Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Remembrance of a Mother

Here’s an article I posed about my mother on her first death anniversary

Aai-baba - small

A long time ago, there was a beautiful young girl who came to Pune from her native place in South India. She fell in love with a handsome guy and married him. They were polar opposites. She was strong, independent, a control freak and extremely practical.

He was an artist by heart, very impulsive and stubborn.

After they had three children, he suddenly lost his job, and never recovered financially. He tried several business ventures, none of which succeeded. Debts kept mounting, and creditors’ unwelcome visits became a norm.

She braved all these circumstances and kept fighting. Along with her extremely demanding nursing profession and intercity transfers, she kept on doing various side businesses. She sold saris and dress materials. She sold imitation jewelry. She sold sweaters and shawls. She helped sell TVs and appliances.

She clawed her way out of all debts, single handed. She made sure all her children got the education they needed and wanted.

During all these struggles, diabetes got hold of her. The constant financial pressures and the stresses of living in a slum-like area did not help either. She had multiple close calls, but survived each of them. Her husband meanwhile sustained a serious head injury in an accident and never recovered.

After her children had settled down in their careers, and the family shifted to their own house in a better area, it was time for her to retire. But then began the rapid decline in her eyesight. She never even wore spectacles till then, but her retina started giving way, and soon she lost her eyesight completely.

Even after such a loss, she remained as optimistic and full of life as ever. Her sharp instincts and memory never failed her. She memorized hundreds of phone numbers (including cell phones), birth dates and anniversaries. Everyone in her relation, in her friend circle, in her children’s friend circle would get a call from her on their birthdays and /or anniversaries. She had an amazing sense of managing her money, and loss of her eyesight never affected her instincts till the end.

After her younger brother passed away last year, she called her children and made them promise her that they would support each other after she passed away. She never believed in any religious rituals and told her children not to indulge in any after her death. Soon after her brother’s death, during Diwali ‘2014, she broke her thigh bone and that was her last hospitalization. Her health declined rapidly over the next month and she passed away on 24th November, on the 10th birthday of her beloved grandson.

Mom, I miss you so much!

But whenever I remember you, it’s not sadness I feel. I feel your presence and protection around us.

I remember how you used to worry when I came home from playground with fresh bruises every time.

I remember how you always put on a brave front when there were creditors at our doorstep.

I remember you sitting close to the TV set (clad in your “lucky sari”) and listening intently to the commentary when Indian cricket team would be playing a match.

I remember how you had thrown a big party when Indian cricket team defeated Pakistan in the finals at Dakka, after our own Pune player Hrishikesh Kanitkar hit that historic boundary on the Saklain Mushtaque delivery!

I remember your uncanny ability to spot exactly which of my female friends I had a crush on!

I remember the excitement in your eyes when I explained the computer and internet to you for the first time!

I remember the proud look in your eyes when we got the possession of our own apartment.

I remember how you hugged me tightly and cried on my shoulder when I was about to board my first flight out of India.

I remember your joy when your eyesight returned for a brief time after surgery and you saw your grandson’s face for the first time.

I remember your proud feeling for us, when we adopted our baby girl and brought her home.

I remember you talking to your younger sister on phone for hours (closing the door of your bedroom so you could have privacy), and then coming out of your room and telling me everything you and she had spoken about!

I remember that fulfilled look on your face when the whole family gathered around you and we had those long nostalgic chats in the night over cups of tea.

I remember how sharp were your memory and your wits till your last breath.

I remember how strong and assuring you seemed even when you were hospitalized in your last ailment.

I remember how peaceful you looked when you crossed over from this world.

I remember how much rudderless I felt once the fact that you were no longer with me sunk in.

I remember thousands of instances which make me feel your aura around me, and everyone in the family. You were the most influential person in my life, and will always be a part of my being.
Wherever you are, let you be in peace.

2 Influential Art Books

Recently I finishes reading 2 books on the subject of painting, and both just blew me away. Even though both of them are somewhat related (both discuss the topic of fantasy / imaginative paintings), and still quite different, both had a way of teaching things most of us do not even consider while painting.

The first book I read was ‘Bold Visions – The Digital Painting Bible’ by Gary Tonge (http://www.visionafar.com).

Bold Visions
Bold Visions book cover

This book discusses digital painting techniques for painting fantasy and sci-fi, both of my ‘hot button’ topics. Even though the author uses Adobe Photoshop, very few pages are dedicated to the actual PS controls used. The main focus is on painting techniques, what to look for in a given scene, how colors major up against each other, and so on, which is a good thing.

It’s truly amazing to see how Gary brings to life such things as newly forming galaxies, sunrises on a distant fantasy worlds, sorceresses and angels, how the mood of a picture changes drastically when the color scheme changes, and how much of thought process goes on behind every painting.

This book is meant for the painters who want to go up a notch in their understanding of the painting techniques.

The second book I read was James Gurney’s (http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com) ‘Imaginative Realism – How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist‘. The title, as well as the book cover of the strange elf caught my eye, and I decided to buy. It proved to be the right decision.

James Gurney is a traditional medium painter, who has presented mostly oils in this book. The paintings are extraordinary, and the understanding of color and light is amazing (In fact JG has written one more book ‘Color and Light’, which is on my wish list already). The specialty JG brings here is his great sense of almost lifelike painting, which have some very unlikely elements in them. Just have a look at any Dinotopia picture and you will understand what I mean.

All in all, these 2 books have been some of my best investments in myself and my self development, art wise. I will heavily recommend these to anyone who truly want to move ahead in the world of painting.

Iranian Hackers and Theme Change

This weekend, I was surprised to find the huesandtones.net getting turned into the so called Iranian hackers’ mouthpiece against America and Israel, and that too unknown to me!!

I got the following front page for huesandtones.net

After some frantic efforts with the admin of my web host, I have now changed the theme, and restored the site to its original contents.

One never realizes what it means one’s site to be hacked, until one experiences it.

The Sword and the Dragon

I am sitting upright, my left hand tightly curled into a twist, while my right arm is being repeatedly stung by a sharp needle.

After a few minutes, I stop feeling so much pain. Either the pain has subsided or I am now used to it. My arm is going numb. No, wait. Even my head is going dizzy. I indicate the same to my tormentor, and soon I am chewing on a delicious Snickers bar.

The Snickers works fast and hard to shoot my blood sugar levels up, and soon I start feeling the pain again!

But in a few minutes the ordeal is over. It’s been one hour and thirty minutes I have been sitting in that chair, getting myself tattooed on the right arm.

In the place of what once was a clear patch of skin is now a fierce black Dragon engulfing an equally lethal-looking black sword. The Dragon’s eye is blood red, and so is the jewel embedded in the hilt of the black sword.

The tattoo artist, a pleasant young man called ‘Raul’, clicks a few photographs of the still young tattoo. Then his assistants apply some petroleum jelly on my stinging, swollen arm and cover the tattoo with tissue paper, securing the paper in place with transparent tapes.

By the time I stumble out of the tattoo studio situated near the Osho commune of Pune, it was 7 pm., and I am dying for a shut eye.

The mood is serene and I have a feeling  that this evening was something special. Here’s the tattoo, in it’s full glory.

Specialization!

I came across this interesting quote from the late Science Fiction writer, Robert Heinlein. Something worth pondering upon:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects!

Movies Inspired from Books? Which is Better?

Recently I happened to watch two movies inspired from books I read. One was released a while ago (V for Vandetta – 2005) and one was more recent (Twilight – 2008).  Both these movies had much of an anticipation value for me. V for Vandetta, coming from the creators of the Matrix series held my interest, while I recently had finished reading ‘Twilight’. Though these books and movies had nothing in common, one feeling was common for me while watching these films.

Watching the books unfold on screen was a disappointing experience, yet again!

My advice to all book fans (which I myself never seem to obey) – Watch the movie first, read the book later.

When I saw V for Vandetta, it instantly struck me (which will not be visible to anyone who has not read the book) why its author Alan Moore refused to have anything to do with the movie (Alan Moore’s name does not appear in the credits, as mandated by him). Alan Moore is a staunch advocate of Anarchism. Alan Moore’s vision of Anarchy should not be confused with the lack of order. Rather, it’s a socity where the ordinary people are more important than their leaders, contarary to what’s happening everywhere around us.

V for Vandetta (the movie) does not even mention the word Anarchy, even once.

The movie omits many important threads in the book. It seems like the Wachowaskies borrowed the mask of the protagonist in the book, and re-wrote the whole story.

Twilight (and the Harry Potter series) seems like a very fast forwarded shoot of the respective books, with no thought of treating them differently in the movie medium.

One notable exception I found for this rule was the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) triology. Now, before I get flamed by the devout LOTR fans, let me explain.

First of all, let me confess that I watched the first two LOTR movies before I read the books. After I read the books, however, I thought the scriptwriters of the LOTR triology did a pretty decent job of trimming the story to make it interesting for the current generation (LOTR books are from the 50’s), and at the same time keeping the essence of the originals intact.

The LOTR scriptwriters completely did away with a few characters from the original, which provided enough room for the main characters to develop. They also made the story fast paced, against the very leisurely pace of the original. LOTR books have set a bar of fantasy for all fantasy fans, but the books are very hard to read. The movies have made them real accessible to everyone.

Banquets and Brickbats welcome. What do you think? Like to share your thoughts on this subject? Please comment.

Moving to the Dark Side !

I recently upgraded by pen tablet. Earlier I had the amature version called Bamboo Fun from Wacom. I bought it sometime in April 2009. That time I just wanted to try it out and find out whether I was comfortable using a tablet for digital art creation.

Since then, the tablet simply blew my mind and I became  convert. During this time, I created a lot of original digital art. It was a relelation for me that I could really create something so interesting and so original.

Slowly I began thinking about buying a pro version of the tablet. Incidently, a friend approached me to ask my advice about which tablet to buy. He agreed to buy my Bamboo Fun tablet.

I recently bought the latest model, Wacom Intuos 4 tablet. It does cost a lot, but is worth its money. It has 2048 pressure sensitivity levels as opposed to Bamboo Fun’s 512. It has a highly improved grip pen, and comes with 10 nibs. Many more (expensive) accessaries for Intuos 4 are available in market like Art pen, Airbrush pen etc. I hope to have at least some in my arsenal in a couple of years from now.

The Intuos 4 model is too beautiful to describe. See for yourself.

Now my next challenge is to bring the already created comics pages in line with the new pages, which will be created using the highly sesitive Intuos 4!!