26) 2017 May Krr Krr Studies – Vettuvankeni Marsh Lily Pond

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21) 2017 April Krr Krr – On Quiet & Progress

I was a hyper kid. I find it hard to sit quiet, doing nothing, still somehow I like it – so I work on keeping my butt down.

In the last 4 years I’ve kept to myself, except when I travel. I’ve been drawing and working almost exclusively at nights. I like working in long uninterrupted stretches – usually drawing, reading or studying for 8 – 14 hours a day. Sometimes I keep drawing for a few days till I cannot move another muscle and fall asleep. If I work during the day I lock my house gate, jump back into my compound and continue working. There were times I’ve fallen asleep under my drawing table.

If the sun is up and there is light to see the world around then again I’m sitting with my sketchbook or camera making notes and observations of what I see, hear, think, sense and feel. Such behaviour allows me to rarely meet people or keep in touch with them at their paces. I’m grateful to the friends and family who have come, opening the gates (sometimes shouting, singing loudly till I open my doors), visiting me and giving me the human company.

Since college I’ve drawn, designed, collaged, etc almost exclusively at nights.

Performance was the one consistent activity that demanded a change to a productive daytime routine with fellow people – which I enjoy, which I miss.

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It is not hard to imagine that such working is stressful. I love it. The flip side is that I got hungry every two hours (all consumed in drawing I was living on bananas, ground nut balls, tea & ciggies) as the head and body is kept working all the time. I got angry that I had to keep cooking and feeding myself. I’ve argued with myself that the body does go without food or sleep for long. “Monks eat a meal a day PC! What are you, a cow?”. I find it hard to accept that I have my limits. The IFA Grant has allowed me to afford food and a doctor to tell me that I need to eat and sleep if I so wish to keep existing! Now I’m packing in some kgs and sleeping at night. It is odd.

And then my vices!

Between all this is I make bite size efforts to meditate and sit still. It continues to be a challenge. Over the years I have been doing some amount of personal inquiry as my stupidities stump me and I’m curious about life. I’ve had moments of insights here and there but no enlightenment involving cool graphics.

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In high school we had a 40 / 45 minute class period called silent time, to be silent, sit being silent, look around, watch within. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I treated it as alone time. I kept to myself as best as I could (there was much gesturing & giggling if I crossed company), I walked, climbed trees and hung there for a bit, sang loudly, talked to myself, fidgeted dragging sticks in the sand and then sat down eventually from boredom, fatigue or general sulking and gaped my way through the rest of the class. I’ve been in many moods and states during these classes – from thinking the class to be a terrible imposition towards wasting time to enjoying it occasionally especially if I remembered to look. Sometimes I looked till my eyes hurt.

It was during one of these classes that I began the habit of keeping a sketch book. I found I liked recording my thoughts and ideas. My first sketchbook was a black leathery hard bound A5 book with lovely thick paper gifted to me by my then classmate and still friend Ponni Arasu which she brought for me all the way from USA. That book made me very happy. I slowly filled the book across the next 7 years until I got the big fat bond papered A4 spiral bound red sketch book which was a gift from my friend Ashwin.

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This April I went for my first vipassana after mulling over it for 4 years and getting ample reassurance from other vipassana goers and my therapist. It was a first time to sit with 30 odd people quietly for around 100 hours and 10 days of no talking. I enjoyed it very much.

This book and its core enquiry on “quiet” gave me the push to give vipassana a fair shot. I was meditating quite consistently before. Ironically, two months post this session I have been circumventing my meditation corner. The sitting has been different. I don’t sit in my assigned corner anymore but I sit when and where I feel I want to experience being still. This is nice.

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APRIL, MAY, JUNE 2017:

I came back to Chennai post the session to spend some time with my family and my niece. My health needed some tinkering and I wanted company. I am eating my way up to sunshine. To be back in a city for the third month in a row after consciously staying away from it for six years does something.

  • In these months given that schools were shut for the extended summer I’ve been upto doing admin work towards the book – contacting teachers, explaining the project and asking if I could come workshop with them. I have options now. July and August are workshop months.
  • Since I have been hanging around Chennai and my family stays on a concrete plot surrounded by marshes I have been documenting these water bodies as closely and consistently as I can. As I kept photographing these sources over the month I realised that this summer has been harsh as the marshes have begun drying up slowly. I have spotted birds, light and life that I have never seen before as I have not had the chance to pay attention. The birds have gone from swimming around and pecking food out of the water to now hopping on dry floors and digging food out of it or chewing on marsh grass. The cows that came to the marshes to quench their thirst now walk across leaving heavy squishy hoof prints. A lily pond in the marsh I was observing shrivelled to a clump in two weeks. The water has dried out so much that the slushy green moss on the floors have dried to a hard chalky bone white. These marsh pockets are also the cities lazy dumping grounds. As the summer grew much of the sunken treasures showed their heads. For some reason (aside from the regular old glass bottles, styrofoam and plastic waste) I kept spotting discarded potties in these marshes.
  • I made 16 small films/moving images experiments.
  • I’ve been mulling on a performance idea based on a long form drawing that I have made. I’m still looking for the piece to take shape – meanwhile I rehearsed towards it for three weeks at Spaces.
  • I did 2 story telling sessions for children organised by Karadi Tales. It was good to meet the children, improvise, perform and revisit books illustrated eons ago. I also officially did my first book signing after 14 years of illustrating for children – this was nice.
  • I’m currently working on a 1 month residency at the Cholamandal Artists’ Village to work on a large format book – 1 metre x 36 metres to see what I can do with that scale.
  • I am mooching on my father’s 18 – 250 zoom lens as I have been shooting on my 18 – 55 the last few years. I’ve acquired a couple of new step ups to my camera kit and I have just discovered the marvel that is a polarising filter. I’m getting super zoom hungry.
  • The camera has offered me a new rope to come face the light outside and live a happy day life. I’m capturing early mornings and sunsets, lovely light, moons, crazy skies and my most favourite – crows. I’ve taken some 2000 odd photos this time. I’m spending significant time wading through the pile organising and studying them.
  • I’ve had a chance to meet old friends and meet more family. My 85 plus grandmother rocks like a rocket.
  • I give my baby niece many baths, feed her butter and honey. Its our thing.

 

 

 

20) 2017 March Krr Krr – First visualisations – as IFA Grantee

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