Monday, October 8, 2007

Curiouser and curiouser!

It’s almost half an hour that I am back from the library. It’s been an experience! Not that it’s the first time I visited one. It’s just that the trip had revealed a treasure.

And since I came back, I felt an urgent need to write. Despite all the promises and resolutions, it’s almost exactly 6 months that I had last updated my blog. Why on earth do I remember it now? Did nothing of interest happened during these months that could have found a mention here in my little corner. Of course – there had been sweet little things, precious little pebbles that I gathered and wanted to share. But nothing like this happened before.

Never in this time, did I had the courage to steal a few minutes from my to do list spread across the day to do useless little things. It was always a run-run-run situation. First few hours in the morning, you have a deliverable at 10 AM. Second, you have to finish a regular writing job. Third, you have to go to work. Fourth, back home, make dinner. Fifth, when are you supposed to finish your daily review jobs? Oh! You had an article to write for a publication. What will be tomorrow’s breakfast and lunch and dinner? It’s someone’s baby shower this weekend – are you doing the shopping? You have to mail everybody about the event. By the time you lost count, you are overwhelmed by peaceful sleep.

Not every time, and certainly not for once in the past 6 months, did I lay my hands on Alice in Wonderland.

That’s what made my trip to the library so special. As I was casually browsing through the bookshelves at the English literature section, I stopped at the two Lewis Carroll creations lying neatly side-by-side. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. It was several seconds before I could collect the courage to pick them up. It was just like when all of a sudden you come across the chocolate flavour you delighted in during your childhood years; the one that was lost all these years. Still you are afraid to take a bite because it is forbidden at this age and health and yet you cannot simply let it go like that. There was a sudden impulse of mixed happiness and chaos – do you want it? No. I have other things to do. I can’t indulge! No time for pampering! No! No!.. and gradually, the wish to enjoy life defeats all reasons.

How would I explain or share how is it to go back years behind today. As if today is a slippery glass surface on which you are trying to cling with all your might. These lines, these poetries, these sweet nothings that I had read and enjoyed and basked in and laughed at so many years back come back to me today with more than what it had given me 20 years back. Not only does it brings back the fun and the happiness that it brought when I was small, it brings a pack of varied emotions on realising that we have grown up beyond all needlessnesses, nonsense reasons, and fairy tales. Almost 20 years later, it makes you blissful again, reminding of the happy times you had with the White Rabbit and the Red Queen, the March Hare and the Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts and her tarts.

It’s wonderful to forget the clock and the to do lists. For the past hour that I was browsing through the pages, revisiting my wonderland, it seemed this is for what I woke up today. It made my day. Truly, Lay it where Childhood’s dreams are twined, in memory’s mystic band.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Dancers from Gustav Vigeland

The Dancers by Gustav Vigeland, at the National gallery, Oslo. A close-up (down).

The togetherness is explicitly evident in the facial expression of the dancers; no doubt they are made for each other. Infallible expression, precise body language, and anatomical accuracy are some of the features that makes Vigeland's sculptures breathtaking.

Images taken by the author/owner of the blog.

Amazing Vigeland Park

Sculptures by Gustav Vigeland at the open air gallery at Frogner Park.
Images taken by the author/owner of the blog.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A visit to the Vigeland Park, Oslo

Whenever my husband talked of taking me for a walk down the Vigeland Park, amidst the numerous human sculptures, I thought it must be great. Around two weeks back, my wait was finally over. We made our first visit, together, to the Park. The experience exceeded all my expectations. The intricate, graceful stone carvings simply left me dumbstruck. Silent. With wonder and an inexpressible, passionate, coagulated emotion of love. It never occurred to me before stone figures can be so real, so expressive, and touching.

One of the mo
st attractive tourist destinations in Oslo, Norway, the Vigeland Park sprawls on about 80 acres of open land, at Frogner Park. It homes over 200 astonishingly expressive stone structures, carved by one of Norway’s great sculptors, Gustav Vigeland, between 1924 and 1943. Apart from being the unique open air gallery designed by Vigeland, the Park also couples as one of Oslo’s sunshine zones, where people come to relax, jog, picnic, or sunbath in summer.

The pebbled path leading ahead, as we entered the intricately designed wrought iron gates, is lined with maple trees and huge (read, twice the real size) sculptures. Even if you are a casual onlooker, you won’t miss the strong emotion and expressions lining the faces of these giant figures. I was awed by the father holding up his two offsprings with pride, the child reaching up and hugging her mother, the silent lovers lost in their skins touching each other, the wild dancer, the two kids looking up, the angry kid stomping his foot, the grandpa on a stride with his small sprinting heir, and many more; all of them exhibiting lively sentiments. The passion and force that led the creator chisel out these marvelous pieces is so evident in all these figurines, one is bound to be touched. The cycle of human transformation, the stages of our livings from birth to maturity, the conditions of our minds from joy to fear to love to desire to content to anger is so pronounced in these works, it is difficult to avoid being affected.

Forgetting to speak, wide-eyed, and deeply engrossed, we reached the fountain. It is a huge vessel, upheld by six giant figures, all bowing under the weight, their muscles taut and swollen. The tree figures and the small paneled sculptures surrounding the fountain allows you to take a break from the awe, because, by this time, you are familiar with the surprising elegance with which Vigeland carved his human figures almost 100 years back. The body languages are so explicit. Every part of the nude bodies, every carved muscle speaks.

A group of joggers, elderly neighbors on a stroll with their pets, and young couples passed by. Some s
topped to take a look, others went on their way. A few sat and enjoyed the afternoon sun or simply read. Two h
uge bus-full of tourists came about swarming, robbing us of our silent conversations. We waited till they pass and subtlety returns. With all the jostling, it wasn’t that easy anymore. A few minutes later, there were girls standing beside the stout male figures and young boys and men, alike, jumping and climbing all over the statues, posing for the camera. Their reactions and acts suddenly made explicit the vulgarity and obscenity portrayed by nude human bodies, even though they were meant to worship beauty. What was more pathetic was the enthusiasm with which they were riding up the figures! I remembered, a few days back someone or some people tried to censor these statuettes by covering the genitals and bare bodies with black papers. We just wished, the sculptures will withstand the torture and we all will be able to savor the beauty 20 years down the line.

Sadly, we moved up. A series of stairs and open courtyards led to another set of figures, bigger than the earlier ones, surrounding a 20 ton monolithic structure. This is considered the pinnacle of this amazing sculpture park as well as Vigeland’s sculpting career. Vigeland finished this work just before his death and never explained it.
Critics still speculate whether it shows humanity struggling up or losing its grip, Man's resurrection or the struggle for existence. Once you look beyond this 14.12 meters column, you can see the sheath of human bodies, the Wheel of Life, which marks the final boundary of this Park.

A striking feature o
f all these over 200 figurines and statues in the Park lies in the absolute perfection with which Vigeland has carved out every line, every bulging muscle, every expression. You can be sure of the proud, contented smile on the father’s face or the sublime pleasure on the lovers’ from a distance. These nude statuettes clearly show Vigeland’s expertise in human anatomy. The strong, subtle, aesthetic expression of love that these figures exude made me wonder about the creator – his thoughts. The same feeling that occurred to me when I saw his 'Dancers’ at the National Gallery.

The sun was
setting. The maple leaves created a mysterious, pastel-shaded haze. We decided to come back again. Before we left, we stood in front of Gustav Vigeland’s life sized figure, a strong surging swelling inside us that talked of many things, but mainly of love and its various forms of expression. We wished someone should do something to protect these wonderful sculptures, to ensure their respect and dignity, to ensure we can bring our children here and show them the wide expanse of human intelligence and conditions. We wish our generation and our future men and women can appreciate the beauty of human life and strike that string of spiritualism that artists like Vigeland touches through love and passion.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Get rid of your writer’s block

Did you know the gallons of steaming black coffee that we gulp down while working hard on our copies or writing assignments doesn’t actually help! What would have helped, rather, is a few minutes of brisk walking or any other physical exercise. Well, I am not trying to talk about ways to reduce your calorie consumption or develop good food habits. Writing – for the Web, for the print, for the ad copy, or any other form of professional writing – is what I am trying to hint at. And I am trying to share my experience for those times when you stop writing simply because you can’t. When you just fail to continue jotting down the sentences in a logical flow, just the way your boss or the client would have loved.

Phases of magnanimous writing or not writing at all are usual for a professional writer. But imagine the timeline looming ahead and you not being able to deliver any content. Writer’s block – has it attacked you? It’s obvious if you have been writing for the clients and the bosses for years. It’s time you remember you have someone else to care about also – your own self.

Remember writing for yourself too.

If you have taken upon the career of a writer, it must have started with one certain thing – you loved to write. As you wrote and wrote and the bucks came flying in, you forgot, you have to satisfy your own dear soul too. So, the first tip to overcome writer’s block – care for your self. Forget your readers and your timelines, for sometime at least. If you want, move away from your computer. Take your notepad and pencil and walk down to the nearest riverside or garden. Sit down, spread your legs, stretch, look up at the sky, talk to yourself. BE with yourself. Perhaps, write a few lines that comes to your mind – a hysterical poetry may be, rhythm or no rhythm, or a parody, or just any nonsense, or even what you see lie ahead of you. Don’t care what the world thinks; this is an ode to yourself, so have fun.

....To be continued.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Writing my first blog

I knew writing the first sentence can be difficult. But it’s more complex than I imagined.

Suggestions of topics, topic titles, the 5Ws and 1 H, the pyramid, even the inverted pyramid can’t help at times. Start with an introduction, build on the main matter, and then conclude – easier said than done. Doesn’t help.

Toothaches, tasteless, flattened chewing gums, hot cups of coffee devilishly gulped, burning eyes. Doesn’t help.

The winter is receding. The temperature outside is above freezing point. The tops of the pine trees lining my garden are swaying with the wind. They talk of the spring. The urge burning within me rises!

Still. The wide green landscape, spotted with shrubs and poodles of melted ice, the azure sky, speckled with light sailing clouds, the hint of a forest bordering the horizon, the promise of a sunshine – they only lure me. Oblivious of the task at hand, I trod into the old world of dreams and laziness. Only to be woken up, moments later, by a sense of dissatisfaction and urgency. I have a task to finish. Right now. What if this is not a compulsion, what if I have given myself this job!

But, etching the first stroke is so difficult.

Before today, writing was not so tricky to me. How could it be – I was writing articles, snippets, releases, web pages, and other documents for so long. The problem started when I thought I would write my own blog. Writing for myself, to be concealed in the box, was not uncommon. But a blog! For the world to spot!! Huh! That’s a little difficult, as I can see.

One of my readers might look for a point, a logic, or a message in my post. But what if I provide none? What if there are no sides to take, no format to adhere to, no wish to be made? Does then sense recede?

I shrugged off the questions. I told them - go find an SME.

Something was pushing deep inside me. An unrest, rolling, jumping, and trying to release itself into the world. As if I have eaten something bad! The world seems so silent. Except the monotonous droning of the computer. Is it the sound of birth? It’s an uneasy feeling. As if I am struck with the absence of a plan, a material purpose.

Now that I am trying to take it out is a different experience, but all of last night and yesterday and the day before and the night preceding that held my consciousness – as if trying to tell me something I couldn’t properly hear. Fumbling, guessing, I was trying to find my way out through a puzzle!

Somehow, I have learnt the answer to the puzzle today. I knew it all through this morning. And so I am here – striving to put down the initial sentence. I have also known - once the ice breaks, and there is warmth all around, the imperceptible will come out tumbling. Flowing softly, smoothly, silkily.

So, my immediate task at hand is to make my first mark; to break the ice, to begin a journey. It is, as if to say, I am here – listen to me too. And hence, here is my first post.

Did I break the ice? Or make a mark?

Only time will say.

The ‘imperceptible’ that is fighting inside me to come out is just getting ready. I have yet to set things straight and fitting for it to come out. I hope, I will hear from all of you the welcome song.