Monday, April 23, 2018

Urban Sketchers

Its been more than four decades that I have been in Pune and I found this gate at Koregaon Park always locked with a board outside saying “Botanical Survey of India” 

I took it to be one of those government offices where getting in won’t be easy as you have to obtain the “permission” from the right quarter.  Well, yesterday I did get a chance to get in, as the Urban Sketchers of Pune were visiting the place to sketch the Heritage building Moti Mansion which happens to be in the premises.
Moti Mansion was the home for some renowned elites of the first half of the twentieth century.  More on the heritage part later. 
I was fortunate enough to be in the midst of so many artists and to see them produce wonderful sketches and paintings with ease in a short time. 

Each one had their own comfort zone for painting, like some were comfortable standing and painting while others had an easel stand. 

Some had low slung chairs while others just squatted on the floor. 

Many used the brush directly (without any preliminary  sketches) I found sketches being made by fountain pen, sketch pen, charcoal and finger, marker pens which goes to prove that creativity is in your hands and you can create it by using any medium. 

You can see some of them in action in the ten minute video I created.

I was worried about this lady as her water colour bowl was perched at an impossible angle always threatening to tip off and ruin her creation.  

It was good to see that people from all age groups took part in the sketching. 

Coming back to the historical background, this piece of land belonged to Sir Shapoorji  Bharucha of Bombay. It was jointly inherited by his family members after his death in 1920. One of the owners , A Nanjee built this large house here and named it Moti Mansion. 

 You can see the etching AN (A Nanjee) on the glass of the doors and windows.
Moti Mansion was leased out for some years to Mir of Khairpur, who lived in the Mansion. (Khairpur was in Upper Sind and was forcefully annexed to Pakistan by the British) Thereafter the property was looked after by the Shapoorji Bharucha Charity Trust till 1977 when it was bought by the Government of India for the Botanical Survey of India.  

After having a look at all the paintings, I am tempted to dabble with the paint and brush.

On second thoughts, I think I will stick to telling stories with my camera.
One version goes to say that it was known as the Poona Willingdon Soldiers Club and this is how it looked in 1900

Getting together for the mandatory group photo after the session.  

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Masters of yesteryears

Everyone has that one teacher (or teachers) who stand out in their life and they never fade. It is very rare that you meet your teacher after three decades. I am talking about Mr M G Ghokale who taught us Engineering drawing when we were undergoing training at Telco (now Tata Motors) 

Met him today at a friend’s son’s wedding.

It is said that if you can master the art of reading an engineering drawing, then designing a component is an easy task. This will be vouched by all those who underwent tutelage by Mr MG (that is what we used to call him) He was very particular about the letterings and the dimensioning practices that are used in engineering drawings. 

At the bottom you can see the date and MG’s signature.  That is almost 44 years ago. (I still hold on to my old journals)  I remember the piece of advice he gave “always carry a small diary and a pencil in your pocket. Ideas will hit you at the most unexpected time. Jot it down immediately as you are bound to forget it later”  This is so true.

I also admire (and practice) the method he taught us about “remembering things” He demonstrated this in our class. He asked each one of us to name any two objects. He said he can later reproduce what each one of us named (at random) There were 30 of us in the class and he did deliver what he promised. I had mentioned Typewriter and Rose. He said the trick to it was “I just visualised Joe sitting in front of a typewriter with a rose on the typewriter. That picture was frozen in my mind so its easy to reproduce it if you mention any one of these three things”  

Somewhere along the way he left the nine to five job to pursue his passion “creating special surgical instruments” He is now 79 and still indulges in his passion. I am told that surgeons take him to the operation theater where he can actually see the requirement of the doctors and then design and create the instruments. What a wonderful way to live a retired life. Every day is a challenge.

He has won the Industrial Merit Award in 1990 and the Bharat Gaurav in 1996.

Coming back to the Engineering drawing, I think it is no more required now as everything is created by the computers and there is no thinking involved.

But I am happy I learned it the hard way as it helps me in my day to day life.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The root bridge

I just stood there in awe looking at that root bridge. A classic example of the symbiotic relation between humans and nature. 

This bridge is about 180 years old and it is over the Thylong river.  It is worth mentioning here that the four major clans, Khongsar, Khongthohrem, Khongliar and the Nohwet village had a major role to play in the creation of this living root bridge.  You have to go down about 450 steps from the road level to reach the bridge.  

The entry fee to visit the bridge is only ten rupees and it is managed by the Dorbar Shnong Nohwet.  

I noticed that there were volunteers from the village who kept a watch on the bridge. You can walk across the bridge but stopping or taking selfies on the bridge is not allowed. You can see one of the tourists being adamant about clicking a selfie inspite of the volunteer telling him to get off the bridge.    

As seen all over the North East, there are dust bins provided at every possible corner.  

This sign board talks about the dos and donts. 

Looking at it from a different angle, you can see the tree is supporting itself as well as the bridge.

Sustainable living architecture that will live for generations to come.

Walking around the river bed I had a closer look at the life around the river. This guy was waiting for his lunch 

While walking down the steps I heard a lot of chirping sound and finally located one of them. Can’t believe that this little one could create such a racket. 

Clicked one more picture from further down the river.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Archers of Shillong

A study of contrasting faces, but both having the same thought “will my number win?” 

This is one of the scenes that is witnessed at the Archery arena of Shillong, where you can bet on any number between 0 to 99 and if your number wins you get eighty times your investment.  A rustic way of betting and probably the only one in the world where the archery skills are put to test with a twist. The winning number is picked up from the last two digits of the number of arrows that hits the target. When we were there the count of arrows were 684, so the winning number was 84.
If you are early you get to see the preparations before shooting. Some final betting is done at the last minute at the counters which is in proximity with the shooting arena. 

Snacks and cigarettes are available for the tense betters. 

Some tourist like to pose with the archers for a picture to be sent back home, while others take pictures.  

Before the event the archers count their arrows and make sure all are in shape. 

The stringing of the bow is done with a gentle push at the middle part with the knee. 

Fifty archers sit in a semi circle (approximately 60 deg) and shoot at the target sitting down. Come to think of it,  I did not see anyone standing and shooting, there should be some reason for it. 

The target is cylindrical in shape (made of bamboo reeds) and is placed at its designated place 

As the shooting progresses you can see the number of arrows increasing on the target. 

The archers are from different clubs and the arrows are colour coded accordingly. There is no incentive for the individual archer, but the club that scores the maximum stands a better chance of being called the next time. The individual archers have a fixed salary.
Before counting begins, the arrows on the ground are cleared away. Arrows resting on other arrows are counted. They are counted and counter checked by a panel of five people 

The counted arrows are stacked in a counting grid with slots of 10 so that its open for anyone to check. 

As the counting is in process, you can see the locals and the tourists anxiously waiting for the result. 

The result is immediately put up for all to see and perhaps to be relayed to other parts of the city where spot bookings are taken before the start of the event. 

I have made a short video on what I saw and it will give you a fairly good idea of the complete event.
 I found this little boy helping around in the arena and at the end of the day he was more than willing to pose for me as he collected all the arrows for the next round. 

There is one school of thought saying that this is gambling and should be stopped, but so is investing in stock market.