Monday, January 5, 2015


View from my window. Graphite, Collage.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

The things that I wanted most happened to me last year when I least expected it, when I was occupied doing other things, like doing what I loved and enjoying life. I achieved a kind of professional success I never imagined would happen to me - fantastic assignments, great fees and a sale of paintings which astonished me. But before I could let it sink in, it was time to leave, to new adventures and onto something that I had planned and worked so hard upon for the last four years and wanted so much for the last twenty.

When you return from studying abroad back to India or when you move to a foreign country from Indian shores, there are always high expectations of you. The underlying expectation is always variation of the same presumption and always unimaginative – you have to become an instant success immediately. The word success is always defined by one thing alone – money, or the appearance of having some. The resulting anxiety created when you are in your twenties and thirties is enormous, a façade has to be created for the approval of the community lest you be ignored and discarded, if you don’t flaunt yourself instantly and continuously, professionally and personally you are quickly assumed a failure, the times become strange, empty and anxious, nobody waits for roots to sink in or branches to spread.

I came to Canada at a time when I have the right mindset to face the challenges of being an immigrant alone in a foreign city. In the last six-months I have thankfully manifested no headline-grabbing success. Instead, I experience each day as it comes and spend my time learning, integrating and absorbing. I am trying to fit in pieces of a puzzle to make a complete picture, but I am discovering that with each piece I search for and fix into place, the picture constantly changes and takes a life of its own. I have to accept that and follow it through to see where it leads me. The act of creating this picture was once a vision in the distant future. It is now the task of the present.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


A less bleak post for my rather neglected blog - Handmade cards to be given to people I don't particularly know very well, but who have been very kind to me. Making a card is probably a more appropriate gesture of thanks than going to a fancy shop and spending 5 bucks on something trite. And Monochrome on white is most suitable. It is the combination I love best and it is what I see all around me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rapid Changes

Five months. Lush green tropical summer, rich golden red autumn, bleached out bare grey branches,white of full-blown winter... the contrasts are shocking, the dramatic changes of light and colour play tricks on a tropical brain, I am hallucinating, everything shimmers, I am underwater.

White people turn colourless in winter, their skin completely desaturates, transparent, bloodless, I walk through a city full of ghosts. The sidewalks are piled high with melted sugar.Black flowers grow in them.

This is what I see in films, art films where everyone is talking animatedly and eating plates full of salad before wearing dark coats and walking out into the cold searching for lost love. 

I have to tell myself over and over that this life around me is not film but reality, a tangible reality which I am within and part of...but the darkness around me says otherwise, I am inside a cinema theater, I am an observer watching my life in a story on screen. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Winter is a strange dream, monochromatic, abstract, bleached of all inessentials. Unusual images, alternate textures, pieced together on white paper. It is dark at noon and snowflakes fall. Flurries. Oh, the utter absolute frightening beauty of it all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Congregation

Once upon a time, long ago in another world, I used to go to a place of worship. Sometimes I would be asked to read from the Holy Book. When I stood at the lectern, ready to read, I would glance up for a moment at the faces before me, and this drawing above is what I saw.What terrified me was that once I finished reading from the Holy Book, I had to step down, walk towards this congregation and be a part of them.

I have done this drawing with giant sticks of Senelier Oil pastel. They provide a kind of knobbly resistance when used on Moleskine sketchbook paper giving a strange crude texture which is appropriate for this image. 

Monday, November 3, 2014


Crowded cafes, beautiful people, green hair, red cups, I set time backward...I am turning the pages of a glossy magazine I am inside photographs watching unreality around me. Shops sell diamond salt from the mines of Kashmir, there is a Papier-mâché table before me, black chandelier above me, person in front of me eating a donut, he dissolves into an artist in Mont Royal eating pumpkin cheesecake who crumbles into an architect from Mile End drinking cappuccino, they have silver hair, their faces are paper white, they wear coal black, they look alike and multiply...then their faces melt, like pumpkins after Halloween, there is a deer skull on the shelf.

Autumn. Flowers like my dreams at night retain their structure, the desaturation button moves slowly, slowly to the left.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Mushroom Hunter

The thoughtful amongst you might think that this serene picture is one of a poet out for a walk in the woods in search of inspiration, at one with nature, in touch with his inner soul. But think again discerning readers, look again! This picture has a far more chilling undercurrent to it than what seems apparent on its warm, dappled surface; clutch your hearts and hold your breath, this here is a picture of a hunter, the most lethal of them all – A Mushroom Hunter.
Before I detect the slightest smirk on your faces allow me make my point. Hunters of wild beasts saunter around the jungle with large guns and upon sighting prey in the distance, merely lift their guns and pull a trigger, BANG, the prey staggers and dies, the hunter walks up to the bloody carcass, takes a selfie with her foot on the body, drags it over to the jeep and drives away. Yawn. Anybody can do that. It is The Mushroom Hunter who is far more dangerous. One moment he is merrily driving along peaceful country roads chatting about graphic novels and ground coffee and the next moment he screeches the car to a halt much to the surprise and consternation of his passengers, “Good heavens! Is something wrong? Why did he stop?” And that is the instant when you see a Mushroom Hunter in action. He darts across the road to an empty field, unsheaths his sharp, special mushroom dagger, swoops down with a yowl of delight on helpless, quivering little shaggymane mushrooms huddled together, swiftly chops off their heads and places them in his trophy basket. If that isn't chilling enough there’s more mind you! A mere walk in autumn woods is fraught with action. You might have had a meditative stroll in mind, that moment of getting in touch with your Shakti that your Guru so recommended, that you were so eager to experience, you are admiring the colors of the trillion, zillion autumn leaves on the forest floor, you are just about to attain nirvana through peace and happiness when the Mushroom Hunter screeches to a halt before you and plunges his dagger into gazillion leaves on the ground and comes up with a teeny weeny quivering mushroom which he is ecstatic about and which he holds aloft before your bewildered eyes. “See? See!” And then as you sit trembling in recovery at the dining table, these mushrooms are fried in butter and brought before you to be eaten. No blood and gore of animal killers mind you, just swift, lethal, ruthless decapitation and dinner. Takes nerve to be the guest of A Mushroom Hunter I tell you. Phew!

And yes, well, here is the photograph of one of them.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


A weekend with friends in Sutton
A constant downpour of nature
An endless overflow of all of life’s good things
How does one process so much beauty?
How can one truly give thanks for this much blessing?
I am not yet ready to know how to make my palette
retell this abundance of new colors and emotions.

A beautiful blog >

Thursday, September 18, 2014


‘You look well-settled’ is the phrase I hear most often for the pictures I post on Facebook. There are others, less gullible, more curious, who want to know what the immigrant experience is really like. To give the right answers, I can perhaps do best with drawing out the series of images that keep recurring in my mind. These days my experiences are images and emotions which I know will fall apart completely if described in words. Maybe these drawings will become proper complete works one day, but for now, they are within the pages of a sketchbook, a visual record of a slow careful transition from one world into another, where every decision has to be weighed carefully before it is acted on; putting down roots takes time, the past has wiped itself out, the future is hazy, my goal is clear.

"You will find your own ethical dilemmas in all parts of your lives, both personal and professional. We all have different desires and needs, but if we don’t discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled. Sooner or later, we are all asked to compromise ourselves and the things we care about. We define ourselves by our actions. With each decision, we tell ourselves and the world who we are. Think about what you want out of this life, and recognize that there are many kinds of success."
 ~ Bill Watterson

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Long ago I watched an Antony Bourdain show where he was invited into the home of an Inuit family in a remote part of Greenland in Quebec, Canada. They killed a fresh seal, brought it home, gutted the seal on the floor and proceeded to eat the innards of the seal. Then the host reverentially handed over the seal’s  eyeball to Bourdain who partook of it. The raw seal eyeball was delicacy, the best part of the seal. It was given to the guest as a gesture of friendship. The point was not so much in whether Bourdain ‘liked’ the eyeball or not but that he accepted that gesture. The offer of the delicacy and its acceptance was a bridge across cultures, a symbol of respect and friendship.
Here in Montreal, a lovely couple invited me, a newcomer, to their beautiful home. The hostess had earlier been to Marche Jean Talon and procured fresh food for the meal. She had also thoughtfully bought for me a particular food that I had once mentioned I had never eaten before. There on the balcony, in the soft evening light, over wine and beer, she placed plates of this food in front of us and showed me the unusual way of eating it. When I thought I’d finished eating I was told that within the remnants lay the best part of all – the heart. Then my host took my plate, helpfully cut up the core, speared something on a fork and handed it over to me.
“Here it is” he said, “Here is the heart”.
At that moment I remembered Antony Bourdain being given the seal's bloody eyeball. Because I was in Montreal I was given to eat an unusual flower with a heart in the centre, in another country erm, part of Quebec, I would have been offered something quite different. But whatever it was that was offered to me that evening, it was a beautiful gesture of friendship, a bridge between cultures and an invitation into a different world.

An excellent blog by a Montrealer >

Thursday, August 21, 2014


 ‘How do you say your name?’ they asked, looking at me curiously,
‘Is it Prr eye ya?’
‘It is Priya’ I said
Pwwrrrreeeya!’ they gasped delightedly, ‘Pwwwrrrreeeya!’

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Leap

Everything works the reverse  in this strange and friendly land. I feel like I am surfacing from underwater. On the 3rd day, I stood in front of Place des Arts and watched the inhabitants, unusual faces, different clothes, other colours, smoother sounds. From the glass reflection in the building, a giant inflated octopus waved at me in reverse. Large spheres from Bubble Tea that I was drinking descended down my throat. I am not a tourist, I am not an overseas student, I am a Montrealer now. A brand new one.
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