My aunt is a lovely creature sometimes prone to fits of efficiency, but otherwise charming and delicate. The only time she loses her charm and delicateness are when she is reprimanding, using a combination of words that would make Shakespeare blush (and get back to work at once). Often softer relatives of ours, God bless them have called upon her to do the dirty job of minding the children. Many an errant cousin has been ‘brought to line’ by my aunts gentle ministrations. Her own daughter once in a fit of boredom I suppose, ran away with her then current boyfriend and was subsequently discovered in a not very reputable lodge outside Jammu no less. Legend has it my aunts screams could be heard all the way to Gilgit, rattled the high command in Siachen and caused an avalanche of Himalayan proportions to hurtle down those gentle hills.
A camera distorts images. At times, it shows more than the naked eye can see adding details to the frame, capturing an image wider than two eyes can. It zooms to objects of dexterity and pans across panoramas. The eye seems curiously deficient in these regards. And apart from all these optical shenanigans, a camera also records images for posterity. But then there are times when the camera seems a poor substitute for the eye. Unable to capture nuances of light as rays of the sun fall delicately, colouring different parts of a vista differently. The eye dims when the sun is up and persists sharply in fog. The camera doesn’t hesitate a second to remind you that the sun is right behind you and throws everything in the viewfinder into black chaos. More often than not I am disappointed when I look at something with a camera because the recorded image does not do justice to the real thing out there. Most of my gripes I realize can be remedied with a better camera and a more talented photographer but a camera is no substitute for the eye. This is not to say that the eye does not manipulate; in fact the mind calculates several parameters (mood, music among others) to suit itself and the image one sees is the very result of all those factors coming together. Sometimes beautifully and sometimes not.
Our society was built in the early nineties. Fortunately or unfortunately the buildings reflect fashion of those times. One of them being symmetry. All flats are identical and I really do have a point to make as you shall see. At a social gathering I excused myself to use the restroom and was terribly perplexed to find myself in front of an immaculate but tiny kitchen. The sink lay exactly where the flush might and condiments occupied the place of other motley toiletries. My face was part wonder, part confusion and the hostess kindly directed me to an orifice in the wall, which miraculously was the toilet. As I did my business I counted the number of airline toilets I had peed in that were bigger and sighed sadly. I am no architect but what I had just witnessed was the rise of an alarming trend. At first I assumed it merely to be a social experiment in testing if one could cook where one used to pee previously but the plot is far more sinister than I had imagined. In a dazzling display of spatial ingenuity people are resorting to bizarre tactics to modernize homes.