Hearing Chronicles 1990
I had a hearing problem in the late nineties. I happened to show my ear to an ENT who confirmed that I have a problem in my ear. He said that it can be resolved through surgery. Else, I was warned that I might go completely deaf. That was the right age to go ahead with the surgery. Unfortunately, it was a failure.
I had to give up my trading business to make ends meet. I pursued a course in journalism from K.C College and another one in photography. Fortunately, I was selected as a freelancer for Guardian Weekly with one more guy from New Delhi.
Delving into the World of Visuals:
So, my first breakthrough was at Guardian, and I was actively involved in Street Photography. Slowly, I started getting recognized for my photos. Though I never intended to be a prominent photographer, I started developing an affinity towards travel blogging. I started teaching photography to deaf students at a school in Goregaon. Then, I was covering for a regional TV Channel. That kept me engaged on the weekends.
A Rainbow in Someone else’s Cloud:
In 2013, I was associated with TATA Memorial Hospital where I used to teach photography at the pediatric ward of the hospital in association with the Impacct Foundation. The idea behind teaching deaf students was to enable them with the power of expression and visual communication.
Communicating with the world visually was much more creative than talking verbally. Further, photography was a very good career option for them. They could become independent and get into professional shoots and wedding photography, where the money is good. I also help students at St. Jude’s, which is one of the largest institutions providing healthcare, homes, and happiness to cancer-stricken families.
The Vocational Bridge:
Every child suffering from cancer misses big time on education. Photography gives them that fair chance at a life where they can catch up on lost time. I have been teaching deaf students, cancer survivors, and caregivers for the past 11 years.
I run a Facebook page called ‘Spreading Light through Photography‘ and during this Lockdown period, I decided to do something for all those stricken, stuck, and sobbing patients. Thus was born ‘The Cancer Art Project‘ on Instagram. I keep posting photographs, sketches, and drawings submitted by my students. This keeps them motivated and happy. It also takes care of their mental health.
The Identity Challenge
Every cancer patient and survivor live with the tag of this dreaded disease. My greatest motto is to give all of them a different identity, something of their own. I have students from several states and even outside India who have been showing interest in the same.
Tinnitus and the Temple:
Years ago, I was suffering from Tinnitus and I took to photography to divert myself from the medical condition. I am a semi-deaf person with Tinnitus. I have been charging for free of cost and that is my USP. Radiocity had raised some funds for me to buy a camera.
For me, every visit to the Tata Memorial Hospital is like a visit to the Temple. I am very prompt with my classes and don’t miss even a single one of them. Sitting with Children is like Sitting with God. Cancer takes care of only the physical aspect. What about mental aspect.
Every individual, especially children deserve to showcase their creativity. They ought to spend at least 50% of their time on productive or positive activities. Children these days are lost in the enmeshed conundrum and brouhaha of selfies and mobile phones. They must realize that their identities should be attributed to their talent and creativity.
Children crave appreciation. The joy of acknowledgment is beyond words. However, they should try to develop a unique style. It is futile to ape role-models.
Cancer-stricken children all over India can always feel free to contact me to avail of my services, especially during this lockdown period. I spend a lot of time with my students who feel low or who need a moral support while undergoing chemotherapy. My whole life revolves around them.