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!


  1. Best wishes for a memorable stay in the land of Van Gogh...and wonderful tulips!
    May I also share with you my emotion as my 21 year old son is off to China for his internship and immediately after, to Chicago for his master's degree? You surely can understand the mixed feelings...

  2. Yunus Khimani, my farovite teacher and mentor once got us to your home. The studio visit part of our contemporary Indian art course at NIFT. I feel so privileged. It remains till date one of the memorable days of my life thus far. Thank you!