Friday, August 20, 2010

Nikon Speaks out..

DISCLAIMER: This post is a crude and an actual description of the Valmiki community's lifestyle. Nikon doesn't intend to hurt any reader sentiments and emotions.

Hii readers,

People call me Nikon D3000. I was lying inside a sealed box for about 20 days in a well known electronics retail store in Ahmedabad and was sleeping happily. One fine evening, I was dreaming about being in the hands of Atul Kasbekar in his brightly lit studio with .... and the grumpy salesman rudely woke me up from my glitzy and flashy dream . And the first thing I saw after I woke up were two guys who were staring at me as if ...Whatever!!..They were comparing me with my fierce competitor and checking which one of us was better in terms of the grip and weight. I was seething with anger. How dare these guys compare me with "***on"?? Don't they know that I am the best!!

Thankfully my owner ultimately chose me, for he had already made up his mind. In short, it was a planned purchase. My first day on the field went about helping him click some fantastic and some not so good clicks of the T-nite proceedings in his campus. It was quite a boring proposition compared to the dream I was having before I was woken up. Anyways, I never imagined that my owner would introduce me to an altogether different world on the day this country called India got its independence. From now on the use of the word "we" shall refer to both me and my Lord together!!

We reached a filthy and pungent settlement located on the outskirts of this city, apparently to study the lifestyle of manhole workers belonging to a community called "Valmiki". I could observe that my lord was visibly upset and wanted to desperately cover his nose and ensure his olfactory senses don't malfunction in the future. The scene there was acrid and nauseating to say the least. Thankfully I only have eyes to see, so I was least bothered about the smell. My lord had a firm grip on me, even as he was carefully watching his steps to avoid dung and the dirty drain water while carefully crossing the muddy and slippery paths totally disoriented by the rains that had lashed this city previously.

Even while we were crossing another huge "dungy" obstacle, I overheard a woman mumbling something in their local language. Apparently she had mistook my lord to be a media reporter and was begging him to do something to uplift their present situation. My lord had already understood what she was saying, but could only nod his head to ensure she at least deserves some attention. Pangs of guilt and the realisation that he could do nothing tangible and effective for their welfare at that point of time, were the thoughts playing out loud in my lord's mind. But I was totally disoriented. The journey, in my dreams from the glitzy and flashy world of hot and pretty models posing for the fashion photographer to this isolated hell, totally cut off from the outside world was something that made me realise that I would be more useful clicking the anguish and the pain in their eyes and thus help my lord spread the awareness that India is still not independent. Ironically, no one within the settlement was aware that their country was celebrating its independence that day.

After a brief discussion with the community elders and knowing about the squalid conditions in which they were living since 40+ years, we bid goodbye to them. I was wondering why people out there were particularly enthusiastic about getting their pictures clicked. Malnourished children were following us and my lord was kind enough to oblige them by taking their pics. He was led into a lane that was extraordinarily squalid and where he took around 5 minutes to traverse about 50 feet inside that lane. Finally he reached a spot where he tried hard not to vomit. I was shocked to see a family of 6 people living out there, besides a hut which belonged to a manhole worker. "Saheb, hamari photo bhi keencho naa saheb", and that is where I clicked this photograph displayed above of a girl child who surprisingly wasn't scared of me. I am a simple DSLR camera and I only know how to click good photographs, but there at that moment I was disliking the very idea of capturing those gory inhumane living conditions. My lord was kind enough not to put me further through that horrible experience. I could see my lord walking very fast while returning back and that was understood. But on the way back, even the baby calf out there and the big huge fat goats seem to block our way, as if shouting at us and saying "Kai log aap jaise aaye aur chale bhi gaye, par hamaari kisko padi hai!!"

India's GDP is now worth more than $1trillion and is accelerating rapidly in terms of industrial and economic development. But, is internal development happening? I was manufactured in Tokyo, where I have never seen or experienced things like the caste system, exploitation and no access to primary education. So, when I describe this visit and the overall experience as heart wrenching don't say that this is nothing new in this country for because I am simply not used to all this goriness!! The huts in this settlement don't have toilets, no water supply and no power supply. People didn't dare sleep during the floods for the fear of getting washed out. Doesn't all this make this settlement a living hell??

On our journey back, I was sitting comfortably in the darkness of the camera case that protects me. I knew my lord had become totally silent after that experience; evidently he was deeply anguished. But I never expected him to scare off the auto driver when he suddenly shouted out "How can those people live in such disgusting conditions!!" even while his friend was calming him down. I then thought that even a lifeless thing like me enjoys the protection of a camera case, whereas people out there in that settlement are living a hopeless life without any protection of sorts. What an Irony!!

taureansandy's Nikon D3000