Monday, August 14, 2017


The illustration above is one of three I was commissioned to do by the Commonwealth Writer’s website, Adda, to remember 70 years of violent, bloody Partition of the sub-continent. While I was given complete freedom to conceptualize the illustrations, it was suggested that I make all three with some kind of connecting thread to them. For this I used similar colors, red, black and white and a certain similarity to the landscape.

The illustration above is for a powerful story called ‘Regional Division’ by Sidra Zia. In the image, to depict division and violence I’ve used dramatic colors – red and black and torn paper; to show migration, I've poured the mayhem of million birds in the air, I've splattered red for bloodshed; I want the dramatic illustration to draw out all the emotions in the story.

The second illustration (at the bottom) is for the non-fiction section, Speaking of Partition is a complex piece about communication; language and words in relation to Partition - whether what comprises a language is adequate enough to describe what happened during the Partition, the author is on a train journey, she talks about how the moment you board a train you can sometimes arrive at your destination.

The third piece, a poem arrived late, therefore I have kindly been given more time.

More and more when I read such stories, when I hear Urvashi Butalia talk about her book, The Other Side of Silence, when I read Shashi Tharoor dismantling false constructions that we were (and still are taught in schools), I thank heavens for the power of stories that hold up the truth before our eyes.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Beautiful Book

I found the book I’d wanted for a long time at where else but Lightroom Bookstore. There were just three copies and the owner had ferreted them away somewhere inside rather than put them out on display. She brought it out to show it to a friend of mine when I gasped and pounced on it.

Back home, turning through the pages was like being within a meditation, a prayer. This is illustration at its best and purest. The minimalism of the pictures and their muted color reverentially lift the story and gently carry it forward. When you reach the last page and close the book, you simply sit quietly for a while.

Friday, July 14, 2017

On my desk

My favourite subject for a magazine spread.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Silence is something more than just a pause, it is that enchanted place where space is cleared and time is stayed and the horizon itself expands.
~ Pico Ayer

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fierce Creature

She paralyses her prey with a mere glance.

And then she unleashes her knives...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

One Evening

A couple of evenings ago, I sat in the company of a couple of kick-ass women and three brawny beef eating thug cats. We women in that room were in our forties and each one of us led unusual lives in an Indian context. The nibbles offered up with the absinthe were a study in geometric shapes and the evening was memorable because of the subjects we discussed, predominantly: The large amount of intuition, intelligence and mental fortitude constantly required on our parts to break through the walls of cultural conditioning.

If I chose to write about some of the things we discussed that evening, then there are women who articulate the complexities of what I want to say so much better than I ever would. Therefore I’d like to take this as a reason to link to an excellent interview given by Sharanya Manivannan on what it means to think and live as an independent woman in today’s society.

I’ve deliberately chosen to place this particular interview for a reason. Over the years I’ve had one too many of my married friends, seemingly modern but conservative enough to constantly do what is expected of them, tell me how independent they are: They drive alone to pick up their kid from school, they return from French class by bus all alone, they visit a mall alone...Their definition of their independence surprises me. Independence isn’t about doing something alone. It is a mindset you cultivate over time from questioning the status quo over and over again and deciding not to confirm because you have your own agenda for yourself and you know what you want, irrespective of whether you are within a partnership or not.

Single women too come into my life and almost invariably set up a competitive dynamic within the conversation. Their justification isn’t about their independence however, theirs is a desperation to cover up the inadequacy they feel about their solitary status by telling me how active, busy and social their lives are compared to mine, in other words, how much they are a part of society and how much they in turn are accepted by it. I wonder how much their need to justify is due to an ingrained almost unconscious belief that if you live alone, then something must be ‘wrong’ with you because presumably you don’t want to ‘grow up’ and accept the responsibility of marriage and motherhood.

And some extracts below:

Why should only one kind of relationship be the most vital? There are so many kinds of relationships you can have, as you pursue what society thinks of as solitude. But before that, you need to sit with yourself and hone that relationship first.

Personally, I’ve always had some kind of allergy towards marriage. Even when I was a kid, something about it, the way I saw it transform women, particularly in Tamil cinema, intuitively made me understand that it was not good for women.

You make active decisions to be better and kinder to yourself and more respectful. And what that means in real terms, you accept. For instance, you may go long periods without a partner, and that’s okay. Because why should the natural state of an adult be partnership? The feeling of being inadequate is something one needs to leave behind early on in this journey. You have the realisation that you’re not inadequate because you’re not partnered: in many ways you’re much more capable. So you build things for yourself in a way that you may not be able to if you have a partner.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


But what is memory if not the language of feeling, a dictionary of faces and days and smells which repeat themselves like the verbs and adjectives in a speech, sneaking in behind the thing itself, into the pure present, making us sad or teaching us vicariously…

Julio Cort├ízar, Hopscotch
(via mythologyofblue)

An art which isn’t based on feeling isn’t an art at all… feeling is the principle, the beginning and the end; craft, objective, technique - all these are in the middle.

Paul Cezanne

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Maybe happiness is this: 
not feeling like you should be elsewhere 
doing something else, being someone else.
        ~ Isaac Asimov

Friday, May 12, 2017


So here are some stunning cover designs done by my 
art director using the illustration of the rooster.I love how it has turned out.

Here is the link on Behance if you want to see some more.


Saturday, April 22, 2017


I made the illustration for the rooster pictured above for a book cover. After I sent it across, my art director sent me the drawing below which was done by her five year old daughter upon seeing my picture.
I have included the drawing in this post with Devayani's kind permission because I cannot help but be impressed by how well she has drawn it. What strikes me most is the surety and confidence with which the head of the rooster is drawn, the most difficult part.
Thank you Devayani, for letting me include your drawing in my blog.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


What I've come to learn is that the world is never saved in 
grand messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of
gentle, soft, almost invisible acts of compassion.
                                           ~ Chris Abani

The Toronto flatmate kept a Lily of the Valley in a bottle on the kitchen table. One of her many small gestures that made a difference. I learned that these tiny flowers also have a beautiful fragrance. 

Things I do

For Suttonese People -

Hers and His birthday cards.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Pink Snowflakes

 Tabubia trees in my part of town have a wild party every summer. All the roads are pretty much covered with pink snowflakes during this time. 
The picture of the spectacular tree above was taken from the car while on my way home and the giant pink candy floss in the picture below is mine, right inside my garden, greeting me with gentle confetti whenever I stand outside.

This is what I see when I look up.

And this, when I look down.

This is the huge pile of pink snowflakes ready to be cleaned up again and again, pretty much like how they shovel snow in that other city where I used to live.

The Bottles at my Window

There are no lines in nature, there are only areas of color set against each other.
~ Edouard Manet

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Gold Tree

Last evening, as I was driving home, I caught sight of the Peepul tree in front of Buddha Vihar. The tender new leaves, yet to turn green had turned into pure gold instead. The entire tree had turned into this shimmering cloud of gold which was sparkling in the evening light. I stopped my car, got out, stood on the road and stared. The pictures I took in my camera are a pale shadow to what I saw in real life and I swore to come the next day and photograph it with my DSLR.

This morning the leaves had already changed color, still spectacular, they had turned a copper red. I did my best with my camera and these are the results.

I have been told that the Peepul is called the Tree of Life because the leaves never stop moving. Indeed the cloud of leaves on the tree tremble with life and energy and it is probably for this reason that the tree is considered holy and has temples for worship built under it.

I am adding a picture of another Peepul tree below. This one from my childhood which I used to pass on the way to school every day. It has a temple below it. When I took this picture which was some weeks ago, the new leaves had turned a bright, clean and sparkling light green. They shimmered and sparkled with life above the sea of traffic.

I wish all the trees in Bangalore are considered holy. I wish there is a complete and total ban in cutting them.