The Scrapbook


This post belongs to the original post titled ‘Letting Go

I pulled out the scrapbook from the bottom of the cupboard with the intention of scanning a few pages. The paper has yellowed, the edges of the paper are torn, and damp hands have removed some of the colour. But as I flipped through it with my mother, we fell in love with it all over again! So I decided to scan the whole book!

A part of me wanted to retouch it, but the better part of me (read lazy) thought it best to upload it untouched – yellow and torn. The scans don’t reveal how beautifully well preserved the actual photographs are, though the newspaper clippings reveal their age. Hope you enjoy!

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The images are the property of their respective owners. I apologise for being unable to mention the sources (I was just a 12 year old kid who didn’t really care about intellectual property). It is very very very old! Some that do come to my mind are – The Hindu (Newspaper supplements), Brochures from The Sanskriti Museum and India Habitat centre.

Letting go


When I was in school, there was a dance teacher who had once asked us to submit an assignment. She had asked us to find out about the various dance forms of India and prepare a scrapbook with pictures and information that we had collected.

I was just going to enter middle school, and this was a time when we did not have such great access to the internet. Broadband was many years away. We did not even have a dial up connection.

What we did have was a very good newspaper which focussed more on culture and art, rather than on gossip and glamour. My aunt pitched in and provided us with glossy brochures of cultural programmes.

My mother and I set about cutting sheets of cartridge paper and folded them to form the book. We punched holes at the joints and tied a shiny brown ribbon into a bow to hold the book. We pasted the photographs from the newspapers and brochures and outlined the pictures with colour.

I had a very bad handwriting at that time. So with colourful felt pens my mother wrote little descriptions of each art form. The pages were numbered, and we even made an index. Every few pages, my mother made little abstract designs to fill in the blank spaces.

Now that I think about it, my mother made the whole thing! And I think she had a great time too.

When it was done, I submitted it to our dance teacher. She was impressed.

After assigning grades to all the students’ assignments, she returned them. She said never in her life had she ever given a student an A1. But she said she loved my assignment, and she wanted to show it to other students. She said she wouldn’t give it back to me.

I was quite upset. I felt it was my assignment. I should keep it with myself. Every week I would ask her for the scrapbook. And she would refuse to give it. She showed it to students of all the classses she took.

A few friends from another class one day came and told me that they had seen my assignment, and that they loved it too. It made me feel proud. But it made me feel even more possessive about it.

Seeing how much I wanted it back, at the end of the year, our dance teacher finally relented to my request and returned it to me.

On the cover page, with a shiny brown glitter pen, she had written A1. I felt very happy.

But the happiness didn’t last long. After a few months, I began feeling guilty. That scrapbook was lying idle in the house. No one would see it. My mother told me I should have let it remain in the school. She even suggested that I return it to her. She said after a few years, it will end up going to the kabaadiwala *. I didn’t want that. I told her I would keep it with me. But in my heart, I wished I had let it remain with my teacher. I couldn’t bring myself to return it to her. My pride didn’t allow me to.

And so, even to this day, it is lying in my cupboard, with some other memorabilia from school. A reminder of a very important lesson. It is important to let go. Ultimately, time will wither away all attachments.

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* kabaadiwala : Scrap dealer. Old newspapers, magazines, and sometimes other used household items are sold to scrap dealers who in turn send it to be recycled

Update: I scanned and uploaded the pages of the scrapbook

Relevance of Relations


Tomorrow some guests are visiting us. Well, they’re actually relatives who live in a land, far far away. I don’t remember having ever seen them, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again. But they’re in town, and have been kind enough to acknowledge our presence, and have decided to pay us a visit.

That’s all wonderful and exciting. But then it has also created a huge problem. The house has to be cleaned up. Every thing must be put in its rightful place.

Some are already stationed at their rightful place. And that is because no one ever considered it necessary to relocate them in the first place. But a huge blanket of dust envelopes them, and now that summers are here, it is time they were relieved of this burden.

There are several items which are out of place. They are easy enough to put back.

The tough part is in deciding what to do with the majority of items – the homeless ones. They have no place, yet they have been roaming around the house like vagabonds.

In the middle of this clean up operation, a small piece of paper stared at me. It had a list of names and numbers. Memories of an old age instantly popped up in my head. Many years ago, the words on the paper would have been a very important piece of information. People, with whom I had spent many months. We all cried and promised to keep in touch. We felt sad to leave the school where we had spent so many years, we were like a family.

But today, they are nothing more than words. Even though I could recall something about them, there was neither the slightest inclination of ever wanting to meet them, nor regret at not having kept in touch.

I tore the piece of paper. It had found its place – in the dustbin.

A New Day


It’s been a rather noisy night. Huge flashes of lightning lit up the city in the middle of the night.

I step out to assess the damage. The verandah is littered with trash that the storm has decided to leave behind as a souvenir. I dodge the minefield to reach the railing and look outside.

Clear blue skies, and a cool breeze wish me a good morning. A pigeon flies towards the ground. Another one follows it. And soon many others enter the stage from all directions. Someone has just spread out a platter of seeds for them to feast upon.

I look at the trees, to see if there are any casualties. They are injured. They have been stripped off most of their leaves and there is a colourful carpet on the ground. But they stand proud and straight. They do not mind the shedding of leaves, after all, newer ones will grow. They have survived the night, and its time to savour their victory. The breeze is playing a gentle tune, and they are swaying to it.

Soon the city madness will resume, and last night’s events will be forgotten. But till then, I will stand here, in the middle of the mess, soak in the fresh air and watch nature celebrate spring.

Weaving colours


Colours are in the air. Quite literally! And they’ve spilled on my work!

Over the weekend, I happened to get the opportunity to design something for an organisation named Threads and Weaves. I’m not sure what it would be called technically, but I’ll refer to it as a mailer.

One of my teachers once said, ‘While designing, don’t play holi!’. Stick to a few colours that go well together. I’m not sure this mailer really sticks to that rule. One of my few works that have had lots of colours.

I changed some images from the original so that I could upload it. The images featured here belong to Ms Anudeep Virdi (my employer!). Published with permission.

Colours of joy and nostalgia


With this post, I have exhausted my all my reserves! I wrote this piece on the 21th of March in 2008. Since the festival of holi is just a couple of days away, I decided to finally publish this. Wishing you a very happy and safe holi 🙂

It is the 21st of March. Hardly three weeks are left for my exams and I feel like I always feel before any exam. I realise what the goal of my life is… do anything but study. I want to listen to loud music and scream my heart out. Go for long walks and just drown in the sights and sounds of the surroundings.

I was standing and staring at my books wondering how to execute the strategy I had so carefully devised to counter the enemy. The plan was simple really. All I had to do was study as much as possible, take down little notes here and there and then pray to God.

As I was going over this plan, I heard a squeal downstairs. It was followed by more screams of little girls. I looked out of my window. What I saw filled my heart with joy. I recalled some of my own memories of this colourful annual occasion.

Little girls were squealing – partly out of excitement and partly out of fear. They ran in circles while boys came charging with their buckets. The little girls prayed for mercy and then ran home accusing them of attacking from behind and screaming that they would take revenge.

Tomorrow is Holi – the festival of colours. It has been a while since I took part in any of the proceedings. After almost a decade, I had got an invitation to play with my school friends. Due to ill health I turned down the offer to join the get-together.

But as I looked through the clear glass, memories of my childhood flooded me. The festival of Holi has always filled me with fear. Year after year we would go outside, chase down each other and throw buckets of water over each other, try to dodge the water balloons and scream out of sheer excitement. We’d scream on being chased down, jump for joy on a hit, devise devious plans to counter the boys – yes, back then too it invariably was, as is today, a battle between the girls and boys. Kids from all blocks used to patrol the streets, those whom we had never even spoken to would jump out from nowhere and then the warfare would begin!

And then there were the snipers! I remember once I had the privilege of watching an expert in action. We were on the ninth floor. I was perhaps four years old and my brother around nine. I saw him load his water balloons with colourful ammunition and when an innocent civilian walked by, he would drop the bombs. I was instructed to hide as soon as the balloons were released. I prayed that I be allowed to know whether it was a hit or a miss. But the orders were clear. My brother said we’d know if it were a hit. And true to his prediction, there were screams downstairs! Success!

There is something about this festival that puts a smile on your face no matter what you do, how old you are, whether you are out there fighting, or just looking out of the window.

Now I sit here and wonder how to get back to reality. Something is missing. Yes. I know what it is. I can now study. All that was required was some loud music.

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I couldn’t resist the temptation to use colours 🙂