Wednesday, April 26, 2006

KGB: The KinderGarten Brigade, circa 1986

The other day, someone uploaded a group photo from my kindergarten ('KG') years to our school group's website on yahoo. Capturing memories and faces from more than twenty years ago, the photo is endearing, bizarre looking, hilarious, and warm all at once. Apart from the palpable yet elusive nostalgia that such photos evoke, I was also struck by the myriad ways in which such photos can reveal as well as mislead.

Since almost everyone in the photo stayed put with me in the same class for the next twelve years or so, it was instructive to observe everyone's faces and apparent nature that is depicted in the photo, and compare this picture to the kind of people they actually turned out to be later. I am no big observer of human nature, but you cannot help but remember everyone in school quite well (some more than others) if you meet, joke about, fight with, and bother them almost everyday of the year for a decade. The most interesting feature of the photo is the bizarre effect that seems to have been created by the apparent juxtaposition of adult faces on children's forms. I could identify most of my classmates from the photo, but the way I remember them is naturally from recent times, which is still more than ten years ago. I can imagine the artificial process of cutting their faces from recent photos and pasting them on the frames of thirty random kids from KG, and recreating this photo. The effect becomes bizarre, because for one moment, it looks like all of us from the present have undergone a reduction in our sizes, have dressed up in kindergarten clothes, and are happily posing for our annual school photo with our shoes nicely brushed, nails clipped, clothes pressed and hair combed (mostly). It looks as if a cast from one of those unique theatre genres where adults metamorphose into and act like children on the stage, have gathered together for a dress rehearsal.

And yet, this photo from our batch at Abhinav Vidyalaya is unique. The photo is revealing because even in that one moment, it seems to have captured for posterity, many innate dispositions. There are the quiet and aloof loners, the quiet and studious 'toppers', the flippant but nice, happy-go-lucky kids, the shrewd and crafty schemers, the genuinely warm and artless boys and girls, the mischievous and mysterious enigmas, and the unexceptional looking average joes and janes (?), all of whom represent the unique 'specimens' that all of us have turned out in life. The photo is also misleading because it also depicts some of these faces in emotions that belie their true personalities. Some of the seemingly smiling and mischievous children actually were quite serious and even short tempered. Some of the unexceptional looking children are those who I remember the most from later years. Some of the quietest looking gents were the most rambunctious ones. Some of the demure looking ladies were quiet tomboyish. The photo shows the masks that many of us put on when we are photographed, and the ones which many of us never need to. One thing is sure; the photo is a unique slice in time of an inifinitesimal but significant representation of an entire generation.

As for me, I still haven't been able to identify myself from the sea of faces...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice introspective post ... Send me the picture.... Lets see if I can find you :).


2:46 PM  

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