Tag Archives: Chandni Chowk

Again. And again. And again.

I write about photography, and I write about how it has influenced my life. But you could just about substitute anyone or anything that you love for “photography” and whatever I write will still be equally true.  And you and I both know that often I don’t write about photography at all. I just use my photographs and juxtapose them with words to say what I have to say. Sometimes I don’t even know what to say. But I know that there remains something to be said – you know that feeling deep within your heart of unsaid words bound and shackled by reason, yet overwhelmed by passion we let them escape. So I let them out, I allow myself to say whatever comes into my heart, I create photographs that hopefully reflect my feelings, and use words that describe how I felt. Maybe there will be a day when I’ll quote Ansel Adams and be quiet: “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” Until then, I shall photograph, I shall write.

When a musician tunes his instrument before a concert or performance he touches it gently, longingly, almost as a mother would hold her child, that same expression, the same caress, wondering what next? That is just how I feel when I touch my camera. Wondering what next. Wondering if I’ll ever be able to say what remains unsaid within my heart. It is a feeling of unspoken words, it is a feeling of falling in love. It is a feeling of being in love. And you know it is true when each day you feel more in love.

It is a feeling that even with all my words I find it difficult to describe. I can’t define love. I can only feel it. But the closest was when someone questioned me as to how would I describe a photograph of mine which I really love. And I said that I love a photograph when after I make it and step away, I feel as if I have left something behind, an indelible part of me, and ironically, paradoxically, contrarily, that is when I feel even more complete and willing and ready to leave a bit of myself yet again with someone, someplace. Isn’t that how love is?

Allow me to explain. About a week back, I’d gone to Old Delhi to photograph and in one of the many lanes that crisscross that part of Delhi I came across this man who was sitting in a shaft of light in the morning sun, in an otherwise dark, dusty, dingy lane. As I always do, I chatted with him for a while about what he does, made a couple of photographs of his friend who was also there while talking to him and then finally asked him if I could photograph him. Getting a yes, I made this photograph.

Now I might be wrong but to me he looked dejected, sad, forlorn, lonely, tired early in the morning and I wondered why. It touched me. So I sat down again with him, shoulder-to-shoulder and spoke with him a bit longer…and then after a few minutes he reached out for my hand, held it gently in his surprisingly soft hands and whispered: “God bless you”.  He meant it. And I felt love. I can tell you honestly that I would tradeoff that moment and those words from a “stranger” for every photograph I ever made. And then he smiled and I stepped up to capture that frozen in time.

I could describe all of this in more words that could possibly fill many pages, but if you close your eyes and reflect, you’ll feel just what I felt. As Einstein said: “It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.” 

So I open myself each day to give love – unconditional love, because it is only then that I am loved. I am not perfect, but I promise I try. Because it is only then that I fall in love.

Again. And again. And again.

Posted in General, Philosophy Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Where time has no meaning

I usually don’t photograph with anyone else – I go alone because then I am free to wander wherever I want, explore those nooks and crannies that I see. I can take my own time to stop, pause, stare. The act of photography is meditative for me, most times there are no thoughts in my mind – just a stillness that absorbs all that is around, sees what is often ignored. Those times I am even anti-social. But I prefer to say I am reflective. Most of all I am quiet. I enter a zone. People can’t understand this about me.

I realize I am monochronic. I can’t multitask. Or perhaps I won’t multitask. Is that surprising? When I tell people that if I am working or am busy with photography or editing my photographs etc., my phone will either be on silent or switched off, they find it incredulous. I find it better that way. It allows me to be in that moment completely. For instance, when I photograph someone, I am not with you, I am with them. I am not here. I am in the moment when the shutter release button is pressed; my fingertip at that point of time even senses the temperature of that button. And at that point of time then, I am lost. I am there.

Where time has no meaning.

And my phone being switched off reminds me that sometimes (or maybe most times) I find this hyper-connected world intrusive, claustrophobic, stifling, suffocating. We write a blog post, concurrently send a Facebook message, drop a text, and call someone else. Is that the way it should be? Isn’t when I am with you and only with you right now as I type fair to both you and me? Isn’t it better that I focus on each word that I write to you here rather than try and do it with one hand, eating breakfast with the other, thinking of what the day in office has in store for me? Why are we valuing superficial beyond exclusive? I still remember those days when the ring of the postman’s bicycle bell every two weeks or so meant a letter (yes, snail mail) from my grandfather and I used to be thrilled to bits. I didn’t need a mail from him each day to realize he loved me.  It was simple then. I miss simple.  This is what I am doing these days – making my life simple, perhaps emulating the people I photograph in some way. I am happy. I am at peace. I’ve never felt this way. I see this change in me. And people who know me personally also see this. This is what photography has done for me. I am exhausted today. I’m still writing. Nothing else matters. I love photography. I love writing. I am there.

Where time has no meaning.

I am reminded of all this when I more often than not talk to people I photograph. These are people who have influenced not only my craft (I still don’t call it art) but also me significantly. I have this affinity to stop and converse at length with those I place within my frame. They are simple. They are my teachers. At that point of time they are only with me. At that point of time I am only with them. They are me. I am them. Which is why those brief moments with them continue to linger in my mind forever. I remember each of those thousands of portraits that I made of people. I can’t tell you the aperture or the shutter speed, but I’ll tell you exactly where I stood and how and what I felt. I was elsewhere. I was there.

Where time has no meaning.

This is what happens when you fall in love.  Follow the silent whispers of your heart. Listen to it. Dream. Don’t be afraid of dreaming too big. Dream of the impossible. Chase that impossibility. Make it possible. Find what you love. Fall in love. Love with abandon. Love as if there is no tomorrow. Then you’ll know where I go to.

Where time has no meaning.

Posted in General, Personal Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |