A goodbye to Bangalore and lessons on living light.

Have you ever lived, even briefly, in a house with bare walls, empty bookshelves and a kitchen so stripped of its wares it looks like a riot mob just, well, ran riot? I have been living like that for a few days now and take it from me, it’s not a nice feeling. I have watched the municipal sweepers who are assigned on my street move stuff after stuff and pack it in cartons either to recycle or take it away to the dump yard. Like pond herons fishing in shallow waters, they carefully lift each item away until my house is entirely empty and all that’s left is my life’s wares neatly packed in a backpack and a suitcase. They didn’t have to work a lot because I have lived frugally.

my-empty-house

I haven’t been hoarding a lot (if you discount the huge cartons that I saved for moving). Many of my books were gifted and some of them were exchanged in Blossoms, for new, unread ones that is being carted with me. Kitchen appliances, utensils, pillows, sheets, a spare steel cot, board games, yada yada yada went away to the above mentioned personnel. A bare minimum was sold to friends.

hiking-in-the-ural-mountains

Is it cathartic? Both yes and no. The house certainly feels empty now both literally and figuratively. And I am scatterbrained with little to no head-space to work. So, in effect, I can’t feel the catharsis. But I’m a giver, not attached to a lot of possessions (according to at least, one of my friends). That makes me sound like a saint (which I’m certainly not) but if you’ve known me even briefly you’d know. If you express interest in anything I possess, I’ll offer it to you. Or offer to buy you a similar one.

the-colombo-galle-train

That brings me to the topic. I’m leaving Bangalore. I don’t believe in forever but this does feel like an irreversible move. Where am I going to? Germany. Don’t ask me how I don’t recollect this detail but another good friend tells me how I used to talk about wanting to live in Germany ten years ago when we shared a room in a barracks, bordering the arid desert of Wadi Kabir in the suburbs of Muscat. Deserts can have that effect on one, I tell ya.

Bangalore has given me so much – lovely friends who opened up their hearts and houses to me and sometimes take me on spontaneous bird watching trips, rava idlis and obattus at many upaharas, tall stouts at Toit, the wildly optimistic jacarandas on Koramangala’s streets and rambling walks in its parks – Cubbon and LalBagh. I will forever be grateful and nostalgic about all that represents Bangalore (heck, I’m even carrying a pack of MTR puliogare mix and avalakki.)

bangalore-palace

This uprooting and replanting myself, is a major move, something I haven’t done in a decade (right after Oman happened). I’m excited, thrilled and scared in equal measures. Excited about the possibilities but scared about what it takes to re-build myself from the scratch. But it also, perhaps, provides me opportunities to shape myself as a completely different individual (wishful thinking, that).

Either way, this space will exist though I’m not sure right now how it’ll evolve. I will post, if not regularly, at least once a month. Wish me luck and watch me stumble, struggle and make progress in Germany.

Most of all, keep in touch, okay?

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Hiking Kinabalu – Climbers, Keepers!

Standing tall at 13,438 ft, Mt. Kota Kinabalu, located in the Borneo Islands of East Malaysia is also the country’s highest mountain. The granite summit of Kota Kinabalu is the backbone of Borneo in the Crocker Range of mountains. It stands inside the Kota Kinabalu national park, Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Sabah state of Malaysian Borneo. The majestic mountain rises above the tropical forests that house rich plant life and wondrous bird life, few of which I was lucky to see, but could not photograph because a bulky camera dangling from your neck is the last thing you want in an arduous trek like this.

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A viewpoint en route Kinabalu

I recently scaled the steep inclines of Mt. Kinabalu to reach the summit in the wee hours of the morning to witness what is perhaps the most feisty sunrise I have ever witnessed.

Though a demanding task, perhaps reserved for the physically fit, Kinabalu attracts hundreds of enthusiastic climbers every day. Climbers belonging to varied age groups from elderly Japanese tourists to pre-teen Malaysian school kids make an attempt to climb the steep ascend strewn with boulders. Though not all of them succeed in ascending the peak to watch the spectacular sunrise, the ones that do are rewarded with the awe-inspiring view of the sun rising over Borneo.

Tropical Borneo, home to Orangutans, stinky Rafflesia flowers, variety of Hornbills and other wildlife,  attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world – Western and Asian backpackers, Chinese, Japanese and Malaysian domestic tourists. Among them, a large part of the tourists visiting Borneo have Kinabalu on their list. In effect, you are never far from humanity on the trail, huffing and puffing their way ahead and behind you. Don’t get too competitive for this is no competition and your knee will pay the price. I took a lot of breaks, drank a lot of water (which you must carry) and took in the sights around me while inhaling fresh mountain air.

The trail is canopied by hulking tropical trees most of the way, the first day. Island thrushes croon sweetly while we climb. The views opened up briefly yet the canopy stay with coniferous trees lining the trail. Tourists – youngsters, students, elderly Japanese, populate the narrow bolder strewn trail ambling along. The trail is peppered with rhododendrons in sprightly blooms of pink and yellow, bird calls of Bornean Treepies, Bulbuls and Mountain Barbets and plants like the pitcher plant.

Though it is possible to climb the mountain in a day, it is perhaps best left to the devices of experienced climbers. For novices, like me, there is a break of the climb midway, 6km after the commencement of the trail, at Laban Rata Resthouse. This also helps you acclimatize your body because altitude sickness is common. An 8-year old boy was puking his lungs out while his mother was scrambling for medication and care for him as we arrived. Headaches induced by altitude is quite common too, keep a strip of painkillers. The evening went down as the still white high altitude clouds formed patches on the sky that changed its colors from pink to purple to orange. Kinabalu loomed large, like an erect phallus of a mountain god flashing his endowment in the waning sun.

The second day’s climb starts as early as 1.00 a.m. and takes you through the steep, bare granite rock mountain. It is perhaps better you are in the dark as you climb this part of the mountain because as the sun dawns on you, it also dawns on you that you’ve climbed an extremely steep part of the mountain. An unruly, cold breeze engulfs you as you reach the summit. Soon enough, the sun comes out and swathes everything in the glorious morning light. Selfie sticks are pulled out, flashes go off, smiles broaden despite the tedious climb as sun makes its appearance.

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The granite rock climb.

Armed with the knowledge that we have scaled Malaysia’s tallest mountain, we started our descend. By noon, we have reached the base as my knees turned liquid and every inch of my body silently screamed in pain. We also treated ourselves with hot bowls of Tom Yum soup that teared me up and opened up my sinuses.  I slept for 12 hours and whined for another two days about my aching body. Small price to pay, perhaps.

Selfie sticks come out as light comes out.
Selfie sticks come out as light comes out.

Sabah Parks, the Malaysian government body for national parks, has leased out the maintenance of the trail and operations to a private player so you are required to book a tour with an agent to climb Kinabalu. Book a trip in advance before you arrive in Borneo, plenty of options are available online!

Some amount of rope climbing is needed.
Some amount of rope climbing is needed.
A hearty bowl of Tom Yum soup.
A hearty bowl of Tom Yum soup.

Have you climbed Kinabalu? Leave a comment and let me know.

Climbing the Great Wall of China.

As far as travel lists go, I don’t usually make one (wait, have I told you otherwise elsewhere in the blog? Forgive me, for I must have been inebriated when I said that.) Also, you wouldn’t usually find me in places thronging with people, in stampede-inducing situations. But when I found myself in Beijing, finishing up my Trans Siberian train ride (Oh, I promise never to talk about that trip ever again in these pages), I couldn’t resist a trip to the Great Wall of China.

The great wall of china 1
Comrades ascending the Great Wall of China.

I had just two-days in Beijing and couldn’t do anything productive and offbeat anyway (other than hunting for cheap street food, of course.) So I embarked on a little trip to the Badaling side of the Great Wall one morning with my travel buddy Lars.

The great wall of china 2
The Chinese are a pretty obedient lot and this side of the Wall was neat and clean!

You’d assume, given that the Great Wall of China is a world wonder, it would attract international tourists by busload. On the contrary, the Badaling side of Great Wall – apparently most popular section of the Wall – was buzzing with domestic tourists on that sunny day in September when I visited.

The great wall of china 3
The Badaling side of the Great Wall attracts 180 million visitors each year!
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Railings are installed on each side to aide visitors with difficulty in walking.

Located in Yanqing, 60km from downtown Beijing, the Badaling Wall has been open to foreign tourists starting 1953. Only 3741 m of the wall is open to tourists.

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Of course, that is a mandatory pose on the wall if you are a boy of that age.
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The entire stretch takes a little more than two hours to climb.

According to the signboards, while it was included in the world cultural heritage list by UNESCO in 1987, the wall received two Guinness World Records in 2002. One for record number of visitors and the other for ‘highest reception number of head of state’ (go figure.)

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The Badaling side of the wall is called ‘scenic wall’ and for a reason!
The great wall of china 8
Scaling the Great Wall of China.

The Badaling side of the Great Wall is called the scenic side and that is not without a reason. Between being squeezed dry by the thronging mass of people and taking pictures, if you looked around you will see azure blue skies, green peaks and dense tree cover all around the wall.

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Shoot me, will you?
The great wall of china 10
It is quite a panoramic sight if you manage to look around.

At a distance, even Beijing could be seen on a clear day (which is kind of, sort of rare for a city like Beijing whose pollution levels surpass even that of Delhi’s. Or vice versa.)

The great wall of china 11
Huffing and puffing, we went.
The great wall of china 12
Clearly, not everybody is enjoying the climb.

‘It is a bridge of friendship between the international friends and the Chinese people,’ reads the signboard, along the lines of standard propaganda-speak.

The great wall of china 14
The watch towers, towering above dense vegetation, are quite a sight.
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The urge to take pictures in front of the monument is irresistible for the comrades.

The signboard further announces that this section of the wall was ‘ranked first in the selection activity of China’s Forty Best Tourist Destination in 1991.’

The great wall of china 15
As the day progresses the crowd thins out as climbing is difficult in the harsh sun.

Have you been in Beijing? Have you been to the Great Wall? Leave a comment and let me know.

Jungles of Madhya Pradesh – Satpura

While most of Madhya Pradesh’s national parks are overrun by family tourists and amateur photographers jostling each other in their safari jeeps for a glimpse of the mighty tiger, Satpura’s relative anonymity can be refreshing. There are neither frenzied queues at the safari counters nor are there olive green jeeps snaking from a kilometer to the entrance of the national park like in Kanva or Bandhavgarh. The pleasant nip in the morning air is, however, heavy with a quiet sense of anticipation.

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Denwa backwaters by the Satpura National Park

Spread across the belly of India, The rugged terrain of Satpura National park is part of a significant part of India’s Central Highlands and was set up in 1981 after combining Satpura, Pachmari and Bori sanctuaries. The park, rich in biodiversity, borrows its name from the Satpura Hill ranges that huddle around its periphery. The dry deciduous forests of Central India’s jungles are home to tiger, leopard, spotted and sambar deers, nilgai, four-horned and chinkara antelopes, gaur (Indian bison), wild boar, wild dogs, sloth bear, fox, porcupine, flying squirrel, mouse deer, and the Indian giant squirrel.

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Terrain of Satpura National Park
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Terrain of Satpura National Park

On a gray morning in late June while monsoon was slowly gaining momentum in the plains of central India, I visited Satpura. I went on safaris that were coloured by the anticipation of spotting the big cat – tiger and leopard. So the sambar deers, nilgai, four-horned and chinkara antelopes, gaur (Indian bison), wild boar and wild dogs stood little chance. I did not see the leopard, only its shadow at a distance. But I was amazed by the birdlife and wildlife at the national park.

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Denwa Backwater Escape. Pic courtesy: Pugdandee Safaris

I saw pied kingfishers hunting for termites near forest streams fringed by golden brown elephant grass. I spotted the Besra, Cresent serpent eagle, Brahmini starling, Great tit, White bellied drongo and white eye buzzard.

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Crescent Serpent Eagle

I enjoyed the raucous, discordant screeches of the Indian rollers preying on large insects. Their blue throat has earned them the name ‘neelkanth’ while their beauty, the acronym ABBR (Another Bloody Beautiful Roller) by the birding community.

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A Brahminy Starling

Perhaps the most beautiful and hard to find bird I spot during the safaris remain the Indian pitta. These migratory birds are so beautiful and somewhat rare to spot that they are the cover birds of most birding guides. Over false alarm calls by anxious Sambar deers, I spotted pittas everywhere – perched on the branches in the forest canopy, foraging for twigs and feasting on insects. “It is the pitta season. They are nesting now,” reassured our guide Raju.

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A nightjar.

All the bone rattling safari rides were compensated by a generous amount of beer guzzling and nibbling on the Burmese Khow Suey at the restaurant of the Denwa Backwater Escape resort, which overlooks the still waters of Denwa’s backwater.

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My cottage overlooking the backwater . Pic: Denwa Backwater Escape

In the end, I did came very close to spotting a leopard. As we waited for the ferry to take us across the backwaters after the final day of the safari, we heard high pitched alarm calls of cheetals. The leopard had successfully run riot in the stag party and has had its prey. Our naturalist confirmed this, adding that this incident happens almost every day.

 

The vision of a lone Mahua tree from my cottage, by the waters being whipped by the monsoon winds, is still fresh in my mind. Brown skinned cows grazing the golden grass, a peahen skittering across, her head bent, presumably looking for insects for her afternoon meal and a wary lapwing noisily calling away at cows to prevent them from accidentally trampling her expertly camouflaged nest. Intrepid swallows braving the wind and trying to fly against it. These are my memories of Satpura and Denwa Backwater Escape.

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A crocodile bark tree.
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A sambhar deer.

PS: I was hosted by Pugdandee Safaris for this trip.

Walking the streets of St. Petersburg, on Restaurant Day

Under the facade of its cold, gray skies and the uniformly stoic pre-Soviet era buildings, St. Petersburg (SPb) is at least not uptight. There is an air of conviviality as summer has melted away the grim cold winters. It is also after all brimming with enthusiastic people who prove their ability in cooking up gastronomically diverse cuisine by putting up stalls to sell home-cooked food.  I got to see this on display on the Restaurant Day on 16th August, quite the day I landed in SPb.

Crowd milling in front of a food truck
Crowd milling in front of a food truck
A couple sharing a moment during business
A couple sharing a moment during business
An Isreli chicken wrap - Sabich
An Isreli chicken wrap – Sabich

With not much excitement going on in Russian cuisine, the citizens have quickly looked elsewhere bringing in a host of dishes from outside the country, thus making the food scene more exciting. Sure, their beef stroganoff is a killer so is their sorrel soup, but there isn’t much of a diversity because vegetables or pulses are not available in Russia throughout the year owing to the harsh climate.

My buckwheat is better than any other
My buckwheat is better than any other
Georgian food, anyone
Georgian food, anyone

I found stalls, hidden in the alleyways, in front of its ornate, ancient Churches and in old industrial godowns converted into art projects selling Israeli, Mexican, Indian, American (read burgers) and Italian cuisine. Sure, nobody makes money out of this venture because it is a one-day affair. But it provides a platform for closet cooks and people who nurture the dream of opening a restaurant into affordable reality for a day.

Taste my homemade jam
Taste my homemade jam
Homebrewed beer
Homebrewed beer

Restaurant Day has a website and its About page reads thus: “Restaurant Day is a food carnival created by thousands of people organizing and visiting one-day restaurants worldwide. The idea of the day is to have fun, share new food experiences and enjoy our common living environments together. The event is facilitated by a team of volunteers who also maintain this website. All restaurateurs are personally responsible for all actions related to running their restaurants.”

Purple macaroons are 50 rubles each
Purple macaroons are 50 rubles each
Russian pancakes
Russian pancakes

There was home-brewed vodka in flavors of horseradish, orange and various spices. There was even home-made beer and buckwheat ice cream. And vegan is big here in Russia, as I hear. So is India. Each venue had at least one Indian themed stall that sold vegetarian food. One was even called Saregama, though the owner had not much of an idea what it meant other than that it is a name resonates with the idea of India.

Two girls channeling their Indian elements
Two girls channeling their Indian elements
Vegan brownie with banana, avacado et al
Vegan brownie with banana, avacado et al
More Indianness
More Indianness
Happy customers
Happy customers

And I met Big Lebowski. He is now grilling batches of spring onions wrapped in bacon strips at a food stall with his partner. Quite a domestic life, you might think. But the man’s drama of grilling with flair elicited a lot of responses from the patrons and he posed happily between his job for pictures, his black bathrobe whipped by the cold breeze.

Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski

Do you know of a famous Russian dish that I should try? Leave a comment and let me know.

Seven somewhat offbeat things to do in and around Interlaken, Switzerland

If there is a Bollywood pilgrimage an Indian wishes to do, Interlaken would figure prominently on the list. And many Indian tourists seem to be doing just that. With snow capped mountains, jade green rivers and lush greenery, Interlaken and the region around have been  fertile playground for Indian movies – Bollywood started the trend and the regional movies have caught on soon enough.

With fountains sporting sculptures of marmuts, charming store fronts, church spires and petunias in different colors on its streets, Interlaken couldn’t get any prettier if it wished. In the odd scenario of you being overwhelmed by this cuteness, here are 7 other things you could do in Interlaken.

PS: I’d say, visit Jungfrau, but it’s probably already on your list anyway. 🙂

1) Visit Lauterbrunnen

The Trummelbach falls in Lauterbrunnen valley alone is responsible for draining the mighty glacier defiles of three mountains – Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. As a result, in summer, the glacier water melts and comes down with huge force in 10 cascades inside the mountain. It is rendered accessible by a tunnel lift and also illuminated for the sake of viewing the mighty force in which water drops down. Also the rolling meadows of the Lauterbrunnen valley is a sight to withhold.

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The Glacier river at Lauterbrunnen
Ariel view of the Lauterbrunnen valley
Aerial view of the Lauterbrunnen valley

Note: Lauterbrunnen is 20 minutes from Interlaken on the SwissRail system.

2) Take a river cruise on Thun / Brienze

The lake and castle cruise on the panoramic Thun River in west-central Switzerland spans the distance from Interlaken to the town of Thun in about four hours, providing glimpses of Swiss riverside life and its beautiful castles. Situated west of Interlaken, Lake Thun is picture postcard material. Crested with mountain peaks capped with eternal snows of Brenese Alps, its turquoise blue waters are fed by the glaciers and hence always cold. A cruise on Lake Thun takes one past picturesque fishing villages and castles steeped in history.

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Cruise on river Thun
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Castles like this pass by as you cruise Thun

Note: You can use the Swiss rail pass on scheduled cruises. The day pass for the Lakes of Thun and Brienz cruises is available for a special price on Mondays for CHF 39 (INR 2500) for 2nd class tickets.

3) Explore the old town of Thun

If you take the sunset cruise on a summer day, the cruise boat arrives in Thun as the sun dips down leaving you with options to explore the town of Thun when there is still light. River Aare splits Thun into two and there are surfers in its unruly waters tethered to the wooden bridge across the river, practicing surfing in the waves. Set about walking the tiny alleyways of the city that has 45000 inhabitants and its old town, said to be formed in 12th century when Berchtold V of Zähringen built the Thun Castle.

the thun castle
Thun Castle
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Drehorgel, shown here, is an ancient musical instrument
A river surfer - thun
A river surfer – thun

4) Hike to the BachalpSee

Bachalpsee is at an elevation of 2,265 m can be reached from the First gondola station. Legend has it that Yash Chopra (who made around ten movies in the country, spurring an onset of Indian tourist arrivals in Switzerland) planned a Katrina – SRK number for his last movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan at the Bachalpsee. He passed away before the completion of the movie and the Bachalpsee shoot never did happen.

Views while hiking Bachalpsee
Views while hiking Bachalpsee
Views of Bachalpsee
Views of Bachalpsee
That's yours truly hiking Bachalpsee
That’s yours truly hiking Bachalpsee

Note: The hike can be done on your own. From Grindelwald station, take the gondola to First station and hike up to the lake.

5) Take an e-bike tour

If walking around Interlaken tires you out, do sign up for an e-bike tour. It covers a lot of ground and you can cycle on the gorgeous tree canopied streets and by the beautiful waterways of the town. You could stop at the town center, taste water from its fountain, take pictures wherever you feel like. It is of course, beneficial if you have a guide, who will explain you things and take you around.

Cycling in Interlaken
Cycling in Interlaken
That's me cycling in Interlaken
That’s me cycling in Interlaken

Note: Try the Flying Wheels (www.flyingwheels.ch) service in Interlaken town that also houses a quaint little shop that sells local produce (cheese, herbs and even organic cosmetics).

6) Try tandem paragliding

Two decades ago, Interlaken used to be known as the backpacking destination. Americans that love outdoors used to come in hordes. And then, quite suddenly, it became popular with Japanese. Japanese that love soft outdoor activities started discovering Interlaken and the opportunities for adventure sports. Now, it is more a family tourism destination for Indians and shopping destination for Chinese. There is still a large number of tourists that try their hand at tandem paragliding, jet boat, base jumping, mountain biking and so on in Interlaken.

Tandem paragliding
Tandem paragliding

7) Visit a dairy farm

If you are an urban product, who has never seen a cow in its elements, this will interest you. Even if you are not one, you will have to see how the Swiss treat their cows. The barns are really well kept and neat. The cows are treated well so much so that they are even provided with huge plastic brushes in the barn to rub themselves against if they so wish. The cows are also let loose in the meadows for three months during summer for grazing.

Cows in a farm
Cows in a farm
Left over bread recycled, for the cows
Left over bread recycled, for the cows

Have you been to Interlaken? What is your opinion? Why not leave a comment and let me know?

PS: I was kindly hosted by the Jungfrau Railways on this trip. I would love to say ‘opinions expressed in this article are mine’ but there aren’t too many of them in this, are they? Rest assured, I am not obliged to say anything I didn’t want to. 🙂

Remembering the Kochi – Muziris Biennale 2012

The second Kochi – Muziris Biennale, the contemporary art festival, has been kick started recently in Kochi, Kerala, India. The festival runs from December 12, 2014 to March 29, 2015. Spread across 8 venues in Fort Kochi, this year’s festival will feature 94 artists from 30 different countries. Themed Whorled Explorations, the biennale will “bring together sensory and conceptual propositions that map our world referencing history, geography, cosmology, time, space, dreams and myths.” according to its website.

I attended the first biennale held in 2012 at the same venues and came back with some interesting images for a post. But I did not have a blog back then and posting these in Facebook seemed like a disservice to these complex renditions. Here are a few of these images since I think blogs elicit a bit more discerning audience.

‘Ways of Seeing’ by Vivek Vilasini

Vivek Vilasini’s works (and their titles, more so) seem pretty self-explanatory without a synopsis. Here, the artist explores the duality of perception through these images.

Ways of seeking - Vivek Vilasini
Ways of seeking – Vivek Vilasini

‘The Last Supper – Gaza’ by Vivek Vilasini

Yet another work that depicts the famous Last Supper painting but in an extremely unlikely setting.

The last supper gaza by Vivek Vilasini
The last supper gaza by Vivek Vilasini

‘Veni, vidi, vici – I came, I saw, I conquered’ by L.N. Tallur

Synopsis: Conquest is a basic human characteristic. At a macro level, history of mankind is full of conquering of the land, its being and its possessors. At a micro level, it is an attempt of conquer death, hunger and ageing. Hatha Yoga is the Yoga (union) of Ham (vital life force) and Tham (mental force). Hatha Yoga teaches how to conquer hunger, thirst, and sleep; how to overcome the effects of heat and cold; how to gain perfect health and cure disease without using drugs; how to arrest the untimely decay of the body resulting from the waste of vital energy; how to preserve youth even at an age of one hundred…

Vedi Vidi Vinci - L N Tallur
Vedi Vidi Vinci – L N Tallur
Vedi Vidi Vinci - L N Tallur
Vedi Vidi Vinci – L N Tallur
Vedi Vidi Vinci - L N Tallur
Vedi Vidi Vinci – L N Tallur

‘Untitled’ by Sun Xun

The Malayalam phrase reads ‘sathyathinu tolvi matram’ – loosely translated as ‘truth only loses.’

Untitled by Sun Xun
Untitled by Sun Xun

‘Untitled’ by Subodh Gupta

Synopsis: The boat suggests notions of migration and survival, experienced most acutely by the deprived masses of the society, which feature prominently in several past works of the artist. When the familiar world and home ceases to be what we know it to be, then the natural instinct of man compels him to convert that piece of boat into his home.

Untitled by Subodh Gupta
Untitled by Subodh Gupta

‘Untitled’ by M.I.A

Yes, she is a rockstar artist. True to her personality, this installation consisted of ‘ten brightly colored, 8 foot long print collages, framed with custom-built mirror mosaics. Built up of layers of saturated, digital colors and reflective, light-catching surfaces, the works feature 3D images of parrots, jungle foliage and gemstones, layered with photographs of crowds, children and cars.’ Totally multi-colored, totally M.I.A.

Untitled by M.I.A
Untitled by M.I.A
Untitled by M.I.A
Untitled by M.I.A

‘Tug of War’ by Jalaja

Duality in human identity. In Jalaja’s words: “Singly, person gains vitality; his emotions and aspirations become central to us all. When we look at him in a wider context, he is just part of a queue, a mob.”

Tug of war by Jalaja
Tug of war by Jalaja

‘The Sovereign Forest by Amar Kanwar’

Synopsis: The Sovereign Forest attempts to reopen discussion and initiate a creative response to our understanding of crime, politics, human rights and ecology. The installation seeks help from film, books and multiple media of various dimensions.

The sovereign forest by Amar Kanwar
The sovereign forest by Amar Kanwarf

 

‘The Ship of Tarshish’ by Prasad Raghavan

Synopsis: The Ship of Tarshish, while a Biblical reference, illustrates the essential deceptiveness and darkness of man’s heart. It is evil and self-seeking and in its wake are conflict and slavery. They (the British) came bearing their spiritual greatness and left bearing the wealth of the conquered.

The ship of Tarshish by Prasad Raghavan
The ship of Tarshish by Prasad Raghavan

‘Fado music in reverse’ by Robert Montgomery

“The strange new music of the crying songs of the people we left behind mixing as your boat touches stone here as my new bones touch your bones.” This poem, composed by Robert himself, is about “exile in light on the sea-facing facade of Aspinwall House.”

Fado music in reverse by Robert Montgomery
Fado music in reverse by Robert Montgomery

‘Erase’ by Srinivas Prasad

Synopsis: At the end of the viewing period the cocoon is set ablaze at night in a ritual that destroys the structure along with the thoughts, memories and confessions uttered within. All remnants of the construction are destroyed leaving nothing behind except sand.

Erase by Srinivas Prasad
Erase by Srinivas Prasad

‘Cloud for Kochi’ by Alfredo Jaar

Synopsis: The texts are written in reverse making them unreadable but poetic signs. By looking at their reflection in the water, they become readable. A fragment from one of the most beautiful poems ever written in any language: Kalidasa’s Cloud Messenger, choosing the segments related to water and clouds, and ideally locate these texts on the wall in the shape of a cloud. On one side, the text is in Sanskrit. On the other side in English.

Cloud for Kochi by Alfredo Jaar
Cloud for Kochi by Alfredo Jaar

‘Celebration in the Laboratory’ by Atul Dodiya

Synopsis: The photo installation Celebration in the Laboratory celebrates some of the contributors who have made Indian modern and contemporary art significant.

Celebration in the laboratory by Atul Dodiya
Celebration in the laboratory by Atul Dodiya
Celebration in the laboratory by Atul Dodiya
Celebration in the laboratory by Atul Dodiya

’72 Privileges’ by Joseph Semah

Synopsis: The story of the copper plates tells us about the 72 privileges that were granted to the Jewish and Christian communities by the last king of the Chera dynasty, Cheraman Perumal.

72 Privileges by Joseph Semah
72 Privileges by Joseph Semah

Miscellaneous Wall Arts

A wall art
A wall art
Another wall art
Another wall art

Are you going to the Biennale being held this year in Kochi? Leave a comment.