Sunday, May 27, 2007

letter from Bhopal

[exerpted from a reply-eamil addressed to a Bombay friend]

dear X,

delightful to have your note. Sometime I'd like to visit Baroda (simply an idea -- no real plan). Quite hot in Bhopal today as well. I just returned from a delightfully philosophical lecture given (at Bharat Bhavan) by Kumar Shahani. And I'd been absorbed for the past day or two with helping Sangeeta prepare a few audio materials Kumar had requested -- her recitation from brief texts of the Upanishads, and (this morning) CD copies of songs by Sideshwari Devi [all of which he used in his lecture. I also videotaped the lecture -- which occasioned banter regarding copyright and whatnot. But later, amid lecture, he remarked interestingly on the problem of how the represented thing -- sometimes, these days, real-time -- has, in our techno-culture -- started to eclipse in weight the original itself. Which might be a paradoxical remark to flow from a filmmaker -- yet a meaningful one]. Regrettably, I have not as yet seen any of Kumar Shahani's films. Regardless, the lecture was both delightful and, one can say, nutritious.

I seem to be making a bit of progress with the saranghi -- have anyway progressed to practicing a couple of bandishes [songs] and slightly more complex exercises, rather than the bare musical scales. Progress with vocal music [my study of dhrupad] is perhaps a bit slower at the moment -- what with video and painting, my vocal practice time has been a bit minimized.

/ / /

I also have a lot of travel ahead. 1st June I go by train to Bangalore, then plane to Bangkok. I have to leave India (for visa reasons), and this flight was inexpensive -- and Thailand is said to be very easy (no red tape) in terms of the visa for American tourists. At any rate, I'll be over there for a week, and a couple days in Bangalore, then back to Bhopal mid-June.

But early in July, I'll be flying off to China, to meet my parents there. My mother, who has been diagnosed with cancer (though she is not in pain or suffering symptoms) has been taking a lot of acupuncture treatments in Los Angeles. I suggested we go to China, where such treatments are cheaper -- and where there is quite a wealth of traditional herbal medical knowledge for treating such conditions. My good friends in Beijing will be hosting us three -- and arranging contacts with physicians -- and we'll be there till the end of July. Then I fly with them back to LA, and I'll spend from 3-6 weeks (or something) in the United States, before returning to Bhopal.

But even then, my time back here will be truncated -- soon enough (by start of October if not sooner) I'll be spending a few weeks in Calcutta (where there will be an exhibition of Bengali paintings that -- surprisingly and nicely -- I've been asked to write an essay about, and I may make some kind of short video on, too) -- work of current-generation painters there.

Then -- I think I was discussing this with you early on ... -- I've fairly well decided to try spending my winter (at least December & January) in Bombay, where I can attend classical-music concerts at night and pursue oil painting during the day. My notion is to sublet an apartment somewhere perhaps in or near Andheri. I had an enjoyable visit with the film producer Praveen Kumar when I was in Mumbai last -- and he suggested maybe I can sublet his place, or someone else's around there (this is Goregaon). Which is one possibility. I really liked the atmosphere on the sea coast at Andheri West, however, and might see if I can find something over there. At any rate, December seems a long ways away.

My flight for Beijing leaves from Bombay the evening of 5 July. I plan to come a few days earlier, staying again at Cuffe Parade, and I'll spend some time exploring art galleries there. I also hope to videotape an interview with the saranghi maestro, Pandit Ram Narayan. He suggested we can do this after he returns from his current European/Canadian/US tour (which will be by mid- or late-June).

In terms of painting, I've progressed to a larger canvas than I'd been doing here -- one in progress for the past few weeks (perhaps near completion) is 20x40 inches.

Another change, is that I expect to relocate from this Lakeside abode to the countryside Gurukul [music school], sometime after getting back from Thailand. Except this is a kind of hypothetical move, since in fact I'll barely be spending more than a few weeks in Bhopal between now and next February, as things look (per the above).

So, there's the quasi-full report. :-)