I don’t think any of us have ever heard that word being used so often until last month. And there is good enough reason for it. Most situations that we face in life are repetitive and even problems that may appear new to us would have been experienced by the older generation. All in all, rarely do we face circumstances where mankind as a whole is totally out of depth. It is rather surreal to be in the midst of this revolutionary period about which there will be hundreds of books written, yet our only reaction can be to sit at home (apart from essential workers). And the question on everyone’s minds is what next.
Its raining outside. I can smell the petrichor, and feel the breeze through the open windows but I cannot hear the rain. I am wearing my headphones, listening to the ‘Is it New Wave’ playlist on Spotify. I am reading an article about ‘The Art of Waiting’. I can suddenly hear the rain. The music has stopped, and there is a small gap before the next song starts. That microsecond instantly transports me to a different world. But back to reality. I am stuck at home in Hyderabad, India. The government has imposed a 21 day lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid 19. It is day 15 and reports say that this will inevitably be extended for another 2-3 weeks.
It is hard to believe the kind of perseverance and foolhardiness that you have as a 19 year old. A decade ago, during the final year of my degree, I decided to run for the President of the Students Union at the University of Essex. The circumstances that led to this particular decision are several and there was definitely an element of foolish bravado involved. But looking back, I think it was one of the best decisions that I made in my life. My mentor at that point, Chris Saul, had unsuccessfully run for President the previous year and in some way, his loss pushed us to work fervently towards winning, as an act of retribution.
Almost exactly 6 years ago, I shot my first paid wedding assignment. At that point, I did it to help out some friends who were getting married, for an extra bit of pocket money and to keep my creative juices flowing. Never did I foresee a full time career in it. Yet here I am today, 6 years later, working as a professional photographer, having shot around 200 weddings, published 8 printed Zines and made several documentary photo stories in this span of time. And how has the journey been so far? Read on.
We live in a world where virtually everything we do is shared online. What we eat. Where we go. How we go. Whom we meet. And so on.
But we only share the best parts or the parts that would gain the most ‘likes’. We avoid sharing the seemingly boring parts of the day. The activities that the world would consider boring. We alter our lives to seem more exciting for the society around us.
About 8 years ago, transitioning from a teenager to a twenty year old, I always wanted to go out and have fun. Eat new types of food, try out new drinks and stay up as late as possible. That was not always possible, mostly due to financial limitations. At that point, I used to observe the relatively older people around me and wonder why they were not doing more exciting things. After all, they had money and freedom of time (or at least that’s what I thought). Why would any red blooded human being not want to spend their money on eating out, drinking more beer and partying till the early hours? Nobody could stop them. It seemed almost bizarre to me, not to make the most of their freedom, and I claimed that I would not be like that when I was older.
Exactly 10 years ago, I went to England for the first time in my life, as a curious teenage not knowing what to expect from this nation. My father told me to go with an open mind and so I did. Looking back, University was the perfect environment to try out all the things that you’d always wanted to do, without any real world repercussions. It was a simulation of sorts of the outside world, complete with its own internal politics, competing egos and conflicting personalities.
My father had several little pieces of advice for me when I was growing up (and continues to have new words of wisdom for me) but one of his often repeated words were – “You are a product of society.” Being a hot headed kid at that point in time, I categorically disagreed with his statement. At the outset, the simple statement made me feel that I owed something to society even though I was “clearly” the one doing all the hardwork. Or so I thought. As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate the value and real meaning of those words. I realized that society plays a large part in shaping our lifestyles and thoughts, whether we like it or not.
Study well and you will be successful. Be sincere and you will be rewarded. Work hard and you can have a nice car and a big house. The world around us teaches us to believe that success in life is measured by our apparent wealth and fame. Maintaining a good image in society matters a lot. We are engaged in a constant competition with our peers and are always ‘keeping up with the Joneses‘. We feel that it is important to drive a better car than the neighbour, live in a bigger house and wear better clothes. Living a good life has become about holidays in Bali, driving around in an Audi and wearing suits by Armani (hey, that rhymes!).