fresh guava sliced into two halves – the two halves are placed next to each other on a small plate so as to form the figure eight. In each of the halves, the small seeds embedded in the flesh of the fruit also seem to form the figure eight. The central part of each half of the fruit is off-white, the seeds are light brown, and the edges of the halves are a light green. A sprinkle of black salt can be seen on the plate but not on the fruit. These colours gel well with the flowery patterns on the plate, which is white in colour. The photograph is placed on a black background, which makes for a striking contrast. Photo credit: Pawan Dhall

Varta volunteer Debjyoti Ghosh on the other hand wants us to watch our weight even if all we do is gorge on fruits. But Debjyoti is in Johannesburg in South Africa, and we don’t quite know if he’s leading by example.

This is a close-up shot of a kettlebell weighing eight kg placed on the ledge of a window inside a house. The grey and orange kettlebell has eight kg imprinted on its front. The photograph has been shot in the evening sunlight. Behind the kettlebell is the window pane, and outside the house, a tall palm tree and some shrubs can be seen in the background against a blue sky. Photo credit: Debjyoti Ghosh

This is a close-up shot of the patterns on a bedcover in the author’s home. The bedcover has various geometric patterns inside large squares. Squares with the same pattern are placed diagonally across each other, and any two such squares taken together seem to form the digit eight. The patterns are in deep magenta colour on a cream white background. Photo credit: Pawan Dhall Enough of food, so here’s some abstraction from my bedcover. I love the pattern; it’s creative, soothing and inspiring.

Jia Mata, a frequent contributor to the webzine, on the other hand, isn’t one for staid stuff. They obviously think that Varta at eight is a t(r)ailblazer!

This is a night-time close-up shot of the tail lamps of a car on the left side. The lamps are shaped like the figure eight. While the image of the car is blurred, the neon red of the lamps is glowing in the dark and against the gleaming dark colour of the body of the car. Photo credit: Jia Mata

Prosenjit Pal, another Varta volunteer, believes in being traditional. He’s sent in flowers from Dundee. But there are more than eight types of flowers and more than eight colours in the flower bed. So we decided that the extra colours and types will hold good as a lucky charm for the coming years.

This is a daytime medium shot of a flower bed somewhere in Dundee city in Scotland, UK. The flower bed is a riot of colours – reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, violets and whites interspersed with greens. In a few places, the brown soil is also visible. There are more than eight types of flowers and more than eight colours in the flower bed. The extra colours and types can hold good as a lucky charm for the coming years of ‘Varta’ webzine. Photo credit: Prosenjit Pal

Readers are welcome to send in more photographs to help us celebrate eight years of Varta. Make them innovative, thoughtful or colourful, we’re open to as many birthday shoots as possible – Editor.