Visiting my childhood friends across the country was simply marvelous. Well, firstly to stab into the everyday routine and do something else is always liberating, and to add the company of forever friends....it meant everything to me. When we come together after living lives so differently from one another and share our stories to receive perspective and acknowledgment adds tremendous value to my growth as both an Artist as well as just being human itself.
When Monday hit, our togetherness came to a brief pause when they had to dive into the worlds of their 9 to 5s and I was left to find meaning out of the day by myself. I did some research into how I can fill my day with the possibility of visiting an Art Gallery, but nothing was open that fine Monday. I resorted to just leaving the contemporary DC apartment my friend shared with her man to get out of their way and also seizing the opportunity to experiencing the city in my own way.
Having just had a lasik surgery, I double checked to see if I still had my sunglasses in my little bag, threw on my warm jacket, and made my way into the streets of downtown D.C. As I started walking I realized how cold it actually was, I quickly went back to retrieve my beanie. As I walked into the outdoors once again, the cold suddenly wasn't so crummy anymore and I regretted getting my beanie since it was just one more thing to carry around. Furthermore, my vision started becoming blurry even after I used my refresh tears as recommended by the doc. Not a great start to the day but I was determined to explore the city and that's what I did.
I googled the nearest coffee shop, walked in quickly hauling out my mask, and ordered the sweetest drink on their menu. I wasn't overjoyed by the ambience, but I really needed that mocha iced coffee. It was ready before I knew it, and just as I predicted in my head, it was not the best. I noticed the barista not putting his heart into the creation process, and in my head just chose to forgive him. Who knows what he's going through and after all, it's just a drink. This is no biggie -we are currently facing a whole ghastly pandemic after all.
I found a spot in the cafe, downed my drink and dashed out, reassuring myself that there was certainly better out there. I mean this was D.C. I had nothing to worry about. So I decided not to google the next cafe (this time for some light eats- no not another coffee don't worry), but instead hit upon it organically because maybe this may turn my luck around. I kept on walking, through silent streets filled with lonely homes, through busy streets filled with grocery stores, restaurants and cafes, noticing very, very interesting people along the way. I asked a security guard where the nearest Metro station was, he pointed me in the wrong way, but thankfully a kind father with a stroller, noticing this, directed me correctly. I was just curious to see if I can perhaps make my way to Georgetown, an area I adored, and maybe just spend time appreciating the architecture and the food of the place. As I made my way into the station, someone there guided me with which train to take and where to switch, I changed my mind as I was too impatient to go all the way and also didn't particularly enjoy the stares on a deserted Monday morning in the underground. Living in Baltimore before, a memory of a guy swearing across the street at me returned to my brain, and I chose to leave and head on back into civilization. Better safe than sorry.
Like I promised myself earlier, I chose not to google the next cafe but instead walk into whatever seemed attractive to me...and this I did. I hit upon a spot called "Busboys and Poets" and man, I had to pinch myself into reality. It was almost as if I had walked into a little Harry Potter scene but with regular humans. But even these regular humans had such a cultural and artsy vibe about them that I instantly adored. It's a form of self-expression I would love to excel in, when you're authentically yourself and it shows just with your attire and vibe.
It was split into a little bookstore to the left and opened to a sort of hang out lounge with food and beverages to the right. I asked someone working there if I could make my way over to a chair and get seated and settled, and he looked at me confused. I think this was because he was used to regulars just coming in without asking questions about obvious things like this as it was part of their everyday comfort. He showed me to a wildly cozy looking chair and I immediately sank into it, finally putting an end to an insane amount of being on my feet most of the morning,
Leaving my jacket behind in the open to ensure I locked my spot in the restaurant, and what seemed like a community who knew one another by sight at least, I worked my way to the bookstore part of the cafe and admired the thick dusty books on the shelves placed as if they were just read and put back. That in a way felt communal in my head, as if the previous reader was in some weird way handing it to the next reader, thereby creating a sort of bond. I reached for one of these books just to be a part of this transaction and after simply reading the title and author's name, placed it back in an angle I deliberately chose. It felt like whispering a request for acceptance into this silent association that I completely wanted to embrace in my time there.
Once I headed back to my chair, choosing to go with finishing up my own book that I had in my bag, I skimmed over the menu before I spotted the man next to me holding a glass of what looked like iced matcha latte. I settled on ordering that as I saw the waiter headed my way. What I found very peculiar was another man closely followed the waiter as if monitoring his every move, something I would despise for myself. As they came closer, I realized that this was some unusual co-waitering that I had never quite come across before.
The waiter in front leaned close into my face and asked me what I preferred to munch on as I read my book, addressing me as "young lady" the whole time. I found it so funny that he was saying that since just that morning I was bothered by how in less than a few months I will indeed be 28 years. Him calling me that made the whole thing hilarious and I suddenly felt relaxed about growing old.
After ordering and eating my food, I slipped out, doing this as swiftly as I could, fearing that this may be perceived as exiting the "community" since I know that it would be a long time before I come back as I had a flight to catch to the west coast the very next day. I made myself feel better when I remembered my little mark with the book placement. It still felt like a silent break-up with no closure whatsoever. Just acceptance.
Nothing like traveling and gaining experiences from it. The part that excites me the most is what I see and feel on the way to a particular place. The excitement, the anticipation- I love all of it.
This piece is an interpretation of the magnificent sight of the ocean visible from the local train I used to take up to LA. I would always make sure I had my ear phones and a good book before I boarded. The first thing I did before I got myself comfortably seated would always be to check to see where the cafeteria was. The journey lasts around two and a half hours and there's no way I could go without a little something to keep me from getting grumpy. Especially when you're seated with not much to do, fewer distractions, it's hard not to get hungry....you know how it is.
I try to sit in a different orientation every time as much as possible. I always felt like doing that will give me a creative pinch to think differently. I was not really into painting at that time during my trips to LA, it was more for the Performing Arts world, but I still needed to make sure I absorbed my surroundings like a sponge. Human interaction and behavior was my greatest interest and that hasn't changed till this very day.
I remember this one girl who had a little sketchbook inventing these amazing illustrations of the interiors of the train. I tried to act like I wasn't watching her sketch, but I just couldn't help myself. She was so into it, so involved with her act of creativity, that it was amusing to watch how concentrated someone can be. To throw yourself into your imagination and express yourself is everything I love doing and it was a pleasure to watch an Artist do it even outside of her studio. I was instantly inspired to bring my sketchbook with me for my next trip and promised myself I would. Did I actually? No. I forgot every time.
The thoughts that run through your head while you go on a train just feel...peculiar. I feel like it's a time given to you to analyze what's really going on in your life and how you want to tamper with it to make things better for you. It's a kind of silence thrown my way, silence from the routine, silence from human connections, silence from the ''next'' thing to do. A silence that I needed more than I ever thought I did. So amazingly beneficial.
This diptych represents a combination of looking out the train as well as car windows in India. Something about the beautiful dense sap greens, some very peculiar yellow greens that I just can't seem to find here in America, speak to my soul. What I truly savor are those little moments and holes that you can find the distant sky in between the stunning Desi vegetation....as if to break the unevenness of mother nature. An unevenness, so phenomenal, that somehow it all makes sense to me.
Growing up, I was never one to enjoy long journeys due to my severe motion sickness. However, once the journey was lengthy enough, it would come to that point wherein my queasy feelings would have long passed as my body adjusted to the state of travel. My mind slowly proceeds to a kind of trace where I drift into some intense day dreaming. My imagination is unlocked and set free into the wildest of wilds. The visuals I experience as I stare out the window play a major role in the manifestation of these thoughts and imagery.
This painting speaks to the changing skies I often witness towards the end of the day as we head on home from a day filled with new adventures in an unfamiliar city. The evening sky unfolding into nighttime is such a breathtaking phenomenon and almost serves as a metaphor to the beginning and end of life itself. Almost like falling asleep as your eyes slowly close and experiencing all that haze while that happens....
Music can take me to the strangest of places. It can transport me to the most random of memories, so specific that I'm often shocked that I even had it stored in my medium sized head for this long. Where are these little pockets of stories kept? Maybe there's a tiny entryway that leads to a bunch of different compartments and every time a new memory is created, these compartments diminish in size until they are completely tucked away into the backs of our heads and rolled off down our spinal cords. Somehow though, these random memories find a way to simply linger....
I often swing my Spotify to the 2016 pop playlist. This was the year I moved to LA to explore a career in Acting at the New York Film Academy (yes I know that can be confusing- it is located in LA). My feelings were everywhere, I definitely made the move with confidence but as soon as I heard that we were meant to audition right in the beginning even before I had developed a single skill, my palms started to sweat a little. I had no idea what I did even today, I remember completely winging it by simply watching a couple of YouTube videos. By the fifth video I decided I knew how to act now, and did....something at the audition. However good or bad that audition went, I recall stepping out of that room and feeling so excited. I loved every second of it.
I soon came to the understanding that at this school I could completely be myself and express everything I needed to in front of my classmates through the means of 'acting'. It was the most liberating time of my life. I would wake up in the morning going through my numb morning routine, walk to my class in the hottest of hot suns (also the year I started having the worst of breakouts), grab a quick breakfast at the cafeteria (usually a hummus salad, I was soon named Hummus by my buddies), so I had some amount of energy to release my deepest of thoughts and emotions within the secure walls of the classroom. I did forget to mention that during my walks over to class, I always listened to some intense 2016 music, usually rhythms full of soul and passion. And this was the same playlist I pull out even today, songs that remind me of that year, all these feelings I was in a way forced to experience, but when I did it was the greatest sensations ever.
I remember back in college in Chennai, India, when my painting buddies and I spent hours and hours on our canvases together in class, listening to our own music. It was an experience beyond the ordinary, where we all used our creative instincts to build an image on surfaces while being drowned in music that helped glide the strokes of our brushes. These marks of time were made uniformly with the flow of melody. Some even enjoyed club thumping beats which brought out deep and powerful colors and impressions, and I always enjoyed watching them dance to their Art. Sometimes, this was also me. It reminded me that music can bring out so much out of you all at once, and when in sync with imaginativeness and visions, it can only produce magic.
Music enables freedom and can be so oh so gripping, inspirational, and meaningful all at the same time that sometimes when I have it blasting in my studio space, I'm transported to a place in my mind where I'm feeling extremely safe, comforted and valued. A place filled with faith, a place brimming with optimism. I can even tell the difference based on how expressive I am on my canvas whether I had music on while in the act of creation or not. I don't need to necessarily have music playing every time I paint, but at least sometime during the course of that same day. The power music holds is simply immeasurable and I owe it oh just so much.
I didn't think twice before starting my ''Moonlight'' painting series. I was pretty much confident in what I wanted my next series to be all about. It was the first thing that popped into my head and just like a lot of other things in my life, I led with my heart.
My work is usually full of emotion, crammed with memories, and dense with hope. I think the reason I decided on the art of creativity based on the light of the moon was exactly this. I feel like the subtle light depicted by the moon, so soft, so timid, having the power to glow so wonderfully, is a lot like human life and emotion.
My first painting in the series, ''I lit up'', is an expression of those cute feelings I experience when I encounter and embrace the little things in life. Those feelings that make my heart warm, that contain all kinds of happiness that a million dollars can't equate. The curiosity that sparks within me when I land in a new country and just so excited and nervous at the same time about what I may come across. As I step out of the plane and experience the weather condition of this new place, it gives me a different kind of thrill. A kind of rush and wonderment on what this area is all about, what kind of people are out here, whether they also enjoy ice-cream as that's important to me, if they will welcome me with a big smile or an annoyed stare. No matter what though I was there to adventure and be a part of their culture.
Giving a hug to anyone I haven't seen in ages, who I did truly miss, also makes my heart skip a beat. All those special memories come gushing back and you feel like a minute hasn't passed since the last time you saw each other, because you love them exactly the same. As I grow older and older, I realize the importance of these meaningful relationships full of affection, that nothing else can quiet compare. As teenagers, we all wait to grow older and build lives for ourselves full of freedom and just being ALONE, but once we're there, we begin to yearn for the company of people who care for us unconditionally. It's just so crucial in just so many ways.
My second painting (second being the order I painted them in), dives into how I analyze this spectacular phenomenon, that is the light of the moon. Numerous late night walks by the beach with the moon just staring down at me made me wonder if the way to the moon was indeed the light and if so, how do I get there. Not that I wanted to land on the moon or anything like that, but more like how do I reach this feeling of 'infinity and beyond', a place where nobody knows who I am or what I exist for. Mostly to feel different, to find a part of me that just couldn't possibly be found if I simply stayed put here on Earth. When I was in Art School, a lot of my little Art studies were based on trying to discover this alternate space, a place where words didn't make sense, emotions unborn, the skies were flipped and cruelty was unknown. So to me, the light was my tunnel to complete bliss....now to just try to break it down, understand it enough to row my boat across towards it.
My final painting from the Moonlight Series, ''Moon Warming'', is me throwing a spin on the coolness of the night sky, the soothing sensation of the air around us, by bringing in some heat, some energy, some zest and blaze. As you may have guessed, I extracted the title ''Moon Warming'' from the concept of housewarming of course. Just like you celebrate a new home and all things associated with it like getting married, kids being born, having friends over, late-night movie nights, mothers forgetting to turn the stove off, fathers reading newspapers by the little window, just tons and tons of memories that are made along with the purchase of a new home. Similarly, with the ''Moon Warming'' painting, I wanted to bring in a new dimension to the coolness of the moon, brighting it up into something closer to daylight when my thoughts are slightly happier as compared to the overthinking that happens late at night (I'm sure many can relate to this). Not only do I want to make the light emitted by the moon more joyful but also just mix it up a bit. That's another one of my hobbies, flipping, wavering and yeah just..bringing in a contemporary dynamic to things.
I just have a special liking for the night sky, something that reminds me that it's the end of the day, no matter how the day went, it's done, and a new day awaits. Fresh starts, blessed to see another day... the light of the moon is that little spark of hope.
The whole idea of having a routine scares me. Then again, when I realize that I don't have a fixed routine, I will never get anything done. If I don't throw myself into getting my to-do list check marked, I have no purpose in life. Especially being self-employed......I create my own schedule and it's definitely worked against me.
My personality doesn't feel like it's suited for adding those little check marks that make me feel good about my day. I want to check mark something just a little more meaningful to me, like getting a laugh in for the day or taking a spontaneous road trip to LA. It's that adrenaline that I often miss in this monotonous lifestyle we exist within, especially now with quarantine and all. Staying at home being the new norm and vaccination being your token to freedom....it is absolutely incredible how life's been shuffled and the cards dealt to us is indeed a beautiful pandemic.
Hence, routine has taken over my life more than ever. I guess it's okay, it means getting things done, it means paving a path to attaining a goal, it means stability in every sense, it means living life with a purpose. It means a lot of things. But it also means not living impulsively, not riding on your immediate instincts, not so many things....and that's also okay I guess. The problem I do have with it is sometimes I create this big idea of what my future looks like...or even what next month may look like, that I lose sight of today. I kind of blame my routine for this because it is what's working towards this assumed future...but again, it's okay. I need to focus on how routine life is not such a bad thing after all.
I always wonder how different people lead their lives. I see a guy hanging at the back of his jeep wearing the most chill outfit of the century, getting his half-eaten burrito out of a brown bag, and walking towards an empty bench getting ready to indulge in the other half of his now soggy burrito. I wondered what his routine is like, where did he come from, if he even had a routine, if so was he following through with it. Maybe he went around town trying out different burritos, identified that the one he was holding was half-decent, and decided to finish it on this bench facing the deep turquoise ocean. He probably thought it deserved the view.
There is one thing I love about my routine life apart from the fact that I know it's going to help me evolve in the long run. And that is the chocolate milk. It's always consistently good, because I the masterchef of my own food which is only tolerable enough for me to consume, have standardized on a method of creating this drink. I am currently off sugar but I still enjoy a good stevia and cacao based chocolate milk. It never, ever, never fails me. Whether I wake up super happy and ready to apply some carpe diem, or whether I'm in the mood to kick down the thickest tree with a good Beckham grit, the choccy milk will always be dependable.
I remember the first time I discovered this routine life, the first time I ever had to apply it for myself. It was as soon as I left home and realized that being 'independent' came with its own challenges. It was actually the first time I learnt how to turn on a stove or clean a toilet bowl. I was so fascinated when I understood how these complicated chores worked that I felt like I could dominate the world if I put my mind to it. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but it really was a remarkable feeling though. When I took control of my life, I also felt a lot more confident in why I chose to move and be by myself, how I'm doing what I really want to do and subsequently, making life value as well as goal oriented at the same time. Being in my early twenties, that was really important to know and understand for myself. That was everything to me at that time.
I also came to the conclusion that asking questions was key to living and learning. It doesn't make you any less of a human being to ask out loud absolutely anything at all that you're baffled about. I had this initial fear when I moved to the States that if I asked questions, people around me would assume that I was just such a newbie and would be left to the side. I soon came to know that that was probably the silliest misconception I'd ever had. Once I observed the people around me shooting questions after questions, doubts after doubts, opinions after options, I resolved to do the very same.
Which I did....and never stopped. I asked my peers random questions about their lives, I asked my professors anything I needed to know to further my artistic abilities, I asked my counselors who they thought I was from their perspective, I asked a guy at the grocery store how he liked working there...I just kept on asking. It really did help. Not only did it benefit my knowledge of what was going on, but also my time in the studio. It brought me some awareness on what I wanted to specialize in my practice. I started sensing what I really wanted to do with my life and how I was supposed to delve into a path as abstract as Art....which brought me to the realization that it was indeed the world of Abstraction itself.
Anyway, all in all, having a routine is beneficial guys. It can be hard sometimes but it does help sculpt out purpose and definitely boosts identifying meaning to life and existence. So grab that pen and paper (yes I'm totally old school), and jot down that list! ;)