Sunday, November 13, 2011

Semi-analog love life

If someone asked me if I felt nostalgic about typewriters or gramophone records or cassettes or tapes, I’d probably say no. You’ll understand better why when I tell you that I was born in the 90’s when typewriters and records were long gone, cassettes were around only for a good 6-7 years when I was growing up. So, for me, inversely, the joy and moments of triumph at owning a CD or boasting of an attic full of floppy disks (which my father still preserves) or telling you that I played ‘Gus goes to Cyberstone park’ on a b/w PC while others were still learning how to switch on a computer; those moments are better registered in my memory. Interestingly, I think me and my generation belong to the semi-analog group where as much as we are bound to be excited by new gadgets and more virtuality, somewhere, we were still shaped in hardcore mud and clay and nuts and bolts. To give you an analogy, I feel like a pager or a netbook sometimes. Those are intermittent technologies that very much look like what used to be, but are anticipating some mind blowing, life changing moment. Eventually, that happens, human kind evolves to mobile phones and tablets.
However, there is something that I do feel nostalgic about: images, photographs. Partly because I have always been a keen movie watcher and loved clicking pictures as a child and partly because I actually participated in the semi-analog to digital move of the camera, I can relate to this one. I still remember how there were two cameras at home. A Yashica manual point and shoot that needed batteries and gave good results, another was a freebie that churned out okay images. Needless to say what kids got. Albums at home are still lying there, loaded with half burnt, half exposed, blurry yet proud memories of trips past. Recently, in a cinema class, a professor was narrating how he used to work at a film archive and one could see his eyes gleam as he narrated tales after tales of resurrecting negatives lying in tatters. I admit I feel his thrill. There is a different feeling when you touch a photograph that magically develops out of a single click. More important, the camera has a mind (mechanics+chemistry) of its own. So what you see is not what you always get on the print!
This is when my turn to analog happened. After a few years of clicking with digital cameras, I discovered lomography. That in turn led me to how pretty these cameras are! More, they entirely manipulate colors to produce instant impressionist to surreal pictures! So, I bought a Diana F+ and after much hassle and a lot of expenditure, I developed my first roll. It wasn’t that great like on the website, but I got the hang of it. This isn’t just sheer nostalgia; this helps me rethink what I am doing. Using manual lenses against automatic make me move and put in effort in composition. At times I feel that reducing the number of steps and making things easier through technologies has a severe impact on the process of art and the experience.
Warning: Analog inspires LONG rants :P
This brings me to a couple of projects that I started looking at in the course of my analog obsession. The biggest of course, was the impossible project to save Polaroid cameras. When Polaroid announced they were ceasing all operation and production of films and instant cameras in 2008, a large community of instant camera lovers across the globe came together to keep the tradition alive. If nostalgia produces that kind of art, nostalgia is a great thing! Yet another project was ‘Before I die I want to…” project. It’s not just the camera or the photograph, people mobilize their situations, clothing, old glasses, souvenirs, bring them all to create what fits in that imagination of time. I did my little take with my mother’s sunglasses when she was in her 20’s. To surmise, as much as I hate analog nostalgia in general and sitting down to write a poem on the typewriter, I guess I participate in the analog love culture too, in my own ways. I guess nostalgia is long vast landscape and mine is a semi-analog house in it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

On creeps and ball games (cooler than Radiohead)

It’s a different ball game. That means it is a ball game which means there is throw and catch, pass and snatch and most importantly the ball is in the air only so long as both keep it going. But, what if you were pitching all these balls full of fragrant potpourri and the choicest of your tickles and pokes to some player who’s not your game? Well, the balls don’t return and occasionally if one does; it’s a smack, literally on the face. That, dear reader, is how a creep feels.

While most creeps are easily identified, warded off and branded by all of us, including me, you will never know when you end up on the other side of the ball game. Creepiness is relative and so is desperation. Mostly desperation is nothing but failure on the part of the recipient to reciprocate with equal enthusiasm. So, the poor hypersuperduper enthusiastic ball pitcher sees the embarrassing loud thuds of his public displays dwindle and droop into small bounces, all leaking desperate sounds as they fade into the darkness of awkward-irretrievable-relationships-that-never-started. I recently faced much such ill matched word exchanges.

One fine sunny day on the right side of morality can make you start creep bashing. But while you embark on that fantastic adventure of social inclusion, do spare a thought for all that avant garde-ism in your Dali-advances-on-women or some man wanting to race cars on some woman’s naked chest. Basically, we all like to hear of such momentary forward sparks and gasp in the delight of the imagery but, come to your own world of daily misgivings, ‘dude, that’s so creepy…’ Greet her with a friendly word for a whole week continuously or stalk him in admiration for all the fascinating information you discovered on Google search, write an extra friendly word on the text message or simply give an unexpected hug and you’ve blown it.

That is not the worst. For those of you who have been on somebody’s creep radars, you would know that straight faced speech with a perfectly drained asexual tone, carrying the burden of civil refrain from hitting your face: ‘Ummm…I just don’t talk to people I don’t know’. (In your heart you say: ‘Yeah, balls!’) Yes, because those who say such things never solicit friendship or more from attractive or interesting or talented or simply pleasant strangers. Never. They only rely on their trusted network of friends (who bitch about them) and acquaintances (they met one night at the wild party and got hanky panky with) or well, more talented and uber cool people (they randomly met at a conference and approached because they simply mistranslated sex appeal to talent).
The point is, people are pussies and flaneurs (persons who walk about aimlessly in the city) exist only in Baudelaire books. Also, for those in denial, everything is about a sexual experience. The impulse that you cloud under ‘fellow voracious reader’ or ‘Pink Floyd connoisseur’ is basically just your sex chemicals alerting your charm radar. And, that’s not bad news. Once you’ve acknowledged this simple idea it becomes so much easier to allow more people a chance to add colors to yours otherwise guiltless life. Think about it the next time you shamelessly feign shock at your encounters with a creep.
Yours sincerely,
Oddly bisexual woman with potential creep behavior

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Things I collected over summer- Part II

Dilli bus

Railway station

Dilli culture

Things I collected over summer- part I

JNU living

Sarnath entry

Art summit overdose

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The thunder thieving

It seems strange to me that lumps in memory only happen to a few of us, at least consciously. For me, a concentrated mulling is the roadblock of the otherwise speeding attention wagon, like water passing through a pipe with lumps of acerbic soluble substances, passing each time, melting a little of that and this, renewing throbbing pain, nostalgia, anguish, little brush strokes in the larger dark daubs of angst. I should not even begin on the German-ness of angst; it turns me into a Greek tragedy conversely.

The beginnings of an Indian summer, although drastically changing with the passing days, still ushers in the usual love-hate with sweet heat and occasional breezes in the 4 p.m. culmination of a not hurried, never occupied day. These days remind me of the “mighty heart” metaphor, huge and bulb like, rising like hopeful dough, deflating in familiar normalcy. Despite the general pleasantness of these surroundings and a color palette of dark browns and ochre of the shedding trees, anticipating little moist spells of air, when I am spiraling down, it’s just further downhill. No self picture of a girl with a backpack and a paper plane in hand, no catching the wind in hair as faint freckled pink turns to sandstone on skin, nor any spontaneous buckling under a greenwood tree and reading some Rilke poetry. It wasn’t always so, of course, not until the newest lump.

He and many others laugh, or dismiss with a “not-again” groan, when I often mention of my cruel ‘love-spots’. Of love I have much to say, but that is reserved for wittier days. Love spots are typically those ‘Alchemist’ spots where “the whole universe conspires for you to fall in love…”In my case,music moves my cheese. In the last remains of my romantic imagination, there would be a spot, a situation and a song in the background that would all ‘enable my access’ to love, like a bomb blast in the background and a Faiz recital in the side wing or a sulky Darbari song. Less dramatic, to wake up and march in the lobby to Bjork or walk through a loaded day with Fiona Apple and get drunk and lip-sync to Portishead. The list goes on and love-faces could be many. But, basically, one needs a background score to the play of daily life! This should answer my parent’s persistent surprise at teens with headphones.

The more I realized this, the abysmal lack of possessing one became. An i-pod that is. Or any music player, I am not an Apple snob. Switching over, after months of losing it to you, oh nameless thief of a commodified market, I weep silently every noon. This is where the impersonal industrial society pokes me in the shins and this defines oppression for me. Not burgers and colas and sky scrapers.
There used to be a roaring cloud above the head with ears stuffed beneath. The thief stole all my thunder away. Gone far away.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dying in the dreams

2:57 PM A: have you ever died in ur dreams?
2:58 PM Me: yeah
two times at least

The bull does not know you, nor the fig tree,
nor the horses, nor the ants in your own house.
The child and the afternoon do not know you
because you have dead forever.

A: what happened after that?
Me: I was wide eyed dying on the street
I couldn't help dying
but I wanted to not die

The shoulder of the stone does not know you
nor the black silk, where you are shuttered.
Your silent memory does not know you
because you have died forever

A: you saw it in third person?
Me: no
2:59 PM I could feel it
like game over
like this is finally happening to me
A: wow that's cool!
Me: and dying can feel really flatly dead

The autumn will come with small white snails,
misty grapes and clustered hills,
but no one will look into your eyes
because you have died forever.

I died last night
for the first time
Me: then?
A: didn't feel anything
Bomb blast

Because you have died for ever,
like all the dead of the earth,
like all the dead who are forgotten
in a heap of lifeless dogs.

Me: didn't you feel parts of you dangle and fly?
3:00 PM A: no
Me: or at least some ugly burns
A: I was too close to the blast
Me: Boom

Nobody knows you. No. But I sing of you.
For posterity I sing of your profile and grace.
Of the signal maturity of your understanding.
Of your appetite for death and the taste of its mouth.
Of the sadness of your once valiant gaiety.

A: yeah
Me: and you were dead
A: then I became a ghost, and started spying on people
It was on my mind, I thought no one died, since no1 knows how it feels

It will be a long time, if ever, before there is born
an Andalusian so true, so rich in adventure.
I sing of his elegance with words that groan,
and I remember a sad breeze through the olive trees.

(Absent soul- Federico Garcia Lorca)