He can go without human companionship for long periods, but I am inspired by people. I learnt from my father, a former journalist, how interactions with people sharpen the intellect. Gazing at hills, brooks and animals is often enough to strike creative sparks in Iqbal. Most of the time, he chooses a place that is distant from civilization. These moments of solitude give him a perspective on life. He has a hold on his emotions. He does not fawn on people. He treats a CEO and a light boy just the same. When he suggested that we build a house in Vazhaithottam, just outside the Mudumalai Sanctuary, I was appalled. It would be the ideal setting for him, but I would die of boredom. He won me over with his persuasive talk: ‘Masanagudi is just a ten-minute drive away. Moreover, every day we’ll be going to Lovedale (where the couple runs the Light & Life Academy, a photography college). You can have the best of both worlds.’ He was right. After spending the day in the midst of people, it is a welcome change to enter a world devoid of them. Our house is sandwiched between a scrub forest and a stretch of agricultural land. A stream from the Kalatty waterfall flows by. We wake up every day to piercing trumpets from elephants. Peacocks dance in front of our house and spotted deer graze nearby. The villagers have hearts of gold. A tea shop can’t be found in Vazhaithottam, and goatherds often buy us tea from elsewhere without expecting anything in return. Simple, unlettered people can make the best neighbours.
Anuradha has an inborn ability to deal with a cross-section of people and get things done. She held a high post in a reputed advertising agency, but quit her job and merged her career aspirations with mine. As she runs the administration, I can focus just on photography. It also gives me the time for international events where top photographers congregate. For example, I try not to miss the biennial ‘photokina’, a window to the latest in photography technology. Seeing us, some assume that a couple can make a success of their marriage if they shared the same profession. While this might be partly true, a couple helps its marriage if they respect each other’s space. Anuradha and I are a team, but we also work independent of each other. She has her consultation work, and I have my photography assignments. Be it marriage or business, a partnership succeeds if each has an identity all his/her own.
As told to PRINCE FREDERICK