Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Photography- as a hobby

Technology  has made a huge difference to photography as a hobby. Today  anyone can claim to be a photographer. You not only can capture interesting moments  in your life on your mobiles but also instantly share the same with your near & dear ones spread  across the world  through `Whats App` : the latest fad being taking `selfies` on  mobiles.

My mind goes back to the time when I would click black & white  pictures  using a `Gevabox` camera presented to me by my uncle.   I  shot these pictures on 120 mm square format. The film rolls  had 12 exposures. After  clicking every picture  I  had  to move the film forward using a lever provided in the camera. When the roll got fully exposed ,  I  had to remove it from the camera and load a  new roll to carry on shooting. It was not unusual to find the film getting stuck in the camera and  I  had to use force to pull it out damaging the roll and some shots.   I would have no idea of how the shots had come out until the rolls were` `developed`: first as negatives and later as prints from negatives. 

 I was a regular customer of Harish  at Zenith Photo Studio in Matunga, Mumbai, who always developed & printed the pictures taken by  me.  Waiting for Harish to tell me the results of  my  efforts was like waiting for the news of the birth of a baby  outside a labour room in a hospital.  

Once I started  earning,  I took up photography as a serious hobby. From black & white to colour, from 120mm  to 35mm film rolls, from colour prints to 35mm colour slides, from  simple `aim & shoot` cameras to sophisticated  SLR cameras- I went through all the phases that any photographer  went through those days.

Shooting pictures on 35mm slides and using them in my presentations to clients became a regular feature of my life.  I also used my talent to produce scores of  A.V presentations  promoting the projects of several Round Tables in the country which  helped the  Clubs raise crores of Rupees  as donations for their projects.
I have had  some interesting and some nerve racking moments shooting pictures. Like the time I was  taking a shot of  an `Open Heart surgery` being performed  on a 17 years old girl by doctors at the Railway Hospital in Perambur, Chennai.  Wearing the mandatory blue uniform and mask  and standing on a stool next to the operating table I had to take the action shot. I was scared of falling off the stool. Two room boys were physically holding  me in order to prevent me from falling.  On another occasion my camera caught  the  dying  moment of a baby girl  as doctors were trying to make last ditch efforts  to keep her alive. It was a very disturbing experience.

On the lighter side there were many occasions when  after shooting a  roll of film I would find that the numbers on the counter in the camera had moved forward without the film itself moving. Resulting in an unexposed roll at the end of a painstaking shooting session. Similarly , a  fully exposed film roll revealing no pictures when developed was also a possibility!

 I stopped indulging in this hobby 10 years ago. I am not complaining because I spend the same time  ` writing` which I find  equally creative &  interesting   without being physically taxing.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Survived six blocks without surgery

        I met my friend `B` after several years. He was having dinner with his family and some friends  at the Club where I am also a member. When I asked him what was the occasion, he smiled and replied, `Oh! I am celebrating my 20th Birthday`.  Intrigued I asked , `What do you mean?`.  B was three years older than me and I was already 75.
He laughed, ` If you want to know, come home I will tell you the full story`.

When he was 38,  `B` had moved to a  country in the Gulf where he started a business connected with the building industry. Within 20 years he had built a small business empire employing over 500 people and was making lots of money. Thanks to his constant travel and the high stress  business he was in, he had  a massive heart attack in the middle of a meeting.. He was 58. Timely medical attention saved his life but investigations revealed that he had six blocks  in his arteries and would need a surgery.  He flew to Chennai and met a top cardio surgeon in a five star hospital, known to him personally. The  Doctor opined that he may not survive a surgery. He told `B`, `Your heart has taken a severe beating . It is obviously the result of the high stress business you are involved in.  I suggest that you change your life style, and if necessary give up your business and start a new life. I will prescribe some medicines which you take regularly. More than that pray God and hope for the best. Miracles do happen you know`.

`B` was shattered. It was like a death sentence  without a time frame. He went into depression. His wife and two children rallied round him to help him come out of the depression. He sold his business in the Middle East and settled in Chennai, leading a sedate and relaxed  retired life, since he had earned enough to last two lifetimes. He followed a strict  diet, took  his medicines regularly and also excercised  without fail. Regular checkups then on  indicate that all his parameters are ok. He is as fit as anyone in his late seventies could be.
`B` added, ` Since that year I celebrate the date on which my doctor friend gave me his verdict, as my new birthday. I had survived six blocks without surgery.  Yesterday, at the Club  we were celebrating my new 20th birthday`.

Before I could recover from the miraculous survival story  of my friend I read a similar  story in the club magazine   involving another club  member.

 His story in his own words: ` It was an uneventful Friday in late April 2009, quite like any other day in the lives of most jobless senior citizens. While relaxing in an easy chair with my morning newspaper  I started getting this funny sensation in my left wrist .I tried to ignore it initially.  I quickly finished my lunch and decided to lie down for some time, in the hope that it will stop but  the sensation persisted. My hoping against hope proved to be in vain.

As  my family was away ,  I drove myself  to a hospital  just a kilometre  away for a check up.  I was promptly put in ICU, since  my ECG was abnormal. 

”Angiogram revealed SIX major blocks in my arteries, a few even 90 %. The friendly cardio surgeon in the hospital opined that  both Bye pass surgery and Angioplasty were ruled out because the blocks were too many. He recommended  that I try my luck by  changing  my lifestyle to include a strict diet and regular walk. I was  asked to reduce my weight  immediately as I was really overweight.  He also prescribed some expensive  medicines.  With hope in my heart and prayers on my lips I started a new phase in my life.  Subsequent check ups revealed  that nature (GOD) had done a natural Bye pass already, as revealed in the Treadmill test, followed by a Thallium test in Black and White done in the Nuclear Medicine Dept of  the Hospital.  God  had saved me from the trauma of undergoing Bye Pass surgery.

I have come across a few other friends, especially from middle class families, who were diagnosed with one, two or even three blocks,  surviving without  undergoing surgery or angioplasty by  changing their life style and taking alternative  medicines; leading me to believe that it is not necessary to rush with surgery in all cases of blocks in arteries.  Regular medication and  exercises can help in avoiding   expensive surgeries which sometime lead to other complications. Unfortunately, in  many such situations the doctors and hospitals black mail the family members to believe that the patients will drop dead any time, if an emergency operation is not performed.  I believe that senior citizens,  particularly those who have left an active life behind them   should think twice before agreeing to such surgeries.

 They should remember that by undergoing a surgery only their old age is extended and not their youth.