Saturday, November 05, 2005

Travel to India – Sketches made on the first day

(This is part of a series on travel to India. Please read part I before this for continuity)

My joy knew no bounds when I saw my parents and sister waiting to receive me at the Bangalore airport. I had visited my sister in California just six months ago, but I had not seen my parents in three years.
I was struck by the beauty of Bangalore – it looked so lush green. My father shook his head when I said that Bangalore did live up to its name. “What Garden City, they are chopping down trees pretty much everywhere in the name of development”. He was right, I noticed that a huge section of the eucalyptus grove had been cleared to build a flyover at the junction of the airport road and the 80 ft road.
It took a while for me to get used to the taxi drivers negotiating traffic at breakneck speed. Within hours of reaching home I wanted to go on a walk. I was desperate to make sure that I was using every second of my time in India. I love the spontaneity and chaos of everyday activity. It stimulates me so much. I feel so alive when I walk around here. Carrying nothing but a sketchbook and a couple of India ink pens, I started on a walk from Domlur to Ulsoor and back. I walked along the familiar Cambridge road – took in Lourde Boy’s, and St. Meera’s - schools I had studied in during my primary education, I cut across Udani Layout and found myself in G street. The old Peepul tree was still standing tall. I sat on a culvert and sketched the shop selling agarbathi and coconut (sketch one).

I took in the hustle and bustle of the street, the two wheeler traffic, pedestrians, vehicles parked haphazardly....I was just exhiliriated. Friendly stray dogs walked by. I have no doubt that I had fed biscuits to their ancestors who lived in this very neighborhood about 20 years ago.
I then walked along Old Madras Road and sat at a bus stop. I found out that the bus stop shelters were maintained by private companies. I did the second sketch (not completed) posted here sitting at this bus stop. In the course of my sketching I struck up a conversation with a man sitting next to me. He had undergone art instruction and had even had a brief stint working as an art director for a theatre group. We chatted for more than an hour about the commercial viability of art. He told me about the need for thinking out of the box, demonstrated some of his techniques using my sketchbook, and then moved on to the topic of art in cinema. Overhearing us, another man derailed the topic by abruptly commenting that the lyrics in present day cinema were no good contrasted with those of the yesteryears. To prove this, he cleared his throat and gave a beautiful rendition of a song composed about 45 years ago in Tamil Cinema. By now about four to five of us were interacting and I forgot all about completing the sketch. All of a sudden it dawned on me that I had been at the bus stop for over two hours. I hurriedly took leave of my companions and started on the long walk back. I had indeed had a productive first day.

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