Thursday, April 30, 2009
Life was not a search for special secrets of living. It spun around simple days and nights that carried the songs of birds in the morning and of the villagers in the evening, it came from the sweet melodies of fragrant winds and of shepherds' flute, it came from swaying wild roses, poppies, irises, and the gay abandon of village dances by the fire. The village lived more by the gifts that the God gave without putting a price tag. There was plentiful sunshine that matured the crops and the fruits as also the joys of the villagers. It was a happy smiling contented village.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
These are the destiny's winding streets. Still love stands outside of the fragility of time. I crossed the threshold of fragile into infinite when I loved. There was no coming back from beyond.'
excerpts--Journey of an Artist
Bless you the dweller in landscapes of eternal hues!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Our exiles help us to fashion from shadows of past the most beautiful sunshine landscapes. Upasak – for that was the name of the poet—presented to me a collection of his poems. When I read the poems soft as the fluffy clouds, shiny as the sun-kissed dewdrops and beautiful as a little baby, my heart cries. It cries for Upasak’s beautiful soul that travels to his Indian abode collecting fragrance of blooming mustard flowers, of wet earth in Monsoon rains or the aroma of lentils cooked by his mother and a thousand other fragrances, aromas, colours, tastes and sights. That meeting changed something in me. I did not realize what or in what way. I understood better the tales of gypsy kings and the lost lands of honey and happiness that my mother talked about in her magical tales of yore.
Monday, April 13, 2009
You always take some character of the city you live in for long, in your own personality. I have become a mini Vienna in part of my being—with its idiosyncrasies, moods, frivolities, and its rainbow coloured cultural cameos. When I move away from the city, stronger it asserts its fragrance in me, but remains imperceptible, taken for granted presence, in its dazzling lights when I dine with it everyday. It is as if when in Vienna, I ask for Turkish coffee and when in Istanbul, Viennese coffee. Yes, it feels tastier!
Exile, even temporary has it own nostalgic fragrance. Some years back I travelled to Poland, where in the musical city of Krakow, I met a poet from India, who had arrived dusty-time back in Poland to study engineering. On way to earn his degree in engineering, he also earned the love of a sunshine-bright Polish girl. He married her and raised a happy family. He invited me to visit his family. In the house, I saw a small Ganesha sculpture, pictures of Indian gods, sandalwood incense, an old map of his city in India and music from his growing up period in India. He had a daily ritual of offering incense to gods. He told me that he was not particularly religious but as a child, he used to observe his mother worship everyday and light incense. He indulged in this ritual not from force of faith but because it brought him the pleasant nostalgic feeling for his childhood. He played for me Indian songs he grew up with in India; they were like memory tracks for him.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
This humanity carries a memory of the golden land from where they self-exiled like the gypsies, to which they probably would never return. Nevertheless, the land would continue to flourish in their soul and small icons unfurl fragrant memories and exist side by side their life in Vienna. On their visits back to the land of their past they bring tokens of cultural memory to sustain them in their exile—an exile of voluntary choice. Humans create webs of memory to fall back on, whether its separation from the beloved person or from the land of their forefathers. This is the beauty of human resilience. To eliminate this missing, this lack, this absence, this unwilled silence they create a new reality in the recesses of their souls. This is the fountain of all creativity—to bridge the lack, the missing by inner dynamism; the writers, the poets, the painters, actors, singers etc. use this angst to live and to create flowers of extreme beauty. Eternal Vienna, the forever city for arts as also for the exiles! However, all artists are exiles, self-exiles. Their search for precious pearls makes them cast their nets wider, deeper, and in distant lands of their souls. The city taught me a lot about humans, humanity, art, artists, freedom, and suffocation.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Acrylic on canvas
artist: Viktor Vijay
Elena had been telling me about her last assignment covering a war in
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Vienna Opera of Joys
Acrylic on canvas
Artist Viktor vijay
This brings to my mind the wonderful old man with Tolstoy-beard who would stay on a bench by Stefanplatz bus station just opposite the Mozart candy store named after great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It looked very funny to me to have turned the great artist into an advertisement to sell chocolates. Everyday the old man could be seen established in his seat, while people hurried up and down obliviously trying to accomplish unknown missions of their routine life. The non-fecund actions of this accursed humanity made them go round and round in a circle like the beast turning the Persian-wheel. While humanity milled around this Tolstoy, he would be engrossed in his love. Around him, surrounding him and on him would be a loving group of wild pigeons, cooing to him affectionately and snuggling close to him open heartedly. They would eat out of his hands the food he brought for them everyday. May be his existence did not register with many of the people who routinely crossed this street everyday, or may be they thought of him as and old crank. Well it did not matter what people thought of him or if he did not exist for them. It was an indictment of contemporary civilization. Human life has become much mechanical-time propelled. As a result, the feelings, which are the finer silk web of human meaning and essence, have ceased to exist. Elena and I would often watch this wonderful specimen of humanity. Elena photographed our Tolstoy and published a moving image in a Viennese journal. People ran after newer models of limousines; they no longer ran after butterflies in the forest. I remember how returning from school I would chase butterflies. They settled on flowers and as I advanced stealthily, they would flutter away. It did not matter if I could catch them; I was delighted to observe their beautiful, designer wings and their intensity while drinking nectar from the fragrant wild flowers. When I pass through crowded streets of Vienna, I still look for my childhood butterflies. May be one day I will find them and would whisper to them once again as I used to as a child.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Time flowed like the water in Mur. I am in Vienna, enjoying coffee with Elena in Café Central. I like to come here. It is the custom of the restaurant to serve brown nut cookies with coffee. This custom goes back to half a century. The building housing the Café has a long history, as is the case with all of Vienna. It is more than a hundred year old and served at different times as a warehouse and bank; the façade is beautiful and invites you to enter the building. Arches create dainty waves in the main hall of the restaurant, the ceiling is cupola shaped, and polished ornate pillars divide the space. Large windows admit Viennese daylight freely. From high ceiling hang lamps by long chains to be effective for customers to see each other in the soft light. Just as you enter, by the main door there is a reclining sculpture of a famous Viennese writer who fancied this restaurant and was a regular here. The owners installed his sculpture to make him a guest—through day and night. The writer is now permanently reclining in a chair by the entrance and appraises every visitor to the restaurant. It is so surrealistic that you may think some one real is in the chair. I also like the waiters here; they are handsome, suave and very polite. The one serving us has wide forehead and light, dreamy eyes. He could be a poet in the making and may be one day will have a sculpture dedicated to his memory. Some of the waiters can have with you discussion on latest in art, literature, opera and music. It is a city of culture-dreamers.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
From his travels, my father brought another gift. It was his cooking recipes from different lands. He loved to cook food from different parts of the world. His recipes were exotic and his dishes exuded strong aroma. When I think of my father, there is always an association of aroma and taste of food and his apron-clad image in the kitchen. He brought condiments, herbs, and spices from those far away lands. I recall he would often make a salad with pumpkinseed oil. Pumpkin oil dressing for kidney bean salads is a specialty of the culinary culture of Styria. Father’s love for different cultures mixed with his love for his land; this was so as far as his interest in food was concerned.
Sometimes we would go out to a small town not far from home to buy provisions. One shop in particular I remember. A Turkish family ran it. The old proprietor was large and moustachioed; his two sons assisted him in the shop. Sometimes his wife would also come to the shop. She had a large scarf tied to her head. She had a daughter of my age. She would talk to me in German and with her mother in Turkish. I was awed that she could talk something I did not understand. I would be welcomed along with my parents. The old man would talk to me and offer some candy. He would talk to my father about his journeys. They would also talk about Turkey; my father had travelled to Turkey many times, was quite familiar with the culture of the country, its food, and especially famous Turkish kebabs. The old Turk came from the Mediterranean region of Turkey, which had a history from as early as eight century B.C. when Hittites civilization flourished in the region known for long as Asia Minor. It was during World War-I that his father fought alongside Germany and later settled in Austria. Sometimes Ahmed Bey –the old Turk would visit his relatives in Anatolian region. His ancestral village was not far from Side, which was a scenic port in ancient Pamphylia. He would tell my father how the whole region is replete with ancient ruins and its rich heritage over thousands of years of wonderful history. Sometimes he would play haunting Anatolian music. I really liked the music and especially the sound of string instrument called Balma. I wonder how even as exiles we bring rich cultural tradition and enrich other cultures. All through human history society and civilization was enriched through such intercourse.