art, Books, drawing, Life, sketchbook

From Sojourns in the parallel world

A year or so ago, I used to have a morning ritual of waking up and reading some poetry with coffee. Once in a while I would read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and during that time, I also read White by Kenya Hara. (It’s such a meditative, beautiful book, and it was rather a spiritual and other worldly experience for me.)

One of those mornings, I read this poem by Denise Levertov. Though it’s about immersing our human consciousness in the natural world, to me the last few lines evoked how we continue to voluntarily lose ourselves in the virtual world.

levertov

“No one discovers

just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again

–but we have changed, a little.”

From the sketchbook called Finding Soo • August 2016.

Advertisements
Standard
art, drawing, Life, parenthood, sketchbook

Chasing a medium

Back in 2015, I faced a serious identity crisis. Most women sail through these transitional times like swans, I however was more sinking than swimming. Eventually I found a sense of self but it took almost a year.

In those days, I felt cramped by my earlier visual language, and struggled to evolve my usual ink lines into something else.

Friends recommended all sorts of media, but I just couldn’t break out of line.

color5

I explored drawing with brushes, ink and pastels but the cloud wouldn’t budge.

color3

color1

color7

color6

The only benefit after all that, was the brown boy was happy.

color2

Standard
gutotales, Life, parenthood, sketchbook

Life after

I went back to work when Orin was four months. Still breastfeeding, still feeding at night, and going to work during the day. So many working mothers go through the same thing, but it’s so exhausting! Every day of Orin’s first year I used to give myself a private award for staying human.

Life after -0

Though the brown boy was an completely engaged parent, and we had a day time nanny for Orin, there were times when I needed a little break.

Life after -1

“Hmmph,” says the anteater. “An afternoon of babysitting needs an afternoon of therapy.”

“There goes my potential babysitter,” I think.

Standard
Life, sketchbook, travels

Holiday journal, 2

Like I said, poor Orin had to fall ill within two days of the holiday. Just the usual viral fever. When he was sleeping, I was drawing, reading and moping for the lost holiday.

orin_1

05_bentota.png

Here are some sketchnotes I made while listening to this On Being podcast with Maira Kalman and feeling thankful for small pleasures.

MK_notes.png

“To be under a tree with Maira Kalman and her talk on angst and ritual: bliss.”

Brief moments of watching the sea. Nature is such a miracle.

sea study.png

sea study 2.png

After Joan Didion, I re-read The Emigrants by WG Sebald. Ever since I discovered them on Rukminee’s bookshelf, I re-read one every year.

spread_orin_emigrants.png

“The seasons and the years came and went…and day by day, hour by hour, with every beat of the pulse one lost more and more of one’s qualities and became less comprehensible to oneself, increasingly abstract.”

spread_drawing.png

Extended solitude makes me write more: “Drawing is easy and lets me construct my own alternate version of reality. Because doesn’t everyone do that, only I do it in visuals. Sebald apparently started writing his beautiful immersive transporting prose where stories blur the lines between fact and fictions, events and the recounting of them, and the memories of events, because he wasn’t satisfied with academic historical writing or with current biographical prose. Drawing is easy; because like Maira Kalman says,

“Writing is too serious and angst-ridden.”

Like life.

spread_drawing2.png

“Seeing, Hearing, Listening

When we see someone often we only see what we want to see, and what we think should be there. The eye joins the cognitive dots and sends the visual to the brain (??)

But drawing gives us a chance to really look at something, explore it with our eyes, see without bias.

It’s a bit like active listening, being open and then responding. Why do I enjoy drawing from memory? It is after all a reconstruction.”

And did I mention how much I love reading Sebald? His gothic prose saves me from my own melancholy every single time.

WGS_notes.png

“It seems to me then as if all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed, and were only waiting for us to find our way to them at last.”

So ironic in the context of this holiday.

Standard
Life, sketchbook, travels

Holiday journal, 1

A break from the distant past of 2015 to the last holiday we took a few months ago. We’d gone to Sri Lanka, but as you’ll see from my drawings, events conspired to make the holiday more about the hotel room than the place.

“Here we are, in a neighboring country that looks and feels familiar, but such a different vibe, such a different sense of people.”

02_bus.png

We’d planned to go to all these places that I’d drawn in the map, but I ended up in the hotel at Bentota the whole time, because Orin fell ill and only recovered the day we were leaving for Delhi. These are some drawings done on the road.

01_meal

06_road.png

On this trip I started using water-soluble color pencils for the first time, and really enjoyed moving away from lines to shadows. (Forgive the quality of these images, my scanner is broken so there’s a big glare in all the scans.)

These drawings done in Kandy Botanical Gardens were the first ones where I was trying to figure out how to use color pencils.

02_BG

03_bG.png

Discovered the writing of Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking on this trip.

spread_jd

“You have to pick the places you don’t walk away from.”

And the same is true of people, I think.

Part 2 coming next.

And by the way, I used a Kaagazi sketchbook and loved it. Will be definitely using more of their books now.

Standard
sketchbook

Angry Soo

I don’t often get angry anymore, and in my middle age it’s mellowed to almost non-existence (though Orin thinks otherwise). In the last few years I’ve found that drawing my anger out is a more constructive way to deal with it. letters home 04

“Pema you have to help me get rid of this black ball of anger. On a good day like today.”

At the time I was reading The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron at the time, sent by my friend Indira. It was amazing for me and I would recommend it if you’re looking for something to help you deal with emotional turbulence.

Standard
Life, People, sketchbook

Our labor story

Really, there’s no drama. Millions of women give birth everyday, and like everything else in my life, I just happened to document it, that’s all.

Mostly because I wanted to preserve the memory of my experience, and also to check that my drawing skills hadn’t flown out (along with all the unexpected amount of blood I’d lost)!

About a couple of weeks into motherhood, I groggily managed to draw this out while the pipsqueak was sleeping.

P008

01 Feb 2015 04:00 AM | My water broke and jerked me awake. Thanks to the internet I could easily figure out what was happening. The brown boy was ready to panic, but I calmed him down saying it was probably a false alarm. We called Dr. Rai and though she said we should go to the hospital, I decided to go back to sleep until a decent time, and by 07:00 AM, we were at Fortis with our overnight bag.

P009

At the hospital, everything was peaceful and organized. The nurses were sweet. They hooked me up to monitors to check the foetal heart beat and put me on a drip. The resident doctors examined me, and we were on our way to having this baby! In the morning I went around the room doing yoga poses, all geared up for a normal delivery. The brown boy giggled through a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory. The rest of the day passed slowly and nothing much happened. I ate chocolate and listened to the Emperor Waltz on loop. Later on in the day, the contractions started and we began monitoring them. I have a pretty high threshold for pain so it was just about bearable.

P010

06:00 PM | By the evening, there was no progress! We were all geared to spend the night in the labor room. Then the foetal heart rate dropped, and dropped again. A worried Dr. Rai suggested that we should do a C-section since it’s a “precious pregnancy” (another term for an elderly mom, i.e. me).

07:45 PM | They strapped me on to a stretcher and all that, like an usual surgery. Dr. Rai’s crew introduced themselves to me. Then Dr.Rai said, we’re going in! Lots of activity went on behind that green curtain. I had local anasthesia so it wasn’t painful (then) but I tried not to look. The brown boy needed to hold my hand, he was so stressed. But it was really the shortest 15 minutes of my life – within minutes they brought out this little squealing mini-me. Then I passed out.

When I woke up, this is what we had: little squealing baby Orin.

IMG_0903

Part 1 | Part 2

Standard