Conversation Pieces: New York, Pune & Vienna by Bindaas

Conversation Pieces is an experiment in time and space between 3 performers in three different cities. Svea Schneider , Artistic Director of KINEMATIK Dance has choreographed as well as produced  the performance in New York, Shraddha Borawake has directed and produced the film in collaboration with VFX Studio - Anibrain in Pune, India and Katrin Blantar  has shot her and performed for the film in Vienna

Inspired by overheard conversations on the street, Conversation Pieces a multi-disciplinary attempt to interpret and contextualize the fragments of culture recorded in New York, Pune and Vienna. Crossing geographic boundaries over three continents, Conversation Pieces is a humorous and thought provoking interpretation of diverse segments of lives in three localities within a global context. 
Conversation Pieces  strings together out of context words, sentences, phrases and images to give them new meaning in continuity; when translated by bodies, movement and video. In totality it exists as a live performance with projected media.

Watch the film here

You can see the performance here :

The Good Artists of Pune by Bindaas

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What makes The ‘Good’ Artist?
A. Is it approval from a gallery, institution or critic?
B. Is it mass viewership of the work?
C. Is it an exorbitantly high price tag?
D. Is it the cultural caché of the individual?
E. An immersive environment that nurtures the hand of the creator?

The city of Pune does not have sufficient galleries, institutions or an immersive enough artistic environment to deem a 'good' artist so.

Does Pune have ‘good’ artists?  
If So
Who are they?

Welcome! to The ‘Good’ Artists of Pune, currently an imaginary community of extremely talented creators making good art in the city of Pune. History has proven that artists leave this apparently incommodious abode in the ghats, to produce really good art in greater metropolitan areas.  

Question: What then can be said of the artists left behind?
Answer: [Based] On the absence of intermediate varieties at the present day- On the nature of extinct intermediate varieties- On their numbers - On the vast lapse of time, as inferred from the rate of deposition and of denudation - On the intermittence of geological formations - On the absence of intermediate varieties in any one formation - On the sudden appearance of groups of species - On their sudden appearance in the lowest known fossiliferous strata.
- Charles Darwin, “On the origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” In On the Imperfection of the Geological Record. William Bynum (Penguin Books, 2009), 249.

All artists are ‘good’ unless otherwise discovered by the institutional authority.

How to become a 'good' artist of Pune? 

You must be based in Pune

You must have an online link to your work 

150 word bio 

your portrait will be taken at a location of your choosing with 2 or 3 artist friends performing an activity that betters your practice. For example, reading a book, eating fruit, or trespassing. 

Such is the range of activities that can be featured in your portrait. The importance of this photograph is to show and thereby confirm that an artist is good if he or she has peers in the field and constantly engages in activities that help your work improve. 

This portrait will be clicked by Shraddha Borawake.

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Artists such as 

LMB Productions 

Snehal Chordia

Shiraz Irani

Waylon D'Mello

Revati Dilip Borawake


Shraddha Borawake

Are officially members of this community.

Hoping many more will join soon!

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Revisiting a Remote Catalonian Past by Bindaas

Visa Pour L'Image is a photojournalistic weeks long event of exhibition, networking and explosion of all ideas and intentions of reportage, documentary and tackling the issues that perplex and envigour the conciesouness of the media of Europe and USA. During this festival, the town of Perpignan is immediately converted into a heaven of dialog and interaction. And infusion of foreigners from all over the world meet here at the South of France, me being is only Indian from India in sight. 

The locals transform the town of Perpignan in their own way to welcome this festivity of media and art. Many cafes have their own "OFF" Festival, which showcase the work of the local artists. One such chance meeting happen during my desparate escape from the competitive environment of Visa,  while exploring the OFF Festival. 

The artist Trenca Rocs (Jean) was showcasing photographs of his rock installations at a vegan vegetarian joint called Peace and Love. I chanced upon it on a little street while asking for directions.   There was only one dish being served that day, stir-fried local vegetables with broken wheat. By the end of my solo meal an introduction via the kind owner/translator ended up in a plan to shoot this artist's installation the next day, who was sitting quietly in the corner of this bare restaurant. Outside of photography land. These installations stood in the north Catalonian forests an hour and a half away from us. Since I had the camera, and he had the installation the plan was solidified halfway through my carrot cake. 

He spoke no English and I no Catalan or French. So in our own broken sign langauge, we commenced our journey in his Reno, at Place de la Republic, Perpignan at 12pm on Sunday the 9th of September. 

We drove across the border to shoot his creations on charred cork trees which were almost pulverised in a forest fire that swept across 3200 acres of land in North Eastern Catalonia, Spain. 

Jean, a native of the Catalan region was formerly a construction worker. He is now retired and has acquired a second career as a well known and exhibited artist in Perpignan. 

Below are the words of Jean himself translated from French to English by the computer. 

"Assuming that the Great Artist is nature itself, I'll humbly, my grain of salt to divert its laws and put a touch of improbability in his work.
The écosculptures and land art are the result of the same process, one workshop, one in nature. In both cases I try to reveal the poetic soul of a roller granite and an olive branch."

"Working closer to nature and my roots, it is obvious for me to put a strong note Catalanity in my approach."

"For écosculptures, materials from a local area, they are often left in the rough, or just sanded wood. This approach leaves little room for premeditation. The inspiration comes from the shape and appearance of a rock or root, often on the ground, at the edge of Tech or crests Albères. Then in the studio, I have to find ways to implement the ideas of the field."

"For land-art, over my walks at random from my travels, it is found without really looking, the place, the light and the elements will combine to create an ephemeral work in communion with nature. It's all about balance and therefore, a priori, on harmony.Then I let nature decide the durability of the installation. The only trace that will eventually be a photograph of the structure in its environment.
My first experiences écosculptures from 2005 and 2008 land art."

The forest was badly burnt, and the cork trees were covered with a coat of burnt thermacol/styrofoam kind of texture, which was their outer most bark that took the brunt of the wild fire. 

And now a few weeks after the fire, the trees are already on their way back to revival, such is the awesome power of mother nature. 

We continued to climb over the hill after taking some pictures, by now, our interaction was smooth sailing. The lack of common language gave a very silent sense of encounter between us. Such is the beauty of travel, adventure and art. I was obessed with making it to Barcelona this trip, but unfortunately could not plan well enough to do so. 

Therefore I was grateful to have Spanish soil under my feet. Which were by now black, because I was hiking in flip flops on charred ground. 

The funny thing about the langauge of art is, that, it cuts the crap and gets right to the point. On some level I was exhausted by being constantly surrounded by intense emotions owing to relationships, regrets regarding life and interacting with many bags and baggages of others, as well as my own. So this blissful day of philosophical exploration and discovery in minimal words was just an intravneous shot of pure innocence and love galore. The landscape spoke of much higher suffering and the art work its own.

Amongst these trappings of the body and physical constraints of my soul; I found great peace in chasing the musings of surrealistic vision inherent to the Catalans.

I strongly believe and have believed that I lived in and participated in the Dada movement in a pervious life. And this Catalan landscape even though damaged and dark was definately giving refuge to my soul, I was there once. I knew it. 

A surreal discovery I made in the Pompidou Museum in Paris was that Joan Miro lived from 1893 to 1983! 

'83 being the year of my birth was some sort of twisted proof of my far out idea of incarnation portals. 

The last time I was there though that land was a different land. 

While Jean was experimenting on top of the mountain, we listened to Mikis Theodorakis through phone and inhaled the carbon air, as the shutter snapped away.

"For some time I have fun making cairns in roundabouts. I created my code, mixing land art and street art:

night work, anonymous, free, 

 instant, solitary, respectful of the environment,

 even if it is artificial.

I am looking for a qualifier or "rout'art" or "karreter'art" (carretera Road in Catalan)."

"And now, my 3rd or 4th assignment I am entitled to my first identity checks by the Gendarmerie Nationale. I even gave my card!

Another thing: someone congratulated me for installation Arles sur Tech, the Fontaine des Buis. Except that I've never worked on this site. So another person makes land art in the Tech and I am very happy, more the merrier ......!

If you know who this person is or if she reads this blog I would be happy to meet her, I have some projects that could be of interest."

After a while, I put the camera away and part took in some installation making myself.

This rendezvous is as random as much needed to open out the mental loops of life. 

And thank god for this intervention by a friend from a far away past, it helped me become inspired in true spontaneous art and took me back to root that I needed to revisit in uninspired times. The Dada daze.

As a result of sharing this story, an esteemed and respected fellow artist threw the riddle at me. 

"Why is the raven like a writing desk?"

Jaswinder by Bindaas

I was lucky to have Jaswinder as a student. On Saturday morning, when we got kicked out of the mosque, at this point most of the boys split to continue on with their vagabond activities. Jaswinder had by chance missed his bus to school, and was reprimanded by his mother, who told him not to return before school was over. 

And thus he is one of the major participants of Khoj Vigyapan Poster Workshop

Jaswinder took a very keen interest in photography. In the two days has captured some of the most well composed and thoughtful images.

Aath Minar - Eight Minar by Bindaas

5th AUGUST 2012 

Sunday afternoon was chaos....

Some photo enthusiasts were being snap happy

Photo by Roshan
A lot of experimentation was at play, in camera that too. 
It was very impressive. 

Since this was the first day of participation for  Roshan, Arjun, Siddhart, Pradeep & Sachin, they drove the campaign for the facade from Prakash's concept sheet which had two topics. One was the kites and the other was his compelling line the Brand New Khirki Masjid. Therefore, in the spirit of the advertising focus, we decided to create an elevated version of the dilapidated mosque and apply more ideas of digital manipulation. 
Collectively we chose the befitting picture. 

Art Director: Prakash, Roshan, Arjun & Sachin
Copywriter: Prakash & Sandeep 
Contributions by  Siddharth Kumar, Pradeep Kumar & Radha. 

 Then there was more photo explorations, some on the computer and some on the camera.

Photos by Roshan, Arjun & Pradeep

While working on Radhas cmapaign

Everyone got a chance with the mouse, and watch aspects of the image dissapear with the use of the clone stamp.

Radha was the only girl in group. Sometimes the boys teased her, and sometimes helped her out. 

Lattoo Baaz by Bindaas

5th AUGUST 2012 

Owing to the short duration of the workshop, the concept sheets were very helpful for getting all the shots done. It was not necessary that the participant would shoot the picture for his or her own concept sheet. 

This image is taken by Rahul, because he was the only one there on Sunday morning and many Prakash and Radha had both drawn the facade of the mosque on their concept sheets.  

Sunny joined in that morning for a short time, we started the Lattoo Baaz  shoot immediately. 

Since lattoos are only around during the winter, we decided we would cut paste from the web, the actual toy. 

 We took many different angles, the lesson was to account for the lattoo which would later be photoshoped into the frame. 

And then gathered the others to walk over to the office, where we would download the images and start retouching with the amazing Dipti Desai
 Photo by Roshan

Photos by Rahul

In the computer session, the kids played around with contrast and explored different fonts or what we called 'handwriting'. 

In the absence of Rahul during this session, who had left by then, there was a conflict over the line: World's the best lattoo baaz(top spinner) as a fallacy The children argued that Khirki village was a very small part of the world. Therefore, the line was changed to Purane Masjid Mein - In the Old Mosque instead. And thus Rahul had to renounce his imaginary lattoo world championship.

Art Director: Prakash & Sachin
Copywriter: Rahul & Sandeep Prakash
Contributions by Roshan Kumar, Arjun Sarkar, Siddharth Kumar, Pradeep Kumar, Sandeep Kumar, & Jaswinder

Prakash's Campaign by Bindaas

4rd AUGUST 2012 

 Photo by Sachin

Photo by Prakash

 Photo by Sachin

In this assignment, we were going to stich 3 images. The one above, for the kite. And the one below for the main model who is captured as though he is flying away with the kite. 

Since Prakash was interested in cut and paste, we captured images accordingly. 

Dipti spent Sunday morning with us at the office teaching the children as well as taking photos. 

We changed the color of the kite, and learnt how to use the clone stamp the next day. And crafted the final campaign. 

 Art Director: Prakash
Copywriter: Prakash, Roshan, Arjun,Rahul, Pradeep.
Contributions by Jaswinder, Sachin, Sunny and many others.  

Radha's Campaign by Bindaas

4rd AUGUST 2012 

Radha's Concept Sheet

     "The story of this fort is that there was a couple of a queen and a king. They were living happily. Suddenly one day the enemies of king's they fought to each other, the king's enemy wanted his fort and that's why he fought with king. There is a way to underground and king and queen ran away from that way. The enemies lived for a long time and he died. These is a hidden way to go to  Taj Mahal, India Gate, Qutub Minar. 

     The surrounding of this fort was very opened and now it's so congested. The value of the Khirki Village is very high only because of this fort. There are three gates to enter and exit. 

     As I know the story of this fort is that this fort is a historical place. It has many windows so this area is also known as Window Village (Khirki Village)

     In 2005 there was a work created by Government they wanted to repair this fort. When the laborers drilled the ground there was a few pots of gold. And now that gold is with Government."

When I asked Radha, what aspect of the fort she wanted to capture, she replied that this was a one of the most beautiful playground's for the  children. In her mind this mosque was actually a fort. 

Khirki Masjid, a structure that was originally built to house the quietude of prayer and ritualistic activities, has lost its religious sanctity. The dark corridors house alcoholic congregations and the musty domes have become the caves of thousands of bats. But according to Radha, it is a place of refuge for children girls and boy alike. The elders of the village occasionally visit this congregational space, but while I was there, I only saw creepy activities. 

Radha choreographed this shot. My job was to help her channel her writing in conjunction with the imagery. As opposed to the older kids, her visual conception needed work, based on her literal representation of the structure in her drawing on the concept sheet. Inspired by Jaswinder's idea of staging the children in the mosque, we tried a couple of shots. She learnt how to improvise the image, and progressively changed her frame to include the window in the back. 

Radha got her chance and we had to move on to the next campaign; Prakash's cut paste experiment. 

Andi was having a good time photographing too. 

 Photo by Unknown Participant.

Other children who had joined in later and had no campaign to shoot, just played around with the cameras

Photo by Unknown Participant.

Adil and Manohar also joined the session along with Radha, Jaswinder, Shivani, Komal, Sampa, Anjali and Nandani. 

The next day we made this. Radha's final campaign.

Art Director: Radha Kumari
Copywriter: Prakash, Radha Kumari
Contributions by Roshan Kumar, Arjun Sarkar, Siddharth Kumar, Pradeep Kumar, Sandeep Kumar, & Jaswinder

Homework! by Bindaas

4rd AUGUST 2012 

On Saturday morning, Ramesh and I met the boys Prakash, Rahul, Sunny, Jaswinder and some newcomers. They had evidently bunked school, and 2 of them had brought back amazing concept sheets. It was a very beautiful begning to an exciting day. We were all charged up to realise these ideas. 

Since I had not shown this group the Dove Evolution film, Pradeep was amazed and now was interested in exploring cut paste options as he was keen on learning photoshop. My challenge was to translate both the written and visual material into a solid concept for the ad campaigns. 

Prakash's Concept Sheet
"In Khirki Masjid, we fly kites, and we chat with our friends" 
"The old style Khirki Masjid ---> The Brand New"

Rahul's campaign 
"World's Best Top Spinner in Khirki Village"

   Our enthusiasm was then shut down within half an hour of the session by some digruntled authorities of the masjid, who asked us to leave and thus disapating our group. The kids went to bum around, leaving was just the 3 of us. Ramesh, Jaswinder and me

This one on one session with Jaswinder was very valuable. Owing to the complexity of the assignment, I was able to truly explain to how to concept, visualise and brand the mosque. 

 Jaswinder played with the Mark II, we had all the time in the world. This portrait of Ramesh is taken by him.

Photos by Jaswinder

Jaswinder's Concept Sheet
"Khirki Masjid is best place for hide and seek and other out door games"

After lunch we headed to the mosque and translated his idea in a dress reherseal with Andi, while the other children were being gathered. 

Khoj Vigyapan Poster Workshop Day 1 by Bindaas

3rd AUGUST 2012 

Khirki Masjid a 13th Century Mughal structure, is one of the 43 monuments identified by the Archeological Survery of India (ASI) for restoration in recognition of its 'Grade A' categorisation by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

Its architectural speciality is the numerous ubiquitous arch windows (carved out of stone guard) with perforated screens or tracery, known as "Khirkis"", the village of Khirki which surrounds this mosque thus gets its name from it. 

 On August 3rd, the media literacy course called 'Khoj Vidya/gyapan Poster Workshop' commenced on the terrace of this structure, which has now become a recreational area for the residents of the neighbourhood. 

Photographer Dipti Desai of Belgaum and Sumit Dayal of Kashmir graciously offered their help. Dipti and I gathered the younger children, along with Andi and Ramesh of Khoj. We showed them examples of advertisements, explained to them the fabrication of commercial imagery, layout, concept and conceptulisation of message.
These examples highlighted how exclusions made in the photographic frame are an important aspect of capturing the subject in advertisements according to the idea formulated.

 They were introduced to concept sheets, on which we asked them to concoct their own commercial, about their very own Khirki Masjid. They we asked to draw an image and write either a slogan or a few lines about what in particular, they would highlight in their photograph, in the photo session the next day.  

This is one of the examples of how a concept  
sheet is realised. 

The children also watched the Dove Evolution film, which summarized photoshop and image manipulation

 Dipti, Sumit and I lent them our high end professional cameras to play with. 

Some children took to this activity immediately
 Others  focussed on their sheet. 

    Photo by Unknown Participant from Khirki. She explained that she captured this image because, she wanted to close these holes in the terrace by using photoshop in her campaign.
Thanks to Sumit,  who managed to convince some older boys who happend to be flying kites on the terrace to come join in. Pradeep, Rahul, Sunny and his friends ended up getting deeply involved in this workshop. 

Although it seemed like I was assigning a very complex task to some young strangers on the roof of a dilapidated masjid, I was adamant on creating with them a well thought out ad campaign poster about Khirki Masjid by the end of this weekend. Children of 2012 are surrounded by image laden media streams that constantly engage them. I was banking on this know-how as well as deeply interested in teaching them to critically adress this media.

Photos by Radha

Photo Below by Jaswinder Singh

At around 6.30pm we parted our ways.With the hope that in our first short session. which included displaying the contradicting reality in advertisements, and a quick demonstration of the posibilites of the professional camera.  We were scheduled to convine the next morning at 11am. 

I was looking forward to our next session and was curious to see who would attend, let alone bring back homework or even have grasped the idea of visualisation and layout. 

New Delhi, India. 

Putting out a call by Bindaas

Today I arrived at Khirki Extension and met up with Ramesh and Manohar at the Khoj office. 

We walked around the village and stuck our little posters in the hope that some children would see them and come by this evening. 


The main objective of this workshop is to help children learn how advertisements are made and how fabricated the truth is in their slogans. In the hope to create a critical approach in the young minds of today when they process the various messages of media and commerce.

Lets hope that many children will come today!!!

The 3rd day of a very hot August in New Delhi.

Sweating and awaiting!!

Sholapur Road Record by Bindaas

15th June 2012

Today the Palkhi has passed by Sholapur Road. Lakhs ( Hundred Thousand) of people passed by enroute Saswad to reach their final destination Pandharpur. 

Saint Dnyaneshwar and Saint Tukaram  whose idols and foot prints on palanquins are followed by these large drones of bhakts (devotees) are two extremely prominent saints of the 13th and 17th century in Maharashtra. They played a key role in translating the verse of the Bhagwat Gita a seminal religious text into more popularised versions. This was a revolutionary act in those days, because the religious power was in the hands of the preist (Brahman) class. Owing to the validity of the caste system in those days, this power was highly abused. 

 Therefore, these two saints played a large role in reversing the hierarchical of old Maharashtra, and brought universal access to the Lord through their poems, which were sung for the people, not in the illegible sacred text language that could only be read by the priests, but in verse that could be comprehended by all. In these translations were valuable lessons for society, inspiring verses to bide by hard times and poetic meanings that indulged one and all in the great Indian religious and philosophical engagement.

Therefore, Palkhi festival is an event for the common man. Not for the elite, or those high up in the hierarchy. In this installation, I have tried hard to respect those very rules. When it comes to photography, I have noticed that only those who have had access to expensive cameras can indulge in photography (Untill of late with the emergence of cell phone cameras etc). In the case of photographing those who do not have access to a computer and other forms of quick and easy 'developed' forms of communication, sending copies is quite a task. So I wondered, why should me and my socio economic class only be privy to this gorgeous image, made by a stance as powerful as the one seen here by this mauli? Why can't all of those who can appreciate this man's spirit captured within this frame have access to this image? Therefore, as a dialog with the philosophies of Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar, this installation was created. The people seen walking in the crowd are the people of rural India, most of them farmers, who live on extremely meager incomes, the underdogs of the unfair economic structure of this beautiful country that; ironically enough, are the greatest preservers of our ancient culture. Unlike us 'developed' urban people who are losing themselves in modernity

Today, my effort to meet this man via this poster was in vain. We did not cross paths, but I do wonder, if he saw this poster, or was he walking onwards, his attention dedicated to his song and his mind concentrated on his walk? Maybe he saw the photograph, but I was not present underneath it at that time, busy capturing the crowd with my camera. Was this poster visible enough? Should it have been larger? Should I have placed it in another place? Are the questions streaming through my mind.

My answer and hope in the event of all these queries is, if he truly is a spiritual man, I guess he knows already, and may have glanced and understood what is happening here.

That is the magic of media, which others only exploit for commercial value. That this photograph carries within it an essence of intent. This large frame encloses within it the spirit of reason. This ink emanates the emotions of its creator. And this gesture is laden with a message which for all is subjective, but for the one, it is received and understood. Hopefully.

As for this silent communication between two disparate souls, it will be a mystery till this project is over what will be the end result of this exercise.

Cie la vie

The Mountain Installation by Bindaas

14th June 2012

We arrived a Saswad Ghat at 4pm yesterday. The day was really hot, and the sun was bearing down on  us all afternoon. No sooner that we were on top of this hill, with all our belongings, the poster an all, a large dark cloud loomed over area and came down with tropical thunder. We took refuge under the poster and waited, taking it as an auspicious beginning to a mammoth task. 

Due to the rain just passing us by, the strong winds were viscous and the task was precarious. Installing a 20 foot poster, of an unknown man....I wondered what was the real reason why I was doing it. Why spend an entire day going through the trouble, why not spend that time hanging with friends, watching a movie, reading a book or indulging in such activities that will not result in my being alone in a crowd?

The thing is that Palkhi festival holds a lot of importance in my life, because ever since I remember, Palkhi was always an exciting event. The bulls would be decorated with vegetable dyes, and make up, and beautiful ornaments as they would carry the idol on the bullock cart from Kadki to Sholapur. A beautiful engagement that no longer exists in our lives now, because we have been urbanized.

Also, every year, an old couple used to come and stay over at the farm, as they were strong followers of this tradition, and I remember my interaction with them was always so fullfilling because they were pure, they were bhakts and they were strong. I remember admiring them and always finding ways to spend time with them, one of those excuses was photographing them. This was when I was a child 22 years of age. I did not realise the worth of a photograph then, because I has so many to manage. And I did not understand the worth of a promise, because I was always running, and running away. Far from innocence into the big bad world of tough lessons.

Many years went by, and I never came home during Palkhi time, or if I was home, I was sometimes in Mumbai, or in a studio completing an assignment. The couple that stayed at our place would always ask Kisan (seen in the grey pant and shirt in the image below) did the little girl leave behind a print for us. Somehow to me it never felt important, because, I always could make a print and always had access to images, and could not in my youth, for the life of me, understand why an image would be so important to a person. Speaking of karma, as I grew into a woman at some point, this psyche of ALWAYS giving a print became a strong part of my work ethic later on. But in 2006, when unfortunately was this couple's last visit to my home, I had lost all my work in a hard drive crash AGAIN. And by the time I attempted to give a print, I had realised that it was too late.

Another aspect of this interaction that I find so old worldish is that they were our good friends, without fail, we knew that they would come over every year during the month of June, stay for 2 days, they would eat at our house, and we would give them shelter with great admiration and respect. We did not know which village they came from or anything else. It was only Pandurang, Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar that bound us together. And in this bound of divinity, lay an odd exchange that ended in a missing ingredient, the print I owed them. Now I have no idea where they are, in 2006 they were atleast 80 years old. Strong 80 year olds who could walk 200 odd kilometers across the State of Maharashtra, because they were farmers and thats how their bodies were built. There was no cellphone, no mailing address, there was no way of communication with each other, except when they would arrive and we would meet face to face.

 Now, who knows where and what state they are in? Has one or both of them passed away? Have they reincarnated in another world, are they now two separated souls? One born in Africa and the other in Spain? Will they ever try to come back here again, in some other form, a part of them gone into the earth and fly across the fields like pollen during the Spring? All these questions were in my mind, as I attempted to complete this ridiculous task on the side of the windy hill.

In this philosophical exploration, I used one tool, that has been gifted to me by God, and one thing that comes very easily to me; photography and honesty. I used the gift of art to express such ridiculous emotions on such a massive scale to put it out there to hundreds of thousands of people, because in such moments of over analyzing life, I feel very very alone. And all I want is for everyone to relate to a deep feeling, whose meaning becomes irrelevant in the act of translation, and finally culminates into pure emotion, one that the viewer or audience can take and make it into whatever they find suitable. As long as that portal is open between me on one end expressing and they on the other end receiving.

Turns out, that no matter however many people one may hire to install a 20 by 14 feet print on the side of a hill, wind and rain and physical constraints dont make the process any easier. After creating the frame, and taking it to this precarious edge, I learnt that this would be more challenging than ever imagined. We lowered the image, and winds, folded the whole thing, including the wooden frame, and the poster when sliding down ripped into half.

All of us stood there awestruck, steeped in disappointment and sadness. Everyone yelled at each other, blamed one another, screamed and shouted, turned to me, and reprimanded me for printing it 20 feet tall instead of 10 feet like the last one. So, after getting the shit out of our systems, we went to the landing with our tools, and starting repairing this thing, object, gesture, message. An hour later, it was starting to become dark.

While I was gathering large rocks to use as support for attempt 2, a sadhu baba came upto me and said. "Look child, do you see that blue iron frame. Yes, that thing, the wind took that entire thing off the mountain, so why would it spare your puny wooden frame, if it didn't spare iron?" To that I turned around, and worked harder, because, the point was to not give up, not now, definitely not now.

So there it is, standing precariously on Saswad Ghat, I have not idea after 12 hours if it still stands, I find out in a few days.

Au revoir

An Unfulfilled Promise by Bindaas

13th June 2012

“Namdeo Tukaram” “Namdeo Tukaram”. The chant is consistent, accompanied by devotional songs venerating the two saints who worshipped Pandurang.  They walk in the rain, over highways and rough paths alike, through crowded cities, and lonely villages. Wealthy and poor, shod and unshod, male and female, women and children, all walk shoulder to shoulder, negating their differences as they are all united by their devotion and faith. They address everybody alike as “Mauli” which means God, as they believe that the divine is present in us all.

The chanting and singing comes from thousands of pilgrims who annually make a pilgrimage with the “Palkhi” (Palanquin) bearing idols and padukas of Saint Dyaneshwar and Pandurang from Alandi to Pandharpur. Dyaneshwar in the 13th century is said to have spread an understanding of the Gita by preaching it and illuminating the average person’s life by its guidelines. He initiated the 250 kilometer/156 mile walking pilgrimage between Alandi and Pandharpur. This route is said to be a walk of enlightenment.  Dyaneshwar a child of ostracized bhraman parents became a Sant - Saint when took Samadhi at the age of 21.

Every year, this pilgrimage, begins in June, during the onset of the monsoons in Maharashtra, India. The devotees, typically farmers, leave their villages after sowing theirs crops. They leave their seeds to germinate as per the will of nature while they pray to Pandurang. As they gather at the starting point, the congregation at Alandi swells to tens of thousands of people and they proceed with the Palkhi to its due resting place in Pandharpur, with only devotion in mind. 

This journey takes them 15 to 20 days and nights. The devotees camp for part of the night and gather under minimal cover around bonfires and keep on singing their bhajans that are stories about the saints or Pandurang himself. They are in a state of bliss throughout the journey despite the tropical monsoon beating down on them or the sun blazing on their wandering bodies. Without a thought to the fragile seed germinating in their fields at home, or the financial hardships that they face during the rest of the year, their joy is fulfilled by accompanying the Palkhi.  Pune happens to be in this route.

During this very time, 6 years ago, I was on top of Saswad Ghat, and I met a mauli whose spirit I captured in a pixel and his power arrested and inspired my soul. On taking this image shown below, I promised him a copy, and in the unfortunate juggle of life, Indian- USA, USA-India, and back and forth for so many years, that little piece of paper bearing his address was sadly lost. Also, many hard drives crashed, erasing all reminence of him. Untill one day, Janhavi my sister, produced a digital copy she had saved on her hard drive back in the day. Thank God.  

Today, I stand by a promise made many years ago, postponed but definitely not forgotten. And the resurfacing of this image has resurrected my vigour to reach out and make the gesture.

Today the Palki has arrived in Pune. And today has been a very special day for me, because finally, something that has tugged at my heart and soul so deeply, for so mant years, is finally being realised. Today, with the help of Babubhai the billboard guy, his assistant, the very talented Pintu, the ultra dedicated Kisan, and with a little transportation help from Meghraj. We erected a 10 foot call to this man in the image. I dont know his name or his place in the procession. All I know is that he is one of the 150,000th person in the Palki procession, if he is still around in this world or on this side of the world? 

This poster stands on the corner of Sholapur road in front of Kroma mall, where the procession will proceed on the 15th, where hopefully he sees it and we have a magical encounter. 

Tomorrow, I head to this mountain, to drop a 20 foot tall poster over its facade in Saswad, where I initially photographed him for that hopeful second chance, incase Sholapur road does not work out.

The message on the board says: Shraddhayukt Ani Prembhave Warichya Nimitane Shubha Kamana:  On the Occasion of Wari (Palkhi Procession) My Best Wishes Filled With Love and Devotion.