Friday, December 11, 2009



Meet Liu Bolin, a Chinese artist who loves to get lost in his work—literally.
Bolin, who holds an M.F.A. from China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, knows how to make himself disappear right in public. The secret? You just have to become part of the canvas.

Bolin’s “Hiding in the City” series is a creative set of photographs depicting the artist himself standing in various scenes, his fully-clothed body painted to match the background with an expert precision. Bolin is surprisingly hard to see in most of the images. Amazing what a solid ten hours of patient, artistic labor can accomplish for a person!

There’s a good reason for Bolin’s disappearing act. In 2005, when he was living in Beijing’s northeastern village of Suojiacun, the Chinese government decided to bulldoze the area and displace Bolin and a hundred or so other artists from their homes. “Hiding in the City” is a direct result of this experience and a creative reaction to the persecution of artists in China.

The project is also meant to portray the rebellion against society’s “system”—a system that left Bolin feeling like he didn’t really fit in anywhere.

These photographs may seem a little weird, but they do tell a very interesting story. It’s a story about a man fighting against the powers that be—with paint.

Liu Bolin trained in one of China’s finest art academies—under one of China’s most prominent artists—and four years later he was homeless. Under the pretext of Olympic redevelopment the Chinese government bulldozed the buildings of Suojiacun, a gritty artist village in northeastern Beijing, putting around a hundred artists on the streets. In protest Liu Bolin stood amongst the wreckage while two of his friends painted his entire body, camouflaging the artist into the scene. The work of art crystallized a decisive moment of destruction in China’s path towards cultural development. It also set Liu Bolin off on his first major series, Hiding in the City, which has been lauded by critics, embraced by the establishment, and exhibited in China, France, Italy, the United States and Korea.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Wednesday, June 03, 2009


There used to be a nice little café in a corner of Shoppers Stop at the South City Mall.
It had the most amazing Blueberry Cheese cake.
I always made it a point to go there once every week and I always had the same pastry along with the wonderful Darjeeling tea they had.
The people who served had begun to recognise me and would ask as soon as I sat down ‘the same sir?’ I would nod yes and then spend the next half an hour in slowly enjoying my favourite tea and pastry.
It was like my own little café, something I’d discovered and kept coming back to, and the people always welcoming me.
So I couldn’t wait to go there after I’d returned.
But as I went there last Sunday with a friend I was shocked to see large signs of Café Coffee Day in the café. Everything was the same except the signs were changed as were the people who served there. So it initially didn’t register for a while.
The person who came to serve us explained – ‘BRIO is closed sir and this place is taken over by Café coffee day. In fact it’s closed all over the country.’
It’s like a nice little café with it’s own speciality is suddenly gone – POOF - and in it’s place is another one of those giant mass conglomerate which is popping up all over the country like mushrooms and which you see everywhere and you just can’t escape no matter how much u want to.
The worst part is that the people don’t seem to care or mind at all.
Aren’t people tired of Barista’s and café coffee day’s already…..? c’mon, I mean seriously?
The same tea and coffee, the same snacks, pastries, sandwiches….. the same bloody everything! (why the hell don’t they change the damn menu!?)
Even the people that come to these places look the same all over, young 20 something’s; each one conscious been ‘seen’ having a ‘good time’ in a ‘happening’ café.
The coffee? Well that’s just an afterthought. If they’d really been there for the coffee, they’d have thrown it in the bin after the first sip itself.
Give me the noise and crowd of the college street coffee house any day to the uniformity and pseudo ambience of the CCD’S and the Baristas.

Man I miss my BRIO! :-(

I sit out in the verandah and try to read. But it’s too warm and humid even at 11pm with no sign of any breeze, unlike other nights.
According to the Buddhist calendar this is suppose to be a very bad year. But my luck started to go bad even as I had wrapped up my film shoot on November last.
By the time I returned from Durgapur after the shoot I had begun to feel nauseous and uneasy. Three days later I had high fever and it wouldn’t abate even after medications. Blood test for typhoid proved negative and a week later I had a strong allergic reaction to the medicines.
A week of unrelenting fever had zapped me of all my energies. I was bed ridden and sweating, unable to eat. The allergic reaction over that almost knocked me off.
Sandeep rushed me to the hospital and I wasn’t sure if I was drifting in and out of consciousness or just sleeping.
Next thing I knew the doctor telling me I have hepatitis A. Jaundice. My blood sugar level has gone down dangerously, my white blood cell count has fallen way below normal and my blood pressure is low and fluctuating.
How the hell is all this even possible is all I’m thinking.
A day later my sister arrives. She’s a gynaecologist and she has a long discussion with the doctor. She decides to take me home immediately. Two days on dextrose and antibiotics and I’m able to take in some food. Just plain stale porridge. My menu for the next three months.
I puke outside the airport.
Then inside once again.
The airlines people are concerned if I can make the journey.
I stand up and walk and say I’m fine.
I immediately sit down on the floor as soon as they leave.
I feel sick to the stomach and a strange disgusting feeling inside.
My head spins and I just wanna sleep.
Back home I’m in bed all the time and there is saline given to me 24X7 along with a strong dose of antibiotics.
My bilurubin shows 4.3. OK. not too bad.
Treatment for normal Jaundice is usually plain food and lots of rest as the lever slowly heals itself and the body fights off the disease on it’s own.
I keep looking at myself in the mirror and over time I see my eyes beginning to go yellow. Yuks!
A couple of days later my bilurubin has gone up to 7, then suddenly a week it’s reached 11.
Not good. Not good at all.
Normal Jaundice usually doesn’t go beyond 10.
I’m admitted at the hospital.
A week later the bilurubin has gone down 7.
Home for a week and again it’s climbed to 12.
What the fuck!!
Back to hospital again.
My skin and nails are all sickly yellow and I feel nauseating all the time.
Along with my normal treatment, my relatives suggest I try the local medicine.
And so I undergo local treatment where they put a cone of paper all over the body and light it up. A ring of yellow forms on the skin inside the cone as it burns up completely. This is suppose to ‘suck up’ the Jaundice through the skin.
Right whatever. I’m willing to do anything so long as I get out of the freaking hospital bed.
Also a band made of some local plants tied to a string is put on the head. This slowly expands on its own and goes down over the body, after which it’s thrown in the river.
My next blood test shows my bilurubin has touched 14.
Local medicines didn’t help I guess.
The doctor does a grave examination, with a grave face. Hehe.. he looked funny.
It could be Toxic Jaundice, he says.
Uh huh. So?
So nothing. Stay in hospital.
When my bilurubin touches 17, there is alarm in the family and I am immediately taken on the flight to Gauwhati, and admitted to a hospital under a lever specialist.
Blood test shows my bilurubin has shot to 30.
I feel angry and sick at the same time.
I undergo a battery of tests. Nothing. There is no reason why the Jaundice has gone toxic.
When that happenes the bilurubin keeps climbing with no telling when it’ll stop.
God damn! How the fuck did I end up like this?
Another blood test reveals my bilurubin has touched 33.
I give up.
The doctor discusses blood dialysis with my sister.
Even lever transplant, just in case.
Which is a difficult proposition as any transplant of the lever has to be done within 10 hrs. of the donor dying.
So basically someone has to die for me to get a liver.
No wonder there’s a long waiting list for receiver and most patients die just waiting.
At this point I’m scared and can’t sleep well at nights.
My bed is placed beside the window on the topmost floor of the hospital, the 10th floor. Through the window I see the street and the shops and the large crowd going on their daily business.
I feel a desperate urge to walk again.
Just walk.
I think of my family….
I should have spent more time with them
I should have gone on trips with them
I should have played more with my niece and nephew
Two months in a hospital bed with constant medication and my body mass and muscles have shrunk and I’m beginning to go into depression.
I freaking do not want to go into depression. Not now.
I get suicidal tendencies when I’m depressed.
I feel more depressed as I see people celebrating Christmas and the New Year through the window.
I get calls from friends and relatives.
It makes it even worst.
My birthday on February passes in bed just watching TV.
I go to sleep late and wake up everyday before 4 am.
I hear my family member sleeping soundly beside me in the visitors bed.
I feel alone and angry and depressed and majorly fucked up and I cry.
Sleep eludes me.
At around five in the morning when my minds somewhere else reflecting on a lot of things, the mosque across the street starts their morning prayers.
The reading of the Namaz at such an early hour when most of the city is asleep is somehow very soothing, comforting.
I begin to look forward to it every morning.
I am put on steroids. It constantly makes me hungry.
I’m able to even finish off a large bowl of stale porridge three times a day due to the hunger.
Any other day and I wouldn’t even look at it.
The continuous dextrose however, is causing pain all over my hands.
The needle keeps getting blocked and has to be changed every two days and after a month there is no place in both my arms where the kenula hasn’t been pushed.
My arteries and muscles are almost undergoing trauma and as the nurse tries to push in the needle my arteries swell up and it starts to bleed.
They keep pushing the needle at different places in my arm for a good flow of blood, and at most places my hands swell up.
There are large red and blue marks under the skin of my arms due to internal bleeding, it pains and takes longer to heal the more the kenula is kept pushed in.
The pains is excruciating, and I want it to stop.
I fucking want the pain to stop.
I fucking want the dextrose to end.
The steroids has caused my face and neck to puff up.
I look like a stranger to myself in the mirror.
Who the fuck is this in the mirror every morning?
It’s like one of the worst phase of my life and I often keep awake late at nights thinking this might go all the way.
All the way……
I keep thinking about my family….
I keep thinking about the millions of things I should have done.
I keep thinking of missed opportunities.
Bloody damn!
A week later the test finally gives a positive result .
My bilurubin has dropped three points to 30.
Thank you!!!
I feel elated, surprised and relived at the same time.
From this point on it keeps dropping.
Ten days later I am discharged from the hospital and shift to a flat in the city. I keep undergoing tests and visit the doctor every week.
A month later I’m back home, able to walk and eat solid food.
And no dextrose.
It takes a month for the exhaustion and weakness to slowly go away. All I have at the end of it is the large box of medicines and a whole lot of medical bills and prescriptions.
As I go through the papers at home I find a piece of paper I’d written one night in the hospital bed. It is a good long list of all the things I should have done by now and the things I’d like to do before I say a final farewell.
Small things.
Like spending more time with mom and dad.
Walking in the rain
Climbing that tree in my village
Go on more trips and talk to strangers
Paint. Write.
Small things…...
I intend to do all of it now.