Monday, December 31, 2007

A Gift On New Year's Eve

Gyani and I were driving down from Bengaluru to Mysuru this evening. At Channapatna we decided to check on the person who is working on new dolls. 4-5 months ago I had designed a set of dolls for the first time and had given them to him to convert the 2-dimensional design into 3-dimensional dolls.

Channapatna is known for the craft of lathe turned wooden lacquerware. Dolls and toys that are crafted here are cute and liked for its simplistic design and minimal decoration. Wood is turned on either manual or motorised lathe, and the colour is also applied simultaneously; only extra details like facial features are hand painted. Hence the overall look of the doll/toy is rounded and curved.

While giving the designs I was unsure whether that guy will really work on them, hence I was reluctant today to go in. Anyway I waded through the messy place to a room where he took out some pieces from a carton box. Initially they looked like some unwanted pieces of dolls thrown into waste bin, but I went speechless as I took a closer look. There they were, the dolls that I had designed in full form. Whoever had worked on the dolls had done so diligently and whole heartedly, for he had recreated the design exactly.

Hmm... I am now a designer, officially. Thanks Gyani, for introducing me to my potential. This is my new year's gift.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Babaiah the Tiger Boy

Six years old Charith is the youngest and wildest among my four nephews. He has always been independent minded; even as a toddler didn't allow anyone else other than his mother to hold or cuddle him.

Last Saturday my sister called me and asked whether I can dress up Charith for a fancy dress competition at his school on Monday. I asked her whether he's ready to get dressed as he had created a racket last year and hadn't allowed me even to touch him. I could hear his stern voice in the background asserting that he's ready to dress up as anything but a female.

It was 8.00 am on Monday and I hadn't yet finalised the costume. There were three choices - a. Newspaper costume; b. Karaga carrier; c. Babaiah or Huli Vesha or Tiger dancer.

9.00 am at my sister's place, I am hoping that Charith will once again throw a tantrum and I am spared of handling the little terror. I asked him whether he's ready to be a Karaga carrier which required him to wear only a loin cloth for which he refused flatly. I was sure he will say no to Babaiah (tiger dress) since he had to wear only an underwear brief.

I was quite surprised when he said yes; he was excited with the prospect of being a tiger. Okay! the kid was unpredictable as usual. It was time for me to work without wasting time because I had only 45 minutes, the competition started at 10.00 am.

I mixed turmeric powder with coconut oil and applied the herbal paste on the scrawny frame of my nephew. His pale skin was now a glowing amber. I painted him amber from head to toe, even the face, kind of body painting.

Next was the tricky task of painting bubris. Uma, my sister, passed me the tiny case of home made kohl. With my index finger as the brush, I smudged a little kohl on it and started carefully creating bubris on the amber body of Charith. What I was dreading all this while, happened suddenly. Charith realised that he is being very calm and obedient which is so unlike him and began tapping his foot, scratching his back, stretching or stiffening limbs; it was as if he was a participant of 'Non-cooperative Movement.' All his movements were very non-cooperative for me.

In the meanwhile my bro-in-law was sent on a tiger-tail-hunt, by me. The poor chap hadn't even had his bath and was running around to find a tail for his son (how much more weird can this sound?) like Shiva went around to find a head for his (okay, this one's weirder). Well, he bought a black woolen rope which was wound with a yellow cloth to resemble the tiger's tail.

Tail was ready but the brat was not. He thoroughly enjoyed the cartoon programme on TV while I was made to go around him smudging black bubris pattern. I begged, ordered, bribed, pleaded, commanded and did everything, but to no avail. He had turned a deaf ear to me and I had to work on my own.

Finally, I smudged his nose tip black with kohl, four black dots on each cheek and red lips for a dramatic effect. The tail was tied and I asked him to be natural and just be himself on stage. I was wonderstruck when he told with a cunning grin that he will go on stage, scare the wits out of his teachers and still not be punished.

Epilogue: Babaiah or Huli Vesha means Tiger costume. Men and boys paint their body in the patterns of tiger bubris or leopard spots including their face and go out in procession during festivals or any community/cultural parade. They gyrate wildly to the virile music of crude drums and cymbals.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Diwali

Deepavali started today. Today is Naraka Chaturdashi, tomorrow is Amavasya - Lakshmi Puja, and the day after is Bali Padyami.

In our Bhavasar Kashatriya community, we have a cold-blooded tradition on the evening of Bali Padyami. All male family members sit cross-legged side-by-side in a line wearing new clothes. The female family members perform aarati to each man/boy. First they apply kumkum (vermilion) on the forehead and place a flower garland across the neck of the man/boy (as if to the beast which is about to be sacrificed.) Then a silver plate having two lit oil lamps is waved in front of his face (I am sure, women are masters of hypnosis) and while doing so, they sing a jingle in sync (to keep the beast calm, I suppose,) it is in Marathi which is as follows...

Adi pudi jaunde
Balee cha raaj eende
Koti Dasara Koti Diwali
Heere maanik owali

Bhendewali mhaisi kaali
Koti Dasara Koti Diwali
Heere maanik owali

Raamaa cha raaj eende
Raajaa cha raaj eende
Koti Dasara Koti Diwali
Heere maanik owali

Daridra Lakshmi bhair jaunde
Bhagya Lakshmi aat eende

After the aarati is over, the person who got it done has to present the ladies with gifts or cash (yes, I know, it is terrible but true.) At the end of this ritual each lady/girl will have amassed a solid amount of money, all at the expense of poor men who are foolish enough to feel pampered. But it is the womenfolk who have the last laugh (aah, kaise bakra banaaya.)

Later everyone goes out in front of house to waste more money by bursting crackers. This is an annual custom from which men cannot escape. Diwali is supposed to bring wealth and prosperity to everyone. In our community though, it is true only for women.

Happy Diwali!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bombe Mane Pictures

Bombe Mane is an annual exhibition of dolls started by Ramsons Kala Pratishtana in 2005 on the occassion of Dasara. This year's Bombe Mane was inaugurated by well known theatre personality, Smt. Prema Karanth in the presence of senior journalist, Sri Krishna Vattam on 5 Octber at Pratima Gallery. Here are a few pictures from this year's Bombe Mane. Hope you enjoy them.

This picture shows the main arrangement of three steps. The topmost step is reserved for pattada gombe, Raja-Rani, the traditional dolls which represent king and queen. On the lowermost step the brass icon with a scimitar and a serpent in hands is the demon king Mahishasura who was slayed by goddess Chamundeshwari. Mysuru gets its name from this demon. This icon is a miniature replica of the stucco sculpture, installed atop Chamundi Hill, the unofficial mascot of Mysuru.

This arrangement depicts the model of Mysore palace (Amba Vilasa) in front of which are small wooden figures of yogis in various yogasanas (yoga postures). The Dasara procession in the foreground is an assembly of dolls that have been crafted after the murals in the Karikallu Thotti of the palace.
All these dolls are in the collection of Ramsons Kala Pratishtana.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bombe Habba - Doll Festival

Human race is fascinated with dolls since time immemorial. Every civilization has entertained its young ones with dolls crafted from clay, wood, stone, fabric and metal. A common perception is that dolls are only for children, to play with, but it is not unusual for many adults to get attracted to them.

Dolls evoke varied emotions in different persons. A doll can be a friend, companion, a close confidante, a partner in mischief, a lovable cuddly, a plaything or even an object of reverence. Dolls are also worshiped and it is more so south of Vindhyas where they have an entire ten day festival for themselves.

The tradition of doll festival is mostly found in cities that were once the seat of royalty. The festival is celebrated, usually, by arranging dolls on a stepped platform with a pair of male-female dolls, King and Queen, occupying the topmost step while other dolls are placed on lower steps. This is celebrated with traditional fervour during Dasara as Gombe Habba of Mysuru, Bommai Kolu of Tanjavur and also Hinamatsuri of Japan on March 3rd. In north India, a unique display of dolls of Krishna leela is arranged at houses during Janmashtami.

In days gone by, kids visited houses enquiring 'ree gombe koorsideeraa...?' (hello, have you arranged dolls...?) Inviting oneself, thus, they went in excited, ogled at dolls, praised/criticised aloud, and finally scooted away with gombe baagina (presents of savouries or sweets) given to them. The display changed everyday for novelty. A pair of Keelu Gombe (dolls with joints), would be dressed as Krishna-Radha one day, next day they’d be Lakshmi-Narayana in Vaikuntha, another day they became Krishna-Arjuna in Kurukshetra and so on.

These traditions are no more practiced and over the years the excitement of doll festival has been on the wane owing to non-availability of dolls. Mysuru was once a famous centre of doll making; the tradition is long extinct now. We’ve to keep at least the tradition of doll festival alive. It’s our heritage, our pride.

Arrange dolls, keep Bombe Habba alive.

My previous post on dolls is here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Feel The Music

He is plucking the strings of my heart. Tears are welling up. I am getting goosebumps. My heart is crying.

Oceans apart, day after day...
Right here waiting for u

I will be right here waiting for u...

I am really crying.

I taste the tears
But I can't get here you now...
You've got me going crazy

Waiting for u...

I can't see the keys, tears are blurring my vision. They are rolling down, my tears... I love u sweetie...

Oh can't u see it baby
Wherever u go
Whatever u do...
Whatever it takes

I will be right here waiting for u...
Waiting for u..

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Middle Name Meme

Sandy Carlson tagged me with the Middle Name Meme:RULES: You have to post these rules before you give the facts. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog post containing your own middle name game facts. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read your blog.

Well, my name is 'H.S. Dharmendra'. 'H' stands for 'Halale' which is the name of my clan, 'S' stands for my father's name 'Shankar' and 'Dharmendra' is my given name. My namakarana (naming ceremony) was celebrated along with my kid brother's. I was about three years old when it happened. Until then I was being called by various pet names like 'Gunda,' 'Gundu,' 'Unda-bhaakri,' etc., but I was more popular as 'Raghu' (named after saint 'Raghavendra'). I am still known as 'Raghu', more so than 'Dharmendra.'

I've been called by other names, some normal and some weird. My granny called me 'Satya Narayana' after my dad's Ishta Devata. My class mates called me 'Dharam' or 'Dharma.' My PUC classmates called me 'Bond' (I wonder why?) After getting busy with my work, I was not visiting a friend's house often as I previously used to, so his mom christened me 'Vajpayee' after the then Prime Minister of India.

Inspite of so many names, I do not have a middle name. Well, no issues! I would give myself a middle name - 'Mani' after my mom 'Manonmani.'

Mysorean to the core;
Art lover;
In love with his camera;

I'm tagging
Claytonia at Drishyanvesh,
Raaghu at Me, Myself and I,
Vikster at I heart Bombay, Boston,and
Rubic_cube at Gift of Gab

Saturday, August 18, 2007

You're Beautiful

Song: You're Beautiful
Artist: James Blunt

I was listening to this song this morn. The initial sound of guitar is haunting, romantic. I was busy, but as soon as I heard the guitar, I glanced up and like dawn a smile broke on my lips.

The way Blunt sings you're beautiful, you're beautiful, you're beautiful, it's true is dramatic. He sounds as if he's convincing the girl with his compliment. Sweet.

Later I found myself humming that song over and again, it was like this stubborn tune stuck in my head not budging a wee bit. I was enjoying the intra-cerebral hum; and after a zillion days I was completely musick (Musick: Sickness caused due to overdose of music; Creator: yours truly.)

Anyhow, the song made me think, made me mushy. I wished some one could say something similar. Oh no! I don't want to be told that I am beautiful, rather I prefer being told that I am handsome, intelligent, creative or whatever but with sincerity and love.

Shucks... I have patience no more, to wait for someone to come along, get to know me, understand my index of romance, lure me, capture my imagination and finally sing me praises. I'd sing it to myself and get over with. Here I go...

I'm dutiful, I'm dutiful,
I'm dutiful, it's true....

Yeah, I know, it's not the same, but it does rhyme well, isn't?

Monday, August 13, 2007


Junior 'n White had a little fight,
'Go to hell' she told him uptight;
'Okay baba I'll go to hell...
You go to heaven' when he did tell,
'What is heaven' wondered Ms. White.

Four years back I was in this hotel room; woke up next morning and was about to open the door when I heard a little boy and a girl (may be siblings or cousins) fighting outside, next door. I couldn't control my laughter as the girl wondered aloud, what was heaven, with all her innocence. They soon sped away and I couldn't see the two little imps.

I wanted to immortalise this funny incident someway and tried to draw a comic strip (a la Calvin n Hobbes) but failed. Few days later, I read a limerick and regretted never writing one myself. Suddenly, I remembered the incident and wrote one based on it. Though the kids were Indian I gave them western names because it goes well with the rhyme.

The original was written in 2003 and the names were Johnny and Kim. I changed the names and rewrote it now. It sounds much better.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Initiation Into Adulthood

Hey, hold on people! This post is not about me losing my (ahem... clearing my throat loudly as if to make a dramatic announcement) virginity.

For me, adulthood means freedom of choice, being adult means being free to take decisions without any compulsions. I know, I am sounding pompous and many would not agree with me. Anyhow, let me proceed with the incident which, I consider, opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me.

Rewind to 1994. I am in Yuvaraja's College, attending classes of first year of graduation. I am this gawky guy, wearing huge specs covering almost top half of my face (my dad's explanation, 'affords wide range of vision'), a moustache (dad again, 'do not shave it off'), loose baggy shirts (no prize for guessing - dad, 'you can wear them for a longer time,' but by the time they started to fit me they lost colour or were worn out) - a highly unglamourous creature in the prime of his teens. I can easily have got the highest G.R.R. (Glance Repulsion Ratio) in my class. To top it all, I am introvert and do not have anyone for a friend.

Dad: Rey! Don't scratch your crotch.
Me to myself: What the hell! Some one please tell him it's itching; I can't control it.

By now you may've got the clear picture that dad's was the last word in any and all matters.

Enter this awkward guy, Avinash from the exotic Mauritius, shabbily dressed in branded clothes. He is in the same class as me and no friends too. My spoken English is bad, I befriend him so that it gets better.

A month into our friendship, he says he's going for a movie, would I want to join him? I am excited but fall silent, as suddenly, foreseeing my dad vetoing the plan. I meekly confide about my dad's temperament and no way I wanna get in the eye of a storm. Avinash volunteers to ask dad's permission on my behalf. On approaching my dad he said, as a matter of fact, that he wants me to join him for a movie and lo behold! Dad said okay.

Theatre: Sterling
Movie: Speed
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and Dennis Hopper.

I had been to movies many times earlier but never had it felt so liberating. I enjoyed each and every frame of it. The sound, action, stunts and thrilling narrative filled me in and out. Then it dawned on me.

"If I have done or intend to do no wrong, there's no need to be scared of dad."

This realisation brought forth by the episode, instilled confidence in me and I took to skies. The next moment, I was an adult.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Innocence Lost

The steel box hurtled on, up and around the treacherous hairpin curves. Deep inside it I sat crushed between my mom and sis, and elsewhere seated were my other family members including uncles, aunts and cousins. I cursed my dad for forcing me to come on this trip, 'I hate bus traveling, it makes me sick' I had pleaded but to no avail.

I was about five or six years old when I visited the hill shrine of Malai Mahadeshwara. That was my first long-trip as far as my memory goes. The journey (changing three buses) was puky, tedious and strenuous, but arriving at the hill top pilgrim centre was exuberating; the lush greenery, cool weather and rolling hills every where around elevated my spirits as much as the thought that finally I was out of the steel box with eight wheels.

The exuberance of being in such a beautiful place turned to devotion when I went to have a darshan of the lord of seven hills. All grown-ups were singing paens of lord Mahadeshwara and his eagerness to fulfill the desires of his devotees. My young innocent mind was taking in all I was hearing. The faith of many a devotees there were convincing enough, but when I heard that the place was so holy that even the soil possesses divine powers, my innocent belief turned concrete.

After a couple of days, before catching a homeward bus I surreptitiously scooped a fistful of soil from the temple premises and saved it as a holy treasure with divine powers.

Returning home I tucked away my sacred souvenir with my other treasures which had toys, beads, coloured glass pieces, marbles, etc., and forgot. Returning from the school, a few days later, I heard that my favourite grand uncle had passed away earlier that day. The news was overwhelming. I sprinted to my treasure box, took out the small packet of sacred soil and dashed out of the house.

The hope was not lost yet, for I had the most powerful thing in the universe. I will certainly bring back my grand uncle from dead. I took the magical and divine soil in my hand, closed my eyes, started praying the Lord to reverse the tragedy. 'Hit ctrl+z,' I was pleading. In the heart of hearts I was sure that the divine soil has performed the miracle and I was glad.

As it turned out, I went to my grand uncle's place only to find him in the hall, lying motionless under a heap of garlands, surrounded by wailing ladies while men stood outside refusing to see each other in the eye. That sight shredded my faith. I lost my innocence forever.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Question Unanswered

Saw a lovely person
Fell in love all by sudden
Have you felt the pain...

The kiss was greatest
To have one, would I become meanest
Have you felt the pain...

The fire was burning twosome
Alas! One died and other a lonesome
Have you felt the pain...

The heart fancied a happy dream
Until a terrible nightmare scream
Have you felt the pain...

Clinging onto reed and drowning
Crying out for a little loving
Please, why don't you feel the pain...

Umm... I penned this on 23 November 1997.