Penguins on my bag

A work by Korean artist Lee Dong Min


With a lineup of travel plans ahead, we decided to get a suitcase. A colorful one at that. So the search began. Amazon pages where scrolled up and down. Until something caught our eye. A waddle of colorful penguins. It was love at first sight. So the cash was transferred and the product was bought. It took two days for the penguins to raft to our door. Unpacked and stripped off polythene, the real thing seemed even more pleasing than the photos. With multiple zips, compartments, and small pockets, it’s more than just looks. So we let it rest on a wall, and add some aesthetic beauty to the living room. Amid the pile of stripped covers and the discarded package container was a slip that had information about the suitcase. In this case, about the artist who made the suitcase. Intrigued, we read on. And we learnt that the penguins that rested on our little suitcase were created by Lee Dong Min, a 20-year-old Korean artist with autism spectrum disorder — a condition that affects communication and behavior. The little setback that Min might have conveying his thoughts about penguins is more than compensated for the prodigious brilliance that he demonstrates painting them. Thank you, Min.


Tulip tale

When it bloomed for us.

Finding art in trash Challenge: #14

This year, we went to the cherry blossom festival at Tidal Basin, in Washington DC, during the peak bloom season. The plan was to start early morning, and get there before the rest of the world. To be an early bird. Get the worm… But the night stole all the promises that we had made to ourselves. And sleep, the night’s hand, made sure we woke up late to greet the morning. Even as we tied our laces, walked down the stairs and started the car, the crowd at the Basin thickened in hundreds. After battling the traffic, we parked our car at the Arlington National Cemetery, and decided to walk to the hot spot of Sakura trees. On the way, we saw a bright pink tulip, its petals firmly hugging each other, like sharing a little secret. It remained still, almost unnoticed, in the carpet of green. People walked by, hardly giving it a glance, rushing towards a destination full of flowers, just not this one.


A while later, we rejoined the crowd. Finally, at the Tidal Basin, we walked for hours under the shade of cherry blossoms, and watched the soft pink and white flowers flutter in the wind. We wanted to take a selfie with the flowers in the backdrop. But every photo came out with a stranger’s face on the side. Anyway, having quenched the desire to see the famed beauty of a 3,000 cherry blossoms in full bloom, we decided to call it a day, and trace our way back. This time, we stopped again to say hi to our little closed tulip. Only, now, the petals had unfurled, shining a dark pink under the sharp rays of the sun. A full blown tulip, that no one stopped to take a selfie with.


In the days that followed, we were frequently asked the question: “So how much time did you spend seeing the cherry blossoms?” And every time we replied: “Enough time for a tulip to bloom.”

Now, over a month later, in memory of the tulip that opened up for us, I made origami tulips and stuck them on a brown paper bag. A personalized shopping bag.