Maysun In C

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Illustration – Black Bear

I met this Himalayan Black Bear at the Darjeeling zoo. He was seated at the edge of his enclosure looking at the tourists in a very bored manner. I think he was tired of people coming to stare at him, and of being there in the first place, enclosed, with nothing interesting to do. At least it wasn’t as bad – which is not saying much - as at the monkey enclosure – they had to put up with some really stupid humans jumping up and down outside the chain-link.

The more I consider it, the more I don’t like the idea of zoos.

Yes, I’ve heard the explanations about habitat loss and species preservation, but I just can’t bear (yes, pun) the idea of perpetual imprisonment.

See more animal illustrations at the Maysun In C website.

Written by Sonal Panse

Photo of the Week – Sadhu at Badrinath

He was just about to start his breakfast, and when I asked if I could take his photograph, he said, alright, and adjusted his shawl just so. He was a rather quiet, gentle sort of a person. He just sat there outside the temple and smiled at people. Some of them thought he was holy and prostrated themselves before him. You could tell he liked the attention, and, of course, the money they gave him was not unwelcome. He was not grasping like the others though.

From what I’ve been seeing and hearing, it seems like being ‘holy’ is a ‘happening’ profession in these modern times (perhaps it always was). Quite a few people often want readymade answers, and you can provide them with the clichés.

When I lived in Kurla in Bombay, my landlady had a garlanded photo of a bespectacled man in her house. He was her doctor, then he got enlightened, gave up his practice, and all his patients had taken to praying to him. And to showering him more wholeheartedly with monetary gifts.

Then there was the time the building near my art college got a sudden influx of devotees, because a family living there claimed that their life-size acrylic statue of Sai Baba had moved his head. They showed me the photographs, but refused to allow any contact with the statue, which was conveniently placed behind a railing. How do I know the head isn’t movable, I asked, and they told me to ‘have faith’. They also pointed me, discreetly, towards the ‘donation’ plate.

On another occasion, when I was living as a paying guest in Dadar, I came home from college and the whole building was abuzz with excitement. And there was a nice line outside the milk store below. Apparently, all the Ganesh idols in town had developed a sudden penchant for drinking milk.

“Sheer superstition!” said my host, and went to pray to his elephant-headed idol.

Written by Sonal Panse

Revamping My Portfolio

I’m revamping my children’s illustration portfolio on Maysun In C. I’m working entirely in water-color and should get a good amount of work done by the end of the month.

I met the little girl in this illustration in Badrinath in Uttaranchal. I was looking for a Bhutia puppy and her family had the last one from their dog’s litter. The lady said, take it, but the little girl set up a loud wail. It was her puppy, the lady explained, but don’t worry about it, take it, we’ll get her another one.

Of course I didn’t take the puppy. I know I would have wailed myself if someone had tried to take mine. I almost did actually once when I agreed to let a man adopt a puppy we had and didn’t think we could keep. I worried about how he would treat him – he said he wanted a ‘fierce, guard dog’. I finally decided, no, he couldn’t have him, anyone that wanted to turn a friendly puppy into a ‘fierce animal’ probably wouldn’t make a good companion. In any case, he never turned up to collect him. The puppy grew up to be Chubary, a big-hearted fellow, but, really, a complete coward.

Written by Sonal Panse

Sketchbook – Tea Drinker

I’m a tea drinker too. I drink a lot of it, particularly when I’m writing. Sometimes also when I’m painting or illustrating. Sometimes when I’m working in plein air, people offer me tea. Sometimes people are really sweet.

Here’s a conversation I remember from McCleodganj:

Tibetan lady (sitting down on the curb beside me): An artist, hey? There was an English artist here last week. Kept drawing everything in sight. Just like you.

Restaurant-owner from across the street (joining us on the curb): An artist, huh? What are you painting? Oh, that scene there. There was an artist from England...

Tibetan lady: Yes, I already told her. He drank a lot.

Restaurant-owner (to me): You want tea? I’ll get you tea. Hey, boy! One tea here! Here, you are! No, no, you don’t have to pay. I won’t hear of it! Drink, drink! We have more tea if you want!

Me: Really? Thank you!

Tibetan lady (to me): As I was saying, the Englishman drank a lot too. You artists can’t get anything done without drinking a lot, can you?

Sometimes people are really insulting.

Written by Sonal Panse
The Smartist Sonal Panse
The Stoic
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