Sunday, 21 August 2011

Fringeford memories

Today I was supposed to meet up with a fellow sketcher and spend the morning sketching outside. I hadn't blogged for the past few days with pent up excitement thinking I will have loads of fresh stuff to share by now. But waking up at five am I realised that it had rained all night and was still raining and our grand plans were all cancelled. Until next weekend then......

And so I fall back on some sketches that I made during a lovely relaxed holiday my husband and I had in northern Kerala. Wayanad is a hilly district and the place we stayed - Fringeford - was suggested by a friend. The first sketch is the narrow path through which the jeep drives in as you get your first glimpse of the house.

Now fringeford is not just a house or homestay. It was originally a cardamom and coffee estate which the present owner has allowed to grow wild. It is 520 acres of rainforest on hilly terrain with multiple streams and lots of wild animals running through it. The house is just five  bed-rooms, a kitchen and a verandah dining hall. We were very lucky to be the only guests when we were there - made us feel like the lords of the jungle... or something :)

You step out of the rooms onto a shaded courtyard with a mango tree and the ground falls away to this stream with lovely cold clear water rushing through it. If you stay for several days like we did and need to get your laundry done, they have one or two local women from the village who come by to help in the kitchen and these women take your clothes down to this stream and wash them on those stones!

There is no TV and no cell phone signal as the house is bang in the middle of all that jungle. What you can do instead is walk for miles and do a lot of animal and bird watching. The resident guide Shaji takes you on early morning and late evening treks that are customized for your trekking skill level (relatively low in my case) where you put on leech socks and scramble through jungle for a half hour or so before you come upon a breath-taking view, a gushing waterfall or a wild elephant.

The other fantastic memory from this place has got to be the food. Local, fresh, delicious and cooked in a wood fire kitchen in the old traditional way. Lots of coconut and coconut oil. The cook was an elderly man, again from a nearby village, and boy! did I eat a lot. Once done with a meal, we would totter out of the verandah into the shade of the mango tree in the courtyard and sit in a mild food coma in one of the lounging chairs. The best one was that hammock over there and the view you got was of the hill sloping up on the other side of the stream. It was thickly wooded and I tried sketching the trees the first day but was not terribly happy with that sketch so I gave it another shot on the last day again...

Monday, 15 August 2011

Kochi trip

Well, here's the coloured sketch of the flight back from Kochi as promised. The trip was courtesy the Metro Plus theare fest and we all stayed at the gateway hotel on Marine Drive. All the actors arrived a day early and on saturday evening we all assembled in Anand's room - 218 for a line reading. Only Karuna and Anish were coming in on later flights that evening and as Meena and Ravi their lines were easily skipped - so the line reading was essentially all the group scenes and songs.

The room had a cosy nook with a sofa around which the actors huddled as they ran through their lines and once again I was trying to improve my quick sketching so these sketches were done in a tiny sketchbook with a fat brush pen. Roughly five minutes a sketch.

Ultimately, though the show was a hit with the audience an uncanny number of lines were forgotten or goofed up. The gaffs were covered up with some quick thinking at times and with sheer fluke at other times making it a really hilarious show for those of us who knew what was going on.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Back from Kochi

Last weekend was spent in Kochi with Perch, where we put up Ms. Meena again. I did a bunch of sketches in a sketchbook but ever since I got back I've been so swamped with work that there's been no time to put the finishing touches to them. On my way out to Kochi I was so pumped up about sketching and determined to do a sketch in the airport even before we took off. I had loaded my hand baggage with sketching material and then I couldn't find a place to sit at our currently terrible Madras airport. On the flight I was at a window looking out at monsoon clouds.

So, feeling that lugging all those books and art material would be a waste I checked it in on the return flight. And then it turns out we're in a cute little dinky aircraft with only two seats per side and I got the aisle but had no sketchbook! Bummer! Some hotel stationery came to my rescue. The paper's really thin so I thought I'd share it with you before I try and put watercolours on it. Never know if the sketch will live thru that.

The show went really well and the Kochi audence gave us rave reviews. Will share the line reading sketches with you soon, I hope!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Salon self portrait

This is me attempting to draw me as my hair gets tugged at a salon near my house. What has always amazed me is how effortlessly these women (and men these days) at the salon get your hair to do their every bidding while back at home those same docile locks just rebel and do as they please.

This time around I was sitting in this chair for three hours while doing a very long drawn out hair straightening process which involves smearing some goop in your hair, followed by a waiting period, and then they smear some more goop in your hair. Then they wrap up your head in cling-wrap for a bit and you sit there feeling like a lettuce in the fridge. Now all this while I was not doing this sketch. I was correcting an electrical tender document, and managing rather well, all things considered.

After an hour they unwrapped my head and washed the goop away after which the lady started ironing my hair. It was at this point that I did the sketch. The ironing went on for a little under half an hour at which point the ink drawing was done and I put it away. Usually when I sketch in public places, its a good way to start off a friendly chat with the people around me, but this being an up-market salon (or so I assume because of the discreetness of the people working there) not one person said a thing to me as I sketched away. Several people peeked at it and smiled shyly and walked away.

I cam home and did the painting in all enthusiasm and botched up my face. Well, it didn't look like me in the first place anyway.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

One hell of a Bangalore Weekend

I must have been to Bangalore a gazillion times but last weekend, for the first time I went with a group of close friends with no agenda - no specific family or friends to meet, no function to attend and no play to stage. All my friends had done this before, it was a first only for me so when we started saturday morning off with breakfast at Koshy's they all nearly fell out of their chairs when I said I had never been there before. It was decided then (though actually it was probably the agenda anyway) that we should spend the entire weekend visiting as many such cool hang-out places - pubs, restaurants, breakfast joints etc etc and we covered eleven over two days!!

I initially had grand hopes and plans of sketching in each place, but the second place where we went to was Hard Rock cafe and because I took a while painting there all the others were forced to buy a second round of drinks and there was much Tsk-tsking and genial pulling of my leg all around so I desisted from then on. The waiter at hard rock who waited at our table was a Sandeep who was a happy chirpy chap. If you asked him to turn up the music volume he would do so and then dance all the way down the aisles between all the tables and he was most intrigued by my sketch and then my little painting kit. Soon a bunch of waiters came and huddled around our table and as soon as the sketch was done (the paint was still wet) they asked to see my sketchbook and gave me many smiles. Altogether a happy place.

But our schedule was ambitious, we had to move on; I won't bore you with a list but we covered a lot of area and Tarun, Uk and John are planning to get a whole lot of bragging mileage out of last weekend. On Sunday we had a superb breakfast at this place in Indira Nagar called Daddy's Deli. It's a Parsi joint and the Akuri and different side orders and waffles were yummy. Big thank you to Sidey for not just putting us up at his place but for taking us to this scrumptious breakfast. From there we moved to a new place called Toit that everyone we bumped into was talking about and when we got there we realised why.

Its really beautifully done up. The resto-bar occupies four levels with staircases and mezzanines and bridges and double heights all within three stepping up pitched roof volumes. I decided long ago not to blog any photographs here and my decision still stands so I'm afraid all I can show you is one sketch but this was the top-most level where we sat in these deep-set divans at low tables. This level opens out into a terrace garden but the best part is the roof. You know the sky-light tile in the mangalore tile system? Well the entire roof here has only the slylight tiles so it forms a lovely waffled light-and-shade pitch roof and in the splendid Bangalore weather that light filtering down as we sat there was just amazing.

Disclaimer to all Bangalore relatives who read this blog: really sorry I didn't call you but it was a group pact, none of us were to call our relatives this weekend. But hope to see you in October :D