If a picture says a thousand words, our DSLRs and iPhones have certainly made us verbose.
We have thousands of vacation pictures tucked away somewhere on our computers. I personally had to order a new hard drive because my laptop couldn’t take it anymore. We don’t want to miss out on anything. There is almost a compulsive urge to capture all the moments and memories, lest our less than efficient brain forgets a detail. In this mad rush to capture memories, we forget about making any.
That fantastic sunset over the ocean gets duly captured, but by the time we raise our necks to actually look at the setting sun after capturing that perfect shot the moment is long gone. What is left is a blazing trail of what once was a glorious day, filled with possibilities and potential. When we go back and look at that perfect shot, do we remember the sweet scent that the breeze carried, the music those roaring waters created, the sun blazing in our loved one’s eyes as they looked on- mesmerized; or do we just remember the mad rush to capture the perfect picture and the great relief afterwards?
We can easily recall our Starbucks order from many months ago with once glance at our Instagram page but do we have any recollection of the conversation with that old friend? That joke that made us laugh? Or that happy-almost-smile that flirted on their face, right before they announced the big news?
The irony is, as I pen a blog on food and photography, my most vivid memories are those that don’t have a single picture accompanying them.
It’s 26th January, Republic Day- a national holiday in India, the country I call home. Most of us have our Republic day rituals. Wake up after a few extra hours of sleep, turn on Doordarshan (the free television channel provided by the governments reserved for poor farmers, which is used once a year by the privileged Indians to watch the Republic Day Parade apart from the occasional sports broadcast of course) and enjoy the Parade with some sumptuous breakfast reserved for the day off (my personal favourite- aloo paratha with lots of butter). And not to forget running to the terrace towards the end of the Parade to catch a glimpse of the aircraft that were a part of it.
This was our family’s Republic Day ritual except for the two times when my dad and I decided to make an exception. My father has always been passionate about aircraft, particularly defense aircraft, a passion that has rubbed off on me too. So this time we decided that watching the Defense Aircraft flip upside down on the T.V was not satisfying enough, instead, we must go to India Gate to see it for ourselves. Those who know my father, know that he likes to do things differently. Naturally driving to India Gate would have been too mainstream for him so we decided to jog there instead. Some jog that was! 6 miles one way, 12 miles in total. Yet, to this day Papa refuses to take part in marathons. Too mainstream for his taste I presume.
The next year, happy with our triumphs we decided once more to burn some calories. Except having already seen the Aircraft show, this particular year we wanted to get a close look at the State Tableaus that take part in the Parade. We decided that instead of going to India Gate and joining the thousands of other Republic Day Parade enthusiasts, we’ll instead catch the parade in Connaught Place before it reaches India Gate (benefits of having a father that knows everything about everything). And so we jogged. Together. Laughing. Panting. Waiting to catch a breath. Racing. Falling behind. Catching up. Papa holding my hand, guarding me against the traffic.
We got there with a few breaths to spare, and a ready appetite. We didn’t carry snacks and the shops weren’t open yet, but we were among the very few people who had had the bright idea of intercepting the Republic Day Parade before it reaches India Gate. The joy!
Then the tableaus started rolling in, slowly with children walking in the front, all dressed for their performance. To this day, I vividly remember, it was Jammu and Kashmir’s tableau that came first. It was beautiful. The people dressed in ethnic clothes representing their State were beautiful. And so were the apples that covered every inch of the tableau. They looked red, juicy, beautiful and real. My stomach grumbled. I tucked at my father’s hand to ask if all those apples were, in fact, real? Yes. They were. “Papa, what do you think they’ll do with all those apples once the Parade is over? Do you think they can give us one? I’m hungry,” I tried to convince my father to get me an apple. What happened next catapulted my already super dad to ‘Super-Awesome-World’s-Best-Dad-And-A-SuperHumanBeing’ status.
My father just raised his hand like a magician commanding his enthralled audience, and this person on the tableau picked an apple, polished it on his sleeves and threw it straight into his hands. Not a word was uttered.
And just like that, I had an apple.
No photographs, just a memory as clear as day.
Happy Republic Day.