Unmaking HoS

“Kuch kar bhi le, bkl!” — The universe. (circa 2 AM)

On particularly slow days — like today — I reminisce my life and look back at all the embarrassment I could’ve avoided, had I not been so deeply committed to my genius. You see, commitment has always been my problem, my Achilles Heel! Commitment, the lack of it. Seldom have there been instances where I’ve worked for three straight days without having an epiphany that the universe is a pyroclastic flow of knowledge, and I should rather go wash my hands in it.

But what’s a failed project to me in the pursuit of knowledge? Bare dust. What’s a bad test to me in face of revelation? Water under the bridge. What’s a screwed semester to me in face of enlightenment? A chappal on my face with a notice to be sent back to the village to feed cows and get fucked by bulls.

But as I said, water under the bridge….. dust…

I’m writing this blog not to count the number of times I’ve inadvertently or deliberately messed up, but to recount one of the better things I’ve recently been a part of. To set us straight, it was not subversive, neither was it grand by any means. It was small and happy.

So, it all began with a brilliant little idea.

And the preceding statement is a complete lie. It wasn’t brilliant, barely even qualified to be called an idea! To tell you the truth, it began with another miserable winter of my life, which seems to recur every couple of weeks. Yes, my life menstruates more frequently than you do, and I don’t know where I’m going with this.

So, it’s cold as balls and I’m lying in my bed with a runny nose, wishing I was back home by the sea. Quintessential me is listening to my quintessential playlist getting quintessentially overwhelmed by the surge of second-hand emotions, which die down with a good piss (mostly). But just like the times that something lingers in the brain of every great person who’s on to something that would change the world forever…... something lingered. The last time something lingered, I tried to write a 26-page play which won absolutely fucking nothing at nevermind.

But why the excuses, mate? I don’t recall Salman bhai getting deterred by small bumps— or people sleeping on footpath— on his way to the hearts of millions if rickshaw-drivers (no disrespect meant). Then who am I — a perfectly respectable and responsible*2 citizen — to cower in the face of adversity! So, yet again, I wielded my pen and politely set it back down ‘cuz I ain’t doing that shit again.

Something did happen, though. Not for the next three months, but something did happen. In between staying afloat in college and trying to do things my roommate would say were borderline productive, I had let the steam out without any noise. I’d forgotten all about my resolve to do something, and it was theater again that had gassed it back up, albeit barely. (Mostly because we were so bad at it that it wasn’t even a respite) Having done nothing in my illustrious past even remotely close to what I had intended to, I came up with the totally clever idea of bringing in somebody with a background in what I — a fuckwit — had no knowledge whatsoever. Now, a night before the said theatrical extravaganza, high on second-hand emotions yet again, I made my move. And boy, did it go well! We talked like the last two custodians of art in this degenerating generation, and shared appreciation for a handful of decorated artists which I knew none of, of course! But hey! Your boy can nod. And smile convincingly! The stage was set. I had my man. After planning the whole thing overnight, we went to bed to make up for the lost sleep. My roommate woke me up a month later with my attendance rivaling the temperatures. Due date closing in, it was now or never.

He, a superior : “The next time you do such a thing, I’ll have no qualms spanking you in public.”

Me, aptly a posterior : “You can’t restrain art, man! The colours will flow through me.”

Apparently, I do not always choose the best means for my work. But I’m a peacock, man! A dozen of halfwits had already shown up on invitation, raring to back the fuck out right after the first meet-up. Big moment. Your boy takes the stage and goes:

“Uhmm… Guys, you sure you wanna do this? I mean it’s fine if you don’t.... It’s a stupid idea anyway.. hehe..”

With the dates decided and the venue booked, we turned our attention to the logistics. And we quickly realized that we had never really gone over the possibility of having to do actual work at any stage of planning. It was so revolting that we’d have to get shit done to see results, and totally not fair. God in unkind! Regardless,we braved through. What followed was a soap-opera staple with us mostly reciting “fuck me!” and “fuck this!” twice a day and and making progress in spirit. But when it came to the event, we made no compromises over what needed to be done or not. We quickly discarded a third of our original ideas which we thought would make the event... the event. Cutting to the chase, apart from a couple of minor inconveniences like finding out that the venue might slip out of our otherwise well-oiled hands, or that the supplier had backed out half a day before the event, it went amazeballs. We stomped through. Hand in hand. Abreast.

All of it — whatever that has been put in, and whatever I have conveniently chosen to omit — leads to a moment, where I now drop the pretense of derision, and admit that the the three days leading up to it, and HoS itself, were arguably one of the better days I’ve had in some time. And for the people who spent some time with us.

So, I’ve talked way too long about this particular something without dropping any hints, apart from the fact that….. it’s got something to do with art.
So, what exactly did we do?

Not much.

We painted.

We modeled clay. (Yes, Somebody did come up with a giant throbbing dick)

TNMT by the stoners

We did origami.

Some cool kids we invited over from a nearby school, courtesy Shubham Goyal.

And we savoured delicious idleness.

Definitely not Archit.

And we called it Halls of Summer. The name sounded nice at 5°C in December. In April? Not so much.

The idea was to have people come and do something(s), that they do less of now. I remember when we were little, we used to keep water-colours, crayons, and pencil colours. Mostly for projects and assignments. Those who took it competitively kept acrylics and oils. I mention competitiveness, because that’s what I was. I enjoyed colours and the idea of making something just as much the next kid, only I wanted to do better in things I’d never even heard about. I painted like I sang like I made rangolis. I was okay, but no Richter. To gloat, I did win a few times, but painting on road safety in an hour lifting off ideas from the kid sitting next to you was barely fun. On days that I used to feel adventurous, I’d whip out my colouring kit and plant my ass on the floor at 11, only to leave it unfinished at 2 after coming to the realization that I did not know what to make. It was hard because there was nothing to address. We rarely ever had any road accidents victims over for lunch. Had it been a competition with a defined subject, I might have been able to make something. Tells you something?

The only ones of us who paint anymore are who’ve continued to do so for a very long time. They exhibit their works, or they keep it to themselves. Which is amazing, but also the only exposure they or the rest of us ever get to art anymore. Yes! you’ve heard about the $40 million paintings and keep up with Berlin ArtParasites, but as you grow old, you tame your means of expression to make it even less upfront, because there are faux pas to avoid and relations to keep. Words begin carrying more weight even though they mean less than what they did when we were younger. That’s why you find piles of us looking for alternative and less confrontational ways to speak: slam poetry, and painting, and theatre, and story-telling. Often our introductory works are fueled by incidents and people and emotions, and when you’ve milked that cow dry, you either lose inspiration or try to go further, frequently with little satisfaction (and success). Some of us form cliques to legitimize ourselves, baptize each other publicly for reasons obvious yet unknown.

Anyway, coming back to the story, Halls of Summer was not a competition. It had no recognition for those who made masterpieces and nobody scoffed at people who made a couple of mountains with a stream flowing through. To be honest, I did chuckle a few times. (quis custodiet ipsos custodes?) We put white sheets all over the room, like a gigantic canvas. We provided unlimited colours, clay, papers, brushes and space for people to just come to the place. I was half-hoping people would magically begin making a huge collaborative piece and I’ll have a story to feature on Humans Of NY (Or Bombay, if it didn’t turn out that well).

What we wanted was a place for people to sit back and play. No cookies, no spanking. No coupons. We were not sure how many people would turn up, if any at all. I kept a smug face leading up to the moment, telling people how I was doing it only because I wanted to do it and not because I wanted to make money out of it or watch it become successful. But I was pretty glum inside, expecting all that could go wrong to come true. “Saala true art koi samajhta hi nahi. Everybody’s not like you and I, bro. You feel me?”, I’d prepared my response should the event go Nagasaki on us.

But.

We started with a studio that looked like this:

Deepak diligently concocting his love-potion.

By the end of the day, it ended up looking like this:

This wall:

10' tall walls of white

Turned into:

With lots happening in between:

We’d turned another section of the studio into an art gallery an a place for people to chill. *Cue mood lighting*

Even our Chef couldn’t stay out.

Tattoos by Muskaan.

We didn’t plan on documenting HoS through photographs, but I’m glad a few did.

Mayank doing what he does best.

Muskaan made some pretty cool marker-tattoos.

Unexpected guests. Totally happy, nonetheless.

We had a few kids from a nearby village come over to have some fun. They painted, made origami, and looked happy doing it.
(Don’t forget to look at their paintings. Lots to look for.)

“Safety is the №1 priority.” -CrazyIndianHacker

“That’s how you do it, punks!” — Shubhi, Nimasa, and Harsha. These three graciously gave kids an origami workshop.

Deepak and kids.

Some guests were kind enough to leave reviews.

While, it was never our intention to have masterpieces created in our crib, we did see some beautiful paintings and clay-work. Here’s a gallery for you to look through. The event went on for roughly two days, while we let people in the third day as well. What kept the show running throughout the three days was the effort that our team put in.

Shubhi, Nimasa and Harsha:

Vinayak, Abhijith, and Deepak:

Shubham and Muskan:

My partner, co-organizer, and an integral part of the stoners, Nityanand Pramanik:

Missing a few in photos, but I’ll thank them anyway. Madhusudan, Amol, Karan, Snehal, Himanshu and all others who stopped by at some point to help us.

Here’s us trying to figure out how to mix colours in bulk. Divya graciously looking it up on the internet.

Wait blue and red don’t make yellow? Impossible!

Fearing I’d make something shitty and embarrass myself in front of me, I kept a distance from things of colour for two days. Battling not knowing what to make yet again, apparently I did. Little wins. My first (second) time in over 7 years.

And because it’s cool to have a moniker, I signed it off as dr. spiral.

Posing with a guest from Kerala.

We saw some amazing stuff, you should too.

Manu & Shruti.
Shubhi & Adwityaa
Mayank & Muskan
Muskan & Utkarsh
The gallery.
Rohit. Utkarsh, Sneha, and Shreya.
4 AM. Day 2.
Nikitha & Adwityaa.
Shantesh &Shiksha.
CrazyBhagi & Mayank.
Thanks, Harsha.

Cheers. Þakka.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store