The most interesting thing happened today.I had a vivid dream when I first reached India, this time in Delhi, Iwrote the dream down in my sketchbook, and sent the image over in my email 3 months ago, it went....
'Dreamed of an old house which also seemed like a gallery where the art onthe walls had to be changed from time to time. At the back corner was a newly found well, that was so deep that when I jumped into it, i could godown only as much as I could hold my breath before i had to return to thesurface.'Ofcourse, i had forgotten about the dream, which was 3 months ago, andjust the other day, a friend was looking through my book,and found thedream interesting. It was only after rereading it did I get a familiarityof the space being Hotel Ganges View, where I am having my exhibition. itis an old house, where they do change the artwork on the walls quiteoften.So today, i asked Shashankji if there was a well in their premises, and Ieven pointed out the direction of it, and he confirmed that there was aold well there, which still supplies all the water to the hotel!!! he saidI couldn't jump into it though,as it's been covered over!the likes of Sting, and Rohinton Mistry when then come to Varanasi, staythere, so it has qutie the reputation.
Such are the interesting things happening in my life. The show is wonderful.
Two paintings sold today.
Editor's Note: Oddly enough this was part of a sequence of sketches that I mysteriously forgot to include in the right order and had only recently inserted.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
You are invited to an intimate showing of my work,'Meandering through an ancient city', on 28th February onwards, at Hotel Ganges view, on Assi Ghat, Varanasi.
Hope to see you there, or make your presence felt in spirit,
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Some earlier entries from this month. I'm most thankful for Pravin Rana's, Kalpana's and now the WLC office digital cameras for helping me to document my work and send it out! So as and when I get to shoot some of these pages, you get to see them.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Here are some late night ramblings when there's no electricity....In the stillness of the night, at half past three.... I have watched the moon rise from different paths over the horizon (over the last three months). It is a crescent waning moon that i see outside my window which throws silver on Mother Ganga. Dogs howl, while crickets and frogs merge their drone into the universal sound. The hot days and nights have begun, and over the last three months I have sensed a transition of seasons and varied temperatures, a myriad of festivals and ongoing fervour of
perpetual devotion and faith. The heat has brought with it the innumerable insects that pay homage to the candlelight by which I write, and the cool moonlit air from over the river provides temporary relief from that blaze of fire which warms my bones, heart and soul....and which makes me seek the shade of ancient trees during the day!
Today I painted a mural at Katesar village in the sweltering heat. Madness! But it's fun. I asked the sewing girls from the village to get me some fresh date palm toddy and it arrived at the perfect time. A refreshing break from the scorching sun...The two o'clock shadow beckoned
and soon after, I sat entangled amongst the roots of an ancient neem tree. (If you don't know, I've designed a bunch of placemats for the women at the Social Enterprise programme in Katesar, using interesting textiles, simple traditional techniques, and contemporary designs).
Jane Glassco commissioned me to do a painting of the Ganga Mahal, so I took a boat out on the river and did this watercolour. It's rather interesting doing such a painting with a moving station point, sitting on a twirling boat. My room's the farthest left on the first balcony.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
This musing of Prashant's makes me think of a discussion that I was having about "gift" economies and currency based economies recently.
When did basic services (to say nothing of the kindnesses we used to "gift" to each other turn into businesses? Good question! lr
Monday, February 20, 2006
Hello fellow tribespeople of our lovely planet,
Let me try and describe this morning, which I would only associate with India: The weather is fair with the cool air that comes with early freshness. Birds chirp everywhere, the river glints as it passes sublimely northward. Fresh flowers in vibrant colours brought out as offerings to
Mother Ganga. And under the shade of a Bodhi tree, I don't feel the intensity of the sun as it hits the ghats that I sit on. A light breeze and a sip of chai is what it takes to make me a happy man. Old holy men hunched with the weight of strings of rudraksh beads hung around their
neck, solemnly make their way up these stairs, reciting sanksrit prayers to divinities....a formidable shape of orange drifting upwards into the haze of city life, after a cool dip in the peaceful holy river.
A few sketches from last weekend. I'm going to be painting like crazy this weekend, as i've been asked to have a little show of my paintings at Hotel ganges view, which is a charming spot here in Assi ghat.The hotel has gained some repute over the last few years, as many an interesting personality has stayed over there. Shashankji who owns the hotel is graciously being a patron, and has even offered that I dine there everyday! Well I'm off for a Bharatnatyam dance
recital which is happening in an hour.
From the heat that is here, and the fire in my soul,
Journal entries at the beginning of my retreat.
Mauni Amavasya (Silent New moon)
29th Jan 2006
And today I shall be an observer. Mauni Amavasya is an auspicious day when the moon begins it's waxing phase and is a time to remain silent. It is an interesting experiment for me considering the fact that I'm in the railway station right now and 31 of us leave for Amritsar. I am trying not to interfere too much with things, but rather to flow with them, and thingsdo flow very easily. It is a beautiful morning and the soft light casts long shadows in muted tones. Myenas, crows and pigeons make their presence felt by various levels of chirping and cawing, while a pariah kite circles the smokey blue overhead. Lone train whistles interspersed with a sweeping broom cleaning away the remnants of yesterdays journeys on platform No.5,bring back a sense of antiquated charm of old cantonments that is the history of the great Indian Railways. I am excited, enthused by life and the constant mysteries that unfold every minute, the perpetual supply of knowledge and the unquenchable thirst to learn.
Thank You for this inward and outward journey that has brought me here and now.I'm on the train to Amritsar, and I do have to make constant reminders tomyself to stay silent. A few words have been uttered, (such as an ouch!and other such exclamations) but all in all I have managed to retain mypeace. Was it the Miranda vs. Arizona case that said that I have the right toremain silent? It all makes sense now.
Trains have always fascinated me, and to traverse our magnificent Indian terrain by this mode of transportation is an enchanting experience. We have just passed Ludhiana and Phillaur junctions and trees, domed structures and minarets poke their heads out of clouds of mist that lay spread over this earthy landscape. As we head to Amritsar, a transition of languages, costumes, facial features and geography of the land have taken place overnight while I rested on the upper berth of our sleeper coach. Sleep is an important part of tain travel, and the wild and magical realms that I have been transported to over the years of journeying by tain has only increased my intrigue of this inbetween, transitory means of gettingfrom one here and now, to the next.
en route with visuals at the next junction,
ta ta bye bye,
I'm back from Himalayan heights to the great Gangetic plain and I have many a story to narrate. But before that, I'm sending you some more sketches from my early January sketchbook.
Oh yes, and my friend Danny Gregory has kindly created a gallery on his
website with my sketches from my journey in India.(Thanks Danny!) It's in
the 'like minded' section of his contents page on
www.dannygregory.com or you can go directly there I suppose to
Sunday, February 19, 2006
The mountains beckon, and tomorrow I leave for the Himalayas, first to Amritsar and then to Dharamshala where the Dalai Lama resides. Given my constitution, physicality and stature, i am a seeker of warmth and light... I am therefore uncertain about my yearning to brave the cold
north and experience the mountains. To perceive the depths of my ponderings in a single glimpse of the unknown is a questionable task. I am often overwhelmed by the daunting prospect of reaching out to 'help' another being at times, but I have realised that a smile, a peaceful disposition or a direct look in the eye (I), can make all the difference. To attribute the consequence of my actions to the revelations of the divine is a possibility in this forest of bliss.
Tomorrow is Mauni Amavasya (Silent New moon), an auspicious day where people observe silence throughout the day. This has naturally piqued my interest and I am making an effort not to utter a word tomorrow, but such ideas might be thwarted by the troupe I'm travelling with during our 24 hour train journey to Amritsar. You might not hear from me for a bit, but
I shall be thinking of you from the pleasurable heights of the Himalayas.
The enchanting travels of a wandering scribe:
To continue on my adventures in Kashi, I shall just give you a gist of the heralding of a new day every morning. Living right on the banks of this holiest river, has the most intriguing attributes. Every morning on Assi ghat, the sun is welcomed over the horizon by the ringing of bells,
sanskrit chants, clanging of gongs, and the blowing of conch shells whose drone coincides with the first rays of magenta and gold to hit the river Ganga. This mesmerising wake up call, along with birds skirting the glassy surface of the river casting subtle ripples can only provoke feelings of bliss and eternal gratitude. The rising sun casts a linga of light over the river, creating a pillar that transcends all worlds.
Well enough of that....on to sunset. At dusk, there are 'aratis' on the ghats, facing the river. (Arati is the circling of oil lamps as a honour offering in front of a deity, in this case, river Ganga herself). To me, it seems like an elaborate preparation for the opening of cosmic portals.
the pujari (priest) prepares the 4 directions with circles of fire, and delicately seems to polish these invisible entrances with care and devotion using a variety of soft materials, leaves and incense, invoking the divine to open these cosmic portals and calling out to them with conch
Oh there's so much to tell and describe, but I should perhaps let the
images do the talking.
From the forest of bliss, (Another name for Varanasi....Anandavana)
(note: this painting was purchased by good friend of WLC, Toronto architect Eb Zeidler. lr)