Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Your Ordinary Travelogue ….or so….

Running…moving….speed…..keep going don’t stop….sea of humanity….myriad emotions, feelings, people, relations, complications, Judgement!
Automatic, not my mode on the Nikon body. My own thoughts. My Mind, My Life. Auto mode. Just do, just function. Breathe. Do. Do Breathe. Eat, Observe, Do, Watch, Judge….no judge we mustn’t. STOP…..go back….good subject, zoom in……focus… pan on the biker. Observations. Now blank….Just do… click click …..lets click. Precision, zoom in. Sadness, filter, disgust, hide, smile, travel shot…Tick its done. Observe….happy, hmmmmm, for now. Shots are good.
Shibuya moments transpired.


Tiredness, sleep, awake, food, Delicious lemon pie…….life is good. Room…..observations. Read….more observations…….Lets go out Beautiful Sunshine. Social media…Shut Up once and for all….Out for a break!!
Walk, see, click….not so clicky ……..still click……love the weather, vanity, I look good….check out lens person reflection, yes good. !5 years later. Loving the space, the eclectic sense. Observe observe some more. No hashtags, no words…..just be. More words, more weapons, more….. Ah beautiful lines. Loving the lines. Love this city. Bow, bag checked, arigatou gozaimasu…..Walk in explore….Ticket…..nothing familiar, no more stroller, just my camera and me. My baggage, my thoughts. Stop already. Does it matter where they are from. Here just like you. Fancy camera……can’t afford that. Time…..loads on my hand…..explore…..see….love the colours, the weather. I want this moment to freeze…..awww babies…..adorable….not mine…..don’t have to take care of them, even better. School kids... Fun days...Gone days. Smile move on. 

Oh these stone walls. Witness to a lot. Beautiful, so well kept…I love this city….I love their aesthetic sense….I have evolved, no! I have eyes now. Different ones. Looks nothing like before. No resemblance. That’s ok no?
Walk, click, click walk. Observe. Make a picture! Make a Picture!...Too much stress How about I don’t. Just breathe. Sit, observe. Just be. Lovely weather. Fall colours. Just see. Deep inhalations. Long exhalations. Sun going down on me. No words. Just me and experience. No pictures.

Later in the evening, Ginxa, Kimono, I’m done. I need dinner. A fun dinner. Hot chocolate and sweet cheese tart. I love. More dinners like these. Check the waist line. Who needs it.

New day, up early. New excitement. More pictures. Beautiful location. Just opening. Is this where it is. Apprehension. Will I make some shots? Do I have to? Shops not yet opened. Loving the quiet morning air. The buzz has not yet begun. Less touristy. Just burst of colours. Bright sky, cold day, my Nikon. Me in auto mode. Let’s go… click click……an hour elapsed. A quiet moment. I bow down. Sanity….no wait. A quiet moment. Back to click click click. Here, there, no look there. I posed. Partner clicked. Vanity…oh yeah…loving it. Bad angle, good angle. Who cares!! 30 second fb fame. Hungry…Breakfast? Let’s eat.

Let’s go, more pictures. Let’s flow. Mt Fuji beckons. 15 years ago…memory flashes…no view…just clouds. Will I see you this time. I meditate. I pray. You appear. First glimpse…far far away. I breathe. Please stay. You did. We reached. Beautiful cold lake Town. Loving it. OMG this is heaven, or something like it. Dump bags lets go. OOOooooo the colours, the crowd. Where are they coming from. So many of them. Fall festival. Me… you…. all of us here. Click….selfie sticks. Vanity….oh gawd why here. Judgement creeping in. Stop. This lil bridge, you me and Fujisan. Thank you. Gratitude. Quick eye exchange…need a quiet spot. Can’t do this

Walk, explore, Found it. My spot. With Boatman. His shack. Quiet jetty. Closed for the evening. Me you and jetty and the Glorious Mountain. Stands tall. Evening light splendour. Bathing in the light. Me you and Fuji all cleansed. Precious. Let’s breathe. Hold it still. Can this be forever. Coffee, yes please. Coffee with the best view. Not so hot, so what! Ducks. Quack. Brrrr…..cold Brrrr….click we must.

Night shots… freezing cold. Can’t feel my nose. Average shots ….a memory created. For whom. Me me me…..I need memories. Me in auto mode. The chatter it won’t stop. I don’t want words. #nowordsplease. Just breathe. Done...cant shoot sunrise…rains forecast. Tired legs, strained shoulders….doing a mental dance. Yippeee no hike. Thanks to Hotel owner guy, who kindly offered to take us. Nice fella. Good looking too. But so happy can sleep in. Tired feet. I wake nonetheless….5 a.m. crazy winds, the rains. Sleep.

Breathe, breakfast with the best view ever. Serenity this is it. A fresh snow dust. Its clearing. More pictures. Oooo these colours. Collect, gather, throw on canvas kinda yummy colours. They are coming. Make more pictures…..we do. Ah well….lets do the Botu (Silly touristy feel) Flip, Smile, Flash the teeth. My jowl… your head cropped…re-do. Ok Okay….lets go. Whirlwind of a trip. Head buzzing. Is it the cold. The pace…the space. Its me. Auto mode slow down. Pace slow down. Happy. Content. Gratitude. Feeling it. Ready to go back.

Eat. Hunger pangs they come.
Gun on the door. So what. Let’s enter. Follow me. My intuition rules. Sign language. Yes can do vegetarian. Back of the room. Speechless. Zen room. Zen view. Couldn’t ask for better. Breathe, Eat, experience…..overwhelmed. Senses fused. Me, you, blended. This view. This artful food. This Zen mood. Camera in switched off mode. Set aside. Words cease. Let’s be. Breathe. Breathe….Long deep breaths. Let me be. Sooooooooo……………………………………………….hmmmmmmmmmmm
I’m home.

The above is my experience abridged into a stream of consciousness mode. I however do want to recommend two places. Firstly, the place we stayed in Lake Kawaguchi. Amazing view from the home, but it’s the hospitality and the warmth that has me feeling so much love for the place. The Weekend Shuffle, Lakeside Inn, Lake Kawaguchi.
 Another accidental discovery was our last lunch at Fuji. A beautiful Zen space with minimalist d├ęcor and the same aesthetic touch brought to the food. Lovely couple run venture, and a self-taught chef who can give a Michelin-star chef, some insecurities. Toyoshima near the train station at the Lake Kawaguchi, named after chef, Masaya Toyoshima. Don’t get intimidated by the gun handle on the door. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Work In Progress :I Am

I think, I observe, so I am. I am. Two words that seem so harmless can take on so many different connotations, once we add a third word. Humour me here with my rambling observations.
I am Beautiful, I am Gorgeous, I am Famous, I am Powerful, I am Liked, I am Loved, I am Knowledgeable, I am Rich, I am Critical (in whichever way you want to interpret this), I am Important, I am ……….. and on an on…… I am an Observer, I am Alive.
Yes I am alive. I am kicking. I am collecting my experiences. I am living my life. I am Happy. Or so I think.
I am and I was. I was immersed in the doldrums of festivities and literally so. The Durga Puja that I attend here in Singapore arranges for a Dhakia (a drum specific to the West Bengal called Dhaak, and the player is reffered to as the Dhakia) to fly in from India. All that noise, colourful visuals, socializing and eating has left my senses a little blurred. I am still groping and getting back to the grind. Beautiful as those days were there were thoughts that were running through my head. I shared on my social media wall the significance of the 9 goddesses to the night nights of festivities namely Navratri. Well if you are not well versed with Durga Puja and Navratri I would suggest Wikipedia or just turn on the news feed of your Indian friends in Singapore and you will know exactly what I mean.

So while the Goddess was here for Nine days, all the Devi’s were slaying their wardrobe demons and out in their fan-fare to show their ultimate victory avatars. I was partaking in the rituals of enjoyment and merriment I simultaneously continued, with my routines of Pranayama, SKY, and Sadhana. Longer Sadhana’s during this time as I found that the meditation was far deeper. Must be a reason why this festival and Shivratri are a must for a person to reflect on for their spiritual growth. I am not going to go into the scientific reasons behind these two festivals being so high on the energy factors. However, what I will touch on is the fact that both have a cultural connotation and are celebrated all over India in different ways. As an ancient culture dependent on agriculture it does not come as a surprise that much of these rituals were to do with either harvesting or laying the ground down for new crops. Celebration makes it easier to bring the community together and adding a moralistic tale too helps.
On a more personal level, we do harvest and lay down the way for new. And this happens in our body everyday with the cells that drop and make way for the new cells. Our body is the biggest example of the Brahman, the Universal existence and the supreme consciousness. Everything is cyclical and is happening. All is here to stay. The soul the body they all continue their journey. The energy assumes different forms but it continues to exist in new avatars.
The addition to all of this is our own thought process. The Demons are within our own thought process as are the Goddess that slay them too. It is this constant observation of our own thought process and how victorious we have been in vanquishing our demons that determines our own growth and happiness. As I grope with the daily threads of my life, I am returning to work and I found myself working on a collaborative work that will enhance my skill in patience but hopefully will also be meaningful to the target group. Constantly while working on this I remind myself to observe my thoughts, my actions, my demeanour, and my choice of words. They are not always in keeping with my expectations. However, I remain, a work in progress. Meanwhile I continue to plan for this project as I realise “I Am” (Sohum). 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Work In Progress: Meditation in Motion

The father of Modern Electricity, Nikola Tesla was not just that.  A century later the world is embracing this genius and what he understood is the very basis of the universe, “Vibration”.
Interesting to note, this unique minds relation with Vedic knowledge and his close interaction with none other than Swami Vivekananda. It is after meeting Swamiji, that Tesla began using terms like “Akasha” and the concept of luminiferous ether to describe the source, existence and construction of matter. Tesla’s use of Vedic terminology provides a key to understanding his scientific views of electromagnetism and the nature of the universe. Thanks to Tesla today scientists world over accept the universe is made up of energy. To know more about Tesla and his fantastic revelations all you have to google is this series of numbers 3,6,9.
My reason to name the said display of work this year 3,6,9 was not a random choice. I recognise that I am also responding to the vibrations in and around me. My current vibrations had me think and re think about these universal mathematical patterns. Patterns which are pr- historic and are found in all pre-historic art, and in different parts of the world, from different cultures and spaces and dating way back to any formal way of religion. Yes, I am talking of the patterns we very often find embed in nature. Be it the Fibonacci sequence of the spiral, or the formation of a Yantra.
A Yantra is the yogic machine of a visual instrument that serves in meditation. It is the microcosm of the universe and hence it is the body while Mantra in the mind. Through sound vibration experiments, scientist have seen the formation of these Yantras. Atoms and Molecules reverberate to these sounds and create certain shapes. The universe has left its blueprint through the shapes it surrounds us in nature and through the vibrations it engulfs us with. With the daily chaos of material life, we have drowned these sounds and vibrations.

Recently I found myself very intrigued to the mathematical, geometric patterns. Intrigued by the Yantra world we inhabit, I started doing my own research and I am still working on it and while I do so many other revelations keep coming my way. I have also been deeply interested in the Kali Yantra as a concept. The term Kali comes from the word Kaala. She is the female consort or the embodiment of all the Shiva stands for, the universal model of change. Humans by nature are averse to change and hence fear it. It’s this concept of fear that over centuries gave her a physical fiery form and various iconography and mythological references along with it. However, Kali is first and foremost a concept. She is best visualized in the form of a Yantra, as change and the universe’s model of change should be an abstraction of sorts. Its nature should be defined and hence should have the clear angles and edges of a geometric pattern. As religions took shape and form so did the concept and hence she became a female with dark powers of Tantra and all kind of symbolism attached to her physical embodiment as Kali. While I do not negate the cultural belief of this form and the gathering of communities to celebrate the female prowess, I find myself inclining more to a shape I find easy to meditate with. Hence it has been very satisfying to find her in various geometric patterns, through various tools and techniques. Through my limited sensibilities, I have tried to meditate upon the formless one through, the formations my mind creates. It’s a journey I began and it shall continue for I remain a work in progress. Meditation in Motion continues….3, 6, 9……

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Work in Progress : Sing me a Song

Are you one of those Bathroom singers as well? I think most of us are, No? There is a certain pleasure in singing in the shower. Maybe it’s that complete feeling of freedom, privacy and uninhibited sense of cleansing that makes you feel connected to your most natural state of being one with the universe.
Once done and we wear those societal layers after drying ourselves, we then stop the singing and we start feeling the shrinking. Yes, if you notice the reason most of us do sing is because it creates an expansion within our hearts. You feel open, free, happy and liberated. Then why don’t we continue to do it the rest of the day. Why do inhibitions creep in. Why the fear of judgement on being bad or tone deaf singers, make us completely put breaks on what we love doing? I have often wondered.
Masaru Emoto in his book the The Hidden Messages of Water, describes how water reflects sound vibration that it is exposed to. The universe is vibration. It came into existence through vibration and hence we continue to vibrate on frequencies. Some frequencies heal us more than others. In depth documentation reveals through photographs how the molecular structure of water changes after being exposed to different sounds. Positive messages produce beautiful pleasing structures and negative stimuli creates less coherent forms. Our body is made up of 60% water and hence we are very reactive to the sound stimuli as well in the universe. It is difficult to conduct such experiments on our own body fluids and hence what we can do is conduct the experiment of feeling and observation of our own breath patterns.
The act of just closing the eyes and singing the praise of the divine has a very healing and magical feeling of comfort and expansion in the heart region. Notice in a group when singing for the divine, you close your eyes, and block all connection to your physical awareness of your existence and you start connecting with your inner being. Hence you drop the consciousness of “Am I sounding too high pitched, am I in Sync” and other such thoughts just drop. You sway with happy rhythm of a sun flower swaying in the breeze totally feeling the inner fields of gold blossom within you. The warmth of that gold glistens every pour in your body and you come away from such a gathering feeling rejuvenated and glowing. (The best facial if you ask me: P; try it before your next party ;)
The contrary observation will be the feeling and contraction of the heart region when damaging words are heard or exchanged. That sound vibration would create a reaction of shrinking and feeling small. This creates a chain reaction in vibrations and sensations in the body. I will not go into the reactive nature of such vibration. Let me stay focussed on discussing the beauty of singing and singing with sheer joy. (I have a tendency to digress…. So, help me stay on track).
I grew up amongst a family who prides itself on being very rhythmic and artistically evolved. My grand father, a doctor by profession was also a singer who used to be on the road for months for his singing expeditions. My father an artist, my uncle a writer, my eldest sister vocally trained by some great masters and although she doesn’t sing regularly she still can put every one into a stunned silence when she does. What I am trying to say, is that, there is that since childhood there is that under current pressure to be good in whatever you do. And I grew up thinking singing is not what I do. Trust me I had my reasons for believing so. I had sisters who sounded like cuckoo birds who sang so beautifully and I just lost my confidence to even do bathroom singing.
It was much later on, during road trips and with huge expansive beautiful landscapes I found myself breaking into tunes and everyone in my company enjoying it. One such instance was my 6 month daughter who was not taking very well to a sudden rule of a car seat, when we changed continents. Bring a born fighter she was putting up a tough resistance and she used to scream through the entire long 2 hour drives that we used to undertake. It was one such a lovely start to a weekend morning and we set out on a road trip and while she started her riyaaj I started mine. She tried to keep up and soon her wailing became rhythmic and after a while she started humming along with me. After 15 minutes of me singing away she was in stunned silence with a huge smile on her face. Funny to note it was after this that she stopped her car seat resistance and even started enjoying these drives.
Sixteen years on, and she now is quite melodious herself and is a bathroom singer but prides herself as more of a dancer and a writer. My son is like my father. He relaxes himself through humming. He hums whenever he is happy and whenever his fingers can’t reach a gadget. He is the most zen person around me. He also lives a very uninhibited life, and does whatever he is asked to with great ease, even if it is dancing in a crowd.
So, coming back to singing and feel good factor it brings in you; what I am trying to say is we should sing, sing in praise, sing in happiness, sing for when we want to feel happiness even if the day is making us feel otherwise. Singing is food for the soul, like breath is to your body. Who knows regular singing may even bring in some great tunes. I am off to sing my Sunday tunes, you do so too.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Work In Progress : 2 Yoga As A Prelude

Today once again I realised how important certain progressions are and the series in which they must be practiced. Let me explain but for that I need to describe last evening a little. Recently I have made some lovely company in two beautiful souls. They are beautiful in their inner and outer essence. In their company, I feel complete and so nourished. The three of us have a lot in common apart from the repartee, the search for knowledge, love and constant encouragement for each other.  We did our first movie night together and they both watched a movie in a language very alien to them and yet we shared a bond through the food, the space and the experiences we shared.  Time was well spent through the evening and the date slipped into this morning. We parted to our own homes to get our rest, as we all knew we had our share of things to do when the sun rises.
The sun rose and I was up before it did. I could not do my usual physical routine due to the lack of a few hours of sleep. Yet the body was craving a deep rest. I did my practice of Sudarshan Kriya. I was initiated to this ten years ago, which is my daily tonic. (To read more about it I shall put some links below for you read up). After which I did a guided meditation. (My morning flows like this. Selfishly the first two hours of the day I give to myself; so, I can give much more of me to others once I feel nourished). Today the meditation was nice and relaxing however it was not deep like yesterday. We are constantly told not to expect and not to compare our experiences with another or with our earlier experiences. Each meditation is different.
However, I have already told you the Mind is the boss. So, compare it will. The reason I ramble so much about this is that to bring home the point that there is a distinct difference between not having a physical activity, namely yoga (or it could be any other form of physical activity of your choice), prior to meditating. There is a method or formula to everything. Some of it can be tweaked, adapted to your convenience but this progression should be accepted in its true form.
To explain it better, Yoga in classical Indian thought refers to a way of spiritual practice. It suggests to us characteristic ways of asanas, mantra, pranayama and sadhana (meditation). Yoga has five basic elements to it:
Jnana Yoga (Using Knowledge for self- realisation, namely meditation)
Bhakti Yoga (Devotion seeking union with the Divine)
Karma Yoga (The service to living beings)
Raja Yoga (Higher techniques of mantra and meditation)
Hatha Yoga (Techniques of asanas and pranayama)
While some schools of thoughts practice only follow some of these I have been taught to follow all five. There is a pattern and first is basically a sound body to house a sound mind. To put it simply Hatha yoga is the first step and then follows the others. To come back to my point that yoga should be followed by meditation. It is used by the western world who refute the Vedic existence of yoga to just focus on a sound body. Or a more desirable body. Even for arguments sake If we do focus on a more desirable body that focuses on the Kundalini method of yoga, that too has a purpose. Which is to make the kundalini rise from the second chakra to the head chakra. Alas, the reverse happens and very often their form of yoga remains a way to get fixated on the momentary pleasure of the second chakra. An incomplete process of just yoga without meditation will result from falling out of practice as they after a while will not see the true reason for physical element of yoga.
Meditation is the result. Yoga is the prelude. The mind needs to feel balanced just as much as the body. This is beautifully explained in the first chapter of the Patanjali Yogasutra, where the basic principle of yoga is to restrict the mind stuff from taking various forms or distortions. Hence relating to the first point established yesterday of what Sri Sri often calls the “The Monkey Mind”.
So yes, friends focus on that body. Make it beautiful. Do your asanas with dedication and zest. And after you have sculpted that perfect body through yoga or whatever other form of exercise of your choice, sit. Sit and relax and breathe. Observe, that Boss Mind. Through sheer observation meditation will happen. Trust me sooner or later it will. And some of the days when you have late night which become early mornings you can slack on the yoga but don’t slack on the meditation J
Yes, as a disclaimer I am a work in progress and even after ten years I have good days and not so good day but I take it all in my stride. After all I need a sound mind to create. And that you will know If you have been following this blog, is also key to my mental wellbeing.

Links to some things mentioned in the above piece

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Work In Progress : 1 Mind Over Matter

Mind over matter something we hear all the time. But what does it mean. To put it simply; through the day, there is a lot that your mind, does get bothered over. Rather your mind makes you feel a myriad of sensations by making you believe that this matters to you.
Just think about it……a person says something or acts in a way disagreeable to you, at the first level you feel unhappy and from there on a string of different sensations and feelings arise within you. Then comes the next step were discussion of this makes the “matter” fester even more. The real funny part is, that the main cast to this entire drama, is oblivious to this screenplay that is being directed in your thoughts. And yes, who is the great director to this drama that is unfolding in you? None other than the omniscient Director, The Mind. Hence goes the saying Mind over Matter.

Now that we have established the Mind is over the matter, let us acknowledge this fact even more. Taking the same scenario as we discussed earlier, say for example a remark that was not very agreeable to the self, let us just see how the situation can be altered. The thought occurs that the statement was not a compliment but a disapproval of sorts. The best is to drop it then and there. However, we all know that the Director calls the shots. So there goes your mind thinking about the whys, how’s and when’s. From there begins evaluation and that results in a simultaneous feeling of anger, jealousy and so many other feelings. These feelings then are going to create at the weakest level a head ache and at a deeper level and with constant surrender to the minds prowess, a downward spiral resulting in various bodily discomforts and illness. There is a way to tackle this pattern. Since the Mind is over Matter through a simple process one can use and alter the process. Just observe your mind in this mode. Yes, that simple. Wither sheer observation the entire pattern just dissipates. Suddenly the folly of exaggeration and delving into a useless thought pattern seems fool hardy. The moment this realisation dawns a certain growth happens. Yes, you have learnt to tame your Mind too. Observation being the real Key. Notice even in this process of reading this short essay your mind created so many obstacles. Yet if you have persevered and managed to agree with me that every day and so many times a day we fight huge battles and wars and every day we create epics and entire soap operas all through the power of our mind. The mind is the Maya. It controls the matter. But what if you knew how to control it. Stay tuned for the next part of Work in Progress.  

Work In Progress is a series that I wish to write about myself. I am my biggest creation and with progressing life and expereinces I realised there is so much that I need to learn and work on. This is not a prescribed formula here. I am just listing my own positive experinces and sharing those with anyone who feels they can benfit from reading these lines. 

Monday, January 30, 2017


It was in 2010 that I last visited the island of Bintan, Indonesia. My memory of staying there in the villas, the relaxing time I had prior to an upcoming solo exhibition that year, is full of lovely beach and swimming memories. We visited again this long weekend, this being our fourth visit and this time too the company we had made the trip just so worthy of memories. Yet there was one dark patch.

I tried swimming in the beach waters and was thoroughly disgusted with the rubbish that was in the waters. Of the many previous visits I remember seeing fish swimming around us. This time however all that we had wrapped around our feet was a lot of wrappers, plastic bags and loads of plastic bits and pieces poking us. At one point I managed to move my son away, from a drift wood piece that had metal bits and nails stuck on it. It was just not funny how many plastic wrappers of chocolates, chips and other such garbage that were in the waters. I know I know, your response would be swim in the hotel pool. Well, I did not travel go to a beach resort to swim in their pool, when I can do that in the comfort of my residence.

I was saddened by what we humans are doing to the aquatic life and the planet. Our constant need for material goods, commodities and entertainment is costing the planet. I decided to not just write about it but do my bit with my son. While the beach cleaners of our resort very diligently cleaned the beach every morning for a few hours from the sea weed that came adrift, they did not seem to be interested in the garbage that come afloat. Along with my son and soon my husband joined us too, we stood in the waves and let the rubbish come to us and then collected them and put them, in the wheel barrows that the cleaners were collecting the rubbish in.

It was my wee bit of seva (service) that we could indulge in during the getaway. I did feel the Universe was sending me an important lesson. I spoke with my son about the choices we make. We did think carrying more home cooked food for the trips and the voyage would reduce a certain amount of plastic. These choices matter and making the younger ones aware of these choices also matter.  As an artist the irony of all this not lost on me. Yah I was not about to gather all the garbage to make a statement art piece or an installation out of it. It was more about what choices I make as an artist. No, I do not use disposable gloves for each artwork I make. We can’t call ourselves concerned and not look into the processes we involve ourselves in. It made me re- think of a lot of things I could do different and trust me those will go into effect as I type this note. However, I did not think my action on the beach went in vain. My son joined me in my effort and we had a discussion about our choices. My husband who was first amused and then bewildered at my actions soon joined me when I said “beach seva”, a true AOL person he is :D Lastly the cleaners realised that they should pick plastic and other rubbish too apart from the weed. Most importantly it just made me feel good about bringing alur dum and luchi for all of us, (a yum Bengali treat, unhealthy for normal days but holidays are for indulgences, so they make great voyage food) and the fact that it was devoured makes it have a repeat factor.