Tomorrow, I'm off to Kolkata. Pinku's mom Swapna is picking me up at the airport and has arranged for me to have a car and driver who speaks "a little" English for my going about. Hope to see Pappan on Saturday. He's Dipa Roy's son from my time in Santiniketan and now an animation film maker just as he'd wanted to become. Will be at Shefali's on Sunday. To think I met her as a young Philosophy Professor in Lucknow in 1976 on my first visit to India! She's now retired from Jadavpur University where I had my Fulbright in Kolkata. She told me on the phone, "The rest of my life is the best of my life." Great words for pushing on.
Monday I hope to buy an Indian cell phone and maybe a shalwar kameez if my suitcase isn't already too heavy. It will get loaded up on the way back to Delhi with the new welded masks. Hmmm. It'll work out. Everything else is falling into place.Tuesday I'll beoff to Santiniketan - site of my '92-93 Fulbright. To the Kala Bhavan where I was then working. It's part of the university started by the great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore. I'll stay with Dipa as I've done at other times. Will see Munia who sang to me from Tagore's Dance Drama, Chitrangoda. I wished then that I'd recorded her stunning voice. She got shy after that and hasn't yet given me a repeat. I'll ask her again. Besides her beautiful voice, I remember the ardor in her expression, making her impromtu performance all the more memorable. After all, I still remember it. I'll be seeing friend Jeanne, and Shyamali who'd welcomed me to her Indian craft-filled home many times.
This morning, alas, diarrhea already, and such distress on the way to the American Center where I thankfully got to their bathroom before my meeting. Ugh! Fortunately - and so far - nearly 8pm now, there's been no repeat. Well, it's India where everything and anything can happen.
Took the subway there - definitely an intro into the crowded world, but as they have "a woman's car" on every train, it spared me the worst crush - only crowded. Men try and spill into those cars and women tell them to get back. It's actually a very nice respite. I saw so many beautiful faces/forms - so many different kinds of outfits, remarkable shalwar kameez's, shoes/sandals with rhinestones, etc. All food for thought for the artworks to come.
I'm planning on painting faces that fill the 24x18 sheets of Bristol Board I brought with me. Planning on three Portrait Boxes, three welded masks, and I'll be working on three huge sheets of Nepali paper still sitting in my suitcase, trying out the beautiful huge pastels I bought in Munich - all the right colors for India. Then, I'll be making more prints at the Atelier in Dhaka. Plans, plans, and let's see what happens.
Don't know if the project in Chittagong is happening because Jashim has been given a time consuming job for an upcoming event that closely coincides with what we planned for me. It's fine since I've such a crowded program in Bangladesh. Actually, I'd rather come back there in two years now that I've been put on the roster as a "Fulbright Specialist"
To backtrack to today, I saw the space for my show at the American Center. Turns out that they actually have 24 frames! After all my worry. They'd said no in earlier emails. Hmm - well, this is India. Lots of art making to do to fill the space. Luckily I've 12 monoprints here already. It's a big space to fill with work I've yet to make!
Electricity went out briefly here at Sanscriti this evening. Fortunately, in addition to the little flashlight (buried somewhere in one of two suitcases) I bought a tiny one that I clipped onto my fanny pack. So, I'm feeling prepared.
When I got out of the station on my way back to Sanskriti from the American Center this afternoon, I had to figure out which way to go, and did. Hooray. The poor workers I saw on the way walking "home"- many women who love making eye contact. We smile at each other. One woman saw me coming along on the way over dirt piles and half finished walkways. It was likely her mother standing near and who was working with her. She then raced towards me and picked up her child lying on the ground (put there no doubt while she was working). The grandmother held the child towards me (cute and tiny) and the mother proudly stood looking at me - pretty woman. How they manage to look so good is a mystery with the drab drudging work they do - working on the side of the highway, laying down tiles and sweeping up.
Bell just rang for dinner (8:30PM) so I'm off and hoping there'll be no repeat of intestinal protest.