While I be the Banker

Towards the end of March, of what is known as ‘the annual financial closing’, the accidental banker in me braces for the approaching storm with clinched fists and gritted teeth. It’s payback time for the mounds of litter left around by the careful staff all along the year, ‘willful default’ of the considerate borrowers, neglect of the prescient depositors, hieroglyphics of multi-layered taxes imposed by the State and the Cardinal Sin of unachieved targets. The twister eventually dumps me barely breathing in the middle of megatons of printouts which must be arranged in precise sets bound for differing destinations. And just as I seem to be regaining control of my limbs, the Statutory Auditors descend like bolts of lightning.

For the past two years or so I have been more of a taxidermist than a photographer. Every now and then I have unpacked the bags, extracted the bodies and lenses from their respective shells, brushed off the dust, recharged the batteries, put in fresh sacs of silica gels and repacked and returned the stuff to the cupboard. I have doggedly though stuck to photography forums and have made insignificant noises now and then about the odd photograph uploaded or a new DSLR launched. But come March, eyeballs start threatening to detach themselves from the gray goo behind and vanish into thin vapour. Sleeping like a log seems to be the inevitable call of nature rather than sleepy logins into forums.

I get overwhelmed by anxious mails and queries of the photographic community unexposed to the vagaries of financial closings. I am equally touched by the emotions of those speculating whether I toppled off a cliff trying to capture a perfect sunset and have become feast unto the eagles, or my foot lost hold of an aging parapet and the fall blew my head into an unrecognizable mess, forcing the police to donate the body to the local medical college for a small fee. It’s a routine, I assure all of them, and I’ll soon venture into wilderness with a camera slung around my neck, leaving the sordid world of figures behind. And I’ll be back on the forums soon discussing why the mesmerizing pair of green eyes of the Afghan Girl is more haunting than the quizzical stare of Monalisa; and how the Monk who sold his Nikon to buy Canon gear will return one day inconsolable in his repentance!

They say they understand but they know well enough that the question of livelihood has probably swallowed the passion of a photographer for good.


  1. “the question of livelihood has probably swallowed the passion of a photographer for good.”

    Seems like I’m going the same way ):

  2. hi umaji,

    u have a real flair for writing. u shud take it seriously & i mean it. being a “statutory auditor” i fully appreciate the woes that we all go thru. & here i really mean WE. with the evertightening deadlines we all look a bit like that hopeless tramp stuck in a machine in that classic “modern times”.
    but it is heartening to see that in spite of all d pressure u r still alive & kicking . be like that way – my humble prayers.

    ps : i click sometimes as well. not 2 much last 10 years. i am still stuck with my old minolta SRT 100X.

  3. I have read this almost an year after it was posted. I guess it is the same time of the year and you are deeply engrossed in your livelihood pangs. It is such a pleasure reading your posts. Amazing wordplay!

  4. amazing writing again!! i have little difficulty understanding your posts but thanks to all the dictionaries available on earth, i manage to conquer my predicament 😀

    brilliant stuff!!!

    1. Ha ha ha! Deb, there are times when no other word can convey what you want to say. Or maybe I am a dense man, after all! 😀

      Thank you for your continued belief in me.

  5. I chose to buy a canon over Nikon – i suppose I shall repent that 😛
    I hope you make the foray from the logical world of numbers into the magical world of photography and writing real soon !

    1. Hi Ruchira! By and large, they are roughly the same except that Nikon has an edge over Canon in the DSLR zone. But that is a sphere where lenses play significant roles and their superiority vis-a-vis each other continues to be bitterly debated. Amusingly, Canon point-and-shoots are mostly better-packaged than Nikon. That said, together, they have scores of models and it all boils down to the particular issue you have picked up.

  6. USP, had I not read a comment here, mentioning this as an old post, I would have thought that you just wrote it. (Came here from FB). Which brings to my mind, an earlier life led, straight from the Heart, full of willful activities and a lot of freedom (even to make mistakes), vis -a-vis a structured life, forced on some due to social and livelihood constraints, all very dutiful and proper, approved by the Head. Kind of like a woman’s concept of maika and sasural. Which I am sure men do not understand, for no fault of theirs. At some point , as age advances, the line between the Maika ad Sasural blurs.

    That’s when you will be seen with the Nikon. Seriously. 🙂

    the heart of it all,
    in time,
    creative art,
    heartfelt words,
    a pat and a smile
    of approval,
    taking risks
    while being
    held by a thin thread.

    all head,
    impressive ,
    duty bound,
    P’s and q’s,
    respectful time management,
    organization and structures
    stamps of approval,
    formal bows,
    and so on.

    The Maika
    is the omnipresent
    background color
    against which
    you must live out
    the Sasural
    compulsory stuff,
    till one day,
    after a retiring rain,
    you look up,
    at the fudged borders,
    close the ledgers,
    look through the viewfinder,
    and realize,
    that what you thought was a sunset,
    is actually ,
    a sunrise….

    1. Yes, it is an old one and somehow dear to my heart. And am I glad you have graced it with your beautiful poem!

      Suranga, I have often pondered over women’s predicament and found it perturbing. The very thought of shunning one’s childhood home, one’s parents and one’s entire world within a matter of a few hours for an alien home is chilling to say the least.

      I have never had a similar vision before and your poem does put a stubborn smile on my face. You don’t know how much hope you have given to my soul through the concluding line of the amazing poem:

      till one day,
      after a retiring rain,
      you look up,
      at the fudged borders,
      close the ledgers,
      look through the viewfinder,
      and realize,
      that what you thought was a sunset,
      is actually ,
      a sunrise….

  7. Such is life. Sigh!
    Now that this year’s twister has come and gone, will we get to see some more of your photographic works? That’s terrifying — all those mishaps a photographer could meet with. Now what’s another way of saying ‘god forbid.’

    1. Many thanks D for prodding me for picking up my other weapon again! To cut a long story short, all I can say for the moment is my favourite quote from Shakespeare:

      “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
      Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
      To the last syllable of recorded time;
      And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
      The way to dusty death.”

  8. Hi This is beautifully written. Why don’t you carry the camera with you to office too ! Maybe you can “catch” the statutory auditors off guard in some compromising position and use the opportunity to nail these unpleasant guys who ask unwarranted questions 🙂

    1. Thanks for the compliment, RR. I used to carry my DSLR around till they switched to a new office where cameras are prohibited and an X-Ray machine scans all inbound and outbound stuff. The compromising position that you suggest can be effectively captured by the mobile-cam itself but statistically, I have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting such clips! 😀

  9. What’s the magical pill that you swallow while writing or thinking to write? Do please let me know..:) Believe me, I read it thrice before posting a comment. ‘sleeping like a log…..Sleepy logins’. Such a beautiful line. The Monk who sold his Nikon….lol, reminded me of my infinite trials in trying to read Robin sharma’s book and how I gave up on it. The question of livelihood always eat our passions, let us not let them die.

    1. Hey, I am an utterly ordinary writer. Hemingway had once said thus:
      “For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.”
      I kind of believe in that. Thank you, so much for the kind words and I wish to repeat with you too, ‘let us not let our passions die.’

  10. May I go ahead and say, you might be more passionate about your photography than your writing? I know you wouldn’t like to discriminate and would be passionate about either, equally. I would love to see more of your photography skills. 🙂

  11. Hi Umashankar

    There must be quite a few passions of earth borne by millions that has been swallowed by the question of livelihood …If the passion is let out on parole every now and then to keep it alive and provide us bliss, its indeed a great thing in my perspective 😀 That was a nice read 🙂

    1. Hey, that is a wonderful expression: “If the passion is let out on parole every now and then to keep it alive….” I’ll do just that! Thanks for reading and saying those words! 😀

  12. Livelihood comes first and sanity next! I mean we have 24 hours in which to earn a living, look after the kids, give time to the significant other, cook, shop, read, write, social network among many other things phew! I really marvel at people who can genuinely take time out for passions. Most of us are just finding it hard enough to run this race of life. I left my kathak training and Hindustani classical training due to time constraints. But someday in the near future or far, I will take these up again. Btw, it is nice to come across such a creative banker, the ones I interact with are so dry :).

    1. Rachna, it is as if you opened the tap of not only your heart but mine too! We are all missing way too many things in life but just as you say, “Livelihood comes first!” And yes, I do acknowledge your gripe with bankers. Yet, you will meet the occasional cuckoo! 😀

  13. Verbal account made by a shutter-deprived wordsmith …. banking is a blank frame, get some light into it! 🙂

    1. You’ll be fine by your Canon. I am glad you have been summoning up your lost passions. Thank you for your kind admission! 😀

  14. Alas!, I will never be able to hold a camera the way most photographers are able to. But when you add the pics to the words, they will become more awesome. IF I remember right, I had first commented on your DSLR post. Wonder how I missed commenting on this one?

    1. Zephyr, as far as I can remember, While I be the Banker has remained accessible through my sidebar under the You May Also Like tag. And hey, now you have commented on this one too!

      Many thanks to you.

      ps: Most hobby photographers these days use the LCD screen at the back and so can you! Cheers 😀

  15. “why the mesmerizing pair of green eyes of the Afghan Girl is more haunting than the quizzical stare of Monalisa”

    Somehow I never found Monalisa charming enough….yeah the local afgan women and there green sparkling eyes against their fair skin is even beautiful than porcelain beauties otherwise.

    The person in me also, too often gets sidelined by professional in me…sigh!

    1. The image of the Afghan Girl by McCurry is symbolic of the sad plight of refugees worldwide. This, rather than the aesthetic impact of the portrait, was what I had on my mind When I said that. True, the choice between the personal and the professional is not always yours.

  16. Sad but true sir. We do forget our passion while we earn for a living.
    Love the way you write. Amazing.
    I hope you come out of the debris soon 🙂

  17. Sir, you’re a wordsmith. This is the first post I’ve read on your phenomenal blog and I couldn’t help but bookmark it. As a writing professional in his late 20s, I forayed from software to writing initially and is now obsessed to do banking, finance (to attain a so-called settled life). I could almost relate to the words penned here. The way you write is so captivating that it hardly distracts me. Keep writing and I’m amazed such a wordsmith is a banking guy! Wow!

    1. Kundan, I am touched by your kind words. Many thanks to you. Pangs of livelihood have driven many an artist to as unlikely places as butcheries. I wish success to you in your pursuits.

  18. I have no experience of the financial world Umashankar, but you capture the maelstrom of that world precisely as I imagine it. I hope that you’ve taken your camera out of the cupboard again. And used it.

    1. Dennis, the answer is yes and no. I truly need to break free one of these days. But then, you see, it is that time of the year again!

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