Social networking

My experiments with Instagram

Picture stories have been the nerve centre of this website. It is in the long hard look at images that the words and stories have emerged. Over several years. As my Instagram page begins to hog a dab more of my attention than it did earlier, my experiments with Instagram embolden me to weave more stories.

Ever since the shift in career trajectory, there have been many experiments in the recent times that I have been running. When the view of life in itself is viewed as a series of experiments there is only discovery and learning all the way around, experiments and learning on social are also default. Several of social ones are on my Instagram page.

To try and bring a story alive in what is essentially a siloed and image based medium has been a bucket of work with droplets of learning here and there. I have learnt the power of images and how much they can chew up everything else. The importance of filters, lenses, hashtags and what all they can stand in for, and gently gloss over is omnipresent. But to spot the story behind the dominant narrative, has been such fun.

This house, where many of the young are permanently stationed is often viewed as an abode of narcissism by the old. Ok, older. I am finding it to be a very interesting and different platform. I try and keep the play with filters to the minimum and add some shade, contrast and brightness with words. Especially about the places and people that I encounter. If at all it is about me, it is only through the micro accounts stories that I tell there. “Thats not how the medium works” many have told me, shaking their heads with a smug smile lurking in the corner of their lip. Perhaps, they are right. For the way I use Instagram is not what Instagram has bet its shirt on. Instagram’s soul lies in its filters and the words are clearly optional extras. In more ways than one, I am harbouring some old fashioned beliefs. Some of them go like this : Good stories draw people. Good stories are often a combination of pictures and words. etc. etc.

But who cares. Its never about a platform as much as its about the users, their imagination and what they do with it. So I believe. So my page there is become something of a mini blog. Needless to say, my difficulty in adapting to the ready-shoot-filter-publish model is evident in every post. At least in my head. Sometimes though, I receive appreciation. Like the one today from this gentleman whose work I admire hugely, which read  “Love the stories behind your posts. Amazing patience and ‘care’ “.  That chuffed my heart and set me thinking.

The missus added some sense into the dose of kaapi on an otherwise busy Sunday evening to suggest that I need to consider the fact that some of the ‘short posts’ and pictures merited a ‘fuller’ post on the website. “Not everybody is on Instagram you know”, she began. And then quickly went on to other things like “assuming too much” etc, which I thought was fresh brew from another world.

Promptly this blogpost was thought of and some quick-fire decisions were made. Some pictures and accounts from Instagram will get here as well. Some of it shared on other platforms. In any case, its all experiments. So, if you are still reading, do follow me on Instagram and let me know how the page is evolving. My page on Instagram is here :

For, am going to be at it. Chasing a bunch of hypotheses and relishing whatever emerges. When you don’t break into a  sweat on the numbers of likes or followers and are focused on being present with people, their pictures and their stories, there is joy.


An ‘Engagement’ like none else !

There are two different subjects that i want to write about today.  

Subject No: 2 beckons.  Having picked up a degree of astuteness ( sic) over the years , i am going to stay with Subject No : 1.   

Subject No : 2, can wait. 

I used to read war stories. And so when well meaning relatives came up to me and declared that my ‘engagement’ would happen on a particular day, the guns seemed to boom within ! The Indian army engaged the militants, scream newspapers. And here i was getting engaged too. 

In proper Thamizh tradition, the engagement ceremony, (called Nitchiathartham) is official confirmation that all else is over. I mean, confirmation that the girl and boy are hooked and soon to be married. Over the years, this has morhped into a ring ceremony, where the bride-to-be and groom-to-be, exchange rings.  The first official interaction between the families ! 

So, there i was. In a flowing white Kurta and oversized Reebok sandals. God knows where i got my tastes from.  The ditinct smell of incense, jasmine and multiple perfumes permeated the Madurai air.  Guests strolled in. Cameras clicked with flashes of sound & light that i thought were reserved for missiles from a stealth bomber. 

There was the quintessential video grapher who insisted on shining his arc lights on me in the most inopportune moments. I insist, to deaf years, till date, that it was by design.  His logic It seemed to me that the central idea was to let the world know who the groom was. And that was by shining his video light ! By and large, the crowd understood the importance of light and focus ! 

In a while, my wife to be, in all bridal finery, walked in. And the cameras disowned me like an MP who lost an election. The crowds nodded in approval. Or atleast, thats what i thought. I saw everybody talk. I thought it was about me and my wife to be.  They could have been discussing the weather, the traffic, politics, or match-making for other prospective brides and grooms & such else. For the scared, every shadow is a ghost !  

Other rituals were on,  in a corner. Like background music that interests only music aficionados and not movie goers !  

And then, the time to exchange rings arrived. Nervousness kept me relentless company.  I slipped the ring on to her finger. 

The cameras clicked and for a moment, it felt like a celebrity.  That momentous moment had arrived and slipped by too. The moment seemed fleeting but for the photographers! True to spirit, one photographer shouted ‘once more’ ( He couldn’t get the angle right)  ! 

I think the photographers did that, not once, but thrice. Embarrassing it was. To slip the ring into her finger and then pull it out, only to slip it back in !  I bore it for the greater glory of photography, thrice ! After which i stopped and stood static. My hand holding hers, the slipped ring adorning her finger, posing for the camera. 

From, nowhere a bunch of colleagues who had travelled all the way from Bangalore arrived on stage.  With a clear intent and purposeful action that would put any social activists’ to shame, they lifted me and tossed me into the air.  Engagement Bumps, they said !  

I went up thrice into the air. White Kurta. Reebok sandal. And all else.   Each time i came down, i was filled with fright and images of the open mouthed awe struck Madurai audience. The tapestry of dhotis, sarees, safari suits in ‘shock and awe’ at this turn of the engagement !  

My wife to be stood still.  Her face pale.  Every other conversation in the room seemed to cease. My father-in-law & party to be, looked distraught.  With such raucous colleagues and friends of his son-in-law to be, i guess he (they ) had good reason.  The sole musician playing the Mirudangam stopped. My parents stood still. My brothers grinned. The cameras kept clicking. 

Thankfully, it didn’t go beyond thrice. 

In sometime the buffet was thrown  open.  The Mirudangam player resumed his play . The conversations resumed. My friends went their way. The cameras followed them and their antics.  I stood in a corner. All by myself. A plastered smile, shivering hands and a sweating forehead. Imagining & trying to see meaning of what the signs foretold.  

My last bachelor night was a stiff one.  I tossed and turned in bed. Many times over.  This time all by myself. The next day, i was married.  I havent looked back, ever since !   
And oh yes, Subject No : 2.  

Sept 8th also happens to be The International Literacy Day ! ‘On this day, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. Celebrations take place around the world.’  So says Wikipedia !
Now, Subjects 1 & 2 are two different subjects and have no connections / linkages whatsoever.  I write them in one post for the sake of factual coincidence of date. Nothing else ! 

Social Networking & a road trip !

I read this at Neelakandan’s place. A link to a country wise popularity index of different social networking sites.

India has two finishes in the ‘Top Three Countries’ !

And that is on Linked In & Orkut. Am i hearing you beat your chest and thump your thighs in pride !! Well, it sure must be a natural reaction.

What can these perhaps indicate ?

The Linked In ( chart topper in the comity of nations !) position was a surprise. Do we continue to be a nation in perpetual ‘job seek’ mode ?!? Now, i am aware that Linked In has other benefits too.

But a top position beats the wits end out of me ! Our employment exchanges ( does anyone remember the government body ?) hangover continues i guess. Only now, they have moved on to more sophisticated & elegant platforms with other benefits thrown in too ! It sure is a useful site : ‘To Network’ they say !! Sure we know.

Speaking of Orkut, i thought we merited a higher finish ( a third place finish behind Brazil & Paraguay is a little bit of an odd surprise ! Every high profile crime investigation had a trial by the victim or the accused’s Orkut page ! So..

And i guess other sites including Big Adda etc etc are akin to cricket in India ! Famous. But not Olympic recognised !!

Twittering seems to be a way of life in Japan and the USA ! I don’t think India would have qualified !!!! But am sure we will win hands down, soon. Twitter is a personal preference these days. Its fun & and has instant intrigue woven in !

Ok, How does this tweet sound :

“What does it take to go on a vacation. A short one though ?” This one can get you started thinking about a vacation. At least that’s what it did to me. hat tweet got me started on planning for a short holiday !

Well, for one ( at least this time around ), here’s what it has taken thus far.

a. a day’s leave
b. absence from the Independence Day celebration at the apartment
c. Some planning
d. some enthusiasm to see & learn
e. drawing up energy to go some distance
f. some money ! ( that has the last word )

Well, all of that means, we are off on a road trip. We are supposed to start tomorrow early morning. It is a function of how quickly we are up. But we better be up if we are to cover the distance ! The distance is not much per se, but i haven’t been on the road, for this long (as planned) in a while.

So the trunks are loaded & the bags are packed. The cameras. Sun Glasses. Umbrellas. Snacks. Mobile phones. Maps. Medicines. And the like have been loaded.

Am sure i will post a lorry load on my return or on the way as well. The telephone networks permitting.

The twittering will continue through the day(s) ! Do look up !