'Sarla's gym look, Anita's weight loss, Praneeta's permed and Kavita's oiled hair, Anisha's baby shower, the Kohlis' marriage registration, Rajat's car's bent fender, Akshay's new shoes, Malti's soup-du-jour, we're bombarded with useless trivia through the day,' sighs Kishore Singh.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
Some months ago, in a zeal of cooking up a storm in the kitchen, my wife decided to bake some dinner rolls, pictures of which she posted on social media.
Hundreds of likes and comments followed about the lucky family, and the talented Mrs Singh glowed in the praise but refused requests for supplying any leftover rolls among her considerable group of friends and followers.
For, truth was, either for lack of sufficient yeast and fermentation, or because the proportions were wrong, the bread that looked so good in pictures was unpalatable in real life -- even the dog refrained from wolfing down his share -- and the meal at which it was served proved unmemorable.
A picture may tell a thousand words, but nothing else lies like the camera either, so it's hardly a surprise that food pictures tell a mostly flawed story.
Restaurateurs spend a disproportionately large time on plating meals because, of course, food nowadays requires to be admired visually rather than merely consumed gastronomically.
Pictures are WhatsApped and Instagrammed before any courses can be touched.
Unfortunately, prettily plated food takes longer to serve, and what with photographing and exchanging cyber views on it, it's usually cold and unappetising by the time one gets around to eating it.
Amateur food photography could just be another variant of the latest diet fad.
Everyone and their aunt is a photographer and blogger these days, so you're never far from a view or review. How things look are more important than how they really are.
My daughter spends a good bit of her spare time shopping online, and the rest of it on having it returned.
Why does she bother to waste her energy when she knows she will probably not like the fit or material or quality? "Because it looks so pretty in the pictures," she says.
The millennial generation stalks itself through the day.
My daughter begins her morning with a selfie taken with her glass of cold coffee.
Variations of the same image recur daily.
She clicks a picture of what she's wearing to work (and often changes her wardrobe on the basis of how she's looking in her off-to-work selfie).
Other pictures are taken on the commute, at the desk, at a client's office, and against the evening traffic crush, a visual diary with little variation from one day to the next.
In between posting selfies, my daughter -- or her friends, or colleagues -- will take pictures of the unpacked tiffin from home, the samosas for an associate's surprise birthday party, beer head in a neighbourhood pub or a margarita at the new hangout.
The urgent need to share one's private life with the world is at odds with one's need for privacy.
Sarla's gym look, Anita's weight loss, Praneeta's permed and Kavita's oiled hair, Anisha's baby shower, the Kohlis' marriage registration, Rajat's car's bent fender, Akshay's new shoes, Malti's soup-du-jour, we're bombarded with useless trivia through the day.
There was a time when we enjoyed the vicarious pleasure of looking at pictures of friends posed against Niagara Falls, or at Lake Geneva, but now it seems we are tasked with everything from the Kumars biting into a pizza at St Mark's in Venice to the Bhallas singing at a karaoke bar in Birmingham, from the Agnihotris looking silly in polka-dotted shorts to the Narayans snoring on a train in Austria.
Meanwhile, it's time to buckle up -- my wife is threatening to bake a batch of croissants tonight.