Sunday, August 23, 2015

Elements

2 comments:
I recently made a series of acrylic works around the basic elements that make up the world around us. My intent was to capture each in monochrome with a solid background while infusing in a little artistic touch and keeping the subject abstract and easy.






If you didnt guess already, the paintings represent air, water and land.


Masala Chai

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Warm mornings,
Or breezy evenings,

Whether simmered slowly with a hint of ginger,
Or coupled with a dash of elaichi and pepper.

When there are showers outside,
Or when there is a chill inside.

Whether its at home or the nukkad shop at the far end,
But definitely never at a CCD or Starbucks, friend.

While in a train as it chugs ahead,
Or when the bus comes to a halt at end.

During conversations that stretch long,
Or even when someone is alone and forlorn.

When the first rays of the sun light up the floor,
Or when the clock strikes a nightly four.

Whether you'r paired with Samose fresh out of the skillet,
Or frugal on your own with a Parle G packet.

When in office and your eyes start drooping,
Or by the smirk on the colleague's face you know a chai-break is coming.

Whether you come steaming with a lot of milk
Or with loads of mom's love blended in.

Whether the mood is jubilant, furious, sullen or just fine.
A first sip of your hot cup is something that sets up the mood right everytime.

Your alluring aroma fills up the house,
Sometimes its sharp,sometimes sweet.
But what are you?Just a concoction of milk water and leaves
Or a bronzed elixir,Ah, that magic you weave!

As the first rays of the morning bask into my room through the blinds,
I turn into the warmth of my blanket looking forward to a new day,
A day that starts with you,
a cup packed with that warm sweet gingery goodness of you.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Thoughts on the freedom eve

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Its 68 years since India was freed of colonial rule. You would argue that 68 years is a small time frame for a growing nation of a billion people; but if you look at it from another perspective, its long.
Long enough for a generation to pass, long enough for a generation worth of oral history to be ebbed away, long enough for us to forget some of our unsung heroes who only remain in the memoirs of our previous generation.

I am someone who is fascinated by stories, not just the ones we read in textbooks or those which come fore into the spotlight; but the stories of the real people, stories of the ladies who came out and picketed silk and liquor stores, stories of the teacher who made sure he instilled the right beliefs in his students during times of turmoil, stories of the men and women who went to prison for the dream of freedom, stories of the people who barely made the cut of glory but made a significant contribution to what was a revolution of an unprecedented epic proportion.


I am looking for that undocumented treasure trove of accounts which only live in memories and passed down orally in family dinners and now very much endangered to be lost in time. I am sure many people would have heard about how their grand parents or someone else in their family contributed to the freedom struggle in his/her own way. Lets not let that generation worth of memories disappear; they may not have made into history books, but they are precious nonetheless.

P.S. I have tried doing some online searches but the only sites I get are the likes of http://parliamentmuseum.org/indextry.html which have a clear dearth of the kind of stories I am looking for.

Please ping me on the blog or on facebook, I would be grateful if anyone is willing to share an account of their family with pictures, if possible. I also plan to start a page of such stories if I get a good response. Also let me know if something like this already exists that I am unaware of.





Monday, May 11, 2015

Post Disaster Thoughts

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It is a human virtue to help those in need. And when you see that some people are in dire need, many of us go about either directly volunteering to go the place where the disaster struck or collecting blankets, clothes and toys to donate. Their intentions are noble but what we need to understand is that the execution may not always be.

When amateur volunteers just get on the plane in a quest to help, they instead end up interfering with the plans of professionals who are already there. I read about how the Kathmandu airport got super congested due to incoming goods and people that the actual movement of victims and help for them got affected. Such untrained people swarming there would only add up on those who have to be housed and fed, and this could disorient the efforts of the actual humanitarian societies for those who are in an actual need.

I also read about how certain packages with clothes were rejected and I think it makes sense. Someone who is bleeding would not do much out of a blanket or a cloth, he needs medical attention. And he needs such attention to reach unobstructed to him without being diverted due to another airplane carrying unwanted stuff.

So donate money as much as you can and do it right. Refrain from sending blankets, clothes and other physical goods, or the urge to go there by yourself.

Some useful links and references:
- http://time.com/money/3836879/nepal-earthquake-donations/
- http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2015/04/how_to_help_nepal_s_survivors_stay_home_and_send_money_to_aid_organizations.html



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Looking at the mirror

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When the question of sexual harassment and violence against women comes up, many of us believe that such acts happen due to some estranged and perverted extremists out there. We shirk it off by saying 'They are a bunch of psychopathic weirdos.' But are 'they' different? Do 'they' differ in terms of ideologies towards women?

The point that many of us miss is that such people only represent a surface of a much larger issue which looms, or should I say engrained deep into our societal fabric which we all happen to subconsciously endorse. That such people share mindsets like us.

Losing Honor
Take for instance our colloquial language, the act of rape is manyatimes referred to as 'izzat lootna' (In English this translates to losing ones honor). The victim did not commit any crime; she did not venture forcedly into someone else's personal space. How, then, could she be desecrated because some feral man decided to impose himself on her? What does this mean? We should probably change our Hindi? No! This is an indication to what our innate attitude is like, that somewhere deep down under there exists a problem. And a big one at that.

The Problem 
The interview of the Nirbhaya case's victim is in the news these days. What the interview pictured was not surprising, no-one expected the rapist to spit out adulation for women. But it was chilling and painful to watch. 
What the interview showcased was not merely the ramblings of a man convicted in a rape case. This was a mirror showcasing the beliefs of thousands of people in our society who share a similar ideology. What do you think of the literate defence lawyer who brazenly says that he would burn off his daughter if he finds her going out. Is there any difference between him and his client?

Mukesh represents just the surface of a balloon; the air in the balloon which gives shape and foundation to the surface is actually attributed to the mindset of the society. It is this mindset which subliminally sanctions such acts that even today Mukesh believes that he did no wrong by committing a seemingly disciplinarian action on a wayward girl. The balloon can only exist as long as the air in it does.

 Let us understand that we do not need to commit the act in order to be a rapist.
- I act like a rapist if I celebrate the birth of my son but not my daughter.
- I act like a rapist if I get totally outraged to find my daughter smoking when its okay if my son does it.
- I act like a rapist if I think I need to save for my daughter's wedding not her higher education.
- I act like a rapist if I think I am superior and deserve to get dowry from the girl I am marrying.
- I act like a rapist if I think my son deserves to get dowry or endorse the system.
- I act like a rapist if I think women are suited for only certain roles within the four walls.
- I act like a rapist if I think that a woman is profane/promiscous if she comes out of her shell or speaks her mind.
- I act like a rapist if I think that a girl lost her honour if she got raped.
- I act like a rapist if I believe that the victim of the crime deserved it some way.

Sometimes it is important to bring yourself under the magnifying glass to see if we are inside or outside the balloon.

What can be done? 

  1. Understand the attitude: We need to understand that we have all the makings of a rapist if we believe in any of the above points. Awareness is the key and it is for this reason that documentaries like Indias Daughter should be shown so that people know how much of their own ideology matches to that of a rapist. You just cannot brush things away under the carpet in the hope that your home gets cleaned. Acknowledging that a mindset like that exists and is very much prevalent in the society is the first step.
  2. Understand the psychology behind this: We need to understand how do people learn such ideas? Thats when we can do something about it. Right from childhood to adolescence there could be several factors that could affect someone's mind:
    - the neighbourhood man battering his wife everyday and the woman silently bottling her emotions,
    parents being more obsessed to the son than his sister, the incessant objectification of women in movies and TV shows,  the list is endless, sigh. Even little observations  taken during the course of a long time can condition a child's brain and plant the thought that women  are objects to be used and meant to be kept under your toes.
  3. Address the mindset: Just like the factors above which interplay in our society cater to the somewhat misogynistic thoughts in a growing mind; it is definitely not impossible to condition the mind in an opposite way. Note that this conditioning is much harder to bring about in adults compared to the growing minds of youngsters and kids. So we know we need our kids to be more tolerant and understand the meaning of equality. But who is going to do teach them this? An erudite family may do this to its younger generation but what about a kid who is born into that section of the society where women are looked upon in a lower light. His mindset is predisposed to pick up the grime he sees around it in its formative years. It is here that education needs to step in.
  4. Role of education: We know our current education miserably fails at it today (especially after listening to the comments by the convict's lawyer in the Nirbhaya case), but it doesnt mean that education cant help. It is possible to bring about a positive conditioning to a kid by exposing him to the importance of gender equality, and sensitising about concepts like consensual sex (Indian education system does not even talk about the three letter word). This is a daunting task though. Because you are trying to plant ideas which are very different from what the society showcases. It may not have the desired results always too. But we atleast have a way of tackling problems, albeit not foolproof. The education system is not just about reading and writing, it can become much more than that.

    Children should know about women achievers from different walks of life; this is to make them realize that women are not weak and subjugated; they are as much capable and strong as a man, they just need the right avenues.
  5. Welcoming a victim into the society: Most hospitals and medical staff are not trained to handle a rape victim properly. Since this is also a matter of a criminal case, care should be taken to both ensure the well-being of the victim and documenting/collecting evidence.
    Its just not about treating some wounds but there should also be options available for psychiatric counselling and addressing Post Traumatic stress disorder. It should be mandatory for the medical staff to understand the implications and the process involved in handling a sensitive case like this.


On a end note, if the sanctity of the image is at stake, we should remember that we cannot improve that image of ours by hiding non-pretty things, we do it by accepting the truth about ourselves in a mature way. Its time we understand what we represent and deflate the balloon.


Another important thing that we all should remember is that in the course of our fight for equality, its good to be feminists but don't turn into mis-andrists. The society may have many men with a skewed vision but there are many many others who support the fight against discrimination.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Those dimples

6 comments:
I love her. She is the only one I have in the whole wide world.

I can do anything for her. Anything. Even the agony of the long days when I sit at the window waiting for her to return, melts away in seconds at the sight of her getting down the car and a precious dimpled smile appearing on her face as she looks up and spots me.

She would run towards me, calling out my name loud and hug me tight. I love the feeling when she tightens her grip around me, her fingers tickling my back.

No matter how hectic a day she had in office, she ensures we go out for a stroll outside every night. Those 30 minutes constitute the best time of the day for me. Sometimes we run, or walk or play. Manyatimes we would just sit beneath the shade of the large mahogany tree as she relates the proceedings of her day to me. Sometimes she would be sullen, probably pissed off at her work but her way of narration in a chirpy tone and with full gestures always takes my heart.

It was another such day. The sun was going down in a resplendent vermillion hue on the other end of the horizon as I sat perched at the edge of the window, my eyes fixated on the walkaway beneath. She would be home anytime. I sat and waited. And waited. The orange shades of the sky first turned into grey and soon into a pitch black, but there weren't any signs of her.

I took a deep breath and went inside to drink some water. I noticed that she had prepared dinner for me before she left in the morning, a darling that she always was. But food was the last thought I had in my mind. I heard a sound outside and raced back to the window only to find deserted dark roads beneath, not a soul lingering anywhere as light showers begin to pour down. The distant street lights flickered and the pitty patter of rain drops echoed in the otherwise silent neighbourhood. I nestled at the edge staring blankly at the small puddle of water that was taking shape in the lawn. As more time elapsed, I noticed nearby lights being switched off, the whole community was embracing sleep one after another. But what about Samantha? She was never this late from office. My anxiety peaked.

I got up and kept pacing inside the home in circles from one room to the other unsure of what to do. Occasionally I would go to the window with a slight hope and come back in more dismay.

It was almost daybreak and I was still sitting at the window when I heard a car screeching to a halt beneath the house. I frantically peered outside to find Samantha coming out of the car. She didnt look at me in her usual smiling demeanor, instead her eyes were fixed on the man in the car who got out and hugged her. She returned a kiss in return and they stood there bathing in the dawn's white rays for a while in each other's tight embrace. I stood there, still at my window, totally dumbfounded as I saw someone else share Samantha's warm hug, my eyes wailing for her to atleast look at me.

After a few minutes, I heard a click of the latch and saw her entering the room. She dropped her purse on the couch on seeing me and called out as her eyes flickered, 'Oh honey, you aren't asleep yet! Were you waiting for me all this while? I am so sorry, I had a meeting that got extended and I went to Ethan's place after it.'

She paused for a second to check the clock. 'Did you miss me?" She cried out as she raced towards me with her arms outstretched. 'I love you so much. Come and give me a nice hug', she said, the dimples deepening as the familiar smile appeared across her immaculate face. And once again, yet again, I lose myself. My agony melts again as she takes me in her arms, lifting me off the ground and her fingers move through my golden fur. I let out a small woof in return and cuddle my head between her arms.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Discovering oil pastels

2 comments:
I recently visited an art store for buying some supplies for oil painting. While skimming through the shelves which were pretty overloaded with a vast range of art goodies, I came across some sets of oil pastels. I was curious to try them out for it has been ages since I did so. The last memory dates back to my primary school days when pastels and crayons were the only mediums I had explored.

Quite unsure of my ability, I picked up the student quality pastels(junior level) instead of the myriad professional ones available. It took me a few days to finally overcome the inertia and get started with the new medium I bought.

Very surprisingly, oil pastels have proven to exceed my expectations drastically. Simply put, oil pastels can weave magic even for someone who is just starting with this medium. Everyday I unravel something exciting.

Well, there is a lot to explore in this domain and I very earnestly look forward to whats in store. Posting some experiments here.

1. Start with some basic elements to understand the texture of the medium

2. Then try out something a little more complex with a composition of lighting and texture.


Friday, May 9, 2014

To the stars

3 comments:
He tries relentlessly, reaching out to the stars
For they are too high
And he doesn’t care for scars

The ambition is strong, the will undeterred
Night and day he works,
Everything else was just blurred

Sometimes he would delude, but then remember his goal again
He would resume on his stride,
Picking up his pace main

He was joined by others but he has his vision on the stars set
No matter what happened,
He would not settle for anything less

People came and left but he went on, for he believed his belief
That the stars he was headed towards,
Held an end to all his grief

He looked down and reveled as he had come a long long way
The mighty world was down under,
The heights he attained was way too great

He stepped ahead with bated breath, as he finally found himself standing in stars amidst
Stretched out his hand to feel them
but they dissolved as if made of mist

Startled he looked around, to question what just happened if in a myth
He was standing at the peak he always dreamt of,
Without a soul to share his success with.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hasee toh phasee

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“What is this! Just a few lines strewn on a canvas and they cost you thousands. Sheer daytime robbery!“, Sahil mumbled as he came across a large painting. He had already been to several other rooms in the exhibition and everytime just came out with more exasperation.

The girl standing next to him who was also looking at the same painting overheard his remark and turned to face him.

Her eyes caught his as she spoke,  “Well I think there is always more to something than what meets the eyes, whether it’s the case of a person or a thing. Same goes for the paintings.”. She spoke with an endearing smile on her face and walked ahead to see the next painting.

He was in a daze for a moment as he quickly assembled himself and caught another glimpse at her. She was a dawning beauty, wearing a white linen tucked in shirt and stone washed jeans, her hair flowing as she glided to the next sculpture.

“What can really be there behind those random lines that could mean anything more, honestly I cant understand what the artist tried doing here”. He couldn’t resist himself from walking down to her.

She turned to him, as her eyes sparkled. “I think abstract paintings like these give you a chance to let your imagination free, think broad speculating the artist's intention.” She paused for a second flicking her lashes, “You aren’t much into art, are you?”.

“Yeah I am not. But I always love to know more about any pretty thing I come across, just like I would love to know more about you. Would you mind enlightening me?”

“You find me pretty, eh?”,

“Yes you are. Very. If you don’t mind being complimented.”

“Ha! Who wouldn’t!” She blushed, with a beaming smile.

“Hansi toh phansi Sahil, this is your chance”, Sahil wondered. He spoke ahead “So does this mean I get a chance to know more about you over coffee?".  He briefly stopped to ensure he had her attention and continued, "I am Sahil, by the way.” He extended his hand to shake hers.

Before he could get any response, a man shoved him back and stood facing the girl. He wielded a pen and a notebook in his hands as he spoke, “So Mrs. Tara, you won the best artist award today for your painting 'The Twisted Lines'. I am  sure your family and husband will be very proud. What do you think has been the reason behind your success?”

She smiled as she saw Sahil’s jaw drop in the background, “Well I follow the same principle in my paintings as I do in my real life. I prefer to give others a chance to think wild. To let imaginations loose." She beamed, "By not directly revealing the best essence.”

Sunday, November 24, 2013

From the other side of the glass

8 comments:
Let me start off with some little incidents:
Scene 1: Hyderabad Airport
I am waiting for a bus back to home with a friend after seeing off my mum at the airport. Lost into conversation and in my eagerness to board the bus, I leave my wallet on a bench at the stop. I get into the bus, racing to grab a window seat completely oblivious of the non existence of my wallet. After a substantial 20 mins in the bus and my blissful ignorance, the conductor comes in to announce that he received a call from the stop that somebody left a wallet there. This freaked me out as I realized that the somebody was me and the wallet had all my bank cards and IDs. Since the bus had already travelled half the distance, I was told to wait at the destination stop for the next bus to arrive. After another half an hour of anxious wait, the next bus came and didn't fail to disappoint: the driver was carrying my wallet wrapped and taped carefully in newspaper.
Scene 2: Madhapur Hyderabad
My friend comes to visit Hyderabad and I am all charged up and happy on seeing her. After picking her up from the railway station we take back an auto to drop us home. On the way we get down to have some breakfast at a local eatery and merrily spend 2 hours talking over dosas and chai. It was when we stepped out of the shop that it struck us that we didn't pick up our luggage from the auto. Flabbergasted we stand there completely clueless of the auto we left the stuff in. Neither did we recognise the auto nor its driver, thus setting the stage for a typical needle in the haystack problem to now locate an unknown auto rickshaw wala in a metro city. The only option left was to enquire about him from the station where we originally got into his vehicle. To our surprise, every auto driver at the station was already aware that a bag was left in an auto at the slightest mention of the word suitcase, thankfully our driver had spread the word to all his fellow auto guys and asked them to direct the claimants to the auto union building where the bag was kept. The poor guy had even done rounds in the market where we left to locate us while we were busy gulping down tea.
So why did I write these scenes? To brandish on a public blog my great knack of leaving around things? Ha.

This is for that unknown person who picked up an orphaned wallet at a bus stop and took the trouble to make sure it reaches its owner, to the auto guy who didn't just run away with luggage which he could easily have had he wanted to, to the cab driver who brought back my cell phone. There are people like these who reinstate my faith, in hopfulness, in trust. We might be living in an era of 'ghor kalyug' but there are always people who rise up to the occasion and make you look at things from a different angle. Thank You!

Here is an advertisement from IDEA that kindles the same feeling: