The Value of photographs

I’m sat on the bus, on my journey home from London. John is expecting me for two thirty as he has the girls school pickup at three. Sindy has today off and John is at home doing today’s school runs. I just passed the pharmacy that I remember from almost six years ago, getting my photo taken for my Indian tourist visa, to allow me to travel to India for the girls births. I have been in the pharmacy since, for my own passport photos. As this was such a momentous occasion, the visa should be done by a professional I thought. Not that I haven’t taken a passport photo myself for five small babies, in foreign lands for our children’s passports. I remember that the Indian gentleman who runs the pharmacy is very friendly and always remembers me if I call in for some reason or another. Anyhow, my photo for the Indian visa, I remember was square. And the visa application took several days to process and there I was, back in March of 2013, my passport arrived back with my ‘Indian Visa’. Johns process for his visa was somewhat different from mine. I will leave that story for now and move on to a month or two after that event! I was settled in Powai, a suburb in the exotic city of Bombay. In the centre of the town there was a shopping centre with all necessary shops for getting by. A supermarket, mother and baby shop, mobile phone centre, you’ve got it, everything a local might need without having to travel further for the necessities in life. I was a dab hand at photoshop back then. The twins, Amritsar and Tara were only small babies. I got the dimensions for their photos from the UK home office website. It was a very hot day and the shop was small and very packed. The owner and his co-workers were apparent amongst the throng of things. The older gentleman saw that I was waiting and immediately came over to engage. The photography shop was near the hospital where the girls had been born, Hiranandani Hospital in Powai, Mumbai. We talked and he rejoiced that I was there with surrogate twins who were looking for their passport photos. Being the only photography shop in Powai, I guess he was used to the volume of business, brought to him from the surrogacy industry with births from the local hospital. He moved a young lad away from the screen of a rather antiquated computer and beckoned me over, hand outstretched for my memory stick. We sat down in front of the computer on miniature stools. We talked and he then uploaded the two best pictures and asked me how many copies I would like. I asked for six a piece. Now printing the pictures took no time at all, though getting the pictures to begin with was a whole different ball game! My attempts to get the girls to open their eyes at such an early stage proved impossible. The U.K. authorities had stated on the website that it was okay with closed eyes for baby passports, but I wanted to do it right. I didn’t want any thing with the applications to be incorrect, something that might slow down the application process. Bharti, our Indian nanny was with me at the time. We nudged the girls, in turn and spoke loudly, we even clapped noisily, perhaps too close to their faces, nothing worked. But perseverance has its rewards. I ended up with forty or so pictures of each, maybe two or three with an eye or two open partially with a baby squint. It would have to do. As long as my photo trim got their faces with the correct dimensions and I downed the brightness and upped the contrast to bleach out the rear white bed sheet, so it looked flat like a white background. We had lift off.

That’s today’s thoughts folks, maybe I’ll get to the other children’s passports stories another time. But as for the girls passports! We did finally receive them, some five long months after the joyous day of their births.

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A Gay Dad reflecting on life in the Shires of England with my not so famous five and two rapscallion Dalmatian hounds

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