Saturday, February 08, 2014


Back in the year 2000, when my son was only two years old I filmed my kid and his cousins on a new video camera that my brother had bought. I filled up a couple of cassettes and then forgot all about them until five years later when they turned up while I was cleaning out my shelves. I realized the precious images they cassettes held and wanted to show them to my kid. Alas, the videocamera was not traceable. Someone suggested that I could get the images transferred to a CD. I went around scores of places but they said that the cassettes that I had, small cigarette box type, were out of fashion and they did not have the technology to process them. I was distraught as the years passed by worried that the images would get erased.

Last month I saw an advertisement by Victory studio claiming that they could copy images from obsolete video cassettes to DVDs. I rushed to them the same day and was told that and it would be a fortnight before they could tell me if the cassette was undamaged and if it was possible to copy them to a DVD as their technician was out of station.
I spent a nail-biting fortnight praying that the cassettes be undamaged because they contained some images no amount of money could buy. Luckily, the studio called me and told me that they were able to copy the undamaged footage to a DVD. The original cassettes were of Sony brand and though expensive it is at moments like this that you realize what good quality means. Even after fourteen years the cassettes retained the images without any damage. When I saw the footage on my laptop I was overwhelmed to see how my kid, two years old then, had been.

There were no videocameras or even decent cameras back in the sixties when we were kids. Only a few people had cameras and hence were lucky enough to capture their memories. The memories of one’s childhood, the good and the bad, are something no one ever forgets. The most important people in your life when you happen to be ten years old are the friends you play with, friends you climb trees with, friends you sit with and share implausible stories, friends who run out their houses whenever you call them and play marbles with at any time of the day. I think friends shape your life in different ways. My life was shaped to a large extent by different sets of friends I had at different times of my life which I spent at a few different places.

I spent my early years in Nizamabad where my father, an engineer in the PWD, was transferred from Nalgonda. We lived in the PWD quarters, where the kids who lived there became my friends. One such friend is Emmanuelle or Baba as we used to call him. Last week, after a gap of more than thirty five years I met him again. I was overwhelmed on seeing him again after such a long time. After my father was transferred again a few years later to Khammam, I lost touch with my friends in Nizamabad. He told me he had read the post on my blog about my trip to Nizamabad and got in touch with me. He told me he lived in Hyderabad and finally last week we arranged to meet.

So when I saw Baba I felt as happy as I was when I was with him when we played together. We shared information about other friends in our gang. I was moved when Baba told me that he had sent the picture of getting the award from the CM that I had posted, to Dicky, another friend in our gang. We caught up on the old times, about our parents, the rest of our families. I was glad to know that he too was working for the Government and was quite content with life. We had met in the Garden cafe near Clock Tower and talked for about an hour. It was a short meet but something that brought out deep memories. We planned to keep in touch and meet again.

Of late I’ve been addressing too many training sessions, to officers of the State Government and also to NGOs that are restricted to about thirty trainees at the most. Earlier I had given talks to around two hundred farmers in my posting at Suryapet. Though it sounds quite scary talking to such gatherings I have somehow managed to get through by talking about disaster management (which is a dry subject) peppered with interesting trivia and anecdotes which were, I was told recently, received quite well.

Last week I was told to address a gathering at NRSC on disaster management in the State and other issues which naturally made me quite nervous. I was given fifteen minutes to speak and two days to prepare. There was no way to wriggle out of it since they had already printed my name in the schedule. On the appointed day I reached NRSC and sat in the auditorium to listen to other speakers in a different session. The gathering was from all over the country and naturally, quite large. My session was after lunch and when it was my turn I gave my talk without falling off the stage as can be seen here.

I was surprised when the organisers gave me a Memento ,a glass plaque that can only be put on display.

After a couple of years of lurking on the outskirts like Taramati Baradari in 2012 and MANUU in 2013, HLF is back in the city, in a place which is more fashionable than literary. One would have thought that with such an event being held in their backyard the crème-de-crème of Jubilee Hills/Banjara would make a beeline to show off their literary pretensions but I was disappointed. If the HLF were to be held at one of the glitzier hotesl like the Grand Kakatiya or the Park Sheraton almost the entire JH/BH crowd or at least all those who turn up in their best at launches in such hotels, would have come in droves elbowing out the others. Aashiaana is no Park Sheraton so only the true literati of the JH/BH made it to a couple of high profile events.

I had planned to attend all the HLF on all the three days I missed the first day. I was disappointed that I couldn’t make it to Hari session with Vamsi Juluri on Films and Fiction. However, I applied for leave on Saturday and landed there at Aashiiana just in time for Rajmohan Gandhi’s talk. Of all the events I attended on the two days this session had the largest crowd. Later I sat in other events where the attendance was very thin. Luckily I got to hear TM Krishna sing and also express his radical views on Carnatic music. I was also glad that I could listen to three poets- Sridala Swami, Mani Rao and Srilata K- read out some of their poems. But I wonder why there were no male poets.

I missed the morning’s sessions on Sunday because I had to go to Abids to look for books with my friends. In the afternoon I was back at the HLF and sat in a couple of sessions. Somehow I felt that in all the sessions there did not seem to be any connection with the audience. It appeared like the panelists were only talking among themselves. But we Hyderabadis are also to blame because we simply listen and don’t much encourage the writers on the panel either with applause or with intelligent questions.


Rajendra said...

It's a miracle of sorts- resurrecting a video cassette, after so many years!

Vinod Ekbote said...

Yes, it is unbelievable, that it could be resurrected at all. Like you say, it is a miracle, Raja. I am lucky!