Artologue turns 3….

MJ and Jey

Artologue: Art for all, our dream project enters its third year in August 2015. While colours, journeys to new places, participation of the viewers  and creative exchange formed the core of the project, there’s much more to it. It is as much a journey of ours as a couple, Mee and Jey as individuals as well as of two art crusaders.

In the beginning, it was a romantic ride, which turned into adventure rides at different juncture of our travels, and at times these turned out to be the most memorable and cherished moments.

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Visiting new places for a xenophobic like myself and compromising on every possible aspect of life during the journeys for Jey, has brought out the best from both of us. Also to be able to fit in every house where we were invited to paint, tested and improved our creativity in the truest manner.

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All our life we kept on hoarding things and categorizing them as ‘mine’ only to realize that the joy of creating something and seeing other cherish it as ‘their’s’ is more satisfying.

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While it seems we created and left behind all our works unsigned and unclaimed, rather we left our color-print at every place we visited, every house we lived, every soul we peeped in and every heart who accepted us as their family. We did not leave much behind in our journeys. If we sit to calculate, our gains would win with huge margins.

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All our lives we strive for love, recognition and knowledge. After these years we know that we have seen half of India and vice-versa, and we have 40 walls (where we painted), numerous friends (we made on our way)and  27 families (we stayed with) to go back to.

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So congratulation to all of you who met us or know us through Facebook, Twitter or or newspapers. we are waiting for your invite. and Yes GOOD NEWS TO SHARE SOON about ARTOLOGUE.

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Marriage and painting : a new experience

DSC_1822 copyCreating a painting for others and marrying a daughter feels alike.

Once back from the 45 days Bihar Jharkhand Artologue trip, we had a hard time coping with the fact that we will perhaps never see the paintings we did during the trip.

We and especially Meenakshi spent hours going through the same photographs from the last trip over and over again. Perhaps that was her way of compensating the physical distance between her works, whom she addresses as her children.

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Amidst this hangover, we received an offer to paint in a wedding. An arranged marriage in Le Meridian, New Delhi, in which family members from both the sides from their ancestral village were to join in.

The offer was more of a request from the maternal uncle as he really loved his niece and wanted to gift her something unique on the on set of a new chapter of her life. We readily accepted the offer.

Creating an art work for some one else is like marrying your daughter away. Although both, the art work and daughter, remains closer to the heart, you can’t see then as often as you wish.painting

For the wedding, Meenakshi came up with the idea of treating the white base just as a maiden is treated and prepared for her new life. We spent two days in the narrow lanes of old Delhi looking for an appropriate cloth base, some glittery colours and a bridal kind of lace for the border of painting.

On the day of haldi and menhdi, the white cloth base was coated with a layer of haldi, just as a maiden is smeared and massaged with haldi. Due to its medicinal and ritualistic value, haldi or Turmeric it is a must in every Indian wedding.

Next when the menhdi-wala came to apply menhdi on the hands and feet of bride, Meenakshi along with other women applied glittery pearl colours on the yellowed fabric with the henna cone.

The use of henna cone instead of brush was the idea of Jey who believed that brush may sound a little alien to the household women while henna cone will be easy to handle and work with due to its familiarity. The trick worked and without any fuss all the gathered women started drawing their wishes and blessings on the yellowed fabric while Meenakshi drew the central intricate design.

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On the day of engagement, the guests and mostly kids had a great time playing with henna colour cones and adding their designs to the painting.

Women from villages drew the traditional designs that are considered auspicious and Meenakshi continued to elaborate the central design. Jey had a tough time managing the kids, re-doing some messed up designs and an enormous peacock that was badly done by the mother of the bride.

Towards the end, the peacock edited by Jey looked very beautiful and out-shone other works by guest artists.

After the ring ceremony got over, the bride and groom drew their bit and ended up drawing themselves on the canvas. The father-in-law too got excited and drew a messy line work that Meenakshi edited out in the final phase of the painting.

On the day of the wedding, the canvas was decorated with bright bridal-kind of lace border and fine tuned for the final presentation. That day the painting did look like a bride, decorated all in bright hues and ready to don a new avatar.

It soon became centre of attraction and a selfie spot. Singles, couples and elderlies all joined the queue for a photo with the painting in background. Jey had a tough time controlling the excited crowd.

Later we too had a photo clicked with the painting, but we created the background for the painting.

That evening we bid a silent and smily good-bye to the painting knowing that we may not see it ever again..

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गुलेल, चिकन और यादें….

The painting in a village in Hazaribagh

The painting in a village in Hazaribagh

हज़ारीबाग जाना नहीं था लेकिन कहते हैं न यात्राओं में पता नहीं होता आप कहां से कहां पहुंच जाते हैं.

जब भागलपुर में थे तो शशि से बात हुई तो शशि ने कहा कि अगर हम हज़ारीबाग जाएंगे तो वो मुंबई से हमसे मिलने आ जाएंगे.

शशि को हम फेसबुक से ही जानते थे और फोन पर एक दो बार बातचीत हुई थी. हमें आश्चर्य हो रहा था कि शशि सिर्फ हमसे मिलने मुंबई से आने को तैयार है हज़ारीबाग तो हम भी अपना कार्यक्रम थोड़ा बदल सकते हैं.

The time in hazaribagh spent with shashi and mona is one of the best periods in our jouney

The time in hazaribagh spent with shashi and mona is one of the best periods in our jouney

फिर हमने रुट बदला और बेगूसराय, बिहार शरीफ होते हुए उन दोनों जगहों पर पेंट करते हुए हज़ारीबाग पहुंचे.

अब सोचिए. हम शशि के दोस्त और ठहरे शशि के एक और दोस्त मोना के यहां. मतलब दोस्त के दोस्त के घर रुके और फिर मोना के एक दोस्त की शादी में गए.

The enjoyable moments

The enjoyable moments

अब सोचिए दोस्त के दोस्त के दोस्त की शादी. खैर हज़ारीबाग शहर से अलग बड़कागांव की तरफ एक सुंदर छोटे से पहाड़ों की गोद में बसे गांव में शादी का आनंद इस लोक से परे ही कहा जा सकता है.

The marriage ceremony. simple and beautiful

The marriage ceremony. simple and beautiful

पहला दिन ऐसा बीता लेकिन दूसरे दिन का अनुभव और भी अलग था.

Dance after the marriage.

Dance after the marriage.

मोना ने तय किया कि वो हमें एक और व्यक्ति से मिलाना चाहती हैं. दीनू से.

दीनू आदिवासी है और बिल्कुल जंगल में बसे एक गांव में रहते हैं. दीनू और मोना का रिश्ता बस इतना सा है कि दीनू रिक्शा चलाता है और जब मोना के पापा की एक बार तबीयत ख़राब  हुई थी तो दीनू अपनी रिक्शा में लेकर उनके पापा को घर तक ले आया था.

तब से मोना और दीनू एक परिवार जैसे हो गए हैं.

दीनू के चार बेटे है जो अलग अलग शहरों में मज़दूरी करते हैं. दीनू का घर सुंदर सा है मिट्टी का. उनके पैर में चोट थी और कुछ ही सप्ताह पहले ऑपरेशन हुआ था. अब वो शायद ही रिक्शा चला पाएंगे.

We painted two walls in Dinoo's house

We painted two walls in Dinoo’s house

बातों बातों में हमने पूछा कि आप तो खेती करते हैं तो फिर रिक्शा क्यों. दीनू ने बताया कि आदिवासी गांवों में या कहिए उनके गांवों में हर व्यक्ति उतनी ही खेती कर सकता है जितना वो खुद जोत सके. मज़दूर रखकर खेती नहीं करवा सकता कोई.

है न मज़ेदार व्यवस्था.

Shashi painted with Meenakshi

Shashi painted with Meenakshi

ऐसे में दीनू को नगद की दिक्कत हो जाती है. इसी कारण वो हफ्ते में तीन दिन हज़ारीबाग जाते हैं रिक्शा चलाने.

ख़ैर तय हुआ कि दीनू हमें खास किस्म का चिकन खिलाएंगे जो मिट्टी में गड्ढा खोदकर साल के पत्ते में पकाया जाएगा और खाना भी साल के पत्ते में खाया जाएगा जैसे वो खाते हैं.

हमने कहा बदले में हम आपके घर की दीवारें पेंट करेंगे.

मीनाक्षी ने रंग उठाए और शुरु हो गया काम. जे हमेशा से कहता था कि आदिवासियों के घर मिट्टी के बने होते हैं लेकिन उनकी फिनिशिंग सीमेंट से भी बेहतर होती है. मैंने ये चीज़ पूर्णिया में कल्याण टुडू के घर में देख चुके थे.

दीनू के घर की दीवारें सीमेंट की दीवारों से सुंदरता में बीस ही थी. जो बन पड़ा हमने बनाया. रंग भी उनके घरों के सामान से ही बनाए. धीरे धीरे घर के बच्चे भी जुट गए काम में.

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फिर क्या था. कुत्ते, बकरियां, सुअर सब मंडराने लगे हमारे चारों तरफ. जंगल के जीवन का यही असल मज़ा है. आदमी-जानवर-प्रकृति सब साथ में होते हैं.

दीनू एक लाठी पर घूमते घूमते बार बार हमारे पास आते और देखते. थोड़ी बातचीत करते. हमने फरमाइश की थोड़ी सी हंडिया की भी जो उन्होंने चट से मंगवा दिया.

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दोपहर तक काम खत्म हुआ पेंटिंग का और इसी बीच एक पड़ोस की महिला आई और बोली कि उनके घर में अगले हफ्ते शादी है तो क्या हम पेंट कर देंगे उनके दरवाज़े.

हमने हामी भरी लेकिन कर नहीं पाए. खैर देर दोपहर पेंटिंग खत्म होने के बाद जब खाने बैठे तो साल के दोने और पत्तल में मुर्गे का स्वाद दिव्य ही लगा.

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शशि और मोना हम दोनों की खुशी देखकर चुपचाप मुस्कुराए. शायद शशि पहले मिल चुके थे दीनू से. दीनू भी खुश लगे. जाते समय उन्होंने जे को गुलेल दी क्योंकि पूरे समय जे गुलेल से खेलता रहा था.

दीनू ने कहा – हम गुलेल का खूब इस्तेमाल करते हैं खेत से जानवर भगाने में, बेर तोड़ने में. आप ले जाइए ये एक हमारी याद.

गुलेल हमारे साथ है हमारे घर में. मुर्गे का स्वाद है हमारे मुंह में और दीनू की याद हमारे जेहन में.

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Kesariya Balam for hari bhari

Our hari bhari bullet with kids

Those who are familiar with our journey, they know Hari bhari is our 350 CC Royal enfield bullet and we travel on that for our art journeys.

Now we are looking for a boyfriend of Hari bhari which is a 500 CC Royal Enfeild Bullet. Since artologue project is all about participation not money we have opened crowdfunding for the bullet which has been named by people as KESARIA BALAM.

If you want to fund for the new Bullet please come to this link and contribute whatever you want.

https://www.bitgiving.com/project/index/id/BIT217

Artologue coverage

In between we are also sharing the coverage we got in our 45 day trip to Bihar and Jharkhand.

We got covered by many media houses which included more than 20 paper cuttings, two FM Radio interviews and one Live TV show on DD.

Here is glimpse of those coverages. also adding the previous newspaper coverage  so dont get bored.

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The first ever coverage of Artologue was happened in 2014 by The Hindu. here is the link. http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Motoring/art-for-peoples-sake/article5740345.ece

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Then Amar Ujala newspaper did a long feature on us. weblink unavailable.

IMG_8526NavBharat Times did a little photo feature when we came back from our Srinagar Trip in 2014

IMG_8527The coverage in Bihar and Jharkhand news papers followed during our 45 day trip of Bihar and Jharknad.

 

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The Article in Prabhat Khabar.

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and another one in Inext Patna.IMG_8528

Painting in Begusarai with kids of GOVT school was an eye opener for usIMG_8529And then we painted in an orphanage in Bhagalpur.

IMG_8530Another painting done in Begusarai

IMG_8531Another coverage of the Bhagalpur orphanage thing.

IMG_8532From Begusarai we travelled to Bihar Sharif where we painted in a police station and then moved to Ranchi to paint in a place where kids with mental disablities live.

IMG_8533Times of India Ranchi also covered the story. here is the web link-http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ranchi/From-Delhi-with-love-Couple-add-colours-to-Ranchi-life/articleshow/46926995.cms

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And so did the pioneer in Ranchi- http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/ranchi/couple-with-paint-brush-in-hand-message-in-heart.html

IMG_8535Hindustan also covered the story.

IMG_8536Another very well reputed magazine covered our journey when we came back to Delhi.

PG-2And off course the Big Seven page spread on FEMINA MAGAZINE in 2014

Expressing – the smART way!

In the 45 day trip of Artologue, H.H.High school Brambe was our last stop. we spend two days painting with kids. The school is run by Shadab Hasan who has done his MBA and could have earn handsome money working in any Multinational but decided to stay and open a decent school where kids from tribal and underprivileged background can study  by paying a little only and at times nothing. This blog is written Shadab Hasan. 

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15th April, 2015 – a usual morning at H. H. High School, Brambe (Jharkhand). Students super excited with their new set of books. Teachers busy scheduling classes. Everything was moving as it is expected in the first few days of a new academic session. I was in a class teaching the kids when suddenly Anand, a dear friend of mine called me to inform, that ‘THEY’ had almost reached the school.

I asked them to wait near the Central University of Jharkhand which was a few minutes away from our campus. I wrapped up the class and immediately rush to receive ‘them’. I had never seen them before.

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At a moderate pace I drove around the Central University of Jharkhand trying to spot the ‘duo’ (as I was told they were two of them).

Suddenly I spotted a couple in bright coloured tee-shirts, self painted dungarees and glasses which none would wear except those truly in love with colours. Without a doubt I knew it was them. But they were not two – they were three them. Jey Sushil, Menakshi J. and Hari Bhari, a beaming, bright, green royal enfield.

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Our eyes met. Smiles exchanged and within minutes they were in our campus.

The day began with a customary introduction cum ‘what would you like to become’ session. That was when I knew what magic the three could do.

The way they gelled with the students spoke volumes about the love they had for them. The session was followed by a quick hand-raising of kids who wanted to join us in painting the school wall. Few stood up. Many shied away.

All because they felt art was not their cup of tea. Jey did not force any of them to come along. The team was formed, colours unpacked, and brushes soaked in water. The team stood in front of the blank white wall wondering what to draw. All was set except what would come up on the wall.

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Meenakshi and Jey turned to the kids. The kids came up with suggestions and for each of them the answer was – NO!

The idea was simple. We were not going to draw anything that existed. Instead we were to draw something that we had never seen.

So Jey along with his team set out on a quick tour of the campus and asked each of the members to note down everything that they saw as they moved around. The kids did.

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This is a wonderful method practiced by Jey and Meenakshi to help children become aware of the surrounding they live in and also get an idea of what to include that gives a local essence to the painting.

The three walls were mutually agreed to be painted into LAND, WATER and AIR respectively, the idea propped up Jey and shaped by Meenakshi.

Once the theme was finalized then the sketching began. I was hoping Meenakshi, the only professional painter in the lot to come forward and do the sketching on the wall for the kids to paint. I was proved wrong! She neither sketched nor gave any hints that she would. Instead she encouraged the kids to come forward and do the sketching.

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That was when I actually got to know what these two were.

It was simple. They were not there to sketch. They were not there to paint. Instead they were there to make the kids do it. Not only the ones who wanted to but anyone they came across.

 Meenakshi and Jey came from the school of thought that art is something which is made for everybody and there are no good or bad artists in the world.

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It is an expression of what you see and feel about it and can be expressed in any way deemed fit to the viewer.

The three walls that we had mutually agreed to was going to be worked on completely by the children with small inputs and guidance by our heroes.

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Very soon, the land-themed wall started getting adorned with a pink monkey, a yellow-beaked cock with pink and blue feathers and beautiful colored ants who were crawling almost everywhere and anywhere they could go.

Jey is extremely fond of drawing and coloring cocks and this is why the colourful cock found its way on our walls and was found riding a motorcycle to its heart’s delight.

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The water-themed ones saw a green octopus and a red tortoise out on a stroll while the yellow sword fish showed off his bright blue fins and startled the pink sea horse!

The air-themed wall what interested me the most as the children drew and colored dragonflies and butterflies on it.

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In order to create an everlasting memory of Jey, Meenakshi and their beautiful Hari Bhari, they also drew and a similar green bullet on the wall and colored it as a constant reminder of the trio and what they had taught them on those two special days!

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What really appealed to me was Jey Couple’s idea to give the walls a local feel as that is what Meenakshi does wherever she goes. They achieved this by picking up some red soil from our campus and making a thick paste with it which was then used by the children to create a border on the walls! Brilliant! This gave the walls an earthy and rural feel without any effort!

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Meenakshi and Jey would keep a constant check on what the children were doing and according to him nothing was ‘wrong’ or ‘incorrect’ in the world of art!

According to Meenakshi, it was all perfect as each child expressed his feelings through art and was at full liberty to do it any way he wants to.

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Meenakshi helped the children mix colors, choose the right paint brush and let them free! On the first day I was able to manage just about 15 children to participate in the drawing and coloring activity with Jey and Meenakshi as I sensed that the other children were a little apprehensive about coloring and felt that they were not perfect at the job.

The 15 confident ones worked for almost 2 hours after school with Jay and Meenakshi drawing their heart out and coloring as they felt like.

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When the other children saw the painted and half-finished walls the next day, they suddenly realized that what Jey and Meenakshi were making the kids do was quite simple yet artistic and could be anyone’s cup of tea if he or she wanted it to be!

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We had many more children joining us for the coloring session the next day and the numbers increased so much that we had to create batches so that everybody got a chance to color the the 2 days that Jey and Meenakshi spent with the children and helped them learn what art truly is, changed the way our children looked at art and they suddenly developed an inclination to this new found hobby!

Art enthusiastic from all classes started coming up to me and asked me to get all the other school walls whitewashed at the earliest so they could start painting them too! I think our school is going to get all colourful pretty soon.

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Jey and Meenakshi are two individuals who touch hearts and change lives by introducing people to a whole new world of color and art.

Their interactive and friendly nature took away all the inhibitions that my children (and me!) had about art and gave us a new perspective to live life freely and enjoy everything around us. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we at HHHS Brambe never wish our children to experience a dull moment in their lives.

Children of God…in Artologue

The work started with painting he hands of those kids

The work started with painting he hands of those kids

For the first time, we were nervous. It is difficult to explain the rush of mixed emotion when we reached the Srijan Help, a school for ‘special’ children. They greeted us with hearty smiles, warm shake-hands, curious looks and shyness.

Initially talking to them looked like a difficult task but that was not because a few of them could not speak. It was because we took a lot of time to embrace them as they were.

with the hand prints walls looked something like this.

with the hand prints walls looked something like this.

A few simple words and bowl of colors did the magic. We were talking, cheering, playing quiz and trying to remember each other’s name. While Jey was easy to pronounce and remember, Meenakshi became ‘M’ for them. She loved her new name.

In a few minutes the students were singing our names- AMMMM……JEYYYY …… M….Jey…… M…Jey..

The air was full of life. The youngest, also the shyest child was 6 years old and the eldest and the most talented of the students was 30 years old. We spend the whole day with these wonderful people.

Then Meenakshi started working on those designs

Then Meenakshi started working on those designs

Although we could not match with their energy level, we tried our best to give our best to them.

A few of them could not talk, some could not remember, some could not stop talking, some could not stand and walk around but they were full of life.

We asked them to choose their favorite colors and helped them print their hand prints on their school wall. Meenakshi had a plan of using their hand prints to create figures of birds and fishes.

Few became fish and few others became...

Few became fish and few others became…

Once they were done, Meenakshi transformed all the hand prints into dolphins, fishes, peacock, duck and other birds. All the students sincerely watched the whole process of creating art and interestingly, unlike other children, none of them disturbed Meenakshi or Jey in their work.

few hand prints became birds

few hand prints became birds

 

Those who could not stand were stuck to the windows, those who could   they sat around Jey, Prashant Suhano and Anand Dutta. They were highly disciplined and well behaved.

Not a single kid disturbed us while Meenakshi was working

Not a single kid disturbed us while Meenakshi was working

Hours passed a midst giggles and colors. When it was time to part, the children showed a lot of interest in getting their photo clicked. Not just did they insist on getting their photo clicked in their favorite pose, they also rejected the ‘not so good’ photos.

This kid was so interested in the painting that he kept walking on his walking sticks.

This kid was so interested in the painting that he kept walking on his walking sticks.

The parting note and emotions are difficult to explain. The teachers and founder of the Srijan Help school, Gunjan Gupta, thanked us for being able to spend some time with these children. She told us that many people from different NGOs come to their school but they do not treat the students properly.

The Selfie time

The Selfie time

“From tomorrow onward many will continue to ask for you both. Not many people love them the way you both loved my children”, told Gunjan when we were to leave.

One more with me please

One more with me please

We knew these special children deserve much more love and care than they were receiving in a three bare rooms and a couple of untrained teachers/ caretakers. Still the love they gave us will continue to fill our lives with life and smiles. Only the blessed ones have such pure hearts and hearty smiles. They are the Real Children of GOD.

The final painting looked something like this.

The final painting looked something like this.

The Polite admirers of Begusarai…

Begusarai is not a place. It’s a legend, it’s a myth but still it was not on our Artologue trip because no one had invited us from there.

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I had this feeling since beginning that without Begusarai, Bihar trip will not be considered complete.

And so it happened. We got a flood of invites from Begusarai after we painted in Jehanabad.

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Apparently people read it in the newspapers. People in Begusarai read too much. That was another hallmark.

Two teachers Ranjan Kumar and Anupma Singh followed us closely and politely sent us invitation several times through Facebook messages and phone calls to paint in their schools.

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We expressed our regret as our schedule was quite full but they persisted extremely politely.

In Bhagalpur we had to cut short our stay and there we decided to go to Begusarai.

Ranjan and Anupma were so happy with the news that they came ten kilometres to receive us.

We painted in two government run primary schools…One was in Dumri and another was in Beehat.

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Dumri was Anupma’s school where kids were so excited that they themselves cleaned the school before we reached to paint.

We painted simple circular designs on the walls involving almost all the kids and geometric pattern on the doors with the help of teachers.

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Next day we went to Dumri. The plan was to chat with kids not to paint but we ended up painting there as well.

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It all depends on how people receive us and respond. It was because of Ranjan kumar and the principal of the school that we painted in Beehat.

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The moment Meenakshi asked whether one of the walls can be painted white or not, Principal asked someone to get the color and two kids picked up brush to paint the wall white.

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We were told that the high school of this place has produced some best girl Kabaddi players. The students took serious interest in sports regardless of paucity of resources. Keeping in mind the inclination and achievements of students Meenakshi decided to paint human figures playing football, hockey, badminton and other games.

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In between Jey interacted with kids and asked them to come up with some new designs. One of the kids came up with the design of a butterfly with human face. Mermaids are commonly drawn figures but this lady butterfly was something new and interesting.

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Meenakshi asked the young girl to paint the same figure on the wall with few other girls. With very confident and clean moves, the figure of lady butterfly was completed beautifully.

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We completed the painting in five hours and then Principal invited us to have a chat with the teachers. It was probably the first time we were asked to interact with the teachers in a government school.

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They asked all sorts of questions which we answered and then came something unexpected.

One of the very senior teachers told Meenakshi, ‘Meenakshi I am really sorry. I didn’t help you guys while you were painting because I thought you guys are messing the wall. I thought you guys are from some NGO or something but I was wrong. You guys did a commendable job. I am feeling ashamed. I should have contributed like few teachers did.’

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The teacher was literally in tears and we felt a bit emotional. We thanked Ranjan Kumar for relentlessly pursuing us to come to Begusarai and paint.

The man never asked us to paint in his school but he got the wall of the school beautifully painted.

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It happened because he loved us. That’s what I feel. Actually the Artologue project is all about Love. If you love us…..we will give you love in the form of paintings.

Once again Thanks Ranjan kumar and Anupma singh for making the government schools better. You guys rock.

14

Gangs of Rangpur in Nalanda

In a foggy morning in Deer park, Delhi.

In a foggy morning in Deer park, Delhi.

‘’You guys look Yankee. You know….different… like artists.’’ It was the first reaction of Dr Siddharth, SP of Nalanda.

We think he meant funky when he said Yankee. We were in the office of Superintendent of police to discuss the idea to paint in a police station.

Dr Siddharth principally agreed to the idea but said, ‘In terms of administration, they will not value it but I am open to it. ’

Meenakshi had made some initial sketches which we showed to him. The sketch was quite thoughtful to which he reacted sharply.

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Without criticized the sketch, he gave a suggestion, ‘The thing is that all our police stations have this negative image. All male domain mainly, policemen are living without their family. So I want something positive. ’

Meenakshi and Dr Siddharth had a long discussion and we agreed to do a lily pond which also signifies the name Nalanda which in Prakrit language means Lotus.

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Then we left for the Police station with our friend and DSP of the area, Shams Afroz.  Jey and Afroz were classmates in JNU but they  were meeting after many years.

Actually the idea of painting in a police station came to us in the night when Meenakshi was painting a Sweat-shirt for Afroz. Afroz supported the idea wholeheartedly and fixed the meeting with SP the next day.

Noor Sarai police station has just got a new building and we picked up the wall which is visible to anyone entering into the station.

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The staff was very supportive. When Meenakshi started drawing the initial sketches and policemen were watching curiously.

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They thought we are from some NGO or something. We told them we are not.

Then we invited them to color the flowers. Jeetendra and Bhola were young constables there. They came forward and once they picked up the brush, they painted until the painting finished.

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In between, a sub-inspector Kanhaiya Prasad, the in-charge of the station Mr Shuzaudaula and many others came and contributed in it.

One of them was Awadhesh singh. He painted for few minutes and before leaving he brush said, ‘My wife also paints. Painting gives concentration.’

Jey replied, ‘Today when you go home. See the paintings of your wife and appreciate them. You will feel very good.’

Kanhaiya Prasad had steady hands. We asked his background. He was quite straight forward. He said, ‘I got a job because I was a good football player. Whoever is in sports they will appreciate any kind of art. It’s good for mental health.’

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Jeetendra and Bhola smiled when we asked their reaction. Jeetendra said, ‘I just came from the city carrying a gun. Now I have brush in my hand. I never painted in my life before today.’

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Bhloa quietly said that he loved it.

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Later in the day, DSP Afroz and his bodyguard Rustam and others also joined us in the painting.

IMG_7959

Afroz is a very good photographer and also likes to sketch. He did a flower and painted it before clicking some nice pictures for us.

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We finished the painting by evening and then came the time for a group photo.

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It was for the first time we were posing with Policemen. They sat like they sit after any encounter. We cajoled them to smile and relax. ( Second from left is Shams Afroz, DSP of

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In that particular moment we felt that we are the Gang of Rangpur who finished the job of coloring the wall.

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मुझे अम्मी चाहिए…..

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चांद अंसारी को कला में रुचि थी. उन्हें ठीक ठीक याद नहीं कि वो क्या बनना चाहते थे लेकिन वो कहते हैं, ‘ मैं भी कुछ कुछ आप लोगों जैसा ही करना चाहता था. लेकिन गरीबी इतनी थी कि काम करना पड़ा. अब टेलरिंग का काम करता हूं. बंबई में.’

चांद अंसारी हमें मिले भागलपुर के एक यतीमखाने में. हल्की सी करीने से रखी हुई दाढ़ी. चेक वाली शर्ट और लुंगी में वो बच्चों को एकदम स्पष्ट निर्देश दे रहे थे कि किस खाने में क्या रंग भरना है.

बच्चे उनकी बात सुन रहे थे. मुझे लगा यतीमखाने के स्कूल में पढ़ाते होंगे. पूछा तो बोले नहीं मैं पढ़ाता नहीं….कभी यहां रहता था मैं भी. यहीं पला हूं कुछ साल.

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1944 में बने इस यतीमखाने में इस समय सत्तर बच्चे हैं. जिनके लिए पांचेक शिक्षक हैं. बच्चे बदमाश नहीं हैं. उतनी ही बदमाशी करते हैं जितनी करनी चाहिए.

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रंगों में रुचि उनकी भी थी. कुछ बच्चों को अभी कागज नहीं मिला है वो स्लेट पर ही लिखते हैं. फटाक से अपने मन का कुछ बना लाए थे सलेट पर और जे को दिखाने लगे थे.

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गांव का दृश्य, फूल, बतख और फूलों के डिजाइन, तिरंगा झंडा…सब बना कर ले आए थे. एक कमल का फूल भी था उसमें. हमने पूछा नहीं क्यों बनाया. बेतुका ही होता ये सवाल.

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मीनाक्षी से थोड़ा डर रहे थे क्योंकि शायद किसी जींस पहनी लड़की को वो अपने यतीमखाने के परिसर में पहली बार देख रहे थे.

जैसे ही दीवारों पर काम शुरु हुआ. सबने खुद से कतार बना ली और मौका मांगने लगे पेंट करने का.

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हमने सबको मौका दिया..लेकिन एक बार जब रंग का चस्का लग गया तो सब बार बार रंग मांगने लगे. इस दौरान ही चांद अंसारी ने सबको शांत किया.

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बच्चों से बहुत सारे सवाल करने मुश्किल थे तो हमने चांद अंसारी से ही पूछ ली कई बातें और उन्होंने जो जवाब दिए उससे दिल भर आया.

उन्होंने बताया कि यहां अधिकतर बच्चे तो अनाथ हैं और कई बच्चों के मां बाप इतने गरीब हैं कि वो अपने बच्चों को यहां भेज देते हैं.

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तो क्या मां बाप को मिस करते हैं वो बच्चे जो अनाथ हैं.

चांद कहते हैं, ‘हां कुछ बच्चे तो बहुत मिस करते हैं मां पापा को. पकड़ कर रोने लगते हैं कि अम्मी चाहिए अम्मी चाहिए तब मैं इनको अपने घर ले जाता हूं. अपनी पत्नी के पास और कहता हूं यही तुम्हारी अम्मी है.’

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ये कहते कहते चांद का चेहरा लरज गया था. चांद बंबई में सूट वगैरह सिलते हैं. बात बदलते हुए उन्होंने अपने डिजाइन किए हुए सूट दिखाना शुरु कर दिया और बोले….आप लोग अच्छा काम कर रहे हैं वर्ना इन बच्चों के पास ऐसे लोग कहां आते हैं.

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हमने बताया कि हम पिछले एक महीने से सरकारी स्कूलों के बच्चों से मिल रहे हैं और इसी क्रम में यहां भी पहुंचे हैं. चांद का कहना था कि अगर हम लोगों ने थोड़ा पहले बता दिया होता तो वो बेहतर तैयारी कर के रखते. यानी दीवारों पर सफेद रंग रोगन हो जाता तो शायद पेंटिंग अच्छी हो जाती.

इसी क्रम में चांद भाई से पूछा था कि वो क्या बनना चाहते थे. बोले, ‘आप लोगों को देखकर याद आ रहा है कि रंग मुझे भी पसंद थे. जब छोटा था तो सोचता था कि बड़ा होऊंगा तो बच्चों की मदद करुंगा. खूब घूमूंगा. गरीब थे. घरवालों ने काम पर लगा दिया तो अनाथालय भी छूटा. इतने गरीब थे कि यहां रख दिया था कुछ साल.’

अब चांद जब भी मुंबई से घर आते हैं. बच्चों को थोड़ा समय ज़रुर देते हैं.

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अफरोज़, गुलाम, रियासत, रियाज़, पता नहीं कितने नाम जेहन में टकरा रहे थे जो बच्चों ने बताए थे. पता नहीं इनके मां बाप कहां होंगे.

हम, सबके मां बाप तो हो नहीं सकते लेकिन थोड़े रंग उन्हें कुछ पलों की खुशियां दे दें तो हम खुद को खुशकिस्मत समझेंगे.

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यतीमखाने में बहुत समय रुक नहीं पाए. मामला इमोशनल हो रहा था.

बच्चे हरी भरी को देखकर खुश हो रहे थे. बार बार हॉर्न बजा रहे थे. खास हॉर्न जो दबाकर बजाया जाता है. हमने जानबूझकर लगाया है ताकि बच्चे जुड़ जाएं हरी भरी से.

निकलने लगे तो बच्चों से हमने कहा..सभी को शुक्रिया…..जवाब में सामूहिक आवाज़ आई वो भी बहुत ज़ोर से….आपका भी शुक्रिया…..

इस शुक्रिया की गूंज बहुत दिनों तक रहेगी….अफरोज़, गुलाम…जावेद, रफीक……और वो सभी नाम भी गूंंजते रहेंगे.जो रंग छूकर खुश हुए थे….

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संथाल टोला- मस्ती, रंग और वो देसी मुर्गा

1संथाल टोला सुनते ही मुझे फूदन माझी की याद आती है. उसका सरसों के तेल में चुपड़ा बदन और उसकी वो बांसुरी.

ये पुरानी बात है. अब मालूम भी नहीं फूदन माझी कहां है. आज हम लोग कल्याण टुडू के घर पर हैं जहां माझी थान यानी उनके भगवान के घर को रंगना है.

मदद करेगी सरिता टुडू जो उनकी बहू है. साथ देगी नीलम….कल्याण टुडू की बेटी.

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हम सब एक दिन पहले जा कर मिल चुके थे और कल्याण टुडू यह सुनकर खुश हुए थे कि हम लोग वहीं खाना खाएंगे. मुर्गा भात मेन्यू तय कर दिया गया था.

सुबह पहुंचे तो कल्याण टुडू मस्त अवस्था में थे और बार बार कह रहे थे कि वो बहुत खुश हैं दिल्ली से लोगों के आने पर. कभी कभी नशा ज़ोर मारता तो चिल्लाते और गांव के लोगों को बताते कि देखो ये लोग दूर से आया है मेरा माझी थान रंगने.

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साथ में आए गिरिन्द्र के कुछ खेत संभालते हैं कल्याण टुडू और गिरिन्द्र को अपने बच्चे की तरह मानते हैं.

कल्याण नाराज़ थे कि माझी थान को लीपने के लिए उन्हें थोड़ा और समय दिया जाना चाहिए था लेकिन उनकी बहू ने कहा कि कोई बात नहीं पेंटिंग हो जाएगी.

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सरिता ने पहले तो मीनाक्षी को मिट्टी के डिजाइन बनाना सिखाया उस माझी थान की दीवारों पर. थोड़ा कठिन था लेकिन मीनाक्षी धीरे धीरे सीख ही गई.

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अब रंगने की बारी थी. एक रंग खत्म हो गया तो लालो (सरिता के पति) चले गए दुकान गिरिन्द्र के साथ रंग लाने. नदी का पानी पार कर दोनों जल्दी लौटे और फिर रंग घोलने का काम शुरु हुआ.

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साबूदाना और पानी गरम कर रंगों के साथ मिलाया गया. इससे रंग पकड़ता है ठीक से मिट्टी पर. नई बात थी ये हमारे लिए.

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फिर पटसन के ब्रश जो हमने पहली बार देखे थे. उससे रंगने का काम शुरु हुआ. सरिता ने मीनाक्षी को कुछ डिजाइन्स पर रंगने को कहा और फिर बोली- तुम कर लेती हो करो अपने मन से.

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कुछ ऐसा ही हम दोनों भी बच्चों के साथ करते हैं. अगर बच्चे ने दो ब्रश ठीक मारा तो आगे उसे अपने मन से काम करने देते हैं.

यहां हम बच्चे थे और सरिता टुडू थी हमारी भूमिका में.

सरिता और मीनाक्षी ने मिलकर माझी थान को लगभग पूरा रंग दिया. काम में दो तीन महिलाएं भी जुट गईं बिना कहे ही. थान सबका है सबको करना है ये भावना आदिवासियों में अब भी है.

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चारों तरफ लोग जुटे हुए थे देखने कि परदेस के लोग क्या करने आए हैं.

मैं तस्वीरें खींचता रहा पूरे समय और कभी कभी कल्याण टुडू की मस्ती का आनंद भी लेता रहा. बीच में कल्याण टुडू हमारे लिए एक फल लेकर आए चरसेरा. जिसेे काट कर चूसा जाता है. इससे गर्मी में शरीर में पानी की कमी नहीं होती.

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स्थानीय तरीका गर्मी से बचने का.

हां इस बीच पता चला कि हमारे खाने के लिए जो मुर्गा लाया गया था वो रात में पेड़ पर चढ़कर सो गया था.

सुबह भी पकड़ में नहीं आ रहा था. अचानक दोपहर बारह बजे पकड़ में आया तो खाने में देर कर दी गई. मुर्गा अब पक रहा था.

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देसी मुर्गे का स्वाद और वो भी आदिवासी स्टाइल में पका हुआ..स्वाद को लिख पाना मुश्किल है.

खैर कड़ी धूप में मीनाक्षी थक गई लेकिन सरिता के हाथ तेज़ी से चलते रहे.

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उसकी आवाज़ हम लोगों ने कम ही सुनी लेकिन मीनाक्षी और सरिता में एक संबंध बन चुका था.

जब कुछ टीवी चैनल वाले आए तो हमने यही कहा कि सरिता ही बताएगी क्योंकि आज तो हमने सीखा है. आज की गुरु सरिता है.

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सरिता डर गई थी बोलने से. शायद कैमरा पहली बार देखा होगा उन्होंने इतना बड़ा. लेकिन उनके चेहरे पर खुशी के भाव थे. फिर मीनाक्षी ने स्पष्ट किया कि उसने क्या क्या सीखा है सरिता से.

ये सुनकर सरिता भावुक सी हो गई और फिर अचानक सरिता और मीनाक्षी ने एक दूसरे को गले से लगा दिया.

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वो अत्यंत भावुक करने वाला क्षण था हम सभी के लिए. दोनों के चेहरे मानो कह रहे थे कि हम एक दूसरे को समझ रहे हैं.

कितना कुछ सीखने को है आदिवासियों से. पता नहीं हम कितना सीख पाए हैं गांवों में रहने वाले इन आदिम लोगों से.

काश कि सबकुछ सीख पाते और सीख पाते उनकी मूक भाषा जिससे वो रिश्ता कायम कर लेते हैं हर उस आदमी से जिनके अंदर संवेदना होती है.

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शायद ऐसे ही मैं कभी फूदन माझी से जु़ड़ गया होऊंगा. आज उनका माझी थान रंग के एक और आदिम हमारे दिल में बस गया है. कल्याण टुडू.

पेंटिंग के दो दिन बाद नीलम ने फोन कर के पूछा था…आप लोग हमें भूले तो नहीं हैं. हमने कहा…तुमको नहीं पता हमने तुम्हें कैसे दिल में सजा रखा है.

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पूर्णिया के संथाल टोला से आए कई दिन हो गए लेकिन अभी भी देसी मुर्गे का स्वाद मुंह में है और माझी थान पर बनी आकृतियों का रंग हमारे दिलों में..साथ ही कल्याण टुडू की मस्ती भी.

संथाल टोला हम तुम्हें बहुत मिस करेंगे.

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