The mirror is a liar, but the paper isn’t. The mirror shows the stark truth while paper misleads and hides the flaws but who wants to know the truth – the truest truth about truth is that it sucks. The camera’s eye is far more reliable than the mortal eye. Apart from keeping memories forever and capturing- precious- moments appeal of family photography, it also satisfies a simmering under-the-surface desire to appear beautiful. And the camera helps , it is a good friend- it evens out the complexion and vanishes the skin blemishes and pimples to a great extent.
And thanks to digital cameras with their practically unlimited storage (carry extra memory sticks) and their ease of use that eliminates the expense and inconvenience of buying and changing the film and getting the film developed, everybody is taking pictures like maniacs- everywhere and everytime. And the people who use the cameras to the fullest extent possible are none other than - us the eager Indians. And everything I say here , honestly, includes me to every inch and iota. Well, there’s that intent to share pictures with folks back home, but at times we exploit our right to aim and shoot to the extent of causing annoyance to others.
And this thought struck me on our last vacation to the Smoky Mountains National Park. It was a long weekend in summer and the place was full of tourists, and we desis never miss an opportunity to get out and visit places and so black eyes and black hair and brown skin were all over the place and there were spaoradic big clusters too- desi familes in groups. It was comforting to smell the picnics of paratha and aam ka achhar and to catch pieces of - idhar dekho, ruko,beta araam se,haath pakdo, dheere chalo, paani laaye? , arre khatam ho gaya, nahin bas bahut kha liya, thoda aur lijiye.But what was pestering was the reluctance to leave a scenic spot till the whole group had pictures taken in all permutations and combinations- two families with kids, two familes without kids, wives sitting in the front with hubbes standing behind- hands on her shoulders, hands around the waist, or hands all over in an embrace- repeat with both spouses sitting – three families and the same routine- or just the women – all with sunglasses propped on the head, all with sunglasses on the eyes, all with hair pulled on the right side, or just the men holding the kids, or the men minus the kids, all men with handkerchief tied around the neck, Shahrukh-Don style you know. In the husband –wife combos, the love and affection hidden in the hearts should ooze out and flow out into the picture, wish the love was colored and had a distinctive smell instead of being colorless and odorless- in that case they would’nt have to try so hard, it would make itself conspicuous, show itself .Or if it could be tested on litmus or like a pregnancy-test kit.
Coming back from chemistry and biology to the pictures- Say cheese, but wait a minute , I just blinked ,I was scratching my chin , I was smoothing my hair!! Oh no, I did not hold my breath and I did not suck in my tummy. Never mind, try again and I’ll take another one, that’s the beauty of the digital camera. Here, I must confess we also have a family pose which is hubby’s contribution – the plan is always that he will point out to a distant virtual object with his arm and all have to look in that direction. Its more like a ritual and none of our photo sessions is ever done without that picture, that adds completeness to it.
Coming back to the Smokies, to reach the waterfalls , we had to do some hiking, so this tedious walk uphill was supposed to be to see the beautiful waterfall, a marvel of nature, but who wants to see that with the naked eye, there’s not even time enough to see it from the camera’s eye- so hurry go ahead, roll up the pants, to the knees , clamber up the rocks, get into the water and start splashing water and let me click you then you run back and click me and I will splash till all of us are safely captured in the digital memory. Who wants to see the majestic fall of water, the brilliant white cascade and who wants to hear the soothing sound of water in that serenity and who wants to relish the feel of cool water under the soles, around the ankles. There is no need to capture and save all those tokens of nature in the sanctum of the senses, that job is delegated to this gadget and once it does its job, just don’t spend any precious minutes there, move to the next spot and again put the toy to task.