Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Mirrors

All of us grow with mirrors. It has become one of the most indispensable objects wherever we go.  Also, there is no end to getting fascinated by them, even unknowingly!  Even birds enjoy looking at them! Like our sunbird on my scooter mirror.


Let us see this entertaining 'mirror maze' sequence from Charlie Chaplin's 'The Circus' first, one of Chaplin's hits and one of my favourites. 



The first mirror [click - Wikilink] I recall from childhood is this adjustable mirror.

My grandfather used to keep his hair oil, comb and hair brush in its niche.  This used to be on a table and could be stored face down when not in use, but it was always ready to show faces whoever faced it!  It was also the shaving mirror taken down on the floor where my grandfather, father, cousin or other male guests who stayed for a few days would sit cross-legged, with shaving soap, hot water in a bowl and razor in front of them. I used to watch this shaving business with great awe. 
[Click on all pictures to enlargify].
When my shaving days had arrived, I had made my own mirror from some junked rosewood piece and a cheap mirror frame that was broken.  It was just enough to show my face for shaving. I  have featured this in my junk blog as well. [Click].


The other mirror was the larger one, attached to a dressing table, made by one Byata Rao, who was a carpenter. He had one foot turned awkwardly and he would limp.  I did not know at that very young age he was a carpenter who had made that dressing table. It was suspended by two screws on either side resting on grooves on a frame for angle alteration as per need. It is suspended on the wall  now.
Every day, it shows my face. My favourite mirror is this one, suspended by a nail on my room wall. at face height, near a window for natural light.  My grandfather used it too and he used to take it on his travels.  This also served as a shaving mirror at times.   The beveled edges are beautiful.  I look at the edges involuntarily!
This is also a vintage hand mirror embedded in wood.  
My father's initials are painted on its back and he used to say he was using it in his tenure in Bombay between 1951 and 1958.   The mirror broke in the 80s and I got a new one and re-fixed myself.   I made a hanger using a bicycle spoke to enhance the mirror's usability. 


In the late 70s, I found a late 19th century object in the 'God Room'.  It was cute and compact, having some god's image on one side, in very bad condition. When I turned to investigate the other side, I was surprised to see a mirror.  It had never been wiped.  The mirror was in reasonably good shape.  The tension on the U-shaped leg held it in place.  Since the mirror was the size of a Playing Card I replaced the god picture with a playing card to protect the reflective coating on its back.  It is still serving me as a traveling mirror and goes with the kit on almost every tour and has proved to be an invaluable thing on many occasions. 

The above mirror was used by my grandmother for one of her rice-grain crafts. I salvaged it just to show how backs of mirrors were coated in earlier times.  It was some orange-red paint which we were told was 'mercury coated' and poisonous and so we were told to be very careful esp. when the mirror broke, besides the superstition of bringing bad omen.

Even now I continue to wonder how it produces a reflective surface on the opposite side! The hand for proportion.

Modern mirrors have a stronger coating at the back [right].  
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Mysore Zoo had a few Crazy Mirrors and entertained visitors who looked at them.  But there are no photos of those times.  When we went to the Science Park at Kolkata in 2010, I was reminded of those days by these mirrors and more.  





If you google 'crazy mirrors', you will see mirrors that can make you really crazy.

My scooter mirror is my third eye. 



Took this shot with a purpose!

I undertook a little project called "Infinity Mirror".  Read what it is here [Click]
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2 comments:

Susan Hirneise Moore said...

I like mirrors too, Dinu! I am a sucker for mirrors at yard sales, for example! Such a wonderful article. I enjoyed it very much! Keep on truckin'!
Susan

Kumar Sharma said...

Dinu,
Thanks for this one on mirrors, which has been written in your characteristic style - just plain simple, natural and candid. This is what makes it thoroughly readable - I enjoyed it too - more so, as I too have just had similar experiences - my Dad being your Dad's contemporary,(same as You & I are),and being culturally similar as Mysoreans. The bevelled edges of the Belgian mirror - well said - I too would compulsively glance and see the light spectrum too....on exactly the same mirror we have at home (orange coloured mercury coated behind). Only now, its frame and handle are gone and has been kept in disuse - but I do not feel like parting with it!!
Do continue your musings which are all entertaining and the future generations will enjoy it even more as much 'new information' is contained in these articles of 'old times'.
Kumar.