Blogging · Journaling

Being a virtual wedding guest

There were no invitations sent, just a zoom link. We logged in, like we would for any other official meeting. It was our first time attending a wedding virtually. A kind of wedding, where we sit dressed in our finest clothes waist up, but remain in pajamas waist down.

Inside the bride’s ‘personal room’ on Zoom, sat her parents in one rectangular window, and her to-be-in-laws in another rectangular window. Both the parties had logged in from India to see the couple get married in a temple in Las Vegas. 

The bride popped in and out of yet another rectangular window. She wore a red and blue sari, with gold designs along its border. The 2D image did little to bring out the flow of the six-yard fabric, or the shine of the gold thread. The groom came on screen next. It was time for them to exchange garlands, and the temple priest to declare them husband and wife. 

The groom’s dad played traditional wedding music on his phone. The music percolated to the rest of the windows as if there was a crack on each. Some faces within these windows remained stuck, some hidden. Meanwhile, in one of the windows, the couple was wed. We realized it when a row of hasty congratulations ensued, and the windows closed one by one like bubbles dissolving on a sheet of water. 

The day continued with no remnants of a celebratory occasion, but just a faint memory that two of our close friends had started a long journey together. To that, we said cheers with a bowl of banana chocolate chip cake and vanilla ice cream.

Art · Artwork · Blogging · Journaling

Chill Vibes

There is something about sketching on location. Be it in front of I.M. Pie’s Louvre Museum, the Newark Reservoir, or the kitchen at my sister’s place in Ohio. The pen lines and watercolor strokes, while bringing out a certain form on the otherwise empty paper, also trap within them a slice of the Now. Let me give you an example. Last night, I sketched Homer Simpson behind the wheels.

I look at the sketch now, and in my head plays the song Let’s go surfing by Joakim Karud as that was part of the 33-minute long ‘Chill Vibes’ playlist that had Simpson’s visual as its cover image. I look at the sketch and I am crowded with a mosaic of images including that of my husband reading a book (Keepers of the Kaalachakra by Ashwin Sanghi) while laying on the couch, scenes from the Netflix series Outlander that we had watched that evening, the taste of stir-fried turnip and brown rice that we had had for dinner — the sketch, within it, keeps the memory of all these images and more.

You can check out my other sketches here. Feedbacks are most welcome.

Blogging · emotions · Journaling · life · Life in general

Cold fingers

Pic credit: fotografierende on Unsplash

The sweater sleeves end at the wrists, leaving the palms yearning for warmth. They rub against each other, crawl into woolen pockets, and hide in the folds of an old white throw.

There they rest, until that familiar-but-maddeningly-persistent ringing of the phone. They wriggle out, they have to, and reluctantly inch closer to the icy metallic touch screen that glows ocean blue.

The cold wrinkles the skin, numbs the fingertips and curls them shut. But open they must, to pour some chilled wine and cut some cool cucumbers. 

Sometimes, to hide the shivers, the fingers cup the mouth as if in shock; run through the hair as if in doubt. They seek the heat in the folds of the neck, in the slope of the back and in the pit of the arm.

All the while blaming the sleeves that end at the wrists, leaving the palms yearning for warmth. 

Art · Artwork · Blogging · emotions · Illustration · Journaling · life · Sketch · TRAVEL

Turning 30 in France

There was no big celebration inside the hotel room. Outside, the whole town of Nice had come together for the annual carnival. Abba’s Dancing Queen blared from the speakers. We walked past children with painted faces, adults with masked ones. Past the line of high-end boutiques and restaurants with al fresco settings warmed by outdoor heaters. We stood watching the sleepy Mediterranean sea gulp down the hot sun and turn grey.

Back in our hotel room, we switched on a French reality TV show. The participants seemed angry. Probably used expletives. But in French, the words shed their bitterness. It was a new moon night, a pitch dark sky engulfed the last hours of my 20s. When I woke up, I expected a new world. But the sun was already on its long slow dive into the sea. And the sea… the sea lay with a certain disinterest, stretching its blueness like a long yawn, stripping the day of its significance.

That morning, my husband and I caught the train from Gare de-Nice Ville in Nice, to Gare de-Lyon in Paris. We walked along the fifth arrondissement to a bright blue door at 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, where writer Ernest Hemingway lived and loved. Here’s probably where he wrote ‘The end of something’, we wondered while lunching at an Armenian restaurant amid French-speaking crowd. It was our last night in France, we spent it in a hotel that stood floating on Seine.

From inside, we watched the resilient river reflecting with clarity, the bridges that rose from it, the tall yellow street lights, and the high-rise buildings that shimmered in the background. The reflections danced the entire night. Until the dawn swallowed them just like it did the last of my 20s.

Art · Artwork · Blogging · emotions · Illustration · Journaling · life · Life in general · Short stories · Sketch · TRAVEL

Vault of memories

Time sometimes severs some relationships so far apart that you have to unspool some old threads of memory to sew them up. Like when meeting a high school friend after long — every conversation inadvertently begins with “Remember when…”

Blogging · emotions · Events · Journaling · life · Life in general · love · TRAVEL

Happy New Year!

2019 was life changing. My husband and I, we walked in the darkness of Mammoth cave in Kentucky, explored the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and strolled the busy lanes of Miami on a sultry summer evening. We moved houses, and slowly, carefully, turned it into a home. We laughed over Frasier on Netflix, hopped in and out of several art galleries in Texas, Maine and Tennessee, and tasted the best of Bourbon in Kentucky. We had Amish ice cream with his folks, and lazed around in Rehoboth beach with mine. Most evenings, we sat on the couch, enveloped in a white throw, watching a tearjerker like Marriage Story (my pick) or a mythical action flick like The Witcher (his pick). Sometimes, the nights were short, sometimes, they continued to the wee hours of night, with conversations and arguments over several glasses of wine.

Somewhere in between all this, we, he, and I turned a year older.

At White Mountains, New Hampshire

In 2019, I read 23 books, watched 94 movies and 25 odd series. Over the course of last two years, I covered 29 States in the United States. With each new book, movie, or place, I came to know a little more about myself. Insecurity, fear and doubt surfaced at several instances. But so did bouts of courage, strength and resilience. There were episodes of sadness, happiness, excitement and dismay. Like clouds in the sky, they appeared, and disappeared. This year, I started learning a new language; built a routine that included Yoga and meditation; and took up a new position as the editor of a newsletter in a local women’s club. All the while, writing content for a Pennsylvania-based non-profit (Friends Association for the Care and Protection of Children) that helped 354 men, women and children find a home. I also Marie-Kondo’d my closet, finished a sketch book, and turned to plants as the new home decor option.

It’s been a magnificent journey. And for that I am grateful.

Happy new year, everyone!

Art · Artwork · Blogging · emotions · Illustration · life · love · Nature · Sketch

Peace Lily

On the week preceding our second year anniversary, we find ourselves at the garden center of Home Depot. From among a plethora of options including Boston Ferns, Burgundy rubber plants and Yucca canes, our eyes rest on a modest looking plant named Peace Lily. Its white shell-shaped flowers wrap around a baby corn-like spadix like a secret. We bring it home, and place it next to our bookshelf. Haruki Murakami’s Dance Dance Dance, and Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink are its new friends. Every once in two days, we water it. Every friend that comes home drenches it further in compliments. 

Two weeks hence, we find a new baby leaf. Elated, we buy a new overarching acrylic shade floor lamp, just to shine on it. 

Everything is peaceful, until one morning we find a leaf turning yellow. It slowly wilts and falls. The yellow, like over-watered paint, spreads on other leaves, and then to the creamy white of the flower. Concerned, we move it closer to the window hoping the first rays of sunlight would heal it. We fill our living room with plant friends — Anthurium, Kalanchoe, and chocolate mint; we feed it sugar; and till the soil with surgical care. We also bring in the Masters. Vivaldi, Chopin and Beethoven. Every morning, at the strike of dawn, they fill the house with music. 

But Lily seems obstinate. She continues to shed some leaves, sprout some. She has grown taller ever since, but now and then, as if overcome by a sense of sadness, her leaves droop and turn color. She is not ideal, but she is resilient. Full of peace, hope and beauty. Just like love, just like a relationship.

Aren’t we glad that – on the week preceding our second year anniversary, we found ourselves at the garden center of Home Depot. 

Art · Artwork · Blogging · emotions · Illustration · Journaling · Life in general · Lifestyle and Food · love · Sketch

Love that smells like cake

I remember the taste of my mom’s cake batter. The feel of sugar granules on my tongue, and the shock of seeing so much butter poured into a bowl in one shot. My mom would whisk the egg, butter, sugar, flour and baking powder with a spatula. We didn’t have a food processor, or even a whisk back then. When tired, my sister and I would take the bowl from her and make long strings of the sticky batter; sometimes spilling it all over the floor. Annoyed, the bowl would be taken away, and given to my dad who would patiently bring it to the required cake consistency. Impatient and hungry, we would stand next to my mom in the kitchen, while the cake baked in the pressure cooker. We didn’t have an oven back then. Years later, now, though I cannot recall the smell as easily as a visual memory, what I can recall is how it felt like to be able to slice a piece off the translucent butter paper. It felt like the warmest hug and the softest kiss. Years later, thousands of miles away from my mom, when I tried baking a set of blueberry muffins in the oven recently, all I could think of is that modest pressure cooker that baked some of the happiest memories of my childhood.
Blogging · Environment · Hiking · Journaling · life · Nature · Photography · TRAVEL

Of fallen fruit and old mansions

There was a nip in the air, giving away a subtle sign that Fall had begun. Brown dried leaves and yellow-green walnut fruit lay scattered on paved roads, along the trail that ran through Rockwood, Bringhurst Woods, and Bellevue Park. Occasionally, we hopscotched to avoid horse manure, and paused in front of William duPont’s elegant Bellevue Hall to click a picture or two. The five-mile walk, peppered with laughter and conversations, lasted for over two hours. 

Blogging · Hiking · Journaling · Nature · TRAVEL

Monday mornings at the park

Art · Artwork · Blogging · DIY · emotions · Illustration · Journaling · life · love · Photography · Sketch

Hanging memories

We used pins to support the black curtain rod on the wall. We ran a string of lights along the length of it, and used paper clips to attach the photos.


The first time I made an angel in the snow; that cold cold day when we bought our first car; the lazy evenings spent in hammock at our friends’ place in New Jersey; the freshness of a six-month-old wedding; and the exhaustion of moving into a new house… we have captured them all. These fleeting moments remain immortalized in 1.8 * 2.4 inch photos, lit now and then by soft yellow LED bulbs. They are souvenirs of moments drenched in love. Little reminders that life is good. Bursts of memories that keep us warm on cold sunless days. 


Art · Artwork · Blogging · Events · Journaling · Sketch · TRAVEL

Inside Hicks’ world

Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands; The exhibit traveled to the Venice Biennale in 2017, and to Belgium before finding its way to Miami. Right next to the bundles of fabric are tapestries that Sheila wove during her time in Guatemala. 
———————————————

In Miami, Florida, our feet coated with wet sand, we enter the quiet galleries of The Bass to see veteran artist Sheila Hicks’ show titled Campo Abierto (translates to Open Field). 

Walking inside a gallery is akin to the experience of turning the pages of a new book, embracing the strangeness, yet hoping to connect with a character. Hicks’ art bypasses this strangeness with the burst of color in her works; like skittles scattered on the floor, like rainbows kneaded into round balls.

For example, standing before Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands, a fabric installation of gigantic balls of yarn stacked up till the ceiling, we fight the urge to collapse on the fluffy bed. The weaves evoke a sense of mischief, innocence, and playfulness.  The installation, which takes one entire room, demands the same space in our minds too. 

The Silk Rainforest; In Hicks’ work, you see a generous use of silk, linen, wool and cotton, besides nylon, rayon, polyester, bamboo and cashmere. These are woven, knotted, and braided in a style that is both exotic and grounded.  Known to be one of the pioneers in redefining the use of textiles in art, Hicks exploits the intimacy that one shares with the medium to reach deep into one’s mind, and trigger a thought, that helps you discover a little more about yourself. 
———————————————————————————————–

Sheila, 85, was born in Nebraska, and went to Yale University School of Art, where she had the opportunity to study under American German artist Josef Albers. Albers is a Bauhaus designer and artist – he went to Bauhaus Design School in Germany, which was shut down by the Nazis in 1933. However, the thought that the school preached — of combining fine art and craft and bridging the gap between art and industry — kick-started a movement called Bauhaus Movement. It embraced symmetry over asymmetry and focussed on lines, shape and color, instead of floral and ornamental designs.  Hicks’ works are simple, minimalist, and geometric. They concur with the Bauhaus principles.

The Moroccan Rug
————————————————

Hicks, who divides her time between Paris and New York, discovered her medium, the fibre, when she went to Chile, on a scholarship from Yale, many moons ago. Over the decades, her mission has been to give textile medium a new meaning. The subtle gold and beige La memoire, made of linen silk and cotton, the naturally handspun Morroccan rug, and The Silk Rainforest made of linen silk and cotton, stand proof to this.  

The exhibition ends tomorrow (September 29, 2019).