You can never truly appreciate the rain if you work in office, but when you are at home and the weather is all cloudy and cold, it’s just delightful.
It’s especially nice with a cup of tea in your hands – the rain and the tea is a sentiment that can never be over romanticized. Ever ever.
I’ve missed this season , for all the time that I lived away from india, I’ve missed the variation in climates , the change in seasons, especially the first rains. It brings a childlike joy to heart.
The rains ofcourse change the everything, there’s a fragrance around, you binge on street food, and pigeons become poofier. I spent a good hour drawing them, watching them preen themselves , oversized balls of cotton.
My grandma had a ivy gourd vine in her garden. I hated the vegetable. I still do. Its been impossibly difficult for me to cook it like a normal human being.. Ive tried.. Many many times, and I can safely say that giving up on this vegetable. I can live with this
But the pickle.. The pickle is precious to me, it’s an ode to my grandparents, it’s a flavour of my childhood. It means something more than food to me. Just like Balchao or rechado.
They are flavours and colours and aromas that are sooooo intertwined with emotion and memory and home and family. That is one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me- home food.
I decided to make ivy gourd vegetable pickle or goan tendli pickle. Its a week long process, which involves sun drying the ivy gourd, and making the spice base and then just cooking it all really well. I documented the journey, remembering my childhood. Its all cooked and resting, it’ll take about 2 weeks for the flavours to properly infuse into each other, it has been a struggle trying to restrain ourselves and pick it from the jar. Its hard, but were trying.
Sometimes home isn’t a concrete structure with walls and doors, it’s something so much more, and going back home is not such a hard thing to do
Not being able to go out, has led many people to go up.. To their roofs and terraces. Such is the case for us as well. Thats where we have our tea. We’ve always had our Tea on the terrace, even before this covid situation, its just time out from all the screens and distractions around.
Most of our conversations are about our childhood and the 90s and being gulf kids. But we also get treated to real life action, like this one time we just watched a real kite chase a paper kite.
But we’er not the only ones, you can see people playing badminton, or carrom and cards or doing yoga. Some aunties hanging about chatting with each other while watering their plants, the older uncles taking a walk and talking to other uncles.
That was the subject of my sketch this week.- It ties in with tomorrows usktalks session as well, storytelling in the time of quarantine Months later our sketchbooks are going to serve as documentation of this time that we are going through and our experiences through it. Its going to be interesting to gather around with my sketcher friends and see how they passed their quarantine
My dad sent me a message the other.. A watsapp forward. It simply said that if you don’t learn something or develop a hobby or exercise your body and mind during this time, you have just successfully wasted time. I was kind of mad when I read it the first time, because In my mind I am already doing too much, I do not have the energy to do more.. To develop a hobby, or exercise or learn something. But it got me thinking about how I spend my time these days, sure there’s house work and work work, but it sort of feels like I am spending 24 hours a day just running round circles doing absolutely nothing. This moved me to take an art class, I’ve been contemplating taking online classes for a while now. Ive never trained in art before, what I do is something I’ve learnt out of curiosity of what happens when you mix a and b.
I finally did it and I am proud of my self for committing to it and completing it. One of my most favorite artists everr- Shari Blaukopf put out a course, and it was the most wonderful thing.
Joining the Urban Sketchers has had an enormous impact on how Ive progressed, no doubt, but theres a lot more I know that I don’t know about this art form and I am just beginning to climb that ladder now.
There is something about investing in yourself. Most of the time we are pushed to learn things and get an education in fields or subjects that we don’t really want to be educated in,. I am realizing now that I can actually choose what I want to learn, where I invest my time in, what information I want to arm myself with. When we were younger the choice was already made for us, now though we have a chance to choose for ourselves.
I may not develop a whole new hobby, but I am happy to say that I did not waste time. Even if I only had an hour to spare, I used it to my hearts content.
Ive been thinking alot about home these past few days. Maybe it’s because it was Easter season or i read Bombay Balchao . This book has my whole heart, it is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Never have I read or seen goan people represented properly- it feels soo liberating to read and experience stories and characters that you are familiar with.
Bombay balchao is one such story, simply put its a story of goans staying in apartment complex, how they grow together and their lives are interwoven with each others- everything about this book is so familiar, it made me laugh and cry and reminded me of all my crazy loud goan relatives, because it seems like this is a story that I was living through. I am grateful that we are beginning to understand that there is a place for everyone, for every type of story, every kind of person, every colour has a place in the rainbow.
I sketched this building from the Fountainhas in Panjim. Its a very colourful street and I’ve only seen it once in person, I hope to sketch this entire street one day.
Have you ever been misguided by your own prejudices. I have. Multiple times. I guess its because we sometimes inherit or absorb people’s opinions and just take them to be our own. Take for example my water colour paints. My dad’s friend is an artist and he was insistent that I use Windsor Newton when I first started out. I ofcourse not knowing anything about paints, immediately went and bought a whole set and have been using only Windsor Newton since then. Recently though, I have been experimenting with different paints- my current favourite being sennelier. Ever since I’ve started using these paints,ive seen the change in my paintings, they are vibrant!!! and vivid and everyone’s been asking asking what I’ve been doing differently..
I also used to think that I can only work with paper with grain, but I’ve recently switched to smooth paper with my Stillman and Birn and that has definitely changed my sketches and just boosted my motivation to sketch regularly. I love this sketchbook, and I am running out of paper, I am waiting desperately for this lockdown to end to get me some more.
But what I’ve learnt is that sometimes we have to keep our minds open to the idea that just because we are used to something, it may not be the only way to do things.
Its also the reason Ive now started reading my books via Kindle, which I though i would never do, but here we are- i am on my third book in two weeks
This week Ive been scouring the house to sketch things that are not food. (Hehe). I settled on sketching all the souvenirs we have in our house that we’ve recieve from friends and family who have brought us something back from their travels. Since I am worried my sketch book is going to get over, I sketched these on the page from last week.
The lockdown is teaching me frugality and that change can be good.
Ive been sketching sustenance based items these days, turns out that’s the only thing worth sketching. Ive been procrastinating on this sketch a long time now, desperately searching for inspiration. Turns out inspiration came in the form of a suggestion from a friend who said.. Keep you sketchbook close by youll find something to add in it. He was right, completing this sketch was such a good break for me. It calmed me down. Its Important to have something to do besides house work and work work.
I’m also being reminded of how human we can be these days, I’ve had so many aunts and uncles call us up to check upon us, we even had a 20+ family rosary over skype the other day.,. This has also extended through work, so many of the people Ive corresponded with over emails and skype have wished me health and safety. This thing as wicked as it is, in bringing us back together. I hope we can continue to care for each other this way after we are through with this.
We can all agree that this year has not been the year we expected.
2020 kinda just sucks and its only March
Everything and everyone seems more miserable because of the ongoing covid situation. All of a sudden we’ve had to move to working from home, being stuck inside, watching Netflix the whole day… My only fantasy when I was at work. Now though my fantasy is going to work and sitting at my desk that’s next to a noisy printer, listening to people chatter and the sound of staplers going off. ( oh how the times have changed)
I need a reason to shower and dress up and meet other people.
My plants and fish have also had to face my undivided and constant attention, I think the fish is like let me be, please go back to work I am tired trying to entertain you all day long
I am a natural homebody, and proudly carry the badge of ghor mazor (house cat) in my local language, but I realize now that I took up that stance because people always wanted me to be outside, but now that people want me to inside, I fighting the urge to do that, I want once more to be out there among the people’s, facing the struggles of traffic and long commute to work. But I wont. I ll stay in as long as we are required to, hoping this situation really does tide over.
We are being safe and very cautious, sanitizing and washing hands, not venturing outdoors too much. Even though the situation is really bad and critical it has given us the reset we’ve been needing for a long time. It seems like we were running to fast and nature is trying to get us to slow down, stay home, be with your family, take care of your bodies. It might be scary, but we have the option of turning this over its head and looking at the advantages, one being time. Time for the things we said we didn’t have time for. Now we get to do that. I hope to go through my reading lists, and my unfinished projects, deep cleaning the house and just generally slowing down. How are you coping with social distancing and staying at home?
I’ve never taken up on this challenge in the previous years, because it includes drawing just human beings.. A subject that can be frustrating and frankly difficult.
This year I took on this challenge with a friend, we decided to see how far we could get. One of the aspects of people sketching is that it can be intimidating, because its a subject so familiar to us, that if you mess up just a little bit, you want to bury your head in the sand. But this exercise calls for speed rather than accuracy. So I went into this with that mindset, thinking that even if the humans i draw don’t particularly look like humans, it’s ok, I will live with it.
Human beings can be fidgety, they seem to care very less for people sketching them (urghhh Humans!) . And therein lies my second fear. My subjects always seemed to sense that they were being sketched and would immediately change their postures. But the fear taught me speed, I had to draw fast, I had very little time to consider what was in front of me, drawing then became more of a reaction than a planned action. But as the days went on it got better, I got more confident, I stopped overthinking it and just got on putting pen to paper.
I know I didn’t get to the target of a hundred people. Given our lock down situation, the dangers of going out, I tried my best to draw from live figures, during my morning commute, but there’s only so much you can do in 15 minutes. To compensate I did draw the rest from images of people I had in my phone gallery, although this doesn’t make as happy as i was when I drew people from real life. Sigh this corona virus.
All in all, I am glad I attempted this challenge, it was a good experience for me, and I no longer feel anxious about drawing people, which is something I needed to get rid of. I am excited for next year ti attempt this again hopefully I’ll cross the 100 mark next time I try this.
We took a day trip with the Urban Sketchers Bengaluru, to the small temple town of Lepakshi.On the border of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh its the furthest we’ve ever ventured. We’ve were all a bit apprehensive, being that this is the first time we’ve organized a sketchmeet this way, but it turned out to be such a wonderful experience.There’s something very liberating about being with like minded people, who give you the space to do the things that you want to do. Although we sketch individually on our own time, sketching in the company of other sketchers, give you a level of comfort and encouragement rarely available in other situations. Although Lepakshi is a temple town, it is also a quiet sleepy village, and I enjoyed sketchin that aspect of the place more than the temple. The temple in itself is beautiful with its many pillars and intricate carvings, but it was a challenge for me to get a satisfactory sketch there. My sketch doesn’t do justice to the place.But I tried to capture the village, the villagers seeing all of us with our books and paints were curious, but also very gracious, inviting us into their homes, offering us water and asking about where we are from and what brought us here.The more I go out into the world, the more I discover the abundance of kindness out there, as if it is waiting for me to overwhelm and restore my faith once more. You would think life in the village is easy, it seems like that to the city mouse, but it in fact extremely challenging. There’s a lot of hard manual work, a lot of tending to, things to be taken care of. It seems uncomplicated to us, but there is hard work in the village that we cannot comprehend nor would we be able to cope with. Somedays we forget the effort that is involved in food that makes its way from field to table, sometimes we take these things for granted.These are the things that struck me as I passed through this village. I am grateful for these opportunities that come my way, I am grateful for the chance to experience and record them and share them.The more we venture out, the more we see, that the struggles of people even though not the same as ours are real for them as they are for us- the fabric of being human that binds us all.