Wednesday, 15 April 2015


This sketch is technically only half finished, but given my recent track record I thought it would be better to share it as is, rather than wait to finish it at home, something that may never happen. More and more often, I find I don't have the patience to improve or "finish" a sketch once I leave the spot where I did it.

Last sunday I spent the morning at The Madras Boat Club. The early morning rowing members were long gone and the boats that had been used were lying overturned sunning themselves by the river-side. They looked like giant blue porpoises.

While I did this my mum sketched me! You can check out her sketch here!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Surfs Up

Not many people know this but you can surf at the beach in Madras. Well, not technically Madras, but Kovalam. On proper surf boards with instructors to guide you and tell you about proper technique. Known as the Covelong Point Surfing School, its run by a vibrant new, young group of surfers with a strong connection to the local community at Kovalam.

Right now they just have a shade net propped up on a few poles but a new cafe with toilets and showers and a few rooms is getting built.

Many of my friends have made it a regular sunday outing and I finally went along the last couple of weeks. They surfed, I sketched.

Newcomers are given a tutorial and then made to go through all the motions on the board on land before venturing out. The location has a nice cove (hence the name) where the undertow we have along the rest of the coast is not as strong.

Its just the beginning of April and its blistering hot but there are dozens of surfers from various countries. Some staying at nearby hotels. There are regulars from the city and lots of locals. Young boys from the fishing community are the real pros. Its a real treat to just sit and watch them ride the waves.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Holiday in the Hills

Life and work has been pretty hectic. In the middle of all the madness it was really refreshing to take a much needed break and head out to the hills. We drove to Munnar which is a quiet sleepy town surrounded by vast tea estates. That's the view across the valley from our resort. Somehow the days were packed and hectic too but I managed to sketch early in the morning. I noticed that in some estates the tea bushes are planted along the contours while in others, like this one, the lines run perpendicular. Wonder why?

We only stayed two nights. This sketch was done early on the second morning. The path winding up to our cottage was really picturesque. Halfway up there was a little round viewing deck, although the real stunning view was towering over and behind it.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The ensemble prepares

The shows at Jagriti start at 8pm each night and the actors go down to the theatre at 4 every day. First a line through, where people pair off and run their scenes. Paul alone has a deluge of monologues that he diligently goes through in his favourite chair.
After this a group warm up happens. The seven member cast form a circle and each day a different person leads the body warm up.

Today it was Paul's turn and the cyclical movement of the suryanamaskaram done in a circle was mesmerising to watch.
Next up is the voice warm up. Aparna lead the group in a new one that doubled up as a group massage.

Each actor by turn gets to lie in the centre while the other six give a synchronised massage while synchronising breath hand movement and voice. The massage looked amazing! I seriously considered abandoning the sketchbook to sneak in there somehow.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Jagriti Season 2014

For a second year in a row, Perch is at Jagriti's season. The second of five plays, we're here for two weeks. One week has flown past in all the frenzy and anxiousness of set up, lights, tech and getting an old play revived with some new actors in the cast. But with 4 shows and a rest day now under our belt, I finally pulled out my sketchbook.

One of the nicest things about performing at Jagriti is the studio apartment where the troupe stays. Its a large two storey apartment on the 7th and 8th floor with all the balconies overlooking the theatre. Today's show starts in 3 hours and the luxury of not having to commute but just take the lift down is indescribably amazing. Anyone who has ever been in Bangalore traffic will know what I mean.

6 more days and 7 more shows to go. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

First Show in Kandy

We had two shows of Jujubee in Kandy, both organised by the Catholic community there. Father Nandana, the Parish Priest of St. Antony's Cathedral in Kandy had mobilised everyone and they had really taken care of all our needs. The famous annual Buddhist festival of  Esala Perahara was to start in Kandy in two days. All hotels were booked out so Father Nandana had arranged for all of us to stay the first night at the Fatima Retreat in Lewella. That evening, which was our only free evening, we visited the famed Tooth Temple with Sam from NTT giving us a well informed tour.

The next morning we were up at dawn to leave for the venue of the first Show - Good Shepherd Convent, Kandy.
The actors checked out the hall and set up while the morning prayers were said over a microphone. John and I didn't have much to do. There were simple switches for a row of lights and we decided to just switch them on and leave them on.

It was the 125th year of the Convent. There were streamers and decorations all over the hall. One of the most memorable/ hilarious/ sheepish moments of the entire trip for us happened just before the show. We had woken up and eaten breakfast very early and just before the show everyone was really hungry. We were told snacks and tea was organised. We found a room behind the stage laid out with delicious snacks. Samosas in one corner, and then pyramids of egg sandwiches, fish and vegetable rolls, chocolate cake, coffee and juice. Needless to say everyone helped themselves greedily. Just then one of the volunteers looked in to check if we were Ok and was obviously stunned that we had started eating. Apparently only the samosas were meant as a pre-show snack and the whole thing was laid out for after the show. We were supposed to have tea and snacks with the School Principal and the Father!! Terrible sheepishness followed.
The morning show went off pretty well. The convent girls were a little older than the ideal age group,  also a little shy and very disciplined but by the end of it, they were clapping and squealing with enthusiasm. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Off to Sri Lanka

As soon as we returned from Bangalore it was time to pack up and go to Srilanka. And when I say "pack up" I really mean it. Jujubee had been invited by NTT to do 6 shows in Kandy and Colombo and the large and lovely props made by Aarti had to be very carefully packaged to go as check-in baggage.
We were at the airport phenomenally early as requested by Srilankan airlines and they were so helpful that we had a lot of time to spare after check-in.
While doing this sketch, I stood with my sketchbook balanced on the handrail with a double volume space below me overlooking the concourse. Just as I finished and closed my book one of my pens fell down. I looked down and could see it there but no one passed by. I decided to take the escalator down to the boarding gates as it was almost time anyway but once downstairs I couldn't find my way back to the place where my pen was. Instead the labyrinthine corridors kept twisting away from the new building into the depths of the old airport and row upon row of musty handicraft shops! Ultimately I came all the way back and got a passing official to throw up my pen but the new airport remains a bit mysterious.
The flight to Colombo was just one hour with a lovely view of the Palk Strait. On the way down to land we hit some of the worst turbulence I've encountered in my memory. Colombo was covered in low rain clouds and at one point we suddenly dropped - I felt as though my stomach was in my throat but then we were out again and all you could see was blue water and the endless green of coconut trees.
Heading out of Bandaranaike airport we didn't go into Colombo since the first few shows were lined up in Kandy. There was a sleek 20 seater bus and Sam Perera from NTT waiting there for us - we were off to the hills!