Images that tell endless stories [Part 2]
If you follow me on Instagram (which you must for your own sanity check), then you’d notice that I post all my feed content with one-word captions. Why? Because a picture can be worth a thousand words but it has to start with one. Also, I am not a photographer. I dabble in the world of words. It’s easier for me to construct thoughts around everything but my understanding of beauty might be restricted. Yet, I make sincere attempts to break down photographs into what they might mean to the larger audience. Have done a short series last year and this is my second installation. Hope you see and read something that you haven’t done before.
This photograph gives us a peek into greatness. What Muhammad Ali did inside the ring was sports, what he did outside speaks volumes about his courage and clarity. Here, he stopped a young, sad man from committing suicide, by telling him that there is always hope. Ali might have had a big mouth on him but he did know how to use it.
This was the first ever ‘blue’ earthrise shot from space. It happened in 1968 and human curiosity to see has covered a lot of light years since then. To condense our beautiful planet down to a marble is a feat only science could have accomplished. Gives us perspective into the most overused phrase ‘look at the bigger picture’.
Gandhiji’s fandom wasn’t limited to Indian subcontinent. He was cherished by disadvantaged folks in several countries, including Great Britain. So much so the British didn’t let him get down from the ship at Port Said lest he “aroused passions” amongst the Egyptians. The above snap was clicked during his visit to a textile factory in England.
Nobody has a monopoly on suffering. Wherever empathy dips, suffering peaks. That’s the first law of history. The above image is intriguing because you look at women with their children, separated from men, uncertain of what is going to happen to them. But they know one thing for sure: they are there only because of their social identity.
While watching Yakshagana (folk theatre of Karnataka), two elements stand out: music and costume. The exuberant performance on the stage, accompanied by striking dialogues, and sporadic dance: never a dull moment in the mythological orbit. Even the guy seated in the back seat can see the eye movement of the actor thanks to makeup.
Nature is testy. Nature is brutal. Nature is nourishing. And a mother knows this better than anyone else. There is nothing she wouldn’t do for her kids. This lioness had to go through a gruesome battle to ensure that her cub survives the day. In the end, she made it with utmost grace and even posed for a family portrait with a toothless grin.
To a lot of us football fans who have followed Messi for over a decade, he is currently not at his best at PSG. However, the greats know when and how to bounce back to their set standards. The above image is a lovely reminder that even Messi could fly and head the ball over a giant goalkeeper when it was least expected from him.
This blog has dwelled often on the dynamics of inequality and my conclusion is that the rich will continue to get richer because the poor tends to care more about the rich than themselves. The glaring divide is obvious in Mumbai but it’s not unique to it. And once the poor gets rich, he would most likely segregate himself from the poor.
He rescued a mountain gorilla named Ndakasi and tended to her throughout her life, till the day she died in his arms. Most of us fail to develop such deep connections with humans in our lives, and then there are angels like him who managed to do it with a speechless creature. In this farewell shot, you can notice the very silence of grief.
If Chinese food is a global phenomenon today, that has a lot to do with this dinner. When Nixon hosted En-lai in 1972, choosing to eat Chinese food with chopsticks, it made a ‘foreign’ cuisine acceptable to American milieu. Interestingly, Chinese food was recognized much before the country: USA officially recognized China in 1979.
Although this is a shot from a movie, I featured it for all that it stands (and rests) today. That’s Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward from a movie they did together. They later got married and were together for 50 years, till his death. There is something very tender about this fetal upside-down kiss. Spider-Man can take a hike.
If being-in-the-moment had a face, it must belong to this elegant old woman. While the rest of the crowd is busy clicking/recording the ongoing movie event, she is simply enjoying it. Besides, what’s the point of documenting something on phone that you can actually witness in person? We are truly invested in the future more than the present.
If it weren’t for the efforts of Lady Curzon, there would have been no the Taj Mahal today. Fascinatingly enough, she died at the age of 36, just like Lady Diana. And in the above photograph, you can observe the sheer loneliness of a princess who sought normalcy but found again and again that it’s too much to ask for. A gorgeous tragedy.
When Thimmakka was honoured with Padmashri in 2019 at the age of 108—yes, it took that long to recognize an inspirational environmentalist—she placed her hand on the president’s head. According to protocol, you aren’t supposed to touch him but she has lived long enough to not care much and blessed her way into Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Over the last four decades, Usain Bolt is the only athlete to run 100 meters under 10 seconds and win medals but not test positive for doping. This feat itself makes him the greatest sprinter in modern history. Yet, in his last run in 2017, he limped and fell on the track, incomplete, reminding us that greatness is not independent of pain.
Ganga is not just a river. She is a goddess as well as a person, not only in civilizational parlance but also in legal terms. When Ganga aarti is conducted in Haridwar (Uttarakhand), with the ironic presence of fire, you aren’t witnessing a mere ritual but a visual testament to probably the oldest surviving belief system in the world.
A vulture waits for its food to die. As cruel as it might sound, it reeks of compassion too. Survival is a waiting game. Something the photographer of this disturbing moment from Sudan couldn’t come to terms with. Despite the adulation his work received, he ended up killing himself a few months later. The boy survived though.
What you are witnessing here is called mobbing. Basically a smaller bird surprise attacking a bigger bird to distract it from its nest and young ones. What the smaller bird lacks in size, it makes up with bravery and strategy. I’ve myself seen it happen in Mangalore: crows freaking the shit out of the much larger brahminy kites. Many hidden lessons, there.