Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
Credit must be given where credit is due, and 'tis the beautiful Mrs Authorblog who was a model during her university years, before becoming a flight attendant with an international airline. But I can now reveal my own modelling story - with a slight twist.
I was 21 years old when I got a call at my desk, in the Calcutta newspaper publishing group that employed me. The caller was a person I had met a couple of times and he wanted to know if I had any spare time. At the time I was fairly active in theatre and so I hesitated slightly. I was working full-time, often working late into the night and sometimes on weekends as well.
In addition, I also played several sports. I did not have any spare time. None at all. But before I could say that, the caller continued and so I quickly bit my tongue.
"We know you've done some modelling and we'd like to know if you're interested in some more work with a leading client."
At this point in time, a monetary contract was mentioned. It was a decent sum.
Funny how you can go in a split second from having no spare time at all to plenty of spare time.. I agreed - but I was told I had to attend an audition first, followed by a stringent selection process.
"What sort of campaign is it?" I asked.
"It's not a print media campaign. It's a fashion show. Catwalk modelling."
And so it started. The first evening was a meet-and-greet, getting to know the organisers and meeting the other models. I was given the nod. I was now a catwalk model.
Well, not quite. I had to learn how to walk. Y'know, the catwalk walk. It wasn't easy. At first I was told that I looked like a soldier marching on a parade ground. "Loosen up," I was told. So I did. But then I was too casual. "Smarten up," I was told. This modelling gig was a lot harder than I thought. Funny how the simple act of walking - something we do every day of our lives - suddenly takes on an aura of complication when you move from everyday life to a modelling rehearsal.
Somehow, they got me to walk like a model. They deserved a whole consignment of Olympic medals for schooling me so quickly.
Then things got tougher. They told us who the client was and informed the male models that we would be wearing suits. No casual clothes. No sports gear. Expensive suits. Tailored in such a manner that they would mould themselves to our bodies. With that information came a corollary. Because the client was such a large corporation, their executives wanted to inspect the models.
That afternoon it was carnage on the catwalk. Several times the execs said they did not like the look of models. Just before I walked on, one of the choreographers pulled me aside and said, in no uncertain terms, that I had to surpass everything I had done so far. They were already reeling from the thought of having to replace so many models. So I walked like never before. And I got the thumbs-up.
At this point, we were measured for our clothes. A few days later, the amazing fabrics were delivered and the promise was accurate - we had never worn clothes with so much class.
Then things went pear-shaped for me. About a week before the first big show, I had to fly to the southern Indian city of Bangalore to cover a five-day cricket Test match. I was going to be away for a week.
The show's organisers held a council of war and came up with a terrific compromise. If I could fly out of Bangalore immediately after the Test match ended, I would be back in Calcutta with about an hour to spare. I would then join the rest of the models, the choreographers and all the organisers and we would travel overnight to Siliguri, in the foothills of the Himalayas, for the first live show the next night.
But even the best-laid plans of mice and men can sometimes go astray.
On the appointed night in Bangalore, I had checked in for my Airbus A300 flight and I was in the airport restaurant, having dinner, when the announcement came over the PA system. Indian Airlines had cancelled my flight. All passengers with confirmed seats would be put on the next evening's flight.
There was no option. No alternative. This was in the days of a sole domestic airline. A Government-owned monopoly domestic airline. I was stranded. And because it was way past office closing time, I had no way of contacting the organisers of the fashion show.
Mobile phone? Nup. This was before mobile phones were commonplace.
So I gritted my teeth, waited twenty-four hours and caught the flight to Calcutta on Thursday night. Early on Friday morning, I rocked up at the Indian Airlines office and booked a flight to Bagdogra. This was familiar territory for me, because in my boarding school years, the school had flown us to Bagdogra each year before we made the three-hour journey up to our school in the stunningly beautiful Himalayan town of Darjeeling. I knew this part of the country like the back of my hand.
From Bagdogra, I caught a cab to Siliguri, and found the hotel where the rest of the crew were staying. They were delighted to see me, but there was one piece of bad news.
When I hadn't turned up as arranged, they thought I had chickened out or that I had been taken ill. So no one had brought my splendid suits to Siliguri. There I was, having flown halfway across the country - and I had no clothes to wear.
Someone found my shirts in a wardrobe. I was wearing a pair of Levi's. So on the night of the show, I made a couple of quick changes, wearing my jeans and sporting a change of shirt each time.
It was the only time denim took its place among the ritzy suits and gowns. And I walked better than ever before. Real casual, like.
For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.
(The photographs accompanying this post were taken with a new macro lens, the SMC Pentax-DA 1:2.8mm Macro Limited. Note the clarity and the great depth of field - and watch this blog for more shots with this lens.)