kahaniyan · love · narratives · people · society · travel

Daily Musings

For a few months, I had been writing daily posts on facebook based on what I experienced each day. On looking back at it, I cannot really think of a sole purpose for doing so. On one level it was a selfish pursuit in giving vent to overwhelming thoughts, on typing it out and reading it, I found comfort as well as feedback. At times it entertained others, at times I am certain it must have not been pleasant. There are some posts which I now feel are mere rambling or sermons, while some serve to make others smile, or reminders of things forgotten. I feel writing and reading both heal, connect and are a shared experience between people. Where some of them unfortunately turned into egotist monologues, I do feel that there were some which got me warmth and affection from people through messages on how what they read did touch them or their lives in certain ways.Anyhow, I thought i would post a few of those here as well. I am placing them together, as if in continuity, for in many ways they are indeed coming from the same place:

“He appeared all of a sudden, almost out of nowhere. A thin little boy, with big eyes and long fingers. I was in an auto-rickshaw holding on to the tiny pair of shoes I had just purchased for my niece, and he was my surprise acquaintance at the traffic signal. I thought he would ask for money, he did not. He kept looking at me, and wrapped his fingers around my wrist. I smiled and asked him to not do so. He did it again, I asked him to not do so again. He did so the third time and I gave him a fake stern look which made him giggle. I was certain he would do so yet again, I did not know the reason behind this play, was he wanting to tease me, or express something I was blinded towards, whatever the cause, I knew this was now a game which I did not wish to lose, so I was ready this time, the moment he tried to place his fingers again, I caught hold of them. We both started laughing. The light turned green, off to my destination, he too moved on…While carring footwear for a child, I met another, who standing barefoot on that road, asked me to question what just happened and why”

“My heart sank as I saw them take her in that closed vehicle, hidden from our eyes, I could not dare to think how scared she must be.
They refused to listen to me, they refused to let her be, they refused to agree on the fact that she is a quiet peaceful soul who harms no one. They pulled her mercilessly as she fought for her freedom and with a final tug of their relentless weapon, threw her in the caged darkness.

Months ago they had done the same to her children, which I only got to learn from an eyewitness. SImply picked them up, and they never returned. We did not know where to go and search for them. We felt helpless, but not as much as the mother, who for days roamed around in a state of confusion, or perhaps a state I cannot truly even empathise with.

Those men, men with power, authority, they are ruthless, and rude, with a narrow focus. Fine, someone complained from the Resident Welfare. I am a resident too, and I care for her, I refuse to agree on the complaint that she is harmful. Why is a non inclusive elitist body’s opinion more valuable than mine? Why can your system not be open to dialogue? Who the hell are you to pull that dog this way? Why can you not give me the address of the hospital you are taking the dog to? Why can’t you give me a contact number to ensure our dogs return? WHY? WHY YOU BULKY STUPID MENACE WHY!!

And the great Welfare body, who is much bothered for cleanliness, space and safety, when were you bitten? So one dog, at one place, probably due to your own interference in its space, followed you, and you got scared to death. Work on your lack of empathy, your lack of contact with animals, your lack of common sense. Stop reducing their space with your boundaries, your parking lot, your roads, your this, your that, your control over this Goddamn planet you oaf! And by the way, the twenty-something dogs you bid goodbye today, they are as much residents of this space as you claim to be, ever thought of that, of course not, why would you. Every time they avoid someone from trespassing your household, they just make noise right? Every time your irresponsible sons and daughters deliberately tease or hurt them, thats not your problem right/ Why don’t we call a van to pick up your kids and put them in an obedience cell for a while? They seem to need taming much more than those dogs, dear sir, ma’am.

It si shameful indeed, truly shameful, that while I argued with those men, rest of the neighbourhood comfortably watched. Entertained weren’t you to see someone else’s helplessness, their grief?

They did not take away a dog, they took a part of my life with them, and I shall ensure that each and every one of them gets back to their space, which they deserve before I do. I am sorry, I proved to eb your useless confidante, who couldn’t do anything for you, you would all , when you do return, you would all be animals devoid of the rights of their own body.

Its such a shame, that this is all we can do. Make boundary, take more than possible, get scared of losing that space, remove obstacle, be ruthless, be selfish, be merciless.

The two who were left behind are refusing to leave our home, they are scared, refusing to eat or drink, the roads are empty, go residents go, enjoy your roads, go lie on them, go kiss the roads, you got your well deserved space back, only for yourself…”

“For a moment I thought he was unconscious, he wasn’t.

He lay on the grass in deep slumber. Neither the sounds, nor the people could disrupt his peace. He slept in visible comfort, while the birds hopped on his back. He was one with his surroundings, one with himself.

I would not have wanted to romanticise his state, perhaps he did not have a closed place to go to, he did not have a bed and mattress as I do, but he had an undisrupted sleep in the open, on the grass, next to the lake, beneath the trees, amidst the birds, some thing I fear I might never be able to experience on my own.”

“Four little boys walking with a sense of achievement, pride in every stride. Leader of the pack, holding close to his chest their prized possession. A tiny black fish just caught from the lake. The pet bottle becoming their pet’s cramped abode.

Crows bathing in a puddle. Each waiting patiently for its turn.

Orange dragonflies I meet every day, today a bright red one sat on the giant leaf looking over the green lake.”

“My Brother’s Scooter

My brother and his scooter are an indispensable part of my life, yes together. The scooter parted ways with us physically, and is in someone’s safe hands, but emotionally stands outside the gate, next to the car, there, look carefully, it is smiling as well.

I remember Pune, in the heat, sitting behind my brother on his scooter, I felt like a stud.

I was in school then, and to ride with him was my most exciting activity. When he would take me for buying grocery, I would be gushing with pride. I am the chosen one. Big bro takes me for grocery shopping, I am too kool. Yes I did think like that, my world was simple and the criteria of greatness began and stopped at big brother.

We bought some eatables, and then while he smoked a cigarette, in style, I devoured a Lollipop with just as much of attitude. I hardly remember the conversation, but I remember nodding and agreeing to almost every word. And then the ride back, nothing mattered, neither the sun, nor the baked bum, it was me and bro on the scooter!”

“Have a sweet

I got out of the metro station and was called by the auto rickshaw driver. He quoted a fair amount of price for my destination and I hopped in.

White hair, white moustache and a red gamchha, he drove steadily and with ease. He was quiet and looked straight ahead, when suddenly a brattish driver chose to puzzle others with his car’s acrobatics. The gentleman with red gamchha was taken aback and the auto meandered a bit, before coming on track again. But this was not to be. Now our auto got stuck due to some carefree personnel on motorbikes assuming the road to be only theirs. Sitting on their bikes and eating a snack each, they refused to budge, until this gentleman gave them a polite yet stern sermon.

By the time we reached my destination, he seemed tired and disgruntled. Each day must be so hard on him. I handed over the notes. As he opened them (I had folded the notes together to form a roll) to count the coins, he found a sweet.

He gave me a surprised look. I showed him another which was in my hand and said “toffee”. He gave me a beautiful broad grin and left.

I do not know about him, but his smile made my day.”

“I do not know if all my friends self-examine their breasts at regular intervals, I don’t, and it is not a very prudent state of being.

This is not a call to be paranoid, but just to give your body the importance it deserves, the care it needs and the love with which you could nurture it.

I wonder if we really love our bodies, are we at one with with ours?

The body tells us everything, how many of us really listen to it?

At times we play demonic roles in another’s sense of his or her body as well.

From teasing heavy-breasted classmates to calling the opposite a stick, from making rude gestures at those who are obese, to asking the skinnier ones to put on weight. Someone’s hair seem funny, someone’s nose seems crooked, someone’s ears call for our attention, and someone’s invisible neck makes us laugh. There are many instances, when Humor lies not in the body, but in the perversity of our mind.

I apologise if this sounds like a sermon, that was certainly not the intent. The intent was to remind myself and share with others, the fact that each and every part of me, deserves my respect and care, I cannot treat it as just an extension, it supports me, it helps me be, it empowers me daily, and I cannot just take it for granted.”

“Home made ice-cream is always great! My mother often prepares dessert which is something in between Rabri and kulfi, has the goodness of both. But there is one that she used to make many many years ago, mango ice-cream, that was incredible. I can still recall the taste, have never had something as delightful again. (No, not even CreamBell’s SauchMuchAAm can match this one, trust me!)

But there is one which seems almost like a tradition, the one with Faluda and Roohhafza, I am sure all my aunts know how to prepare this one, and am sure they must have served it to me at least once after dinner, a birthday party perhaps.
Oh, that reminds me of birthday parties! We don’t have those functions anymore, those grand occassions when all your family and friends would come togeher to celebrate.

My birthdays were even more eccentric, since I had very few friends, my brother’s friends would be invited on mine as well. There would be cakes in beautiful shapes, carefully selected return gifts, balloons, laughter and just a lot of people. I would wait for it the entire year, and more so, i would wait for the day to get over, to open the gifts wrapped neatly, and to build mountains of shiny, glittery paper on the floor. To carefully pick up the books and keep them in the cupboard, Noddy and the ginger cake , the 3d comic book on yaks, the anthology of short stories, the mickey mouse watch, the pink scary weird teddy bear, the bright pencil box and above all, the leftover sweets and return gifts, TREASURES.

Days before the occassion, my mother would start preparing packets of sweets to be distributed in school, assisted by my brother and at times cousins as well. A lovely thought though, to give on your birthday, to share joy and happiness, but it was mostly shared with those in my daily vicinity, so I also contributed to their many tooth cavities.

What was most amusing was the fact that on that day, many of my classmates would speak to me, smile at me each time they look at me and guess what, might even want to stand next to me. Celebrity for a day, I guess a colorful dress as contrasted against the uniform, makes you so, or perhaps the special song sung in the assembly for birthday girls does that, or maybe the sweets in your bag, or maybe birthdays just make everyone happy and loving anyway…”

“Pink shoes

I had never thought that I would ever do so, buy pink shoes, but I did. I had thought that if I ever come across such a pair, I would make an ugly face, I did not.

This was around four years ago, or even more, when I had gone to Bangalore. We were in a shopping mall. One glance in their direction and I knew I should wear these.

I went closer and inspected, I gave myself the following justifications:

1. I could not believe that they were available in my feet’s extra large size. This was Divine intervention, I must obey the universe in this case at least.

2. They looked super comfortable. I tried them on, yes they were indeed a great fit.

2. They were quite cheap, I re-checked lest I read a 0 less. No, they were actually well within my budget for casual shoes.

3. I needed one such pair to wear every day. It would look good with most of my clothes.

4. They had a cute button on them, which won my heart.

5. This was probably the first and last time I have liked pink in shoes, I might never again feel such awe.

My mother also approved of those and we got them home. I wore them through thick and thin. They have been through a lot.

One day while travelling in Metro, when I finally managed to get off at RAJIV cHOWK I came out and realized that the buttons had stayed back with the crowd. I continued to wear them without the buttons, they still looked great.

They eventually started wearing off from inside, their colour faded but I did not give up. They started opening up from sides, there was a tiny hole right at the tip, but I did not give up
the rains last year.

It was then that they caused me to slip, and I realized, that it was time I allow their soles to rest in peace.

I don’t think I will ever again find shoes with that perfect shape and that perfect shade, but whenever I come across an old photograph with those shoes on, it makes me happy, it makes me enjoy the fact that I could appreciate pink beyond being pink.”

“I was searching for Nariyal Paani, hoping that it would cure my mother of her illness. I have lately begun to associate magical attributes with nariyal paani, considering it has been a great support each time I have had to treat a disgruntled stomach. Anyhow, I was talking to a friend who accompanied me in the search, and was recounting what all we were to do, nariyal paani, medicine, tailor shop collect stuff.

An elderly gentleman, who resembled my nanaji a bit (pink cheeks, white hair, the cloth bag), turned back and said, baaki donon tum dekho, nariyal paani to bhai main bhi piyunga.

I couldn’t help but giggle like my niece, and said that I would let him know if I find anyone selling the same. the one who stands close to our house was not here today.

After a long walk, we did find naariyal paani. We were delighted. I took four, I knew I would run into him.

At the corner near our house, I saw him again, but not alone. He was with a group of gentlemen, discussing something. He saw me, and I think I saw him rise a bit from the bench, as if anticipating something. I moved closer and foolishly told him about the shop. I did not know how to offer nariyal paani to only one amongst so many.

He smiled and said, he would go to that shop then.
I came back with the extra nariyal, feelig stupid and regretting my lack of spontaneity. I should have offered it to him, so what if he had his friends along. They could have had a sip from it as well.

This extra nariyal is right now sitting and staring at me in the kitchen, and I am hoping against hope that i run into him sometime soon, soon enough to have nariyal paani together, with his gleaming eyes, and my giggles…”

“There was so much noise in the empty room, that I had to meander on the roads.

It is advisable to walk on the pavements right outside the shops, to make way in between the parking, through people, through lives, through their stories.

Four men playing cards behind the Volkswagen. Chai ke cup, tambaaku aur dher sari shaan.

A man was washing his feet with water filled in a crumpled plastic bottle. Pehle kabhi it must have been sealed with pristine drinking water, khaas minerals ke saath. Khair ab to bottle purani ho chuki hai, some would have crumpled it a bit more to render it suitable for the dustbin. This man continued to wash his feet, on the sidewalk. The water formed a narrow stream which joined a puddle, black puddle, dark and shallow, in which a white dog played merrily. He needed no company, he found himself.

A familiar shop, the employee smiled at me. We exchanged greetings, kucch idhar udhar ki baatein, ek chhoti mulaqat. I had not gone in to buy anything, he knew I wouldn’t. We spoke of mountains, people and fruits.

Sadak kinaare coffee, seeing with a little clarity, a few passers-by, an elderly man and his grandson. Haath chhuda kar chhote janaab ghoomein gol-gol. Dadaji kabhi hadkayein to kabhi chhoote hansi unki anmol.”

kahaniyan · people

Thoughts on Turning Twenty-Five

There would be excitement in the air, an upcoming birthday.

My mother would carefully select a dress and pair it with new shoes, ribbons and accessories. She would arrange an ensemble for school and one for the evening party. A week before my birthday, the family would be involved in preparing packets of sweets, to be distributed in school.I would count days, and then hours, my birthday, it is special, I would tell myself. I would assume the world to be slightly happier on that day, as if the flowers were smiling back at me, and the trees were swaying in a dance.

It would always rain, and I cannot imagine a birthday without that sound. As a child I would sit in front of a hole in the wall, occupied by ants, and watch them throughout the day.Actually it was more of a tunnell.

Evenings would be tough, the house would be filled with people, laughter, smell of food being cooked by my mother and aunts. My cousins would be playing, guests would be hunting for me, to kiss, to pull cheeks, to hug , to wish me happiness,I would be a bit scared.My cousin would often stay back till late and we would open the gifts, divide remaining sweets.

And when the day would get over, and the noise would give way to a moonlit night, I would have time with my own self, and feel alive.

I do not witness those large gatherings often, friends too have dispersed and moved on, well most of them, but I am at peace with the fact that I am freer with each passing year.

Yesterday I turned twenty- five and there is this newness which I enjoy;

Things have changed a lot, and a lot is to change, I feel excited about it; I do not fear people as much, in fact it is good to have them around. I enjoy public speaking, I enjoy entertaining people, and yesterday when it rained on my birthday, I realized I love these changes, but some things must remain constant, some of them have, some haven’t. Like the terrace back home, like the joy in listening to music and safekeeping colors, that thrill before stepping into a cold river, sudden breeze, sparrows, a dog out of nowhere, mumma’s laughter, papa’s earlier joy in seeing me, elder brother’s elder brotherly protection, a bicycle ride, taiji’s aloo fry, naniji’s nostalgia, scooty rides, Gurudwara’s prasad (halwa), milk-cake mithai, roxette, ali-haider’s purani jeans, amul butter, landline number, letters, old pyjamas, ruled notebooks, reynolds pen, mumma’s jewelry, tayaji’s photograph in my room, green curtains, childhood books, old toys, Noddy, Rusty…travel…putting on extra kilos in mango season, cake from king’s bakery, nauchnadi’s kalpana beedi, sapna cine-films’ advertisement in movie hall, peanuts, original parachute, chyawanprash in winters with horlics in milk…

I miss the swimming pools created during rains, I don’t ever want to fear rains, I think, having spent twenty-five years on a tiny bit of this planet, I do not want to fear, and each time I do so, I want to remind myself of the openness of the clouds which you see through that tiny window in the plane, that vastness which is so light and powerful.

academia · communication · critical theory · critique · design · society

acknowledging bias

At times my indulgence in critique surprises me. So does my self assumed endeavour in understanding and being aware of things around me.

Why do I want to necessarily find a meaning in what I am seeing, why do I want to connect it with a way of thinking?
Why do I need to have this urge to theorize daily life? Why can’t I just be lazy or indifferent about different things?

As I sat in the auto-rickshaw and noticed “Columbia” embroidered on the driver’s jacket, I had the urge to talk to him, to find out his origin, his story, his aspirations. Had I done that, and shared it with some co-thinkers we might have had a discussion on trickle down of desires.

When I see a hoarding announcing luxury apartments in the lap of nature, I give that sly smile. I click a picture or make a note as if I have had a superior understanding as compared to my fellow beings. As if the paradox in the statement is a hidden form of knowledge that only I and a few others have attained by their study and observation.

At times my egoism annoys me.I give so much importance to my thought, to how I see things, that I fear I might forget that others have their opinion too, and there really is no one simplistic way of looking at things, At times in trying to acknowledge complexity and uncovering different layers of meaning, i fear I end up imposing a personal view more than discovering what is there, earlier I used to make it complicated.

At times, when I am a part of a forum or workshop which has more people like me, it irritates me when listening to faux accents . When I watch their hands move and hear in a sing-song voice words such as “interesting”, “fascinating” and “rich”, I silently wish they would actually elaborate.I feel suffocated when in the name of participation people voice the most redundant of concerns with facial expressions signifying grave seriousness. It makes me disconnect, it makes me yearn for a more …simple way of maybe speaking? A more grounded sense of being? As much as I love reading culture around me, at times I feel my habit of raising myself to a pedestal where I can make a remark on it, makes me disconnect from reality rather than being immersed in it. This is just to acknowledge it, and keep a check lest I get too lost in the sheer pleasure of it all.

communication · india · kahaniyan · people · screens · society

Internet and my History – a part fictional account of the reality of internet space in everyday life

Remember those chatroom days?

I very clearly do, it wasn’t very long ago, we were in school and would plan when to go to a neighbourhood cyber cafe. Yes, those were special occasions, and you went with special company. My friends would often self invite themselves to my place for a party, and after tiring ourselves, we would actually walk up to the plaza and spend half an hour or so in a chatroom, often sending silly messages to each other or mocking incredulous online avatars. We would refuse to chat with anyone from our own hometown, we did not want to chat to get to know people around us, we just wanted to chat to chat!

It was the idea of actually connecting to a live human being from somewhere apparently far off, somewhere else, that fascinated most of us, you type something, and you get a reply, and the person is not even here!

At times my mother also went along, just to keep a check on what I was up to. Fitted in a small cabin in a stinking underground space, she would be grumbling constantly on the wastage of time over virtual space; on some occasions she would be narrating a mail I would type using her id, to send to her distant relatives staying abroad. She could finally keep in touch and could apparently write an email from India too!

Very soon I got tired of answering fake “asl (age, sex, location)” to random people, it was indeed redundant, I narrowed down my conversations with people I genuinely knew, who existed in my life physically as well, or almost, and thus became a daily user of Yahoo Messenger. It Was thrilling. I would set up time with my elder brother, go to a cafe just to experience chat with him.

Yahoo Messenger opened new doors for me, for I suddenly found it very easy to express through the written word. I could say things I never even would imagine doing on face. This was great, a medium to express long-held resentment, a medium to share joy, and even a medium for courtship. Of course it could not replace that which is tangible, but this too certainly was real, very much real. It affected me emotionally, it altered my time-table, it became a part of my daily lifestyle. I would keep a slot for “internet” just like one for “food”, for “sketching”.

It was crazy. It was almost like having a parallel life running online. Every day, I thought of what status I would put up on messenger, something that years later I would do with facebook, it mattered to me. I loved the fact that these conversations were being stored, you could go back, reread, laugh, feel happy or fantasize about the next bit of conversation. It was perverse too, and at times romantic. I treated that history as sacred, for some people who mattered much, who I could not meet every day otherwise, who were living far away, who did not meet physically often. In fact there were some friends, with whom this was the only mode of communication left.

I would often wait for him online, when he would return home for holidays, i would know he was about to ping me online, he would, he would be there. It gave me butterflies in the stomach, that feeling which is yet to be replaced, I do not know what term to give to it, but I still cherish that anticipation, every bit of it.

By this time I had moved on from cafe, to a second-hand pc, and finally a laptop, and every year, on his return, we would chat. Those words would keep getting stored, and stored, like precious archives of my life. We rarely met, I did not even know what he felt, still do not know, neither did I tell him why i would chat with him for so long, but I just did. When he would be about to leave, I would want to hang on to that small window of chat and hope, for as long as I could, till the time it showed him offline; At times I would still wait for a while, to ensure, he doesn’t come back without me being aware of it, and if he does, then I am there to talk more.

When we would meet in a physical space which was rare, it was great, but there’s still something very naive and innocent about those conversations, how happy, positive and carefree were those.  i was much less conscious, and was completely enamored by his wit, I would try to imagine what his house was like, what his room looks like, what kind of sounds are there around him, how would he be looking while typing these sentences. I remember, once I was laughing so much while glued onto the screen that my grandmother got really worried, I even fell off the bed while typing. It is funny how I can recall very small details of many conversations online and I keep savouring those on days as these, when I miss him much. These days, when we rarely ever talk, these days when we are both engrossed in our lives, when we have both grown up to be adults that have lost that naivety, that excitement, and have probably moved on, from that which is not understood, but only could be fondly remembered, or perhaps humbly forgotten.

Yesterday I had this sudden urge to feel that anticipation once again, in those few seconds when the messenger is “signing in”. I no more use Yahoo and have lost the habit of rereading conversations, those are limited to an online storage, intangible old letters for me. I could not remember my yahoo password, after some effort and downloading the new messenger, I was being overwhelmed with nostalgia. I suddenly recalled a friend, in Dubai, with whom I have lost complete touch in the last few years, I was eager to find those conversations, a part of my life that I had left behind somewhere. I had that strong feeling in the stomach again, I was nervous and excited.

When it did open, I realized that there is no history saved anymore. It would start afresh. I cannot look at my life through chat in retrospect…

I felt numb.

Slowly I found myself engulfed in grief. I felt a sense of deep loss, that archive had almost seemed symbolic of things that form my past, experiences I might never have again, their only proof of existence, that history from my life, that history of my growing up years, my emotions, it is gone, wiped away.

I felt terrible and slept.

This morning I reflected on my reaction, and couldn’t help but be amused at how the internet is as much a part of my life as my own memory, as photographs, as text, as our old house is, and how a loss of data online has made me feel just as tragic a sense of loss as did shifting from our old house, as did the loss of my dog, as did the loss of childhood toys. My actions on the internet, my life here, is just as much real as anywhere else, its storage serves a significant purpose in my life. In a way, this erased text, for me acts as a catalyst to move on from yesterday. I wonder, if a virtual act of erasing, actually erases what was in real?I wonder if it is so for others, I wonder if he ever even read anything again, I wish he reads this blog someday, but even if he doesn’t, I might just continue to cherish that which was inside the old Yahoo Messenger, real messages of our exchange.

books · comics · communication · design · projects · society · Uncategorized · visual culture

Comics Love- experience with the World Comics Organization

I love Comics, I think everyone should. I love the medium and wish to experiment with its form and functionality.

Having graduated from my fellowship in Science and Liberal Arts, I had some time before I started with quantified and mass acknowledged productivity –  “job”.

So I decided to volunteer with the World Comics Organization in the month of June. If you are hunting for work to silence inquisitive aunts and (very) concerned friends, I am sorry, this probably isn’t the genre for you, however, if you are wanting to experience sincere efforts at giving voice to the subaltern , this probably is a space you would appreciate.

I do not think I would do much justice at introducing World Comics for there is much depth to the organization and work, perhaps you could go through their website and engage with what they mean by Grassroots Comics and Comics Journalism.


To me what matters the most, is that they have managed to take comics to people in their everyday lives, and have enabled them to tell their own stories, in their own words and images.

Sharad Sharma, the founder, has maintained an archive of all these narratives, which I truly feel are a brilliant account of narratives ignored in prevailing media and stereotypes. Moreover, I sincerely feel that this methodology reduces a researcher’s bias and could definitely be an innovative methodology to be used in ethnographic study. In fact, in my upcoming projects, which require ethnographic study and community engagement, I intend to conduct workshops with the communities I work with, to create comics wallpapers and to create a forum for sharing stories, perspectives and history.

Some of the important points that stuck to me through my interaction with the organization:

1. It is actually great fun to work in collaboration towards a common goal. The task of creating 28 panels out of two comic books for an upcoming exhibition, involved four people, two who had created the original work, and two who re-used and redesigned panels to be exhibited. beginning with a simple layout, we quickly developed an understanding of each other’s styles and managed to pull off a harmonious set. Devendra and I have a rough style which was given that subtle finality with Sharad Sharma’s eye for details, something I am still only attempting at achieving on my own. It was brilliant to see how after the panels were designed he went through those and introduced finesse with a blurb here or a patch of color there, it was very interesting to see hsi play with text as image.

I often wonder how did they manage to run an entire foundation through only volunteers, I think the most critical aspect is to respect every person and every task, be it making Chai or photo-copying or training people in making comics. Also, to acknowledge every person’s opinion and agency, is not just humbling but also encourages healthy dialogue and willingness to co-operate.

2. At times when lots is to be done, rather than thinking too much, dive deep into it, and just keep doing bit-by-bit. I know it sounds so obvious, but generally that is exactly what we don’t do. At World Comics there is too much positivity and constant work being done, no one stops, everyone is on to something and happily so. It inspires you to just get down to the task (at least as long as you are inside the studio). I think, the fact that Sharad Sir sat on my head, and sort of politely disciplined me into coming up immediately with a simple, neat layout was a great help later. I have faced this paralysis of ideation many-a-times, it is good to have a basic vision, but then explore as you are into it.

3. It is important to understand the purpose of the exhibit, what is to be conveyed, so that the content could be aligned. It is almost a curatorial procedure, ha! you mocking us? go see the number of illustrations and text, it can be tough to choose from such a huge pool of data.  It is very important to be strict when filtering it. Everything looks great, but the idea is to only put as much is enough and appropriate to summarise the larger message in the books. Of course the audience plays an important role and has to be kept in mind while doing so. We did not have much time left for editing though, and that is a learning for next time, particularly for text, it could have been much more simplified.

4. Umm, for all my faux dislike for MAC, I think I had fun using it :). Also, have overcome an inexplicable dislike for photoshop.

5. We played with colors and I think it worked well. So the idea was to start and end with violet and have continuity in panels through the color transition. A coincidence was that green came during the panels clarifying myths on Islam, so then we managed to place RSS based panels in oranges which though was stereotypical we still greedily delved in it in order to assist the audience in relating to the context better. It was interesting how these colors could break the monotony  and assist movement of eye, while the layout and transition kept a uniformity. The titles were kept in contrast with the background, while the bubbles of successive panels had colors belonging to the family of its preceding panel.

6. I think, the organization being quite democratic and liberal, I felt confident in the choices I made, and also learnt quite a lot from feedback, slight shifting of image, a little variation in the tint, adding some data in empty space, playing with layers, creating every panel as a composite whole, it was good fun to see the project complete and exhibited.

7. Great printing can be done at small press, some hidden gems in Delhi.

8. A great cartoon with black gel pen could be given various manifestations later, hence do not disregard a simple process of creation.

9. Last but not the least, to work with time limit, to keep it simple.

Some photographs of the exhibit displayed at India International Centre (IIC) Annexe, New Delhi (10-14 July, 2013):

photograph courtsey poornimasardana2

Exhibition by :World Comics India

Books by :Ram Puniyani, Sharad Sharma