Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Age of Convenience

I like people who, for no apparent reason, opt to do something the hard way. I don’t mean people who achieve heroic feats like climbing Everest without oxygen. For complex personal reasons, out of sheer bloodymindedness, or just for fun, ordinary people doing ordinary things sometimes reject the easy way out.

There are examples even on my blogroll. In his carpentry workshop, Tommy makes things out of wood, using lumber which he mills himself. Randall Munroe doesn’t allow ads on his website. When most of us chose soft corporate jobs, Anuj started out practising at the Delhi High Court, and if there is a harder way to make a living in the legal profession, I don’t know of it. My father types with two fingers – though (a) he is not on my blogroll, and (b) he doesn’t do it out of choice.

I rarely fall into this category myself because I am lazy. But in school I once solved all the problems in a Trigonometry textbook using nothing but Euclid. For a web site which I designed last year, I initially wrote the code from scratch, i.e. on Notepad, and I had fun doing it.

These days Sarbajeet and I work late and usually have dinner in the office. So we cook only on weekends, but on the other hand, we never cheat – which is to say, we never use ready-made sauces and pastes. Some of the more elaborate dishes occupy us for an entire evening: just shopping for mushroom bourguignon took us the better part of an hour.

Saha takes photographs on black-and-white film, on a camera with a dysfunctional light-meter. He took one of me a few months back, on Baker Street with a camera-strap round my neck and a fuzzy double-decker bus in the background. He had asked me to “pose, but not look like you are posing.” I hate it when people take photos of me, and usually I hate the results even more, but this photo is one of the few exceptions.

Saha had it developed in India, and this – not the photo itself, not the fact that it was taken on black-and-white film and developed by hand – was what I liked best: it arrived in an envelope which said “Thanks for indulging. - Saha.”


Rahul Saha said...

The thing is, sometimes what masquerades a convenience is often not - I would have no idea how to take a digital photograph that you would have liked, and certainly not one that would have evoked this reaction from you. On the other hand, this was literally my first analog shot.

Srin said...

Show us the photo!
I type with two fingers. I've never tried typing with more. But I still type faster than a lot of people who type with both hands.

Sroyon said...

@Saha: Part of my liking for people who do things the hard way comes from thinking, "I would never be irrational enough to do that" while a tiny voice also says, "But I wish I was."

@Srin: I thought I'd spare it the ignominy of digitalisation.

Rahul Saha said...

@Sroyon - Don't you dare digitize it! I'll see if I can scan the negative in. Also, you seriously have a warped world view if you think that you are rational.

Debosmita said...

@ Saha and Sroyon - I saw the photo and it was beautiful!