Monday, 15 April 2013

Hotel DuParc

In the 17th Century, in the heart of the French quarters of Pondicherry, this house called Villa Selvom was built as an annexe to the French Governor's residence. It has changed hands many times since and has now reinvented itself as Hotel DuParc - a compact and cosy boutique hotel. I stayed there for a couple of days and it was a treat. The location is the best part of it, as you walk out of the gate and find yourself a stones throw away from the ashram, the park the beach and the bazaar.

Like most old residences of the French quarters, you step through an archway in a high compound wall and into a lovely little tropical courtyard full of potted plants and large flagstone paving. The polished cement pots were of an aquamarine colour - this sketch doesn't do them justice. This is the view from my room on the first floor.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Unidentified Yellow Object

This sketch was done just a couple of buildings down from my previous post. It is less about the building and  focuses more on the machinery which fascinated me. The scale of all these assorted cranes, drilling cabling, hissing machines which move with their own slow purposeful rhythms is quite something. This one had two large cylindrical spools. One with a pair of articulated chains and the other with a fat cable.

One tends to forget that it is operated by a tiny human sitting somewhere in it's bowels. In any case we can't see him or the other hundred helmet-clad individuals who are working under grueling conditions when we usually whiz past the barricades on this stretch of Mount road. 

In the hope of making this post more interesting I endlessly searched the web to try to identify this machine coming up with more and more hilarious search phrases but I just couldn't identify it. If anyone knows what this thing is called please do let me know!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Higginbothams.....What looms ahead?

Last sunday morning I managed to sketch something I've been meaning to capture for a long time now. On the arterial and busy Mount Road there has been hectic construction activity for the last couple of years as Chennai hopes to have the first phase of its Metro Rail Project up and running by year end.

Mount Road is one of the five old arterial roads radiating outward from Fort St George, it was a major road when Madras was the capital of the British colony of India and still has several old buildings on it. Hopefully the metro rail in this area will be completely underground and one hopes further that the structures put up as station entry and exit points are done sensitively keeping heritage structures in mind. One can only hope, though, as such plans are not very openly shared in the public realm in this country.

I had particularly wanted to draw this building - Higginbothams - as it is India's oldest bookshop in existence. Yes, that is right! Built in 1844, it has stood to this day housing books of all kinds and even until twenty five years ago it was the place to go to for book lovers.

Soon after it was built, Lord Trevelyan, who was the Governor of Madras wrote :
"Among the many elusive and indescribable charms of life in Madras City, is the existence of my favourite book shop 'Higginbotham's' on Mount Road. In this bookshop I can see beautiful editions of the works of Socrates, Plato, Euripides, Aristophanes, Pindar, Horace, Petrarch, Tasso, Camoyens, Calderon and Racine. I can get the latest editions of Victor Hugo, the great French novelist. Amongst the German writers, I can have Schiller and Goethe. Altogether a delightful place for the casual browser and a serious book lover"

Today, digital technology, the internet, e-books, the ipad and the kindle are elbowing out the good old paperback while at the same time, over-crowded cities bursting at the seams and choked with traffic jams are trying to magically bring in the infrastructure that was never planned for.

Lets hope the metro project has been planned well. Lets hope the project is completed despite whatever the result of the next election, and lets hope it works beautifully for the citizens of this city.

Monday, 1 April 2013

A messy kitchen

Yup. That's a messy sketch of my messy kitchen. I bought a set of markers a while ago and this sunday I wasn't able to go outdoors to try them out. I realised that the vanishing point for the door and the sink are not the same but alas! This is not graphite. No erasing.