Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Creativity Unlimited!

Back in school, there was clear branding on a whole lot of things - studious / naughty being the most common. More so in the space of arts. There were clearly the "good" artists, performers, orators and writers. The rest of the class, definitely "not good", only meant to be the captive audience. Given large classes and the limited focus on anything other than academics, any event that  came up created opportunities only for the good ones. Although i had my fair share of success in school, no one ever saw in me any artistic talent. Neither did i. Back then the definition of creativity around me was 'creativity = good at performing arts'.  (yes i confess i have still not come around reading Edward de Bono's books!) And therefore "Me = not creative" was a stamp i left school with.  

It was much after leaving school that i discovered the creative part of me quite by accident. A chance encounter with clay when i was in my late 20s. A pottery teacher visited the organization that i was then working with to give a demo class. If you liked it, you could then enrol for an 8 session course. The teacher walked around handing out lumps of earth to all those who turned up and asked each one to work with it. I, like most others, sat blank for a while. But clay can be very enticing and sure enough all of us started kneading, rolling, pinching and stretching it. And as each of us worked with our bit of earth, the teacher went around showing us how a simple mask could be made. Completely mindless of the time, the traffic outside or even the day's exhaustion, I made a couple of other masks, quite amazed that could actually create. 

Sure enough, i enrolled for the classes and went thru a huge clay modelling phase of my life. Made lots of gifts for friends. Ranging from tanagram figures to masks to photo frames. And not just satisfied with the form i gave, i rather hesitatingly tried out colours. Me, a non-artist, actually colouring? With a paintbrush?!! What i created then was quite amazing and almost a surreal experience for  me:

But even more thrilling that what or how much i made, was the joy of discovering the creative part of me. A part of me that could visualise in images and colours and make something original. 

This happened almost six years back in my life. Since then i have tried my hand at several other "creative" things. Innovative lesson plans for kids, designing visuals and posters to be used in our events, learning theatre and performing on stage, learning songs in Kannada (a language i neither speak or understand), co-designing personal development programs for adults, writing little songs for children, painting diyas to be given as gifts during Diwali, blogging,.......  

More importantly, my definition of what creativity means stands redefined. I see myself now challenging the mainstream ways of judging work - be it my own or the work others do. The more i look around, the more i discover immense talent within me and all around me. Playing with clay, colours, words has made me feel less bound and more alive.  

There's a Pablo Picasso quote i often remember when i work with children: "Every child is born an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." What I have learnt from my own personal journey, even as it continues, is that you never stop being an artist. It's only a matter of seeing it. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

It really is that simple!

Monday morning. As usual running a little late to work. Trying hard to get past the overloaded trucks, crazy bikers, equally impatient cars. Honking, manoeuvring, cursing.

Finally stuck at a traffic signal. Using the time to run through the to-do-list to be tackled soon as i get to work. And getting exasperated at the idiot behind who is honking despite the signal being red.

In the middle of all this irritation, i glance at the sidewalk, wondering if walking would have gotten me faster to work. And i spot this guy going by. Seems like a daily-wage worker. Two nylon bags - one filled with what looks like saw & hammer and the other with his lunch box. And walking bare feet. Nothing unusual - except for this broad smile on his face. I look hard to see if he actually has a cell phone or some ear phone connected to some kind of audio device. But NOTHING at all. Some memory playing on his mind that's making him smile. And the smile doesn't get any smaller as he waits to cross the road. In fact, it gets bigger as i see him cross and go past me. Completely oblivious to the world but somewhere deeply connected to his own life.

For a moment, i wonder what he might be reliving in his mind. But it does not matter. The smile is enough to help me tide over the monday morning blues, the traffic, the cacophony.

And as i drive on, the morning seems different. and my mind is cocooned by the image of that smile..... really is that simple to pause, breathe, let your back relax and take things in your stride!

Thank you, Mr. Carpenter!

Monday, November 10, 2008

“I Looove Garbage”

.....declared Poonam to a group of children who looked at her like she had really lost it! We were on a field trip to Daily Dump, an organization that promotes composting at home. The group of children, all between 7-10 years, each carrying waste from the kitchen – peels, tea leaves, rotten tomatoes and what have you. And each trying hard to hold his breath as we walked towards Daily Dump’s work area. And instead of a smelly, fly-infested garbage dump that we are all used to seeing on our streets, what we saw was a series of very aesthetically designed terracotta pots all lined up in a small garden patch. No smell at all and just a few fruit flies frolicking around! These pots are what Daily Dump designs to help you compost your organic waste at home – truly adding beauty to an aspect of your home where you would least imagine it! Different sizes, designs and service contracts to make composting at home super-easy. Do check out the great work this organization does at their website:

What I would like to share is how I experienced the place with the children. A self-proclaimed Garbage Lady - Poonam connected so well with the children and in her warm and direct way challenged them to look at what “yucky” really means. And how garbage is not really waste. And best of all was her drawing a similarity between garbage and children – saying that just like you kids who have great potential to become something in the future – so does your daily garbage! How cool is that!

Explaining the process in a very simple way, Poonam showed the children how the garbage ‘harvests’ over a period of time. Sure the smell of fresh garbage was a little repulsive to the children, but what was an eye opener is how all that smell is lost even as the garbage is half way into the composting process. By the time your harvest is ready – it actually smells like fresh mud. Pure magic! The children got quite drawn into the process and enthusiastically jumped in to rake the composting garbage. And insisted on doing it several time over – all apprehensions of smell and yuckiness buried under the garbage pile!

What stayed with me the most was Poonam describing the earth as the skin of the earth. And just like people need to keep their skin clean and healthy to be safe, adding compost makes the earth’s skin healthy. Did you know, you can actually reduce your organic waste by 80% by composting at home? And even if you don’t have a garden, by simply adding your compost to the soil anywhere, you are doing your bit towards taking care of the planet.

So go ahead, start composting. Echoing Poonam’s parting remark to the children as they marched out with their composting pots : Let’s all make Earth happy!

The Prolific P

The day i started this blog, i must have spent a good 2 hours trying to come up with a name. A name that would truly capture my thoughts, my spirit, my moods and madness! After a lot of rummaging through the dictionary and the thesaurus (none of which really helped!) i finally settled on Purple Pitara. And then spent the rest of the day marveling me on my creative genius. The play of words -the clever mix of languages - ah, what a clever name!

In my enthusiasm, i went as far as crowning myself the Queen of Alliteration. Until this weekend, i knew it was time to give up my title when i saw a friend's son reading a comic book. It's about a hero called Capt. Underpants (i swear i am not making this up!) And the title of the book - 'Captain Underpants And the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People'. 

Me thinks the author is my soulmate in the world of writing J !

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thali of Two Cities

Last night on a whim, hubby and me decided to try out a new restaurant called Rajdhani for dinner. I am sure this restaurant has other branches within Bangalore, we went to the one in UB city. Now this restaurant has just one thing to offer - The Rajdhani Thali. A scrumptious spread - a combination of cuisines from Gujarat & Rajasthan - that included 1 chaat, 4 curries, 3 different kinds of dal, 3 different rotis, 3 sweets and 2 different kinds of rice. And though you control the portion sizes as different people come to serve you, I was so stuffed at the end of the meal, i wished one of the cranes working on the construction site across the road could haul me back home. As you can see, though Diwali is behind us - the food spirit still lingers on! 

Anyway, after having sampled different cuisines available in Bangalore, I am convinced that nothing can beat the Thali. In comparison, a la carte sucks! After spending countless minutes pouring over the menu and looking at chef recommendations, when the food is finally laid on the table, i am convinced that the food on the next table looks better! No such subtle jealousies waging in a thali place - everyone eats just the same thing. And at Rajdhani, it was quite nice to savour North Indian food down here in the South. Not all the dishes were great, but hey i didn't choose them ;)

So besides this, what makes a Thali place so cool? Well many things put together like : pre-decided menu, super quick service, variety but not too much (like a buffet spread). And what i like best - no pressure on having to make a choice! In this day and age of consumerism, it is the illusion of having many choices that i dislike the most. Too many 'if-onlys', 'but alsos', 'whys' and 'why nots' can really mess up the mind. Not that i am against having many options to consider. But its nice if someone can skim through all that is availabe and make just-the-right-size shortlist for me to consider. Which is what i experienceat the Thali restaurant. Some shortlisted things, i sample and don't like, so i put an end to it. Some i like and ask more more! 

Ah! if only all of life could be served on a thali!