It is the tree with perhaps the oldest genes. And within them is stored millions of years of evolutionary know-how. That the mythologies of west Asia have it mentioned glowingly is ample proof of the palm's ancientness and utility. From pharaonic Egypt to early Christian (Palm Sunday being an example) to Islamic iconography, the palm is everywhere. Even the erotic capital of medieval India takes its name from it. Khajuraho comes from Khajur or the date-palm that the guide there claims were once found in abundance in the area.
Not only is the palm the same as the word for the magical human extremity, that with its opposable thumb is understood to have had a huge a hand in human progress and within whose cushiony depression lie the lines of fate, it is also its design analogue.

The palm and its fingers. It is the same hand that rocks the cradle, writes, hurls grenades and sometimes gets us off.

The palm is also an oasis. Abundance in the midst of want. Like a palm holding dollars notes. Like a much-wanted holiday in the midst of swaying palms, the sea and a chilled bubbly waiting to be popped.

The fronds that hold the entrance of Sahara Ganj in Lucknow are shaped like a fish or an eye and that is 'showing' and not 'looking' or maybe doing both. The fish once used to snuggle into the coat of arms of the House of Awadh whose forebears came from Nishapur in Iran. Every big house and mansion doorway had the two-fish insignia perhaps out of deference to the rulers. Maybe it was just fashionable to do so.
Today the two-fish insignia is the official seal of the Uttar Pradesh state government. This lamp-post is one of the many that line the gravel path to Bahu Begum ka Maqbara in Faizabad. The interesting thing about the fishes here is that they are convexly placed instead of the usual arch shape that is theirs on doorways and in the official government seal. I don't think there is any special meaning behind the convex arrangement. It is simply a design compulsion.

The palms towering above the lamp-post are huge, almost like obelisks. Like the gates of some nether world. A world hidden but for its gates. A world mostly invisible in the noise outside. This city once used to be the capital of Awadh. Much before that the gods used to roam around here. And those palms there have seen it all.
There was a time when TVs were kept in the drawing room... now they have moved to the bedroom and other private spaces.

These three I found sitting outside a repair shop... I just liked the way the three are framed with the vinyl ad in the background... and the broken screen and the misspelt 'Service' in Devanagri on TV number three.

This repair shop is in Lucknow, otherwise referred to as Brotherpur in this blog.

Today, I am the delusion of 11 hundred dogs
chasing the moon with hard-ons
And I am the hunger of five thousand lions...
carved into a corner

Public Library gargoyle, Allahabad, 2007

I saw her sitting under a banyan tree. Alone. Abandoned by her worshippers. Or maybe she asked them to leave her alone.

She was sitting on her swan, made of clay. I found myself immediately drawn to her. To her dishevelled appearance... it was almost as if she was taking a break from some hectic work. A hectic process of creation.

You'd notice that everything about her speaks of a certain maddening 'busy-ness'. She's too busy to notice that her swan has lost its colour. Or that her jewellery is all askew. Or that her hair needs combing. Or that her veena is missing from the top. I also like the empty cup behind her. It means much coffee has been consumed during this process of creation.

But no one has really seen her work. Except probably the trees. And in their appreciation they have dropped their leaves on and around her. Like a confetti shower.

She will probably also write on the leaves. Not with a pen but like a CD writer writes on CDs. Burns them. I like that usage… 'burning CDs'… sounds very fiery!

The trees around her will one day also turn into paper. They may also become instruments of music. Or furniture. And the knowledge that she has whispered to them will surface on them as words, music or the singing comfort of repose.

Saraswati, the busy goddess of wisdom. Seen here burning music for the cosmos!
There is a reptilian frenzy in the way warm breath passes through the tumescence of a gourd. A dried gourd. In Hindi called a 'been'. Now, become a 'has-been' because the Government suddenly decided to invoke the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The warm breath whips up inside the been a sort of soprano storm, coming out from its other end as the sound of a thousand horses, screaming.

No wonder the snake is charmed. Raising his head, lest he be crushed under the hooves of a thousand horses.

Above is a picture of about a 100 snake-charmers playing 'Amazing Grace' on their gourds. They also played 'Auld Lang Syne' that Hawa Singh, their leader, said they had picked up while playing with the bag-pipers in Scotland during a Festival of India.

There used to be a time when India was known as the Land of Snake-charmers and the Great Indian Rope Trick was a metaphor of all sorts of woozy Indianisms that surpassed western logic and understanding.

Now we have a snake-charmers' wind symphony that plays Amazing Grace.



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As an art practitioner I work in a variety of mediums, what you see here are glimpses of my many creative projects. If you like or feel strongly something here please don't forget to comment



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