A museum is not just about the art.
I love the desert, the lovely warm hues of brown, red, green, blue. I love it as much as the ocean and the mountains. The silence wraps around me like home.
When I’m done with my chores, I sit at my window and observe. There’s a lot going on here to keep me busy. I see children growing up, people moving in and moving out. Lives being nurtured and destroyed. The best stories are woven on my street.
Art is all about observation.
Recently I went on a hike in the foothills nearby (I’m lucky to have nature in such close vicinity, it’s a shame I don’t take advantage of it more often) and was arrested by this scene. It reminded me of the animated Studio Ghibli movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises. It was just this scene captured perfectly– the wind blowing through the meadow full of lush green grass and the sound. So beautiful and serene. I must credit the artists for their keen sense of observation, and thank them for bringing us citydwellers closer to nature and its miracles.
Do check out The Wind Rises and other Studio Ghibli movies. They are all pretty much masterpieces of animation.
I can say I’m also inspired to include nature in my writings, and bring in the small details which may capture the readers’ imagination.
It may sound cliched yet nothing could be truer. A girl who goes on to become a woman has always learned to lead an inferior life. She has learned to be a perennial serf, who lives in the shadows. Who is seen and not heard. If she speaks– it has to be in soft tones or whispers. She has to align her opinions with those of the society — she has to be uncontroversial, motherly, generous. She has to live for her family and the world at large. She is ‘weak’ thus needs to be protected, yet she is also taken advantage of. Hypocrisy much?
If she rebels and asserts herself even in the slightest she at once surrounds herself with frowns and draws rebuke and criticism. How dare she? She is labelled a vixen, a mad woman and cast out or burnt at the stake.
Hence since the birth of time (with a few notable exceptions) she has learned to clip her wings, succumb to the pressures, curb her desires, even censor her thoughts. What a tragedy isn’t it?
Do read ‘The Awakening’by Kate Chopin.
Image is of a painting titled Bust of a Woman by Pablo Picasso– Oil with fixed black chalk on canvas. Displayed at Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California.
History is my hobby. And art and architecture is it’s most telling representation. I find modern buildings staid, lacking in variety– they are utilitarian, of course, but singularly boring. Some do make it out of the mould, but those are few and far between. Hence, whenever I travel I seek out old buildings. They are so much more attractive and compelling and come in so many styles– each narrating the story of the place and the era when they were built. And they seem so solid and permanent. So, when I heard about the Notre Dame fire, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it until I saw the live images on the news. That building besides being n invaluable example of gothic art, is a prominent part of history. It has witnessed the French Revolution and survived it and who is not aquainted with the famous Hugo classic ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’ or it’s English translation ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’.
At first, there was fear the entire structure would be destroyed. Fortunately, that didn’t occur but I understand most of the roof and the spire are gone. Now, I can say how lucky I was to have visited the place a few years ago and trudged up the narrow spiral staircase to get up close to the cathedral’s famous gargoyles which happened to be the favorite part of my visit. For those who aren’t aware, gargoyles are grotesque creatures that act as spouts to direct water away from the building. Apparently they are also supposed to ward off the evil eye. But were they able to protect themselves — I hope so… Below I share some precious snaps from my visit :–
Along ancient streets
alien sounds ebb and flow
With familiar inflections
passions don’t simmer
on drab countenances
The air vibrates with soul
Inspired by the ancient streets of Cordoba, Toledo, Seville, Granada, in Spain. Walk on! More poems in my soon to be released book ‘Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree’.
Apne dhun mein magan (lost in one’s tune)
I lie on the bed
They sit around me
These strangers with familiar voices
In the white room
I think we are waiting for something
These strangers, they look at me
They mutter words I don’t understand
A man wearing a white coat walks in
He stands next to my bed
He speaks not to me
But to these strangers
They are talking about me I know
But what I don’t understand
Irritated, I kick off the covers
Mother! They chide me and pull them back
About the poem: This is a poem about dementia, the hallmark of the disease being loss of memory. I write about a scene I came across during my rounds in the hospital–an elderly lady in the advanced stages of dementia is lying on the bed surrounded by her caring relatives.
About the image: These are a series of self portraits that William Utermohlen, an American artist embarked on after learning he had Alzheimer’s disease.
Darwaze, khidkiyaan, jharokhe, verandey
Hain ye imaartein
Kuch keh rahi hain ye
Rough translation: (Doors, windows, details, so beautiful, are these buildings, look at them, listen, understand, think, learn, they are speaking to you)
What can I say, but I’m fascinated and inspired by buildings, and people around buildings. That’s why I’m a musafir. Kindly excuse me for my very poor Urdu and Hindi poetry skills.
Darwaza: Urdu for door; Khidki: Hindi for window; Jharokha: An overhanging enclosed balcony used in Rajasthani architecture; Khoobsurat: Urdu for beautiful; Imaarat: Urdu for building; Dekho: Hindi for look; Suno: Hindi for listen; Socho: Hindi for think; Jano: Hindi for learn