The alarm rang at three in the morning. I woke up groggily with my head feeling as heavy as a hundred bricks. I had hardly managed three hours of sleep. The World Cup finale had ended on time, but the post-match debates on Whatsapp groups continued to beep long after. The supporters in my college batch mates’ group were split equally between Croatia and France. However my schoolmates from Pondicherry went ballistic after the boys in blue won- asserting their French connection. And in the midst of all the videos being shared from the Pondy beach promenade, I almost forgot that I had to catch an early morning flight. I felt so cranky going through my morning ablutions, and the Ola cab driver called soon enough to say he was waiting. I dozed through most of the 35 km drive to the airport, cursing Mondays whenever the speed-breakers woke me up.
Dishevelled and still sleepy, I stepped out at the airport, dragging my suitcase, trying to find my identity card and a print-out of my ticket among the muddled contents of my backpack. And what do I see? A group of garrulous youngsters taking a selfie at the security queue, blocking my entry. Where do they find this energy at this unearthly hour for this inane activity? Grumbling, I squeeze past them, wondering if my disgusted sleepy face in the background will land up on someone else’s Facebook page.
Next, as I’m fumbling at the kiosk, trying to unsuccessfully negotiate with the dumb machine which cannot figure out how people like me live without last names, I notice another specimen pouting at her camera. Ahead in the serpentine baggage drop queue, I find a lovelorn man clicking a selfie for his sweetheart. The queue has come to a standstill because he is still focused on the perfect profile, but he is unfazed.
The cameras were everywhere. Not just the CCTVs. The ubiquitous mobile camera which pops up whether you are eating pongal or going for a poop. A pose in front of the baggage scanner, another with the pretty girls from the airline crew in the background, one on the bus to the plane, and one while you go up the ramp. Where was all this documentation going to land- I wondered.
It was a disease which trespassed all ages. Seated next to me was a sixty plus couple. The gentleman didn’t stop recording from the ascent until the descent of the aircraft. And when we landed in Nagpur, he continued to record, even though it was pouring outside, and we couldn’t see a thing through the misty windows. God knows what he saw.
And then rather unexpectedly, I found the complete antithesis to all these photo-friendly adults. A small kid with spiky hair- he must have been four or five. He stood at the base of the escalator, in his striped T shirt with a look of absolute exasperation on his face. I followed the line of his gaze, and caught sight of his parents. They were trying to get themselves in the same selfie on the escalator. “Photo! Photo!”, he exclaimed, distorting his face into a grimace, as he flailed his little arms and stamped his feet.
I grinned. Well, at least someone was ‘photo-phobic’ in this world of the flash and the click. There was hope after all.