Saturday, April 22, 2017

Calvin's CLoud

Don't alone practice your art, but force your way into its secrets. Art deserves that; for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine.

Ludwig Van Beethoven

You Were a Part of That Group Right?

I am not one for encouraging herd mentality. It has not been easy. I had moved from my earlier run group to another run closer to home that offers basic training. Yes, I am starting from zero. Even run groups have rearranged themselves with new members, some have stayed back and yet others have moved on. Somehow the mindset alone seems frozen while everything else around seems to adapt.

Atleast two of them have asked, " Hi, how are you? How come you are in this group? Were you not a part of that group?". Naturally, I had to tell them about my commitment to getting up early in the morning for a fitness regime and then getting home on time to get ready for work. So accessibility is key. At this time, I am still on track. I wake up; do my core workout with a warm up 2 kilometer run. After an hour's routine, we all head back to our respective lives.

There was only one person who encouraged me to come back for running and infact thought it is possible for me to aim for a full marathon in December at the Wipro Marathon. No other questions asked. 

Why can't we have more people like that who rise high with their thinking and focus on what matters most? How does it matter which Group I belong to as long as I am able to stay motivated? 

This is what I told her, "I joined this group since my other run group moved to a farther location. Anyway, it does not matter which group I belong to as long as I stay healthy and am running."

Yet again, when a former running-mate called me after hearing the news of the move, she wanted to do the same too, but needed the courage to tell our former trainer that she wanted to train closer to home and then join my current training group. Does this not surprise you? It almost sounds silly that moving from one herd to another causes so much anxiety, especially, when the purpose is different and there are no strings attached.  

When you have the generosity of mind, you encourage people to explore and enrich themselves, and not hold them back. My art teacher encourages me to attend other art teachers' sessions to understand different styles and approaches to the subject. He does not feel insulted in any way.

What nurtures one's mind and heart? Is it books, friends, travel, experience, or is it just how you are?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Playing C Major, G Major, and A Minor with Metronome at 100

After two long years, I finally played a melody from C Major and G Major, and my favorite of all, the prelude from A Minor with a metronome  4/4 tempo of 80 and then 100. My teacher signed-off all three songs on an excellent note. Every class, his first question starts with, "Did you practice?" and for the longest time, my answers have been wobbly, much to our disappointment. 

Today, it was a moment of glory for both my teacher and me. He quietly handed me a book of songs from Grade 1 to Grade 5. It was the moment I had been waiting for. Earlier my teacher told me I was not ready. 

I start Grade 1 exam preparation in classical guitar next week. This is only the beginning. A consistent dedicated practice will transform you not as a student, but as an artist, as a classical guitarist. You may not even realise it. Therein lies the beauty.

This is no different from my art class. 

The first question my art teacher asks when I step into class is always the same; "Did you practice some shading?". My answers were no better and that always upset him. I started practicing drawing and shading from Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters. Every class, I try and show him one piece of completed work for his review. The results were obvious to both my teacher and me. Each oil painting I worked on has improved leaps and bounds. Its unimaginable. 

In both cases, perseverance as you stumble and fall is an important quality to nurture. Never let that erode your confidence or your sense of self. Building on it piece by piece, with patience, a little bit of love, until you achieve the proportions without giving in to despair comes with time. I am working on it.

Today, I speak and feel as an artist. Painting the Red Whispering Bulbul and see her come to life has been a work of joy. Art is so meditative. 

When you become one with your art, your soul completely surrenders. The artist no longer plays. Its the soul that sings.

Make Good Art.

Calvin's Cloud

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
Thomas Merton

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Training Time

After much thought I decided if I overthink it, I will never do it. So I signed up for the DHRM 2017 Half-marathon, scheduled for July 23rd. I informed my earlier run group I was quitting since their location did not suit my schedule. Instead, I decided to commit myself to a half marathon training held closer to home. I joined this week. We did floor work outs. In the humidity, it was tough for us but we pursued. Like one of the volunteers said, do not take help,but try and do the work out as much as you can to the best of your abilities. You may not get it right the first time, but eventually you will get there. The philosophy is the same for everything. Its perseverance. The sweat, toil, and the human spirit to will it makes all the difference.

I am training after a year or more. I look forward to keeping up with my commitment. I want to attempt a full marathon end of December, but that's the long term goal. My short term goal is to train for the half-marathon and complete it within a decent time. This means rearranging my work commitments, so I can hit the sack early. Most often, we give excuses for not being able to do something, so let's do something about that first.

Persevere. Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Make good art.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Calvin's CLoud

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.

- Rabindranath Tagore

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Back From the Dead

The new year kicked-off on a nice note, though I have no recollection of what I did that day. For the eve though, my colleagues and I went for Aamir Khan's blockbuster Dangal from work. It was a great movie and we were a good group, chatting and laughing away in between a mouthful of non-buttery popcorn. A few work related travel, which I generally enjoy also kept me on my toes, whilst preparing for my long holiday.

I had just started training for Krav Maga and promptly fell sick. I plan to resume soon. It took me almost a month and half to recover from the allergy, but now its all good and I was refreshed after a two week break with my family. Our new addition to the family, my talkative one year old niece is a bundle of joy. She has the sweetest smile and loves to play. Baby is her first word. I miss her company. 

They grow up so fast.

I am tied down with work and trying to paint on weekends diligently. I dream of holding my solo exhibition. My investment in drawing and shading anatomy is also paying off. My second painting was a vast improvement over the first oil painting I did. My cover art and portrait photography for my friend is another feather in my cap, one that I never thought would happen. But it did.

New friends, new hobbies, and life's little twists and turns made it an eventful journey so far.  I plan to get back to baking on weekends if I can on a regular scale. I will probably instagram them. A trek is in the works sometime post May, just have to check which works best. At this moment, my colleagues and I are hard at work preparing for our project management exam. Overwhelming, but it has been a productive couple of weeks. It feels like we are back in school, comparing notes, scoring higher marks in successive mock test and wondering where all this is taking us. Everything has a reason. 

Make good art.

Monday, December 19, 2016

My Invisible Ears

I have always sported a short hair cut since my college days. The cut outlines my face taking on a nice shape. I have never felt the need to tuck my hair behind my ears. I liked it just the way it was. 

However, over time, my colleagues at different points in time have wondered if I had ears, or the conspiracy behind why they were always covered under my shiny glossy cover. Most were not aware that I wore a few ear piercings. They were understandably shocked when they realized I wear ear rings to begin with.

Time and again, someone would come by and push my hair away just out of curiosity to see what ear-rings I wore. Someone nicknamed it a screen - "hey, move the screen away from your ear", is a familiar line I am used to hearing when I did not hear them calling out to me. It is hilarious.

But it proved a problem when I had my passport size photographs taken. The photographer was just unhappy with my hair falling right over my ears every now and then. Inspite of having it washed and combed and set, it was like a dog's tail. Just would not stay in place. In exasperation, he said, "Madam, please comb your hair and do a touch-up and come back."

Funny, how an mundane part of your body could evoke such a sense of curiosity and humor. Just to keep the fun going, I let my ears be.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Power's Grasp

The late Cho Ramaswamy, lawyer, satirical comedian, playwright, who passed away recently, rightly remarked in his play that politics is a sewage. While our earlier leaders like Annadurai sought to work for the people, with the entry of top actors entering the scene, it caused a major shift. While MGR and the late Chief Minister Dr J Jayalalitha have implemented programs for the poor, the votes came through the image branding in the movies. Both were leading actors. Dr Jayalalitha herself has performed a number of character based roles and she stood out as the woman protagonist against her male actors. She had carved a niche for herself with her acting prowess.

As fate would have had it, from a brilliant academician she was propelled into stardom with her entry into cinema. Her fateful association with MG Ramachandran introduced her to the world of politics. However, for such as powerful persona, her personal life was an unhappy memory. Ironically, eventhough she was born into an aristocratic family, her father squandered away all the wealth and eventually died. Her mother who was also an actor pushed Jayalalitha into movies much against her wishes to alleviate the family from poverty. Otherwise, we may have probably seen a different Jayalalitha. 

Much of her life was dominated by her mother and MGR, she quotes in her interview with Simi Garewal when the Chief Minister was accused of corruption charges.

As for a late Dr J Jayalalitha, she was child who yearned for her mother’s affection and she willingly sacrificed herself at many junctures and ultimately, paid the highest price with her life on Dec 6 2016.

Her entry into politics was tumultuous since MGR never officially recognized her role in his personal or professional life. Jayalalitha was pushed out of MGRs funeral car and later in the 1989 Parliament assembly, the then ruling party members under DMK misbehaved and humiliated her. Jayalalitha vowed she would return as the Chief Minister or she would never set foot again in Parliament. A woman of steel and unimaginable determination, she came back as Chief Minister two years later. Known to be shy, naïve and reserved, she was completely forced to transform herself because of the cut-throat nature of politics and people in general.

She was erudite, sharp and brought a new respect for the state. The police in Tamilnadu have known to be one of the best and it is considered safer for women comparatively. Women were proud to have been represented by a scholarly Chief Minister. However, even the most intelligent have their weaknesses. Her over trusting nature and pride proved to be her deathknell. 

Jayalalitha’s health ailments were no secret. She was a severe diabetic and is said to have thyroid related issues. However, at every obstacle, she stood tall. This time, it was not meant to be since the circumstances surrounding her death have evoked strong sentiments of a conspiracy. Including the common man, film stars and political parties have urged the law for an investigation. For the 75 days that she was hospitalized, information regarding her health was kept away from the public and dignitaries. News of her sudden cardiac arrest, while on the road to recovery sent shockwaves throughout the country. Jayalalitha was a national icon more than just the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu.

In a week after her passing, those vying for power have quickly manipulated the situation to take over her property and the coveted role. But can they measure up?

The new so called leader pushed by party men to even become a Chief Minister sounds ridiculous. Jayalalitha fought and earned her place among men because of her education, oratorical prowess, supreme leadership skills and intelligence. The proposed replacement has a lot to prove. Though posters of the late CM have been replaced by a well planned strategy, she will forever remain in our hearts.

In the Hindu philosophy, we attribute it to karma. It was destiny. She never enjoyed the affection of her mother, nor did she have a chance at marriage or motherhood. Her brother had passed away, leaving her without a family. Without any emotional net, she was extremely vulnerable. She lived a sad deprived life and died a murky death.

May justice prevail.  May her soul find peace.