Living the Moment Forever

Amidst this relentless sensory a space called samanyashastram a space that celebrates the simple, avalanche is the ordinary and the quintessential.

Shubha Srikanth In a world that harps in hyperbole, delights in the high decibel, craves for all things tantalising is a space dedicated for the understated though elemental and profound. Amidst this relentless sensory avalanche is a space called samanyashastram a space that celebrates the simple, the ordinary and the quintessential. As I talk to Kandukuri Ramesh Babu, the auteur of this counter-philosophy, I come to see that it evolved organically during the course of his life as journalist, writer and photographer I. samanyashastram is as much a physical space as it is sensorial, experiential and ideological; a worldview that emerged through the temporal and spatial dimensions of his life and life experiences; a creative sensibility of recognising, valuing and celebrating ‘ordinariness’.

Lustrous Tokens of Radiant Lives

Ordinariness, as Ramesh Babu sees it, is not something that emanates from the physical attributes of a person or their social or economic standing in society. Ordinariness is the quintessential being-ness that one experiences of oneself when stripped of all externally borrowed or imposed identities and roles. He finds this quality embodied and enduring largely in the common folk. It is a quality that is perhaps integral to every human being, but varies only in the extent to with we embrace it in our ‘selves’ and express without inhibition

When I press him further on how to experience or achieve this ‘ordinariness’, he quips, “Read my book - How to Become An Ordinary Man? To experience ordinariness you have to unlearn many, many things.” I ask him for some direction and he says, “Go for a walk early in the morning. Let yourself bask in the early morning rays of the sun. Let go of your ‘self’. The ‘self’ as you know it. Shed all the things that define you. You will gradually become oblivious of your surroundings and then of your ‘self’ – your ‘ego’. What remains is your ordinariness. That is your true or ordinary self,”

The City and Its People

Huge time, money and public attention is spilled on all that is larger than life. Then, are we erasing from our own consciousness the ordinary lives that the majority of us are living? These lives in which nothing extraordinary ever occurs? Spare a moment to think of the most extraordinary thing that has happened to you? How do you fare?

And thus, the need to document and celebrate us, the ordinary folk. It is from this thought that Ramesh Babu’s series My City My People emerged. For him, it is not so much the physical structures that make a city; but, the flora and fauna. Especially the ordinary folk who toil on the streets. The street is their workplace. The implements a farmer carries, is so much a part of him. The cart puller, the fruit seller, and the millions who sell their ware on the streets, the work they do is integral to them. He has captured thousands of such moments from their lives over the past few years. “Usually, photographers represent their city with iconic land marks and architectural monuments. For me it is the people who represent a city. Animals and birds too. It’s their home, after all,” he claims emphatically.

I dont need celebreties or politicians to inaugarate my shows. My art is for the common man and by the common man

Between Life and Death

An impulsive decision to visit Kashi culminated in the 9th exhibition, ‘Kashi’ to commemorate the gallery’s 4th anniversary. Although, photography was not the purpose of this visit, the camera is his constant companion. Upon his return from Kashi, the pandemic reared its ugly head and then came the lockdown. As he prepped for the exhibition, he wondered how relevant an exhibition of his work, which is largely a celebration of life and people, would be in the atmosphere of fear and anxiety. The obvious contradiction dissipated when he realised that life and death are but inevitable to human experience. The Kashi photographs suddenly became extremely relevant. What better way than to find solace in the images of Kashi, where funeral pyres burn alongside the invigorating Ganges? And which symbolises acceptance of life and death on the same plane? “The serene images of Kashi, I felt were most ideal for restoring the spiritual balance had been violently shaken. Kashi is a celebration for the soul since according to our dharma the soul finds liberation in this holy land,” he says. His Kashi series, as he hoped, offered solace and equanimity to the thousands who visited the exhibition.