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

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.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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.