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I was scrolling through my photographs to find something suitable for this week’s photo challenge of ‘a face in the crowd’. There were scores and scores of pictures of Luci (not surprising since I am her official photographer!), birds, butterflies, flowers, the sky, sea, sand, beaches, cats, leaves, trees, monkeys, boats, pathways, tarred roads, cars, elephants, lakes, mountains, doorways, parks, buildings, windows, branches, sunrises, sunsets…. Umm you get the drift.


There weren’t any of humans. Well there were some, of my family members, and they of course are definitely human, but I couldn’t use them for ‘a face in the crowd’ series because, duh, in most of them they are facing the camera and grinning. What I needed was a picture on the lines of a stranger in a street with a partially or fully hidden face.

That’s when I realized I rarely click people. I wonder why.

Talking of photographs, the First Born once remarked that in this digital era people hardly go back to look at old photos they have clicked unlike the times of physical albums. That’s the spiel normally dished out by those of MY generation, and yet here was my son saying the same. People do take photos aplenty, but no one ever looks at them, he held.

“Says you!” I told him cheerfully by way of reply.

“Why don’t you simply agree with me?” He said laughing, “It’s true!”

“No, it isn’t. I go through my online photo albums all the time!” I insisted.

I don’t know how many of you do it, but I do.

I regularly go look at all the old pictures and marvel, at how young each of us looked, how skinny or plump, how innocent and cute, how naughty….. I laugh at the funny faces, or rather the faces from old pictures that look funny now in the present as also the funny faces someone or other has pulled for the benefit of the camera.  The way pictures were photo-bombed by children makes me laugh. The human monkey hanging upside down from a bar in the playground and the Yul Brynner look of the other, pets who have moved on, the various kittens and cats, wedding photos and the ridiculous amount of flowers on my head, not to mention the mustache with turned up sharp edges sported by the L&M in a past era. I enjoy them all.

Photographs bring back memories, of the people in them, a friend who no longer is in touch, a family member in distant lands, a colleague or the family of a brother officer whose whereabouts we know not…. They also remind you of places you have been to and open the doors to the good/bad/indifferent experiences you have had there. Each photo sends me off on a journey of re-discovery. You must have guessed by now, yes, when I am thus involved time just speeds by and I’d have happily forgotten a couple of things in my to-be-done-pronto list.

Yeah, I don’t agree with the claim that in the digital era people don’t look at their digital albums. But then that’s me and I am just one in number. I could well be an exception, not the rule, right? But there is this. I enjoyed/still enjoy taking down the albums and flicking through their pages. In all the fifty odd years I have lived, I am yet to see more than a handful of people who bother to take down the physical albums from whichever dark corner of their cupboard they have dumped them in and take the trouble to go through and enjoy them. It’s not the era, digital or otherwise, that matters but the interest of the individuals involved, don’t you think?

©Shail Mohan 2018