Thursday, December 14, 2006

Instant Moksha!!

We have been thrown into a world that endorses instant gratification.
I may sound like those confused American shrinks who surface on the Oprah show every now and then to treat obese and depressed women plastered with a pound of make-up!
If we come to think of it, it is so easy now. Everything is easy.
We have instant dating, instant breakup, instant marriage, instant divorce, instant Love and almost instant Hatred that follows closely.

We have instant art. Gone are the days when a painter or a sculptor used to sweat it out for days to get the perfect portrait. We are the bunch of gizmo crazy weirdos. Even I am one of them, to a certain extent. When we get together for a cup of tea or a birthday party or even just to inhibit the Monday morning blues on a Sunday night, we all come with our digital cameras. Each one of us has one, or at least a cell phone that can be transformed into a camera. (Yeah some of my friends use their cell phone for everything except talking. When you call them, they are either busy working or caught in the traffic. Then they show up at my place at night and confess that meeting in person is much better than talking on the phone!). So we have one camera each and we click pictures as we talk. Sometimes we experiment with the sunlight, sometimes with electricity. Some of us are into a different class of photography. One of my friends insists on clicking pictures of spiders webs, coffee beans, zoom-ins of various plants and flowers, zoom-ins of eye-balls or just random sunrises and sunsets. I have never seen him take a full human picture till date.
Some of us are heartbreakingly unphotogenic. So the others keep clicking like a hundred pictures in a hope that at least one of them turns out to be the definition of self-assurance and (perhaps) beauty. When my friends come over, the house is usually transformed into a studio. My room has a cute orange wall (I call it cute and so do the others for the fear of their lives), which we use as a background. So if someone is not dressed to go with orange that someone attacks my wardrobe for a solution. My usually decently organized room turns into this war zone with murdered ideas and accessories lying around like martyrs!

When we have our satisfactory shots, we pack up from the studio and get down in front of the computer. It takes care of the residual duskiness, pimple marks, fat arms, and the unwanted nose of an unphotogenic guy in the background. We turn it in to Nostalgia by making it black and white or make a collage to get our greed for more in less satisfied. We download software and upload photographs on our virtual friend groups and communities. We crop, we modify, we brighten and we warmify! We change everything that could be changed about our God-given average looks to make us look reasonably great and still we are not satisfied! Then the funniest part begins. We insist on having all the pictures on our computers. So we have serious disagreements with lazy people forgetting to give us their pictures on a pen-drive or ( if the person is lazy AND primitive) a CD. Some of us have this “webo-phobia” so we refuse to download photos uploaded on the net.

Once we have all the pictures, we don’t know what to do with them. We cannot possibly print so many pictures. We just show them off or use them to feel good about ourselves in our idle moments of emptiness.

I remember my childhood vacations. We used to have the analog camera (yeah it is roughly the opposite of digital. At least I assume so spending my engineering days with my computer science buddies). My mom and dad used to be paranoid about getting the pictures right. We used to rush to the beach every evening to capture the sunsets and it was a very tedious procedure. For we had to wait till the film got used up to develop it. Plus there was severe rationing and I never got to click pictures of ladybirds on trees and stray cats. We used to reserve some film for “Kodak moments”. It was a matter of extreme patience and silent anticipation. When my dad came home one fine evening with the prints we used to pounce on them. There were constant instructions from my parents about not putting my fingerprints on the pictures by holding them in the wrong way!
I remember once, my mom and her colleagues from the office went to a factory owned by a very famous politician. They took about a dozen pictures with him. With him standing with my mom, with him standing with the others, with him using our instrument to analyze his product, with his staff and our team. They were really excited about using it to show off our success. When they came home however, they realized that the “analog” camera was equipped only with batteries. There was no film in it! All the while they were just using the flash and an empty camera.
They were so disillusioned by such an idiotic mistake that they fought hard and pulled a hundred strings to get one picture taken on that day by another professional photographer present with the politician. In that one precious picture, one of our staff members was seen in the background taking a picture with the empty camera from a different angle!
I nearly passed out laughing looking at their faces. This story was the major evidence used by me to argue in favor of the need for a digital camera!

Not that I am totally against having it all fast and easy, but then when it is so fast and simple, you get tired very easily. You move on to the other interesting things. You move on to the other modes of entertainment.
Somehow, we tend to give in so much to these instant easily available things that waiting for good things to come on their own seems like this extinct species of feelings.
We get upset even if we have two days of nothing to do. We get upset if our phones don’t ring continuously or if no one thinks of us for a very long time. We get insecure if people around us acquire more money or more gizmos or more “ready-made” happiness. We get upset if really silly things don’t work out. We get upset if the guy who was working with us just quit the job and got a really good deal somewhere else. We get upset if someone else gets a better husband or a wife. We get upset if our parents expect us to be home for dinner and we have plans.

It is a scary world, full of fast happening things that easily go out of control.
We have out of control bikes, our of control junk food habits, out of control smoking, out of control drinking, our of control fun, out of control grief, out of control brooding, out of control bigotry and even out of control minds.

I often wonder about the lives that I have read in books. Be it Wodehouse or Jerome.K.Jerome. They all have descriptions of a languid, easy and peaceful life.
Going on the boat with friends. Or spending a typical Sunday home with the butler. The gentle unhurried pace of their lives. They didn’t need digital cameras to show us the picturesque riverside or the old English homes. They didn’t need web cameras to let us peep into their homes. They never endorsed burgers and French fries. They didn’t have televisions to entertain themselves. They had friends! They had fishing stories, hunting stories, they had stories of their friends wooing girls and landing themselves into soups. They had so many things to describe!

All of that still entertains us (or at least ME). We still have a hearty laugh at the Montmorency story in Three Men in a Boat or we all still adore Jeeves.! I think the kids still grow up with Agatha Christie (or I hope so) and Sherlock Holmes.
Some Sunday afternoon, when I am bored with my digital camera, my computer, the Internet and about a dozen cables running between these devices, I open a book and switch on the TV-Camera-Canvass-Journal-mind and I end up being happier than I am with all these “favorite things”!


shirish said...

Instant Moksha is a salute to the peaceful life.Alhough it gives humorous account of the earlier peaceful life certainly it points out the virtues especially of the mental health.A wonderful peace of writing.


Rohit said...

Did Calvin speak the opening line?

shuchita said...

I couldnt agree with you more. Everything in our lives is so fast paced these days but inspite of having so many instant remedies we dont seem to have time for leisure. Inspite of the digital remedies created to complete our work faster, we seem to have less and less time on our hands. :(. You write really well btw :D. Really enjoyed reading your blog.