27 August 2021

Restoring a 1984 Photograph

This black and white photograph from my Ama (mother's sister) Lhaden and Asha KB Gurung's marriage in 1984 is the oldest known picture of myself and even my mother's. It was taken in Haa Imtart officer mess where the ceremony was hosted. I was only one year old. Since my father was not in the picture, I am assuming he may have passed away already. They say he died in a truck (that was operated as public transport) accident when I was a baby. 

Standing L-R: Angay Tashi Dem, Jojo Dorji, Angay Lamkey, Asha KB Gurung, Ama Lhaden
Front row: Ashim Karma Lhaden, Mother Gaki holding the cute me. 
The Scanned copy of the original photo from 1984

I remember seeing this photograph before, but I didn't realized how important a piece of memory it was for me. It was in better condition then. I could have taken care. By the time I saw it last time in my sister's possession, it was already in bad shape. I am so grateful that she took care of it, becuase this time when I saw it, I felt so nostalgic. It was a completely new feeling. I think that comes with age.

Just when I was wondering what to do with the old picture, something random made a perfect sense. I was invited to give an inspirational talk at ScanCafe in Thimphu Tech Park last month. I made new friends there and discovered what hundreds of young Bhutanese are doing in that massive office. Jagat and Neten showed me samples of their works. As of today they have scanned 193.5 million images by hand. Yes, they are photo scanning, editing, restoring service company with HQ in the US. Their client base is outside Bhutan for now where the value of old pictures and videos are already felt. When we Bhutanese come of age, they are already here. 

Isn't this amazing that two random events happened almost at the same time, one is only making sense becuse the other happened a little ahead of it? I called up Jagat and told my old picture story. I didn't even have to explain what I wanted him to do with it, because this was a part of his job. 

Restored by ScanCafe

This is what he has done with my picture. He said he could only do so much because my photo was tiny, only a little bigger than playing card. Yet he has restored the damages and enhanced the resolutions almost ten times. 

Colourized Picture 

He added live to the 1984 still picture by adding colour to it. I am going to print copies of it and gift to my grandmother, mother, Asha and Ama. But I am wondering if Asha KB really wore a faded gho on his marriage. I think that must have been a glitch. Anyway, that will be a good topic to talk on when I go to them with the printed picture. 

Thank you, Jagat!

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