Sometime back, I unearthed old drawings from the depths of my cupboard*.
I’m not sure what this drawing is about and what was going through my mind at the time I drew this. Perhaps it was my subconscious trying to communicate to me. A few random thoughts escaping the labyrinth of my brain, and finding their way to the paper.
From what I can imagine, it is likely that it started off as a tranquil hill. And then somewhere down the line there was turbulence of some sort — a storm at sea — which tossed away all notions of peace.
What do you think? How would you interpret this?
For more ‘moving’ images, check out the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge – Motion.
It took me a full week to try to get up early. And this morning, I finally managed to get up by 6 am. Unfortunately, in these parts of the world, six is well past sunrise. Still, I tried. Although the next challenge is already in motion (bad pun, I know), I wanted to share this picture of the sleeping hibiscus in our balcony.
She was still half asleep, rubbing her groggy eyes and taking a big lazy yawn, when I saw her. It would be another three hours before she would be in full bloom. By the time I see her next, she would have moved on to another world, never to be seen again — until she takes a new birth, and opens her wide eyes and gives her best smile, to brighten up someone’s day.
It was on the first of March, a Sunday, that our family got together. It was after such a long time that we went out together, that we joked that it would rain. And sure enough, it did! Little did we know, that it was the beginning of a very strange phenomenon. Not only on that day, but almost every subsequent Sunday, it rained.
North India has witnessed, over the past two months, unpredictable weather, and many crops have been damaged due to this unseasonal rain. Vrindavan, it appears had its own share of golf-ball sized hail storm, if the pictures shared on WhatsApp are to be believed*.
Is this weather a result of climate change? I don’t know. But it definitely seems eerie.
A few weeks back, I was at the India Habitat Centre, where I saw a very interesting art installation, and seemed to fit in rather well with the issue at hand. Delhi-based artist Gopal Namjoshi combined scrap iron to create a garden, to highlight the importance of ecological conservation. The garden included flowers, small birds, deer and peacocks, as well as a man resting on a chair!
Winter was on its way out, and the old leaves were making way for new little ones to spring up and take their place. The minute I saw these large leathery beautiful leaves on the pavement, I knew I had to pick them up. I didn’t know what I would do with them. But I brought them home anyway.
A few days later, they had dried out completely and their leathery texture was gone. But I wanted to keep them with me. We had clear wood varnish leftover from an earlier project of mine. So on Holi, I painted these leaves. A few days back I assembled them and hung them near a window. Now I see them everyday, first thing in the morning, and just before I go to sleep.
As some of you may know, I voluntarily provide design services for the Alumni Association of my alma mater, and last weekend, we organised a musical programme for the college reunion.
All of us had our tasklist – marketing, sponsorship, coordination with the other stakeholders, running around for prints… mine was the entire visual branding.
Having done branding, and much more, for an event in the past*, it didn’t appear to be that much work. The main challenge this time, though, was that I had to do it in addition to, and after my day job.
Initially a fun activity, designing all the collateral — the logo, poster, invitation card, backdrops and a souvenir mug — soon began looking more like a gigantic tortoise, moving painfully slowly, threatening to tuck itself inside a shell. With extremely short timelines, it was pretty much a sliding dive to the finish line.
On D-day too, there was a lot of activity. Registrations, sales counters, stage, back-stage, and audience management… all organizers had their stations.
My job was to stick around at the light and sound cubicle above the balcony of the auditorium.
It was déjà vu. In my previous event, too, I was stationed at the sound cubicle. It’s not a bad place to be, but it prevents one from interacting with new people. My regret the last time around was not having a picture of my post. This time, though, I made sure I corrected my mistake.
In the end, it wasn’t such a bad place to be, and in some ways turned out to be the best seat in the house. I had the freedom to click pictures, experiment with the camera’s settings, and listen to the entire performance — something my peers couldn’t.
I’m still not very comfortable with the camera, and in the poor light, it was very difficult to get a clean shot of this console. But it has a nice abstract feel to it, and seems apt for the entire event — the enormous effort involved before, and during the event made the past month and a half a complete blur.
* Event management can take its toll. Check out this incoherent aftermath of my past experience — and there’s a video too: Wimbledon Fever!
We left Chennai on Christmas eve. After a short visit to Chidambaram and overnight at Vaitheeshwaran Koil, on Christmas morning we set off towards our destination — a small village named Komal.
I remember my grandmother mentioning Komal several times, but beyond the name, I knew nothing. To me, Komal sounded out of place. It was too north-Indian a name, to be a village in Tamil Nadu. In fact, for a long time, I thought it was in Myanmar!
We knew no-one in the village. The house was sold several years ago, and my father hadn’t been anywhere near Komal for forty years.
We had no address. Back then, my father told us, people never had addresses. Everyone knew everyone else in the village. Each house was identified by its occupants. How, then, were we to find that house? “I’ll know it when I see it. I’m told it hasn’t changed one bit,” said my father.
One of my father’s cousins gave us the name of a person who could help us locate the house, just in case.
“It is near a temple.”
We followed the highway leading towards Kumbakonam and asked for directions from locals. Our landmark was a temple. We found one. And another. And another. But my father could not recognise anything. “There should be a bridge, followed by a row of shops. I don’t understand. ”
My father asked a few local people about the person my uncle had mentioned. “No brahmins live on this street,” said one man with a glare. He pointed towards another street, and told us to ask there.
On the other street, we were told that only Iyengars lived there, no Iyers. They pointed towards the end of the street and told us that some of the residents had been living there for years. Perhaps they could help.
At the end of the street, we stopped outside an old looking house, that my father thought looked familiar. Unsure, he knocked on the door, and asked the residents if he could take a look. A few minutes later, he came out and told us that it was not the one.
We had been going around in circles for over an hour. The sun was beating down on us.
Dejected, and frustrated, we were planning to return to Chennai, when we saw an elderly gentleman. As a last-ditch effort, we asked him about our mysterious contact person. To our delight, he knew the person. “Oh! Yes, I know him! But he doesn’t live here. He lives in Komal. This is Therazendur.’*
Once we realised we were in the wrong village, it took us barely 10 minutes to reach the narrow entry to Komal.
“The bridge!” my father exclaimed. “I know this! We are here! Those are the shops. Take this turn. Right here. Wait! Stop!” No sooner had the car stopped, that my father sprang out of the car. He looked around the small roads, and then began walking at a fast pace.
There was an old man, walking alongside a cycle, on the side of the road. My father asked him about a house that had once belonged to an uncle of his. “Oh that person passed away many years ago,” replied the old man.
“Yes,” my father replied in an excited tone, glad that someone finally knew about the house. “That was my uncle. My father had bought it from him.”
The old man’s eyes widened. He took my grandfather’s name.**
“Yes! I am his youngest son! Can you take me to that house?”
My father’s steps quickened. His excitement was evident. The minute he laid his eyes on the house, my father pointed towards it and exclaimed, “It is just as we had left it!”
The old man introduced us to the occupants of the house. He must have become accustomed to members of my father’s family coming to see the old house, and graciously allowed us inside.
“This house was the only house in the entire village to have electricity, in those days!” My father was visibly proud. “There used to be a swing. A large swing. Is it still there?”
The owner smiled and said it was there. Everything was just the way it had been. The swing, the large stone grinder, even the light switches and fans!
“This house was purchased in 1940 when the war broke out, and my mother had to move with three of her children along with our grandparents and stay in a largish house. It was bought for Rs. 4000. It was in this house that I was born,” my aunt later told me.
Watching my father almost run around the house, I can only imagine how many memories must have come back to him. Every wall, every pillar, must have meant the world to him — a world very different, and in another time, from that of ours right now.
The owner told us that my uncle once casually asked if it were up for sale.
“So was it?”
“No! It’s been a very lucky house for me,” replied our smiling host.
Kolam outside the Komal house
A stone grinder can be seen on the right
* My grandfather was born in Therazendur. We had practically gone around the whole village a couple of times, and it is likely that we passed by one of the houses that may have once belonged to his family. But we will never know.
** That old man, we later found out, was a distant relative of my grandmother!