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

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“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

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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

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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

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“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