Saturday, January 21, 2017

Printmaking at a Studio in Kalighat

So thanks again to the kindness of my Kolkata host Dithi, who had a knack of reading my mind and knowing exactly what interested me, I got to do printmaking at Kalighat, at the fourth floor studio of her teacher Ramen Kastha.
I did the drawing for this etching no doubt, but he did all the hard work of putting the various chemicals and then operating that heavy printing machine while I watched on owl eyed with amazement at the complex and intriguing process that goes into the making of a print. These are the works that emerged and I am thrilled to bits with them. 
Thank you Dithi and Ramen Kastha.

You can buy this print in my shop here >>

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Sweet Shop Man

In the first photograph, Dithi Mukherjee photographs the sweet shop man at Kalighat. Notice the calm confidence with which he poses for her, see how he looks directly at the camera. 

The last picture above is taken by Dithi. Each time I see the picture, I have to pause for a moment to admire this man's serenity and contentment.

The Time Of My Life - Kalighat

When I said I was visiting Kolkata as the guest of DithiMukherjee, a friend of mine said: If you have Dithi to show you around Kolkata, what more could you ask for? And indeed I am not exaggerating when I say that for so many of us here in the South of India, Dithi epitomizes Kolkata. It is from her blog that I learnt everything about the great city, its Gods and Bengali culture. 

When I drew this picture of Kali above in 2012, from one of Dithi's photographs, I wished I could see Kolkata in real through Dithi’s eyes and experience all that inspired her so. Then one day that dream came true when she quite simply read my mind and intuitively led me towards all that I wanted to experience with her characteristic warmth, enthusiasm, generosity and love. We had a lot of fun and we were in sync. I was shown contrasts and nuances, colonial past and colorful present, I was made to taste the best of foods in the most unusual of places and my sweet tooth was pampered and indulged like never before. 
They say people who love to eat are the best people and whoever said that was most definitely talking about Bengalis! Get two Bengalis together and tell them I am a visitor, they will get into a heated debate on the best places to take me and what to feed me. I totally understand their passion now and I can only look back on my stay in Kolkata with the happiest of memories thanks to my lovely Bengali host.

These are some of Dithi’s beautiful paintings. You can see what I mean when I say that this is the essence of Kolkata.

Both images top and bottom courtesy of Dithi Mukherjee

It was from images like those above that I learned about a place called Kalighat; not a village outside the city as I once thought, but in the city itself. On my first evening, I was taken there for that unforgettable  magical walk through the streets of Kalighat at night and I visited there again the next morning. While I was not gasping at everything around me, I actually managed some images. Here are the better ones, but they are only a shallow reflection of the actual experience -

Sweet shops everywhere selling offering to the Goddess Kali

I was taken inside the temple to see the Goddess

Devotees queue up outside the temple

Life in the surroundings

Everyone knows that beautiful red and green house in Kalighat

My very first kulhad chai. The kulhad smelled of the fresh earth with which it was made. The chai was excellent. 

A ride back home in an old yellow Amby! It was a bit like sitting inside a World War II tank as it trundled through Kolkata roads, but it reminded me of childhood and the only car many of us knew then and who would have thought there were so many of those still around? This too is part of the Kolkata experience.

My favourite picture of Dithi and me :)

I feel this blog post does not do justice to my experiences in Kalighat, there was so much more, much much more which I am quite simply unable to express effectively.That is how saturated I am by the memories. I know something will eventually manifest themselves in paintings and illustrations, they always do, but until then and since I am totally and utterly shameless, I am adding below a few links to some posts in Artnlight where Vineeta documents her experiences of Kolkata and Kalighat so beautifully through her pictures and words. Do pause to take a look -

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Here is what I know about the realm of possibility – it is always expanding, it is never what you think it is. Everything around us was once deemed impossible, from the airplane overhead to the phones in our pockets to the choirgirl putting her arm around the metalhead. As hard as it is for us to see sometimes, we all exist within the realm of possibility. Most of the limits are of our own world’s devising. And yet everyday we each do so many things that were once impossible to us.

~ Excerpt from The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

Friday, January 6, 2017