Revisiting Dad’s camera…

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It was after 08 months that I had been to Balasore. With the pace and events in life, I had moved out of this place more than a decade ago & some of the memories were lost in some quaint corner of the brain. Dusting off the closets was just another routine you needed to complete having unlocked the place after months. This is when I hit upon this camera…a
real old school, 35mm still photography camera dad purchased way back in 1979 right before the Moscow Olympics. A true-blue soviet era product, this camera was sturdy, did its job well without the frills, poor on looks and has lasted these almost four decades without any trouble…

I always saw dad using it as a pride of possession & clicked away to glory at every opportunity & every great moment that presented itself. He also brought a kit to print his black & white pics & long before the current fad of DIY projects, Dad actually introduced me to what DIY really meant (a learning, that has been a credo & a savior till date). However, just as I went through all the equipment & the old photographs clicked with this very camera, it hit me that, its almost eighteen years that dad hasn’t been around. Somehow, this camera hasn’t been functional for two decades now. I tried unwinding the mechanical delay shutter operation handle having rotated the roller. A few seconds later, the shutter cranked, the roller moved and it “clicked”, an all too familiar note I loved hearing as a kid!!! It was just working fine after all these years and all the vagaries that it had faced.

Dad once told me that the camera is the eye & the film roll memories. It is an extension of what you do & who you are. What you click is what you think and what you think is what comes out. I wasn’t allowed to fiddle with the camera, but I did steal my moments of excitement with the shutter & the mechanical delay. In my constant endevour to search for metaphors in life, I hit the strangest of places & an almost forgotten corner of life…..Dad’s camera or rather Dad himself. Its been eighteen years and I never tried to revisit my dad….yes, he has been long gone and memories fade & get archived with times. I have had my differences with him which assisted the process, but, when I dusted the camera, it did bring back a whole lot of pictures, out from the limitless archive….

– The football sessions early in the morning when most kids were fast asleep…hated it!!!!
– The time when dad forced me to ignite crackers on Diwali…I was shit scared of loud crackers!!!!
– The time when I got the spanking of a lifetime for having lied about my academic results…got 2/100 in maths, this time mom had joined the spanking bandwagon too!!!!
– The times when I went to the local market with dad to buy vegetables & fish…just for info, this was the non TV / cable / mobile / internet / gaming / IPL / ISL / shopping mall era….so loved any opportunity to get out of home & escape studies!!!!
– The time he spent observing me playing cricket at the local ground…did not want him to be there, it created pressure to perform!!!!

Circumstances & the teenage rebellious juices made the differences almost intolerable… That was a good flashback, but, then there was this other story…

– I still get up early (but, I still hate football…)
– When I hesitated to fire the Carl Gustav during academy days (God knows, it can turn a man deaf also…), I remembered how I lighted the first cracker, the mental drill dad taught me…
– I was never bad in maths ever after…
– I love going to the local market & bargain for the fish / vegetables, generally weighed the pros & cons of decisions thereafter…
– I have learnt to accept pressure as a part of career & life…
– Watching Dad click those wonderful black & whites ensured I am hooked on to the shutter for life…
– Watching him in the smart white uniform ensured I ended up in the olive green (would have made him proud had he seen it)…
– I learnt to choose doing something myself, over depending on others…

The eighteen years and the events therein had created the impression that Dad was long gone, but, the camera was very much working & so was dad…he worked through me, every moment even after these eighteen years…my soviet era Dad was never gone!!!

Miss you dad!!!

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Pulao…

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This is the one cuisine that every Indian loves, in his or her own way maybe, the archetypical Pulao… I love it too and never leave a moment to go overboard with the lunch when the Pulao is on offer. Every part of India adds a distinctive flavor of its own to it and yet it is the basic Pulao made of rice, veggies, sometimes a dash of chicken here and there….but, it is The Pulao!!!…

I went through the official emails I had, for the last couple of days. Yesterday, there was a mail by the admin to celebrate the birth of a child to one of the employees and here I am today reading another mail moaning the death of a colleague’s wife…

I saw at the gates of my plant and see tremendously low movements compared to last year, the oil industry downturn had left its mark…and here I am reading another subdued mail detailing the achievement of a production benchmark….

Every time I take this flight from the middle of the desert to the richness of my home port…the sandy dunes sparsely sprayed with dwellings and a few trees give way to lush green fields and water bodies enthused with life. The calm, forlorn silence of the sands is converted to the honks and noises of a bustling metropolis. As the day started now with a concern for the upcoming work schedule, for a few days it would just be laziness of the bed, warmth of the morning tea and few minutes of aimless gaze at the old people walking by and the organized chaos of the day unraveling …

The picture of this Pulao was taken at my Didi’s place during the Durga Pujo…she made it to throw us all a good meal and here she was, afflicted severely by the pains in the body signaling the advent of arthritis and a subtle reminder of age catching up. However, that didn’t discourage her by any means to plan ahead for a new LED TV at home. The Pulao, with such a gorgeous palate, yet cooked in the simple aluminum ‘Kadhai’ which has been Didi’s treasure-trove for years now. The peas, carrots, fried onions and soya chunks won the day while the victor lives in the world between the joint pains, a kid to raise, a family to look after and a TV to be bought… it’s the Pulao…

I had met this friend of mine after ages who is doing great in his career but struggling with his life, a widower with a young daughter, a kid with a billion questions thrown at the worst possible times and situations to a guy still reeling under the shock of his wife’s demise. I volunteer to take his daughter out to school on a day when he was busy and as I picked her up from school, I chance upon my next door neighbor, all but 40 and looks like 60, two kids studying in the same school, a father who’s blessed with a pair of amazing kids, a devoted wife and parents still alive to guide all others, a father who’s struggling and punishing himself every day at the thought  of not being able to secure the future of his kids with the education they deserve…

I was at my work site, fated like many of my hard working colleagues to spend the Durga Pujo and Diwali far from homes in the wilderness of the desert committed to what we do and exactly the other half of the workforce which was on leave, prayed to the Gods and remained grateful for having been on that day with the people who meant…

Life and Pulao are not that different…

– The rice is the base, white and shining with doses of ghee and yet allows all the other vegetables to glow in their own colour, this I call life

– The peas, green and small, yet produces this distinctive taste so different from the rice, to me it’s the signal of the winter approaching ‘cause that’s when you get to buy it… a few months of golden opportunities to hide inside the blanket as the sun beamed into the eyes, the usher of fun…I call it happiness

– The carrots, fried and sweet, dices of it all sprinkled along, cuts across the green sameness of the peas and the coriander, reminding of a different taste… I call it memories

– The soya chunks, perforated and ‘in your face’, cannot miss it within the Pulao even if you wanted, it’s everywhere, most wouldn’t like it in itself but gladly accept it in the overall goodness of the Pulao….i call it experiences

– The chilies, the moment you hit it, the succor is the water nearby, you hate it but the Pulao is incomplete without it, no matter how much you want to avoid it, can’t do without it….I call it failures

I composed this piece as I read through the mail on the demise of my colleague’s wife, the picture of the other guy blessed with a kid flashed in front of me. Such is life and I don’t mind at all the way it is, absolutely not…both of the above involved cries…advent of a life or extinction of one…I was here at my worksite three weeks back and will get a break in another week, meet my family and enjoy their company till I am back again to work and serve mankind.

The sun has just risen a while ago and the redness is yet to wear off, the day lies ahead for me to complete all the pending tasks, the guy will tend to his kid and wife, the man will go through the rituals till his wife’s cremation, Didi will get up with the pain in her legs running after my nephew till he leaves for school and brother-in-law for his office, my mom will dig into the newspaper and moan the degradation of morals in the society and I will be watching as workers throng into the plant for the day’s shift. As Robert frost put it “In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life, it goes on…”

The Bedlamp story…

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I had been meaning to click this bed lamp of mine since…God knows when!!! Every night I slept off in this rickety old town in the last two and a half years, this has been probably the last thing I saw as I signed off for the day. The steady & last beam of light for that evening…a reminiscence of the forthcoming day and its bag of wonders and different shades.

Every now and then I also get this feeling to go back to my school days when the english language teacher used to assign us an essay where we impersonated a thing or object like a train, a bus or stuff like that. May be that was the most sure shot way of firing the imagination. While conceptualizing this photo, it just hit me that why don’t I write this piece in the same manner as that old school essay from my fourth or fifth standard….to my utter horror, it is so much tougher today than may be say 20-25 years ago, imagination & creativity, both are at a premium and the bondage of having learnt a bit more of the language is too overpowering. May be the grind of daily life and enclosures of the career space have blocked that free run. However, I am going to give this a shot nevertheless no matter how ridiculous it sounds…

“Every day at 0545, a melodious voice wakes me up and I get switched on, as if the voice switched on my day for me…the melodious voice of a bollywood track which the soul lying besides me uses on his alarm. Why then I never see him wake up to welcome the day…a reticent expression bordering on the disappointment of losing the sleep is all I get for having lit up the new day for this guy…what a waste!!! Having realized the need for him to get “on the roll” and be “on the move”, my job is finished pretty soon. Switching me off seems to be such an arduous affair for this guy as he reconciles to his fate of having to switch on the main light signalling the beginning of a whole day of work lined up…probably a motley mix of the Good, Bad & Ugly.

Having said that, I must admit that the perks of getting up early are good for me, my job is soon done and I can rest till late in the evening again when for a brief moment of time, the same guy sits besides me, reflecting on the day gone by and makes a vague attempt to enjoy the moments of silence he achieved for himself. That’s it then, he switches me off and all is done for the day….good cosy corner, low work hours, getting to watch the motley crew sit and sleep besides me, what more could I want from my “electric life” filled with rather eclectic horizon of personalities.

It’s too cliched, so I am not going for the “run-of-the-mill” description of what I consume, how I live and what else I do. So many kids are doing a great job of describing it out there. However, for all the free time I get, I try finding out more about this human race which had invented me for their use and have evolved to do everything from writing an essay on me to attach their expressions and emotions. I find them through the few people who stay in my room and the friends who visit them.

Here’s this bunch of guys who live in the same room as I do since I have existed…each speaks a different language whether its the dialect or the opinion and yet they seem to be doing the same job. They are divided by the areas they belong to and the time periods for which they remain in my room and yet….come every morning they are in the same huddle and hum-drum.I see them in various moods but the one consistent with them is their stress which, never ceases to haunt them from multiple sides…if not from work than from home. Each time they switch me on in the middle of the night raising my hopes for excitement, it turns out to be them who are excited albeit the wrong way mostly…what did I miss?

Moving on, the housekeeper keeps on harping on my head every day hurriedly cleaning me up as he huddles through the room & cursing his luck to having to do this, thousands of miles from his home and loved ones…every now and then stealing a few moments on the TV searching his favourite channel of his lingo…reminded of home he can’t visit for months now…I pause.

The carpenter seems to be the happiest one as he clamours into the room with his list full of complaints that he needs to complete before the evening, he is in a hurry. As his phone rings in the middle of that very important door repair…he thunders into the phone about how busy he is and that he can talk freely about “it” only in the evening at “home”…I know the feeling

This is the place that I was opened from my packing into…this is the place I have always known I needed to be in…this is the place where I have welcomed all and said goodbyes feeling reassured of having been fixed to the sturdy walls…this is my home…the very place which the housekeeper and the occupants missed and carpenter rejoiced about, the place where I confidently sit assessing the souls passing by….

My life is very limited to the four walls and constant warmth of this room but the varied faces and their expressions who cross across the day makes me rejoice, I give them hope, comfort and something to work on…they count the beginning and the end of the day with me…I am the bedlamp, my story is short, crisp and to the point…unlike the humans who I see in so many different shades. I feel lucky as well as left out…I am never challenged to do more then what was written on my packing…these humans don’t come with one

On the move…

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This is a scene…I loath every alternate time i see, and…then look forward to seeing the next time, that’s me moving out and returning from work. This is a scene I witness twice a month at least and this is a scene from an international airport…flights moving in and flights moving out. I am based out of a metro & my work makes me travel.

The airport lounge is just like the ‘city on the move’….people hustling in and shooting out, it never stops…you are hustling too until the moment you check in through the security and realize that there is a bit of time in hand before you need to actually board the flight and that like every other instance, the boarding won’t start at the time mentioned on your boarding pass…this is when its so great to observe the early birds as they settle down in the cosyness of the lounge seats…being on the move is a must –

– the suits have to check back on the work which has been done, cleared and shut….the laptop re-boots
– the newbies getting into a frenzy of selfies and mobicam shots of every possible airline flight till either the battery is bust or they are literally pulled on to actually board their own flight….social networks are abuzz
– the proverbial family oriented aunty / uncle who have to call somebody or the other continuously till the airline crew open check-in doors (I am being gender sensitive or rather gender impartial here)….generate a discussion / controversy / chaos out of thin air
– the odd CISF personnel who having been condemned to stand at the check-in door well in advance starts off with a conversation of ultimate discrimination for duty allocation / permanent discontent with his superiors attitude / why he or she should have been the one to be posted out instead of the one who actually went / cribbing on the time it would take for him or her to reach the stage of being in the x-ray baggage scanning enclosure….silence is a killer for him / her, discrimination galore
– or the mortals like me who rejoice and get an ego-boost at not having been any one of the above and ending up observing all of the above, the whole time…being on the move is a must

What is it about the city on the move, why is it so necessary to be on the move in every behaviour / thing that we do / thing that we do not do…I am clueless, but very much a party to it. I am probably much better off than my parents or grand parents when it comes to being updated or connected and yet every now and then I keep questioning that was it of that much help, has it made that much of a difference….or to put it right, has it made a positive or a negative difference. It is a question almost half of the world is discussing and some in fact are making a killing out of it (being specialists in discussing it)…the answer is actually elusive and for some its frightening…so what does that mean? Being ‘on the move’ becomes an addiction / compulsion????

I live in a colony where bulk of the homes have working couples…everyday at 0900 in the morning an exodus of biblical proportions starts…my society, my ‘pada / mohalla’, my area & my city…its time for work. I am a village bum brought up in the outer edge of a rusty town, where the pace is relatively slow…and…here I am, much to my annoyance, part of the hoard of human cattle…’on the move’. The thing is, our lives have turned mechanical!!! so what, am I saying something new….probably not by miles…what is scary is that our attitudes, leisure, approach to even most personal of issues are fast turning mechanical too –

– If there is a weekend, have to go for an outing…
– If there’s a new movie, can’t skip it…
– If at home, catching up with all the friends is a must cause I haven’t done it in ages, at least the phone should ring…
– If at home, finish all the pending chores, lest it comes to haunt you a few days later…
– If missed a work out or run, ensuring the same covered on sunday…
– If my kid studies (I don’t actually have one…) then he/she needs to have a tennis / swimming lesson on a saturday / sunday…and I compulsorily need to be there half an hour before the class ends and cursed be me, if I forgot to ask the trainer how has my kid improved….Did I really worry about it the whole week to start with???? probably no…

I rejoice at the amazing pace at which I have kept a tab on all of the above, nobody can say I missed out on anything (and I literally ensured, NOBODY CAN SAY!!!!), Oh yeah!!!! I am ‘on the move’. So is being ‘on the move’ a disease / epidemic / virus????

Probably, all of the above….

As a budding urbanite, I am afflicted & I don’t feel the need for a raincheck….most of us don’t, it’s so much cooler being so. I hear the stories of our previous generation, where any kind of a pattern was regularly disrupted. Even in the low technology, low awareness, low paced life…positive disruption (and I am not referring to the business term here…) that challenged everyday regularity was the norm, nobody knew much whether what he / she would be doing in the free time he / she got during the day or weekend. If a gossip session beckoned on a saturday afternoon, then probably the next break they got were spent in a hearty snooze…

Not today though, we are all ‘on the move’, every minute gets chalked out….home, office, transit, airport lounge, in flight, in taxi, early morning, sunday, saturday, friday evening….everything gets chalked out…a city, a life ‘on the move’.

Why?

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Its been a few years that I have been clicking whatever appealed to my senses and I had a great time doing it, but, somewhere It felt that the picture clicked or the scenery captured are more than just images or a mere proof of photographic excellence.

I have heard many people / photographers say that the pictures were an extension of their thought process / their state of being / current metal state / their interpretation of the visual realm. While, this may seem as an attempt to simply justify what is just a moment of sheer joy / pleasure from a natural artistic experience, I did feel the need to amplify some of the pictures that I have clicked and all the associated churning of thoughts and feelings inside this cauldron called brain.

The desire to open this blog was more a need to express the gamut of thoughts that emanate when a beautiful scenery presents itself (or any ordinary routine aspect of life manifests itself into a likable shot) more than the need to provide a lingual form to opinions (well!!!! I can’t deny that completely also….if this suffices for an honest confession…).

It would be good if people read it and provide opinions / counter arguments (most welcome….) but, even if not, still I guess, the contentment of having found an outlet to express / store the thoughts in the form and shape that appealed most at that point of time is good enough for a purpose….

The click above was on a perfect day ending in a perfect evening at Goa’s laidback Baga beach. The sunset has inspired millions to thematically express it as a ending of a chapter / silver lining across the gloomy clouds  / time to revisit the occurrences / looking ahead to a brighter next…. However, the moment i clicked this one, I have been at a loss of a particular theme for this one, it seemed to a collection of so many aspects of life….

  • the rays peering though the clouds proving a positive ray of hope,
  • the deeply disturbing red and grey which in certain fleeting moments induced panic,
  • the reflections in the sea which simply keeps you mesmerized and sort of begs you to be positive
  • the sun kissed clouds that turn orange asking you to be flexible in life (the same clouds when reflecting sun’s rays are no more the epitome of dark times, rather jewels in the sky….)

I didn’t know much when I clicked, I was just a child jumping at the chance of grabbing a lollipop, but the moment the picture presented itself, I had been at a loss of #tags or #categories to define it. May be that is what this sunset has been trying to teach me all this while….

There are no set patterns in life….one has got to be flexible to enjoy and make the most of life, the same cloud will induce panic or bedazzle you like a gemstone….only if you let it do so. Life will never be the way you may wish to typecast it into, it will be a collage of opportunities & misses; dark, white & then some grey; expectations & surprises….whatever it is, but be rest assured it will never be static….the very phenomenon of sunset is a marked reminder to that I guess. Almost the whole world knows it and I am not writing anything new, but, I guess it took a bout of confusion borne out of a compulsive need to categorize things that dawned the realization….

Guess that being so, it doesn’t make sense to categorize this blog also…those who read this blog might see me evolving through the blogs and redefining it every once in a while…hope I redefine, hope this blog evolves….till the next one, STAY SAFE & BLESSED FOLKS…