The Last Thirty Days


Just a few days ago, I started photographing B Merwan and Co, an Irani café that has been a part of the Bombay story for the past hundred years. Established in 1914, Merwan’s, most loved for its mythical mava cake, is due to shut down on the last day of March. I don’t know what the date is today, this day that you are reading this. If the calendar has struck April, it may have happened already. Or maybe it is happening right now. That last bit of cake. That final cup of chai.

The thought of photographing the last thirty days and sharing each visual memory was something I did not decide. It decided itself. It is like going through a separation, that feeling of impending doom, that need to remember each bit. You know you are in love with her, crazily so, but at the same time, you are silently voicing a countdown to goodbye. My friend Kashish and I went about building a Facebook page called Tales from Merwan’s. In telling the tale was its own tale. But that is the problem, that problem with photography. You shoot a picture with the intent to capture something. I don’t even like that word—‘capture’, with all its brutal negativities. The very instant we capture a memory, the captured gets set free. The moment elapses, time shifts a second and what you had lived while making that photograph, goes away. Like clasping sand tightly and seeing time run through our fingers. A photograph is a bit like a breakup, perhaps. And all we wish for is remembrance of photos past.

Perhaps, that is exactly what impermanence needs. It needs a photograph. It needs us to acknowledge it, accept it, and then try to change the way things change.

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Better Photography.