“Which telecom company’s advertisement is this still image from?” This is how my online friend Imrans’s immediate reaction came, who had assumed that the still was downloaded from the webpage of Vodafone or Airtel or any other telecommunication company. For me it was a great compliment. I realized, yes, if I were a professional photographer associated with any telecom company, I could have gained some handsome amount in my account. For a moment Imran’s words hypnotized my mind to contact any of the companies to sell the image, however I never tried so.
“He lives in an interior village where mobile network is very weak. He was curiously and excitingly waiting for a call or message from a dear one but the mobile signal was absent. In desperation he went to the top of a hill to come in alignment with mobile towers. Unfortunately the network was still wanting. He was deeply disappointed with network of that particular telecom company; a negative review is visible on his face, and finally took the decision to shift to some other service provider. This way the company delivers message that their network coverage is much better than others.”
This, according to Imran, could have been the narrative for a telecom advertisement. According to one another friend the photo says that in the contemporary times most of us have turned, in general, unaware of the magnificence and hugeness in our surroundings.
An image can be interpreted in a number of ways and so there could be a variation in opinions. One day, on a field trip to a particular area of Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary, Raja was totally lost. Raja is a young boy from one of the villages of mount Abu. He is very fond of latest gadgets, especially those which can accommodate music in them. Music is something which has a very unique place in everyone’s life and Raja is not the exception. For Raja music and dance always have been an integral part of his daily routine. He could sing anywhere and anytime and could dance in any set of circumstances. He sings a number of Hindi songs and urges friends around to listen him with a belief that other people do enjoy his songs as much as he enjoys singing. You request a song and he will start soon after. Just like for anyone, any kind of appreciation for his singing talent delights him much and one can easily spot the contentment in his eyes. You play a song and he will sing along and dance as well. To keep all of his favourite soundtracks at one place, he purchased a new mobile phone. From the very first day he used the device more as a music player than a communication tool. Now he could sing along and dance whenever and wherever he moved.
The real reason of his mental absence on that field trip was some new songs in new mobile phone. When we reached at the top of a hill, I was fascinated by the view. I could see not only the rocky plateau but also the deep valley and perhaps much of the Sirohi district of Rajasthan and some hills of Banaskantha district of northern Gujarat. But Raja placed himself on a cliff and got completely lost with his head stooped down on the mobile screen, looking at playlist or sorting out his favorite tracks. I called him but all of his senses had almost sunk into the screen. Desired newness brings excitement and creates new space for novel feelings and memories. Raja reminded me of the day when I managed to get my first ever cell phone and the memories associated with event. Sending messages to friends, waiting for their reply and then to be prepared to reply again in a cascade manner became a habit. Initially it was a great fun but with time the space got filled and I started to count the unnecessary communication as wastage of time. As things go old the excitement vanishes, space gets filled and we start to take them granted. Then we look for some other new things to create new space for excitement. For him mobile phone was a new asset and for me the newness was in to be at that place. For Raja the beauty was in cell phone, not in surroundings as he had been there since his childhood.
For me the image depicts the leap the technology has made in modern time and its effects on human emotions. Even those people who keep a belief in “Old is Gold” proverb had to change a little bit or much according to modern technological advancements. For instance, mobile phone has become such a common thing that today it can considered as an integral body part which cannot be amputated. Although with time the technology and our dependence on new assets has advanced manifolds, but basic needs are more or less still the same which were there hundreds of years before. One of the various things which has been altered much with this advancement is human emotions. I remember first lines of an essay, authored by Bertrand Russell “Will machines destroy emotions, or will emotions destroy machines.” A painter has myriad of emotions and imaginations than a photographer. With the arrival of much improved and upgraded mobile phones, there might have been an increase in number of hours we spend over interacting each other but the quality of communication has reduced. Basic requirements of life haven’t changed enough right from the origin of civilization. We still need people around to share happiness and sorrows. But with advancements we have become more dependent on inanimate objects. What if the technology, we have become so much dependent upon, fails one day? Perhaps we will find ourselves at place Raja, with one hand on head, dullness on face, stressed and looking at the failed device and asking to ourselves, “how to sustain now?”.