Sunday, April 5, 2015

Letting Go

There is something scary about letting ourselves go. It means that we will screw up, that we will relinquish the possibility of perfection. It means that we will say things we didn’t mean to say and express feelings we can’t explain. It means that we will be onstage and not have complete control, that we won’t know what we’re going to play until we begin, until the bow is drawn across the strings. While this spontaneous method might be frightening, it’s also an extremely valuable source of creativity. The lesson about letting go is that we contain our own creativity. We are so worried about playing the wrong note or saying the wrong thing that we end up with nothing at all.
~ Jonah Lehrer, Imagine: How Creativity Works

When I read a quotation like this, I cannot help thinking how beautifully the author talks about the process of letting go, how well it is put into words and how good it is to read it; somewhere someone else has gone through something that is similar to what I am struggling with. Yet the frustrations, dilemmas and emotions that actually accompany the process of letting go of an outcome can be terrifying and confusing. When I took that leap full of faith and hope and as much research as possible into Montreal, as careful as I was,I inched forward for a while and finally crash landed into a mountain of dirty brown snow and sank down into the bottom. Now I am simply going through the motions of desperately crawling out. As another wise man once said, ‘it is easier to be philosophic when things are going well’. Indeed it most definitely is.

These are scenes from this year's Montreal winter. It was the coldest and worst winter since 1889. After four months of bitter cold, it is still snowing outside; giant trucks carry loads of snow outside the city which they pump into enormous white mountains; I am still wearing my Canada Goose; I still experience acute homesickness when I see pictures of flowering trees from a Bangalore summer. As a newcomer, I feel I am running through an endless labyrinth which leads nowhere... It is excruciatingly difficult to be an immigrant during a recession and a soul-killing winter, alone in a foreign city which speaks a language other than what I am fluent in.

But to try and end this post on a positive note, before I came to this city, I corresponded with an artist who wrote me these words that I've never forgotten: ‘The warmth of the people makes up for the cold temperatures...’ How much those words ring true over and over. If there is just one redeeming feature about Montreal and its endless winter, it is the kindness of the Montrealers and the warm friendships I have made here. It reminds me that there were other seasons too and that I still have memories of Montreal that look like this - 

But while the fleeting summer and autumn in Montreal were ephemeral, it is the winter that is eternal and so my drawings of Montreal will always be of bare branches and snow ~

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Pretty Coffee Shop @ St.Laurent

Here are some pictures of a pretty coffee shop we stepped into while exploring Boulevard St.Laurent in Montreal ~

Friday, April 3, 2015

Coffee and Mushrooms

If I were asked about my happiest moments in Canada so far, I would say that it was outside of Montreal in a charming little village called Sutton. My visits there contained all of my favourite things – coffee, chocolate, mushrooms, forests, autumn leaves, cats, superb food...and my lovely angel-faced Quebecois hosts who always made sure my stay was memorable. The picture above is an illustration inspired by those wonderful moments and below are a glimpse of some of them.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Gift

One day I opened the palm of my hand
To have placed inside it something beautiful,
A gift, an overture, a gesture, a smile.
I hold it up
It is a jewel,
It is mine.

Friday, March 6, 2015


Present- that part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.
~ Ambrose Bierce

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wild Turkey

On my way to Sutton, I saw a flock of birds crossing the road. When I mentioned to my hosts that I saw what I thought were pheasants, they were very impressed. "Those are Wild Turkeys!" they said. I was told that it was a rare sighting and one that visitors like me were privileged to see. Later as we drove around Sutton through winter landscapes, we spied a flock of Wild Turkeys again. This time I managed to get out of the car and actually photograph them with my trusty point and shoot.
After I shot the turkeys with my camera, we shot one of them with a gun and then we took it home and made a meal of it.

I must say that country life is very exciting. First visit I got to hunt and eat wild mushrooms. Second visit, it is Wild Turkey on the table!

Okay,we didn't kill a Wild Turkey. The last picture is a marinated, very delicious turkey served to me from my first ever Thanksgiving meal here in Montreal :-)

Monday, February 23, 2015


When you take a flying leap, you expect to land with a thud, and then, after a period of dithering around, you expect to grow roots and stay put. But things never quite turn out how you expect them to; so here I am suspended in mid-air for what seems to be a very lengthy amount of time. When I look around me, much to my surprise, I find everything else is suspended in mid-air  too. I am told that this, what I am experiencing is called ‘Middle of Winter’. 

The sky turns the colour of snow and the bare black skeletons of nature suspend themselves within it. 

When water doesn’t turn into white ice, it turns into black pools, curious dark shapes floating in the middle of nowhere with wisps of smoke coming out of them. 

I look at this beauty with the same incredulity that one looks at outer space shots taken by NASA. 

But I will not idealize. The pristine snow outside Montreal turns into brown sludge within the city, the extreme cold gets maddening, the bulky clothes heavy and tiresome and the lack of sunlight goes interminably on until you forget that there was something called colour and life and brilliance. 

Monday, January 5, 2015


View from my window. Graphite, Collage.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

The things that I wanted most happened to me last year when I least expected it, when I was occupied doing other things, like doing what I loved and enjoying life. I achieved a kind of professional success I never imagined would happen to me - fantastic assignments, great fees and a sale of paintings which astonished me. But before I could let it sink in, it was time to leave, to new adventures and onto something that I had planned and worked so hard upon for the last four years and wanted so much for the last twenty.

When you return from studying abroad back to India or when you move to a foreign country from Indian shores, there are always high expectations of you. The underlying expectation is always variation of the same presumption and always unimaginative – you have to become an instant success immediately. The word success is always defined by one thing alone – money, or the appearance of having some. The resulting anxiety created when you are in your twenties and thirties is enormous, a fa├žade has to be created for the approval of the community lest you be ignored and discarded, if you don’t flaunt yourself instantly and continuously, professionally and personally you are quickly assumed a failure, the times become strange, empty and anxious, nobody waits for roots to sink in or branches to spread.

I came to Canada at a time when I have the right mindset to face the challenges of being an immigrant alone in a foreign city. In the last six-months I have thankfully manifested no headline-grabbing success. Instead, I experience each day as it comes and spend my time learning, integrating and absorbing. I am trying to fit in pieces of a puzzle to make a complete picture, but I am discovering that with each piece I search for and fix into place, the picture constantly changes and takes a life of its own. I have to accept that and follow it through to see where it leads me. The act of creating this picture was once a vision in the distant future. It is now the task of the present.

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