Wednesday, May 27, 2020

An Ode to My Grandfather and his Photography!!

As you can clearly see from the date, this post has taken me a few days to pen down. Whenever, I have to write about something extremely personal it takes me longer to write down my thoughts. While, this is a lifestyle blog, it is also my online diary. It is a space where I share my passion for interiors, travel and photography. My home is greatly influenced by those who came before parents and my Grandparents. Today, I am writing about my maternal grandfather. It is one of my biggest regrets that I never got to meet my grandfather as he passed away at a very young age. He was only 50 when he died. However, his legacy has stayed on with me through the stories my mom shared with me. As I look around my home, many of my prized possessions belonged to my grandmother and him.

My Nana was a man with varied interests. Nana loved cooking and photography. My mom recently shared some of his photography with me. I have some of his photographs and I plan to frame them for my home.

He had a vegetable garden in his sprawling home where he loved to grow salad leaves and herbs that were not so easily available in the market. The image below is of the vegetables from his garden. A brilliant photograph in my opinion. This image dates back to 1959-60 and was taken with a Rollieflex camera. There is something so compelling and beautiful about black and white photograph, don't you think ?

I am completely besotted by this image. A wonderful composition and the vegetables look absolutely fresh and crisp :) In my quest to know more about him and his passion for photography, I asked my mom to share some stories about him.

In my my mom words........

"Papa it has taken me five decades since you left us to write this . You left us much too soon, you were just 51 and I was mere 21. Life changed for us that day forever . There is not a day when have not thought of you. It is Arundhati  (my daughter in law) who inspired me with her brilliant suggestion to pen down my thoughts in letters to you. Anu insisted that I start writing about one of your favorite hobbies and pastime, Photography for her blog . So here goes......

I, like all daughters, think that there is no one like you. You are my idol and my inspiration . It is difficult to be objective but there is no denying that you were a perfectionist in whatever you did. Though a student of Physics, your interest ranged from academics to sports, arts, crafts , gardening and above all photography. For me and my siblings our favorite treat was to assist you in the “Photo Kamra" (Dark Room). You were a patient teacher.You always explained each of the steps, from developing negatives, making contact prints, enlarging photographs, the process of drying and even finishing them. What was fascinating for us was gently rocking those large trays with the magical liquids and to see the images emerge as the stop watch ticked and signaled us to stop. You waited anxiously every month for the post to bring in your favorite magazines from overseas. Amateur Photographer and Popular Photography were some of these magazines . Your prized possession and the envy of your photographer friends was the annual issue of Wallace Heaton‘s Blue Book which catalogued from A to Z the latest in the field of photography. Underlying all this was your desire to be the best and now I do feel that you were always competing against yourself. Amma, my mother, always remembered your two month stay in Wimbledon in London in 1962. You made two trips a week to Wallace Heaton, a photography store on Bond Street. It was not so much for shopping but more to interact with other keen photographers. You enjoyed discussing the latest trends and the nuances of photography. You made many contacts and kept constantly in touch with these friends discussing photographic trends and innovations. 

Today, when I see the brilliant large images on the billboards along the road shot with an iPhone, I am awestruck by the progress in technology. I remember your heavy camera bags with the cumbersome telephoto and wide angle lenses, filters, lens hoods, exposure meters etc. etc. Our home was like a mini studio with flash guns, lights, reflectors and screens. Knowing you, you would have kept up with the times time and enjoyed seeing these new innovations. You had an array of cameras. While you had your the favorites like Leica and Rollie which you held on to for ever. You had others like Pentax, Zenith, and Nikon that changed with time. For quick snapshots you even got the tiny Minolta 16 , but your favorite was always the SLR. Your interest was also in shooting 8mm movies and the favorite was the Bell and Howell Camera along with a projector. We loved the home movies.  The special ones were the ones with us as babies, our riverside picnics and our innumerable road trips.

There were some priceless movies shot by you like the inauguration of the Constituent assembly in Delhi in 1946. Also the signing of the Constitution of India in our home in Patna. My Baba (grandfather) was unwell. He was the first Interim President of the constituent assembly but he could not travel to Delhi for the ocassion so it had to be signed in our home. We enjoyed  Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and the Abbott and Castello movies. Those evenings were so special. Our movie watching included freshly home made potato chips or chana jor garam along with a glass of orange Squash or a scoop of home made ice cream:)  My greatest regret is that  I do not have copies of the brilliant photographs taken by you. However, the  memories live on in my mind. Those were such beautiful days and Amma and you made it so special for us." 

Thanks mom for sharing Nana's story with me on MDC.

Here is another gorgeous photograph by him. This was his entry for a photography competition. The sandals belonged to my Nani and I believe the sandals were bought in Tokyo in 1960 by a close family friend. The model here is his niece!

Last, but not the least, is this historical photography taken by my Nana in December 1946 in Delhi. He accompanied his father to Delhi to attend the inauguration of the Constituent Assembly. This is a picture of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India and the first Governor-General of independent India (1947–1948). With him is Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of india.

I was clearly awestruck when I first saw this photograph :)

I am on a hunt to find more of his photographs. I love collecting memories and stories from the past. Writing this post has inspired me! I will now commit to using my SLR more to take pictures instead of my phone.

This is a photograph of my Nani ( grandmother) taken by him that I have at home. Apparently, he called out to her, she turned, and he took this candid shot of her:) I love the fact that I have this picture of my Nani taken by him. She was my most favorite person in the world!!

Signing off is a proud Granddaughter :)  My Grandfather was a truly remarkable man and I am grateful for his stories, his photography and his legacy.

Images: Copyright My Dream Canvas.


AB said...

What a very lovely journey down memory lane from amma and the photographs of her father are simply splendid. The leading one of the platter of veg is gorgeous. As are the next few. He sounds like a talented man. "Atyanta guni" as we say in Bengali. :-) Great idea of yours to feature him. xx

My Dream Canvas said...

Thanks Arundhati :)

Ritu J said...

Beautifully penned !

Priya said...

The photographs are fabulous! Esp loved the platter of veggies...amazing indeed!
Loved reading this heartfelt note by your mom...vivid imagery of the lovely times...

Gaya said...

Hi Anu, don’t think we have properly said hello but love your feed on insta and this is epic. Love the way mum and you have written the journey of your grandfather to where you are now. Very inspirational and classy. Gaya xx

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