This is column for Indian newspaper DNA published April 10th, 2015
When you move in your forties, your past shows up. And its heavy.
I’m talking about photo albums. Boxes and boxes. All piled into a cardboard Kilimanjaro along with the sofas and paintings and crockery at our new Hong Kong apartment.
You may wonder why I haven’t ‘digitized’ all my personal memories if you’re into ‘optimization’ or you may suspect I”m a hoarder if you watch too much reality tv and you’re into armchair psychology. And if you’re born after 1999 you might be googling ‘photo album’ and smiling at the quaintness of it all. Imagine: an awkwardly sized sized book that contains a collection of photographs, which someone took the time to place on a sticky bed somewhat symmetrically and organized according to personal taste or whimsy.
What a concept.
What a treasure.
I spent days time travelling with just a flick of a page. The images stretched back, pre-dating my personal ground zero, to my mother’s free spirited childhood, running barefoot through grass, clutching a dog or at times a chicken in her arms. Then there’s my father’s more self-conscious black and whites, posing formally on the occasion of one of his achievements- a graduation- in tacit kinship with the entire family fanning out around him, my Dadu presiding over all, like the judge he was. How they came together is the greatest narrative of my life. And the story lies in these photo albums.
But not just in the images you can see.
Its in the point that lies between.
Both in my parent’s love story and my own, very humbling visual chronicle from baby to surly 80’s teen (committing appalling fashion crimes like bleached jeans and leg warmers which I can’t fortunately take personal responsibility for- blame it on the decade!) to becoming a ‘face apart’ after a serendipitous launch as a ‘model’ in India and beyond, its the times between the pictures that colour my personal story.
A serious car accident which changed the course of my life. That time I fell to pieces over a boy. When I ventured into the wild of my mind and spent a year in a monastery. When I was a woman of ‘no fixed address’ living on the currents of my fancy, an alien in Milan, Paris and London and loving the freedom in being indefinable.
My mom’s passing.
We mythologise our lives in images, but its in point that lies between them, where everything worth living and telling happens.