If someone ask me whether I have slept with a girl, my answer is no. But if the question is about a camera in the same way, it is yes. I really don’t know how many nights and how many postures that I have actually slept with camera. That includes sleeping with my very first Sony Hi8 Camera on the mat of Room no 169 of MCC to sleeping at the dry sand of Perunagar River of Kanchipuram hugging Panasonic M.D 1000. Can’t forget the mind-blowing sunrises I have seen with both these cameras.
One was after the turtle walk through Chennai beech at night for gathering eggs of migratory turtles and taking it to hatcheries in order to protect them from human and nonhuman predators. After the turtle walk I slept at the beech sand near the fencing of the hatchery hugging the Hi8 camera. The chillness of sea wind kept the body cold but in no time I was deep in sleep, as always without any clear dream. It was a beautiful sunrise that made me open my eyes. The sun was just out at the horizon painting the blue canvas of sky with shades of red and orange. He also placed a path way of golden red carpet with glittering rays on the waves of sea towards me.A fishing boat that passed through the tip of horizon created the feel of a black dragon slipping across the red sun.
The sunrise at Perunagar River was different but with a totally different feel. I was shooting a festival conducted by 8 to 9 villages of Kanchipuram at the dry riverbed of Perunagar. Each of the villages brought their own decorated chariot to the riverbed at night for the ritual of Garudaseva. After shooting the main rituals I slept on the river sand with the camera tight under my arms. My eyes opened early in the morning to a stunning visual of 9 chariots in the river sand, with the glittering sunrise in the background. It was like being in a war field like Kurukshetra of Mahabhatarha.
During the shooting nights of Tamil folk-art Terukoothu performance at Dusi and Takolam village of Kanchipuram, that Panasonic M.D 1000 stayed close to my body for many nights. That equipment can probably understand my heart beats more than the only girl who hugged me tight a few months back with the promise of being with me; but left in no time.
Hugging a camera and sleeping with it was never been any act of romance. I always did it to make sure that the equipment is safe at crowded locations and at night. But it always developed a sense of deep attachment with the gadget. May be that is the reason why I feel it as a part of the body while doing any shoot. Once I even had to bend down covering the camera with my body and run to protect it from a drunkard who tried to snatch it from me and on the process got beaten up by him on my back with wounds caused by his nails on my right hand.
I have never romanticised any equipment including camera but there is definitely a different feeling of attachment. Missing a moment or emotion on the location is more painful than getting a frame of camera right. I normally don’t wait to get everything in 100% perfection, because on the process I’m scared of missing something. Now that defines why I still carry the camera wrapped in bathroom towel or t-shirt on my back bag than the camera bag. I expect the gadget to be in hand and start shooting even before I think…