Archive for the ‘Only in Mumbai’ Category

The Morning After*

I started this as a Tiny Tale. But Anish Vyavahare added a chapter to it making it a collaborative effort and a bigger story. That got up featured on Protagonize’s editor’s weekly picks. I’ve just added the third chapter. You can read just my two pieces independently or read the three-in-collaboration here. Comments awaited!

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His eyes open and he stares for a long minute. He’s surprised by his own surprise. It’s the same room that he has woken up in for the past four years, the bubbles on the corner of wall and ceiling as familiar to him as the plumbing woes that create them. His eyes flutter to his left foot, the direction, a book once told him, is where we look when we’re remembering the past. Then to the right, the direction of the future plans. He gives up and gets up, ignoring the protesting knots in his back.

And at once he realizes. He hasn’t been woken by the sunlight, most unwelcome to owners of east-facing bedroom windows. It’s the sound that has woken him up. Clattering on the tin parapet that the people below insisted on putting up last December. It’s raining.

He steps up to the window and waits for his eyes to adjust to the waking world. A few seconds pass before he realizes that it’s coming down so fast and heavy that the gray around is not his sleepiness but water, sheer water.

For the briefest second, he begins a smile, thinking the earliest conscious thought that occurs to a Mumbaiker during heavy rain. NO SCHOOL! But the smile stops before it reaches his cheek corners and he realizes there’s an investor meeting later in the day and an early morning chat with the boss to prepare. How’s he going to get to work in this downpour? He’d better carry an extra set of formal clothes, one part of his brain is already whizzing. And his hands reach for the side-drawer, groping in the musty darkness for the plastic shield for his mobilephone, lest he forget to carry it later. Survival first is the metropolitan mantra.

He should probably leave early to provide for any delays. There’ll be plenty – traffic jams, pedestrian snarls, late trains, buses negotiating puddles. As he leaves the room, his fingers brush the switch panel, turning on the light, turning off the fan and the mosquito repellent plug-in. Mid-automation, he swirls around. Even through the downpour, he can tell, the window opposite is shut. Funny. He could have sworn, it was open last night. Maybe she got up when it started raining and shut it. Maybe it was always shut. Maybe…

The doorbell rings and he rushes out of the room, all thoughts fleeing instantly. The monsoon is here and so is Monday.

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* A story about loneliness and companionship, about the weather and workaholism, about life in the city we call home.

Fiction: The Park*

A park separates them.

If it can be called a park, that is. A grassy patch chequered with muddy patches, that turn into puddles in the monsoon. The dogs like it anyhow. They keep him awake at night with their barking. Nobody seems to care at 2 in the a.m.

One such night is filled with little vapours of heat rising from under his neck each time he shifts, on the pillow. He sits up and puts his feet down on the floor. The ground is cool and the thought of sleeping there occurs to him. But he turns it aside. He’ll only wake up with aching muscles. A sudden buzzing in his ear reminds him of the reason he woke up. Getting up is surprisingly easy. He supposes he didn’t really fall asleep earlier. So he crosses the room to draw the mosquito net across the window. Small relief, that, the mosquitoes still get in mysteriously. He curses the puddles, the lazy gardener responsible for the park’s upkeep, the real estate agents for whom it’s a reason to hike up the flat’s prices.

His head hurts. The EMI is due in three days. He could put it on his credit card but then what will he shop with for the rest of the month? The incentive. One windfall that’ll take care of all his problems. But he’s having trouble even keeping up with so little sleep. And the worry keeps him awake nights. Not for the first time he wonders how different his life might have been if he hadn’t bought this flat.

A thin rivulet of sweat runs down the side of his forehead. In the heat, it is almost a relief to feel something cold. The ice of his impotence.

A sudden gust blows across his cheek and he slides back the mosquito net and leans out to catch it. It’s gone. Great, a grand welcome to more mosquitoes. But he doesn’t pull back. He’s past caring now.

When he finally looks up, hand on the window to slide it back into place, he stops. The city is never completely dark. The lights on the billboards, the neon sign flashing the name of the mall next door (another reason the real estate rates are so high) all contribute to little stray beams. Like leftovers thrown to the dogs, even the park is aglow in an imitation of moonlight. The dogs are scampering.

And he realizes that he looked up because of the sound. He squints into the darkness for the source. All around the park, ghostly black shapes tower, the other buildings that share the park. It’s like a crossword or a reverse of one. More black but a few white (and yellow) squares here and there. He looks at the familiar visions of other late-nighters. A fan is going in one while flickering images of a TV from another throw out strange reflections on the facing building. And in the building exactly opposite, a blue-white window frames a dark silhouette.

He can’t see much else around it. And because they’re exactly level, there’s no sight of the walls and shadows that fall on them. He doesn’t know anything about the flat or its occupant. They face each other, separated by the park.

He feels the need to avert his eyes immediately. It feels like the figure opposite is aware of him, knows he’s been watching. When he looks up, the figure hasn’t moved. So he stares back, defiantly. But the same uncomfortable feeling overcomes him. He turns away and sits down on his bed. But once he’s sitting, he can’t see the window. So he stands up again.

His stomach flutters and little beads of sweat form on his forehead, this time a different temperature. It’s a curious, forgotten feeling, this knowing that someone else is awake at the same time. It feels companionable.

The dogs start whining again and he grimaces. He feels like he could strangle the barking ones. If he only dared. Suddenly a shout rings out and he hears what sounds like splashing water. The figure across is holding up something that looks like a plastic mug. He starts laughing. It’s effective, he thinks. The dogs vanish almost instantly.

The black shape has the left arm placed on the hip, or perhaps on the windowsill. The other arm is crooked at an angle and seems to be saying hi to him. But it isn’t moving so he concludes that it is resting on a screen. Then, impulsively, he lifts up his hand and mirrors the pose.

The figure shifts almost immediately and turns to its left. In that flash, he can see it’s a woman or perhaps a girl. Her nose is sharp and ends in an equally defined chin. She turns again. Then she lifts up her right arm and reclaims her pose. It’s like she’s saying hi back.

When he returns to bed, the clock shows that it’s seven minutes since he got up. He turns around again. The figure has gone but the light is still on. The dogs won’t come back tonight, he thinks. He lies down and shuts his eyes. In a few minutes he’s fast asleep.

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* A story about neighbors and companionship in Mumbai.

Street Festival: Mumbai Ka King Kaun? – Wall Project, Sticker Wall, Board Games Bash, Pitto, Post-it Surprise, Letters, SuperHero Squad, Mad Fake Tea Party, Homemade Videos

After some exciting (and turbulent) experiences last year, here comes the baap of all community events – Mumbai ka King Kaun? (MKKK)

This event has been taking shape quite recently and is not owned by any one person or group. That’s why this post comes so late but I’m hoping it’s still time enough for whoever catches it today.

MKKK is a series of different community events happening across the city (okay, Mahim and Dadar). Since the originating idea was street art, wall-painting is still on at the blank walls of Tulsi Pipe Road in Mahim. Only this time, make sure to carry your own materials.

At other places, there are board games meets, street games, a cycling trip, funky writing events, a tea-party and some films. I’ve been receiving messages from different groups on the various activities that are happening today. So I’m going to be skipping around the locations, dabbling in a little of each and maybe snapping up some colourful images of the city having fun. Come join me!

These are the details of the initiative and each event as I received them:

The Wall Project- 3 Mumbai ka King Kaun

Remember this is not a mela or carnival with lots of people. This is all about you as an individual along with your friends and city people coming out in the open public space and doing good and yet crazy creative things. We all are here to participate so don’t wait to know who’s the organiser, committee members, event guys, or wall project guys. Simply come out and do what you feel like or attend the events and become part of them.

FAQs

– How do i participate in events?

By just being there. Whichever events you like, just show up. Join the
gang and have fun. There is no registration,no fees, forms, no stamps required.

– How do i know about the events?

Go to the Mumbai ka king kaun and check its wall posts. All the events
are listed there. Here is the link http://www.facebook.com/
/home.php?#!event.php?eid=122507234436149&ref=ts

– I don’t know anyone in these events

Thats why you should come. All the events are open for all.
you don’t need any pre permission, gate pass, or influence letter. Just
come and participate.

– Can i go to multiple events and how?

you can go to multiple events. More you attend, more fun.
You will have to take your vehicle or public transport to reach the
venue. How long this event will go on? Time mentioned on the individual events pages.

– Can i help? Can i bring in my friends family.

Yes please. By participating and being part of event as per theme and
adding ideas, surprises. All size and age groups r welcome. Bring your
family, friends etc.

HERE ARE LIST OF ALL FINAL EVENTS

– THE GREAT WALL OF MUMBAI -3

Type: Music/Arts – Exhibit
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 4:00pm – 8:30pm
Location: at TULSI PIPE ROAD, mahim
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=112649048778893&ref=mf

– STICKER WALL

Start Time: Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 5:30pm
End Time: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 11:30pm
Location: Carter’s Blue (the shawrma place)
Street: opposite Carter road Cafe coffee day, Bandra(W)
City/Town: Mumbai, India
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9822921861& v=app_2344061033&ref=ts#!/event.php?eid=122220381145094&ref=mf

– BOARD GAMES BASH: Picnic at the Park

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time:4:00pm – 8:00pm
Location:
Nilgiri Park, Bandra
Street:
Across From Coffee Bean, Linking Road
link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=119724104734785&ref=mf

– Pitto – Seven Stones (Lagori)
Type: Sports – Sporting Event

Date: Saturday, May 29, 2010
Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Location: Near Gurunanak Park, Off Turner road, Bandra west
link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=105707762808175&ref=mf

– Ideas for the City – Post it Note Surprise

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Bandra Bandstand Entrance
link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=127820343897029&ref=mf

– Write Letters, Sometimes

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Carter Road Amphitheatre
Link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=127018740644109&ref=mf

– THE SUPER HERO SQUAD: bring out your cycles and dress up like a
super hero

Type: Trips – Roadtrip

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Location: starting from tulsi pipe road
Link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=124802124206187&ref=mf

– Mad Fake Tea Party

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Location: Mumbai, Carter Road (Chess Tables Opp CCD)
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=124360884257969&ref=mf

– Street Festival of Homemade Videos
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Location: On the big painted wall outside Gonsalvez House (bandra Bazaar Road)
Link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=128030557209812&ref=mf

NOTE: DO’s & DON”Ts

1) this is not a competition event/ mela/ challenge/ or reality show. It is only for us to realize our public spaces and use them respectfully, sensitively.

2) Please don’t indulge in political, religious, advertising, commercial, or promotional ideas.
Wall project or BMC will not be responsible or support any such initiative.

3) No banners, No hoardings, No leaflets, promotional material or sale.

4) Don’t create obstacles for the city in terms of noise, traffic etc. If you feel a crowd building around you best is to leave the place.

5) This is not a protest for any thing going wrong around us. This is purely an initiative to get the city people to come together and know each other and get involved in ideas to make the city space better or at least use it responsibly while having fun.

6) the event ideas belong to individuals and groups & and no Illegal activities will be entertained nor will it be the responsibility of the Wall Project/BMC

7) This event is a part of The Wall Project with BMC, along with many other similar small public events on the same day. For other events stay tuned on wall project facebook group.
LINK: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=122507234436149&index=1#!/group.php?gid=9822921861&ref=ts

if any question email us at – info@thewallproject.com

Retail Therapy

Today, I accompanied E Vestigio across the city. When I say across, I mean literally across. In the space of 6 hours, I’ve passed dug-up roads, flyovers, under-rail subways, main roads, a highway, bylanes and market roads. I’ve been inside a mall, foodcourt, chain store branches, thronged a bazaar, hunted down an inner-lane shop and bargained with roadside vendors. We started at Oberoi Mall, Goregaon East and worked our way south-westward ending at Santacruz station market.

Now ostensibly, today’s trip was her agenda, with routes, destinations and shopping lists laid out in careful detail. So how is it that I find I’m now in possession of three new handbags, two pairs of sandals, a ring, a bangle, an almost tee-shirt (returned for reasons we won’t get into now) and three packs of to-fry cheese fingers?

Let’s see, there was Inc.5 with whom my only experience so far has been these delightful creatures. If I hoped for a repeat of that, I was rather lured away by E’s more sensible and stable choices. I rather regret not picking up the omelette-yellow sandals.

Then there was the mannequin wearing a tee-shirt depicting ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ display signs, the kind you see on toilet doors in malls. Of course I had to check it out. I saw a really cool racer-back with a print of ghungroo-clad feet. Voila! It fit! It was only after I paid and looked at the bill, did I realize that I’d been charged about a third more than what was on the price tag. The salesgirl sniffed and stated pointedly that the price tag showed the material cost while any print was extra. E came to my rescue (or perhaps kept me from throwing a shopper-tantrum and screaming my head off). The tee was returned and we left. Oh well, the print wasn’t that great and anyway I can paint it on myself. Huh.

We lunched in the foodcourt, the largest, most varied one I’ve ever seen and it prompted me to exclaim,

The only other place I’ve seen such a food court is in Heathrow airport!!

Oberoi Mall has successfully pulled off what none of its earlier counterparts in the areas could. It combines the cool of the western suburbs’ InOrbit while also catering to the more ethno-diverse population in the eastern suburbs. Town be damned, Mumbai’s disposable income is never more visible than in the suburban malls. There is a certain new-money loudness in these places. There is also a refreshing lack of world-weary cynicism. E gushed and gushed about the food court before capturing our mood with,

Such simple things make us joyful, no?

Yes, indeed. We remember shopping centers, neighborhood kiranas and restaurant food. Malls, food courts and glitzy stores are still a big, very big deal in our lives.

As we were leaving, I just had to check out Rhysetta. Esbeda introduced me to colourful-but-classy bags; it was good to find another brand that offered the same. I was intrigued by a bright yellow bag with a black handle. The sunshine colour seems to have been my theme today. E very pointedly said,

If you wear them all together, you’ll be a dirty fellow.

…which of course meant I had to take the green instead. It’s neon green, not a dull/sensible colour by any stretch but I’m still rather in lustful desire with that yellow bag. Maybe I’ll trip back tomorrow to do an exchange. (Forgive me E, you’re just going to wear sunglasses when you see me next!!)

There was a black sequined bag I almost bought except that its strap looked more like a fracture-cast bandage on my arm than the mock-bracelet it was supposed to be. Undeterred, I stopped at another bag shop while E walked into the FabIndia. None of my shortlisted choices met with her approval though, so I walked out purchaseless. FabIndia, on the other hand, never failing to please, put me in possession of two bags. One is blue raw silk with buttis print and metal kadas for handles. The other is a black silk with buttis and looks like an open envelope. How could I *not* buy those?! Money is to be made so it can be spent on such wonderful things (okay, after the basic necessities).

The bazaars outside stations are throwbacks to creditcardless student days of raste-ka-maal-saste-mein bargains. My loss of the yellow sandals still smarted so instead we made up by buying two pairs of gladiators, one black-with-metal riveting dominatrix and the other brown-with-bronze buckles sensible chic. E’s superb bargaining ensured these two cost me less than the price of that one yellow pair.

And when all of this was done, I had burned off enough of calories and water-atoms to be ravenous. So I picked up the cheese sticks for dinner.

Yes, it all makes sense in retrospect. Try telling that to my wallet, though.

E thanked me at the end of the day for accompanying her on her errands. I said, “No, thank you. I had so much fun!!” Now I think she should thank me again. You see, when I shop on my own, I usually know what I want and how, where and for how much I want to buy it.

But malls, display windows and charming streetside sellers aren’t designed for people like that. They are focused, diabolical strategies to target unsuspecting people who haven’t really been intending to buy anything at all!! A good friend isn’t someone who puts up with bad roads, horrible weather and crowded stores with you. All of that is part of the thrill of shopping. A good friend is the one who is willing to take that final risk of putting herself in the eye of the marketer’s fire. It’s really like being on a diet and agreeing to walk through the diary products section of the store with your friend who wants to get to green veggies on the other side!

But this is all said in jest. At the end of the day, my toes hurt, my scalp feels itchy from all the dust and my face muscles feel like they’re sagging along with my limbs. But I’ve had an uncommonly long chat with a good friend, laughing, discussing serious stuff, being silly, grumbling about men, work, life and such, bitching about prices, brands, styles and other people. E Vestigio, poppet, thank you, love.

I feel good. Retail therapy? Maybe it does work after all.

BlogCamp Mumbai 2010

The first BlogCamp of 2010 has arrived!

For those of you who don’t know, BlogCamp is an unconference, an open forum of social media users. BlogCamp began as a module of BarCamp (which looks at the wider net of technology and business) but has gained enough popularity to merit an event of its own.

The format is as follows: Participants register online. Speakers volunteer to take sessions and are allotted time-slots. Anybody can speak and on any topic so long as it is related to blogging, tweeting or social media in general. The event is an interactive one so expect to find the audience jumping right in and at times, even taking over the mic from the speaker.

BlogCamp is an excellent place to network with other social media users, hear about what other people are seeing and experiencing in this space and share your own ideas. If you are a blogger or tweeter, you already have an opinion and a voice. BlogCamp is just a wider offline platform to share this.

Previous BlogCamps (1, 2 and 3) have seen a wide response from the Twitter community as well as from technology bloggers. The focus has largely been on the commercial aspect of social media. Since this is a forum that aims to address all aspects of social media, it would be good to hear from the other factions i.e. people who generate and follow other kinds of content – personal blogs, topical blogs, celebrity blogs, science blogs, photo-blogs etc.

So if you’re reading this and will be in Mumbai next Saturday, sign up and drop in. We’re all really friendly (okay, some of us are not but we’re all interesting to say the very least!)

The details of BlogCamp Mumbai 2010 are as follows:

Date: Saturday, 20th February 2010
Time: 10:00 – 18:00 hrs.
Venue:
Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management & Engineering (MPSTME),
Behind Homeopathy College, Bhakti VedantaSwami Marg,
JVPD Scheme, Near Irla Lane,
Vile-Parle (West), Mumbai – 400056

Since we don’t have the inimitable Mr.Shah to organize the Microsoft office as a venue anymore, this is a different place and here’s a map to help you get there.

Please register your participation here and carry a printout of your ticket to the venue. (Did the word ‘ticket’ scare you off? Come back, it’s free!)

Internet access will be provided through Wifi so feel free to carry your laptops to the event. If you would like to tweet about the event, please use the hashtag #blcm.

Afterwards, if you blog about the event (and yes, do! It’s good blogettiquette!), do drop me a link to the post here and I’ll list it in the after-event summing up.

The event is still looking for sponsorships so if you’d like to help out, please contact Annkur Agarwal or Moksh Juneja.

See you this Saturday!

Wet Paint, Paper Flowers and Dancing Men

The Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2010 kicked off to a rollicking start on Saturday. After sampling a bit of literature, visual art, music and food through the day, I finally settled on theatre for my final course in the night. The play ‘Dance Like A Man’ was being staged at Horniman Circle at 7.30 p.m.

I’ve attended music events at Horniman Circle before, most of them Kala Ghoda Art Festival events. It is an unconventional setting, a stage in the center of a park. But it works really well, more so for a play than a music concert given the intimate interaction that is possible between audience and performer.

A bench-painting event had been conducted earlier in the evening owing to which all the seating en route to the stage bore ‘Wet Paint’ signboards. It was too dark for photography and I was eager to get to the stage before the play started but I passed some interesting art on the way. (I hope one of us will be able to post photographs soon).

Just as well, I suppose, since we got there just about five minutes before the play began. All the seats were taken so we sat down on the grass and that’s how we watched the entire play. Normally, I would not consider squatting on the ground for a play but like I said, this was an unconventional setting. The stage and seating area were edged on one side by ‘Lotuses of the Floating World’, an art installation by Sabrina Mascarehas. As I approached the area, I first thought they were diyas floating in a pool. But I soon realized that there is no water body inside the park and the temperature was the uncharacteristic cool of February rather than the heat of a hundred lamps. The installation is actually…(Click here to read the whole post)

I Style! – The BEST Man

I spotted Neil Dantas at The Wall Project and I just had to stop him to tell him just how I Style! he was!

i am the BEST

i am the BEST

Isn’t his tee-shirt absolutely fab? It’s Bambaiyya in a way that nothing else starts to match.For the uninitiated, BEST, an acronym for Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport, runs the Mumbai bus system. Every bus carries the BEST logo in Hindi, in white inside an oval white patch, painted on the side of the bright red bus. It’s one of Mumbai’s most recognizable logos.

The BEST man's tee-shirt

The BEST man's tee-shirt

The good news is that Neil is himself a designer and retails his creations from his website. Do drop into his place if you’d like to carry forward his style. Or as I’d like to call it, Neil’s I Style!

Update: The full form of BEST has been corrected (thank you, Peter!). Much apologies for the error; I can only blame it on the 4a.m. posting.

The Wall Project: BMC Plays Tom Sawyer & Everyone Wins!

It has been nearly a week now since The Wall Project and I’m so happy to say that it was a stupendous, tremendous, awesome success! I was thrilled to have been part of the event. The photographs are still surfacing on Facebook, people tagging each other and comparing notes.

Having put out an ‘official’ call on Twitter, I know I really should have been at the venue by the stipulated 8a.m. but I plead a swine flu scare which made me stay in bed with the sniffles till afternoon. Thankfully for me, my dear Aditya shook me out of my hypochondriacal stupor with a,

You really don’t know what you’re missing! Take care of yourself and I hope you feel better soon.

Hain! Such things could not be endured so like a flash we were out of bed and chugging our way to Mahim station. Since I got there only half-way through the day, I missed picking out one of the early spots close to the station entrance. Still, I’d like to think that the quality of the paintings improve as you move from Mahim to Matunga. Heh, ‘my’ wall and those of my friends are nearly at the end, right next to Matunga Road station! ;-)

FIrst day collage

Moksh planted...err, painted...trees. Simple, detailed and lovely.

Moksh planted...err, painted...trees. Simple, detailed and lovely.

The BMC had provided paints, brushes and thoughtfully, a tanker full of water to splash up. On Day 1, I even managed to get a lift from them from the station, all the way down to my wall. Aditya, Rehab, Spitphyre and Vagrant Seeker had been already and created their colourful collage, replete with Twitter ids. They also very thoughtfully helped me start up my first wall project and left me to fill in the end details.

On the BMC truck

Left to right: BMC guy, @wanderblah, @ideasmithy, @Spitphyre, @Adityab, BMC guy

Since the BMC came around to wrap up by around 5:30pm, I’m afraid it turned out to be a rather rushed job. The results can be seen on a pinky-pink wall with green swirly things and bleeding red eyes, almost opposite to the J&J building. I was gunning for a psychedelic design but I’m afraid it ended up being more kiddy crayoney.

Pink psychedelia

Pink Psychedelia: My efforts at the end of Day 1

I also managed to carefully white-wash the wall on its immediate left, layering on the paint evenly. When the BMC guys took away my paints, I vowed to get back early the next day and start on the white wall.

Whitewash

If you're wondering why there's white in my hair, it's my swine-flu protection pushed up to double up as headband!

Rather unfortunately the next day too, my sleepy somnambulistic side surfaced and I ended up getting there only around noon (Aditya, stop laughing! You also turned up at exactly the same time!). To my grimacing-frowny dismay, the whitewashed wall had been taken over by a family. What’s more, my carefully even-toned whitewash was being covered meticulously by layer over layer of blue-black. Ah well, I cut my losses and decided to look for another wall further up.

Happily I bumped into Shawn, Wanderblah, Jayant, Spitphyre, Aniceto and Jai at the end of the road. The corner after the tree seemed to become ‘ours’ as we set up our mini-studio there, piling up our backpacks onto the carriers of the taxis close by and painting the adjacent walls. We were joined in the middle of the day by Ashwin, Princila and Sayan. Princila took up the brush to paint a little something right under my painting. She says it’s a man being splashed with paint but I personally think it looks like a guy running away from the spotlight…which inspired me to spray an ‘AnonyMouse’ next to it.

I never imagined painting a wall could be so much fun and I realize in retrospect that it was only because it was such a community event. None of my art classes or solo ventures have been as thrilling as the weekend I spent with these amazing guys. We poked fun at each other’s artwork, we photographed together and each other in weird poses (and continue to leave silly comments on each other’s FB albums), we shared paints and brushes, we mixed up our ideas and added to each other’s work. It was such a lovely, brilliant day!

5660_232648055513_598080513_8499760_6857019_n

Top l-r: Jai, Spitphyre, Adityab, Wanderblah. Bottom: Ideasmith, Shawn

We also received our 10 seconds of fame when Aparna brought in an interview on UTVi (aired yesterday and to be repeated on the weekend; youtube video to be linked shortly). Their anchor was very prettily (and somewhat unsuitably) dressed in a lavender formal shirt, wherein she borrowed my paint-streaked apron (already smuggled out of mum’s kitchen). That’s the one that you see on her in the video. :D

Interviewed by UTVi

With @Spitphyre, being interviewed on UTVi for a TechTree segment.

There was a spot of unpleasantness when we tussled for the plastic stool and spray paint cans with our neighbors, one of whom left after uttering a diabolical statement that the paintings may not be around the next day.

But the ickiest part of the day wasn’t the mean neighbors or the blue-paint which turned out to be a shitty brown. It was the attack of the Twitter vandals. If you’ve been around on the Twitterverse, you’ll know who I’m talking about. I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I invited the leader of that gang to visit the wall and join us in the project, earlier in the day. Of course I had no way of knowing that his version of contributing to The Wall Project would be to spray-paint his own name on other people’s good work, mess around with some really fantastic paintings, take stupid dirty photos of the wall and finally to add insult to injury, tweet that,

We’re done desecrating the wall project.

I’m embarrassed to say that I know this man. Most of the tweeple who were around that day have unfollowed the vandals in question. The leader of that gang has since initiated a ‘clean-up’ effort and accordingly tweeted pictures of his effort. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m left with a the thought that,

That’s just uncool. Only for losers, dude.

‘Nuff said.

The highlight of our day was the Twitter wall that we painted in our far corner. One panel was painstakingly painted shiny blue (we couldn’t get the pale sky blue of Twitter) long after everyone else had packed up. And then we recreated a Twitter timeline with actual tweets from the gang that was there. I’m so proud of us for this one guys, you all rock!

Wall Twitter - All

Though the Project spanned only two days, people are still talking about it. There’s newpapers, the TV interview and loads and loads of photographs circulating on Facebook and discussions still happening. Yes, the BMC may have pulled a Tom Sawyer on us but what the hell, it was fun, wasn’t it (aching bones notwithstanding)?!

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Hidden Tiger, Crouching @adityab

Hidden Tiger, Crouching @adityab

Painting @krist0ph3r's face. Don't miss his expression!

Painting @krist0ph3r's face. Don't miss his expression!

DangerMouse on the divider

DangerMouse on the divider

Aniceto with Jai. Aditya in the background making big eyes.

Aniceto with Jai. Aditya in the background making big eyes.

And here are the results of the brilliant efforts of the wonderful people I was with.

Reena

Spitphyre's fairytale

Shawn

Shawn's SCREAM

Wanderblah and Jhayu doing their crazy thing!

Wanderblah and Jhayu doing their crazy thing!

@adityab's Space Wars

@adityab's Space Wars

And here’s my piece de resistance (I hope that was used in the right context *gulp*) – my own wall!!! **DRUM ROLL**

Here’s the chess board representing order and structure, being ripped apart by a hand (whose model was a street kid called Sultan). A conversation with Sultan resulted in the painting of a crown and then a king who looked like a queen. Hence that’s the Red Queen looking very happy over the breakdown of order.

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It's a honour, a high honour you see, to have tea with the Red Queen and me! - Alice in Wonderland

And finally, the resultant chaos, also known as the hungama inside my head or as you know it – theideasmithy.com. TADA!!! Incidently I stand accused of using up half of BMC’s paint supplies on one wall. I’ve also been diagnosed by the God of Gas as suffering from a disorder that makes me scared of blank spaces in art. Ah, mea culpa. See for yourself –

Me and my wall 2

You can also see Princila's paint-splash guy on the lower panel. AnonyMouse is yet to be added.

Incidentally I rode down to Tulsi Pipe Road the next night because I just couldn’t resist taking one more look. While all the other paintings in our corner were intact and looking quite brilliant in the night, I was most dismayed to find that Setto’s imaginative pink piggy in a suit had been splashed with a dab of red paint running down from the pig’s nose. Agitated, I spoke to him and told him about it. I was quite unprepared to hear him chuckle and say that he wished he had been there when it was done, he’d have shot a video. I asked him how he could possibly feel that way, I felt so bad when I saw it vandalized. Very wisely and oh so cooly he replied,

Hmmm… its graffiti. You know the fact someone did that makes me happy, coz that was what the party needed. Something unorganized…chaotic…the whole scene was too much like a ‘slumming’ party. Whoever did that is adding another layer to the image..and whoever follows him is doing so too.

Aniceto

Hmm, I wonder who the inspiration for the piggy face was...

Hmm, that’s food for thought. That is what street art is about I guess. And that’s what this city is about. Layers over layers. Colour and cheating, fights and fun, friends and vandals, silliness and talent. It’s just Mumbai.

Some other posts about the Wall Project:

Jhayu – “On Dirty Walls, Sundays and Stained Fingers”

Punk Polka Dots – “When India Takes 2 Steps Forward..”

Aditya (on Facebook Notes) – “Food, Drink, Writing And The Wall Project”

Deepa – “The Wall Project August 15, 2009”

*All the photographs in this piece have been taken by Wanderblah, Jhayu, Spitphyre and Aditya.

The Wall Project Aug 15 2009

A glimpse of the The Wall Project Aug 15 2009

From The Wall Project Aug 15 2009

Aircel’s lifeboat becomes Real-life Ferry in Rain-Ravaged Mumbai

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