Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My Dad and His Thoughts

I am currently out of the country and, therefore, immune to the waggeries of the madness that seems to have overtaken the country. Thus, while I am waiting to have my first meeting of the trip with my designers tomorrow, I have time in hand to introspect and think of more pleasant things to write about. One thought comes to my mind: my old man. I have to visit him soon upon my return.

Every year, I make atleast three trips to my village home in Tingtingbi where my 85 years old dad still lives and howls his daily prayers at the top of his voice, as if the Gods in heaven were deaf. These trips are either to attend the annual Chotpa, to shoot birds or simply to re-bond with the old man who, in his twilight years, is turning out to be more chirpy and humorous than he ever was in his younger days. It is perhaps an unconscious attempt to let go of life and live out the remainder of his time in this world with an air of joviality and cheerfulness. Good for him - because unlike most his age who tend to become greedier and cantankerous as they approach their final days, my old man is learning to ease up and gracefully submit to the inevitable. These days I notice that he does not even ask me why I am home - for him it is enough that I am around - reason does not seem to be important.

Most times I invite him to accompany me on my search for the birds. Once in a while he would accept and come along for the ride that is most often very early in the morning and last a few hours. He would sit quietly besides me on the front seat because he does not want to distract me. Sometimes, he would see a bird or two that he would point out to me.

During one such trip he suddenly asked me:

“Yeshey why do you shoot the same bird so many times? Why do you need so many photos of the same bird? I have seen you shoot the same bird over and over and over again”.

I told him:

“Dad, that is because the bird may be the same but everything else is different. The perch is different, the way the bird is sitting is different, the lighting condition and its position is different, the way the bird’s tail is raised is different; the twinkle in the eyes of the bird is different; the posture is different. It may be preening, it may be singing, it may be flapping its wings, it may be hovering, it may be dancing; it may be pecking. The same bird can be shot in a million different ways and each of the frames will be unique and different. Thus, for me it is not the same. Every frame I capture will be different from the last - so I keep shooting them over and over and over again".

Then one time he said something that I had never thought about before. He said:

“You must be the only businessman in this country who does not have to pay for his merchandise. All the birds, the trees, the mountains, the lakes, people, dzongs, monasteries, festivals, rivers and valleys, the green forests - they are all free for you. You simply pick and choose and photograph them and sell them to make money."

That is rather over simplification of things but a small part of what he said is true. Regardless, his jaw drops when I tell him that one of the three camera bodies that I carry around cost me - just the body without the lens - Nu.500,000.00++.

He then grumbles that I am being terribly wasteful :)-

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