My father has always had a thing for Photography. Even now, his eyes light up when he sees a good photograph. We spend a few minutes discussing angle, exposure, composition, abstraction and such things.
In his youth, he used to buy a number of books on the subject and voraciously read them. Remember, those days, information on a specialist activity like high-end photography was hard to come by. You did not have more than a handful of books on this topic published from India. Dad had to scrounge around in second-hand bookstores or ask an aunt to get him these books from abroad. Soon, he bought himself a Yashica – first a basic model and after two years, a high-end one. Those days, Yashica used to be the byword for high-quality cameras. Camera slung on his shoulder, he used to roam around town, photographing objects and people. He constantly experimented with the camera, altering settings, trying this and that. No wonder then, that he kept getting better at the craft. Some of his photos are still framed at home. He tells me often that those were probably the best days of his life.
But the good times did not last long. The pressures of his job took a toll on his time and energy. Six days a week were spent in office. On Sunday, he was too tired to do anything and just felt like curling up at home before getting back to the grind. He started spending less time with the camera. Came one day when he realized that he hadn’t taken a single photograph for a whole year.
Without his even realizing it, his Hobby had died a slow death.
My life would have gone the same way, had I not heard this story from my dad several times. I am very keen that I never ever lose touch with the things I love doing – i.e. writing, photography (which came naturally to me from my dad) and Cooking. Somehow or the other, I set time aside to pursue these two activities – come hell or high water. After all, my hobbies are like oxygen to me. They keep me going in life. They give me a high, keep me energized and give me loads of joy.
Staying in touch with our hobbies (or passions, if you want to call them that) is actually easier that we think it is, you know? We don’t have to give up our hobbies, just because we are in high-pressure jobs. If everybody started thinking that way, we would all become zombies in no time. The key is just to retain focus on what we want to do, and balance it with work and other responsibilities.
As for me, I devote weekends and holidays to cooking and photography. Since I took to cooking just recently, I needed some help to ease into it. I was hesitant, wondering if I would completely muck up the dishes. I turned to the internet for help and was amazed to find a number of ‘hobby’ workshops and classes in town. Gardening, pottery, cooking, writing, photography, learning music…. there was no dearth of such classes.
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I promptly signed up for a 3-day cookery class. There were seven other people attending the class, all of them novices like me. Each one was totally unsure his/her skills in the kitchen. But our chef-teacher put us through the paces gently and deftly. We learnt how to use various kitchen implements and how to wash and chop meat and vegetables. After first learning how to make a couple of local dishes, we graduated to a full North Indian meal. Over those three days, I also got to know a bit about the other participants and made a few new friends. By the time the class ended, my diffidence had vanished.
I now cook something every weekend, sometimes taking help from my wife too. I often invite friends and colleagues home and surprise them with my new-found culinary skills. Bragging rights, did you say? You bet (exclamation)
And when I am not cooking, I head out of town to photograph landscapes, people, street life and wildlife. Come Monday, I am ready to get back into my work groove – fully recharged and refreshed.
In a couple of years, I plan to take up photography and/or cooking full time and go independent. That will be the day.
P.S. What are you doing about your long-lost hobbies? If you have never had a hobby, this is a great time to get one. Go learn something new. Logon to the Frogo app, enroll in a hobby class or workshop and get back your mojo in life.
Vagabond. Travel and food writer.
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