Books, sketchbook

Another one from The Only Story

As I wrote the other day, The Only Story was thought-provoking, not least in the social mores that it strove to question, but also about the very banal nature of love.

I often draw in my sketchbook about the books I read, fodder for the drawing in a way. These pages were made while reading The Only Story.

Who can control how much they love? If you can control it, then it isn’t love. I don’t know what you call it instead, but it isn’t love.

The Only Story by Julian Barnes

[Finished The Only Story the new book by Julian Barnes. A tale of such unequal love, and so much pain.]

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Books, sketchbook

From The only story

Some time last year I read The only story by Julian Barnes. Like all other books by Julian Barnes, I found it thought-provoking and it stayed with me long after I was done. Here’s a drawing from while I was reading the book.

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Books, Design

Empathy, a guide for myself

When I graduated from design school, I didn’t feel equipped to be a designer in the real world. I remember that I even googled for “core skills of a designer” and found that empathy was an important skill to have, so I started to teach myself to be a more empathetic designer.

[Empathy
The hardest skill that I tried to teach myself for a decade but finally this is the book that helped, Dare to Lead by author Brene Brown. She clearly breaks down empathy into skills.
For me though the number 1 skill is to Listen. I’m so uncomfortable with silence I keep talking and forget to listen. How to listen:
1 – Hear what is being said
2 – Absorb and try to understand
3 – Respond not react

Brene Brown says the top empathy skill is Perspective taking.

“Honour people’s perspectives as truth even when they’re different from us.

Brene Brown


Become the learner not the knower. I think this is the biggest breakthrough for me — the shift in mindset from “knowing” to “learning”.

And coming to why empathy is a core skill for designers: It starts with Curiosity, Learning, Empathy, which is used throughout the design process: To understand users better, to create inclusive product experiences, to stay problem-focused, not solution-focused, to grow and learn from feedback, and to be the best coworker and collaborator you can be.
And the true test of empathy is in practising it daily until it becomes second nature. So best foot forward towards being a more empathetic designer!]

Dedicated to Raj and JD.

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travels

A weekend with Lekha

A couple of years ago I had a free weekend on a work trip and I flew up to Seattle to spend it with my friend Lekha. She had planned the most marvellous time for us.

First we had brunch at Pike Place Market and then we walked to the Olympic Sculpture Park. I saw most of the sculptures for the first time so you can imagine what an experience it was. Here’s the biggest Calder I have ever seen, the Eagle.

Here’s me in front of yet another inspiration from my past, Ellsworth Kelley. He had used weathering steel, knowing that a patina of rust would gather over time, and the piece would continue to change visibly over time.

My first Louise Bourgeois “Father and Son” was an experience to behold. Later I got more interested in her work and found she had a complex and troubled relationship with her own parent with a lot of dark metaphors running through her work.

“When you draw, you suddenly see what you’re afraid of.”

Louise Bourgeois

It was such an experience with Lekha – we were meeting after years and there was so much to catch up on. Amidst Richard Serra’s grand and majestic Wake we talked about our deepest feelings.

Later on, I read Frank Gehry talking about Serra:

“Serra went to the shipyard, saw the way the ships were being built, and became entranced with it. It became a power thing for him, to make powerful gutsy statements that fit his personality. “

The sculpture park was so beautiful and perfect it filled the art-shaped hole in my heart.

The next day we had a fabulous brunch at Toulouse Petit and saw some of Lekha’s favorite pieces of “hidden” art at SAM.

In the afternoon we lay on the grass in the park and watched the boats on the waterfront. On the flight back I quickly drew everything before I forgot – it was such a lovely holiday!


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Life, sketchbook

Let’s be enemies!

Over the past few years, we’ve moved cities, homes, neighborhoods quite frequently. Every new house needs a new social life, but before we’ve been able to settle down to do that, we’ve moved again. Here are some drawings from a couple of years ago when we had just moved to yet another new house.

[It’s been so long since I made any friends that I’ve forgotten what one does with them…until I read this book with Orin yesterday: Let’s be enemies by Maurice Sendak. Friends do things together – like playing and birthday cakes and making sand castles.]

[I wonder what activities a solitary person like me will do with a friend? Work? Draw? Eat. Talk. Cook. Watch a movie? I need to do more things. I need to make new friends.]

“She always believes the solution lies outside herself. Tsk.”

Anteater
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People, sketchbook

Men and women

I’m lucky that some of my best friends are empathetic, inclusive, generous and kind human beings. They usually take a lot of pains to show that they are not, by the way, but sometimes their views on women are so illuminating to me simply because of their gender.

“Women and babies: They take all the opportunities (given to them) and squeeze everything they can out of them.”


“Probably they don’t feel as entitled as men,” qualified the brown boy.

But they are always, always, more intellectual, says Pacificleo, having tried to become one himself just for dates during his social butterfly youth.

Ladies, do you agree? Do you squeeze everything you can out of opportunities? Maybe we do it sub-consciously, I never feel like I do anything with opportunities! But I am clearly intellectual, at least!

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Food

A new year

What better way to welcome the new year if not with food and drink. I’m sure the Anteater would agree. From the last 2 years I found that food has been such a recurring theme – If I’ve not Instagrammed it, I’ve probably drawn it.

Here’s a “rare” family Friday dinner. My in laws were visiting and we went to Amalfi in GK2.

Here’s the food I ate on a quick weekend trip to visit my family in Kolkata. I always think that love in Indian families is all about food. Most of us didn’t grow up with verbal articulations of love, and we demonstrate our love, especially in families, by cooking for and feeding our loved ones.

Most of the food below was made by my Ma and Chhotoma.

“Whoever eats fish curry with roti?”

Said my mother

I gained 2 kilos with all that love!

This is a drawing I made while eating by myself and reading a poem one day. I forgot what I was eating and I can’t even remember the poem, but I enjoyed it enough to draw about it!

What if I could gather all the people who taught me to love around my dinner table? We would drink coffee and eat pizza.

Antara would be chopping onions because she’s always doing something, and whenever I chop onions I think of her. Snehasis would be listening to his wife and observing the world to make fun of them later. Ananya would be under the table reading because she doesn’t always like to socialise. Lekha would be sitting quietly and smiling in happiness. Atul and Reshmy would be having some long and complicated conversation where they would both not be listening to the other. Viv would be drawing happily. I forgot to draw Orin but he is the one person who forced his way into my life and made me love him.

Dinner of love stories

Let’s hope 2019 is all this, and more.

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