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Updated on Apr' 04
Sketches from >>

The Indian South 1
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The Indian South 2
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Other Sketches

Sketches from my travels to the Indian South - Dec'03 to Jan'04, page 1


The dried pond and the temple of Lord Shiva

Kolkata was becoming insanely oppressive. The pollution, the noise, the daily assault on visual sensitivity puts your senses on the razor's edge. Some artists derive inspiration from such an existence, but I love my city-of-ceaseless-construction-activity too much to draw creative comfort from such a milieu. Like an escapist who cannot bear to see his dearest ones suffer, I often yearn to take flight, to remove myself to some remoteness where even the briefest thought of kolkata will not bother me. This is irresponsible, I agree, and I have done my little bit to pacify my conscience - engineered an environmental movement in my immediate neighbourhood. But I cannot be on a constant watch against this overwhelming tide of decline. In order to create, I need to rest once in a while. Kerala, and the contiguous South of India came to my rescue!

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The aeroplane dipped its left wing. I looked outside and gasped! This is not a travelogue. I am not going to recount in detail the wheres/hows/whats of Kerala, like you find in travel brochures. This section, and the sketches contained herein, are accounts of an artist's creative experiences against the backdrop of a small part of southern India. If at all, I will describe the colors!

The Trivandrum(Thiruvantapuram - capital of Kerala) airport was still not in sight. The turquoise waters of the Arabian sea lovingly lapped against the gold-ochre sands of Kerala. Tiny white-crested waves described this gentle motion as they bubbled forward and died on the beach. The sea moved back and forth, leaving behind irregular greyish white cresents of surf on the sand. I could see fishermen in their long wooden boats. I could see colorful beach umbrellas. I looked further inland and an amazing spectacle greeted me. I come from Bengal, a land known for its coconut trees. Yet this was something I had never seen - a vast olive-emerald forest stretching far beyond the limits of visibility, into a fuzzy horizon of grey-blue clouds and rolling deccan undulations.

In a lazy, lazy loop that initially took the plane westwards over the Arabian sea, we crossed the thin sandy strip and entered the capital city's sky. Here we were, smack over Trivandrum, a thoroughly modern city with a vibrant hi-tech culture, yet I could hardly see buildings or roads - so dense was the canopy of coconut trees. It looked as if there was a pattern in this olive ocean, for the trees were planted in regular rows. From the top, individual trees appeared star-like with the leaves radiating from the central hub. I had never, ever seen such a galaxy of green "stars"! Almost instinctively, an inner voice blurted out - "God's own country!"

Now I was getting worried. The aircraft was definitely on a descent, and the coconut crowd was surging upwards - alarmingly fast! I could see an occasional flash from a television dish poking its silvery spread through the green canopy. In the distance, I could even see a somnolent white crane break into a startled flap. But what I could not see, especially now that the motion blurred coconut leaves were nearly grazing my fingertips(well, nearly...), was the sight of a viable landing strip! But the Captain, a lady with a reassuring stacatto accent obviously knew better. Suddenly the coconut forest vanished and the tarmac appeared below us. The wheels touched down with an insignificant jarr. I have come to Kerala!

Please note :

The sequential arrangement of paintings/sketches in this section does not reflect the sequence in which I visited different places. The arrangement is arbitrary, and follows a whimsical sequence. If you wish to see a chronological sequence, please click this link.

You may also like to visit other new sketches, unrelated to my travel to the South and included in this Apr '04 update.

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<< Temple in a pond - 14.5" x 10.5" / Acrylic on Paper

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Kanyakumari >>
14.5" x 10.5" / Acrylic on Paper

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<< Kanyakumari - detail 1(The church) - Acrylic on Paper

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Kanyakumari - detail 2(The beach) >>
Acrylic on Paper

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<< Kanyakumari - 1.30 AM - 11" x 8" / Charcoal pencil on Paper

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Kodaikanal - the stump >>
10.5" x 14.5" / Acrylic on Paper

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<< Dawn at Vivekananda Rock (Kanyakumari) - 11" x 8" / Dry Conte on Paper

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Dida at Trivandrum >>
8 " x 11" / Pen and Ink on Paper

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<< Tourist from Kolkata (Kerala backwaters) - 11" x 8" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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Chinese fishing net (Kerala backwaters) >>
11" x 8" / Dry Conte on Paper

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<< Overtaking the House Boat (backwaters) - 11" x 4" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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Sanyasi at Kanyakumari
(Holy man)
>>
7 " x 8" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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<< Tourist on Boat (backwaters) - 11" x 8" / Graphite on Paper

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Tourist on boat 2
(backwaters) >>
7 " x 8" / Graphite on Paper

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<< Bathing on the Backwater Ghat - As our boat chugged closer, she quickly gathered her wet clothes over her chest, turned, and left the water. I was a trifle embarrassed at this intrusion of her privacy(felt like a voyeur!) but sketched nonetheless and furiously, trying to record this beautiful moment. The european tourists on board were equally unrepentant and clicked merrily, cameras competing with pencil. Near actual size / Graphite on Paper.

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Mamu's at Trivandrum >>
11" x 8" / Pen & Ink on Paper

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<< Passengers IN the Boat (backwaters) - 4" x 8" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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Japanese tourist and
Chinese fishing net
(backwaters) >>
11" x 6" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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<< Waves against boulders (Kanyakumarika) - 8" x 5.5" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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Fishing in the backwaters >>
4" x 8" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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<< Durga in the Drawing room (Kodaikanal) - 8 " x 11" / Dry conte and Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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