The lens through which we ‘see’

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How do we see? Not through our eyes, but our mind? How do you see things in the environment from the context of your experience. How does this differ from the way I see the same experience whilst being there with you?

Munnar, India, Photographing
Locals securing photos of a visitor. Top Station, near Munnar, India

It is akin to peering through different lenses. In business terminology, when attempting to understand the perspective of the goings on of the business from an outsiders point of view, some may refer to a sales person or analyst putting on the ‘customer’ lens or the ‘contractor’ lens, ‘stakeholder’ lens even. By this they’re talking about that individual thinking about the topic not with their sales or analyst perspective but seeing it through a new lens, perhaps the customer lens on this occasion. Similarly you may have heard the expression, “to put yourself in another person’s shoes”.

Seeing the same thing through a different lens is however somewhat peculiar to the experience. It’s what you’re seeing in your mind and how you’re seeing it. What you actually observe and interpret will be a result of your connection with the event at that time. What physical things you see, how familiar they are to you, how they relate in the scene, and whether they command a long stare or a quick glance.

New Delhi, Welding Repair Work
Repair workshop. New Delhi, India

How you see it will be influenced by all of the past events in your history. How the objects in the scene make you feel, of what they remind you, whether they evoke positive or negative emotions or memories. These are just some of the considerations that will impact the way you see moments, observations and things.

With the proliferation of digital cameras, phones with cameras and applications that allow us to instantly take images, manipulate them and share them on social media sites, we are all able to unwittingly share the way we see the world. The subject matter, the way it is captured, filters applied to change the ‘feel’ of the image, they’re all subtleties that speak more of the operator behind the lens than that appearing in front of it.

Kerala backwaters, brushing teeth
Local life. Backwaters, Kerala state, India

This being the case, recently I traveled to India and collected many digital images of what my mind’s eye saw. It was a first journey to a place that was expected to offer a challenge across various personal domains, be they presumptions, assumptions, cultural norms and behaviours, expectations, habits and the simple ways of doing things. Starting in the south, first endeavours took place in Cochin, then travel across Kerala state beyond Munnar to Tamil Nadu state. Following the escapade through many tea-fields, travel continued in the north along the well-trodden tourist paths of the Golden Triangle – New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. With none too few hectic and exciting train journeys, the triangle was departed for the IT Hub, Bangalore, the most commercially oriented city on this exploration.

Jaipur Bird Watching
Bird bath. Jaipur, India

India didn’t disappoint, the challenges expected were adequately revealed and revered. With a few days pause before returning home, the opportunity presented to consider what had been and gone, impressions versus reality and observations versus actuality. Was the lens through which I saw upon arrival in Cochin the same as the one with which I departed? With the vast existent cultural differences was I able to see from a local’s view and develop better understanding? In a way perhaps it is most likely easier to replace your lens when remote from familiar surroundings; the difficulty is taking it off when you already know what you want to see.

Through which lens do you see?

India and Yoga Screenshot

India and Yoga | Betwixt we Meet_v2_Web – iPhone

A multimedia presentation depicting observations from India and Perhentian Island Malaysia.

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