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My brief encounter with Modiji

Post On:April 16, 2015

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Good Karma is real. Realized it when was lucky enough to be one of the photographers when Modi Ji visited Toronto. Thanks to the individual and the institution that recommended my name. Felt that there is a story to be told, a story from many perspectives: photographer, admirer, political student and an Indo-Canadian.

Story 1: There was a line-up of up to 500 VIP’s of Canada waiting for a photo-op with Modiji. Security screening started 2 hours in advance, after which people were ushered into their seats, the PM came on time. It started right-away. One group/ one family at a time walked up the line, walked to the stage and had their moment with him. The line-up had people of all age groups. Each one was jostling to get a good hand shake with him, and also to say few words which they felt was super important. Many of them forget that it was important to strike a pose. Just to look into the Camera and smile. They were alternating between excitement while the security was giving them a gentle nudge to enable the next person in line to have his time with Modiji. So As photographer I had to jump around like a middle aged acrobat trying to get the best angle. That acrobatics continued for 3 + hours. The line-up got extended as some came back to re-join the line for a second opportunity with Modiji. Finally the SPG walked up to him and told him, “It’s complete and time to leave”. Our team must have snapped around 1000 to 2000 pictures. All along was hoping will get one picture with him, but gave up the thought, as closing time got closer.

Then Modiji said something magical, “why not take a few pics with the photographers”? That was beyond words. To have than empathy to see the pain and expectations of people around him was something special. If not for that intervention by him, our team would not have got the opportunity to have pics with him. As I posed with him realized that I was confused, sharing the stage with no less a person than the prime minister of India. The excitement was too good, that I did not realize I put my hands over his shoulder as if he was my friend. Indeed he is a friend of India, and of the whole world.

Story 2: This is from the perspective of a photographer: He has an amazing connect with the shutter release of a camera. This is something fellow photographers may understand. Standard shutter speed is 1/125 second in most auto settings. He had this almost instant connection with that. The moment the shutter sound gets going he knew it and turned his gaze in that direction. The first camera that gets going gets his gaze. At least that’s what I thought. So at the risk of losing a shot, I thought I will give it a try. I moved to manual settings and upped the shutter speed to 1/ 250. I knew the shot was going to be blurry, but still went for it. In an instant his gaze turned towards the camera I was holding. It was magical. I have not seen that kind of rapport any person having with the camera. Wonder that the lucky photographer will be who will get a full photo session with him.

Story 3: Been a witness of cold politics unleashed by various political leaders of India I was surprised that Modiji did not indulge in any vengeance politics in spite of getting a stunning majority. He did not sack the RBI governor, he did not put his political opponents in jail, and he did not silence journalists who went beyond their duty in being rabidly anti-Modi. Politics demands all that and wonder why he has not done that!

Story 4: Why do so many NRI’s like Modiji? The answer is simple. Living in western countries many Indians see for themselves how Indians are being treated and looked down in the west. Indians are considered soft and bulliable, which is a welcome treat for those who have a proclivity to bully. Visiting Indian politicians have done little to bring in self-respect. When Manmohan said that British rule of India helped India, it was so embarrassing. And one had to see the interview of Mr. Kamal Nath on CBC Television Canada. It was so humiliating. In comes Modiji who brings in confidence and self-respect to Indians with his style of strong Indian ethos, and an approach which gives the message that being Indian is a proud thing. The west in general likes people who respect themselves. An Indian politician doing that is something that Indians living abroad love it. That is the reason I believe NRI’s compete with Indians to love Modiji.