Thursday, 15 December 2011

I'm still alive!

I have been buried under a mountain of work which has seen me blogging only in my head. However in the elapsed time  I had my solo show titled Intangible Interlocution: An Anthology of Belonging. An exhibition is a place of repose for me....where all ideas come together and define the landscape of your life and politics; to commune in spirit with an audience who come to discourse with it. There are no secrets in this space and finally the nakedness of who one is percolates it's truth.

I spend very little time in the gallery after my show opens because it is a passage of transition for me, where I leave the work I create to exist without my mediation, and go back to my studio to reassess and ponder a progression into new articulations of deliverance. It is always the gestures of my Gallery team that holds my heart the most. The smiles of welcome, the extra spit and polish that goes into mounting the show, the endless cups of tea with the accompanying ice cubes brought exactly as I like it and even before I utter my request for one.....and more special than anything is the dress code for the opening that is our silent bond of love....ALL black! Twenty two years and still counting.....my association with Sakshi Gallery continues. 

On the 9th of December International Human Rights day, the Clark House Initiative in Mumbai held an event to bring to attention the decade long fast of Irom Sharmila. This poet and activist from the Northeast  has been on a hunger strike since the 2nd of November 2000 to demand that the Indian government repeals the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. Using this non-violent form of protest to register her call for world attention, till date most powers of political significance have merely looked the other way. The Clark House Initiative invited selected artists to design ten feet by two feet (vertical) flags that was to be taken in procession by students of the J.J School of Art from Flora Fountain unto the NGMA. However the dictates of the law enforcing agencies (!) refused to allow this public art event to function as had been planned where the flags/banners were to be carried in procession on full view for the  public to engage with. So once again a peaceful protest is quashed, whilst goondagiri from political agencies can thrive without a single police person stepping forward to intervene when life and property are at high risk! 

I grow increasingly worried with the Anna Hazare movement. An initial supporter of the "gandhi-man" I now find little that resembles the wisdom of the mahatma in this tiny caricature that has unravelled with the topi cap. I caught him mockingly speaking of Sonia Gandhi at a TV press conference , and he I felt myself  cringe with shame at the political games that were now so transparently evident from the team Anna camp. I also feel hugely concerned that a single institution will be vested with so much power. In the confessions of all Indians we admit and acknowledge that corruption and abuse of power is rampant, so it appears almost  as though we are gifting the venomous snake a double set of fangs to bite us with!

On a lighter note, I must indeed nominate Renuka Choudhary for an oscar! What acting! The rolling of the eyes, the flick of the newly styled hair and the nose turned up in mock pique; with of course the loud unconvincing "ham actors" laugh! Dear lady you crack me up with laughter, and at the end of a hard days night (quite literally), your TV drama certainly has me in splits of laughter. Now whether the Congress party sends you out to be their stand up comedian is another story altogether.

I am back from a three day vacation with my family. The Eastend Lakesong resort on the Vembanad Lake in Kerala was a relaxing quiet get away to replenish my very tired self. Just the four of us and time together was sheer bliss.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Yawn.....in the time of hypedom!

Morning potty-reading constitutes the newspapers as the start of my day. On days when I am rushing like a mad cat with a burning tail , with the clock ticking ominously and Begum my cat tripping me for fun, I merely glance at articles and headliners before plunging into my studio. But this Saturday was different. Though I had only slept at 6.30 am and was up again the same morning at 8.30  to get back to working on a project I just had to read the articleBore of the Year 2011 by Mihir Sharma. It was as though this young man had telepathically connected up to my brain and had transcribed my horrified reactions to the grand NDTV Indian of the Year Awards night that really was more like a stand up comedy show. I caught a snippet of it and stopped in my tracks in utter disbelief. The event was just so outrageously ridiculously and came across as a trumped up "let's feel good about ourselves" network exercise. Somehow Pranoy Roy just fell in my polls in that instant.

The camera kept panning to the who's who in the audience who all looked a trifle awkward and embarrassed as they shifted uneasily every time Annaji scribbled his repetitive spleege in a note book. The faithful lieutenant of course showed us the notebook each time to prove the authenticity of "good boy doing homework". What was funny is that the notebook looked strangely blank in the glare of the camera lights! Arvind Kejriwal of course looked every inch the common man  in his white shirt and light coloured pants. You could even imagine the sweaty armpits that is a must-have to accompany such an avaatar. Perhaps Arvindbhai had also been warned by Kiranben that his shopping bills may well be traced to the big city malls by nosey fact finders!

All in all, Barka Dutt and gang  cut a sorry figure on stage that night with the "lets wear our halo's act tonight".  The whole tamasha read as  a we made Anna Hazare a popular "white guy" (read that as new lingo for clean guy) pin up idol, so hey, we need TRP ratings in exchange! You owe me-I owe you  appears to be the new deal-breaking mantra. 

Perhaps the show may have received a standing ovation and a 5 star review rating if the NDTV anchors had taken a 24 X 7 vow of silence too! A room full of power hungry people and a puppet show on stage made me realise that the sanity of democracies seem sadly in question.

My ratings for the snippet of viewing that bored me to tears.......a falling star upon which I wished that better sense prevailed!

Monday, 17 October 2011

By the back door entries....

Almost everyone who desires to buy art in India wants to by-pass the gallery system to skip paying the commission! Surendran and I are among a rare handful of artists who choose to only accept projects and invitations that will be handled by the gallery that represents us. We do not have any contractual agreements signed with our gallery that binds us legally in any way; yet our own discipline demands a stringent adherence to these self- imposed ethics because we believe this to be a correct professional attitude within which to conduct our art practice.

Anyone who is familiar with the Indian art community should be aware of how each artist chooses to operate. Therefore it is surprising and rather amusing too, that Surendran and I are repeatedly approached by independent clients with offers  to negotiate  deals with them directly, with the expectation that  the gallery that represents us will play no role in the management of the project on offer to us. We are very clear in our  communication regarding the role that we choose for our gallery to have within all projects that we undertake, and find it irksome that people somehow don't quite believe that we prefer this as a personal choice.  In  executing works of art, and especially major projects, there are far too many factors of management involved that are cumbersome and impossible for an artist to handle alone. A gallery system is the scaffolding that allows for an artist to remain undisturbed from having to deal with the logistics of dissemination and commerce, and in fact safe guards both the artist as well as the client equally.

Indian art entrepreneurs need to become more savvy in their understanding of the relationship of the artist with their galleries. To presume that if they wave foreign clients and talk big money that artists will therefore compromise  their principles and ethics seems to suggest that they have no idea how organised a sector the art world is fast becoming. No international artist of repute anywhere in the world will negotiate projects without an agent and/or a lawyer present. It is time for the art entrepreneurs to please take stock of the current frame works of art management in India; and come to terms with it. My advice to them is to also  do their home-work please, and know the artist they are approaching. That way we can all quash the silly ping-pong communication and cat and mouse games played, and get on with our own agendas. You know it is true......that's the way....aha, aha,.....I like it....aha, aha! 


Sunday, 16 October 2011

I am a Mama's Boy!

"I am such a mama's boy, and I love it!" An email message from my son recently, that brought a huge smile to my face as it brought home the wonderful realisation that a generation of feminist intent has percolated; allowing for the confidence of our male progenies to exhibit with  unabashed pride, their affiliation to the influence of  their mother's on them; and remove forever the slur of "mama's boy" being a derogatory term.

There are certainly less of the stereo type divides  between the sexes these days. Men are from Mars and Women from Venus maybe true sometimes, but  vanity and fashion have brought these two universes quite comfortably to co-exist in each others spheres. Pumping iron at the gym is no longer just for the male bastion alone,  and beauty parlours are equally the weekend retreat of the guys who may ride in on their Hayabusa's for the spa relaxation "me time"! Technology too has become a tool that has become the common DNA of bonding of all the urban upwardly "mobile"; and social networking sites the common unisex playground where anonymity and masquerade are the prerogative of both!

The "feminine side" in men today is seen as a plus point in heterosexual relationships. Macho is definitely out; and smart boys trade in their loud and boisterous ways to become softer, minding their P's and Q's to find greater acceptance in the world of shared spaces with women.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger look is so passe. Abhi baby brought in chubby cheeks again, and Aamir Khan made being short schoo cute no?! Brains and suave have replaced raw brawn; with hints of spicy floral infusing men's colognes and boxer shorts in pink and pastel colours making an entry into the bedrooms of the hunks with their babes!

I love the new age man; the metrosexual, the mama's boy! Amen and hallelujah!!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Owl stories from midnight children...

There was something I did not realise when I lived in a small apartment. That it was so much easier to manage things, and that in a matter of seconds I could get from one end of it to another completing a thousand and one things in a blink of an eye! Ok, I exaggerated about the thousand and one things; but the truth is that I could pack in a lot of juggling and manage it all by virtually stretching my arms in true Durga style without needing "boost as the secret of my energy!"

Right now I am at boot camp time....that is the computer is booting and I am camping near it! With an air conditioner that has decided to weep copious tears down the side of one of my studio walls, and my studio looking like a war zone with troops marching about, I may well just dive into some corner of the world of virtual reality and slip out of this mad house for a while.

My half Parsi legs grow whiter as I see the sun light less each day! Like a mole in a hole I sit hunched over my computer and bash at keys and squint at monitor screens with my friend who has flown down for the third time to help me "stitch" my imagination together. Old friends over decades, we sit in happy silence, snapping at each other occasionally as only old friends can do without any pangas erupting, than goodness!

The monitor is propped up against a mountain of cushions not unlike the bunkers of a war trench, so that we could turn it on it's side to accommodate the image more accurately. Begum comes through this new labyrinth with gleeful determination to wreck and plunder, as she hops from paint trolley to computer table to the water colour table, then  on to the CPU and then tunnels out via the wires, to creep behind propped up canvases and topple over brush jars and pull at my apron strings before embarking on some other mad cap venture that her fur brain cooks up!

The studio has a charged air about it with the three of us loonies mucking about like wound-up toy soldiers on a mission impossible, with batteries in over drive. I will head down to my bed when it is closer to dawn and go through the absurd rituals of a hot shower and the mandatory daub of perfume; and only them will I creep into bed,  to wake up a few hours later..... and go through the same rituals of ablution before popping back into my studio, perfume and all!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Princely sum of rupees thirty-two!




I was in Bangalore yesterday to open an exhibition "the Bigger Picture II", organised by the Indian Foundation for the Arts at the Grand Ballroom of the Leela Palace. Curated by Abhishek Poddar this exhibition showcases the works of 89 Indian contemporary artists who have come together to support this fund raising endeavour, that aims to nurture residency projects, public art practices, collaborations, documentation and research and experimental enquires within the arts, as well as alternative educational modules that engage with art, music, dance, writing and theatre. Supporting the arts is an area of awareness that needs far greater committed attention; and where I believe the private sector can play a major role.

Getting up at 4 am to catch an early morning flight to get to Bangalore, I had the television on to keep me awake. Listening to the continued coverage of the attempts of the government to excuse the faux pas of attempting to pass off rupees thirty-two as a minimum wage, I felt deep shame at a nations callousness to the plight of those who make up a significant majority and who remain, even after all these years of independence and supposed progress, voiceless regarding the inequality of their plight. We are getting nowhere with governance that is riddled with only damage control, crisis after crisis; and where for every two steps forward that we go, we do a mile in reverse!

The issues of how and why money should be spent wisely are never discussed with children. And so we have generations of young people who pour out of our educational institutions each year, without a clue as to the power they possess that can bring change to the dynamics of true progress. My dear friend Ripan Kapur, who founded CRY, was amongst the few I knew who carried his passion in small dreams and made big inroads into creating platforms to focus on issues of development for underprivileged children. His buy-a-brick to build a school program was such an imaginative and simple module that could engage all children to comprehend philanthropy. Today we have the big money culture that breeds the big party syndrome and perpetuates wastefulness as a mantra of social snobbery. We have so, we flaunt, is the calling card of the jet setting who's who, with very few who stand apart from this norm.

My dream is to always hope that each of us understand how little things can make a difference, and how collective collaborations can make big dreams a reality. Joy for me is the idea that another person who is not as privileged as myself can also hold their dream and possess the ability to realise it; and for this to occur we must embrace the desire to be involved with things outside of the immediacy of our own existence and lend support to upliftment and economic advancement for all. Our legacy is imprinted in our motivation to create positive modules of life and dignity; and so dear Mr. Montek Singh Aluwalia, rupees thirty- two a day is a nightmare and one that surely you have never encountered. So wake up to a reality check and get it right. You are in public service and that should mean something to you.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Left right left right pyjama deela topi tight....

That a rape verdict takes nineteen years to be pronounced when an entire village was brutalized, and all it's women raped,  speaks volumes of the need for reforms within our judicial system. That it took the villagers three years of insistence before their  FIR was filed holds true that corrupted power continues to be the cancer of this nation.

I have had the harrowing experience of filing an FIR after a traffic police van rammed into my car; and I escaped being injured by a mere whisker. My car was badly damaged through no fault of mine, and the police attempted all methods of cover-up and contaminating the scene of the accident to save the culprit since he was "one of them"! Though the print media covered the case meticulously for three days, my FIR though filed, never say the light of day and no action was taken. It was as if NOTHING happened!

The police stations in India are territories that  are full of swaggering crude men who hold little respect for women.  With the stench of urine and sweat hanging heavy in the air, men in ill fitting uniforms occupy positions of authority that are never subjected to close monitoring. Women are mostly objects of titillation for those who sit behind those desks at which people are supposed to take their problems. Most often the "time pass" syndrome has kicked in to seal off any potential of conscience keeping that these men may have once felt.

Most often these jobs do not get selected by  individuals for reasons of committed service. As a result it is for making a quick buck and using the uniform as a tool of power to serve oneself that gives the police a very bad name, in most instances. That rape and plunder, genocide and harassment, and above all apathy can be often seen as the calling card of the police force of India,  is indeed a sad state of  governance.

Today with the countries attention on the Punch and Judy show of P. Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee taking center stage, stories of women being mercilessly beaten by cops in Bihar's Nalanda's district for staging a peaceful protest and desiring to file a missing persons report, seems to have been put on the back burner  of our conscience. Que cera cera....whatever will be will be?  Good grief, those are corny lyrics of an old song! Who ordered this to become the new refrain of our National Anthem ? Perhaps the uncomfortable truth to that answer is you and me.                                                  

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Late on a Saturdaynight....

Days float into nights with the moon and the sun exchanging places, whilst I catch  fleeting cat-naps before daylight drenches the Baroda skies; and I am back once again in the studio. For many years I have often relied on this personal clock that dictate my timetable into boot-camp regimes; and my body and mind adjusts without too much protest, with only a few aches and pains of fatigue registering warning signs of revolt from time to time.  The graveyard shift holds a peacefulness and solitude that is remarkably special; and with only the television set offering unending monologues,  time wraps around my brush uninterrupted. For me it is the time of day I  find the most nurturing for myself. There is an unapologetic selfishness of just me being there for myself as I abandon all other duties of life with the gleefulness of a child playing hooky!

But time plays out different things for different people. The recent past has seen so many strange occurrences that make Bollywood potboilers seems somewhat banal! The grand drama of a state government spending lakhs of rupees on white washing it's chief ministers stained and tainted image only talks of the how tax payers money gets used in corrupted ways. The agenda :  Modi's fast and the presentation of a changed man! Well, does the cap fit? Obviously it does not if he refuses to wear the skull cap presented to him; so let the marvels of live television speak the truth for what it is. Manipulation of history does not provide for truth and reconciliation. This can only be a great mantra if the person who is mouthing it understands the intrinsic meaning of the message.

But onto another strange occurrence. Arnab Goswami talking to Ram Jetmalani. As I sat painting late into the night I listened to a repeat broadcast of the Times Now news hour interview of Arnab with Ram Jetmalani, on the issue of the 2G scam; and  I was in splits of laughter! I cannot imagine how neither of the two have not thought of signing up for stand up comedy. Really! In the stillness of the night, I was just roaring with laughter over what was supposed to be a serious interview on a serious topic. Arnab you are quite unique; and you can take that as you choose to interpret it! As for Ram Jetmalani; he is the quintessential maverick and there is something irreverent about him that I love!!

On the other hand I was moved to tears by a documentary that Barkha Dutt had done on the unmarked mass graves in Kashmir. The compassion that she possesses for what she does, comes from a conviction that does not merely situate itself in being a media person alone. She refuses to be cynical, and holds her truth without compromise; and so what you are offered is to become a participant on board with her.

I am off to market to market tomorrow, not to buy a fat pig, but to look into the bazaars of Baroda for popular objects. I have the rumblings of an idea for a project; and like a duck I need to sit on my ideas to hatch them into some semblance of shape and form.  I will wander about in the afternoon heat and percolate my thoughts in gullies of the old city; whilst more sensible people will siesta, especially on a Sunday!

On the duck trail: I have chucked and ducked the gym;  because as all things in my city, the standard of the place has turned from swank to crummy in a year! I take an hour and a half to exercise, six days of the week, and found that provocation and frustration of bad management were not what I wanted to encounter in that precious window of relaxation time. So the lure of walking has tempted me back to find my solace in its arms. Today on an impulse, three of us walked back from Kamatibaug to Sama. The duck story is because we walked in a single file, due to zipping traffic; and I looked very much like a regal duck with her ducklings in tow as I marched from point A to point B!!!

Begum is all ready for her stint of solidarity with me in the studio tonight.
She sleeps, I work....well it's all about balance in life, isn't it?!!!!


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Another act of terror...







The visuals on the television screen since yesterday are chilling. Human flesh lies splattered on the grounds of the high court in Delhi, and dismembered body parts are scattered in the violent radius of hatred, unleashed on unsuspecting victims that have no connection to these agendas of terror and political conflict. I cannot shake off the face of the grieving father of Amanpreet Singh Jolly, who at 22 has died such a violent death. I wonder that by killing him and others like him, who and what gets achieved or avenged. The backlash of these dastardly acts only further entrenches hatred and feelings of revenge amongst common people, that hold the scary potential of perpetuating cycles of vendetta and retribution.

I am fast beginning to lose patience with the administration agencies who are relegated the responsibility of over-seeing security in India. The laxness with which they deal with this important issue, allows for these easily avoidable situations to occur. This complaint keeps falling on deaf years, and as is the tradition with us Indians, our over sensitivity to criticism presents defensive excuses to avoid accepting what we need to address; and that too urgently!

Though I remain grateful to the media coverage of such events, I equally agree with the lawyers and advocates who with folded hands yesterday, requested at the site of devastation, that inappropriate photographs should not be taken by zealous photographers wanting breaking news coverage at the expensive of human compassion. The pain and horror of such a reality cannot also be superficially dealt with by VIP visits to appease sentiments, and it does not surprise me in the least that Rahul Gandhi was heckled by the victims relatives on his good will
mission.

The time to act is NOW. A quick and efficient investigation must occur by law enforcing agencies that does not in any way victimise innocent people nor harass minority communities, just to arrive at some quick-fix solution that pretends at booking the culprits. Terror attacks are here to stay, and we have to find the political will to address a vigilance and security system that has radical reforms to cope with this new evil that appears to be here to stay.

No city in India is safe today. Let us acknowledge this as a truth and proceed
from here. Only then is there the chance for us to deal with this situation. There is no place for denials or political posturing, nor for partisan political games to be played. Speeches in parliament alone cannot find the solutions that are needed to tackle this growing security issue. Let us get high level panels with the required budget sanctions to revamp our policing forces, and introduce special forces trained in terror combat, to bring strategies of vigilance to the game board. No more lamenting please, let's have some action.




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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

In a heart beat...




I am sitting in the hospital with my friend as her aunt is undergoing the procedure of having a pace maker installed today. Hospitals are never my favourite place; perhaps only those who work in these institutions can really enjoy or look forward to being within these spaces each day. But these visits do act as a necessary humbling reminder that none of us can ever be without the occasion of need that takes us to these locations that assess and rectify; and aid us to better health management.

I notice the changes in my body as age and wear and tear bring problems that straddle everything from the tiny to the unbearable. India is only just becoming aware of the importance of exercise for everybody. But here too the comprehension of what is appropriate and correct for the body does not really reflect itself in our gym culture, where trainers often have little or no real experience in body management that is tailor made to specific requirements.

Even obvious things are ignored. I am forever astounded that women who are large or obese are not instructed on the crucial imperativeness of wearing bras that have a good support for their breasts. Or that proper running shoes are not recommended. Personally we also choose to be foolhardy and casual when common sense could better advice our actions. I know for example that I often don't provide my body adequate sleep. Of course I always offer a reason for this, but in the long run I am merely ignoring the basic requirements essential to maintain a healthy longevity that assures me that my body management, with sensibility, is being attended to, with my eye on the future.

I have also begun to observe that my parents generation appear to have attitudes related to growing old that I find not very positive. On one hand they scream about being independent, on the other hand they are often desiring more attention than is really needed. They stop being active and make the home their only territory of existence without being participatory in ways that allow their bodies to exercise and be mobile. They sort of resign themselves to old age in a manner that I find rather negative and the agility of their mental abilities also diminish as a result.

Small acts of conscious thinking can go a long way. But then too often, being sensible is considered boring!
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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The gentleman artist saddly bids us adieu....

Jehangir Sabavala passed away taking with him memories of yesteryear that held stories of  the Paris Salon days and  travel in Europe, which packaged learning and training in easel painting and champagne parties, all rolled in one. The elegance and charm of Jehangir was so refreshing in comparison to the loud pink-shirt culture of the new Bombay Boy brigade. His quiet self-dignity never desired to claim attention to himself, and his visits to any art event where always to gift to the other the focus of his respect.

We were always humbled by the new year greetings each year that came unfailingly. Despite a painful and protracted illness in the last years of his life, Jehangir continued to embrace each day with a completeness that could teach many of us lessons in will-power and discipline. For somebody like myself who has a terrible memory for names, I found his ability to personalise his relationship through the remembrance of one's entire family (including begum our cat), to be commended. His desire was always to make the person he interacted with feel supremely special.

I think if I were to step into a time machine I would love to press the button that would place me into that era of yesteryear, where I could have known this dashing Parsi gentleman, and twirled on his arm in the ballroom of the Taj! I know I will always look over my shoulder each time I am at an opening in Bombay, expecting his gentle touch on my shoulder, that would herald his greetings of delight at meeting up each time.  

Dear Jehangir, you are irreplaceable for us.


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Catch yourself before you trip!

"In the 15th Lok Sabha, 153 MPs have criminal records. So when this crowd gets prissy because somebody called them boors or liars, it does sound rather precious."
Dipanker  Gupta -
Bad Manner, Good Democracy- 2.82011 Times of India

Thank god for the guts and conviction of Kiran Bedi! Whether appropriate or not, modules of self expression by citizens  that are neither violent nor communal, should not be muzzled by authoritarian methods of suppression. That she refuses to apologise supports her position to hold a critical space as a citizen. If  Parliament does in fact pass a privilege motion against Ms. Bedi then they truly have dug their own graves. Today the obvious targeting of the members of team Anna is not going unnoticed by an electoral public and will cost this government dearly in the next election. Members of parliament need to comprehend and address what the crucial issues of the hour are, and should not sideline the urgency of this by smart rhetoric and partisan agendas which only serve to procrastinate insightful and meaningful governance.

Perhaps more crucial is the fact that the Congress party should stop undermining the voice of the Prime-minister's office by constantly talking about Rahul baba's accession to the throne! There are many other vibrant young leaders who are equally, if not more, competent and capable of being groomed for this inevitability; and so to make it a hereditary issue as though NO other candidature can be contemplated, violates the intrinsic  principles and ideals of what a democracy is founded upon.

In his recent parliamentary address during zero hour in which he provided the famous "interventional"  speech (!) on the issue of the Jan Lokpal bill, Rahul Gandhi in my opinion disrespected the position taken by the prime minister earlier on this same issue, by attempting to take a leadership role that did not conform to his fledgling status within the party. His amateur posturing as a statesman in such situations does immense damage to the congress party, and only appears to encourage the sycophantic behaviour too prevalent in politics these days.

I may not necessarily agree with everything that Team Anna is doing. However that people, small or large in number, desire to form a movement to call attention to a systemic failure related to the control and addressal of corruption should be respected especially as it is a non-violent mass movement. That suddenly the leadership of this movement become the targets of autocratic methods of suppression cannot be accidental. 

Parliament as a whole put up a united front in their attempted to engage with the movement and call off the stalemate brought about by their collective mismanagement. The demand for action to pass a bill of significance to the nation that focuses on the issue of corruption now needs to be formulated and processed without further distractions and tamasha by those who are invested with the powers to chart policy making within the parliament. Why then this immediate volte-face  that is hell bent on vindictive and vengeful methods of harassment to the Team Anna members all of a sudden?

I think Arvind Kejriwal is completely correct when he says that politicians in India still haven't learnt any lessons.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Idiosyncrasies and other malaise!

I was doubled up with laughter as I watched one of our spiritual children stand in contemplation last night, with her fingers crossed! Let me also inform you that she is twenty-seven years old and of perfectly sound mind!! When I asked her what in heavens this mime act was all about, she rather sheepishly told me that she had a story she wanted to tell us, then thought better of it, and to get the idea out of her focus......crossed her fingers to help her divert her attention!!!! Mad as it may sound, I personally always love such strangeness because it brings to the prosaic world of daily routine, a necessary madness without which I would feel rather cheated!!!!

Self made rituals are delightful areas that give insights into the personalities of people. My father had a habit of carrying his silver cigarette holder in his pocket, and professed to always touching his pocket just before every take off, as a fighter pilot in the air force. In his retired years the ritual of an afternoon nap had to be accompanied simultaneously by having the television set on with the audio, the radio on and western classical music playing too!

Sitting and waiting anywhere,  I trace the word They in a looping script with my right index finger repeatedly. I used to walk around the interior of our home when it was being constructed, with my large Burmese umbrella open! I carry sweet wrappers from India, half way across the world and back,so that they can re-unite with the other sweet wrappers back home! Did I say this was sane.....?! But the maza of these secret ways hold a personal intimacy with oneself that feels completely acceptable within the other areas of one's existence.

Surendran does a cushion-throwing ritual each morning! He stands at the foot of our bed where there is a wooden chest that stores the cushions each night, and he carefully flings them (like a funfair hoop-the-ring expert), to land exactly where they need to be arranged! For this to be done, he insists that the cushions must be stored in a particular manner and well, sulk he does, if this order is in anyway altered by mistake because the rhythm of his act gets put out of joint! Mithun has to crack every knuckle on both his hands just before he sleeps and has two quiet sneezes each night that preludes his closure to the day!

Even Begum our cat has her own set of strange behavioural rituals! The bath-mat in the bathroom is the instant doze-opiate that sees her upright one moment and playing dead cat the next! This can be at any time of the day or night....it just occurs because it must! Bringing her two toy babies for safe keeping to me sometime during each day is another must on her list of idiosyncrasies.

So the next time you observe a person doing something rather odd it may well be a small private ritual that holds no specific meaning to anyone other than the person in question!

Monday, 22 August 2011

A pot that needs many cooks!

The problem is that when people shoot their mouths off on something as public as television, there is little they can do to repair the damage done. There is no erase button! On a recent episode of Vikram Chandra's The Big Fight I was both horrified and amused in equal measure by Renuka Chowdary, who appeared as though she was auditioning for a role on one of Ekta Kapoor's soap operas for day time TV! The kathakali hand gestures, the rolling of the eyes, the false laughter and the total dramabaaz in relation to a serious issue concerning government mismanagement only drove yet another nail into the coffin of the Congress party. But I guess mild mannered Manmohan Singh believes in the aaall is well policy!

I thought that perhaps watching Karan Thapar's The Devils Advocate interview with Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan would provide me a space to hear these two activists talk about their ideas and methodology, in relation to both the Jan Lokpal bill and the management of the protest being conducted by them. However Karan Tharpar derailed his own program by drowning out the voices of his guests with prejudiced opinions and  a judgemental stance, that made him look both boorish and a bully to boot. The CNN-IBN channel should inform him that viewers tune in to hear the views of those being interviewed and not hear the raucous voice of an over opinionated host who does not know the basic etiquette of his job.

I miss Vir Sanghvi's television talk show. I remember the brilliance with which he interviewed Bal Thackeray where as a host he remained courteous but an an interviewer brought to light for his audience issues of substance that allowed for a viewer to gain an informed opinion.

I caught only a snippet of Arundhati Roy talking about her concerns on the Jan Lokpal bill. She highlighted the need to include  the NGO and corporate sectors that today play a major role in development issues of India, and view these spaces as equally being erroded by corruption. I would really like to see a program that can put together Aruna Roy, Arundati Roy, Shabhana Azmi, Arvind Kerjiwal, Suhail Sheth, Mani Shanker Aiyar, and Medha Patkar, hosted by Pranoy Roy; to discuss an agenda that can place differing opinions to converge to meet a common target.  

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Too much self righteousness?

That the central government has made a complete hash of managing the call for protest against the Lokpal bill by Anna Hazare comes as no surprise to me. Though I hold Manmohan Singh in high regard and deeply respect him, I believe he just isn't prime ministerial  material. He lacks the crucial ability to hold conviction over any issue that he talks about. What comes across is a tutored version of what seems more bureaucratically informed than politically sound. And Kapil Sybil should stop sounding like the Vice chancellor of a university who is dealing with irrational students. Take your electorate seriously and understand that frustrations over years of corrupt governance is the legacy you have inherited; and work with a historic understanding of how it has effected the life of every Indian citizen.

However this isn't to say I am dancing the hoopla over Anna Hazare's tactics either. I am a strong defender of a parliamentary system and feel uncomfortable about compromising the methods by which it is meant to function constitutionally. Also, much as I am equally an advocate for the voice of the people, I cannot somehow get my head around the fact that every time civil society believes that the government is wrong, strong arm tactics like fasting unto death can become the hijacking techniques that allow for a very pedestrian understanding of what democracy means.

With the BJP strongly behind the Anna Hazare movement I have become uncomfortable with the "peoples agitation", because the stringent slogan shouting and vande mataram refrains are sounding slightly imported by political agencies with vested agendas and political scores to settle; and appear rather hysteric when viewed on the television channels.

Of course there are many Indians who are genuine supporters of this endeavor to make the government address the issues of corruption with a more honest approach to creating policy that can tackle corruption  at its grass roots; which in this case in fact means at the very highest offices of governance and judicial authority. However to allow for anarchy on the streets of India to become the instrument by which policy in government is drafted, makes me rather grey at the gills. I think this would be a very dangerous precedence to set. Tomorrow anyone who can muster up a show of strength on the streets will be holding the ability to make the parliamentary system get on its knees.

However I do believe that after a long time India has found a person to iconise who is both secular in approach and with a moral conviction to desire change. Like Mahahtma Gandhi, Anna Hazare appeals to the imagination of the common Indian person, and possesses an understanding of mobilising civil society to find it's conscience. But equally like Gandhi, he runs the danger of romanticising issues that hold political divisiveness that are subversive in nature;  and ignores the  implications that such naiviety can lead to.

The BJPwala's and the Baba Ramdev types are like vultures waiting to swoop on the kill. Team Anna Hazare should be vigilant and not make this historic possibility of civil intervention be wasted in rigid posturing. Negotiation and dialogue with elected representatives of the government and the opposition must be the only space to hammer out the drafting of the Lokpal bill.  All else will jeopardise the parliamentary system of democratic functioning.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Take aim.....fire!

A Pakistani pilot writes a letter of apology for shooting down a civilian plane in the 1965 Indo-Pak war. As I watched the program on television I was once again swallowed up by the memories of my childhood, where from a very young I was never comfortable with the idea of "hired killing" in the name of nationalism. My father was an Indian Air Force fighter pilot who has fought in that battle. For me, as his daughter, I always have this deep conflict of pride and sorrow that I carry till today over the fact of my father was obliged, by his commitment to his job, to kill in the name of war.

Images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not easy to forget. The scars of the long drawn out Vietnam war that the Americans embarked upon in the 60's,  are visible till today in both countries as a stark reminder of the futility of making GI Joe's games become a reality.  Nobody wins in a war and yet it prevails as the chosen option of settling panga's across borders.

For any nation to sanction human destruction is a strange concept for me. That duty to ones nation then binds you to murder as a heroic action for which you are rewarded with medals of decoration, becomes equally painful an idea to comprehend.

Yet concepts of peace become merely idealised notional spaces that only transpire as great "treaty signing" photo-opportunities, that never translate into implemented modules of co-existence. Perhaps it is because human-beings have so much suppressed anger and violence that  erupts from small provocations, that war becomes an excusable exercise in settling scores. 

I have lived in close proximity of the heroic belief of military passion.  I do not know that I can ever feel the stirring of  such national pride that demands of me to take up the call of arms. Communication can always lead to negotiation if the will and desire prevail.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Up in smoke and cinders...

I studied in London for two years and have always said that this city will forever hold a special place in my heart. So it is a personal sorrow for me to watch the news and see arson and looting occur in the name of "frustration" and the supposed "venting of anger" in this historic city;  and see very little control being established by the law enforcing agencies to put an end to these  riots. That the British police are racist is no big secret, and most certainly the death of a person from police firing would certainly have triggered a response of outrage and protest; but to run amok and destroy the property of innocent people, and steal with blatant disregard for what the consequences are for those whose livelihood depends on these businesses, is down right criminal.

Buildings are gutted and cars lie burnt in the streets of Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol  and  Nottingham, as hoodlums take advantage and use social networking sites to fuel the rampage-parade with a vengeance; and display an ugly opportunism that is horrifying. On a recent television debate on this subject,  a panelist from the UK jokingly made fun of the history of English thuggery and said it came as no surprise that such incidents occur since this is part of a cultural tradition since many centuries! I suppose British humour will be the only tide to ride in the wake of such a dark period in British history.

It is well established that the Asian communities in Britain are hard working and contribute significantly to the country's economic growth. This often causes deep resentments with the African-American community and those from the Caribbean. So the fear in such times is that such riots can turn communal.

Theories of these riots being pre-planned and a conspiracy are now doing the rounds. Whatever maybe the case I do believe quick and firm action needs to be taken by the prevailing British government, and order restored as the first priority; with the culprits booked for vandalism and rioting and stringent punishments meted out to act as a deterrent to copy-cat scenarios. If local goons can stir up such havoc and continue to inflict terror over cities over a sustained period of time, without the police being capable of quelling this delinquency, then one truly wonders what will be the fate of the people of Britain  if a terrorist attack of magnitude occurs.

My London holds memories of the smell of paint in my studio, visits to the museums, dinners in Soho, cursing the rain whilst dashing from one tube station to another (!), cycle rides over the bridges on summer days, and walks in Hyde Park with conversations that centered around art and dreams, all folded together; amongst many other things that youth and optimism nurtures.

That people have to guard their localities themselves against rioters is sad to hear. I hope that this mess ends quickly and that better sense prevails. I hear that people are coming out in London to clean up. After all to destroy what is yours must mean you have very little comprehension of who you truly are; so it is heartening to know that human courage has begun to triumph in England,  and peace and normalcy may soon be accomplished because  the will of the people  desire this to be part of their  existence.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Happy Friendship day!

Apologies for my long absence from this space. Ill heath, house guests, the Collective Studio management, and travel, along with long hours in my studio put my blog on the back burner for a while. But hopefully I shall be back to my writing with less ruptures from this week onwards.

Happy Friendship day!
I feel really blessed with the friends that fill my life. Each of them add so much to who I am as a person. Their long phone calls, their daily concern, their attention  for details that bring delight to my life and their constant vigilance to see that my life is always full of the energies that best nurture my spirit becomes a cyclic gift that is seamless in time. Thank you my friends for all the love.

Mithun and Samera drove down for a days visit yesterday with the agenda to take Surendran, Aditi and me out for dinner! Next weekend will see my favourite "couple" back at home for a longer weekend that holds the promise of a picnic (!!) which needs me to muster my enthusiasm for  flies and the lack of  clean toilets(!!), but soldier on I will because it will be loads of fun with the jing bang lot of us doing masti and regressing in age, with sandwiches and cakes as comfort food !

I am aghast each time I put the news on these days. Land grabbing and custodial deaths, ministers with triple murders as their achievements and over played cricketers hounded by the media for loosing a game which causes  more furore than urgent national problems like illegal poaching of tigers or mining or the suicides of farmers.

I caught a strange debate on TV, hosted by Arnab Goswami that seemed truly bizarre and quite farcical with Mahesh Jetmalani and Anumpam Kher extremely being personal and rude to Teesta Setalvad, who despite the hostility held her own and was the only voice that was informed and rational. Arnab is a rabble rouser who held such potential when he was with NDTV. What a slide down to become this pontificator who does little else except wind people up, interrupt them and use air time in such a pedestrian way. Nidhi Razdan and Bharka Dutt remain anchors who have kept the quality of interviewing very high. They bring out points of view and positions that allow for issues to be examined and for debates to hold relevance. Maybe it is time for Tarun Tejpal and the Tehelka gang to start a TV channel. I would certainly be a subscriber.

Friday, 15 July 2011

One dark cloud too many.....

I have been walking around with my head in a dark cloud and tears that come too quickly to my eyes since the last two days. The idea of never knowing when the destructive tendencies of others can destroy the life of another, weighs heavy on my soul. Who will be the victim, targeted or accidental, in a world that today holds no explanations that make any logical sense about the "whys" of  these occurrences  leaves me weary; scrambling around inside of my head for the lifeline of optimism to keep me afloat.

The weight of love is difficult to express, especially if you have cultivated a philosophy where this is central to your ideas about life and existence. Perhaps such choices make ones emotions too tender and raw; but then for me it would be difficult to know any other way because this is the membrane by which the osmosis of  my comprehension occurs.

One of my best friends is at a crossroad in his life. A divorcee who had a terribly scarring experience ten years ago; today is desiring to remarry. The anxiety  he carries within him  not to make a mistake a second time round, floats into my orbit of concern; and I lug about this weight of worry in my heart, wishing that I could promise him a fairytale future.

It is not always the big and visible acts of violence that hold terror for some, but equally those private spaces of hidden pain or memories you chance upon in the lives of others, that can cloud the light and direction of purpose in personal journey. In the Collective Studio there are many times that a heart is heavy, and the spirit weary. It is at moments like these that the comfort of reassurance, the reminder of belief, the light of another or merely the silent understanding of a situation, makes it possible to fight another day and win.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Up in my studio....

I have four  paintings lined up against my studio wall, each one sort of clamouring for my attention like pesky kids sometimes do; and I catch myself sneakily peaking at them (like an over anxious mother does!) on occasions when my concentration and focus is meant to be else where! Pinks and greys and oranges and blues....all seated in confidence with the belief that they alone command the most delight of all; whilst objects and figures jostle together, elbowing and nudging one another to hold their rightful place for my consideration.

I know when a painting is finally finished because it sort of doesn't allow me to fidget with it any more. It rejects even  my surreptitious attempts to gain re-entry into its formation; and on those few occasions of stubborn insistence to impose and not heed what the painting quietly suggests, I have maimed and destroyed their inherent energies irrevocably.

A finished painting holds a space of it's own. You interact with it something like the way you engage with your adult child: in the knowledge that it comes from you; but often within a space where it turns back to teach you something from it's separated existence.

As an exhibition date nears I also love the swelling up of my studio with the work that fills its space - like a pregnant belly, ripe and ready to yield something you know; yet full of nuanced surprises that hold you equally in awe and anticipation.

Different friends hop off the shelves of my library and whisper different things to me. Manuscript paintings and favourite images become animated in the passion of mingling my senses into their intoxicating vibrancy. I strut around my studio wrapped these days in colourful sari's and bling bindi's, with the excitement of a performer preparing for my deliverance.

My studio reverberates with music these days. Joan Baez, Miles Davis, M.S Subbulakshmi, Indian Ocean, Zila Khan....three angels hold a new born infant on a pink background. This is the painting that calls out the loudest to me today. By this evening it may become quieter and need me less. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Up and down and turn around....

With a viral that has left me with sea legs and a lurching tummy for the last week, I have occupied myself with the finishing details of two of my current paintings. I always find that in the concentration and focus of working in my studio, even the most damning of headaches quietly creep into the back spaces of my consciousness, leaving me able to exist in a suspended state of  a "perfect" existence. That in my opinion is called Luck in the time of Viral!

The Collective Studio has had its share of ups and down in the last few months. The up factors start with a wonderful group show of Lee Hayan, Kim Seola and Schon Mendes to be hosted by Sakshi in the month of August. A great result for N. Divya who came second in her painting batch in her undergraduate program, and Kim Seola who was truly he toast of her M.A class with a display of water colours that stood on par with the work of those who were her examiners. Karishma D'souza has just been awarded a residency for 2012 at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, and Malavika Rajnarayan has been invited to the Can Serrat international artists residency program situated just outside of Barcelona in Spain. And perhaps most excitingly, Sonatina Mendes will soon be moving into her new studio-home built as a project by the Collective Studio. From the family in Bombay we had Mithun act in his first Bollywood movie Daana Paani and our Samera invited to be a jury member for the Print Week Awards.

The down side at the Collective Studio is that Kim Seola's father is critically ill with a long suffering health disorder that puts him in and out of hospital frequently. Lee Hayan's father too has a long standing kidney ailment that requires daily medical intervention and has just undergone an emergency hernia operation. N. Divya's mother in Chennai has been diagnosed with a spinal injury  that is giving her considerable pain, and needs a two week rest period. Malavika's maternal grandfather has suffered a stroke in Bangalore. Not to forget the recent hospitalization of our adopted granddaughter Aditi and Surendran  who currently is with a bronchial congestion that would put a wheezing bus to shame! All in all not the best health bulletin to report. Begum of course looks cool in the "pre-monsoon-kill-the-lizard-and-put-it-under-mama's-favourite-chair-to-frigging-freak -her-out" season!

But with all this happening, the love and care and consideration in the Collective Studio brings together energies that otherwise alone would not be there to tide us through the sometimes exhausting aspects of emotional worry, and physical health issues that need attention. However the see-saw of life in an interesting thing to encounter with ones eyes wide open. The views from up or the bottom are in fact really the same landscape of life; it's just a matter of how we guide our perception, and whether we want to hold the entire vista of what the vision of life truly entails.

* Standing: N.Divya and Lee Hayan. Middle row:Sonatina Mendes and Malavika Rajnarayan. Seated at bottom row: Kim Seola and Schon Mendes.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Gathering my own sea shells....

A lot of my "thinking" occurs when taking my shower in the morning. Stray thoughts from almost the entire universe of my being invade my head, like juggernauts from outer space; and I close my eyes and allow them to settle into my consciousness before attempting the process of sorting and analysing the whys and what's of all that is in my head. I really value this special time that welcomes into my day, people and thoughts that index where my mind will lay itself, to contemplate.

In equal measure, I need to often empty my head of the load I carry, and the time I spend coming back from the gym (on those days where this routine is not ruptured), I once again consciously empty my head by another process of random associations that work in the opposite manner. I take from my mind and place outside of myself the connection and conjunctions that almost "leave" the idea or thought pinned elsewhere;  outside of me. I often let laughter invade my being when I am on my own, letting the actual physical act of laughter be released through  humorous associations that I make up within my head.

This filling and emptying of my inner self is like a distilling process. It filters and releases, and allows for new spaces of energy to be examined; sometimes by allowing the sense of control to be abandoned and drifting in a space of complete nothingness or lightness.

My spiritual intoxication has never come from external substances but has been realised from this internal well that can produce a sensation of sublime fulfilment from self discovery. Whether from the strand of a memory, a location of recollection, the strains of music revisited, or the stillness of my head as I paint ......... all this and more; like the ebb and flow of the sea brings energy to the shoreline of my life.

Friday, 1 July 2011

The refresh button....

Yesterday I had a talk with the students and the artists in residence of the Collective Studio about the ideas of remembrance, and the role that this should play within our personal lives. Why it is essential to hold memories, and to acknowledge to oneself what has offered us opportunities without which our journeys may well have been very different. Why it is the smallest gestures that often hold the most poignant of memories. And above all why faith, hope and optimism need to guide our spirit of endeavor.


I heard a dancer recently being advised to not dance the steps, but the intention. I completely identify with this. The essential truth of understanding how to find greater meaning lies in keeping our actions from become mere rituals of obligation. Mediocrity has become a tag attached to far too many aspects of endeavor, and because our own mediocrity is visible in the indifference of our deeds, we therefore ignore the mediocrity of others. And so the cycle of perpetuation continues unbroken.


In remembrance we bring to the forefront of our conscience what illuminates our spirit, and how and where we can take the light of our knowledge forward. For an internal world of life and light to exist, an outer world of recognition must be determined. These two forces hold the energies of our life in its best balance.


Memories are the tapestry from which we discover the personalities that shape us and the politics that guide us. Memories become the sheath that holds the weapons of our courage and valor; the shield that protects and shelters. Memories become the continuum of our legacy after we die. Each day in my studio, or in other private moments of my day, I gather to my mind some memories (stray or provoked by situations or circumstances) to hold and re-examine. In doing so I believe I hold my consciousness with greater meaning.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Mea culpa....!

Ethics is an important issue to address in life, and one where ones conscience perhaps plays a greater role than we chose to imagine. Within the instructions at the Collective Studio I lay great emphasis on this factor because I think it determines the quality of the character of a person. The lines of ethical behaviour blur, especially in a society as corrupt as ours, and an avoidance of honouring what is right gets excused within the mediocrity of compromised standards.

Without the trappings of religion to instill the fear of higher powers sitting in attendance to judge my life and actions (!), I keep a stringent eye on myself to catch those occasions when we dishonour the guidelines of our own personal philosophy/ies. The making of art becomes a space of creation that takes one deep into the well of the inner self, and there is a nakedness in this space that is both raw and vivid; and which hides nothing. It is in this space of transparency with myself, that I hold the truth of confronting who I am, and who I chose to be.

Human beings hold the ugly potential of being sycophantic in nature.  We need to rid ourselves of this malaise and instead dig deep for more real perceptions of ourselves, and the world. As issues of rape and murder fill the Indian news and food rots as millions starve in our nation;  politicians and god-people attempt to score political mileage from the tragedy of others with blatant openness. I wonder whether soon dictionaries will make  ethics an obsolete word within language because we find no use for it in our lives these days.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Oh joyous day!





As I sit on the verandah with my mother listening to Hello Dolly sung by Bobby Darrin with Mithun and Samera visiting for the weekend, life holds a sense of simple peace that I personally choose to frame our lives with. Between the magical world of imaginative wanderings in my studio to the orchestration of other energies, tiny interludes such as these become precious.

The Collective Studio that began without great planning today is a space that holds so many discoveries, and each day more than anything, the delight of surprises that can inspire and humble. I have just come from there and carry with me the reaffirmation that risks are worth taking, because the pure joy of seeing the clarity of purpose take shape in the lives of others, is what makes the many hours of hard work invested, become meaningful.

The Collective Studio house project is at it's final stages. The studio house gives a face to the ideas of collective living and engagement. It also falls into the any stories that many Indian children share, of parents who are unable to comprehend the truth of what the journey of being an artist entails; and the support and encouragement it requires for success to occur.

Over the years people have often been puzzled by my choice
to live as an artist in Baroda. The answer is very simple. Baroda allows me to live my dreams by holding me close enough to the centres of connection I need to be associated with professionally, as well as allows me to be contained in a manageable environment where my energies are not frittered away in the exhaustion of daily survival.

I call all this the Rekha Rodwittiya lucky factor!


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Thursday, 23 June 2011

The tick-tock story....





I read a father's day interview with President Barack Obama in which there were two points he made about good parenting that correlated to the philosophy I personally am guided by. He said that the time we spend away from our children because of our jobs, becomes of value, by what we do with that time; and within the relationship that we share with them, they must know that we are there for them to listen and to be available for all their emotional needs, with unconditional love.

I have made this my mantra and find that time has it's own way of stretching itself to help you "tuck" into it many things within a day. Like a computer program organiser, the brain has many "folders" that allow for neat separation and good management. So the eternal excuse of no time being the reason that children are left without the spiritual guidance and emotional anchorage that they require is hog wash in my opinion. My simple rule to myself is find the time!

Yesterday my adopted granddaughter underwent certain medical investigative procedures precipitated by a sudden health crisis. Before the procedures began, I spoke with her and suggested that she mentally offered all that her day would unfold for the millions of children in the world who did not have the privilege of health care and hospital aided medical care. Instantly Aditi's energies transformed, and she determined her will to guide her responses with greater wisdom.

As I go from the hospital- to the printers -to our home- to my studio -to the needs of the collective studio- to my involvement with Mithun- to being a care giver to my mother; each of these spaces require a management that is very do-able if you define a discipline and structure that holds consistency.

I have been working within a frantic schedule over the last two months which has had me burn the mid-night oil way beyond what is healthy or wise; yet what it has allowed is for me to keep abreast of all the "folder" management in my life and not get swamped by deadline that collide with unforeseen situations that crop up and need immediate attention.

My friend, who facilitated me on a recent work project, embraced me with the gift of his time, that did not come without the price of sacrifice for him. Juggling and altering his own packed schedule, he came not once, not twice, but three times within the space of two months to assist me; and not once did he ever indicate just how much extra work would have to be done by him to cope with his own deadlines.

It is when the desire to do is there, that all becomes possible. This I firmly believe in.





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Saturday, 18 June 2011

*About growing wings....




I read an interesting article written in the newspaper by Chetan Bhagat about missed opportunities, and how leadership requires a moderated rationality to maximise the purposefulness of intention. Otherwise one merely stands the possibility of squandering the chances that one has strived to realise for oneself, that can produce desired results. I cannot agree with him more.

In the everyday engagement I have within the Collective Studio, where discourse and teaching, living and sharing, interdependency and freedom are some of the integral components that formulate the philosophy of this alternative studio; the touchstone is to always find the essential truth to what we do, and to "wrap it" around the purpose that holds reason and meaning so that we do not loose ourselves in the aimlessness of hollow rhetoric and posturing.

The dangers of becoming too obsessed with something can be counter productive and loose significance, if it is not contextualised within frameworks of rational perception. When negotiation presents itself, it is an option worth attempting. The world co-exists within a playpen of diverse interests; in which everyone stakes their claim. Living life on ones' own terms requires that nuanced understanding of how to balance reality and idealism, without either one becoming a casualty in the process.

We often misunderstand the concept of leadership to equate as meaning only about leading others. For me it is really about "leading" myself - my heart, my mind, my conscience. To negotiate each day with the dreamed of and the reality of circumstance; and then to find the best current within my own energies to propel me to where I know I need to be, becomes the constant effort.

"If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you
will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you,
what is within you will destroy you."
- Jesus,
The gnostic gospels
Elaine Pagels, ed.
From the book titled - In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens by Alice Walker

*About growing wings is a title of a lithograph by Surendran Nair.


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Thursday, 16 June 2011

The shame of ranking number 4 in the world!




As Indians we are always desiring to hold a world ranking for something,........anything! Well let's take out the band-baja, and burst the firecrackers as well; because we have finally made it into that haloed status of being ranked right up on the top for something! We are ranked as being the fourth most dangerous country for women! Wow! what a proud day this must be for our nation!

With one atrocity after another being committed on women everyday......kidnaping, rape, acid attacks, burning, hanging, murder, abuse,......news item after news item is filled with one more gruesome tale than the other. Foreign women are often the victims of cruel acts of sexual perversion on their visits to our country as tourists, merely because the fantasies of the deviant Indian male mind are aroused by the notions of assumed cliches about the promiscuity of western women.

I have had my fair share of humiliating experiences that range from breast grabbing to being flashed at on my own door step because I was a single woman living alone with my son; and being groped when in crowded places and a thousand eyes look away. The other common abuse that is so rampant are the "stories" and rumours that are floated as smear campaigns against women. The assault upon the reputation of a women is always by attacking her imagined sexual conduct, and deeming her immoral by sullying her character. This is an age old tactic and in practice till today and unfortunately also perpetuated by those where education should have taught them otherwise.

With female infanticide clogging our sewages from the remote villages to global urban cities, do we wonder why we have this dubious honour of being ranked the fourth most dangerous country for women?

But nothing really shames us. We will shout from the roof tops about our cultural heritage, and how we honour the goddess Shakti. But the truth of the matter lies in those charred bodies of burnt brides, and female foetuses which putrefy the air with it's rotting stench. These are our proud moments. This is our rich Indian cultural heritage, and the manner in which we honour our women. I don't know about you, but I have to hang my head in shame today for the reputation that my country has earned for itself. As an Indian woman I believe I deserve something much better than this.



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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

An old friend .....




For years I have listened to the music of Joan Baez. I can't even remember when the first occasion was where this lady with Spanish boots came into my life; but what I do know is that for me it feels like she was singing to me even when she was in her mother's womb.

She has accompanied me on all my travels; not always just by the physicality of her music but in the DNA we both share through the politics of our beliefs and in the imagination that takes shape from the lyrics that her lilting voice gifts me. A sister, she has been with me when thunder clouds sit dark in my mind or when the towering mountains of Bhutan have held my breath with it's magnificence....she stays close with me.....always.

Thank you dear friend. I still sit in the shadow of your voice and know I will grow old listening to the stories of your heart.



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Monday, 13 June 2011

The shame of oppression...




Rape is the most beastial act of oppression on women, and one which I cannot imagine any civilised society ever allowing nor supporting. Therefore in the recent news coverage over the last few days I was horrified to learn of two stories that shamed me to the core. The fourteen year old girl who was abducted by policeman whilst she was grazing her cattle, brutally raped and the killed makes you wonder about what law enforcement means in our country today! Sex is purchasable so let's not be coy about that. If desperately desiring sex is the preoccupation of the culprits then let them by all means frequent a space where consential sexual transaction are available. Why commit this horrifying atrocity to merely ejaculate, if I may put it rather crudely. At fourteen this young
child's life was already in the lane of bearing adult responsibilities. I wonder what gratifying sexual fantasy these crazed policemen must have had to even contemplate this horrifying deed; and to then silence her by killing her and discarding her body like a left over meal that no longer entices your appetite.

The lady who hanged herself after her two colleagues drugged her and then raped her is another chilling story of male testosterone gone amuck! How sick can office politics get when "methods" of getting even become such acts of debauchery? The image of her body hanging from the fan made my stomach cu curl with shame!

And of course Gaddafi who honours his country's nationals by using rape as a weapon of war.
Welcome to the 21st century!

With the Babaramdev's and their attention seeking dharma's the real issues of concern get side lined. I weep for the lack of will that we display to bring greater parameters of civil accountability through the vigilance of better political governance. A raped woman or child is just an uncomfortable statistic for Indians at large ... Nothing to write home about and much less get hot and bothered under the collar over...Instead it will be the news of some Bollywood tear jerker that will fill the news papers and mega big bare bodied bollywood stars who will claim our attention.

Serious after all is normally considered boring....hai na?!

Location:Canal Rd,Vadodara,India

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The last of the true Indian Icons depart.....

                                      
There can never really be another M.F Husain, ever. A man who charted his journey from the humble by-lanes of an Indian city to the center stage of world art; he gave Indian art an international face long before any other Indian artist did. A maverick, he could  reinvent himself  as a painter and creator continuously, and till the very end has remained an artist whose art holds a relevance despite  other trends and fashions that come and go.

Husain had this amazing ability to make you feel that you were the most important person when he was spending time with you. His agelessness was because he was in fact a true free spirit who never conformed to the expected. He lived life on his own terms and when hounded in recent years by fundamentalist forces, he chose to hold his dignity and never retaliate to the provocation and humiliation of betrayal  that his country meted out to him. It is this very grace and elegance that set him apart from others of his fraternity, and allowed him to be free of cynicism or anger. He has lived each day of his life within the orbit of his creative energies and he leaves for us a legacy that holds the vigours of his beliefs:  that creation through the vision and soul of the mortal spirit is a space of freedom, unfettered by the dictates of religious bias and politics;  and is a universe of infinite being.

Dear friend, you gave to each of us a part of yourself to hold forever. Indian art history owes you a huge debt.