Wednesday, 31 December 2014


To enable you to make a painting or draw a sketch, you need your mind in peace, or a certain restlessness.  Let me try to explain this.

Well, today I am looking outside my window and all I see is grey trees, windows and everything grey.  Really, everything is grey indeed.  The head gets gloomy and numb.  And perhaps, the only way to deal with this gloom is to draw something colourful.  In my opinion Water Colours can be one good choice here.  There is no need to draw something within boundaries or any specific colour, just find something cheery, I mean a cheery colour, mix a few drops of clean water, to it. Pankaj says, "thicker the paper the better it is; so,  the colour water can flow within as well as on the surface of the paper".  Just look outside the window, your window, and draw what you see.  Remember, no boundaries or no fixed lines, just your few cheery water colours flowing.  And, using "black" for colour here would only give more contrast.

Keep colouring keep drawing, you might get so absorbed in your work that next time you look up at the window, you will find that the beautiful darkness has arrived.

Below, one wintry day in Delhi...


Friday, 19 September 2014

The Time Warp of Capacity Building

The so called capacity building in development slash empowerment programmes in India appear to be in a time warp. 'Capacity building', a term which aims for human development is pretty much an intangible term made tangible through mostly grant-in-aid type of projects, and with a major chunk focussing on trainings for skill development; and in the cases of poor and vulnerable, for income generation. In addition, it is slowly becoming apparent that the likes of Aid agencies, Government and Non Government Organizations (NGO's) who design such capacity building policies and implement them have perhaps become dated entities, or own some sort of a secretly kept time-machine to travel swiftly through time to know and be enlightened about the problems a developing society faces and opportunities it might have.

So, I bendly ask the time warpers- if they factor for 'time' as a component in their so called 'capacity building' programmes, or not? If not, perhaps with changing time you can think of including it. As time becomes an important -- from an intangible to a tangible -- term in today's India, instead of more than helping anyone anymore, it can , or has, become a factor representing degeneration. One gets a little more dated as time passes. Therefore, the so called capacity building projects offering benefits without a denominator of time should be simply considered obsolete. Even the secret time-machine is not of much use here, because even a time-machine may need amends with time.

Think again. About, the so called 'Capacity Building' programmes. What progress is an individual expected to make unless he has been equipped to compete and improve over time?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Chequer (folk song)

I am black and I am white, simultaneously,
I am juxtaposed with myself, clearly,
I can be visible and I can hide, simply,
because, I am, I am, a chequer.

I can cut a curve, sew a patch, easily,
I can be a word or can destroy one, comfortably,
I am right and I am wrong, knowingly,
because, I am, I am, a chequer.

I am a game and I am a board, playfully,
I can be steps, and I can be stepped on, laterally,
I am boring and all this while I can be amusing, truly,
because, I am, I am, a chequer.

I can smile and all this while I can be sad, cheerfully,
I am false and I am true, paradoxically,
I am me and I can be you, think-of-it,
because, I am, I am, a chequer.

hey hey hey hey, I am, I am, a chequer.

Thursday, 21 August 2014


The morning was dewy and light soft. Walking with Shubham on a smooth pavement next to the river, the still river flowed along the left of the road. On the right continued a lane of well maintained light green grass lawns. The occasional neighbourhood found rare in India, and mostly in dreams, has posh houses lined behind the lawns. Ah, an elite artist friend lives in one of them! We think of visiting him, so we jump the bordering feet high bushes which after the communal lawns lead to the private garden of his property. A dog like creature is hiding in the small bush and growling through it. Shubham tells to watch out since he hasn't seen this kind of animal before. Soon, I am down on my knees pinning the animal by locking his teeth. I look up at Shubham and tell him to have a closer look. I convince him that the thing is neither poisonous nor a reptile, and by now the thing has understood we mean no harm. The rabbit/dog/mini-dragon mellows down, and as soon as it is released he has become playful knowing we are his new friends. The animal who was scared and hiding moments ago is fearlessly rolling, running, jumping around on the greens, looking gay and happy. Meantime, we get called for coffee by the host, and are engrossed in talking and listening about the house's architecture, especially its high span and quality wooden joist ceilings. The talks eventually end and so does the breakfast, and jumping back from the green lawns we notice the bones of the dead animal, with carcass of plain white bones scattered about. We soon notice a few lobsters hanging around about. And, this was perhaps the reason why the iguana cum dog was hiding in the first place. The caterpillar lookalike lobsters, a couple of them around, have had recently fed on our not-so-old friend. Harmless to us, and as tall as street dogs, they are gaily hopping and dancing after their happy meal. For a moment, my heart skipped a few beats as I was accidently about to step on one's feet. The two are of dynamic plastic colours like Lego toys standing in front of us like earth-digging equipment. We both hum and agree, "yeahh it is all about survival".

 Next day we call on my friend again. This time his old age naukar receives us at the door and tells us in a scruffy tone that his master is not in house since he has gone out on business, and he is not sure when he will return. No cup of tea is asked.

 Walking dryly with Shubham, I start thinking we humans have become like this- valuing things and having friends only for the moment. And, when the moment's gone so is the reason why we valued those things. We just look forward to a new day, new friends and new things.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

How Dreams Become Real

Think again when someone asks, "how do dreams become real?"

And, I think one suggestion can be- if your night sleep is broken, do not curse or become miserable, just get up and switch on your music player and preferably play a list of some folk songs. Go back and try to catch up with the rest of your sleep.

The Pete Seeger's "A Link In the Chain" is a thirty eight song album, and I hear an Angloman singing one of its songs while he descends steps and a passageway; his voice echoing because of the side walls. It was a usual cloudy day in Manchester and it was a surprise to see good old bald Mike, the office admin handy assistant, humming the tune, and soon bursting out into the whole song. The spotless grip on pronunciation of words and control on the tune made me an immigrant Indian engineer think, "yes, this is the way a song should be sung. See how perfectly he sang it. What a treat!"

The clock had struck seven approximately, and the Indian engineer found himself waking up fully and finally in another solitudal bight morning which belongs to Dahod. The waking up clarified that it has been years since the engineer has spoken to Mike. The latter half of the sleep had Mike and this real-definition music video as a dream. Nevertheless, the morning dream did give a nice high. The dream had made it a day even before it had started, for it was too real, and it would cover up for the rest of the mundane routine day ahead.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


Being a citzen of India and having Chinese as neighbours inspires copying, improvisation and tradition passing. In order to tackle the mundane routine, boredom, lazyness and nothingness which I found aplenty in the town of Dahod I made a copy of some good sketches of my students, and layered them with dry pastels, and thus I found serendipity. Sharing them here.
I call this process 'DeArt'- where the original idea belongs to someone else and you try to make it attractive to claim ownership.

Link to the Album

Monday, 30 June 2014

Teach Art

Asking Tribal kids being vocationally trained in construction sector skills to learn sketching and drawing is quite comparable to music lessons for soldiers during a war. Not only this additional activity should help alleviate an individual's stress while learning it might also help in winning over enemies or clients when in the field.
I am always a proponent of the thought that the power of imagination is theoretically boundless and even a little of it which can be converted into action has always been exciting for mankind.
So, here at the Vocational Training Centre at Dahod, I initiated some drawing classes. The students who come here at the centre are tribal youth from Gujarat, mainly Dahod district, and spend about forty five days in residence here to get introduced to construction skills such as masonry, bar bending, plumbing, site supervision and carpentery. I was very much supported and encouraged by all my colleagues here at GVT and GIZ  to undertake this; the aim being:
  1. Make students realize that skteching can be used at work to share ideas and plans with colleagues and clients
  2. Foster creative thinking
  3. Value creativity
During these sketching classes the methodology focussed into following rules:
  1. Always draw with a pencil on a blank paper
  2. To begin, break down your sketches into polygons, triangles and circles
  3. Never ever copy an existing image
  4. Draw a real 3D object, whether it is visible or it comes to your mind
  5. Do not worry about realisticness of your drawn image
  6. Let the drawing flow with your hand following your head
  7. Make your image rich with your own imagination
  8. Always improvise
  9. Practice, practice and practice
  10. Observe, observe and observe
A few selected sketches are scanned and shown here. Most of the sketches were drawn in classes and I don't think most students took any particular interest because sketching is seldom seen as an important subject in today's Indian mainstream learning. However, whatever that was attempted, somewhere in these skteches, to my luck, I found the present state of tribal living, interpretations and a few aspirations.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Please fold your hands

The sun was high and it was pleasant and cool inside the room. I was in a new high ranked job position and my employers and colleagues looked just happy on my joining. It seemed all liked me. I also received a handsome grant amount for research I wanted to pursue; as promised. I had finally joined a democratic institution in my own culture. Nobody was happier than me.

As the job progressed, the outside sun was as bright as always. I wore blue kurta to work and seldom a few times western clothes. But I started having differences with my colleagues. Probably, because of my working style which they said is slightly different. But I was also reassured that there was nothing wrong with it. "There's nothing wrong with it you know. But just then what do we need to spend so much of energy for? But anyways, do what you like", my new and close aides would say.

Months passed by and the sun outside reduced its intensity. But is never lost its glare, so most events would happen inside. This time it was a ceremony where all including the trustees would be present. They called all seniors, including me, to the stage and receive honorary certificates of contributions. On my turn I took the three steps that lead to the stage and received my commendation. It was a weird ceremony because in the end there was a strange unknown God to be prayed to.

All on the stage except the seated trustees folded their hands and joined their palms against their chests for a typical namaskaar. I folded my hands too, but did not feel like  taking my hands up to my chests like everyone, and out of respect locked my hands in front of my crotch and bowed my head out of respect. I knew I was being noticed but not expected the trustee to sternly warn me that this is not the way. I must do namaste like everyone else.

The sun was up. It did not matter.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The crocodile boy

The crocodile boy was sitting on the floor while I seated on a chair was busy bantering with my college colleagues. He didn’t say anything to any of us but there were expectations in his eyes. He wore ragged shorts and a t-shirt. He only wanted to learn and had expressed his desire to me to be his mentor. So, with a genuine heartfelt acceptance I gave him money to buy himself some decent clothes and a notebook and pen and pencils. He was back in no time looking immaculate in his new clothes and shining green crocodile eyes. The ten year old crocodile boy looked like any other ordinary boy, and just a little brighter. Soon he was learning words as I taught him alphabets. He would elocute when I would teach him to read. He was fast and soon became apple of my eye. I taught him to swim and in two lengths he became as fast as me. I tried teaching him to leap out of the water like a frog but it didn’t work out. His head would hit the swimming pool's wall and he would fall back into the water while I landed triumphantly on the floor. A teenager was noticing this and intervened. In some masterful euphemistic coyote teaching style he taught the crocodile boy how to leap out of the water. I looked at the teenager with thankful eyes and he nodded back. He looked at me with appreciative eyes which were distinct and similar eyes just like the crocodile boy's. He walked hurriedly to the swimming pool hall door putting on his white shirt back. Surprisingly his black trousers and red hair were dry. Soon I realized he was also a crocodile boy who never had any mentor to educate him things of intellect. Silently, I was praising myself of my prized opportunity of mentoring a pupil who was a mutant wanting to mix well with the humans.

I had another surprise when an old female friend checked with me finding that we work in the same college now. I was glad to see her again after a long time. To my surprise she requested me for a lift on my bullet to drop her home. By then I had already sent the crocodile boy to wait for me at the parking.

We walked to the parking and I cribbed about waste of parking space and broken fences. She seemed to agree to my points. There were more than thousand two wheelers parked in about ten to fifteen long rows. I tried locating my bike for I could not recall where I had parked it last. It was about fifteen minutes of searching that my female friend said she will go home by herself and after another half an hour of frantic search I couldn’t find my bike. Perhaps it has been stolen. Crocodile boy wasn’t in sight either.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Never mind, just an aberration

Leaving the Ahmedabad Cantonment gate looking for an autorickshaw. Can't find one. So, looks to walk half a mile until Rajasthan hospital where surely there will be one. On an off road sees an exotic hand rickshaw, and the rickshaw puller, most likely a foreigner, waving excitedly, so waves back. The banyan tree in front of hospital shades a large area, is full of Indian people. The street shops and larries are selling chai, nasta, masala, cigarettes. Noisy, vapory, smoky- the smell, the sound, and the air tells. The Japanese monk has come chasing and asks for Three hundred rupees. An exotic sum ten times higher for a distance not yet travelled so is denied. He has a choice, either to argue or have tea.
Walking further sees the place has changed a lot, a lot. No more railroad intersection, an overbridge instead. No more boundary walls, wired fences instead. Where there were buildings are now roads and planned plotted lands. The erstwhile graveyard is now a party plot. Noisy, dusty, smoky- the smell, the sound, and the air tells. It's been a few miles of walking and it is time for whiskey.
Waking up in a double bed, most likely Connaught Place. Birds are chirping outside the window. The light is bright yet soft. The smell, the sound, and the air tells. Can hear utensils rumbling and bustling. Can see people wearing baniyaans and jeneyu hustling between the opposite doors, using the room as a thoroughfare. Preparations are on for a mass meal. The crown of tropical trees visible from the window sill tells there must be stairs to go down. But the design of stair room is bad. The stairs are there but the first stair drop is at least 3 feet. The missing steps are high enough to make one tumble and fall in the stair well. The stair room is not perfectly rectangular either. Faulty construction. People in baniyaans and jeneyu come for assistance bringing two step ladders, both made of beautiful latest lightweight alloy.
Walking in the street an old acquaintance is seen, so saying, "Hey, long time!"
"Hey, that was hell of a night"
Surprised, "what do you mean? What happened? Can't recall"
"The cops didn’t take it well"
Mused, "What had happened? Did I do something? Really, I cannot recall"
"Never mind, will tell you next time"

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

In the Lonely Lighthouse

Bob is juxtaposed, half asleep. He has battled daytime dust by taking baths a few times in the evening. Laying a fresh now, and half sleepy, he has been intermittently alerted by persistent honking from incoming chartered boats. Having taken up a decently paid job in an alternate profession Bob the lighthouse keeper, a rookie now, also has to organize incoming boats, make sure they are lined in their allocated bays, and are anchored to the bollards. He uses his neck hanging whistle and directs incoming boats to be parked with waving and pointing of his hands, sometimes both hands. He finds this new job a little irritating, for he doesn’t like to be disturbed much. The customary hellos with the visitors at the dockyard who like to keep within themselves aren’t fully satisfying either.

Bob will prefer to spend most of his time lying in his sleeping bed which is placed in the centre of the room. The minimal room otherwise has a carpet, a bookshelf and a couple of suitcases which also serve as wardrobe cabinet. The other rooms in the lighthouse are a compulsory bathroom, and a kitchen with half unused cabinets, a cooking gas, a dining table and some chairs. There are no wall hangings, artefacts or posters in this lighthouse accommodation, except for a wall calendar of a mini scooter selling company which has all the months hence dates of the year and a silhouette figurine graphic of a popular movies actress playing guitar sitting on the scooter, except a solitary guitar occasionally played, except a laptop bag, and except books and magazines mostly read lying about. The essential basic items which a single man needs for daily living don’t matter much, for Bob is juxtaposed; he is half asleep.