Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Today, for the first time in 15 years, I weigh under 70 Kg! 69Kg, that is, so not exactly record-breaking stuff and I'm still a certifiable blimp -- just a 69 Kg one rather than 76 or 78Kg one. That's what I was last June, when I began to think it was time to take action.

It's on account of a very gradual programme of re-orientating desires, not anything deserving the name of "diet". This blog doesn't usually go in the direction of personal data, but I thought I could afford a little celebration today. And maybe share a tip? I believe the entire turnaround occurred when I identified the culprit in my daily in-take -- in my case it was/is bread. It's not merely that I ADORE bread/toast and all the variations on that theme(i.e., toast-butter; toast-cheese; toast-apricot jam; you get the idea), but that the chef of this house makes bread three times a week -- and it's really yummy.

My main point though isn't that would-be dieters need to cut bread out of their diets! But that there is perhaps one item more than any other which contributes to the unwanted poundage. Somehow, one has to face one's desire square in the eye and with quiet determination ... undo it. I'm not the type who can endure much in the way of self-denial so I allow myself very many occasions for weakness, but always with the underlying theme that each occasion is to be considered a special one. A toast to toast, so to speak.

And the not-so-main point? Just this: don't give up. Those of you who have read GETTING THERE (see column at right) will know that this quest has been in progress a VLT (= Very Long Time) -- forever, pretty much -- except for the brief period described in the book, during which I followed all the instructions at that doctor's clinic and did indeed experience a very satisfying loss, resulting in the realization that it was possible (of course, I put it straight back on, a month later)(you have to read the book to get the whole story, which is complicated and involves Dutchmen and enlightenment)(but of course you CAN'T read it coz it's not available in bookstores)(not my fault). It seems to me, for very many dieters, it's an actual barrier -- I mean, it really is difficult to believe that weight CAN be lost, which causes many would-be dieters to give up.

And yesyesyes -- it's utterly boring and perhaps, these days, old-fashioned and unPC to even discuss weightloss as if it were something desirable. I don't care. I'm 69 Kg this morning and I wanted to SHARE!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Well, I went a little berserk with that TIN EYE site! Found all sorts of thrilling things and places -- finally including a link to a mother-lode of images -- click here if you want to waste a lot of time (but, as I discovered, it doesn't exactly list sources of the objects. For that you've still got to dig -- and I've been digging). Meanwhile, a couple more images from amongst those that I DID trace back to a source:






Friday, January 23, 2009

Design Thrills





A friend sent me these images and many more besides; the reason I've not uploaded all of them is that except for the Regatta Daybed from the "LIFE SHOP COLLECTION", I could not find any information with which I could launch a source-search. Does anyone know how one would begin to search for an image source if one has ONLY the image and no identifiers? I really DON'T like displaying images without source information (and wish that everyone would include links when they post images in e-mail msgs). Anyway, the two other pix I've featured here were objects that I especially loved. Even though that wash basin would probably be a house-proud person's nightmare ...

UPDATE: Yesssss! I have now added source information to the pix that are already here. Also updated the name of the wash basin which I incorrectly identified as a "nautilus". It is, of course, based on an ammonite. Now I will run off and spend the rest of the day searching up the other pix ... What TOTAL FUN!! Here's the site address for reverse-searching pix: TIN EYE.

UPDATE of UPDATE More images now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day!

Chrysanthemum This is one of the paintings from last year that gave me a bit of hope in myself (translation: after having produced one ghastlyuglygristly painting after the other, when I got to this one I was suprised to find that I actually liked it when it was done).

I'm posting it here as an Obama-Inauguration Day offering -- we spent most of the day from 3 pm (New Delhi time) onwards with the TV switched on near-constantly. We didn't actually sit down to watch till evening, but it was still quite a long session. Astounding, inspirational and also sobering. He makes it clear that there's a long hard slog ahead of him and his presidency is going to be mostly grim and care-worn -- which is why it's easy to believe him. He seems to be the only point of sanity in the lunatic asylum that is this planet. But I feel more sympathy for him than I've ever bothered to feel for any other head of state. May he live long and prosper, may his presidency be a great and hallowed one.

... and a peek at ART CONNECT

You won't be able to see the whole article that appeared in the India Foundation for the Arts magazine (Art Connect) but if you click the link and then click again on the article by me, you'll be able to see another of the prints to which I added a few lines of monologue -- like with the "Magnolia" lioness print of a couple of posts ago. You have to subscribe to read the whole article (and of course any of the others that have been posted online).

Monday, January 12, 2009

On Being Disappointing

This painting is what I did over the New Year -- I have been dithering about posting it here -- it's so very new -- but then again, I'm pleased with it and want to show it off. All of last year (it can now be revealed) I struggled with paintings. Each one was worse than the one before -- and believe me, they were BAD. It was quite funny. I would start out feeling hopeful and expectant, slash away for a couple of days and then, as I came to the end, begin to realize that once again I had pulled out a dud.

I don't usually paint in the abstract. So it's been a bit odd to go on and on doing stuff that I didn't especially like. But I'm happy with this painting and about six others which now form a set of sorts. They don't all look the same, but there's a similarity of mood. They've all been the same size -- this one is 30" x 40" -- and shape except for a couple of square ones. I would offer to post them up here but I've also just discovered that I have an active Flickr account -- my name there is Magnolia Lotus -- and have finally begun to set up a viewing site for my art work. It seems pointless to post to two places, so that's where the new ones will be too, when I get around to it. For the time being, it's only accessible to "friends" -- but if anyone here wants to visit, just post a message telling me to what address you'd like an invite sent.

And so to reviews! They continue to be largely negative -- I think it's clear now that I have written a book that the critics have felt generally underwhelmed by. I can't post links to most of the articles because I didn't catch them in time to find online links. I'm posting JPEGs of three of them, but there's a page-size in Biblio too that's interesting for the range of disappointments I caused the reviewer (I scanned it but it hasn't reproduced well, so posting it'll have to wait till I fire up the scanner again). A friend who sometimes visits this blog said she thought it was odd that I chose to include negative reviews up here but ... it's not as if I have many choices! They've been mostly bad. Not extremely so -- the Biblio reviewer for instance suggests it's worth a read, despite not being feminist or techno-savvy enough and a little too interested in pornography -- but certainly enough to cause the fur on my back to ripple with that especial thrill that comes from knowing Someone Out There Dislikes Me. Or at least, Dislikes My Work.

So ... why is it I'm not collapsing in anguish, calling up the editors of review pages and writing angry letters to the press about being mistreated (as, I believe, some authors do)? I truly don't feel anguish about the reviews. (I am smiling as I write this -- maybe that IS one of my leading flaws?) It's certainly nice to read a positive review but it's the nasty ones that I return to again and again, to feel if they still sting, if there was really that nasty word in there, if someone has yet again compared my book to someone or something that I think is fit only for the sewer. After all: positive reviews tell the author what she/he already knows -- but the negatives show me what I can't/won't see on my own, and what no friends or editors can tell me, because they either don't want to hurt me or don't see it themselves.

It fascinates me to see that what one critic dislikes most is the only thing another critic liked. I am left with the sense that the majority of those who didn't like the book wanted to find something in it -- meaning, they EXPECTED something of it -- which it didn't provide. For instance, there is an expectation (I think) that the book might offer some type of feminist message -- but of course it doesn't, since that's certainly not what I would have expected it to do. Biblio liked the internal dialogue that Meiji has with herself (though I worried they would appear idiotically childish); Man's World liked the General's radio interviews; Outlook thought the book was child-pornography; The Telegraph (no link, though I could, I suppose, post the whole text here. Maybe next time) found the whole book childISH. I liked Madhu Jain's piece in Mail Today because I think it was clear and balanced. And two reviewers picked up on the "Boojum" reference in the dedication (-- both got it slightly wrong! The final line of The Hunting of the Snark reads "... for the Snark was a Boojum, you see." -- and as it happens, the Boojum in my dedication is not a Snark at all, but a little girl, currently approaching her fourth birthday)

I could go on like this -- but I think I've probably made my point? I do enjoy reading my critics' criticisms. I don't take them lightly, I don't dismiss them and I don't look away from what they say. They give me a much clearer idea than anything else can or would of what my writing conveys, even though in their case it causes disappointment and unease. Grist for my mill. When I write a sequel -- because, yes, now I'm fairly sure I will -- it'll be with the knowledge that there are fangs and claws out there waiting to tear the next book apart, and that empowers me in a way, pumps adrenalin into my system. Yum! Onward.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Helloooo 2009!

This image of one of my etchings, along with its text, appears in the current issue of Art Connect, the India Foundation for the Arts' very attractive bi-annual magazine.
I wrote the text for a feature about my prints, but the idea of giving some of my prints a "voice" came from the editor of the magazine, novelist and poet Anjum Hasan. I don't think it's possible to link to the magazine, which is a SHAME, coz I really enjoyed putting together the texts. You'll just have to buy or order a copy of the magazine by mail!
And the lioness? Well, she's here to wish all visitors to this blog an interesting and unusual year. May your cushions be colourful, your claws sharp, your carpets comfortable and your afternoons long and plentiful.

Scenes From A Year

On TV two days ago, one of the news channels referred to 2008 as "The Year Best Forgotten" (or some such formulation). Well ... I don't go for that approach. It's hardly the fault of the year.

For me it was a much more sociable year than most: the Kala Ghoda Festival in Bombay early in the year, Madras twice, Finland, Boston, Rhode Island and Sayre, PA in the summer, Bombay again for the Crossword Awards, back to the US for a spectacular fall in Vermont, more Sayre and Boston, a final week in New York, then Kathmandu for the Cartoon Congress organized by Himal Southasia, then in December back to Madras for my Mother's 90th, to Bangalore and then once more to Bombay for my cousin Shashi's son's wedding -- and in the midst of all this, I was able to do two new lithographs and publish a novel! And several paintings in acrylic too, though most of them fall into the category I like to call "Not-Ready-To-Be-Seen-By-Anyone-Coz-They-Are-So-Hideous".

So anyway, from the mass of available photographs I culled a few to share here -- I think my favourite is the one called WINDOW BLIND -- it's from my niece's charming apartment in Boston, and I've been wanting to take a picture of it for ages. The pair of water pipes from Bombay are what can be seen from my nephew's equally charming 10th floor apartment in Bandra -- I found the view in all directions quite spectacular, like ready-made sets for several different kinds of art movies.

The family photograph is of my two sisters and my parents taken in the time Before Me. As part of Mum's birthday celebration, we created a montage of photographs from her life, accompanied by texts written by us about the houses in which we lived, for visitors to read when they came to the house to wish her. This was just one amongst many beautiful photographs. It has the quality that old photographs often have, of being graceful and well-composed, while involving very little artifice.

The gorgeous bouquet is what my friends Ranvir and Nandi Shah sent to my mother for her 90th. The glowing tree is of course from Vermont, where the colours were so spectacular this year that even local residents had to admit they were awestruck.
The hand with the ring is my hand, and the ring is just one of the outstanding pieces of jewellery-cum-art designed by Saara Hopea, wife of our dearly beloved friend Oppi Untract, also a designer, artist and superlative collector, who died this year -- but by a rare piece of good luck, only after we'd had a chance to enjoy his legendary hospitality at his home in Finland. Oppi gave me that ring as a keepsake.

And the peak ... well, it lives in Nepal!