volunteering diaries: a pan-indian carrom board match in mother teresa’s hospice

As India gears up for Daan Utsav, the national Joy of Giving Week festival held from 2 to 8 October, this year has a special significance for me. In my role as a volunteer with the festival’s Mumbai chapter, I organize various events of giving for the week. A handful of them are usually held at the housing complex I live in. And guess what, this year one of the events is centred around donating groceries and spending a morning at the Mother Teresa and Missionaries of Charity’s Home for the Destitute here in Mumbai!

If you wondering what’s so special about this, well, it is a reason for me to revisit some rather magical personal memories.

Some time ago I had spent an afternoon, just like the upcoming one on 5 October, volunteering at Mother Teresa’s hospice for the sick, destitute and dying in Kolkata. It was one of the most beautiful days of my life. A day I would like share with you today in my blog. 🙂 Continue reading

art focus – rockscapes and mindscapes – vinod sharma

vinod_sharma4

“No, there is no story to my art. My work is not even titled.”

“But you call it rockscapes, and I have heard you at times refer to them as mindscapes?”

Vinod Sharma laughs out aloud, and with a twinkle in his eye explains how his professor at Delhi College of Art coined the terms, albeit in passing.

“I just paint for the sheer joy of it. There is no other reason behind my delineations. There are no moral lessons. No deep revelations from my side. It is only personal joy.”

Sharma, originally from Delhi, has been painting his monumental monochromatic canvases—sophisticated in execution and mystical in content—for over two decades now. What started off as landscapes framed by windows later gave way to sceneries swathed in trees and people, and finally morphed into the present skeletal forms of the earth’s surface where Sharma got rid of all trappings and borders, for keeps. Continue reading

3 takeaways from arfeen khan’s ‘Make a Fortune Teaching What You Love’ seminar

arfeen_khan1

I am in a hall full of 250 odd trainers at Arfeen Khan’s ‘Make a Fortune Teaching What You Love’ train the trainer seminar. The advert had popped up on my Facebook feed.

Facebook’s research team knows I am in the training business, like all my other online activities it tracks. 1,400 people clicked and enrolled on Khan’s advert. A subsequent telephone call and form screened the 1,400 down to 250 who now sit around me in the hall in Juhu Tara Road, Mumbai on an early Sunday morning. The seminar is free. He is confident that 5 percent of attendees will sign up for the one year paid program based on conversion rate number rules.

There is a buzz in the hall. Khan is a celebrity coach, and the gimmicks are full blast on. Music, dance, fans and the related jazz. But it’s not all fun and games. There are three priceless nuggets I walk out with at the end of the day. Read on if you would like to know more. 🙂 Continue reading

art focus – a summer mix – chemould prescott road

summermix_jitishkallat1

There is the office ID card, the fancy pen, loose change, cell phone, a hand written note. Closer inspection brings to the fore yet further details: the worn Tee, crisp office linen shirt, the crumpled uniform, and slowly the faceless personalities defined by their shirt pockets fill the gallery, and I am in their midst.

Every now and then a spray of raindrops showers the city outside, taking no one by surprise. I am at A Summer Mix, Chemould Prescott Road, an exhibition of 15 gallery artists’ personal commentaries, on a grey monsoon clad day. Continue reading

art focus – journey to the roots – jamini roy 1887-1972

jamini_roy_gopini

“I do not care whether my paintings are good or bad. I want its appearance to be different.”
~ Jamini Roy

And different it is. Not different for the sake of being different, but different as in an expression of his authentic self. Jamini Roy (1887-1972), popularly conferred with the title of father of Modern Indian Art was from Beliatore village in Bankura, West Bengal. His art is his revisits to the simplicity and purity of his rural roots. He is not an outsider here ‘looking into’ rural India. He is the insider, painting his own familiar, much-loved world. Continue reading

mumbai’s ancient rock-cut cave temples

“Let’s explore the rock-cut cave temples of Mumbai this Sunday,” a friend suggests excitedly.

“Caves? I have been to Elephanta and Kanheri. Even written about them! Read my post. 🙂 ”

“Hey, there are more, a lot more in the city itself.”

More? I am confused. Where can there possibly be caves in Mumbai. The city is packed with concrete and people, with little space to walk, least of all millennia old caves to have survived. I am wrong.

Hidden within the crevices of Mumbai’s urban jungle is a pulsating vein of its ancient past. A series of rock-cut temples, connected to each other with tunnels and hidden passageways, lace the city’s basalt bed rock. Continue reading

mount poinsur, mumbai’s marian sacromonte

mount_poinsur2

There are advantages to being an insatiable traveller, even when amidst the obvious and familiar. One is always searching for the road less travelled, the site less seen, the experience less had. And rarely have I been disappointed. This day was no different. 🙂

Perched atop a 45 metre high knoll in Mandapeshwar, Borivali is Mumbai’s least known and most delightful slice of eclectic heritage—Mount Poinsur, an ode to the St. Francis of Assisi order in India and Marian devotion, the veneration of Mary in Roman Catholicism. Continue reading

art focus – masquerade and other apologues – anant joshi

anant_joshi1

It is as if a rainbow had burst and spread its colour, both over vast mounted canvases and minute egg tempered paper boards, alike. I stand in the grey walled halls of Chemould Prescott Road and blink. And then gawk.

As I step closer, yet another world unfurls—a satire rooted in broadsheet cartoons morphed into the artist’s personal commentary on recent social and political events and personalities in India. I recognize Arvind Kejriwal, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. I see athletes and war zones, Jesus Christ and Hindu priests. Continue reading

art focus – street art and dharavi

st+art_dharavi1

“Bhaiya, Dharavi chaloge?” (Will you go to Dharavi?)

After being turned down twice, a rickshaw finally agrees to take me on the condition, “I will drop you off at the main road. I won’t get a return passenger from there… You will have to walk to 60 Feet Road by yourself.”

Dharavi is not the usual jaunt or destination for a Mumbaikar, least of all a Hindi speaking woman on her own who quite clearly does not have a clue about the ground realities of the place itself! All I know is some statistics, historical details and that the main road is the 90 Feet Road, and perpendicular to it is the 60 Feet Road which I want to explore for its street art. But more on the art later in the post. 🙂 Continue reading

art focus – curated bandra street art walk – st+art mumbai

st+art_mumbai1a
If Bandra’s charm could be codified, I guess this would be it. Cats and silver leaves—collaborative mural by Anpu Varkey (India) and Tika (Switzerland).

So what happens when 20 internationally renowned street artists from all over the world, and two passionate people from Delhi get together and decide to bring the power of art as a medium of creative expression to the streets of India, free and accessible to all? St+art happens.

From the 7th to the 30th, this November, over 30 murals in Mumbai transformed, otherwise drab edifices, into vibrant thought-provoking compositions. Luckily for me, a bulk of them were painted in Bandra, my home in this city. 🙂 Continue reading

art focus – music and goddess – ranjit makkuni (sacred world)

ranjit_makkuni1

Chants, ragas, notes and sweet melodies from wind, percussion and string instruments play almost simultaneously inside the vast interiors of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai. But it is not cacophonic. Rather there is harmony in the eclectic mix. It is more the unusual for me, for it is an effortless amalgamation of technology, music and art, and of the traditional, modern and spiritual, to create a seamless expanse of personal experience. Continue reading

exploring south bombay’s fort district

fort1

From behind the everyday commuter traffic swarming through the business district of Fort in South Bombay, peeps out an earlier historical Fort, albeit shyly. I have often been part of that sea of humanity, stealing a hungry glance around me every now and then, to revert back to the trudge forward. And then one day, today, I delved deeper and met the old Fort. 🙂 Continue reading