Textures of time / Traces of memory

In a very basic sense, photographs capture moments. However, what matters to the viewer on a very superficial level is what the photograph is really trying to show in that instant. Seldom do we realize and ask ourselves about the million little things hidden inside a photograph, how many moments have bought this one photograph to life, how many intersections of fate and choices?

That smile on the face, those cracks on the wall, and those vibrant colours on the streets and the textures on the tree everything has a story and more importantly a history with an ominous touch of providence.

Photography is one of the most easiest ways we can really capture “now”- the moment, the moment which can never ever be created again. Every second is new and every second is old. So we capture the now and in our own way we make the moment immortal, again immortal being a relative term. Relative to our own individual lifespan.

Now if we really analyze time, we will comprehend that there is no real permanence around us, in physical sense as well as in the metaphysical sense. Time, as I view it, is like a constantly drifting heap of sand, however, I don’t know about the direction in which it is drifting in and I guess no one else does either, but yes, it is drifting and it is arbitrary.

Often thinking in these lines, I have felt insecure and have felt that we are constantly between a sort of hurricane or a turbulence and for one or the other reason we fail to acknowledge that and that is what creates the illusion all around us. We live life under the illusion of permanence. We try to hold on to time, try to capture it, yet the reality is that there is no permanence, there is nothing inscribed on a stone.

So this insecurity of ours that constantly tells us that we are not permanent is a collective conscience of the world and often the one that is usually dejected. We all try to capture time in our own sense but sooner or later we realize that even memories have an expiry date.

And we often ask “Are we really so fragile?” The truth is – YES and how we handle this in reality, on a larger scale, I guess, will come to define us.

It is a very simple thought that and we often say this that “Everything is just a process of time”or “Time cures everything”, well yes it is the most fundamental thought, however I guess the realization of this comes very slowly, we all know and have felt this, but it is not like an epiphany, it is a gradual process of understanding. It needs cultivation. It needs acceptance and in return what we get is a larger horizon of understanding and beautifully instilled patience in us.

So with that thought that everything is just a process of time. I ended up thinking about textures. Honest, unhampered ironies of time – textures. They’re a process of time, they cultivate in the most natural way and the thing that interests me the most is that they contain memory. Time no matter how intangible it seems it sure does leave traces around us. Everything that we have done since our birth till the present moment is engraved inside those textures, every choice we have made is contained inside them.

This passage of time is what gives us layers and layers of textures, each layer has its own story, each layer has been touched in a different way by time, each its own permutation of situations and somewhere between this intangible time and the tangible texture we find the “memories”. These memories have affected the shape, size and colour that we see in the present.

So just like photography, textures in themselves capture time. In fact, the beauty lies in the fact that textures don’t remain the same, just like time, they are ever-changing. I think the closest we will ever get to touching and seeing time is through textures. Photographs are basically just a visual representation of the past but just like I asked before how often do we really know the story behind every single element inside the picture? Why are those things there? What was the photographer thinking?

Here exactly in these fronts, textures transcend photography. They are innocent, they are natural and they honestly show how time has affected them. We don’t have to dig any further than what is on the surface alreday and the whole story is right there. Now it could be a living or a non living entity; both get affected by time equally and they leave a mark on each other for a lifetime.

This scene from Alfrid Hitchkok’s Vertigo shows the section of a tree and the rings inside it  have been marked according to their corresponding year of significance. Somehow this concept intrigued me a lot and made me even more interested in exploring textures.



Because textures are naturally shaped and given exsistence by time. We cannot deny how intimately they’re bound to us, how intimately they define us. They can easily be termed as the metaphor for all things that we have been through, everything is stored inside them. They’re the perfect representation of the world inside us.

In simple terms, as memories are in layers, so are textures.

To be honest, I have felt a certain sense of permanence within them. Maybe the words are not right, maybe “forever”,”ultimate”etc are all just illusions that we are chasing. Often while exploring the possibilities of textures and their impact I have asked myself that how much of forever will be forever for us and the answer has never come to me because there is none.


I have often noticed that one of the best things, at least in the fields of art can never really be described or quantified; I think once this scale of premium artistry is achieved then the work transcends the verbose.Nobody can define it, it is formless yet it fits into every mould you put it into.

Now when I put this thought in line with the way a blind man thinks I figured that often we miss out on the feelings because of our in-built hardware that pushes us to quantify things visually rather than just pure heartedly.This sensation of touch is how he interprets the world, those are his words and in those are his emotions. We have to reach a different level of wavelength to actually articulate his sensibilities.

However in terms of photography, a photograph is of no use to a blind person, sounds, touch and above all his natural intuition is what maters to him the most. His inner gut is way much more stronger than people who can see. Now how do you explain the storage of memory to him for his world is completely different. He stores his memories way more different from us, his memories are made of touch.

The reason why I’m suddenly talking about the visually impaired is because come to think of it textures in a way are a blind man’s photograph.

Every time you touch a texture you touch a part of memories.

The search starts here



This is Muhammad Kasif, a loban, he perpares coal for a variety of jobs and claims to be prepairing some of the finest coals in old delhi. He’s been in this job for more than 30 years and his hands bore the insignia of his history. He tells me that in years he has not seen his hands in their original colour.



Found these vibrant textures in one of the alleys of Chawri Bazar. A million stories reside inside these textures.


Amber Fort in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Built in 1592, photographed in 2016. Nearly 420 years of memories.



Ravi, a cobler from chandni chowk. His father bought the equipments in the 80’s and set up his shop just outside Jama Masjid, prudently thinking about the large crowd that arrives there everyday. Somehow i feel this anvil has stored in a lot of memories in itself, not just the coblers but the customers as well.






7 thoughts on “Textures of time / Traces of memory

  1. I find your essay very interesting and thought provoking. However, I don’t agree with the part about photography for the blind. Have you ever talked to a blind photographer? There are many blind and visually impaired photographers out there, some of them are professionals. Blind people may train their other senses like touch and sound, but we don’t have an extra sense to make up for our lack of vision. What do you mean by natural intuition and inner gut? We just rely on our other senses more, that’s it. Our world is definitely not different. We just do certain things differently. Storing memory in impressions gained through touch is an interesting philosophic idea. I’m not sure how applicable it is to a blind person’s perception of everyday life though.
    Maybe you would like to have a look at our blog: http://www.photonarrations.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay I think I get your point but let me explain to you my perspective. What I tried to explain was that people who have a normal eyesight for them a photograph contains a lot stories and memories and since for the blind, a photograph is just a piece of paper, here, I brought in textures. Since textures also come into existence after a passage of time they contain memory, and since they contain memory and one can touch them, they can be compared to a photograph, although yes like you pointed out, it is more of a thought than something practical.
      I am not saying your world is different, but I am sure it is on a different plane. In a nutshell, what I want to convey is that the blind are more conscious of the world around them than the people who can see are.

      Liked by 2 people

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