Monday, 30 April 2018

Papermade & the paper art (2)

Papermade is a biannual art exhibition held in Schio in the north-east of Italy around Christmas. As its name suggests, it focuses on paper art. The last Papermade exhibition was held in December 2017. In this post I present some of my favourite works from this exhibition, starting with the installation that I liked the most.


The above image shows details of a sculpture called "In your arms" by the Italian artist Marco Laganà. It was made by using papier-mache on a wooden structure, showing a soft whitish-bluish tree with a black bird. It was the art work that I liked the most in this exhibition because it gave me a surreal and dreamy feeling. I also loved the texture of branches and the bird. In fact, I think that in appreciating the paper art, texture of the paper plays a crucial role.

Let me now present some other works that I liked in this exhibition.

A sacred geometry by Karen Oremus (Canada/UAE)

Karen had created this work by cutting shapes in the paper with a laser and then stacking those papers over one another. This led to the creation of two kinds of towers - a downward going gentle tower/well that reminded me of the geological configuration of the Echo point near Munnar in Kerala, India. The other was a tower rising up in the air.


Scattered words in Arabic and English on the two sculptures made me think of the mythical Tower of Babel.

Domestic intimacy by Alexio Minini (Italy)

Alexio used paper and the origami to create a dancing old couple. The paper folds were very effective in creating wrinkles and screwed-up eyes on the faces of the dancers. (Click on the image for a bigger view)


This sculpture reminded me of very similar paper sculptures that I had seen in the central square of Mexico city in the early 1990s. I had even bought one of those sculptures as a gift for a friend. I wonder if something similar has inspired Minini's work.

At home by Maurizio Corradin (Italy)

Maurizio, an art therapist, had made a huge installation of a dome using paper, plastic, coloured LED lights and painting. The image of this work that you will find below shows the close-up of one of the sculptures near the bottom of the structure so that you can appreciate the kind of work that had gone in creating it.


The tiny figure seems to be made of metal wearing a helmet along with a red shoe in the left foot. It has wings of paper while white flowers adorn its head. It also has a wood stick with its tip painted black representing an erect phallus, giving the idea of a tribal fertility god.

Overall, I found the installation to be a little gimmicky for my taste and it did not evoke an emotional response in me. However, I did appreciate some of the details of this work.

House of my mind by Daniela Camuncoli (Italy)

Daniela is known for her paper collage work. She had made a wonderful collage of a young woman with earnest blue eyes that I loved for its colours, form and textures. I thought that it was unpretentious, clean and direct. It also had a charm in it that made me stand there and look at it for a very long time.


Apart from David Laganà's papier mache installation mentioned above, this was the art work that I liked most in this exhibition.

Some other Paper art installations

In the first part of this post presenting some works from a previous Papermade exhibition, I had explained that I am not fond of use of computers to create art - I feel that it is a kind of cheating. However, I also agree that my attitude towards digital art is a bit irrational - digital art is probably the future of art and artists need to have the freedom to use the medium they like for their art-expression.

Here are some other installations from the Papermade exhibition, which were good but at the same time, were based on a more traditional use of paper.

The first of these was a work called "Over confidence" by the Italian artist Alberto Balletti. It had been produced by an ink-jet etching. It showed a nude couple, probably in their fifties or sixties, who seem to be lying close to each other and yet distant, lost in thoughts with a kind of defeated look on their faces. I am not sure why the artist has named it "over confidence". Can anyone explain?


The second was called "Cartographies of the soul" and was by the Argentinian artist Alicia Candiani. It had a row of papers, each with blocks of orange and white colours with some superimposed images like the arm and the hand shown in the image below.


The third was called "Through the glass" by the Italian artist Simone del Pizzol. It had prints of an ink etching hanging in a row in a room, each showing some variation around a figure seen across a glass.


The fourth and the last art work of this group that I liked was called "Acathexis" and was by the Israeli artist Orit Hofshi. In this, the artist had used xylography (wood block printing), showing figures made in black ink against a red background. The image below presents some details from this work.


Acathexis is a psychoanalytical term used for persons who are unable to feel and show emotional responses. I think that probably this work showed Israeli persons who have been desensitised by the long on-going war with the Palestinians.

Conclusions

I like Papermade art when artists use paper as a building material through papier-mache, collage, assemblage, origami or paper-cutting, and not just use it to print or paint something. In the last Papermade exhibition, there were not so many examples of such use of paper to create art. Most of the works had used paper to print or paint. Thus, I was a little disappointed. However, I loved two works - House of my mind and In your arms.

If you had missed part 1 of this post about a previous Papermade exhibition, you can also check it.

***

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Papermade & the paper art (1)

Since 2013, around Christmas every two years, Schio in the north-east of Italy holds an art exhibition called Papermade, focusing on paper-art. This first part of my blog-post presents some of my favourite exhibits from the Papermade exhibition held in December 2013. The second part of this post will look at exhibits from the event held in December 2017.


The above image presents Paper Women with  papier-mache white shoes shown against a red backdrop. It was one of my favourite installations from that exhibition. It was a work of Taiwanese artist Li Chen.

Let me also explain why I liked Chen's shoes! I think that appreciating art is about emotions provoked by the art. It reminded me of a Bollywood song from the 1964 film "April Fool"- "Mera naam Rita Cristina, ai-yai-ya, mein of Paris ki haseena, ai-yai-ya". You can watch this song on Youtube and try to guess why this work of art reminded me of that song!

Use of paper in art

Paper-making was invented in China around 2000 years ago. It came to Europe in the 12th century.

The tradition of Papier-mache, combining sheets of paper and molding them to create sculptural forms, also goes back to early China. It was adopted in France in the 17th century, who gave it its name by which this technique is widely known today.

Cutting paper for artistic expression was also invented in China in the 4th century. Folding papers to create paper-sculptures called Origami developed in the Edo period of Japan in the 17th century. Collage and Assemblage created by gluing together different materials on paper to create art are credited to early 20th century France.

Thus, using paper in different ways as a medium of artistic expression is not new. The Papermade exhibition of Schio brought together some examples of these practices.

Here are some of the art installations that I liked from Papermade 2013.

Secret Heart by Marina Bancroft (Canada)

This installation had a book whose pages had been cut in different ways, creating layers of paper-strips with scattered and incomplete words, growing in different directions. At some places, the paper strips were weaved like baskets, at others they were free floating.


Forgotten words by Terhi Hursti (Finland)

This installation also had books in Coptic calligraphic language, bound together along with forms in fluffy white cotton. The yellowed and blackened margins of the books, which were deformed as if they had been out in the rain, gave me an idea of passage of time and experiences of life.


The fading inks of the calligraphy made me think of all the languages, stories and cultures that are disappearing and dying, as young people think that English language and Western cultural values express superiority, modernity and progress while indigenous cultures and values are reduced to becoming museum pieces.

Paper Mache Tank by Marco Ferrari (Italy)

This installation used a wooden structure on which plastic containers in different forms and colours were recreated with paper-mache. It reminded me of some of my journeys in Africa, where in the rural areas, it is not easy to find petrol pumps and where people, especially women, sit along the roadsides selling petrol in colourful plastic containers.


It also made me think of the tons of plastic bags and bottles that are littering our lands, ponds, rivers and oceans, creating a vast new continent of garbage.

The second moon by Fernando Masone (Italy)

The installation had a central rod covered with paper that carried a three-tiered cut-paper flower at the top. I am not sure about the symbolism of the two cups holding the round moon of cut paper, but I liked its simple lines and symmetry. The textures of handmade paper were also very prominent in this work.



Vertigo by Margherita Levo Rosemberg (Italy)

This installation had rolled up papers from newspapers and magazines, stitched together in different layers along circular wire frames that brought a mild sense of vertigo as I looked at them. It was one of the most physical installation in the exhibition. The artist Rosemberg is a psychiatrist and she adds different layers of meanings to her works, both physical and psychological.


Design For Living & Lost Letters by Peter Ford (UK)

Let me conclude this post with the work of another artist that I liked very much.

The British artist had two installations and I liked both of them. Design for Living had designs made by raised-up relief on handmade paper. It had geometric forms laid out in grids, mixed with islands of people. It made me think of a map for blind and low-vision persons and I liked its gentle colours.


Lost Letters had wood-block prints in rectangular blocks that reminded me of ponds where they grow fish and prawns. Round bumps of coloured papers rising up in those ponds were like some little islands. Words like memories and forgetting floated in those ponds.


Conclusions

I liked the idea behind the Papermade exhibition. However, many of the exhibits were paintings or printed things on paper, and I did not find their ideas very stimulating or innovative. I must also confess that I am not enthusiastic about digital art - I feel that it is a kind of artistic cheating if we use computers to create art. I am sure that many of you would not agree with me on this point!

Most art exhibitions of Schio are held at the historic building of Palazzo Fogazzaro in the city centre and are free. If you are visiting Schio, do take a look at Palazzo Fogazzaro to check its on-going exhibitions.

In the second part of this post, I will talk about installations from the more recent Papermade exhibition held in December 2017.

***

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Searching for the red India

Many decades ago, I was visiting a friend's home in Italy. Her young son asked me, "You are not red, why do they call you red Indians?" He had been told that I was from India and the only Indians he had heard about were the red Indians from America.

This post is not about those red Indians. It is about pictures from India where red colour plays a special or dominating role.

I love photography and have thousands of images in my picture archives. Writing this kind of blog-post is an opportunity for me to dig into those archives and in the process, relive my past journeys and the people I had met - a very pleasurable past time!

Among the Indic religions, red is the colour of sacred and of happy occasions like marriages. Let me start this post with a very striking image from a religious ceremony.

Bhagwati Theyyam, Kannur, Kerala, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

1. Theyyam, Kannur, Kerala: The first image of this post (above) is from Kannur in Kerala at the southern tip of India and it is from a Bhagwati theyyam ceremony. "Theyyam" is a Hindu traditional religious rite in which the God comes down to the earth and manifests in the body of a human being. Persons playing Theyyam or the living gods, often belong to the so called "low castes" and while they are the living god, everyone from the community bows to them. Theyyam takes place in the temple and the surrounding courtyards. Most theyyams are dressed in red.

Theyyam is unique for the elaborate makeup and rituals linked with this tradition.

2. Dollu Kanitha, Bangalore, Karnataka: The Dollu Kanitha folk dance from Karntaka. It has persons carrying the god statues on their heads as they come out of their temples and go out in a procession in the community. In this occasion, some of the persons dress up as different gods. The next image has a Dollu Kanitha dancer dressed as one of the gods.

Dallu Kunitha god, Bangalore, Karnataka, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

Thus, the idea of God coming down to speak to humans through the medium of a person is not unique to Kannur, rather it is seen in different forms in different parts of India.

3. Person dressed as Goddess Kali, Guwahati, Assam: West Bengal and Assam in the north-east of India have a strong tradition of mother-goddess (Shakti) worship through Saraswati puja, Durga puja and Kali puja. There is also a tradition of persons dressing up as mother Kali, the angry manifestation of the goddess. The next image has a boy dressed as Goddess Kali at the Kamakhaya temple during the Ambubashi festival.

Almost always, the persons taking up the role of gods are men, while women get to play such roles only rarely.

Kali ma, Ambubashi, Kamakhaya temple, Guwahati, Assam, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

4. Dashhera prayers in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh: Dashhera festival is linked to the story of Ramayana in the north and to the story of goddess Durga in the north-east.

The Dashhera celebrations in Kullu valley surrounded by mountains are different from the rest of India. During this festival, the patron gods and goddesses of mountain villages are brought out of the temples in processions and they travel down to the Kullu valley for their Dushhera holidays. Mountain communities come to live in Kullu with their gods and the whole period is full of religious ceremonies.

The image below shows the chief priest officiating at the Dashhera celebrations in Kullu, praying in front of the deity for the initiation of the festival. As in the above images, the red colour predominates.

Dushhera prayers, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

5. Hanta Koi statues, Nicobar island: Tribal groups in Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal have a tradition of making wooden statues called Hanta Koi to represent the spirits of dead family members. This reminded me of a similar tradition among the Toraja people in South Sulwezi island of Indonesia, where they call them Moi Moi.

This image comes from the Manas Sanghrahalaya museum in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), one of the finest museums about the lives, myths and culture of tribal communities in India. I find the red in the caps of the Hanta Koi very striking.

Hanta Koi statues, Nicobar island, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

6. Rajasthani puppets, Delhi: While the above five images were linked to religious and spiritual spheres, the remaining five images of this post are non-religious.

The next image is of a puppet from Rajasthan at the Dilli Haat market of Delhi. Rajasthan with its Thar desert, craggy forts and proud people, is also a land of colourful costumes, as seen in the dresses of the puppets, among which red dominates.

Puppet from Rajasthan, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

7. Monsoon, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh: Monsoons are usually not associated with the red colour, instead they are seen as dark clouds and verdant foliage washed clean of the dust by the rains.

The next image is about the monsoon but it has a man dressed in red, walking in a field. It has a lot of green and very little red, yet I think that the red colour plays a key role in this image.

Monsoon in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

8. Village woman, Kesla, Madhya Pradesh: The next image is also from the monsoon period in central India and has a village woman surrounded by lush green fields.

The colourful saris of the women in rural areas are the most common source of bright colours in the Indian landscapes.

Village woman, Kesla, Madhya Pradesh, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

9. Police women, Guwahati, Assam: Even the khaki uniforms of the Assamese police women can have a nice touch of bright red colour.

Police women, Assam, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

10. Lenin statue, Kannur, Kerala: I am concluding this post with another picture from Kerala where red colour is strongly associated with communism and where the communist icons like Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Chairman Mao, forgotten in most of the world, still continue to have some relevance.

Orderly processions of people walking with red flags and shouting slogans to protest against something are ubiquitous in Kerala. This image has the red communist flag along with a paper-mache sculpture of Lenin.

Lenin statue, Kannur, Kerala, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

Conclusions

Think of the above ten images about the red colour as part of an Indian thali. They represent the amazing variety, colours and traditions of India.

All over the world, globalisation is helping in spreading a culture where people wear similar clothes, watch similar films and eat similar food. Even in India, the globalisation mono-culture is making in-roads. However, fortunately our diverse and distinctive cultures and traditions continue to be alive, especially in smaller towns and villages. Our challenge over the next decades will be to safeguard these while we embrace other aspects of modernity.

I hope that you will like my selection of images from India where red colour plays a special role. Do tell me which of these red images you liked most!

***

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Hassan Sharif's art of the useless objects

Before looking at Hassan Sharif's art installations in the Venice Biennale (Italy) last year, I did not know the name of any modern artist from the Arab world. In my mind, Arabic artists were associated with things like calligraphy, flowers and geometric designs, thus I was surprised by his works. This post is about some of the art installations of Hassan Sharif at the Venice Biennale.

Art of Emirates artist Hassan Sharif at Venice Biennale - Images by Sunil Deepak

Hassan Sharif

Sharif was born in UAE in 1951 and he died in 2016 at the age of 65 years.

He did his art school training in the UK in the 1980s. There, he came in contact with Tam Giles and his ideas of abstract and experimental art, which influenced him. He lived in Dubai where he helped to set up different spaces to promote and support young and upcoming artists of UAE.

Art of Emirates artist Hassan Sharif at Venice Biennale - Images by Sunil Deepak

Hassan Sharif's art of assemblage

Sharif is known for taking ordinary objects of daily living and assembling them together in big heaps to create his art installations.

Art of Emirates artist Hassan Sharif at Venice Biennale - Images by Sunil Deepak

His art is seen as a criticism of the prevalent shopping culture, where we need to continuously buy more things, which are then quickly discarded to contribute to the ever-increasing mountains of garbage in our cities.

Art of Emirates artist Hassan Sharif at Venice Biennale - Images by Sunil Deepak

I think that his art can also be seen as a commentary on the human relationships in today's world, which follow a similar and parallel trajectory to those of the consumer products, where we look for quick emotional highs. Yet we quickly tire of them and discard them, finding it easier to hide behind our smart phones and head-phones.

Sharif's art at Venice Biennale

At the 2017 Biennale, different works of Sharif from different time periods starting from mid-1980s, were brought together to give an overview of his main artistic ideas. This exhibition was called "Supermarket" and included mixed materials such as textiles, papers, iron hardware, books and boxes.

Art of Emirates artist Hassan Sharif at Venice Biennale - Images by Sunil Deepak
Some of Sharif's installations like the one below with iron hinges and pieces of clothes, look like scraps that you may find in an old dusty store room in your house, yet they express emotions. I felt that they were a reminder to open our eyes and really look at our surroundings instead of sleep-walking through our daily lives - to see the juxtapositions of materials, shapes and colours.

Art of Emirates artist Hassan Sharif at Venice Biennale - Images by Sunil Deepak

Conclusions

Today, it is not always easy to define art and to understand its boundaries. It is not about artistic skills and mastery, rather it is a way of looking at the world and rediscovering emotions and feelings. Sharif's art is such. For example, look at the assemblage of old files tied together in the image below, which can be a common sight in old Government offices. Sharif makes you look at them in a new way by appreciating their textures and forms.

Art of Emirates artist Hassan Sharif at Venice Biennale - Images by Sunil Deepak

I want to conclude this post with my personal favourites among all the "assemblages" of Hassan Sharif presented at the Venice Biennale - it has a heap of steel spoons, forks and black plastic tubes. I am not sure if it was because of the bent and misshapen spoons and forks, but it was the installation which evoked the strongest feelings in me.

Art of Emirates artist Hassan Sharif at Venice Biennale - Images by Sunil Deepak

***

Monday, 19 February 2018

Beautiful sculptures of gymnastics and yoga

I love sculptures and art in public spaces. Many countries put up statues of famous persons in the city squares and gardens. However, sculptures of persons doing gymnastics, athletics, sports and yoga are not very common. In this post I want to share some images of sculptures related to sports and yoga.

To introduce this theme, the sculpture below shows the Olympics banner being carried by the athletes. This sculpture is located near the Ouchy port on the lake in Lausanne (Switzerland) at the entrance to the Olympics park which hosts the offices of international Olympics committee.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Lausanne, Switzerland - Images by Sunil Deepak

Bologna (Italy): Let me start with two sculptures from Bologna, where I have lived for many years.

The first sculpture is by Italian sculptor Leonardo Lucchi, who is known for his airy and light looking art. He achieves this effect by showing them in motion, so that only a tiny part of their bodies is touching the ground. In this sculpture he has a teenage boy balancing on a pole, with his arms raised up. He looks ready to make a jump.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Bologna, Italy - Images by Sunil Deepak

The second sculpture is by the Serbian artist Biljana Petrovic. It has a man sitting with his knees bent, his feet touching, his hands extended clasped tightly in a yoga pose with his rippling muscles straining with the effort.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Bologna, Italy - Images by Sunil Deepak

Delhi (India):  India does not have many good public sculptures except for those of political figures. However, over the recent years, some good sculptures have been put up in the airports. The next image from Terminal 3 of the Delhi airport showing the 12 asanas of yoga exercise known as Surya Namaskar is one example of these sculptures. The sculptures are by Indian sculptor from Jaipur, Nikhil Bhandari.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Delhi, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

Geneva (Switzerland): This beautiful sculpture of a gymnast with a ribbon is part of 5 bronze Olympian sculptures by British sculptor Eleanore Cardozo. It is placed in front of the Palais Wilson building, which hosted the League of Nations, before it became the United Nations and shifted to New York. Palais Wilson building now hosts the Human Rights commission of the UN.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Geneva, Switzerland - Images by Sunil Deepak

Kozhikode (India):  Manancheri park in Kozhikode (old name, Calicut) has many sculptures. Most of these are poorly made and poorly maintained. They are also very clearly inspired by socialist art of 1960s and 1970s. However, one of the sculptures of an acrobatic boy with his legs playfully raised up in the air, transmits the joy of life, similar to the Shirshasana yoga exercise. A similar statue is also placed in Panjim (Goa), close to ferry port. I was unable to find out the name of its sculptor. This sculpture is by K. S. Radhakrishnan (information provided by Deepa Gopal Sunil).

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Kozhikode, India - Images by Sunil Deepak

Lausanne (Switzerland):  The Olympics park in Lausanne, already mentioned above, is full of sculptures about different sports. Two of its sculptures are presented here.

The first sculpture is by the Hungarian artist Gabor Mihaly. It has a group of 3 cyclists on two bicycles and a total of five wheels, which together represent the 5 circles on the Olympics flag.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Lausanne, Switzerland - Images by Sunil Deepak
The second sculpture is by the famous British and Australian sculptor John Robinson. It has a gymnast girl on a beam. It represents the well known Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci who had received a perfect 10 out of 10 score for her gymnastics in the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and had won 5 gold medals.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Lausanne, Switzerland - Images by Sunil Deepak
Manchestor (UK): The next image is from a public art exhibition in the First street in Manchestor, showing female figures in different colours who seemed to be doing yoga or acrobatics. These sculptures were created by the Colin Spofforth studio of sculpture and design.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Manchester, UK - Images by Sunil Deepak

New York (USA):  The sculpture from the central park in New York is by Milton Hebald. It represents Prospero and Miranda from the Shakespeare's play 'The Tempest'. Probably, this sculpture does not strictly fit in the criteria of this post. However, when I saw this sculpture, with their hair and clothes flying up in the air, I thought that it shows a couple doing artistic gymnastics.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - New York, USA - Images by Sunil Deepak

Schio (Italy): I live in Schio (VI) in the north-east of Italy, the next sculpture is from here and it is by a local artist called Mario Converio. It has a gymnast doing a workout with a ring. Balanced on her head, she is floating in the air.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Schio (VI), Italy - Images by Sunil Deepak

Vicenza (Italy): Here is another work of Leonardo Lucchi. It is similar to the one presented above - here a girl is trying to balance herself on a narrow plank. However, instead of a sense of equilibrium, this sculpture transmits a sense of precariousness, as if the child is going to fall down.

Sculptures of gymnastics and yoga - Vicenza, Italy - Images by Sunil Deepak

At the end, let me conclude this post with a sculpture from Verona (Italy), the city of Romeo and Juliet. This sculpture is by the famous British sculptor Marc Quinn. In this the girl doing a yoga pose is balancing herself on the tip of elbows.

Acrobat by Marc Quinn, Verona, Italy - Images by Sunil Deepak

So did you like my selection of sculptures related to sports, gymnastics and yoga? I think that sports and yoga are good themes for sculptures, also because they are not very common.

Have you seen any good sports related sculptures? Do share information about them.

***


Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Searching for the past in Chennai

During a recent visit to Chennai, a walk along the Marina beach took me to the ancient Parthasarthy temple and to a search for a long lost childhood friend. This post is about that walk and my search.


My childhood friend

Nani used to live in a multistory building inside the area known as NPL, while we were living in Double Storey flats in New Rajendra Nagar in Delhi. His family home was in Chennai, which I had visited a couple of times.

The last time I had met him was probably around 2001-02 when I had come to India. He had just shifted back to Delhi. Since then we had lost contact. Partly it was my fault - I had not looked for him during my visits to India. I didn't have his email. I looked for him on facebook but didn't find him. Every now and then I wondered about him.

A memory from the past

Few weeks ago, I was back in Chennai after more than 20 years. One afternoon I was looking at the Google Map when I noticed "Parthasarathy temple" that was not very far from my hotel. The last time I had visited Nani's house in Chennai must have been about 30 years ago, but I was sure that it was right in front of the Parthasarathy temple. I remembered the name of the temple because it was also his father's name.

Parthasarthi temple is the oldest temple of Chennai, built around 8th century CE. Nani's family house in front of it, also looked very old. Once I had stayed in that house for a couple of days and remembered its intricately carved wooden doors and a wooden balcony around the central courtyard.

As I remembered my old visit to that house, I decided that I will go to that temple and see if I could find his old house. Perhaps some neighbours will be able to give me news about him, I thought.

The walk at Marina Beach

I took an auto to the Gandhi statue on Marina beach. It was sunset time and the beach was crowded with people.


I started my walk towards the Parthasarathy temple with the help of Google Map on my cellphone. I passed in front of the Vivekanand house, the house where he had stayed for some time after his return from the US.


I am an admirer of Vivekanand and would have liked to explore that place and its museum but it was becoming dark, so I decided to continue my walk.


A short walk brought me to the Anne Besant street with her statue in a small park at the street corner. Parthasarathy temple was nearby according to the Google Maps.


Reaching the Parthasarathy temple

A small side street brought me to the temple pond. Though I had visited that place and even stayed there right next to that pond, I had no memory of it. I even had difficulty in recognising the temple. The Gopuram of the temple seemed much taller compared to how I remembered it. All the area in front of it, including an long entrance with a row of pillars was surrounded by an iron grill. There were small shops all around and it was full of devotees and visitors.


In my memory that was a quiet street, there was no long covered entrance in front of it. At that time, there were no shops, but just old houses on the two sides. I went all around a couple of times, but could not recognise anything. I tried asking to some older looking shopkeepers, but no one could tell me anything.

After about 15 minutes of looking around, I was almost ready to give up. I visited the temple and even it seemed different from how I had remembered it.

While coming out of the temple, I had a flash of memory about the address of the old house. It was hiding somewhere there in my head. I checked the numbers on the houses. Number 25, my friend's house, was there but it was a marriage hall. It looked completely different from the house of my memories.


Outside the marriage hall, I saw a board on the side with a telephone number. I thought that I will talk to the hall owner and ask him, perhaps he would know about the previous owners of this house. However, my call went unanswered. Dejected, I thought that it was time to go back to my hotel.

Call from the marriage hall owner

I was near the temple pond, looking for an auto, when my telephone rang. It was the hall owner calling me back.

"When did you buy that house?" I asked him.

"Who are you? Why do you want to know?" He asked me suspiciously.

So I explained that it was the house of an old friend and that I was looking for him.

"I have Nani's telephone number, he lives in Delhi", the hall owner told me.

"Wow!" I had found my friend, I was overjoyed, "Can you please SMS me his mobile number?"

The man promised to send me the number and then while closing the phone casually mentioned, "Nani's father still lives in that house, there is a small residential part on the side, he has a room there."

"What? Uncle is still alive?" I was flabbergasted. Uncle had retired in the 1980s, so he must be more than 90 years old, probably closer to 100 years.

Meeting Nani's father

The hall owner had explained and this time I had no difficulty in finding the small grilled door on the side, leading to a corridor and to a few rooms. My heart thumping with excitement, I went to uncle's room. His door was open and he was sitting near the TV, busy watching it. I knocked on the door, went inside and touched his feet. "Uncle, you remember me? I am Sunil, Nani's friend."

He looked at me and smiled, "Yes, I remember you. Come sit here."

He remembered me! Suddenly I was laughing and crying at the same time, feeling like a child once again.


We talked about old times. Nani has a son and a daughter. I had seen his son as a baby, but I had never seen his daughter. My friend's elder brother, Cheenu, was no more, he had died six years ago. Cheenu's wife and daughter live in Hyderabad.

Uncle called Nani on his mobile and we spoke. He lives in NOIDA. When I go back to Delhi, I am going to see him.

Finally

Some times crazy ideas lead to good things. I am so glad that on that day when I saw Parthasarathi temple on the Google Map, I decided to go and search for my friend's old house.

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