December 26, 2013

The Stream of Consciousness/Poetry: Boxing Memories via Instagram

Multiple Memories, Pittsburgh

On a recent long-haul flight, I ended up re-watching the Hindi film, 'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani' and something about the opening scenes snagged my attention. The leading lady, Naina (Deepika Padukone) is reminscing about a life-changing trip to Manali she took several years ago and once she eventually finishes flash-backing and drifts back into the present, we find her surrounded by keepsakes she has preserved from that trip. It got me thinking then about how I too once upon a time used to similarly and carefully preserve objects - notes, cards, gifts, trinkets - which had great sentimental importance and store them in pretty boxes...and more importantly, why I no longer do so anymore. Coincidentally, soon after I landed home, I received a message from friend and fellow blogger, Khadija, telling me how many things she had recently donated and how she finds that she doesn't seem to attach importance to these objects anymore. "I don't want things anymore," she told me. "Suddenly, they have no meaning and are just taking up space."

Leafing Through, Pittsburgh
I was quite a bit of a collector during my childhood and teenage days and I must say that the habit still persists; I continue to collect fallen leaves or feathers and will often place them in bowls or dress up my coffee-table with these found treasures. Yet, these objects increasingly hold ephemeral significance for me; as soon as they cease to fascinate me, I do not have any compunctions in bidding them farewell. Unlike earlier times, when I would bring back home a pinecone or a pebble or a shell as a physical, tangible reminder of a holiday or experience and steadfastly hold onto them, I am now finding myself shoeboxing memories, so to speak, in written/visual form. An object can easily shatter or be misplaced or simply disappear...a visual and written record is more durable and permanent, and ultimately, much more effectively bottle the mood and spirit of a moment or a journey. Suffice to say, I would prefer to photograph the object and memorialise in it in that fashion, rather than keeping the physical object itself!

Raspberry-Lime, Pittsburgh

Looking Up, Warwick Art Centre
And so I have taken to recording my experiences - whether its daily quotidian (eccentric flower-bouquets, garlic bulbs, a lady bug) or preserved-in-amber worthy (dramatic sunsets, clear, jade Puerto Rican seas) - in a daily diary and for the past one year, particularly via Instagram. What with my phone being my third-eye, constantly observing and documenting whatever catches my fancy, Instagram allows me to specifically curate these moments. If my phone camera roll is a stream of consciousness, Instagram becomes poetry, streamlining and condensing these moments into intense, singular experiences.

In addition, it has made me even more sharply and vividly aware of the river of sights that streams past me every day; what I earlier may have been oblivious to re-presents itself in form of quirky visual messages instead. I am learning to distil beauty from the mundane and create dream-like stories from a family of otherwise merely sundry individual objects.

Chopsticks, Pittsburgh

Morjis, Muscat
When I cast an eye on my feed for the past eleven months, moments brilliantly leap out to me, like a fish arcing from water at dawn. They are safely stored away in this virtual chocolate box of memories, allowing me to re-experience nuances of these special coordinates of time as if they happened just yesterday, rather than long ago...

How do you preserve your memories? I would love to hear!


  1. Is it a 'generation thing' do you think? Is this how the younger generation will preserve their memories? Via Instagram? Your pictures are beautiful, and it is true what you say, having a means to capture sights does make you sharply aware of what is around you.
    Keeping real objects that I cherish around me adds warmth and love to my daily environment.

  2. Thank you, Priya, as always for your thoughtful comment! Well, it could very well be a generation thing - akin to scrapbooking in form of Tumblr or the bulletin board metamorphosing into Pinterest. Virtual is the new tangible, it seems...

    I nevertheless do agree with you that there is no substitute for real objects though (I was thinking of those lovely pebbles you picked up and mentioned in your Hampi pos1!) In my case, I fear I have become a little careless about keeping track of and holding onto these objects...Instagram/photography then comes in handy because it allows me to remember and cherish that I once had the object to begin with...otherwise, it is just as easily inclined to slip through the sieve of my memories too and I would have forgotten that it ever existed.

  3. hahaha.. thanks for introducing me to this addiction... :))).. and it is truly awesome.. :))...

  4. You are most welcome, Shazi, its been fun interacting with you via IG...and I completely agree with you on both parts: awesome and addiction!!


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