Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Tale of a Passport-Sized Photo

Today, I went to get my passport size photographs taken for opening a new bank account. To save time, I chose a shop right opposite the bank. It is important to say this because really, there was nothing at the outside of the shop to encourage a customer. It was a tiny hole in the wall place, with a dusty hand-written board that said PHOTOSTATE (yes, with an e). The only indication that it was also a photo-studio were a couple of framed pictures showing through the glass door.

I walked into the shop, no bigger than 6 feet by 8 feet. The man inside was busy stapling a bunch of sheets that he had obviously photostatted. After a brief nod to my request for photos, he ignored me totally. There was a bench with a very dirty velvet cover that I did not want to sit on, so I stood around, waiting for him to get done with stapling. It had to be a rushed job, because he was totally consumed with it and refused to multi-task to any extent. After sometime, he asked me to sit down on the bench, which I did with trepidation.

While waiting for him, I looked at various things inside the shop. The first thing that struck me were very bad pictures of people framed up. There was one of a stunned looking man, another slightly blurred one of a serious looking old woman, another over-exposed/faded one of a couple of kids, and one of a young man. That picture of the young man was the most amazing of all. It was totally blurred. I could make out the shape of the face and that the young man had a mustache, but the picture was majorly out of focus. An obvious mistake- even a child would tell you that- but lo and behold, it was framed in an ornate frame!

The second thing that struck me was a collection of really old looking cameras in a showcase. I mean each looked at least 10 years old and very dusty. Why would anyone display these cameras? I was reminded of Kanto, our gardener, who recently bought a second-hand canon camera and was so proud of it (until it broke down a month later). Maybe, this shop sells second-hand cameras, I thought to myself, but makes no bones about them being very second hand.

As I sat there admiring the pictures and cameras, and trying hard not to think of my clothes getting dirty on that bench, the stapling was done and the man took out his camera from its packaging. Quite an elaborate process that- first he took out a bulky black bag, then a cardboard box from inside it, then unwrapped some bubble wrap and finally took out a point-and-click camera. That's certainly a first-hand camera, I thought to myself. My photo was taken in a single shot and the man briefly smiled looking at the picture, implying the picture was good (or did it mean it was suitably blurred?).

By now, I was in a hurry to get done. At my age, I don't care to see how I look in passport pictures- as long as it looks like me and meets its bureaucratic requirements, I am OK. So I didn't even bother to check it before it was printed. After a few minutes on the computer, he finally printed the set of 8 pictures and patiently cut each picture with a pair of scissors.

This photo of the photo doesn't do justice,
but you get the drift.
When I finally took a look at my picture, I was taken aback. This was not me! This was someone 10 years younger with flawless skin and no wrinkles! And two shades fairer! I am telling you no foundation I had ever used (and I have tried many) has had that kind of effect on my heavily pigmented middle-aged skin.

When I looked up enquiringly at the man, he smiled broadly and said "Thoda photoshop kar diya hai"!

That's the pleasure of living in a small town. And that's exactly the pain.

P.S.: Well, dear Mr. photographer, when you were at it, couldn't you have made those eyebrows a tad darker too?


  1. Remember Raving Fans? This was his deliver +1!!!

  2. Even in a small town they know the latest technology. I am proud of my small town!!!

  3. this photo needs to become your DP. pronto. - Gaurav

  4. Was randomly reading your blogs (came here through Hole in the soul).. Couldn't stop laughing on this. I love the pain and pleasure of small town too.