December 29, 2007

In the Madding Crowd


After looking out to sea for long, my camera resting steady in my palm, its strap wound around my forearm, I turned once again to look behind me at the crow, to see what it was upto if it was still around.

But for the crowd thronging the steps that led to where excited passengers boarded arriving boats for the Elephanta caves, craning heads blotting all landscape save the horizon, I might've been busy framing the massive arches of the Gateway of India instead of seeking in a crow, a break from the relentless monotony of the Mumbai weekend crowd.

I thought I was the only one interested in the bird until I turned my head to scan the outcrop running the length of the parapet for the crow, only to find another interested soul doing likewise – a little boy had dropped his hand over the parapet in reaching out to the crow, smile lighting up his face. I was too far away to hear him talk to the crow; moreover the crowd was such that even if I were near I couldn’t have made out much of what he was saying to the bird.

Behind him his parents conversed while his mother lay a light hand on his waist restraining him from leaning any further while a newly married couple to their right looked out to sea, oblivious of the little boy. The crow unaware of the boy peered down the ledge.

The crowd swirled with renewed vigour as a boat approached, excited shouts rending the late afternoon air. Soon the jetty would empty of passengers only to make way for the next lot. Standing there I watched the boy trail his gaze along the outcrop, following the movement of the crow, and I of the boy. In him seeking his temporary world riding a passing moment in the oblivion of the milling throng, I’m reminded of lines from the Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Only here he kept it in the midst of the madding crowd!

39 comments:

neha vish said...

Love the photograph!

kenju said...

Your powers of description are wonderful. I feel as though I am right there with you.

Seamus said...

Ah! The innocence and exuberance of child. We spend our youth growing out of it and the rest of our lives trying to find it again.

Cuckoo said...

You have the talent to describe anything through your powerful words. I felt as if I was there at the scene.

G U R U said...

You have a niche in the way you capture candid moments...spectacular photoblog..I'll keep coming !

Anil P said...

Neha Vish: Thanks. An endearing moment, maybe for the simplicity of emotions that children possess and display.

Kenju: Thank you. It's a pleasure to know that :)

Seamus: And find we don't. I wonder if it has to do with the pressures of behaving as an adult even when the child in us awaits release.

Cuckoo: Thank you. I'm glad the writing managed to convey that.

Guru: Thank you. Candid avoids self conciousness the best, showing us the way we are. Maybe that's why we can relate to candids better.

backpakker said...

Wish you a very happy new year . Im sure that 2008 will present more such beautiful moments for you that you can share with us.

HP said...

Beautiful Photograph!!

Cheers,
HP

Anil P said...

Backpakker: Thank you. Wish you the same.

HP: Thanks :)

Dev said...

Anil Babu - I really liked this post. It's fascinating really, the Child's world. An adult bringing that alive is doing a favour to every one around, as he is (even if inadvertantly) smoothening our sharp edges in a manner. You have done it very well in this post, just like Amir Khan has done in TZP. My admiration for your reflections as well your writing is going up all the time.

Chintuthewhizkid said...

Lovely post, Anil.

bluemountainmama said...

i would like to know what he was saying to the crow.... it always makes me smile, hearing children's conversations with whomever they may feel like sharing with....

Anil P said...

Dev: Thanks. It's a pleasure to know that :) Each act of 'simplicity' has its own interested proponent. And each 'proponent' seeks out their own sense of simplicity, unless pursuing a specific motive.

Children will seek out their world within the larger one, else they get bored. Sometimes it's surprising how 'elemental' their interest can be, as a result contrary to popular understanding of children being largely self-centered.

Chintuthewhizkid: Thanks.

Bluemountainmama: I wish I knew too. Imagine what it would be like if we could understand the language of birds and animals. We might've been more human after all :)

Mridula said...

It is a pleasure to read your posts!

VC said...

Beautiful Picture...

I am said...

nice shot and very lively description too, thanks for visiting my blog,

Smita said...

Beautiful!

Have a very very Happy New Year ahead!

Jam said...

Pure brilliance, are probably the only two words that I have to describe this photograph and the accompanying text.

In fact, if you had'nt put the text at all, it probably would've made more of an impact.

Cheers mate, and continue shooting.

Jam

dharmabum said...

beautiful picture.

oh, and i've written my own little travel piece...:)

warm new year wishes to you and your loved ones

Siva said...

Beautiful photo. Came here from DP. Glad I found your blog.

Anil P said...

Mridula: Thanks. It's a pleasure to know that.

VC: Thank you.

I am: A pleasure, thank you.

Smita: Thanks. Wish a happy new year too.

Jam: Thanks for the perspective. Pictures all by themselves are open to individual interpretations, and sometimes that can be a plus.

Sure, I'll continue shooting :)

Dharmabum: Thank you. I'll be checking it. Wish you a happy new year, and many more of your reflective posts :)

Siva: Thank you. It's a pleasure to have you here. Thanks for visiting.

chiefbiscuit said...

Beautiful scene perfectly caught, and the story to go with it, beautifully told.

Sriram said...

Very beautifully described!

Prats said...

Beautiful photograph You've captured the essence of innocence here in that child.
Liked the way you've described your moments with the camera too

Kaustubh said...

observing such moments is really a refreshing experience which i got by readng ur blog...but i am jealous of you coz u could experience it live...
keep blogging

Anil P said...

Chiefbiscuit: Thank you. I was lucky to get this shot, had to move very, very quickly :)

Sriram: Thank you.

Prats: There's something very innocent about a child reaching out to a crow and trying to engage it in a conversation. Maybe it has to do with children making no distinction between life forms, treating all life with the same curiosity, and affection.

Kaustubh: Thank you. Travel enough, and watch out for simple moments it has to offer :)

Ekta said...

lovely snap...well captured...!

Anil P said...

Ekta: Thank you.

adi said...

this one will be one of my favourites ever :)

FOB said...

i came back three days later to look at this picture and i adore it :-)

Ms.N said...

hey - nice post... its very interesting what different people notice eyeing a single scene....

Anil P said...

Adi: Thank you. It's a pleasure to know it.

Fob: Thank you :)

Ms. N: Thanks. Different people focus on different things in the same circumstance.

Mélanie said...

Your picture ..your words just the perfect combination of your wonderful soul ...

Anil P said...

Melanie: Thank you for your kind words.

Lacey Lichi said...

Wonderful blog! I've thoroughly enjoyed both your photos and your words. You really ought to consider publishing a book- not many people can write like you do. Keep it coming!

N said...

i like this pic. there r loads on blog i liked....but this one is way too cool!

so how did u stumble across my blog?

Anil P said...

Lacey Lichi: Thank you. Those were very encouraging words. Hopefully someday :)

N: Thank you. By chance :)

N said...

Its not morphed is it?
I was just showing it off to a colleague whose opinion is that its morphed :) dont let me be wrong.....tell me it is not!

Anil P said...

N: Nope, it is not morphed :)

See how the lady behind the boy has her hand on his waist to keep him from tumbling over, and the curve of his hand over the parapet.