Thursday, 31 May 2012

42 degrees and rising

Between the hype of the IPL cricket tournament ala didi style,  and the sleazy side of it with molestation and violence and unsavoury tweets on the morality of women whose choice to decide who can touch their bodies offends rich bollywood struck kids; I am rather tired  of  the melodrama of it all! 

Today an all India bandh has the streets of Baroda rather less busy, but the scorching heat shows no reprieve to those who are obliged to make their homes on the pavements of the city. As I huff and puff over the heat and the little sweat that I break out into, if I step outside of the cool interiors of my home (!) or the air-conditioned car I  drive (!),....I feel the divide between the privileged and those who are not very acutely.

I am off to Amsterdam on the 10th of June. It is to keep a promise I made to visit my spiritual daughter who is on a residency at the Rijksakademie.  The institution has invited me for a days studio interaction which I am looking forward to. Meeting artists in their studios is always very special. It holds a sort of inherent privilege to it to be invited into the space so intimate and personal. 

I am often perplexed to receive phone calls from people I don't know who assume they can have access to visiting my studio. They in turn poor souls are perhaps equally perplexed at my polite but firm refusal to have them come into the space of my work. I am always polite enough to state that they are most welcome to come over for a cup of tea and a chat, but my offer never has takers! 

I have tried in my earlier years to explain patiently that one does not expect a writer to allow people to flip through their drafts and scripts before they are completed; and that such sharing occurs only between friends and colleagues. I also invite many people into my studio, only they come through the conduit of my mind and don't necessarily enter by the conformity of the front door. These in fact are my favourite visitors, who linger sometimes for many days with me, lounging around in the corners of my studio and engaging me in marathon conversations that are silently exchanged.

One of my teachers has been indisposed recently, and on the occasions when I visit I am enthralled by the delight of his narrations. The ease of piecing memories together and the wit with which a simple story holds your undivided attention, makes you understand the genius of this wonderful octogenarian artist. I sit unashamedly an admirer, as he weaves the magic of his discourse just like he did every Saturday, when I would faithfully attend his open lectures in college as a student back in the 70's and early 80's. The art of communication is not a common one today in the age of abbreviated text messages and social net working sites that become the virtual world of connectivity. If truth be told, I do not think that he needs my visits at all, but nonetheless I go almost every day because I love to hear him speak. Satirical and bitingly sharp he has amassed a universe of observations, that coupled with his perceptions, are like a labyrinth of life lessons that can take you into many areas of discovery that you least expect to find for yourself.

Over the years I have come to realise that I place great emphasis on two things: the manner in which I keep my studio and the diligence with which I attempt to define an honest and articulate space of communication. As an artist I think I view these two spaces to hold the imprint of much of who I am.

One of our spiritual daughters is soon to depart back to her country of origin. Six years of education and a lot of other learning packed into these years, she goes home with a suitcase that is neatly arranged with the mandatory 20 kgs of worldly goods that mostly consist of memorabilia and special personal belongings. All of us are rather teary eyed around the Collective Studio these days as her departure date draws near. She came as a child with a fringe that hid sparkling eyes and a mischievous twinkle, and she leaves as an articulate young woman who has done herself proud with her achievements and her ability to adapt. A fine young artist she stands today at the threshold of a new chapter of her life,  and we wish her all the very best.

We will miss you Hayan!

I look forward to visiting you in Korea soon my love in your studio, where we will sit  as we have done so many times in the Collective Studio, with a cup of hot chai and share time and self discoveries and art together!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ranjitsinh Gaekwad passes away....

Ranjitsinh Pratapsinh Gaekwad always looked a little bemused and a little lost sometimes; as though being part of royalty would not have been his personal choosing. Dressed mostly in a white kurta and churidhar, he would give me a small wave from across a gallery space, where we would meet on the occasion of other peoples openings; and in conversation he would always tease me that he considered himself more my son's friend than mine. This was because he came back to art school in the 90's as a mature student when Mithun was doing his under graduation  at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S University of Baroda at the same time too! 

I found him unpretentious and with a rather mischievous sense of humour. He would love to quietly slip in a one liner during some solemn or ponderous moment at an art gallery in Baroda, and have you biting your lip to control your laughter! He never indulged in any petty politicking and maintained a space around him that did not encourage over familiarity. He took his art practise very seriously and his figure studies reflected the stylistic influences of the British royal academic school of art. I always found him his most abandoned in spirit, when in conversation about his art. He was also passionate about music, and on the only occasion many years ago when I had tea at the Palace along with other artists who were also invited, he sang for us with his eyes tightly shut and lost to the world around him.

You cannot live in Baroda for all these many years that I have without the sense of attachment towards the Gaekwad family. Contributing to the education that has given direction to thousands of careers, this erstwhile family becomes part of each of our personal ancestries in subtle ways. As a child I would be driven to school each day passing by the Laxmivillas Palace. It's beautiful fence and numerous imposing gates that demarcated the sprawling estate, where at the epicentre this beautiful palace stands tall, became a remembrance entrenched as vividly belonging to my personal world of memories.

Ranjitsinhji with his grey slightly dishevelled hair and crumpled kurta pyjama became an ordinary citizen in many ways with his disdain for snobbery and elitist rituals. He will, I am sure, find a quiet spot up in the heavens now that he is no longer with us, and park himself with the minstrel angels. He will also carry his jhola around with him in which his drawing book and pencil case will be handy. I believe finally he will be able to do what he has always desired to do: leave behind all the unnecessary earthly responsibilities and devote himself to his music and art without compromise or disturbance.

I commend you for the courage you possessed to be the kind of man you chose to be: different and true to your own beliefs. The city of Baroda mourns your passing away, and we will all hold your memory as special for many years to come.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Sandesh and Kentucky fried chicken.....

Ok this is how it must have gone in Kolkata recently ....
Baby's day out! Choo chweet !

First things first.  Didiji's appearance for meeting Hillarydi was looked into...carefully. Important no?!
Jet black dye for hair....purchased. Only Indian please. No L'oreal nonsense. Apply liberally. Now this comes under D'da's department. After all, curly haired babu-baba has truly best experience to advise here on matters of progress and development of hair. Also no need for mirror for didi no?! (see good budget costing). Only have to peer into HUGE specs to see reflection as Dereck baba skips along side for providing quiz questions, so that didi will dazzle foreign guest! Also will give free Bournvita  if Hillarydi starts looking sleepless over bong-bong razzle-dazzle tamasha of we are better than the Karat-carrots who did not have diamond value anyway, only carrot stick tricks. Silly-silly big bindi-bindi can not make you have people power na?!....what you need is boom-boom voice and muscle power of thuggies so that others wear huggies because they are scared shitless! Practical common sense our didi has no?! lets not waste time on altu-faltu digressions.

How does our foreign didi manage things. Comparisons make us feel equal no. That's why new vagina creams and washes to make us fairer down there no?! It is all for I-show-you-you-show-me cultural exchanges that make global-wobal real-real for us. Now Hillarydi will always look like she took her clothes out of Billji's closet, and then scurried away with whatever came into her grasp because too many skeletons were rattling  about when she opened the cupboard! So ill fitting pants and ugly shirts with bad hair days will be the photo album of memories for grand children. Becharas! 

Hillarydi should also learn to do genuine-genuine smiley-smiley. Really I am telling you, don't mind please. Learn no from Kateben who gave such nice photo opps from Palace balcony, wearing white wedding dress even though already doing naughty-naughty before marriage! Now our didiji she wears white sari no?....because our didi is PURE. No hanky-panky, sexy stuff please! We are serious Indian politician lady in pure Gandhi Khadi sari who wields a cat-o'-nine to quell any dissent! wonder Dereck babu-baba looks blush-washy after behind the doors session with CMji! 

Now what gifts do you think these ladies exchanged....? 

I heard that didiji got the pandalwalas to make BIG  statue  (so that other didi of UP fame understands that she too has got good cultural knowledge of sculpture OK?!) of Hillarydi sitting on a tiger. Only this tiger was really a pussy cat  with Billji's face.  So clever no?! 

Hillarydi from her side got didiji some perfume to cover-up the sweaty-sweaty smells of too much dadagiri in prisons.... Real asli Channel to channel energies into more constructive purposes like supporting nuclear deal.....wah-wah...such clever strategies ....

I am thinking both sisters cried when leaving each other. Strong outside.....but soft-soft inside no....nobody understands these girls. They got on so well, plastic smiles and all, that they have plans to vacation somewhere together, I heard. Toy-boy fun time....sssssh don't tell, no. Secret-secret. All hush-hush and no puppies.  FBI are now searching for tall dark and handsome recruits under 25 years of age. Body guards man. No chance for Schwarzenegger to get secret agent role here unfortunately. Shriver baby may become part of toy-boy sisterhood where no nannies are allowed, and Oprahji will make interview with blessings of Deepakbhai! I also heard that didi has already packed the cat-o'-nine in her new Louis Vuitton  luggage....and Hillarydi is taking the starch out of her panties!

I think the Bermuda triangle will have another meaning very soon!!!!