If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

I am overawed, yet humbled. I’ve had almost 8000 hits on my photo blog since it went live on 15th April, and I was just wondering how and why did this happen in just one month? Not that I’m complaining, but I’m curious. Of course, many (or most) of my friends have done more than their fair share in creating a buzz about my website, for which I’m grateful.

But seriously, this is beyond all my expectations. I don’t write for anyone; I only write because it helps me think about the hows and whys and ifs and buts of my photography, and might help some others in the same boat as me, but that’s an adjunct. Though I did mention in my last post that I speak while I write, and for those of you who know me personally, you’d agree that I do love the sound of my own voice! So that’s another benefit.

Many people have spoken and written to me across the last month about my website – and in those conversations some recurrent critiques have been that I am very personal in my writing, too intimate, expose myself more than what is needed, serious more often than not, and of course, last but not the least (pun intended) too long.

Quite some years ago, I decided to make my life an open book. It’s easier that way. Whatever you ask me, you’ll get an answer. There are no boundaries, no limits. I broke those walls down. I am now more open and I feel happier. So yes, my blog will be personal, it will be intimate, because if I can’t be honest to myself which is whom I am writing for, then I’m not being true.  As the geeks in Silicon Valley would say, “WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get”.

I am serious. There is perhaps a carefully crafted veneer of self-deprecating frivolity around me, but scratch the surface and you’ll find intensity.  That’s the real me. Maybe I have this mask just to see who’ll bother to wait awhile and know the real me. But forget psychology.

Yes, I write long. I write the way I speak, just how I think. I ramble, I wander and I jump from topic to topic because at any one time, I have a million thoughts buzzing in my head.  I’ll go from one subject to another, which is a complete non sequitur, in just a second. Don’t tell me you weren’t warned. Perhaps that is why I have quintessential wanderlust, but yet can be comfortably alone in my solitude.

Without being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I am a sum of opposites, of contradictions, of yin and yang. I suppose all of us are in some way or the other. But I am honest enough to admit it, and my personality is reflected in the images I create, and in my words. I made both these photographs at Shanghai while strolling through the French Concession. This photograph is of an upmarket pseudo-French fine-dining restaurant; as I stood thinking of my composition, I couldn’t help but wonder as how we all at some point of time or the other, try and become what we’re not. Sino-French cuisine anyone?

Just across the street, not more than 100 feet from this restaurant, was this shikumen belonging to the old Shanghai.

So you see I saw both these sights, diametrically opposite, literally and figuratively, in equal measure and framed them, I daresay as they ought to be for what they represent, the meaning that they convey. The façade of the restaurant, its architecture, the gleaming glass windows, the chalk-and-blackboard imitation of a French street café menu is the China of today. The stark, imposing, cloistered, bare stone shikumen with closed windows and a barren tree complete the picture of yesterday’s China.

Opposites – coexisting, same as within me. I don’t know which of these opposites is better, and I don’t want to know either. They’re just different, and both yearn to be recognized and understood. And if you’re wondering how long did it take for me to ramble on from when I started writing to where I am now, about 30 minutes. I don’t edit, I just type while I speak. I do a spell-check though.  This is just the way I make photographs – without thinking too much, but with instinct, and with minimal editing. And since things happen to be working out just fine till now, I only need to remember:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

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  1. Sandy May 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm #


    That would just about sum it for me.

    Many years ago, when I first started sharing what I wrote online, I was asked, ‘Isn’t this too intimate to go online?’ I remember thinking…how else am I going to break free from the clutches of emotional blackmail??? Blackmail comes to you only when you are not being who you are…

    I have my favourite quote here to share because it defined my life…infact there are three quotes…Here goes –

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    “I’ve never seen a wildthing feel sorry for itself. A bird will have fallen frozen dead from a bough, without ever having felt sorry for itself.”

    “And you know the best thing about pain? It lets you know you’re not dead yet.”

  2. Pops May 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    Seeing your photos is a treat. You have developed a gift into passion and its visible through your snaps. I am not much for words but just to appreciate the good work and some good rambling thoughts… keep it up pal!

  3. Harmit Sngh May 15, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Great going Debesh. See u at the silver.


  4. Padma May 16, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    I enjoy your posts and they are not long enough for me.. Keep writing.. keep making pictures.. The honesty in your posts (both from your photos and your words) is what keeps us wanting more and more from you…

  5. Debesh June 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Sandhyaa, thank you so much for writing and sharing your thoughts, not only here but also on your blog. When I read what you have to say, I am inspired.

    Thanks so much Pops; I appreciate it mate. Yes, it is a passion indeed. I’m trying to find myself through photography, get back that innocence so to speak.

    Many, many thanks Harmit. I’m grateful for your words. See you in December.

    Padma, as I’ve shared earlier – for me writing and photography are now inexorably linked. I create when I write, and I create for I write. Thank you so much.

  6. Ajay June 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    I have heard you ramble enough Sir…you have always rambled sense and passion. Thats what you are doing now….just that you have, rightfully, broken the walls around you…so we see the intensity clearly. Glad I waited!! Keep penning them thoughts…its thought provoking and liberating…

  7. Debesh June 8, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Thanks so much Ajay! I appreciate this coming from you and it means a lot to me.

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