Undone

Come undone for me
Don’t tell me that you sing
sing me your loudest secrets
your softest pieces

Come undone for me
Don’t tell me that you dance
dance me your stories
dance them one by one

Come undone for me
Don’t tell me that you paint
paint me your mind’s sunrise
and your heart’s sunset

Come undone for me
Don’t tell me that you cook
cook me your fondest memories
your mother’s best, your father’s first

Come undone for me
Don’t tell me that you think
tell me things that make me think
tell me riddles, put my mind in a maze

Come undone for me
Don’t tell me that you sin
Rid me of my qualms
Rip me apart and sway me

Come undone for me
as I undo
the threads
of my soul

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Unsocial Media

You give your mind to influencers

you weigh your worth in follows

you sing for your unsung heroes

and for those caught in the throes

of choosing between selling art

and artfully selling.

You see them turning the corner

seeking the fame bubble

whilst around them

the earth turns to rubble.

You join the stage

crying for the spotlight

in their popularity theatre

are you any better?

And when reality hits you

like a meteorite sent from above

will you be able to leave

the billion shadows

the million stories

the thousand uploads

the hundred likes

the ten pings

the fake you?

 

 

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.

Part 1: Prelude

This is the first part of a three-part goodbye to Goa, a place I have come to love like my own flesh and blood. This is the beginning of the end.

I could never imagine myself settling in India. In terms of nature, I come from a beautiful state but the society there is a mound of hypocrisy, misogyny and overall narrow-mindedness. I hated the people, especially the older generation, to a point where escape was the only option. I went to Surat for college; ‘in no way am I going to Calicut, ma, it’s in this damned state where every old lady on the road treats you like a criminal for wearing jeans or looking like anyone but herself’. Surat is a city; it’s close to Bombay (where like-minded folk and a good enough art and literature scene exists) and it’s in Gujarat and thus, my mother won’t have to spend sleepless nights fearing about my safety (Gujju men are of the more decent lot as I have come to realize). Alas, the list comes to an end there. There is not much else about the place. The highways and malls are aplenty, as are the industrial and commercial areas. It is a city with a soul so artificial that sometimes I feel like I’m living in a jiant botox job of some sort.
Singapore had a soul; growing up there, I knew all the little nuances and quirks of the place. The people had a collectiveness about them, something that felt like home for me but didn’t quite hit the spot. The makciks (old ladies) were either sweet or the kind that will give you an earful for not standing in the queue properly (yes, it’s true what they say about people of The Little Red Dot and queues). That was nice because they were straightforward about it; you knew whether to love or hate them from the onset, unlike in Kerala where they get tartly sweet at first and then show their true colors later on. For me, a place is only livable if I can put up with the old ladies of that society. I think the old ladies are what characterize a society; their vibes are in tune with those of the land they grew up in. If you don’t like them, you probably would not like the land either. Leaving Singapore was very hard. It was my childhood, my adolescence; I learned how to run, tumble, cycle, fall, swim, dive, dance, play piano and survive school there. It was the only place I had known, if not inside out, at least for long enough to fall in love with it in the way you love your parents partly because you have to and partly because you realize how amazing they are and what they’ve given you.
Then the internship. ‘An internship in Goa! Work hard, party harder,’ was the advice everyone gave me and because of the stereotype I had of it, that was what I had in mind too. I will never stereotype a place again (side note: to all my friends who think Gujarat is filled with cow-worshippers and obnoxious Modi-lovers, it’s not. Stop stereotyping). Goa was not what I had imagined it to be, a seaside tourist spot riddled with booze and drug problems. I’m not a party person at all so although the internship sounded good, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about all the ‘trippy shit’ my friends were raving about. Little did I know that this was just one side of the story. After all, it was just an internship; two months of sitting at computers and ‘researching’ and then back to life, right? I was never prepared for the journey I’d be taken on.

Goa is so much more than a destination; Goa is a way of life.

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To the one I left him for

When the heavy monsoon rain sets in, I like to seat myself at the piano and play Orage by Liszt. It means ‘storm’. It’s dark, the skies are gray and the song is as violent as Mother Nature’s downpour; but I can feel a warmth wrapping gently around me, because I know I’m inside, sheltered from it all. I love the rain, but what I love more is the fact that I’m shrouded by the embrace of the air in the room, able to observe the beauty of the fleeting raindrops without having to feel the cold and damp.

You are the room, he is the rain.

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Fort Aguada, Goa