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I am hardly secretive by nature but not the closest of my friends would know that I used to paint before I joined the Institute. As dilettante.

Even my children discovered this when last May both of them happened to spend a week together with us in Gurgaon. We were visiting my mother in Sonepat when they saw my painting—a snake’s hood—done in the 60s. A fight ensued; one got the painting and the other was in tears. I for my part was pleased. I told Sonia, much as I would when they were small, “Don’t worry, I’ll make you another one, even bigger and better than this. Don’t worry.”

Here is the bigger and better painting that I did for Sonia in the last two months. She likes it very much but more I suspect as a doting daughter than with a critical eye. That critical eye she reserves for the rest of the world.

As a very small child, my father would draw me beautiful peacocks; and then cars when my interest grew in that direction. But later on the same bureaucrat father would check my rough notebook after school every day and thrash me for drawings I had made on the margins. With the hope of making me a doctor, medical stream was chosen for me but that only provided me legitimacy for preparing diagrams and sketches of plants and animals in Botany and Zoology journals, for which I would go and choose the best texture of drawing paper in the market and ‘imported’ Venus pencil and eraser.

From being beaten to admired and fought over for the same ‘offence’ has been quite a journey. I also feel otherwise lucky and blessed. Artists go miles and miles looking for patrons; I have found them in my own backyard. My years in the Institute have helped too. All my filmmaking skills and sensibilities have gone into making this painting. And I have ideas! I have them pouring forth in a heap at my feet as soon as my long locked closet of them is opened. So you can expect more of these from time to time.

Enjoy! As the title of the post says, it’s Monsoon-flooded Ganga in Varanasi; 3 feet by 2 feet, acrylic on canvas. We were there last September and it was our first visit to that ancient city.

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