strangers and spaces

Artists on the move

While touring a modern architectural marvel, my eyes curiously followed the visitors and their interactions with the space. Frames like the one below, made me wonder if those who moved along the structure, were aware of their dialogues with geometry.  As they seamlessly flowed through the interlocking lines and polygons laid down by the architect, they unknowingly crafted art of their own.

Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

Somewhere in between

Since I was a child, staircases always fascinated me. The stairway at home was set against a grand window wall that overlooked the garden. I spent a lot of summer days sitting with my toys or books on the stairway landing. It was my little escape from everything around. I could enjoy the conversations from the hall below and the music from the room above, without committing to either.

I found my happy place somewhere in between.

Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

The dance routine

On the streets are lines that tell one where to go, and lights that tell one when to move. As though part of a choreographed routine, everyone moves along the neatly drawn out lines and boxes, aware that a step out of line is forbidden. On the cue of the beeping sound of a traffic signal… tick-tick-tick-tick-5-6-7-8 , the troupe sways forward and skips across parallel lines.

Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

Small talk

When faced with an obligatory ‘What’s going on?’, I respond with an equally dull ‘Nothing much’. Although it sounds drab, I realise that responding instead with an ‘I had a nervous breakdown last week’ may be a bit unfair to spill on an unsuspecting listener. Some days, I wish I could fast-forward the pleasantries and skip ahead to talking about the anguish that keeps you awake at night, or your musings on how the world is run. I desire to pass up a question on the weather for a chance to connect to the universe within you.

Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar


‘And when I’m lonely, with everyone around
I go to my happy place where I’m alone.’

Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

(Photos taken in Washington D.C. and New York )

Notes from an old town


#1

‘I wasn’t meant for reality, but life came and found me,’ wrote Fernando Pessoa.

My heart felt the same way, so I packed my bag and set off on a journey to a dream.

Waiting in Marseille
Photograph concept by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

#2

Van Gogh journeyed to the south of France in search of the sun. The bright, clear light inspired the lively yellows and blues in his paintings.  

On my way to the south of France, I dreamt of his paintings and then I photographed my dream.

Colour Palette
Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

#3

Was it the dramatic way in which the light fell or was it the shades of the old town that made me feel like the time stood still?

Either way, my heart was grateful for the harmonious blend in that silent street. 

Time stood still
Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

#4

Every now and then, my wandering soul pauses to listen to the silence.

To embrace the universe inside me.

Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

#5

They say that you see what you choose to see.

I chose to see colours that stayed true to my dream like world.

 

Blue
Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

Not ready to wake up yet.

‘I’ll have more of the rich colours, please! Thank you!’

Rich colours
Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

#6

That moment was ours.

You against the silent sky and the sea that whispered poetry.

I wish I could press ‘Pause’ and stay in that moment just a little longer.

Photograph by Vaishnavi Krishna Kumar

Summer Poetry

I took a break from the scorching heat and sat to ask summer what else it had to say.

Poetry. I can write poems for you, summer promised.

summer poetry

Sun-kissed verses

And couplets on the dancing light,

Station

Rhyming with the golden hour.

Station

But will you be listening? 

summer postcards

Hide behind tinted glasses, yet I’ll sing 

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I’ll hum along your every step 

From a pink planet

Composing a tune of many hues 

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But will you be listening? 


Of Magical Corners and Poetic Light

March was about building a nest in a new place and calling it home.

The meaning of home grew beyond our four walls. It included the morning musings, the quaint corners and the romantic silhouettes that we came across.

Sharing a few pages from an ongoing chapter …

 

Vintage Postcards
Vintage Postcards

 

Quaint Corner
A warm and quaint corner

 

Not prepared for the sun
Not prepared for the sun

 

Girlfriend from Louvre
Girlfriend from Louvre

 

bellflowers and the beloved
Bellflowers and the Beloved

 

Golden Hour
Golden Hour

 

Love and Light
Love and Light

 

Saturday Saunter
Saturday saunter

 

Towards the next season
Towards the next Season

 


 

Seeking Poetry in Routine

The morning alarm has rung and it it is time for her daily ritual.

She whines at the sound of the alarm, scarfs down a bowl of cornflakes, chases after the 6.45 am bus,  exchanges greetings with colleagues, reaches her desk and starts working. After clocking out, she waits out the traffic jam, devours a meal on reaching home, spends an hour with a book or a Netflix show, and finally hits the sack.

The routine restarts the next day. And the next day.

Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a series of extraordinarily ordinary days. 

It was the end of Spring 2017, and I had just watched Jim Jarmusch’s deceptively simple movie, ‘Paterson‘. The movie depicts one week in the life of the protagonist named Paterson, who is a bus driver and a poet. As the movie progresses, we realise that his monotonous life, bereft of major incident, runs much like a bus schedule. The days start seeming identical and the routine so familiar. Tied to punch clock obligations, it makes us wonder how Paterson is inspired to write poetry.

But his artistry blossoms within the confinement of routines. We see Paterson observing intense conversations between passengers. He notes the various patterns and hues of his everyday life. He reads deeply, and he loves earnestly. Some of his most profound lines, the ‘Love Poem’, derives poetic inspiration from  an ordinary household object – matches.

This cinematic ode to the limitlessness of the mundane, got me thinking.

The fear of being bogged down in humdrum had caught up with me. How does one seek art now?

With all the tools that Paterson had within reach, i.e. everyday life,  there was only one thing left to do – to observe keenly.

Chose to wake up to the everyday hum and the inconsequential.

Slowly streaks of light and shadows during train journeys started inciting a lot of interest…

 

The reflections of familiar sights…

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… and reflections of oneself intrigued the mind.

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Explored new ways to express…

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…And obsessed over lines, frames and light that crossed my path.

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Some days are inevitably hard though. The heart at times prefers to be in insularity than to be attuned with one’s surroundings. And that’s okay, I think.

After all, the heart now knows how to outwit the mundane when it wants to; so many tricks up its sleeve to summon the poetry around.

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Stolen Memories: Remembering School Days

‘It’s strange you know? Everything here seems smaller than I remembered it’, remarked a nostalgic J as he walked through the school corridors. I couldn’t contain my smile as I looked at J, who had time travelled to a cherished and much loved world. ‘It’s been over a decade since you left this place. Have you considered the fact that you may be the one who got bigger in size?,’ I teased.

 

Remembering my school days always brings in a rush of emotions. But a trip down another person’s memory lane is quite something! I accompanied dear J to his school and got the opportunity to be a silent observer as he relived some beloved memories. J had a story for me at every corner and every step, so I stole some of the memories in my camera.

 

Location: Christ Nagar School, Trivandrum

The letter inside a time-worn book

The best thing I have read this week wasn’t a book, article or the weekly op-ed.

It was an old tattered letter; dated 1986, handwritten in an inland letter card, and tucked into the pages of my grandfather’s time-worn copy of the ‘Glimpses of World History’.

I stumbled upon it while indulging in the cathartic process of rearranging the bookshelf at home. Alphabetically, generically or geographically?-  what should my bookshelf etiquette be, I pondered. As I scanned the books for inspiration, my eyes fell on few books wrapped in faded brown paper. The corners of the books adorned unique numbers written in black ink. ‘No. 7’, ‘No. 31’, and so they went. I recognised the unmistakable style of his writing.

Appuppan!

After my grandfather’s demise, the books from his home library were distributed among the many children and grandchildren. Some of it found their way to our bookshelf. Vintage classics with dented edges, tanned pages soft from wear, and the distinct musty scent that arose from it is what is left of my grandfather today.

I picked the thickest book of them all; nine hundred and ninety-three pages of the ‘Glimpses of World History’ written by Jawaharlal Nehru. As I flipped through the book, a frayed piece of blue paper wedged in between the pages caught my eye. It was a letter addressed to my father.

The sender’s name struck a chord. A name that has featured in many of my father’s stories from his university days. I opened the carefully folded letter. 16th October 1986 – were the words that headlined the letter. My father and his mate must have been in their early 20’s. Certainly shouldn’t read an exchange between two friends, I told myself.

But in an act of absolute invasion of privacy, and in the pretext of curiosity, I read it.

Finding the words of that 22-year-old was like a stroke of serendipity for me. Ironically blanketed by a chapter in which Nehru elaborated on Mussolini and Fascism, was a letter that brought me warmth and comfort.

His struggle in a new city, the disappointment at the realities of his job, the yearning to return home and the scepticism of what future might hold for him, were the expressions embedded in the words to his best friend. As a 24-year-old graduate lost in a new city, his words resonated with me. In spite of being three decades apart, life threw us similar challenges.

My father and his friend have come a long way in life since that correspondence. The worries of their youth are now amusing tales at parties.

Dipped in nostalgia and love, the letter inside grandfather’s book felt like a treasure to be discovered at the right time. A treasure in the manner of an advice he would have probably given me, had he been alive.

“Stay strong, love. There is so much more to life!”