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Updated on Apr' 04
Sketches from >>

The Indian South 1
The Indian South 2 >
plus Other Sketches

Sketches from my travels to the Indian South - Dec'03 to Jan'04, page 2


Old man of the backwaters

Kerala, Kollam, Kanyakumarika, Kodaikanal...an endless list of wonderful "K" initialed memories! My pencil/charcoal/brush literally flew across the sketchpad - faster than the shutter of the little automatic camera I carried. I am not trained in an art college. I do not have an extensive experience of sitting in public places and drawing. I tend to shy away from being a public spectacle - people invariably gather around you when sketching outdoors. But here, I forgot all my inhibitions. In fact the crowd enhanced my focus - be it on a boat down the backwaters of Kerala, the busy beach of Kanyakumari, on the extensive courtyards of the Vivekananda Temple, or on the road from Kodai to Madurai. I think what helped me more was an unfamiliarity with their language. I had once been to the Kolkata Zoo to sketch elephants. The flurry of comments that flew thick and fast from a quickly gathering crowd made me feel like an inmate of the zoo itself. Here I could not understand what they said. The ligiustic fuzz had a warm and comforting effect. Also, the people here are much more polite and less intrusive.

Sitting on a boulder by the sea at Kanyakumari, I watched the sun descend into the Arabian Sea. This was the southernmost tip of India, and in the state of Tamil Nadu. To my left and eastwards lay the southermost waters of the Bay of Bengal. To my right, and in the west - the Arabian sea. Facing me, towards south, the Indian Ocean stretched into a grey horizon. On a bright day one could actually make out the different colors of the three different bodies of water - this is what they say! well, if you ask me, what makes them different is the cartographers convenience. As far as I am concerned, this is the place where the peninsular tip of india juts into the surrounding ocean.

But I was most affected by the thought of what lay behind me, towards north. I was facing the heaving Indian Ocean. Behind me I could imagine the shoreline diverging, diverging beyond the scope of my vision and extending right into the Asian mainland, continuing invisibly to meet the Himalayas. The land within this "V", - largely flat apart from the weatherworn 65 million year old deccan undulations and crisscrossed by many mighty rivers, contained a most amazingly diverse mass of humanity! Staring at the dark green waves as they lashed against the boulders, the latter errily glistening (like a pixelated computer image, or a Vermeer painting) in the orange rays of the setting sun, I could almost perceive this breathing, heaving, enormously vibrant and colorful mass of indians going about their daily business, their tragedies and their ecstasies, the mundane and the extraordinary in their lives. Sounds clichéd, but this did raise the hackles of my neck! The cultural weight of that billion people "behind" me, and the ancient Bharatvarsha they inhabit!

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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<< Train from Madurai - 8" x 11" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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Tourists on boat >>
8" x 6.5" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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<< Kanyakumari - waves of the Arabian Sea - 11" x 8" / Dry Conte on Paper

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The Southern tip of India >>
8" x 11" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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<< On the roof of the boat (backwaters) - 11" x 8" / Graphite on Paper

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Boats in the Backwater >>
5.5" x 8" / Graphite on Paper

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<< Resting boats (backwaters) - 11" x 6 " / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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The Gift >>
This is a scan of a color xerox. The original was 14.5 " x 10.5" / Acrylic on Paper

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<< Old man standing at the door (backwaters) - 4" x 4" / Graphite on Paper

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Boat on the banks (backwaters) >>
5.5 " x 3" / Graphite on Paper

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<< Girl by the tree (backwaters) - 4.5" x 8" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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Temple on the Rock (Kanyakumari) >>
10 " x 8" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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<< Old man watching a tire change (on the murderous Madurai-Kodaikanal Road) - 6" x 8" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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The Hanuman God (Kodaikanal) >>
8" x 11" / Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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<< The Rotating Horse of Kodaikanal - Strange beast! I was trying my best to draw her from the front, but she would keep turning away, putting her ample rump in my line of vision. All the while she kept a wary watch on me, eyeball stuck firmly to the corner of the left eye. I compensated by moving with her, ending up with this side-on sketch. - 11" x 8" / Graphite on Paper

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The Kodai Trees of winter >>
8" x 11" / Pen & Ink on Paper

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<< The crescentic beach of Kovalam - 8" x 11" / Soft Charcoal Pencil on Paper

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The Steps of Kodaikanal >>
8" x 11" / Graphite on Paper

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<< The grey-white 'back'water bird - actual size / Graphite on Paper

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The girl and the boat (backwaters) >>
8 " x 5.5" / Graphite on Paper

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