no more Kodak moments - a trip down memory lane


It is the end of an era. Kodak is taking Kodachrome away. For those of us that belong to the Paul Simon generation we cannot but remember the words immortalised by him: They give us those nice bright colors. They give us the greens of summers. Makes you think all the worlds a sunny day, I got a Nikon camera I love to take a photograph So mama don't take my Kodachrome away!

At times like these which are almost like rites of passage one is tempted to take a walk down memory lane and reminisce about times gone by. Those of my generation will remember the camera as a prize possession. It required some handling and one of them was the art of placing the film roll correctly. I was never good at that and often had to seek help. Taking a snapshot in those days was no instant gratification. There was a fixed number of shots in each roll you bought and once you had clicked those you had to fulfill one more task: that of rewinding the film and getting it out of the camera, and then place it in the box you purchased it in and then take it to a photographer's shop to get it developed, hoping against hope that your shots were in focus, and not overexposed. Then you had to wait for a day or more before you collected your pictures. These we given to you in a folder along with your negatives. Only then did you know whether you had your Kodak moments or not.

Today with digital cameras all this is long past. You click your image and can see it on the screen of your camera moments after you have shot it. If it is not to your liking you delete it and shoot another. The digital era has dawned and taken away the film reel. Many may not know it, but Kodachrome was a process invented by two musicians a violinist and a pianist know as God and Man (Leopold Godowsky Jr and Leopold Mannes) way back in 1935.

But what were the Kodak moments we so loved to capture. My mind travels back to the late sixties and early seventies: my college years. What did we do with our free time? Where did we go? What did we enjoy doing? Slowly images trickle from the recesses of my memory, images of parks and open spaces, of poetry books and strummed guitars, of syrupy cups of tea and oily omelets in between slices of white bread, of overstuffed jholas (cloth bags) and worn out chappals (sandals). Those seemed to be our Kodak moments, the ones we wanted to immortalise on paper as this is what we did in our free time. A free afternoon with friends was often translated into a walk in a park or in the zoo, a poetry reading session or a heated debate on some philosophical subject or the other. We made and remade the world and felt on top of it. You were appreciated and liked not by what you wore or possessed, but by your ability to share your knowledge and talent.

And if you wanted a lasting memory you had to select what you wished to consign on paper. Even today, after many decades I find myself looking at the innumerable yellowed photographs that tell the story of my life and lie not in a computer hard disk but in some old drawer, or stuck in the pages of well worn albums.

Today everyone wants instant gratification and all good moments are measured in the amount of money spent. I recall a newspaper article where a journalist decided to spend an evening with a bunch of high school kids. The night was spent zipping from one five star hotel to another and buying an expensive drink that was left untouched as the gang felt bored and needed to move. The evening cost over 10K a head and resulted in not a single Kodak moment.

It is with a sense of nostalgia that I read the about the demise of the good old photo reel, the one that had given people like me hordes of wonderful moments that now lie yellowed in some corner of my home.