Monday, 4 August 2014

A project display at Sakshi Gallery

The Guarded Megalopolis of the Feminine Heart 
A project executed in 2013 is now on view at Sakshi Gallery Mumbai till the 9th of August 2014.

Friday, 18 July 2014

A gift of love I received today...

Recently when I needed to redesign The Collective Studio  logo and stationery I could think of no better person to ask than our daughter-in-law Samera Khan. With a professional career that has seen her working internationally in advertising for almost a decade, and as an associate creative director for OgilvyOne Worldwide in the recent past, her sense of design is something I greatly admire. 

It has always been difficult for me to describe what The Collective Studio Baroda is to people. In many ways it completely defies description, and my own role within it is even more difficult to put into words. Perhaps because it is a space that addresses many different needs and adapts itself continuously to evolve to what the various situation we address can benefit from through education, interventional strategies, financial support, curatorial endeavours  and collective co-existence, that I have always struggled to articulate its core essence when asked about its function and purpose..

So when Samera and I spoke about the design brief, I put the ball in her court giving her carte blanche to figure out what would be more appropriate than the existing in-house designed stationary that needed revamping. The professional that she is, she addressed this job with putting a personal brief together herself to view me as "the client". Besides delighting in this as a wonderful methodology to approach work as a general rule, what perhaps deeply impressed me, and what I view as a great gift to receive, was how she perceived The Collective Studio Baroda. And so I thought it fitting to share an extract of her letter to me through my blog.

In the e-letter that accompanied her design layouts she wrote this to me:

Dearest Mum,
I've worked on the logo and stationary as per our discussions. 
Logo: The logo is representative of you and The Collective Studio.
The colours, orange and red, are inspired from you and your surroundings.
Red:  Vigour,willpower, leadership,courage,energy, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire and love.  
Orange: Enthusiasm, Fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.

If looked at with a simplification, the "C" in the design (which is orange) is you and the circle around (which is red), is art and the artists of the collective. Normally an artist would encompass and in a way control the growth of the younger artists, but I feel, you surround yourself with them and help them to grow into the beautiful world of art. You, being the centre of The Collective, ensure that each part of the collective is bigger than you and is infinitely growing into a circle of education and love.

Thank you Samera for underlining the heart of the matter so beautifully.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Knocking on some doors….

The new venture that The Collective Studio has currently undertaken of collaborating with SITE art space is hard work for me,  but wonderfully rewarding. Doing any initiative that is different as an independent individual  requires lots of hours put into it to realise the project, since it is not part of any institutional framework, and I end up burning the mid-night oil once again balancing my own art commitments alongside my curatorial work. Also as the agenda is to focus on alternative methods of interaction and discourse and to bring multi-discipinary dynamics to generate a wider space of synergies, the audience one is reaching out to has to be from a wide spectrum of professions as well. 

As the curator and architect of all the exhibition projects that this years collaborative program has structured, perhaps the most engaging and exciting area to all of this are the conversations that occur within each studio visit that I have with the artist/s. As an artist myself, one  identifies with the energies that belong within a studio and so the space of meeting also brings a unique specialness to these interludes.  There is an intimacy and vulnerability to such meetings within workspaces which are precious to encounter.

In fact I always feel very privileged to be invited into any artists studio. The stacks of work that  line the walls, or the carefully wrapped art works in bubble plastic, or the smell of paint and other material, and the instruments and tools that lie strewn around or line up on work-tables all spell pure magic for me. It is as though I can hear the silent speak of who the artist really is  from all that surrounds me, and  as I sit embraced by the world of another, I catch glimpses into areas that are quiet secrets or personal quirks, and which may never be on view in a more public spaces of sharing.

Sitting with Jyoti Bhatt in his home in front of the computer to make a selection of photographs for one of the curated exhibitions,   was indeed a special moment for me. He has been my  teacher who taught me more than just painting and photography, but gave to me a world view through which to negotiate my own journey as an artist effectively. Being with him that afternoon as we pored over hundreds of images (some of which I recall seeing way back whilst being a student) brought to light once again the significance of the power of oral and visual histories;  and how they hold the sequence of time and observation as markers of collective  memories.

The visit to Abir Karmakar home was also very special. His house is a visual treat to enter.  Renovated and refurbished it echoes  his fascination for observing details. Every corner bears his imprint and you almost feel you have entered into a setting for one of his painting. Walking up a green painted wooden staircase which has an atrium that rises above centrally with cascading papier-mâché hand- painted birds hanging down from its roof top; the magic begins during this assent to his studio itself. On the threshold of the studio a slightly high step awaits you, almost as though he desires you to refocus and recognise that you are stepping into his world where all your attention must now be harnessed. 

Abir's work has always been high up on my list of favourite artists. Edgy and infused with observations that are somewhat clinical in their distance and yet satiated in a strange voyeurism of intimacies, this gentle and articulate young man has works that are precious in the devotion with which he paints them painstakingly. He then delivers to you images that are provocative and which in turn require you to negotiate the visuals through your experiences of life, to decipher them. Some communications are created from many words that are exchanged, and some  happen with points of connection that are immediate. With Abir for me it was the later.

I am  excited as the coming week has more studio visits planned and so I look forward to what these interludes open up for me.  I am sure great art and and a lot of heart!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Back in my studio thinking….

Every time I start to believe that popular Indian cinema is getting it's act together (pun unintended), I find I am blown away (again pun untended!) by the mindless violence that attempts to hold together story-lines that are ludicrously stupid and which lack any semblance of plausibility,  to validate 90 minutes of one's life given to it's attention.

Ok I saw Ek Villain….and Ok that was a dumb thing to do….! But hang on, why am I wrong in expecting to be entertained or kept engaged when going for something off the cuff and not relying on a Rajeev Masand to accredit  it for me. The idea is to be able to spontaneously go out and  find entertainment that does just that….entertain! Instead I came back home feeling  taxed and exhausted by what was meant to uplift my energies and be a relaxing  time away from work.

I am rather boggled quite honestly at how financiers can put out money (even if to launder it!) on projects that are so terribly stupid. To use Suhail Seth's favourite  word…are they all "dolts"! There are so many great pilot projects waiting to be funded in the arts and entertainment sector but what do the honey-pots-of-money do…. quite literally, they blow it up (pun intended this time!) on sheer nonsense. And then of course unsuspecting idiots like me go and get phasao-ed into sitting through drivel and giving our money towards supporting fatuous rubbish! What is interesting is that the purse strings of those who are funding such garbage don't always loosen up to fund things that  desperately need our collective endeavours of support to remain sustainable for their creative survival.

Perhaps stalwarts and activists within the film and theatre fraternity in India could invest in making a dynamic centre in Mumbai that supports the revival  of different traditional crafts related to areas like embroidery, jewellery making, toys, furniture etc. which could also become a  location of sourcing for film makers for costumes and set details. It is also time to fund a museum devoted to the memorabilia of film history that is of international standard. Osian founded by Neville Tulli have amassed wonderful collection of film memorabilia  but I don't see it being made accessible to the public at all except via auctions and a few exhibitions sporadically.

I love the craft museum in Delhi but wish that it's shop could be revamped (and dusted!) and a central government endeavour initiated to also reinvent the  Cottage Industries outlets that were my parents favourite haunts when I was a child; and where perhaps I learnt so much from those hours of poking around all the beautiful objects and textiles and pressing my nose up against the glass cabinets of jewellery to keep myself occupied, whilst my parents shopped in earnest.

Today with retro ideas making an appearance as a space of reclamation of "old becoming gold" again, I see many things of the past doing a pop-up through the creative remix-culture of today - but somehow always lacking in the finer detailing of finesse and hand work that displayed true experience in the case of the originals from yesteryear. The trade mark of the earlier days of art and craft items was the authorship of the hand that ruled supreme in executing skill and magic.  I have an exquisite pair of gold earrings that were completely hand crafted  by my little silversmith from the Sardar bazaar in Fatehgunj, where many moons ago it cost me five thousand rupees and a hole in my bank account!!! But today he has closed shop and been ousted out by the machine work that people clamour for, leaving his skills unwanted and dying out.

I wish the old and the new phrased its existence better by our support and articulation of its need,  so that we could ensure a better space for aesthetics to be a common place scenario within life, for all.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

28th June 2014

The Collective Studio Baroda
collaborates with SITE art space
for a lecture by Sanjeev Joshi

Left to Right:
Piyush Maheshwari
Sanjeev Joshi
Manish Maheshwari
6.20 pm Saturday
Before the talk Beyond those Walls commenced.

The venue for the lecture………

Our speaker Architect Sanjeev Joshi……

Address the gathering……..

Our audience….


Friday, 27 June 2014

A new venture...

It is with great pleasure that we bring  a year of collaborative programs to Baroda from June 2014 to March 2015.  SITE  art space & The Collective Studio  Baroda both share a vision for art that focuses upon community and interaction as seminal features that we wish to engage with, as well as highlight alternative spaces of exhibiting and discourse as valuable and critical to sustaining an energized and ever evolving art context. We hope that the programs generate excitement and participation that allows for this idea of cultural engagement to be rewarding for the city of Baroda.

SITE  art space is situated in GIDC Makerpura within the heart of the industrial production zone. Placing this alternative space which houses a fabricating unit an exhibition gallery, a display space of art products designed for commercial use, a library, a residency program unit & a pop up café space within such a location is to reaffirm the need of alternative art spaces both nationally and abroad, and to continue the traditions of this practice that is a valued part of art history. Where the community of artists and the audience are more intimately engaged with discourse and interaction. 

SITE art space is the brain child of Manish Maheshwari & Piyush Maheshwari two brothers with a wonderful vision to have a space that invites art & ideas to be show cased in Baroda.  Manish is an his engineer in electronics and telecommunications but was always engaged with creating things from different materials, and believes in making any design workable. It was his keenness to be involved  with art that inspired him to establish SITE art space along with his brother Piyush who has a background in commerce and assists in the back office management very efficiently.

The Collective Studio Baroda was set up by Surendran and myself in the traditions of the guru shishya practice where students and teachers live and work together. It is a space of learning that does not charge any fee nor accepts any payback via works of art in exchange either. Founded on the principle of trust and belief to the commitment and passion to study art from the comprehension of it being a holistic world of imbibing knowledge and experience and where the rigours of long hours of studio practice are mandatory, the selection of students and young artists are through invitation only. Teaching, residencies, lecture programs, curatorial projects and fund raising are amongst some of the major activities that we focus on.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The 10th June….

Today whilst reading the newspaper I glanced at the date and realised that it is the date of my first marriage which was solemnised on the 10th of June 1977,  when I was eighteen years old. Memories are as you desire them to be, depending on the philosophies that guide your life. I was immediately infused with a delight of remembrances and a reverie that holds an openness of recollection without recrimination, blame or regret. I know for a fact that my life has been guided by intellectual parameters that insisted of me to find much wider spaces of comprehension to everything I engaged with,  rather than to fit myself into a small corner of mere survival and existence, because life sometimes knocks you down or because you encounter fear.

It is the space of self-perception within which sharp critique must resonate if we are to use time effectively in the cycle of our lives. Time to maximise learning by honing  skills tirelessly is what will determine real liberty and growth. But this is not something that occurs merely from armchair philosophising and rhetoric alone, much as it may be a great feel-good factor for self esteem. The truth of success comes from trashing self-pity into oblivion and setting small targets  that piece a long trajectory of sustainable vision on a map of must-do's! There is no substitute for hard work and as I look back today on my journey of living and learning, I am pleased by the tenacity I possessed to stretch time to its maximum bursting point,  and pack in  (many times exhaustively!)  experiences of work and family with no compromises on either front.

Life knocks everybody about with no exception. Therefore it is foolish to waste time fussing and fretting over things that maybe painful, because it doesn't produce anything positive. Every one gets emotionally hurt. This is what being human is all about unfortunately. I deal with this by letting my hurt surface within my consciousness and question its origins. If I find no areas that can effectively be erased by negotiation, discourse, active intervention or addressing methodologies of change and atonement,  then I aggressively whack it soundly out of my purview ….and if it pops up again (which happens with memories that are painful),  then I go through my whacking routine again…..and again ….and again…and again! Like a pesky insect you finally do get rid of it and then occupy yourself with much more enlightened preoccupations that duly merit attention. 

I am grateful for comprehending how privileged I am.  I am consistently reminded everyday of this from the many stories and situations in India that hold pain and tragedy that appears crushingly devastating and  dehumanising. And yet in many such instances you encounter such immense courage and bravery where people desire to move on and not be defeated. 

Teachings come from where you choose to find them. From great literature and cinema, and from discourses that challenge one to re-examine and contemplate. I have had such amazing opportunities to be taught by people of great wisdom who offered me through their belief and time,  legacies I feel proud to have shared and to belong within; and which crafted my abilities to keep the ripple of learning ever expanding.  Most importantly my wings of freedom come from the teachings that have influenced me to recognise the immense value of liberal thinking that rejects orthodoxy and conservatism. I learnt early on to define what that difference must mean and to live my life with pride by the governance of its principles at all times. 

It isn't necessarily easy,  but what great joy it brings!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Liberty is a hard won space for every woman…...

The journey of becoming independent as a young woman is not always as easy as many urban educated privileged child imagine. Western societies wean their fledglings out of the home far too early leading to many behavioural insecurities from this forced independence; and on the other hand the typical Asian parent keeps their children  trapped in an over protected monitoring of their lives,  that seems rather tragic if not totally bizarre, producing another host of behavioural insecurities as a result of such smothering.  The Indian parent appears to be grappling with attempting to be liberal and "westernised" in their approach to the relationships they share with their kids,  and yet that very glove camouflages  the punch of obsessive control and conservative mindsets that unfortunately derails mature family ties.   Parents need to nurture relationships that invite interdependence which is with We all evolve from our teenage years to face the challenges of an adult life. We stand taller from the mistakes we make, and  continuously hone the directives that help us define self-accountability,   and establish the financial stability essential within an independent space of existence, to create life patters that determine who we are. 

Every parent must encourage their daughters to seek their lessons from varied experiences and not behave as though outside influences will steal their innocence away from them. Liberal and unorthodox upbringing offers a wide spectrum of life lessons, making  alertness to life more real, and promises as a result,   greater self-accountability from a learning that is not cliched and stilted.  It is perhaps also through exploring the experiences and stories of other women that we understand better where our paradigm shift needs to really be in what women need to desire for themselves as their spaces of liberty. Such explorations of truth taught me to find meaning and purpose from the choices I was making and  made my life fit the philosophies that  form my character.

But too often I see the chop and change of decisions randomly made and reversed by young women that are unable to pitch the first  peg of their tent and work to set-up that "life structure" of personal existence, so as to find its shape and form and experience and know whether it accommodates them, if at all. Oscillation is like a bad decease.The back and forth of indecisiveness never lets you completely comprehend anything as a full experience, and allows you the escape to cop-out and always be at some "new beginning" with no conclusions to ever round-off any one experience fully. Life must teach you to be brave and to hold sentiments that do not get corrupted by desire alone. It should offer and hold simple goals that make the travel within lifes-journey real and attainable. Energies are as effervescent as you desire them to be,  and life is as fulfilled as you craft it for those of us women privileged with education and who are in good health.  And yet I continue to encounter young women unable to utilise their life skills to their maximum, who have received great support and generosity and yet who appear always in confusion and crisis from their own lack of initiative to make the best use of what is good within their lives,  to walk forward with purpose. 

In stark contrast there is the other story…..
The story of the lesser privileged young woman whose bravery to survive is often cut short by tragic circumstance or atrocities that have become an everyday occurrence.  Often brutally raped, mutilated and abandoned from either caste and class dominance meted out to them from the violence of oppressors these brave hearts never stop aspiring to make changes that are significant to their personal lives, desiring through this to inspire others to utilise opportunities of will and determination to  hold their empowerment against all odds. 

Is it that the more privileged young women often squanders the scope and potential of her discovering liberty by remaining mute in the cage of over protected parental vigilance, that then gets exchanged for the super-hero husband who become the next custodian and interpreter of her freedom, because it can also be comfortable to keep such a status quo intact that then allows one to never have to really stand alone? Unfortunately the reality around me shows a percentage of many privileged young urban women not having the gumption to be the architects of their own destiny. 

Perhaps it is time to consider to be more alert...
Steer your life with honest direction to a space that holds your truth…
And it will always yield your liberty.
Pretend that you are free by hiding your shackles  from yourself….
And you are your own hostage forever.

*Photograph of my teacher Nasreen Mohamedi who taught me lessons of survival, desire, courage and humility, and perhaps most importantly, the lessons to live life with passion on ones own terms, un-compromised by sentimentality, guilt or apprehension. 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Thank you for lighting my way…..

Maya Angelou has taught many people across the world lessons about life from the simple honesty with which she could lay open her own life for others to perceive. That she is no longer with us today does little to diminish the power of her wisdom and the scope of its influence,  because her literature will carry her voice even more stridently than ever before to generations that span centuries to come.

I discovered her books in London and read her writings in the years when I was young and shaping my own personal feminist mould; and through her wry humour and quiet factuality, she opened up a world of courage for many by her fearless ability to leave no space for secrets or shame to cloud the clarity of the truth that she delivers.

To laugh at yourself is what keeps the balance in ones life when the odds are against one….
and to know that tenacity is required to find what you desire from life rather than merely letting life dictate to you in random ways, is a very Maya Angelou lesson that scripts itself between all the lines that she writes.

Maya grew up in a period of extreme racism and yet knew how to hold the dignity of her equality at all times; insisting that violence and bigotry would not break her spirit ever. She attributes a great deal of her influences to her mother, who taught her to stand up and fight for what she knew to be right and not care too much about the consequences, because otherwise fear would rule you and despair an endless trap.

I remember listening to an interview that Tim Sebastian did on Hard Talk with this legendary writer and was amused at the open flirtatiousness with which Maya ended her talk with him, leaving the otherwise rumbustious Tim completely floored. For a man who normally exerted control over those he put in the hot seat to interview, Maya effortlessly subverted the power-equation to effectively  ridicule such methods of communication,  and put him in his place with great humour. Her confidence always filled a space she shared with others with experiences that were powerful and her responses provoked a deciphering that required you to examine yourself more closely to find your own indomitable spirit to succeed.

Oprah Winfrey has always regarded herself as Maya's spiritual daughter, and I have loved the few interludes I watched them interact on the Oprah Winfrey show, communicating beyond language and exuding such a strong bonding that is drawn from the lineages of shared history and feminist quest. Maya Angelou radiated a light that was about self empowerment and self esteem, and the desire to know oneself without fuss or pretensions.

Many of us are also Maya Angelou's spiritual daughters. 
Re-born from her wisdom and engulfed with the celebration for life that she insisted living must entail….her life offered us a second chance …..a new beginning from the words of her enlightenment.

Warm and compassionate, in interviews she would talk of life with her throaty laughter interspersing the poetry of her words, bringing you closer to a space within yourself,  of understanding and forgiveness. A mighty woman who like a massive tree, even if felled,  would surely  have its roots spreading  far and wide;  Maya Angelou's roots spread over a universe and more.

Know you are always loved dearest friend,  as your spirit resides in each of us you have touched.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

I'll tie a yellow ribbon on the old oak tree….

Yesterday the swearing in of the new Prime Minister has brought with it a new chapter of governance to Indian polity that talks of more determined leadership. In the lead up of this election we have witnessed a battle of the two major parties attempting to win the confidence of a voting public, wooing them to agree to their ideas of leadership for this large and proud democracy that is our homeland, with many words and many promises. With a sweeping majority a single party has come into power, putting aside the hotch-potch bartering of yesterdays coalition governments that held decision-making and each other at ransom on too many occasions and for too long; frustrating well-wishers and disappointing its voters on many occasions.

Putting aside my own personal political preferences, I watched the proceedings of the transfer of governance since the election results and the swearing in ceremony yesterday,  and agreed with those commentaries that brought to  attention that India is a nation that truly understands and celebrates its democracy. The mandate of the people in elections is always respected and it is a country that honours change without compromising itself dignity by resorting to  the shame of violence at such times to display disappointment or dissent.

Without doubt each of us must hold a space of critique for accountability from every government, and so the same must be for these new office bearers too. But we must also be fair in allowing for this regime to showcase to us whether it delivers on its promises or not. To simply rant and condemn would be that we are merely sore losers over not having the party of ones choice that holds an ideological position that one identifies with at the centre.  A democratic process has delivered its verdict  and people have sought for change, so we must now look to set aside our differences and work collectively for common goals. Those who held power and squandered it from weak leadership must now hold great humility to introspect and take steps to restructure and find new leadership. This is imperative if the opposition is to be strong. I will tie a yellow ribbon on the old oak tree* and hope for the rejuvenation of ideals and values to bring home a cohesive political strength and unity to those political parties that did not deliver as promised, and where lessons from history through which to learn, are sought.

We also recognise that a country as complex as India cannot have its course of progress redirected too drastically by any government, and so it is more the methodologies of approach to the areas of existing development and progress that will be fine-tuned, and where hopefully corruption is clamped down upon and transparency of governance is offered instead.  It is also the stability of a pluralistic nation with its course of growth and aspiration already charted which must get more focused attention, and with the dynamics of  newly elected government which brings with it fresh perspectives,  ideation and energy;  it  perhaps can work its magic to revitalise a weary nation that seems rather beleaguered by scams and inflation. 

Everyone deserves a chance to hold their space of leadership if it has been fairly fought. Today Narendra Modi has to prove to people like me that he is the person I can trust with the leadership of my country despite my political affiliations lying elsewhere . He and his party have won an election and hold the popular mandate of this country,  and so in the spirit of optimism I therefore must now hope for this leadership to yield my dreams too. If that occurs then I will know that democracy has truly won.

* The symbol of a yellow ribbon is a reminder of an absent loved one, that would be welcomed home on their return.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Demolished heritage...

 Once again we show case the attitudes we have as a nation that chooses to be selective in its upholding of traditions and heritage. Yesterday, a beautiful old palace building, the Nazarbaug Palace, situated near the old city area of Baroda was torn down to be able to facilitate development plans for that space. A large contingent of activists for conservation of heritage properties have been long on the war path with the to oppose this terrible act of destruction, but as is always the case, the abilities of power to manipulate a system for corrupt gains always appears in this day and age to win such battles and fudge the rule book in their favour.

The prevailing Vadodara Municipal Corporation have turned a blind eye to the demolition knowing fully well about the amendments in the General Development Control Regulations of 2012 under chapter 28 of the Heritage Regulations which defines the process of listing and grading heritage properties as mandatory for protection against such acts of vandalism. The current owners who received this property within the dispute settlement of the Gaekwad property litigation  case are completely aware of the rules they are violating, however who cares to be concerned about ethics in the face of larger personal revenue gains today….? To many who look at conservation issues with an eye on progress and development  and the monetary gains to be cashed in on (excuse the pun!),  will sell you a Mayawati-style dream of developmental progress that thinks nothing of damaging the foundation structure of the Taj Mahal as an off shoot of such planning schemes. 

I came to the city of Baroda in 1967. I still can recall that first evening driving from Makerpura to the cantonment area in Fatehgunj and being mesmerised by the layout of this green city as it stood in pristine splendour with its neat roads and quiet order, sparkling like a unique gem. Full of trees, each area of the city with is dwellings and market places, university campus areas, and large public gardens were magnificent to perceive; all holding the concept of an architectural and city planning design that came from informed ideas of experience.  This beautifully laid out city held the potential of defining future development and urban planning that could have continued to be in keeping with its existing elegance,  and enhanced the grandeur  of this domed city, if little thought had been applied.  Instead we got a "doomed" city that crammed commercial enterprises higgledy -piggledy and without any conscience keeping ever caring to note the ensuing damaging consequences of such actions.

Crores of rupees will be spent on lavish Indian weddings and sports extravaganzas, but the private and public sectors fail to recognise how important the preservation of heritage really is.What they need to do is to address this with committed seriousness that holds accountable actions as visible inroads of  change towards the apathy we possess regarding conservation issues.  But no...Instead we have a paan-spitting-urinate-in-public attitude that views the entire city as its personal garbage dump, so where do the finer issues of pride and heritage fit in to this crass make-your-money- and move-on trend. 

A mall or ugly high rise apartment building will now come up upon the "grave site" of this old palace. Still partially standing tall the beautiful Nazarbaug Palace continues to hold its delicate charm preserving to its very end the regality of its origins even when its desecration will soon obliterate its physical presence on earth. Who will come forth to mourn this annihilation, or will we just drown this tragedy in the blaring of horns from packed roads with SUV's and Audi's showing off the wealth of muscle power? After all,  to the ignorant and corrupted its merely a pile of rubble with nothing too much of value to pilfer. History be damned, no?!

Monday, 12 May 2014

A long leave of absence, and many new beginnings...

Sometimes time demands other things from one which hold at bay activities of desire till later. I have written many blog posts in my head all these many months because writing is like painting for me; even when I am not in my studio, I conjure images in my head continuously….

Illness has dotted this new year of 2014; both for me as well as within the family. With such challenges we begin to comprehend the real meaning of energy and life.   A new cycle of experience is charted and old methods of adaptation facilitate change, making for new harmonies in otherwise discordant  situations. Hopefully the balance, though tenuous, is now in place and reordered structures of work slowly set a new normalcy. 

I was unable to vote as I was out of the country. And mores the pity as this time more than ever I so desired to execute my voting franchise. The country as it calls for change from the weak governance of a government that took its mandate and vote of confidence perhaps too lightly, now sets itself up to face a regime that will hold conservative and regressive ideas on culture; and design a new vocabulary to accommodate and sells its agendas in the fast track of supposed progress and development. 

I fear that in truth all  countries with political histories that have had outside agencies govern them find their greatest moments of political clarity at the time of their freedom movements and the   initial years of self rule. It is perhaps the only time when political service holds the greatest ideals and is relatively less imbued with corrupted practises.

India now is a cacophony of multiple roars….all deafening and sounding ominous without the slightest overtone of comfort and peace. Like a bad hazer party that makes mud pools to initiate the incoming fraternity on many a Western university campus, the Indian political campaign trail has the equivalent in the mud  slinging that is often crude and violent in nature during campaign speeches. The palpable aggression that is omnipresent which does not tolerate any differing opinion other than which is being rammed down ones throat as a monolith truth is being showcased with high TRP ratings by news channels. These programs all sound the same and feature the same people and air the same cacophony that leaves one exhausted and bewildered and without much hope.

Is my India slowly fading away? That vision of modernity that is to up hold humanism over caste and creed and work to dispel religion as a vote bank card, and hold instead democracy and progress at the fulcrum of driving our nations future? What I see is a new re-drawing of a national agenda that appears to pull region and caste into the belly of political discourse; and the attempt for a new governance to originate from a mindset  that chooses to view Indian culture from the prism of Hindu accordance,  desiring to make this the new definition of "the Indian way of life".

As the 16th of May  draws closer I fervently hope that the secular forces of politics within India can make its presence felt in a significant manner to reinstate itself with new vigour and atone for its dismal performance. If not then we certainly are in for a new chapter of Indian political history, the consequences of which I remain deeply uncertain of. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

So much occurs in the blink of an eye!

The festive season was a blast surrounding Amma with the immediate family who came down from many corners of the world to congregate at Sauparnika and all the extended loved ones who make our lives so complete! From cooing over Mehran and beating each other in scrabble, to a host of other silly stuff that always brought about laughter and lively debates, creating a scenario of comforting sentiments that makes family holidays so priceless and memorable. Tucked into the itinerary was a day trip to Adalaj, Modhera and Pathan and a nights stay at the House of M.G in Ahmedabad,  along with the delight of going to the Calico Museum and the Sabarmati Ashram; and peering at the Sidi Saiyad Jali too. In Baroda a morning drive to Pavaghad and Champaneer was a must, and of course many sessions of  shopping at Fab India and Seasons, and stuffing ourselves with food treats that left us all a couple of kilos heavier; thus makes up the photo album of memories incredibly special and to last us till our next Christmas tamasha of togetherness occurs!

 The best part was having my adorable nephew Ashwin and his absolutely gorgeous wife Athene visit with us. Life has its own ways of providing opportunities for the tapestries of family histories to grow and develop. Family tradition has my cousin Sherna come over every Christmas since three years . She is the calm one in the family, and she gifts to the occasion each year the grace and wisdom of her quiet personality that is the perfect balance to the otherwise more vocal strains of merriment from us all!

Thankfully social media and the overall cyber world of communication technology keeps the reality of geographical distances slightly more bearable. As we whatsap each other and keep the everyday happenings a shared space, we plot and plan the next time to get the family together again.
Little Mehran, who currently celebrates monthly birthdays,  will hopefully grow up with the joy of all these memories as the space of his belonging. Yesterday a parcel arrived from Houston for us…from Ashwin, Athene & their four legged baby Daisy duke…..spilling over with love and tenderness that makes a family feel encircled and complete. Cheers to 2014…. I feel so blessed by the energies of my loved one….