The Excruciating Slowness Of Things (and maybe a song) – Janani Venkateswaran
I hear cooker whistles play catch with the wind chime.
I hear crows, kites and mynahs sunbathing on rooftops, sucking on a slice of overripe melon, enjoying the clean air they were promised a few decades ago.
I hear a young couple quarrel, followed abruptly by seven minutes of eerie silence, clouded only by the moans of pigeons.
I hear the uncle from the sixteenth floor blow the conch every evening at seven, and his wife gearing up for the evening prayer.
I hear my bathroom neighbour shower to Mirza Ghalib, my bedroom neighbour paint to Bon Iver, and the mustard seeds bop to Beyoncé in my own kitchen.
I watch my shadows become shorter and longer, as dawns merge with dusks, merge into days, weeks, and months. I watch identical moving images, day in and day out through my window. I watch through my lens. I watch.
I try to write, photograph, and read my way through it all. I am one of the four founders of Dhindora, a creative space for words, podcasts and visuals. Academically, I’m an arts student attempting to pursue a career in lifestyle and culture journalism.
My journey to photography started on a very random day in 2017; I had just moved to a new city so unsurprisingly I took a couple of photographs to send to my parents. I had an arguably bad phone camera so I started messing around with the edit functions on Instagram. I was soon photographing more often, capturing everyday vignettes. Nothing in particular triggered my interest in photography; it was merely me documenting my life. And I believe it continues to be so – now I happen to have a slightly expensive gadget and a few editing apps to aid me.
It is the warm tones, earthy colours and seemingly mundane subjects that speak to me.
I’ve been told my photographs fall under an “everyday nostalgia” category and I must admit that they do tend to conform to that very specific feeling of familiarity, transience and contentment all wrapped into one.
My staple subjects (especially over the pandemic) include catching unsuspecting birds off guard, sunlight trickling through edges and corners, and documenting my family going through a collective midlife crisis.
My photographs, if you ever happen to bump into me on social media, are generally accompanied by one-word captions and sometimes indulgent prose. I often find comfort in writing about my photographs.
Ironically, it was a lack of motivation which resulted in this project. The lockdown had extended from going on for a week to a fortnight to a month. I was left with a fairly new camera, impatiently waiting for it all to end so that I could go out. Instead, I slowly started photographing things that caught my eye indoors.
Despite having been quarantined within the same four walls day after day, I found myself finding something new to photograph every day. It was a subconscious “take a photograph everyday” exercise that I ended up doing and, later, curating.
Like most people in the creative field, there is absolutely no better feeling than when you’re working for yourself, editing, reworking, discarding, creating personal projects. The satisfaction you get out of that kind of work is incomparable.
While the monetary returns from running Dhindora with three of my friends from university are close to nothing, I am never not content when we work on a project and put it out for our audience. It is extremely wholesome.
What I have with my camera is perhaps comparable to what most people have with their dogs. I’m not a huge talker, neither am I a people person; for me, photography is extremely comforting and meditative.