"They don’t even allow the handycams inside," cautioned Alka, my wife. "They will take it from us."
We were talking while preparing to go to attend our daughter’s school’s annual function that they always hold at Siri Fort. Video recording devices are not allowed because then people start crowding the space in front of the stage and besides, after the show you’re supposed to purchase the official CD from the school.
"You said despite that many people brought their video cameras and recorded their children’s performances," I said, quite eager to record her dancing on the stage.
Our 4-year-old daughter, Vasudha, was going to dress up in a dazzling lehenga-choli and adorn an artificial hair bun. I myself put make up on her face in the morning as my wife never uses make up and she said that since I have had a few of those weird girlfriends who wouldn’t go to potty without putting on make up, I must have some idea of how to apply it. By the magic of osmosis, I do in fact know how to apply a functional make up.
Obviously I did a good job and our daughter looked like an angel. Without hesitation I can say that it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life and I couldn’t wait to record her while she performed on the stage in that splendid appearance.
So while leaving we took along our Sony Handycam, and as a safety measure I also put in my pocket the Vado HD flip video camera, since people there would think it’s a phone. I put the handycam in my pants’ thigh pocket, as I would be on wheelchair and they mostly skip checking me at the malls and cinema halls and I knew they wouldn’t check me at Siri Fort too.
We easily sneaked in the cameras, as almost everybody in the audience had. The performances were great. My happiness and pleasure had many facets. The vicissitudes of life haven’t allowed Alka and I to go out much and do things that we enjoy doing together, one of them being watching plays in auditoriums. Just sitting with her, watching those highly talented children giving their performances, and waiting for our daughter to come on the stage with her classmates, was the stuff memories are made of.
In between I kept recording other performances because one, I wanted to make sure the zooming was able to focus in time (it was taking around 30-40 seconds for the camera to give a clear picture), and two, there were some performances by highly energetic kids and I wanted to show their recordings to our daughter just to give her an idea how well some children perform.
One of the performances had many Sikh kids dancing on Karnatic rhythms and they were really looking cute. Me being a Sikh, Alka (she’s from UP) laughed and commented that I must really be enjoying watching those little Sikh kids dancing on a South Indian tune and she insisted that I recorded their performance by specifically focusing on them. I focused on them turn by turn and recorded almost the entire enactment. The only flip side was, I forgot to press the record button. Alka laughed uncontrollably: Sikhs are normally at the receiving end of jokes that depict them acting strange when placed in certain situations. At that time in fact we both laughed.
Our daughter’s dance performance was almost at the tail end of the entire function and people whose wards were through with their performances had started moving here and there in order to fetch their kids from back stage. We were sitting in the middle section so it required quite an effort to keep the camera focused, and when people came in front of it, it lost focus and again took some time to refocus. Her performance started amidst this chaos.
My entire concentration was getting her in the focus. The handycam was in full zoom so it jumped great distances even if I moved it a little, so it was very hard to focus on my daughter. Alka located her first and shouted at me asking whether I was able to see her or not, but I was so engrossed in trying to focus on her and avoid people that constantly kept obstructing the view that I couldn’t hear her. I was finally able to focus on her. As soon as the show started she brought her partner in front of the group and started dancing there with him. She was in her full glory, totally in command, and looked beautiful. She even directed her partner who kept losing track of the steps and when he got lost in the crowd of the other kids, she quickly found him and tried to steer him in the right direction. In her baby steps and cute movements, she danced on the stage as if she has always being doing that. Watching her in the handycam screen was sheer bliss, although my neck and my arm ached due the stress caused by having to keep the camera constantly in focus due to the moving bodies.
Their performance lasted for a couple of minutes and everybody thoroughly enjoyed it. I followed her with my handycam until she vanished behind the side screen.
After putting the camera down I looked at my wife and she was on the seventh cloud. "Did you get the whole thing?" she asked, gleaming with pride.
"No," crestfallen, I realized. "I forgot to press the record button."