Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Funny Photo-Shoot

Today I went to visit a Very Old Person. She is confined to her room and therefore can’t go to the bank to collect her pension. So she has to fill up a form requesting that the pension be delivered to her. The form requires her photograph, which is where I came in. With a song on my lips and my Canon slung on my shoulder, I went to this old, old lady’s old, old house in Golpark. For it is not every day that you get to do a photo-shoot of your great-grandfather’s sister-in-law.

Mrs. Chatterjee is a strange and cantankerous lady with aristocratic airs (she was the daughter of a zamindar), and enough idiosyncrasies to fuel a lively family discussion for a whole evening. Once, with a huge bunch of bananas, she caught a train from Madras to Chengalpet. The train reached the terminus, but she remained seated. The train turned back, reached Madras and had again started for Chengalpet when she remarked to co-passengers that the station names all seemed familiar. She claims it was an innocent mistake, but to this day, no one in our family is entirely convinced that she didn’t do it for fun. Or waza waza, as they say in Japan.

Anyhow, I landed up this morning, chit-chatted about obscure and distant family members over a cup of tea, and took the photos. She was delighted at being able to view the photos immediately on the LCD, and this delighted me in turn. I’ve been using a digital camera for years and I still find it wonderful and incredible that you can twist a dial and see a picture you took a few seconds back. But these days, even people who you wouldn’t think had ever seen a digicam in their lives seem to treat the magical phenomena of instant playback and the LCD with a remarkable degree of matter-of-factness. It has robbed me of one of the simple joys of life.

You go to the Sunderbans and take a nice photo of fishermen with their day’s haul, and you go show it to them expecting them to fall over themselves in amazement, and they’re like, “yeah, what?” Most disheartening. When I went to Dharamsala, only the very old and the very young monks would be interested in seeing how the picture came out. The rest probably owned DSLRs themselves.

But this lady, I am happy to report, had all the right expressions of wide-eyed wonder and the comments about how fast technology is advancing. Incredibly (for women, and especially old women, are very hard to satisfy where their own photos are concerned), she was very pleased with the way the pictures came out. I liked her biscuits too, and ate several of them. All in all, a good day’s work.


Anonymous said...

Probably the entire excitement of waiting for the prints to get developed is gone now...Those were the days !!! Really !!! The digitals or even the DSLRs don't give even half the pleasure..

Rick said...

Indeed. Very unfair on the subtler joys of life. I had a similar experience at my village. Though their reaction was slightly better.
"Yeah yeah, gimme a copy of that, okay? you shoot good."

Shrabasti Banerjee said...

"..and they’re like, “yeah, what?” ".
Like? Like?! You used "like" in a blog post??!! *scandalized*

Pratiti said...

This digicam thing is just too bad. Too bad. I got one after years of nagging last birthday, and all my friends already had them! What is wrong with people these days?!
WV: gaily

Debi said...

the "matter-of-fact"ness is something that i have even experienced. Last summer I had been to my village and I had gone for a photo-session with them. when I showed them their photos none of them were amazed.

This time I did shock them-- with a Polaroid.

Shrabasti Banerjee said...

Sroyon-da, Sroyon-da, I got a new blog and I PROMISE I'll post regularly. NOW will you get me back on your blogroll??? *puppy- dog face*

wv:godse. bapre.

new age scheherazade said...

I like this post, and the Very Old But Very Kindred Person immensely. I want to be just such a Ms.Chatterjee someday.

Sroyon said...

@Anonymous: But on the whole, I prefer digital cameras.

@Rick: Why do you portray them as speaking ungrammatical English?

@Shrabasti: Well I never claimed to write the Queen's English, did I? But really, I couldn't think of an alternative that conveyed the feeling I wanted to express. If you can think of such a word, I will happily make the substitution.

@Pratiti: Ha! Your WV is trying to cheer you up.

@Debi: Did you buy it with the express purpose of shocking them?

@Shrabasti 2: Okay, but you must promise to abandon this annoying whiny tone. :)

@Scheherazade: Will you stock nice biscuits too?

Rick said...

I am impressed. Thats a very acute observation. Well, since i generally converse in terrible English, I tend to portray conversations that way. Nothing personal against them, honestly.

Priyanka said...

I know of two such ladies, not very cantankerous though. One of them is currently saving up to go to Wimbledon because she wants to watch Federer play there once before she dies.