Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Haunted….Wanted…..A Preamble to Udwada Camp

The man stood motionless against the dimly lit corridor leading to the reception hall of Bentley’s Hotel, Oliver Street, Mumbai.

His eerie silhouette reminded us, Manish Sharma, Chintan Upadhyay and myself, of a bagpiper or a wandering minstrel burdened by his worldly paraphernalia.

Glistening drops of rain accentuated the depth of a weary night. We had been discussing ghost stories while sipping the serum of a spirited evening with Bose Krishnmachari, a few minutes back in a decent restaurant in Colaba.

Ghosts of the art scene and those are yet to be.

I was supposed to retire for the night at Bentley’s Hotel located within the Parsee locality of Colaba.

Room number 31. While checking in earlier we had noticed the old tiled floors, heritage furniture and the smell of history.

Souls of the dead linger around here, Manish said without twitching his facial muscles. I refused to take that comment in, consciously.

Now Chintan and Manish were teasing me with the possible ethereal encounters I could have at night. I threw some mocking jabs at them and came out from the right rear door.

Lo…the man disappeared from our ken like an apparition ‘into thin air’.

Goose pimples sprouted along my skin as if they were tickled up by the cold rain drops. Fragrance of strangeness filled in the air.

You are done, said Chintan.

I wished I could go back with them into a homely night.

I believe in spirits. I feel them around me all the time. Small units of after life existence putting their feathery weights on the living masses.

Read 31 in reverse- 13, an ominous number. I had been given the 13 number window seat during my flight to Mumbai. Next to the emergency exits over the wings. A beautiful airhostess had explained me the evacuation system in case of emergency.

Accidents always happen in News till it happens to us. I landed at Mumbai airport safely.

At the reception desk, to my relief I saw the man who looked like a bagpiper. He must be an economy tourist from the west looking for a decent accommodation at late night.

Inside the room, I waited for the mid night drama of airy spirits to happen. I lit all the lights on, switched on the television for company, opened all the chests and vaults to search for the evidences of unknown life. Nothing….for the time being.

It is a strange coincidence that I am in a Parsee hotel, I thought. In the evening I had met Rukshaan Krishna, a Parsee gallerist friend. Later I had attended Gigi Scaria’s opening at Chemould Gallery, Mumbai, again run by a reputed Parsee family.

Invisible connections, blessings of accidents, premonitions of awaiting engagements and an auto-preparation for the future programs.

Yes, on 8th October (that’s tomorrow), I am heading towards Udwada, the first Parsee settlement in India to do a camp with thirty artists from all over India.

I had visited Udwada in March 2009 and I was fascinated by the place. You may see the details in one of my previous postings

Since then I have been thinking of taking Indian contemporary artists there to interact with the people and landscape peculiar to the place. Finally, a few months back Asit Shah of Art Home, Baroda pitched in to back up the project.

The artists in the camp titled ‘Finding a Lost Culture and Tradition’ (FALCAT) are: Krishnamachari Bose, Anant Joshi, Baiju Parthan, Vidya Kamath, Yashwant Deshmukh, Justin Ponmany, Prajakta Potnis, T.V.Santhosh, Manjunath Kamath, G.R.Iranna, George Martin, Rupa Paul, Gigi Scaria, Shafi Quraishy, K.M.Madhusudhanan, Sudarshan Sutar, Dharmendra Rathore, Prasad Raghavan, Neeraj Goswami, Farhad Husain, Murali Cheeroth, Babu Eshwar Prasad, Minal Damani, Ved Gupta, Alok Bal, Ganesh Gohain, Santana Gohain, Somu Desai, Rajan Krishnan, Zakkir Husain, Gopikrisha and Reji Arakkal.

Art writers namely Abhijeet Tamhane, Kanchi Mehta, Shubhalakshmi Shukla, Riddi Doshi, Amrita Nemivant,Anubhav Nath and Rajendra would visit the camp to do interviews with the artists.

The FALCAT camp will result into an exhibition and publication in 2010.

Watch out my blog space for daily stories and pictures from the camp tomorrow onwards.

Stay at Bentley’s Hotel was a pleasant experience, despite the thoughts on the ethereal spirits hovering in the atmosphere.

I did not see one…but I am sure there were many.


Projjal Dutta said...

You should try your hand at fiction, if you haven't already. You have a way with prose.

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