On a Saturday morning in November 2014, I participated in a special, curated walk — perhaps the first of its kind — on street art. Organised by the St+art India Foundation, the walk was to showcase the culmination of almost three weeks of work done by 20 renowned artists from India and abroad in and around Bandra in Mumbai.
I had closely followed the progress of the various artworks on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. And each time an artwork was “unveiled”, the itch to go and see them for myself only intensified. So when the announcement of a curated and guided street art walk popped up on my Facebook feed, I immediately signed up for it. But then, the excitement gave way to scepticism.
Let me elaborate. I love street art — it’s vibrancy, its uniqueness, its colourfulness, and the fact that they don’t follow any set rules. But most of all I love how all the street art I have seen have been serendipitous and delightful finds. Something, I thought that a curated walk would not be able to give.
Still, the lure of seeing the St+Art in Bandra prevailed over my scepticism and I made it for the walk, as did 10 other people.
Discovering this set of street art was sheer luck. Serendipity indeed.
It was around 10 am on a Saturday morning in Bandra last month. I had just finished seeing and photographing the set of artwork on the compound wall of St. Peter’s Church on Hill Road. I still had those images of on the theme of child sex ratio and sex selection on my mind when I stopped near a roadside tea stall to put away my camera gear.
On noticing my camera, one of the men standing there said in Hindi, “Don’t put your camera away. There is a lane full of ‘paintings’ like this a little further down the road.”
“Do you mean the ‘paintings’ on Chapel Road?”, I asked.
“No, no. There is another chhota road here which has paintings. Very beautiful paintings.”
“Thanks. I’ll have a look.” I didn’t tell him, but I was a little dubious about this piece of information. I had walked down the road many times and never come across any lane like the one he had mentioned. Also, my good friend Google had never mentioned it, in the sense that all image searches would lead one to the wall art on Chapel Road.
Still… as I walked down the road, I kept an eye out. And then I saw it. If I had not noticed a flash of turquoise blue and red and then looked again, I would have missed it. What I had always assumed was the entrance to a housing society was actually a lane so narrow that if I had stood with my arms spread out, I would have touched the walls on either side.