Monday, August 24, 2015


There are few experiences nicer in this world than receiving thoughtful gifts, especially if they are what you'd always wanted and they are given to you with love.

1)Beautiful deckle edged paper posted to me from across the world  by a lovely, thoughtful former flatmate. I love that it is wrapped in red, my favorite colour.

2)When I admired a beautiful red cup at a friend's place in Toronto, she bought a similar one for me as a farewell gift.

3) A teeth clenchingly expensive but utterly gorgeous red sketchbook that I had silently admired at a store in Montreal.A few days before I left, a surprise package arrived and in it was the very sketchbook I wanted.


Saturday, August 22, 2015


My birthday this year could not be more different from the one the year before. Last year I drew in my sketchbook, there was a Plum tree in front of me, I was in a strange land. That evening I dined with a friend at her home and ate my first artichoke, a rather strange flower that I’d never eaten before. I was halfway around the world, far away from all that was familiar, uncertain and wondering where my choice would take me.

This year I am home.  I have received my things, am unpacking them and setting up my studio once more, bringing a goal I worked at for four years to a full circle or spiral as I prefer to say.But when I pause and reflect, I cannot help thinking what a year it has been, clashing contrasts of seasons, bizarre adventures, strange encounters, unbelievably wonderful friendships, horrifying uncertainties, bone-chilling winters, springtime forests and a steady, certain journey back home, back to being myself, back to my studio and back to doing all that I love most.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What is it Like?

Being a new immigrant feels like a fish being compelled to ride a bicycle, in other words, you have to completely discard your identity and assume a new one and that is something which feels grotesque and unnatural, much like what the illustration portrays. My friends will vouch that throughout my entire stay in Canada the expression on my face was exactly like that of the fish on the bicycle. 

No country can give you everything that you want. If in one country you finally had the hard won life you created for yourself, centered on what you value most, another country might have eventually given me the quiet and dignity that I desired. However in my case, it seemed to be at the expense of all that I had striven for till now. ‘What do I value more?’ was the question that I asked myself frequently in the midst of my immigrant dilemma. The longer I stayed on searching for something which I began to suspect did not exist, the further away I kept moving from the path that led to all that I held close to my heart. The consequence was great unhappiness and an acute loss of confidence. Whichever part of the world you live in, the truth is what an illustrator who has also been through it all once told me – “The only happy place is inside our heads, when we are drawing and being kind...”

Sunday, August 9, 2015

An Elephant in Sutton

As regular blog readers know by now, the biggest highlight of my stay in Canada was meeting and befriending The Mushroom Hunter and his girlfriend, my very first Quebecoise friend, The Green Tea Drinker. Their lifestyle was unusual and beautiful and I felt blessed to be invited and shown a glimpse of that in real life. Now when I am on the other side of the world, I continue to be charmed by them in their letters and pictures to me and none more so than the last letter showing the creation of a work of art they made for me their Indian visitor. I publish an extract of the letter and photographs with their kind permission here -

Hi Priya,
Here is my long overdue email.
As I had expected, this year is a truly exceptional one for chanterelles. I have already made a provision of frozen bags for the winter, and the chanterelle season still goes on for another month! I am in paradise!
This is a picture of the first bolet of the summer… right in front of my house!

At the end of a usual hunting day in July (these are all chanterelles, also known as giroles) :

After I’ve picked them, I clean them, I slice them…
And then I cook them . the mushroom in the oven are bolets that have been dried in a dehydrator : the last step before putting dried mushrooms in a jar is to shove them in the oven at low temperature for 5 minutes, in order to remove all remaining moisture.

Finally, here is a very nice specimen of a “russule charbonni√®re”, which we have eaten in an omelette the very next day

Last week, I also picked some delicious black raspberry with my hat

As for “something Indian in the garden”, there where complications. As you will discovered momentarily, this was supposed to be a “living sculpture”. We’ve been growing beans and vine on it for two months now, but… We had several incidents. First, the beans we planted were too old and did not grow. The new ones were growing well, so much so that our groundhog in residence, Lady Gaga, took notice and took a bite… and another… and another. So we took action and put a protective net all around the structure to make it Lady Gaga’s proof. After that, everything seemed to be coming along nicely… until the dreadful Night of the Deer… The beast, coming from nowhere, devoured almost completely all the plants on one side of the structure. So, again, we installed more protective nets in the hope to save whatever remained. And then came the beetles. These little scoundrels ate and are still eating our vine…  So, in a nutshell, the structure which was supposed to be entirely covered with living stuff by now, has been stripped down time and time again, leaving the following result, which I now present to you without further ado-
Can you guess what it is?  No?
OK, here’s a clue : it’s an animal.
OK, this animal lives in your country.
Still no idea?
OK, OK, how about this : one of your deities has its face?
Do you see it now?
By god sake, Priya, it’s a bloody elephant! Do you notice the familiar (and huge) silhouette? OK, now, do you see, right in the middle,  the big ear… and next to it, the tusk and the trunk? No? OK then, can we at least agree that it is vaguely reminiscent of an elephant? Yes? Good! Good! That’s what I was going for anyway… The vague is so in vogue nowadays, don’t you think?

Anyway, two things make this sculpture YOUR elephant :
~ the spirals all over its body, in reference to your beautiful post on the concept ofspirals;

your walking stick – the one you chose when we went hiking together – which is now part of the sculpture, but also removable, in case anyone needs it for a walking expedition. 

So in a sense, you are still here with us