Off to Thailand and Vietnam with three friends and Surendran. What will this trip offer you may ask? For me the joy of travel with selected friends is a space that opens discourses that ramble through many days, and where new sights and sounds are discovered together with a different type of curiosity.
Idlis and bacon strips for breakfast is my holiday fare whenever I travel in India! Right now hot chocolate and a quick tour of the duty free shops are the last thing before I hop on to the plane.
Time to board.....so cheerio.....
Left begum with her whiskers twitching.
She knows when my bags are out that I am about to fly the coop!
Have to run....
Quick check...passport, ticket, camera, money.....yes....all set to go!
I went to see a play on Saturday. I find theatre an interesting space of performance. Like looking at a work of art, it is the emotive energies that are the connectives for your response and participation within these artificial locations of communication. As an artist the construct of the "staged" is the module that I have used repeatedly.....placing the figures that are orators of intentions, central and often confrontational, to create a space of interpretation. What results can only be controlled up to a point. It is perhaps this space of unpredictability that captures my interest the most and tickles my curiosity to wonder what the perception of others may be.
The nuanced is often what is most impactful. Hidden meanings that reveal themselves only if your sharpness allows. When doing my digital prints in which I use photographs I have taken and images of myself that others have taken of me, I compile the visuals like a woven text to reinvent from the real into the suggested. Watching the reactions of an audience from the unobserved corners of a gallery space is like another type of confessional box. The verbal exchanges between people that bring meanings to the work propose the methodologies of thinking.
Perched on two tables at different ends of our studio at home, Surendran and my paintings stand rather majestically as we paint them. Two women commanding their own attention, inhabiting their individual corners as though in a boxing ring; as I imagine rather fancifully that they wait to fight out a territory both lay equal claim to. Reflecting a shared politics our works still hold a multitude of nuances that offer different ways of perceiving similar things.
Meanings unravel only if we ask questions. Yet sometimes it is interesting that the questions we ask of ourselves are often so way off the mark of accepting the truth. It is as though we set the stage in our lives to prop up the ideas that illusion alone can become reality at will. Zen over a cup of tea....maybe but my gut tells me more than the tea leaves do.
My computer engineer will soon be making a visit home to speed up my HP laptop. A cyber world and google god......ask the question-get the answer-right or wrong......toss the coin.
My walks these days have become a visual trek of sorts. Besides the huffing and puffing and swinging of ample hips from left to right as I briskly pound the asphalt, I have begun to actually walk the streets with my eyes. Before, perhaps because I mostly walked in the confines of my cities largest park Kamatibaug, I would keep generally my head down and savour a meditative time of inner contemplation; sometimes absent-mindedly wandering through thoughts of my current paintings, or having strange conversations with friends in my head. But today my eyes walk ahead of my feet, and even on those by-lanes that I continue to revisit hold my attention in the most riveted ways that bring stories alive, weaving the seen with the imagined in the most extraordinary way.
Most cities like Baroda are not planned. However much may exist on reams of paper dreamt up of town planning draught boards, the truth of the matter is that the city just unravels its own narrative with bits that squeeze to fit here and there; to accommodate the expanding population from the richest to the poorest, with some dogs, cows, and monkeys thrown in for good measure.
But if I get over my irritation at the higgledy-piggledy randomness, (because military father's child that I am, I adore order and symmetry ), I come to observe other nuances of how each person in their own capacity, contributes in making the complex jig-saw puzzle that the image of the city comes to finally be.
Let us quickly loose the snobbery of belief that "beautiful home and their interiors" are the possibility of the elite alone. In fact the imagination of the elite can often be quite boringly similar in the desire to follow trends to gain social acceptance. But wander through the streets of the middle-class and the lower income bracket housing of a city like Baroda, and discover the amazing personalised tastes and idiosyncrasies that transform drab into magical.
I am also completely enthralled by the architectural designs that dot seemingly nondescript localities, where a turn on a lane can bring you upon an enchanting brick house that evokes Hans Anderson fables, or a gated compound that reveals a line of minuscule row-houses all adorned with paper lanterns at their front door, that appear more in keeping with a charming Victorian novel set in the scenic bliss of an English sea-side resort rather than found off a dusty Baroda lane in Gujarat.
Windows at night are lit up to showcase tiny kitchens and living spaces in apartment blocks, all gleaming with hi-tech gadgets and new inventions to save space. Red ceilings and lime green walls, fancy bling centre lighting and personalised murals on the facades of living rooms, furniture that borders on wacky and flat screen t.v's all create a pastiche that is vibrant, and talks of a new celebration of economy in India that filters down to those with a desire to live life king size. Walking with my head in the clouds would be quite literally how you can describe my nocturnal jaunts, as I trip and stumble over pot holes and strewn debris that are of course the hall mark of my cities streets, in my enthusiasm to look at everything I can see all at once!!!
Come take a walk with me not just down memory lane, but down the lanes that hold the here and the now of our lives. With vehicles making walking almost defunct as a method of travel, we are fast loosing the magic of discovery. Take a walk in your city sometime soon.....and tell me if it isn't an amazing space of discovery!