Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Mighty Oak

Because I had read about Oak trees in books from my childhood, written by English authors, I had often wondered about The Mighty Oak and wished I could see one in real. Once, an acquaintance gave me an acorn for my seedpod collection where it remained one of my most prized possessions for a long time (yes, an acorn). So it was with awe and delight that I set my eyes on my first Oak ever somewhere at Westmount. The cold autumn air had freeze dried the leaves of this tree so that they'd slowly lost their color and yet retained their shape in this magnificent creation.

And the leaves! One has to admire them and press them and draw them -

Needless to say, I now have a hell of a lot of Canadian acorns in my collection :)

Quotation seen on a coffee mug:
'Every mighty Oak was once a nut that stood its ground'.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Indian Summer

Be still my beating heart, these great trees are prayers.
~ R.Tagore

In Montreal, there are always a few days during the chilly autumn season when the sun suddenly shines and everything becomes unseasonably warm. Montrealers get very excited about it. I remember their eyes shone when they divulged that this was called an 'Indian Summer'. I have to admit I was rather bewildered both by the term and the excitement, but in retrospect, I understand why. 

Here of course, the Indian summer is endless as a Montreal winter and the blooming trees are like a continuous, spectacular firework display, one after the other, splashing the skies with orange,purple, yellow, pink and now bright red. The same time the flowers bloom is when the old leaves fall and almost immediately new light green ones grow. Spring,summer and autumn are all rolled into one grand, continuous Indian summer in this part of the world.

Montrealers truly appreciate the small slice of beautiful, intense summer handed to them, and they appreciate even more, the tidbit of Indian summer rationed out during autumn.Here we Benglureans partake in a gigantic endless banquet for the senses every year. We are overindulged by nature. For me, it took just one year of denial to come back and hurl myself at this feast with renewed enthusiasm.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


If I could read 100 Years of Solitude over and over again for the rest of my life while endlessly drinking cold Chocolate I would consider myself the happiest, most fulfilled person on earth.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Dark and Smoldering Goodness

In the last six months, deadlines have started appearing simultaneously, two, three at a time. This makes me nervous. My hands shake, I lose things, I drink too much coffee... The giant hi-res digital scanning machine where I get my large work scanned is now churning out bad results. I am glad I have the camera and thankfully in this country, good light in any season is never a problem.

While returning from the Scan man, I stopped to buy some Chinese food. While waiting, I wandered into a shop next door which sold Organic food. They had with them, the chocolate I was searching for – Earth Loaf chocolate. And there was only one left in the fridge.

In Toronto, my flatmate introduced me to Chocosol. If there is the equivalent of pure gold in chocolate, it is this. It is excellent, dark, organic chocolate. No sugar, no additives. It is so good that just one piece is enough to give you your chocolate fix for the entire day. The Toronto flatmate was a generous woman who not only gave me some Chocosol chocolate as a parting gift but also took me to the Distillery district and to the SOMA chocolate shop over there. I could only marvel at the chocolate because it was very expensive. However I did treat myself to a cup of chocolate with hints of orange, pepper and spices, which needless to say was heaven itself on earth within that cup.

                        SOMA hot chocolate. Photo by Danielle

Here, Earthloaf chocolate is as good as Chocosol (I can’t believe I am saying that). It is as obscenely priced but it is value for money. The one I bought is studded with this strange fruit called Gondhoraj which lifts the flavor of the chocolate. It is so so so good.The commercial variety we get, even in the good brands like Lindt are essentially candy. We end up eating a lot of it because we don’t get the chocolate fix we are looking for and instead derive our high from the sugar content within it.

In that Organic goods shop I also bought some extra dark Palm Jaggery (Molasses). The extra dark variety is hard to find. It is usually available in temple towns in coastal areas and friends who actually procure it for me during their travels have been known to suddenly change their minds when it comes to parting with it. The jaggery's smooth, dark, muted sweetness is as good as the chocolate but in its own way. It tastes almost like chocolate fudge but better.It is of course very different from organic powdered jaggery. I tried some Palm jaggery in my coffee and the deep, complex sweetness that resulted was very good.

 Why I am eulogizing these things so much? Because I firmly believe that strong coffee, excellent quality chocolate and rich jaggery is fuel and sustenance to an illustrator. The good things you imbibe, flows out into the picture you make and lifts it above the ordinary. With so much dark goodness in my system, my hands have stopped shaking, the answers I wanted have emerged on paper, I breathe easily and I am happy. The taste of dark chocolate, Palm jaggery and coffee lingers on... 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Indian Witch Hunt

In spite of having put this up on Facebook where it got some 3000 hits and so many shares, one feels obliged to put up these pictures on the blog as well, since this is after all a platform for my work and there are a few regular readers I know who are not on Facebook.
The editor at Livemint sent me an email acknowledging that there were many, many queries and compliments for these illustrations. He certainly paired my style with the right story. The feedback actually encourages me to attempt a few more comics.Who would have thought that would happen?