My “now” song: Baisara beera

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a story line, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, a background score, etc. That particular piece of music becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could remain with me for any length of time.

It was a Sunday and I was at work completing an urgent report. Naturally, I wasn’t too happy to be at work on a Sunday, but the one big advantage of working in an empty office that day consoled me — I could listen to music in the office without earphones, and at full volume as well !

I put on a random playlist on YouTube and got down to work. I work well when there is music in the background, and that day was no different. With no phones to disturb me, I made good progress with the report as I hummed, sang or listened along as the songs in playlist played out one after the other.

Till the haunting strains of a ravanhatta came along. I immediately stopped working on the report and switched tabs on the computer to listen to the song and watch the accompanying video. And then again and once again. And for good measure, a few more times. 🙂 Continue reading “My “now” song: Baisara beera”

Advertisements

A holiday at Wallwood Garden in Coonoor

My first night at Wallwood Garden in Coonoor was a memorable one.

I had arrived earlier that evening and was shown to my room immediately by Geetha, the manager. “You must be so tired — first the flight from Mumbai to Coimbatore, and then the drive to Coonoor ! Since you’re a writer and will appreciate some quiet, we have put you in Camphor.”

Writer? Me? I was so chuffed at being called a writer that the rest of Geetha’s words about the room and its amenities didn’t register as I was mentally preening. Till she mentioned the word “room heater”. I snapped out my self-absorbed reverie to see her pointing towards the said contraption and showing me how it worked.

“Surely, I won’t need this, right? I asked. I may also have giggled nervously.

“I’m afraid you will for it gets very cold after sunset. Besides, there are extra blankets and quilts in the cupboard should you need them,” Geetha said seriously. “You did read the mail we sent about the weather and appropriate clothing for Coonoor, didn’t you?”

I hadn’t read the mail, but wasn’t going to tell her that. “Of course, of course,” I said airily, ushering her out of the room.”I’ll be fine and will manage”.

That night I needed two blankets + one quilt + the room heater to “manage”. I don’t know when I stopped shivering and went to sleep. I woke up the next morning to the most awful racket; it took me a few seconds to figure out that the sky wasn’t about to come crashing down on my head and that it was a family of monkeys partying on the roof.

And that’s how my holiday at Neemrana’s Wallwood Garden began !

Continue reading “A holiday at Wallwood Garden in Coonoor”

Nigiri Library, ooty, Ootacamund, Udhagamandalam, Libraries of India, Tamil Nadu, Books, Reading, Travel

Travel Shot: The Nilgiri Library

The Nilgiri Library in the hill station of Ooty (also known as Udhagamandalam or Ootacamund) in Tamil Nadu was established in 1859 and moved to its present premises, a handsome red and white Victorian building, in 1867. According to an information board at the Library:

On 28th August 1967, the foundation stone of the main building was laid by the Hon. Mr. A.J. Arbuthnot, then Chief Secretary to the Madras Presidency. A religious ceremony was conducted by Rev. Dr. G.U. Pope. A parchment in the name of the “Holy Trinity” was placed under the stone work… The site on which the Library stands once housed the Jail and Post Office !

I came to know of the Nilgiri Library when I was doing research on Ooty prior to my short #NilgiriMountainHoliday about two months back. Just reading about the library and its collection of over 25,000 books, rare volumes as well as a beautiful reading room was enough to make me head straight to the Library on my arrival at Ooty.

The Members Only sign at the entrance did make my steps falter a bit, but I was confident that I could persuade the Library staff to at least see the reading room, if not their collection.

Continue reading “Travel Shot: The Nilgiri Library”

Stories from my home – 4: Bala’s oil pot


We don’t always have to travel to seek stories; they are right there in our homes. I never cease to be amazed by how much we take things around at home for granted and this series is an attempt to remedy that. In “Stories From My Home“, I re-look at many of the material objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the precious memories associated with them.


This true story begins more than a 100 years ago.

Every morning at dawn, in a small village of Southern Tamil Nadu, little Bala would set off to bathe in the Thamirabharani river with other girls in the street she lived in. She would carry bath oil in a little bronze pot, some payatham maavu (or green gram powder), and a change of clothes. Bathing was a fun and elaborate ritual that also involved play with all the other girls who came to the river with her.

Years went by. Bala grew up and got married and newer responsibilities meant she no longer had the time for the elaborate bathing ritual that she once followed; there was only time for a quick scrub and dip in the river. The oil pot soon fell into disuse and eventually became a plaything for her daughters.
.
Bala’s daughters too grew up, got married and left the village to live in far off cities. The oil pot remained behind, abandoned and forgotten. Years later, while on a visit to the village, Bala’s oldest granddaughter saw it and immediately took a fancy to this oil pot and with Bala’s permission took it back with her. Continue reading “Stories from my home – 4: Bala’s oil pot”

Krishna in Indian Art, Krishna in Art

Celebrating Krishna in Art

“Indian art would be incomplete without Krishna”.

I first heard this statement and variations of it all through the year-long (2015–2016) course on Indian Aesthetics  at Jnanapravaha Mumbai. I must confess to feeling a little bemused with this statement at that that time, because I didn’t really know much about Indian art, and what little I did was not about Krishna.

But as the course proceeded and I was introduced to different forms and styles of Indian art that perception changed. From the classical to the folk to the contemporary, from sculptures to manuscript and miniature paintings, from wall frescoes and murals to prints to contemporary interpretations, and more — Krishna was the constant all through.

And as it usually happens with any kind of growing awareness, I started noticing Krishna everywhere around me — roadside shrines, people’s homes, museums, posters, book covers, etc. It was no different when I travelled and I saw Krishna in the most unexpected of places. This new-found interest even led me to dig into my photo archives to see if I had captured any images of Krishna. Not surprisingly, I found quite a few. That is when the idea of this post was germinated in my mind.

Krishna in Indian Art, Krishna in Art

But the idea really grew and took shape when I attended an exhibition titled “Visions of Krishna” at the Artisans’ in Mumbai in August last year. I loved the exhibition, particularly the lithographic and oleographic prints on sale. The exhibition also helped me visualise the idea of a blog post on the myriad ways Krishna is  depicted in art.

My initial idea was to write a post around the exhibition and I even got a draft written but for some reason I never published it. This was a year ago. When I looked at the draft again a week or so back, I decided to revive it and broaden the scope by including art, not just from the exhibition, but from all over. And that is how this post took shape.

As the title indicates, this post is a celebration of Krishna in art by exploring Krishna as a sculpture, as a painting, as a terracotta panel, in print; Krishna as a divine being, a mischievous child, a romantic hero, as a destroyer of evil; Krishna represented in the traditional form or in a quirky manner, as a form to be worshipped or as a medium to sell hair oil ! In other words this collection of 22 images is Krishna all the way !

Continue reading “Celebrating Krishna in Art”