This world is full of one category of people. Experts. Everyone has some advice to give to others, ekdum free. That's why I say it's important that you become an expert in sifting out the meaningful advice from routine gyaan that floats around. Anyhow, I'm not any less in trying to be a self-styled expert, so I gave some unsolicited advice to a guy last week. He didn't like it.
Well, that's his problem but I want you all to tell me if I was wrong in what I said. Hua yeh ki I went to a friend's place and met his cousin who had just returned from a vacation in Singapore. He was excitedly telling her about his visit to Sentosa Islands, which is famous, among other things, for being among the top places in the world to watch the most beautiful sunset. And then he started showing us photos that he'd clicked, of the sun setting behind the sea. Beautiful photos indeed … and five hundred and seventy two in number.
'How long did the sunset last?' I asked him. 'A few minutes,' he replied and added, 'after that you can't really see much because it starts to get dark.' 'So, are you going to go back to Singapore to watch the sunset, because you missed it?', I asked. 'Huh, I just came back after watching it,' he replied. 'No you didn't, your camera did. When are YOU going to watch it?' I asked, and he got offended. What followed was a long debate over how photos are also important for memories etc but my point, my friend, is simple. What fun are second hand memories when you've got so busy in creating them that you missed the real thing? A similar sentiment was echoed by one of my colleagues, who went to Turkey and attended the famous night opera in a picturesque, old Roman amphitheatre, with full moon in the backdrop. 'All I kept trying was to click the perfect photo, and before I knew it, the opera was over,' she said.
A lot of us, me included, similarly make the mistake of getting too busy tweeting when we see something exciting. When India played Sri Lanka in the last cricket World Cup final, excitement ran high and I was tweeting like mad at every ball. After a while, I was trending on Twitter lists in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore but you know what, I missed out on most exciting moments of the match. Because I got too busy in thinking about the perfect and funniest tweet to post. Kya yaar. Technology was supposed to serve us. We didn't even notice when we became its slaves, and started clicking and tweeting our life away on gadgets. I've decided to, henceforth, set these three rules for myself, to claim my life back.
If you see sense in it, take the advice.
1) Stop looking at life as 'moments to capture for Facebook': It's cool that some nerd invented these media that make it so easy to share our fun moments with friends. But surely not at the cost of taking the whole fun out of them, no? I've seen young parents, who attend the school function of their kids, rush closer to the stage with mobile phones or video cameras as soon as their child's performance begins. All these dads and moms must remember that watching their child's entire performance through the lens is only as good as watching a TV programme, not a live act. Why not let your eyes and heart remember the moment?
2)Set a limit for how many photos you'll take and STOP at that: I have nothing against taking beautiful pictures that form cherished memories, but the next time I go for a vacation and see something spectacular, I'll take twenty photos and no more. With conventional cameras, we at least used to stop when the film-roll got over. Thanks to digicams and mobile phones (technology again!!), we just don't know where to stop. Tell me honestly, how many times have you actually seen all the ten thousand photos you took of the cow on the village road in Rajasthan with senti tears in your eye? Bas karo. Tourism is not a punishment and it's not as if you have to submit a homework album with every damn thing you spotted. Leave the camera in the hotel sometime and go for a walk. DO that.
3)Finally, I've decided to set an hour of 'unplugged time' for myself everyday: I will not touch any electronic gadget in that one hour. And I'll still go out and try to see something beautiful, without the tension of capturing it or worrying about missing a call. Don't you now try to give me the 'phone is for our safety' argument. Human beings used to go out of homes even when mobile phones were not invented … and came back alive. And puhleez, I love Twitter and Facebook too but don't tweet every waking moment of your life away. Because it will somewhere take your mind away from what's actually happening. I remember a joke I read somewhere about a girl whose friend asks her what her first kiss was like. She hesitates for a while, and then says, 'Hold on, let me check. I must have tweeted about it.' Had ho gayi yaar.
Sonal Kalra has decided to grab every moment life has to offer. And that can't happen till both her hands are busy holding the phone. Mail her at sonal.kalra@­hindustantimes.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/sonalkalra.