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Monday, May 04, 2009

Co-optex, Solidaire, Samuelson's Economics books

These days when you go to a portrait studio, the assistant tells you

1. you get so many poses
2. you are allowed this many dress changes
3. you get this many props
4. you are allowed this many backgrounds

Then the adults in the family enter into roundtable discussions on who is wearing what color, how to optimize the contrast of everyones dress colors, the props and the background and either

a. launch into a philosophical discussion on color and background
(typically done by the grandparents) where statements like

"andha kaalathula naanga ellam jamakkalam dhan background-aa use pannuvom. Appove photo nalla dhan varum!"

"In those days we used floor spreads as the background and the photos would still come out nice!" followed by

"En ponnukku enna? .. saaku thuniya kattinaa kuda azhagaa dhan iruppa!"

"What does my daughter lack? .. even if you make her wear a flour sack she will look beautiful!" which invariably sends a not so young man into a dream scene where the woman is wearing only a "saaku thuni" and without realizing it blurts out "saaku thuni ondi pottunda endha ponnu dhan nalla irukka maataa?"*** (Won't any girl wearing just a flour sack be beautiful?")***

b. try to infuse logic into the situation (typically done by the young parents)

If the kids stand in front of me and complement my blue sari, then it doesn't matter where you stand or what color you wear.. they are going to look at the girls in the picture anyways! or

The Stephan Boltzmann law clearly states that for a black body like mine the radiation of color is dependent on the constant Sigma which is equal to .. enge en log tablesa konjam edu paapom! (can you go get me my logarithmic tables book please!)

or

c. run around in like crazy chicken around the studio, oblivious to any color discussions going on.. (typically done by the kids)

One thing is true though. In those days there were no simple backdrops. You went to Sathyam studio and they had this artwork painted on the wall with a archway and laurel wreaths and every family would take a photo under that same background.

The once in two year home portrait sessions where a relative or hired cameraman took photos of the entire family (we are talking an assembly of ~40 folks here) would usually be with creative "Co-optex" handloom blanket backgrounds.




Laughing at this photo now, but for 25 year ago Chennai technology, it is pretty cool!

While today the props include nicely painted ponies, giant alphabet blocks, fake rocks and dinosaurs, the early eighties saw large scale solid state devices like Philips Radios and Solidaire TV's as props. Why not? You have just started enjoying good times and this whole photo session is to get a sampler of the "times they are a changing".




The only prop that we actually remember being there perpetually for no reason were those heavy Economics books by some dude called Samuelson. For years the family starred at this series of books neatly sandwiched between two elephants on top of the radio. Had dad ever read those books? Did he buy them to show off? What kind of a sick dude would show off with such dull books which seemed a cardboard read even for 5th graders?

The last India trip did have a search for the elephants and the Samuelson books for pure sentimental value, but were not be found.

At least the two photos are digitized now and will be around for Jr. and the little one to see 25 years later.

What would props and background look like in the early 30's?

2030's that is!


***Do not try this type of comment at home. Comment made by professional son-in-law under controlled conditions.




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14 Comments:

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 12:12 AM, Blogger PVS wrote...

Brought back sweet memories...we are also three siblings, but in the reverse count. Two sisters and one bro and we have a similar photo with our parents back home. My sister and I at the two corners and my bro sandwitched between my parents. The ages too would be similar.

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 1:01 AM, Anonymous Jairam wrote...

Lovely post, made me nostalgic of that damn film-based camera that my dad used to carry around everywhere we went.

Will surely put up a related post to that. Thanks for the lovely idea.

Cheers....Jai

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 1:11 AM, Blogger Gauri wrote...

(sigh) trips down memory lane :). Life was so uncomplicated then :)

And truth be told - call me Jurassic if you like - as far as photography goes - there's something special about using good old film for pictures - something that is becoming a rarity in the digital age.

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 1:58 AM, Blogger Sriram wrote...

Lovely post.

Ahh...the good ol transistor. There is kutti box below the TV, what is that?

Sriram

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 3:51 AM, Blogger V V wrote...

Great snaps!

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I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 8:05 AM, Anonymous yaadayaada wrote...

We all have photos with the TV I guess :-)

Sriram, the kuttibox could be the much needed voltage stabilizer.

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 10:20 AM, Blogger Poetry wrote...

ahhh... bringing back memories!

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

Sundar,

Your posts are getting better and better these days!Please keep up the good work...

Shah rukh post was hilarious.....
What was San's comment/reaction?

Sujatha Ramesh

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 10:51 AM, Blogger Kavi wrote...

Yes ! The Solidaire TV and its colourful renditioning of Doordharshan !!!

Those were days. When the Jamukalams became screens and photographers had a contraption which in retrospect was as effective as a lovely contraption could get.

Imagine, it took me back many years, and left me with a smile !

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Dilip wrote...

Nice one Sundar. Looking at the other comments,it looks like a photo of siblings next to TV was a lot more common than I thought. The only difference in our photo was that the TV was a 'Dyanora'and both me & my brother were wearing shirts stitched from same material (by good old Deluxe tailors in Luz) :-)

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 4:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

sundar:

great post and look forward to more such photos. but comments like the following make me feel positively old!

"Lovely post, made me nostalgic of that damn film-based camera that my dad used to carry around everywhere we went. "

heck, that sounds like me six-seven years ago, and in the usa (not india!).

- s.b.

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 5:44 AM, Blogger Violet wrote...

Tagged you. http://violet-gauri.blogspot.com/2009/05/tagged-again.htm

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 11:05 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan wrote...

looks like everyone has a TV photo!

Yaadayaada is right. that box is the voltage stablizer from Voltas!

now the antenna... that is a story by itself.

:)

 
I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 2:50 AM, Blogger marry wrote...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
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