Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Irony or what you will....

What poured from the heavens were what he thought would come to pass, and they had, but now they returned with the sadness of a drop sliding down his French window. He watched it glisten and find support in other laments as it stretched itself towards that which held the heavens themselves. He heard the threnody of many voices call to him to be merciful and that drop found reflection in his eye. While he rocked on his chair, he questioned the base rock of all his relationships with people, especially women and when he thought of them, the heavens thundered and poured baleful on his window, for what was gone and past could never touch him, but would never leave his world... the sighs, the heartaches, the whispered nothings, his untold promises, his unquestionable love, his extended hand which was never within reach. He walked to the window and the mist of familiarity held itself in a hazy circle between his face and the drops. He wiped that mist and let the moistness stay in his palm.
"I love you and I always will. It is sad that when I gave you love, all you took was pain."
He turned and strolled towards the inner recesses of his world. The heavens threatened him with lightening and bursty rain but he kept ambling on.
"Coward!" they cried, "Why love when you couldn't let us keep you?"
His smile was pulled by the thorny hooks of irony and wasted relationships...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher

To force the pace and never to be still
Is not the way of those who study birds
Or women. The best poets wait for words.
The hunt is not an exercise of will
But patient love relaxing on a hill
To note the movement of a timid wing;
Until the one who knows that she is loved
No longer waits but risks surrendering -
In this the poet finds his moral proved
Who never spoke before his spirit moved.

The slow movement seems, somehow, to say much more.
To watch the rarer birds, you have to go
Along deserted lanes and where the rivers flow
In silence near the source, or by a shore
Remote and thorny like the heart's dark floor.
And there the women slowly turn around,
Not only flesh and bone but myths of light
With darkness at the core, and sense is found
But poets lost in crooked, restless flight,
The deaf can hear, the blind recover sight.

-- Nissim Ezekiel

I have never really liked Ezekiel. I still remember, way back when I was 12 or so, I was made to read his "Night of the scorpion" (or something like that) and I hated him for that. I hated him for threatening poetry under the guise of modern tolerance and modernistic style of poetry. I remember going back home and creating a lot of noise about this. I was still in the grip of Daffodils and Ozymandias and such a piece was blasphemy to me. It was like having a girl dress in overalls or something like that. No, no, don't get started with "But she can look beautiful in them too." Please. She might, but the beauty of delicate efforts of weaving the softest and finest of threads and curls is lost. Forget it; I am lamenting for a pointless cause....

This poem is an exception and I wanted to share it with you. Its a lot of what I go through as writer and lover (been a long while since I did any serious bird watching!!).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Size doesn't matter

You know what gets my goatee? When someone walks up and thinks that they can have things their way by sheer force of presence or clout or what you will. For those who have met me, please, I don't quite utilise "anything" in my favour. Come on. Give it to me at least for a minute!
Recently I was driving to office and there is this stretch of road (just a stretch guys, nothing fabulous) which doesn't have a divider. Coming to think of it... there is only a stretch of road that actually has a divider! Anyway, here I was driving in my little car and happily humming songs which only I could recognise and drumming away on my poor wheel. For those who aren't familiar with this stretch of road, there are a lot of uphill climbs and enough expanse to roll downhill. On one of the crests I saw this huge burly truck driving on my side of the road. For those who aren't used to Indian roads, every bit of tarmac belongs to any piece of machine that got there first. So here we have a behemoth of cranking metal rolling up towards me. My car can't protect a mouse if it had to and I was running a list of all those I should inform after this accident.

For some wild and foolish reason I headed straight towards him and stopped my car. I shut off the engine quickly and this guy stopped short of kissing my panting 800 (now I know how she felt in Beauty and the Beast). I distinctly saw my 800 pull its fenders in. I was less than 3 feet away from sickly yellow metal with an oval plate hanging which pronounced the credo of every populated country: "We two ours two". Yeah right! Try impressing my 800 with that line!!

The driver put his balding head out and I looked at him through my windshield chewing on gum that I had left back at home. I needed to do something to shut the thumping in my chest. Come on. Try standing up against a few tonnes of crazy steel which might not have stopped its mad rush towards you! He started shouting something at me. I lowered my glass slowly and put my head out and gave him a half closed I-am-inspired-by-Clint-Eastwood look. He gunned his engine and moved it a foot closer. My poor 800 sucked the grills in and away from the frothing mouth of this ugly thing. I stepped outside and tipped my head to either side and cracked my neck a bit (you have to do it in style!). I got my mobile out and peered towards his number plate and called mom!! :-)) I cut the call, of course. Mom should be the last person on earth to know that I pulled this stunt.

I spoke reverently and then loudly against the metallic monotony of an annoying tone.
"Haanji. Sartaj saab hain gharpar?" ("Yes, Is Mr. Sartaj at home?")
"Bula dijiyega" ("Please call him")
"Namaste Uncle. Kaise hain? Sab khairiyat to hai?" Pause "Ji ammi bilkul teekh hain" ("Hello Uncle. How are you? Everything fine? Yes, mom is doing good.")
"Nahin nahin. Everything is fine" ("No, no" come on, the rest of that was in English!)
Pause and a smile and then sternly looking at the driver.
"Uncle aap office pahunch gaye?" ("Uncle, have you reached office?")
"Uncle, This truck driver" then I realised that he might not know English "nahin nahin. Ye truck driver galat raste pe chalaake humari gaadi ko thokne wala tha. Abhi gaali de raha hai hume" ("This truck driver was driving on the wrong side of the road and was about to collide with my car. Now he is swearing at me."
"Haan, haan. Office ke paas." ("Yes, yes, near the office")
Pause and I smile a "I gotcha egg-head" smile
"Nahin uncle aapke aane ki koi zaroorat nahin. Madhapur Police Station se Nageshwar Rao ko..." ("No uncle, you needn't come down for this. If you could get Nageshwar Rao from the Madhapur Police Station to...")
I looked up to see a scared driver. I ended the call with the usual niceties and put my phone back and walked over to my car. The driver got down and started asking me why I was making a big issue out of this (which I now realise I did! :-( but actually I didn't!! ;-) and that he would back off and go his way. I told him that he could go anywhere but I have his license plate number. Then I cocked my head to the right asking him to leave and he frog jumped into his cockpit and slowly backed his truck. I watched my 800 relax and get back her sneer!! He went back on his road (after getting shouted at by other people who were already driving on it and whose way he was cutting into)....


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

We don't end thus...

Haath Choote Bhi To Rishtey Nahi Choda Karte..
Waqt Ki Shakh Se Lamhein Nahi Toda Karte..

Should we depart, let not our bonds end thus
From the boughs of time, let's not pluck memories thus

Jiski Awaaz Mein Silwat Ho NigahoN Mei Shikan..
Aisi Tasvir Ke TukDe Nahi Joda Karte..

A voice which tremors with passion and a wrinkled eye;
Fragments of such an image aren't pieced together thus

Shahad Jeene Ka Mila Karta Hai ThoDa ThoDa..
Jaane WaaloN Ke Liye Dil Nahi Toda Karte..

The sweetness of life is begotten in mere sips
Hence, we do not grieve for the departing thus.

Lagke Sahil Se Jo Behta Hai Usse Behne Do..
Aise Dariya Ka Kabhi Rukh Nahi Moda Karte..

That which rolls over banks and flows on, let it.
Never change the course of such a river thus.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

And where is my love?

Rarely do I see such irony
A nightingale stops to listen to her song
Straining thro' ears downy
For that voice struck in her breast's gong

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I think I love her...

Days grow bleaker
with her breathing familiarity.
Is it she I loved
or the tangy taste of novelty?

The emperor wears no clothes...

A re-post of an old one...

I happened to unfortunately land my eyes and my senses on the wrong pages of a catalogue. It displayed paintings up for sale. My senses ran away pretty much immediately, but my eyes stayed on. I couldn't believe what I saw. Paintings which could have been passed as the works of a 12 year old kid were up for ridiculous prices! Really ridiculous. Amazingly ridiculous. Unbearably ridiculous. I have dabbled with paint and canvas and hence, couldn't pass the page with a "Maybe it is the right price. What would I know?" thought. I shut the catalogue with least reverence, and rushed to look online for other pieces of painting which make me laugh or pull my eyes out of their sockets. I found plenty and managed to keep my eyes intact.
How do we decide the price of a painting or any piece of art and beauty? I go to a silk cloth shop downtown where the finest pieces of silk are sold. Wonderful designs on them using gold thread threads and threads of other colours which do not stand out in themselves but add a hue which makes you sigh and hand out that piece of plastic with least fear as to what will be charged on it. Creating such a piece of art is extremely difficult. The silk must be of the finest quality. The gold and silver threads should be such that they do not tarnish with age. The weave must be so perfect that thread knots do not appear on the fabric. Now interplay of silk and gold threads is not one that can be handled by a casual hand. Utmost care is demanded and a lapse of it can be quite frustrating to all those involved. So, we sum the prices of all this and add a fraction of the sum as a tip to the creative hand behind the entire piece. We pretty much arrive at the price, which was charged to your card. Not very far away from it. Mind you, some of these pieces are hand woven so let us not blame it on machining the silk world.
Let's apply the same logic to a painting. Let's consider oil painting (watercolours are cheap and water still so). We need canvas (good quality), brushes (reused across various pieces of the painting) and paint (also used across various canvases). What else, do we need here? So how much would that cost us? Around $100 (please check various online sites for the prices of canvas, a set of 12-18 brushes, paints, thinner, solvents, etc.) is my guess. Lets add a 100% as the artist's effort and imagination and creativity. If you sit at it, a painting can be done in a single day (no I am not exaggerating). So the work should be in the range of $200-$300. Fine, fine, fine, let's make $500. Happy? We used to work out the cost of food dishes in hotels (while we were students and every cent cost a lot). We would take a dish and figure out its ingredients and the cost of making it (chopping, boiling/frying/baking, etc.) and then add establishment costs (well, the hotel must exist before we are served the dish, right?). When we found that the number arrived at and the quote on the menu card matched, we would continue eating with least guilt!! As my friend would say candidly, "I will not pay an exorbitant amount for a lick, burp and fart!" Well, painting is not much the same. It is now viewed as an avenue of investment. I love the IBM advertisement about On-Demand when those guys keep discussing about how the painting is SCM and CRM and all that stuff, and an honest man walks up and says, "It looks like a horse to me." I think we need to see things as they are, rather than conjure images and beliefs about them. The hype is what drives me against and up a wall.
I have picked a few paintings. Be honest to yourself and let me (or at least yourself) know whether you would truly pay so much for these. Forget about the names behind these paintings. It is important to realise beauty without knowledge of the hand that carved it. If I loved a beautiful piece of music, and someone tells me it was Chopin, I would respect Chopin for that piece. But that is it. If I here another piece and didn't like it, and you came back to me simply to tell me that that was Chopin again, I would not respect Chopin's work on that piece and ask you "why are you taking so much pains in impressing upon me Chopin's worth or otherwise?".
Nude in a Black Armchair (Price: $45 million)
Celebration (Price: $317,000)
Garçon à la pipe (Price: $104 million)
Mahasnan I (Price: $7954)
The Tomato Eaters (Price: $512)

Amongst these, I liked "Garcon a la pipe" (not because it is the costliest!) but would never pay a thousandth of the price. There are many more such pieces available. "Mahasnan I" demands INR 3.5 Lakh. This is pretty much what an average software engineer fresh out of college earns for a year at one of the good companies in India!! Try convincing them that their efforts throughout the year is worth that painting! You could visit Indian Art Circle and search for Gogi Saroj Pal to actually see the painting called "Mahasnan I". Now for the names, The million dollar paintings are both by Pablo Picasso (so big deal). Celebrations is by Tyeb Mehta and "Mahasnan I", as you might have figured out, is by Gogi Saroj Pal. I am sure everyone has heard of Picasso and a few might have heard of Tyeb Mehta. "Tomato eaters" by Heeral Trivedi is the closest to our acceptable price of $500, but I am never going to buy that piece!!!

Now I show you paintings that I like, but will still not pay in terms of hundreds of thousands of dollars or their quoted price. A note before that, I like works of Camille Pissaro and in India I happened to find (well, while I was looking through Indian Art Circle and after I searched for and reached her homepage) Shuchi Krishan interesting. I will present some of their works below as well as one by Shuchi Krishan which made me wonder, "For this? Its good, but I am not going to pay so much for this."

Boulevard Montmartre Rainy Weather Afternoon
Portrait of a Young Man with a Pipe
Soul-C (the play of light and shadow is beautiful)
Some of the paintings on this page
Thirumalai Naicker Mahal (This is not exactly a painting, so our estimate of $500 would drop to about $200-$300. Nonetheless, the price quoted is less than $100!! Go on, buy it.)
Dreams of Nature

Before I start lamenting, please visit Shuchi Krishan's homepage as well as this page for paintings by Camille Pissaro. Do lookup the web for the Camille Pissaro's homepage (I didn't do it, but might update this post later when I find one. Updated with this link. Here is another link to a good collection of Pissaro's works.)

What is the world of art coming to? Earlier (and I am not saying that those days were better than now) an artisan did a fine job and was paid for it. I have hardly heard of artists being paid on the amounts of what $1 million means to us today. Think about it, if I paint 12-24 paintings a year, I would be earning as much as $20 million. And this is per year. A little more math for the next 10-20 years before I retire, should give you an idea and enough reason to take up art seriously!! But please don't. As foolish and idealistic as I seem, do not get into art for the sake of money and merely because a huge number of super-rich fools exist who are ready to pay you such obscene amounts of money.

Before I close, I would like to draw your attention to this piece of news. A 4 year old child splashes paint around and enjoys her innocent self and the colours dancing on the canvas laid out for her. Her parents test waters by quoting a price for the finished works. Buyers are clueless that it is the work of a 4 year old. Soon, the kid sells over a dozen pieces and has her own show!!
Some excerpts from the news piece:

They rave how she makes colors interact with intensity. And her pieces are selling - some for as much as $15,000.

"She builds her paintings in layers. Children don't do that. She starts with big swatches of colors and then adds details and accents on to that. That's what is so impressive and beyond what other children do," said Brunelli, who gave Marla her first show in August.

"She paints with emotion," Brunelli said.

Excuse me, give a child bottles of paints and you will find enough layers all over the house and the intended canvas!! Emotion?? She is a 4 year old for Pete's sake. I thought 4 year old had not much emotion apart from laughing and crying and shying away from playful adult eyes!! Don't make me look at the tonnes of kids I play, with seriousness. They are kids. You love them and when they are done with their toys, they love you! Simple. Listen to her words for yourself.

In hushed answers of few words, Marla says she likes that people like her paintings. "It makes them happy. I like that," the young painter says.

Buzz Spector, chairman of Cornell University's art department, said Marla's vision and process were exceptional, but that many children provided with the right materials and influences can produce surprisingly complicated abstract art pieces. While they show a "beautiful sense of color and material," Marla's pieces still lack the cultural and spiritual sophistication to be considered museum pieces, he said.

Her parents are sensible when they say:

"We thought they were pretty. We were proud," Laura Olmstead says. "We honestly didn't think it was beyond anything any other 3-year-old would do."

The family gave The Associated Press an interview at Brunelli's loft apartment, atop his gallery, a short ride from their home. Marla romped and rolled on the floor with her brother and later snacked on some cookies while her parents talked. Marla - as is mostly the case - had little to say about her paintings.

Bravo, bravo. I love this kid Marla. What more could one want from life? Paints and playthings and cookies and lots of space.

The earlier title I had for this post was "Art-schmart... Or Why should I pay so much for this?"

Monday, July 11, 2005

Over and out...

I realised that I hadn't been to my fav blogs for quite some time. I had visited Misha's blog and then realised that I couldn't do it... Really tired.
I think I will be off blogging, which includes visiting blogs, for a fair amount of time.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


This one was an old sketch of mine which I had abandoned nearly immediately. It was part of a study (I have graduated from using rough drafts or rough sketches to calling them studies!!) for a painting I was planning on doing for my friend's wedding gift. I abandoned it as soon as I knew that I wasn't going to be there for her wedding...

Often solace is found in things left incomplete.

She was, and still is in parts, a free spirited girl who loved the world and embraced it in its entirety. I really couldn't get a scan of it as it had very light lines, and this is what a quick picture looks like. She loved the sea, but had not seen much of it.

I am currently working on the Life series (basically a bunch of sketches/paintings all named Life and placing various aspects of life in contrapposto). Let's see if I stick to it...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A quick peek...

Do find time to stop by Alvibest to get a peek into what's coming up for the Aug '05 issue of Alvibest. This list will be updated occasionally...

Monday, July 04, 2005

Order of Nature

It amazes me when the order of nature presents itself in a manner as silent and as astounding as today, which seems so familiar to be any day. I was done with my bath and readied myself for my prayers. Once inside the prayer room, I seated myself and went about my prayers (which I shant call a routine as it isn't one). Once I was done, I noticed this rose finding support on the wooden frames of one of the pictures in the room. The rose was fairly large and in its size had destroyed all romantic innuendoes that one usually associates with this flower. It was a rarely seen colour. A shade of orange predominated, although all shades of tangerine could be seen. I focused on one of the petals. I have been sketching and painting over the past few days and the eye which trained itself on this innocent flower was that of an artist and not a lover, a lesson I am still to learn. As I watched the petal intently, I noticed that the colours seemed to flow against gravity and darken towards the tapered point of the petal. The petal, which stood upright, was a pale hue which darkened gradually to a bright orange which gave way to a dark nacarat at the tip and it seemed to want to escape from this petal and colour the walls with a similar hue. And I told myself, "Thus all petals will darken and brighten towards the periphery. Remember this while painting or sketching a flower" and as if to mock at me, my eye was pulled towards a petal pointing in the nearly opposite direction as an antithesis to this petal. It was pale at its tip and darker towards the nether regions. I couldn't help but smile and realise that the ways of nature are not for us to discern. It would be so difficult to look at a bud and be able to know the spread of petals and colours. I looked at each one of the petals and realised that each and every one of them was a canvas in itself. I spent a long while in the room and admired each petal with the eye of a lover.
It was a wonderfully beautiful experience...

Friday, July 01, 2005

MIT Weblog Survey

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

It's tough to refuse...

Some friends of mine asked me why I wasn't updating my blog with "my" stuff in lieu of quotes and general content. Well, the Alvibest post was "my" stuff... :-)
I wanted to stay away from my blog and focus on the journal (which is demanding a good amount of my effort), but I couldn't refuse.
So here is a quick one.

This is something I composed while talking (yesterday) to a very dear friend of mine. She accused (in a jocular manner) me of dreaming too much, and here was my response (reworded for this post)

Well, all I'd say milady
Is life is full of dreams;
Some are for me to realise,
Some stay behind closed eyes.

We laughed as soon as I was done and she shot out with her usual question "Where did you pick that up? Which movie?" and I was so bugged, exactly as she wanted it!! :-(

I love to dream and I love to include people I care for in my dreams and then share it with them. Nothing romantic (Oh! Puhlllleeeeaaaasssse) but something personal (which you could mistake for romanticism ;-). I loved creating things and possibilities. I remember telling myself stories over dinner. This habit stuck to me since I was 6 or so. I remember creating a character called Condor 2000 who had a suit which reflected bullets and a shiny armour on which any light blinded onlookers (its complicated, I'll explain later). His car was cool. It had all the gadgets you could think of. Actually the best part about that car was its adaptability; anything I wanted Condor 2000 to have was already there or was under development and final stages of testing (words I picked up from James Bond movies and Knightrider). The car was sleek, the gadgets sleeker.
In school, when I sported a wound and friends would ask me about it, each of them got a different story. It would be anything from an elephant in musth which I tripped to a high adrenaline rescue of some girl :-D
As I grew up(I assure you I have) the stories demanded credibility, nay, I think the people around me stopped believing in the possibility of an elephant tripping over my shin and landing headlong (of course, after a somersault) in an ice cream cart and the strawberry ice-cream cooling him and making him docile. I don't know what is so unbelievable about it. So my stories grew into serious prosaic ones but never ceased to roll out. They were usually extensions of my dreams. Something I would have dreamt of would find its way into a story and I would spend long hours pondering over what made me come up with that story. It was fun not being able to figure it out!!
I really don't know what I would do without my dreams and crazy scenes.
I really don't know what a lark would do without a chirp or terns without wings.
There is a lot I don't know.
Hence I dream! :-)