02 August, 2008

28"x44" ~ pastel on paper

Again, it was the expression on his face preserved in silver that really intrigued me. Though I had initially planned to continue with charcoal, I thought color might be a good thing to delve in at this point. This sculpture too was in d'Orsay. Below are details of the same drawing.
11"x17" ~ watercolor on paper

Before working on these, the last time I painted in watercolor was 2 years ago.

31 July, 2008

18"x24" ~ charcoal on paper

This is my drawing of a sculpture in Musee d'Orsay. The sculpture is behind glass because it has been damaged and chipped off at several places. It's color is a decaying grey-green. Despite all that, it is full of energy, and the emotion it holds (is it sadness, ecstasy, pain, yearning?) transcends time and space.

30 July, 2008

I have put up some sketches as a more focused continuation of the sculpture theme. As I mentioned yesterday, I love to add narratives of my own to these. I couldn’t help, then, to bring some of these to life, merely by adding a dark spot in the eye. You can tell those apart from the sculpture, where the eyeballs are blank.

You can also click here to view photography from the tomb of Abdullah Shah Ghazi (a famous Sufi holy man?). Muneeb and I went there today with his photographer friend, Hina. After that we went to the Karachi Seaview beach and took pictures there.

29 July, 2008

The Moleskine sketchbook that Bronson gave me on my birthday has been a very close companion on my trip. Because I easily forget things, the sketchbook has served as a guide and reminder. It has notes, phone numbers, hand-drawn maps copied from the internet, sketches and drawings, and also journal entries. These entries are not really for anyone to see but just for me to look back to and recall certain key moments and emotions in their freshness.

The sketchbook also held various cards, guides, tickets, and brochures at different times, and has grown and evolved as I have myself.

I have photographed pages with drawings of Greek and Roman sculpture from the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. They have been a focus for me in Paris. Not only do they display great artistic skill and beauty, they also carry mysterious narratives. I care little about who these people are – I am interested in interpreting them myself and ascribing narratives to their lives. This may be the beginning of further exploration.

You will also find two sketches I did rather hastily during the light and sound show at the Red Fort in Delhi – it was dark and photography was not allowed. I look at these sketches and can relive the excitement of the show I experienced that night.

28 July, 2008

The strangest thing happened. I suddenly find myself in my home in Karachi, even though I had planned to have tea with Aman somewhere in Delhi today.

I got up this morning and decided to call Pakistan Airlines to make absolutely sure I would be flying out on Wednesday, July 30th. Ever since I had heard Jahnvi's horror story in which the airline refused to let her travel on an e-ticket, I had been slightly worried.

So it was "lucky" I called. Mrs. Farooqui at PIA told me with great assurance that my flight was confirmed for August 2nd. This was shocking because it was supposed to be July 30th. She said PIA had canceled the July 30th flight. I didnt have any hotel reservation for the extra days, and so their suggestion was to fly today, in three hours from then.

In these three hours I had to get dollars exchanged for rupees to pay off the hotel bill, go to the center city police station to offically "check out" of india (which all Pakistanis have to do), and then rush to the airport. I did it all!

The hotel people were like family by this time and they were very helpful.

On the way to the airport I got to see the Hindu pilgrims who were carrying water from the Ganges River. They had walked all this way and not once, the taxi driver told me, did they let the water containers rest on the ground. It was remarkable that the few I saw were barefoot in the scorching heat!

And now as I still feel like I must be in India I am sharply brought back to reality by the realization that I left some sketches pasted to the wall in my hotel room in Delhi - drawings that are not important enough to have mailed over to me, yet too precious to forget.

27 July, 2008

I walked around Chandni Chowk and felt like Enoo from Taare Zameen Par. I wanted to see the Light and Sound Show at the Red Fort, but it was much later on, so I walked toward the Jama Masjid to find some food that was not McDonald’s.

Pictures from the day can be found on Flickr.com by clicking here.

As I passed shopkeepers, autos, bicycles and samosa stands, it suddenly became cloudy and dark; there was a strong wind and the leaves began to rustle. Dust rose in gusts and blinded me. People became quiet and there was a strange excitement in the air. The monsoon was here and even as shopkeepers packed up their outdoor stalls in great haste, everyone was merry. The water would come, defeat the Delhi heat and cleanse the city.

Just as it started to pour, I found a small restaurant and entered. It was one of those cheap unhygienic places you never go to, but I felt adventurous. The food, which tasted really good and made me full, cost 15 rupees, which is about 40 American cents. I also got shelter from the rain. It turned out beggars and old holy men also came and sought refuge from the rain there and it was interesting to hear the conversations. I took a picture of the rain and then they wanted me to take more pictures: of an old man, of the coins the cashier was counting, etc.

Then I walked all around the mosque, and back to the fort. At the fort I must have seemed intriguing to the police guards (because of my camera perhaps) so they started a friendly conversation.

Do you like in Delhi or are you visiting? Visiting.

From where? I study in America.

What do you study?

Where in India are you from? Uh… my ancestors used to live in Agra. Am I allowed to take pictures here?

I knew bringing up Pakistan would be inconvenient. After the recent terror attacks in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, a 20-year old photographer from Pakistan with a tripod stand would definitely seem suspicious. Besides, I didn’t lie because my grandparents had indeed lived close to Agra before partition. Our conversations were charming and pleasant, and I met them again on my way out.

The light and sound show was spectacular. It traced the history of the fort from the time it was constructed, through the periods of the great Mughal kings, the brief take-over by Nadir Shah, the British rule, the freedom struggle, and then finally Nehru and modern India. The buildings would light up, and you would hear sounds from different parts of the surroundings. This created a very real atmosphere and I felt I was living through history.

And since photography was not allowed I sat and drew in my little sketchbook, using just a pen. This apparently interested the kids and family next to me, and they started a conversation which was nice.

Later that night I met up with Jhanvi, a friend I had met at Princeton last winter. She and her friends were getting together and it was nice to get to know them.

Yesterday I worked on some sketches indoors during the morning and then I met up with Kav and Nienke, friends from Princeton, and had lunch with them in this very rich froofroo market in Delhi, which has really great bookstores, clothes, and all sorts of shops. It’s the kind of market where people dress up and go, as if to be seen – we have them in Pakistan too.

Uday invited me to dinner. His house is far away from the city, in the suburbs. It is a very large and luxurious country house. It was great to see Uday and meet his parents for the first time. They were very friendly.

It was a very cultural event. Uday’s parents’ friends were over (all of them rich and influential Indians, it seemed). There was a bar and the living room was lit beautifully. Everyone sat comfortably, and then the singing began. They took turns, and to the tune of the harmonium they sang classical and old Indian songs. It was a great experience to be part of this mehfil. The food too was superb – Kashmiri food mostly prepared by Uday’s father. I had some very interesting conversations with the visitors. I especially liked talking to Lekha, an old eccentric (in a good way) potter who would start speaking to me in French after a while – and then Frenglish.

Pictures from the day can be found on Flickr.com by clicking here.