Gravitas

Jaywalker flying, drifting
across lands, roads, rivers
sidestepping stepping stones
wading into the deep blue
Sinking better than standing
shouldering the weight of the world
responsibilities like quicksand
sucking, pulling, defeating
navigating life, running
through a tall hedge maze
with no end, no beginning
square circles, circle squares
an eternal quest to escape
loving at someone’s expense
love is resistance
or so they say
take a step back, take a breath
take a minute, take a pass
to understand, to comprehend
the situation, its gravitas.

 

Art?

I went to see the only Biennale in India yeserday, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. I’m writing this now while my memory is still fresh and my neurons are still reeling from whatever hit them. I had gone in 2012 for the same event, which was the first ever one of its kind in India. That had been more pleasing than this although I’m not sure whether that’s because we were a little exhausted from the journey yesterday to begin with. The only questions that still baffles me are: What qualifies as art? And who defines it?

Some of the exhibits were amazing. You could see the sweat, blood and tears, the sheer passion, perseverance and deliberate thought that went into making them. But those existed as only a handful. Most, frankly, were disappointing. Or maybe that’s just me. But here are a few of those that upon observation, did nothing to impress me and upon reading the description, left me more in love with whoever wrote it than the artist himself.

A giant sphere, about 3m in diameter, made of concrete and housed in a room. It tapered to a smaller area on the other side of the entrance to the room, so it looked like a giant concrete egg. The description was beautifully worded. I understood none of it, at least not in relation to the ‘sculpture’ I was staring at. The workers we hire have built several concrete structures for us. I’m sure they’d be done with a giant egg in no time. Give them a guy who’s good with words to craft an artsy essay about the egg and they’d be living as rich a life as the artist behind this. But then again, who appreciates those who make things that we can put to practical use anyway? Builders are not artists, right?

An enormous flat slab of rock placed in a hole. That was the underside of a crater. The artist wanted to show what the underside of a crater looks like. Because..someone cares?

A ‘light box’ experiment. This won the prize for most creepy artwork ever, if you can call it that. Life-size pictures of dead bodies in various garb, before they began decomposing, illuminated in light boxes, hung on the walls. At least this one made me think; what in the world made the artist want to hang pictures of dead blokes? But what  a genius. A 5-second crazy thought process leading to a disturbing idea, a few days of work and to label it art, well, it sells. He’s probably laughing it off at some beach in Mauritius with his buddies who are more alive than his subjects.

Some nude (very badly drawn) doodles. For some inexplicable reason, the art and wannabe-artsy community have always prized nudity. Ugly dicks and saggy breasts. In that case, a nude picture of my grandparents should suffice as ‘expressionism’, should it not?

Random shapes on paper made with newspaper cutouts and framed. As an ensemble, it exuded an air of antiquity. Upon closer inspection, each one looked like the work of a second grader. Another mastermind at work here. Give your girlfriend’s elementary class kids an art and craft project, a lot of glue and cheap newspapers to set their minds and little fingers loose on, and voila, you have art handed to you. Age them with coffee stains and lacquer, frame them, hang them all on a wall and make your writer-friend come up with a long, snotty description that leaves people feeling like it’s their fault for not understanding how this is a masterpiece.

A few dusty tiles on a concrete floor with some corners of the tiles painted in white or blue. It was meant to be a play on light. A white screen with a lamp shining on it. Because observing how light falls in the comfort of your house on your furniture and clean tiles is not artistic enough, obviously.

Another light experiment. This time, dozens of glass light bulbs hung in a room with a black background. At least put in some effort for crying out loud!

There were lots more in the same wavelength but I’ve named the ones that really put me off. It was, as are most modern art exhibitions, a collection of the works of eccentric and eternally high folk who, for lack of a better term and because they do not behave like madmen in social settings, society decided to label as ‘artists’. For all I know, we’re all artists in our own right. I remember reading a news article about a 4 year old somewhere in America who threw paint at a canvas and it earned her millions from an art collector.That, when there are millions of children who could actually paint much better than her, starving in various corners of the world. It left me indignant for a long time but I guess that’s when it started dawning on me that the world’s full of crazy people. And it’s they who define what ‘art’ means and it’s a definition that I disagree with.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the light bulbs. All the works I mentioned look substantially better when seen through a camera held at a specific angle and with an attempt at good photoshopping thrown in.

And these are a few of my favourite things

This post involves a lot of spiraling thoughts and some good stuff I stumbled upon which you might already know about. You’ve been warned.

I found a Vanda Miss Joaquim in the garden (a type of orchid, the national flower of Singapore), and decided to paint it in my LBB (Little Black Book), but I couldn’t find a paintbrush thin enough so I ended up using a skewer stick. Stick painting is surprisingly calming, more so than with paintbrushes.


I recently found Cassandra Calin‘s work and I’m in love. She is by far the best comic strip artist I’ve seen. Unlike your normal comic strips where the characters are exaggerated and fictional, hers are real and the strips are about real life problems so it really resonates with people.

Russia Today is my new go-to news source. They’re no-bullshit, no-censor, and they call out the biased view that most Western newspapers show. For example, the alleged “hacking” of the U.S. elections by Russia was shown on the RT news channel with a line saying “It’s always nice when there’s someone to blame,” which honestly gave me a good laugh. On a side note, I think that is one of the most sensationalized piece of fake news which publications that I used to have some sort of respect for (like The Guardian) have endorsed, and it’s completely killed any faith I have in such news sources. I am not a Putin fan but I agreed with him when he said that the United States is not some sort of Banana Republic that they can let their election results get hacked; they’re one of the most, if not the most, powerful countries on earth with their intelligence agencies spying on almost the entire world. Is it not an insult to themselves when they say that they let their system be hacked? Apparently, they just can’t digest the fact that their people voted for Trump. A huge majority. Judging by the number of Trump-supporter interviews I read before the election, it sounded like a pretty close call no matter what the left-leaning media spewed out to make it sound like Clinton was going to win.

On a lighter note, just found out that I’ve been awarded the DAAD-WISE scholarship and will be going to Germany in the summer for a research internship. Oh joy! I’ve been trying to find German bands to listen to (suggestions?) and brush up on my knowledge of their culture and etiquette. I know it’s a long time away, almost 6 months, but I’ve already started thinking of what to go shopping for. My spending habits need to be restrained. And this is coming from the author of the Consumerism article.

And here’s a Merry Christmas! Around this time each year, my mother tends to contemplate her Catholicism and call up a few of her relatives mostly to see if they’re still alive. After which she gets sick of them again for another year and decides to eat cake. This time, I’m going to try baking one. Cocoa powder here tastes like carbon so I thought I’d just melt chocolate bars into the cake dough. Hopefully it works out. Here’s a little doodle to spread some cheer

Walking Billboards

Does your coffee taste sweeter
does it feel stronger, fuller
a better aroma, a better kick
when it comes in a Starbucks cup,
or do you wish you’d spent a fraction
and stuck to the old man’s stall
where the filter coffee brews fresh
every morning and the vada always
warm, with just the right spice
and a side of affection?

Do you see the world better with your
Ray Bans on or is it the world seeing you
that matters? How much does the frame affect
your vision if the lenses are the same
or is it your mind that perceives the difference
although your gut knows that it makes no sense?

Does it matter if your threads have
labels like GAP or ZARA or H&M stitched on them
when you know the sacrifices are the same,
the human rights violations are a constant
that child labour and underpaid workers
have a different story to tell
about your favorite shirt, the one you paid
a hundred times more than what the makers got
their children still starve, their scars still burn
To them, the name doesn’t matter, the cotton
still comes from the farmers they didn’t want to be
and the factories still reek of slavery.

Is this more than you bargained for
did you not want to hear what your mind
thought and you silenced?
Maybe it’s time you freed yourself
from corporates and learn to be independent
learn the sources of everything you use
where does your food come from, who makes it
who harvests the grain, who grows the fruits?
Maybe it’s time you actually started singing
a different tune, instead of saying that
you are different and unique yet wear
brand propaganda on your sleeve.
Maybe it’s time you stopped being a billboard
for everything that’s not you.

A plead on behalf of the voiceless

There’s no pretty way to put the situation in Aleppo, even as the Russian troops along with the Syrian Army managed to free the Old City of Aleppo from the hands of the rebel fighters, the rest of the city and country are in dire straits. Can you imagine a generation of children growing up having seen only violence from the day they were born? These are children, who at their most tender age, saw their parents being hacked to death, their mothers raped, their siblings beheaded. This is gruesome to an unimaginable degree. No living being should have to go through this. I know most of us feel helpless when we hear such stories, after all, we are so far and they exist by the thousands. What can we do? I’ve found two websites that do genuine grassroots work and if you manage to find anymore, do promote it on social media. This is a cause that we cannot turn a blind eye to.

  1. World Vision. You can either donate or sponsor a child. You can also provide┬ádonations in people’s honor, through a gift registry system or through corporate donations. Any amount helps.
  2. Preemptive Love. Amazing word by an amazing team to help those that most of us can’t.

Please spread the word. This Christmas season, for once let’s give not to those who we’ve been showering love affection and gifts on, but to those who’ve never received any of these.

Issues.

I’ve been avoiding talking about this subject for as long as I could. But I can’t stop myself now. I see glimpses of the truth everywhere but never the truth. So here’s what I’ve seen and understood so far.

Demonetization wasn’t a genius plan to eradicate black money. It wasn’t a slightly miscalculated act with good intentions either. It was a clearly motivated scheme to fill the pockets of giant financial corporations, to wipe out indigenous agriculture but most of all, to gain control over the population. At this point, the BJP sympathizers are probably getting ready to burn me at the stake but I’m merely presenting facts and figures here. The conclusions can be drawn as you please.

Let’s start with some simple math. If we circulate a 100 rupee note a million times, it will still have only the value of a 100 rupee note. Now let’s say this note is instead circulated 1 million times through electronic means, say paytm or online bank transfers etc. For each transaction, the financial corporate that you’re using to carry it out gets a commission of around 2.5%, i.e. for a million transactions of a 100 rupee note, the corporates make 25,000 rupees. Apparently, the corporates have been missing out on trillions of dollars worth of transaction commissions because of the fact that the majority of the Indian population deals with hard cash. I hope you got the math.

Next, you might be wondering what in the world demonetization has to do with agriculture. This is what happens when we never pay heed to our farmers. If you notice the date of the announcement, it was just after the crop harvesting season in most parts of the country. Farmers had reaped their hard work and had bundles upon bundles of crops to sell to traders. Do you think the average farmer walks around with a credit card swiper? When the announcement came around, the traders had no cash to pay the farmers with, leaving their crops rotting and no one to sell it to. 250,000 farmers have committed suicide across the country last year. But why would a government destroy their food source, you ask? Because giant conglomerates like Monsanto and Cargill are waiting to pounce on the abundant fertile land that our country has to offer. They want to sell their genetically modified crops to farmers, which will require the farmers to buy their pesticides and herbicides in order for those crops to grow. Ultimately, the richest of the rich want to rob the poorest of the poor. The American conglomerates aren’t happy sucking the soul out of American farming, they’re bringing their Dementor’s kiss to developing nations too. Is this just greed or is it pure evil? I don’t see the distinction anymore.

Finally, control. That should be self-explanatory. No cash forces everyone to transact online. Thus allowing THEM to track your every move. But why? Because targeted marketing. Oh look, you just bought diapers online. So now the government knows that you are a parent and suddenly you’ll see all your pop-up ads showing you baby products and diapers advertised by cute white babies. They’ll know where you live, who you pay money to and who gives you money, where you eat and when and what and how likely it is for foodpanda to make a profit off of you. They’ll know everything. They’ve covered the countries with lesser population than ours and with more technologically inclined citizens but now they’ve reared their fat ugly faces at the third world. The politicians are easy to bribe and the land is vast and bursting with resources. It’s like stealing candy from a baby.

By the time people have realized this, it will obviously be too late. We’re all going down, sink, line and hooker. Russia might just be our last hope.