Saturday, 30 August 2014

Photo Finish

A recent report in the newspaper put a new spin to the idiom ‘photo finish.’ Rather than being notable for being used metaphorically, this word drew attention simply for its literal (actual) meaning!

‘Tourist drowns off Aguada’ sang the papers. The report was about not one but three tourists who drowned. Two had fallen into the sea after taking in the picturesque views and one had tipped off the rocks at Baga-Arpora. What were they doing? Taking pictures. Clicking photos they ended their lives. Photo finish.

All these lads were young. Jitendra and Rajat were both 23 years of age and Sunil was 42.  They were posing on slippery rocks when they lost their balance and fell into the water to be carried away by strong currents into the foaming sea. Perhaps they had also had a whisky ‘on the rocks’ prior to their misadventure. It served to become an epitaph for their lives.

I’ve seen youth dangle themselves precariously out of running trains simply to take a selfie. This needless endangering of one’s life is quite silly. The misplaced bravado of tourists who flock to Goa suggests they think they are rendered immortal for the period of their sojourn.

I have often wondered about taking photos. I was a great camera aficionado but after mum passed on, I simply lost interest. I felt the photos were traitors as they were now too painful to look at.  All the photos (with negatives) of my travels across India lie bereft in the cardboard box under the bed. A nifty digital Canon 4x zoom brought new meaning into my life birthing furtive attempts to capture my 2 year old for posterity.  (But catch me prancing on the rocks for that!) The transition from negatives to digital was not without travail. Agonizing over making the investment, I pestered the man at the camera shop whether it would be a good idea to shift to digital. He looked at me and said, ‘Think of a cycle and a motorbike. That’s the difference.’ I needed no further persuasion!

When a person’s life is finished the photo used for the funeral announcement is often of a far younger version of the deceased. Some are even in their wedding outfits.  Of course their loved ones want them to be remembered at their most lovable, but is it honest? Many are well past their prime when they kick the bucket but the snaps are joyous in the bloom of youth. Great grandfather Raymond Gabriel Alvares (1928-2014) beams at you from the cherubic face of  a 30-year-old in his death announcement in a recent local daily on 5 August. Shouldn’t we give thanks that he lived all of 86 years – rather than mislead the public that he was taken away early?!  The nearest of Mai Luiza (1932-2014) preferred to give her photo as the loving grandma she was when she died on 3 August.

When you are finished what would you want your photo to be?
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 24 August 2014. Pix courtesy F. a Tanin. 19 August is World Photography Day.

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