Respecting Others is Cool

In Sonia Mehta’s It’s Cool to Respect Others from her new series of books — ‘My Book of Values’, the author reminds us as to why having some values in life is totally cool!

via What Do Nicky and Noni Do When They Visit Their Grandparents?: ‘It’s Cool to Respect Others’ — An Excerpt — Penguin India Blog

Being Grateful is Cool

In ‘Being Grateful is Cool’, the author shows us why it’s essential to learn the meaning of gratefulness and acknowledge the kindness of others.

via It’s Nicky and Noni’s Birthday! But Why Aren’t They Happy?: ‘Being Grateful is Cool’ — An Excerpt — Penguin India Blog

Dadasaheb Phalke

Recently, I received my copy of a book I’d illustrated for Pratham books. It’s a pictorial biography of Dadasaheb Phalke.

I’m proud of this for two reasons. Firstly, I’m glad it’s Pratham because I’m one with their mission of ‘a book in every child’s hands’. Secondly, I’m happy that someone considered writing about Dadasaheb Phalke, so that children know about the man who set the ball, nah, film-reel rolling in India.

These are some of the inner pages of the book, aimed at level 4 readers, meaning children who have achieved a certain fluency in reading and writing.

My favourite piece from this book is the scene from Raja Harischandra. A point to note is that the saree-clad women look like men because that’s what they were. No women acted in this movie.

Smells like Coffee


I’d done this before, many years ago, but the attempt was quite poor. So now, determined to get it right, I tried using coffee to paint again and here is the result.

Coffee transforms really well on watercolour paper. It mixes well with water, and works exactly how watercolors do. Besides, it keeps my mood upbeat throughout the process with its fabulous aroma.:)

For this piece, I teamed coffee with another unlikeliest culinary ingredient – yes that is turmeric. Very Indian, very yellow. I didn’t like the way turmeric felt on paper, because I found it too grainy. It does leave a nice yellow stain that is nearly impossible to lift. Perhaps a finer ground turmeric or a filtered version of the powder would work. But it’s nice to think that both the pigments came from natural sources. I only used black paint to do the contrast areas in the picture. Now I am wondering about natural pigments, and I want to know more about how ancient art was created using these organic pigments.

I used a picture of my husband for this piece. I felt that the strong light and shadows would render well with coffee. Initially intended as trial scrap, it turned out fine enough for me to preserve it forever, especially for you Srijoy.

Faith’s Form

The Timelessness of Being

image I pray, I sing, I cry,
before the one who chooses not to hear.

Coins clinking, conch shells screaming!

I offer jasmine and roses,
to the one who chooses not to smell.

Fragrance wafting, incense burning!

I perform rituals, one too many,
for the one who chooses not to see.

Prayers piling, eyes weeping!

I bring sweets made in honour,
of the one who chooses not to taste.

Ants crawling, mouths watering!

I chase an image in my dreams,
of the one who chooses not to yield.

Still hoping, forever pining!

Mumbai Mirror published this photograph on September 1, 2013 (India on Instagram). The shot was hurriedly taken near Dadar station’s booking counter, trying to make it in time for a train to Neral station.

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Simon in the Woods (Lord of the Flies)


In 2013, Orient BlackSwan Publishing, erstwhile Orient Longman India, asked me to illustrate an annotated version of William Golding’s tragic classic Lord of the Flies.  Unfortunately, I was not acquainted with the story and never read it as part of my school or college literature studies. The title hovered somewhere around my peripheral memory. Drawing from mere excerpts would not have done justice to a good classic. I had little time to read the book, so I chose to research online and stumbled upon the movie. It was a quick breeze and served my purpose well. That is not to say you can miss reading such a poignant tale of human depravity and conflict. It’s gory, ruthless and terribly harsh on one’s sensibility. LOTF is about a group of young boys marooned on a tropical island who go on to form a social structure of their own. In the face of adversity, survival takes precedence over all else, turning the boys into heartless savages. This book is definitely on my long pending list.

Speaking of the artwork here, I was assigned four specific areas in the book to create two-coloured, pen and ink with watercolour illustrations. I decided to skip watercolour for a more high-contrast, old-world style of sketching. This piece is my personal favourite. It shows Simon, a very sensitive but sickly boy, exploring the forest on his own. His character is beautifully described in the book – perhaps the only one who is free of depravity in the entire story. Graphic, gory details were forbidden because it was targeted at 10th graders. That was a challenge for a book whose various covers show a rotting pig’s head on a stick, which serves as a symbol throughout. I kept to the requirements though, and much as I’d have liked to work on certain other parts of the book, I enjoyed putting these four illustrations together. I can only hope that this book sees the light of day.


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