Two weeks ago a professional photographer and a fellow FS spouse based in Chennai came to Delhi for a scheduled portrait shoot. She needed a photo assistant and I realized that I badly needed to get out of the house to capture on film all of my favorite details about Delhi–unencumbered by irresistibly kissable baby limbs and funny, if distracting, toddler antics. Continue Reading
I’d always aspired to do a ‘day in the life” post here in Delhi to record for the kids the banal, everyday details that really defined our lives here but that we might otherwise forget. With only 5 days until movers show up at our front door though, I think I’ve finally procrastinated past the possibility of recording a “typical” day for us here. Our friends keep texting with increasing urgency, our tough, no-nonsense housekeeper burst into tears last week when we tried to talk about pack-out, and our house looks like two years worth of living abruptly flew out of the closets and landed in haphazard piles across our family room. Nothing feels ordinary here anymore.
But if I had to aggregate two years worth of quiet little rituals and experiences into a single day, we’d have a day like the one I describe below.
I bought an old film camera in Old Delhi a few weeks ago. It’s a Minolta with some spots on the lens and more light leaks than I know what to do with right now. But the way it makes my fingers hum with every click of the shutter and the way India looks through its anachronistic little viewfinder make me feel like I’m seeing the world here around me in a different light.
And I am seeing the world around me differently. Cameras aside, there’s a countdown now, a date on the calendar after which we will no longer be residents of Delhi and we’ll be applying for residency cards in Milan, Italy instead.
It’s not hard to conceptualize that we are leaving India, but it’s difficult for me to picture in my head what life in a country with potable water might look like. It’s not hard to understand that my dearest friends here will keep having new babies and healing from surgeries whether we are in Delhi or Millan, but it’s hard to imagine starting over in Italy without having all of them just a text message and a 15 minute drive away from me.
I’m not particularly self-aware. It’s taken me nearly a month to realize that the real beauty of my new little camera is the fantastic amount of distraction it provides from the more life-changing matters at hand. There’s a distinct appeal to not knowing how a shot really turned out until I get it back from the neighborhood dry-cleaner cum photo lab. Each roll is a series of 36 mini unknowns to distract me from all of the bigger unknowns we are facing.
We’re in that strange transition period between feeling at home in one place and soon being compelled to make a new place feel like home. I feel like I won’t know which stories or emotions or experiences will really define our last few months in Delhi until we’ve already unpacked and resettled in Italy. And until I do, the world just makes more sense when I’m looking at it through my cloudy new viewfinder.