Sunday, 29 April 2018

Doodling in Delhi 2

The mercury continues to rise in the Capital but fortunately it hasn't deterred my love affair with colours in any way. I am posting two more of my works (referring to them as 'works' sounds pompous doesn't it !?!?!😝).
Both are of the woman, a subject that is versatile and intriguing, full of the mysterious allure of the feminine entity which even I am not truly able to fathom, in spite of being one myself.

 No 1. I call this the 'Girl and Green Water'. I copied it from a Google image. I began it as an oil pastel but then realised the transparency of the water and the reflections in it can only be brought out in watercolor. So I switched, but at some places where the pastel is thick, the watercolour could not be taken up by the paper. Still, the end result is not that bad.

No 2. 'The Scarlet Woman.' This is again copied, from a painting on YouTube. Since the original was acrylic on canvas, I was finding it difficult to reproduce the shimmer and texture of that media in watercolor on paper as it tends to become muddy if your paper is not specially made for watercolour. However I persisted, self - learning a few interesting techniques on the way and here is the final product. The Scarlet Woman is voluptuous, sensuous, supremely confident and can't care less of what you think of her in-your-face feminity. And I love her for it.

No 3 Earth Mother
I was searching for works of masters and found this one by a woman painter called Martina Shapiro. She appeared to be influenced by Cubism and Picasso. I loved the vibrant throbbing colours of her canvas but couldn't quite reproduce the same. Still this one turned out ok though I have yet to master the technique to retain brightness in water colour. I've called her Earth Mother.

Master Pupun continues to be generous both with his Art supplies and his encouragement. In fact, the moment I open the door on his return from school, his first question is, Aibee Aunty what did you draw today?

I have bought a host of art supplies myself now anf hope my love affair with this media will continue once I return back to the hills.

In the meantime, be sweet and leave a comment.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Doodling in Delhi....

Nearly three long weeks loomed before me. In this hot, hot month of April, when oven fresh blasts of Loo winds rage in blowsy gusts all afternoon, shopping was well out of question. I had nearly finished all of Pupun's books ( Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Monkey See Monkey Do, amongst others)  and had nothing, absolutely nothing to do. Delhi was promising to be deadly boring.

Pupun is the young gentleman, a whole decade and some more old, whose room we have usurped for the next fortnight or so. Pupun is an amiable but busy young man, and his day is full of exciting things like guitar and drawing classes interspersed with more mundane activities like home work and evening cycling. He is fond of Art and his little brown desk is chock full of art supplies: coloured pencil, crayons, poster paints, brushes and hordes of drawing books. The latter are full of colourful rendition of characters from Pokemon decorated with fantastic names like Gardevoir and Luxray and Roserade. He has recently learnt 'pencil shading' and demonstrated his newly acquired skills with a picture of Tintin and his dog Snowy for me.

Seeing him draw and tempted by his humongous collection of Art supplies, I took up a pencil to draw, after a gap of nearly thirty years. At first I was hesitant, pretty sure my attempts would come to naught, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the results. They were definitely not bad, not bad at all. Perhaps it's like cycling, which you never really forget, however long the gap has been.

I'm posting  five of my drawings today, mainly because if I put them on the blog, the chances of their getting lost is minimal.

No 1. This is : 'Day Lily, Pencil on Torn Page from Exercise Book'
The work could have been smoother but considering it is my first, do forgive.

No 2. I got my hands on Master Pupun's coloured pencils and scribbled out some irises, one of my favourite flowers. This one's ' Two Flowers and Bud, Coloured Pencil on Drawing Sheet'. The only little glitch in this piece is that proportion has gone for a six here with the bud becoming larger than the flowers. But the shading is not bad.
No 3. A scenery, a firmly favourite topic of my childhood. This one is 'A Bridge and Calming Water, Watercolour on Drawing Sheet'. Again, the water colour is Pupun's. Of course.😂

No 4. 'The Tulip, Coloured Pencil on Paper'
A little lopsided, I agree but it's drawn from a photograph of a real tulip.

No 5. Hotchpotch media, oil crayons, coloured pencil, poster paint, sketch pen and 4B pencil on paper.
My favourite, titled:
"Aibee, Mimie and the Moon"
PS: Do let me know , kaisa Laga,😄!

Monday, 16 April 2018

The Bhopal ki Shaan was gently chugging its way across the heated plains of middle India towards Delhi. Inside, the AC I compartment, it was all quiet except for the stertorous breathing of my co-passenger sleeping on the berth above me that rose above the din of the train’s song. The AC was sluggish for this hot summer night and feeling warm, I threw off the thin white sheet covering me. Suddenly, the metal doors were pushed open and two men entered. Along with them came the bogie attendant carrying their luggage. The men adjusted their suitcases below the seat opposite mine and then both settled down on the seat, one curling up to sleep and the other a large Sikh man, reclined against the berth’s backrest.

I wondered, “Two men on the same seat in a first AC compartment??? Did AC I have provisions for RAC?”

A quick google search said “NO. There was no RAC for first AC.”

Now I was wondering, “Should I raise an objection over this extra man inside the coupe?”

Other Half was fast asleep on the berth opposite mine, totally oblivious of the happenings around him. I decided against creating a ruckus, mainly because the two men had actually done nothing objectionable so far and I was not in the mood for any mayhem right then. But that extra man, that huge Sikh’s presence itself was disconcerting to me. I felt kind of exposed. And I had caught the attendant staring at my bare feet sticking out of my culottes and this coupled with that un-authorised male presence made me very, very uneasy; even though Other Half was there with me. Forty five years of conditioning that had taught me to implicitly distrust the opposite sex rose protectively to the fore and I pulled the white railway sheet back over my body. I had learnt well the lesson of covering my body for I knew that all males were unequivocal sexual predators, irrespective of whether they wore a suit or a lungi, spoke the language of the streets or suave English, were daily labourers or executives. “Cover up, keep away, keep alert……” My instinct whispered warnings, a well-honed reflex of survival, active even at this staid middle age.

I pulled the sheet tightly around me, adjusting it all around my body so that nothing was visible. Cover up, cover up, cover up………..

It was an uneasy night. I kept tossing and turning because it was hot within the sheet but I couldn’t afford to get rid of it. All night I kept adjusting it, wondering whether that extra man was leering at me in the darkness. In these times of Nirbhaya, of Asifa, of Unnao, of #MeToo, a woman could not afford to sleep easy, could she?

Then I think I must have fallen asleep out of sheer exhaustion. I woke up the following dawn to find that the other man had departed and now there was only one man on the bunk next to mine. The huge Sikh was now fast asleep, head cradled in the crook of his arm.

The next hour or so, Other Half and the man exchanged a few sparse words, once they woke up but I refrained, maintaining a studied silence. The man was constantly on the phone, wishing friends and relatives, “Baisakhi da bohut bohut badhai!!!”

Finally, the train reached Nizamuddin. The man quickly collected his lone strolley bag and waved to Other Half, “OK, chalte hain.” Other Half, always impeccably mannered stood up and helped the man out.

“Happy Baisakhi to you.” Other Half wished the man. The man waved back again, in acknowledgement

Then as he stepped over the doorway, I really don’t know why, the man turned, paused and then smiled a soft smile at me through his white beard, “OK beta, Happy Baisakhi. You know I have two daughters just like you. They live abroad with their families.” And saying this, that elderly Sikh gentleman, an indulgent father and a doting grandfather disappeared quietly into the mad melee of Delhi.


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Saare Dariya Bhar de Bhagwan

Three children went to meet the River. They said to me, Aibee Auntie, she is old, our River, very very old and very beautiful.

The River was old but the children were young, with eyes that danced like sunlight on a river's breast at high noon.

"Mamma," they chirped, "we'll bathe in the River, float with her fishes!!!!" Their faces swum with delight, and their artless excitement infected even my been-there-done-that soul.

Chattering like a flock of sandy Babblers, we soon came upon the bridge that spanned the River. And suddenly, there was silence, the children's chatter frozen in shock.
"Where is the water, Mamma?" They whispered. "Where has the water gone?"



A wasted river lay beneath us, dark streaks of morbid liquid overrun with upstart hyacinths. The River no longer flowed, hemmed in by baked earth crisscrossed with cracks, naked sand, exposed stones and the sludge of plastic.

"Where is the water, Mamma?" Their voices were whispered wails of disappointment.

But I knew. I knew where the water was. There, up ahead, imprisoned by the dam it's waters were being disciplined, being trained, being fattened :
to burn our lights, to turn our motors, to churn out our foods....


But Mamma was looking far away. She turned to me, "Aibee, I grew up on the River's bank here you know. Papa would bring us here to swim in her waters."
"Of course, I never could learn to swim!" She laughed, a little apologetically.
"And now the water is gone."

The dancing sunlight had dimmed and faded from the children's eyes. Only their parched gazes now looked out over the dessicated River.

To that God whose temple stood on the banks of the River, I sent out a frantic prayer I had heard on the lips of a friend from many years back , uttered as she was driving over bridges after bridges on rivers that were all dried up: "Saare dariya bhar de Bhagwan, Saare dariya bhar de....."

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Many years ago, I was travelling to the seaside resort of Ganpatipule on the Konkan coast from Mumbai. The journey was in breaks for first we took a night train to Ratnagiri and then a local rickety bus from Ratnagiri to Ganpatipule. It was a lovely ride, meandering through red cliffs and deep green forests. It was warm but I could smell the salty sea smell in the air and the excitement of seeing the sea kept me awake the whole trip. On the bus were school girls, youngy ou white and blue salwar kameezes and long hair in two plaits and doubled up. One girl who stood beside my seat had a red rose in her hair. She was sweet with a simple rustic beauty and a single line of a poem danced in my head:

Konkan Kanya,
A red rose in your hair....

Today, after fifteen years, I completed it; on a sudden whim...

Konkan Kanya,
Red rose in hair
Your shy half smile:
In this salt air!

Alu and the Crown God

I had rolled barely a hundred metres down the road when I spotted her gambolling in the adjoining park. "Heyy Alu," I called ou...