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.
We don’t always have to travel to seek stories; they are right there in our homes too. In “Stories From My Home“, I examine the many objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the memories associated with them, one story at a time.
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”
“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.
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 !
… later, I begin with a confession — I almost didn’t write this 8th anniversary post.
Reason? I have hardly blogged this past year managing only 18 posts, 11 of which were written in the months of June and July 2017 and the remaining 7 spread out over the remaining 10 months.
For this reason alone, I didn’t feel that my 8th blog anniversary deserved the usual blog post to mark this milestone. The blog anniversary (June 2) came and went, but I couldn’t ignore the niggling thought that maybe, I should reconsider writing that anniversary post. After all, while the blog anniversary was a milestone or the ‘destination’, the posts were always about the journey to that destination, and it was important to record that journey. So I finally got down to writing the blog anniversary post, and here I am with it, albeit 10 days late.
To be honest, this post is less about the blog and blogging or the reasons why I didn’t blog or wasn’t able to blog (actually, I was writing blog posts; I was just not publishing them). This is more about what I did this year some of which will get written about eventually here !
My cell phone buzzes softly.
It is the 5.30 pm alarm, the one I have set as a reminder to call Amma.
I’m at work reviewing the work done that day and simultaneously making a list of tasks to be completed the next day. I still have about 30 minutes of work left before I can really call it a day and head home.
But first I call Amma.