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.

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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.

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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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The Ideas factory…..and the trademark Fish

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The Engineering college kids had many ideas. One of them wanted to make a device which can automatically make music with the lyrics. One girl wanted to make a robot controlled by mind. One student was keen to try out photography. Someone wanted to make more intelligent machine than those shown in the film- Transformers

At point we felt like we are in an Ideas factory.

IMG_6612 The Riof of colors. Everyone got the chance to throw colors on the wall.

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Meenakshi decided to enjoy with the kids. We gave them the bottle of colors and asked them to throw color on the wall. just to open their vision…..to enjoy….to imagine. No one had a clue what we will make out of it.

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Once the kids got the hang of colors. They wanted to throw more and more color on the white wall.

IMG_6615 Every hand was colored….Except One. The guy then got desperate after seeing the photo. He jumped and put colors on his hand.

IMG_6613This is the close shot of the wall with splashed colors…..The wall was more than 20 ft X 20 ft.

IMG_6653 The Complete Picture……is here. Kids left for their classes after splashing the colors and then then Meenakshi made this. We couldn’t click the group photo here because we wanted to give the kids a surprise. They saw it in the evening and told us individually that they loved it.

IMG_6667And the Final picture. Meenakshi two big fishes on the huge wall.  One can guess who the fishes are. Jey and Meenakshi. Ha ha ha ha

From messed up wall to a beautiful painting….

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Ayush was not shy exactly but he was reluctant to ask the question publicly. Jey had just made an offer to the kids that they can ask him anything.

Ayush came to him and took him to the stairs and asked the pertinent question going on in almost every kid’s mind, ‘How to tackle the pressure from parents in terms of career selection?’

This question has a background. In Bihar or anywhere, parents want a secure career for their children and put immense pressure.

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Almost all the schools are under pressure to produce more engineers and doctors and Vidya Vihar residential school in purnea is no exception though they promote art and other activities in a massive way.

Jey asked other assembled kids whether they also have that question in their mind. Everyone kept quite which meant it was an important question.

Then we explained that one can follow his/her dreams even if they become doctor or engineer. We gave the example of Steve jobs (co-founder of apple who never completed his college), Atul gawande  (a well known surgeon who also write books) and many more.

We asked kids to imaging beyond the obvious and think of newer ways of tackling pressure. One of them was taking a teacher into confidence and talk to parents with an alternative career plan.

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The point of having an alternative plan excited everyone. We asked them to enjoy the paintings being made on the walls by other students who were interested in the painting.

In the school, we almost painted ten walls. Nine small walls by kids and One big wall ( 15×15 ft) by Meenakshi.

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We asked kids to paint something they haven’t seen yet. After the initial hesitation they came up with ideas such as….a man on a shuttlecock travelling in the sky……a bird giving birth to hand prints…..pink duck and a peacock together….green sea with a lighthouse and a scenery of night with trees in silhouettes.

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Quite extraordinary imagination..I would say….though few kids made an apple and a butterfly on their designated walls as they couldn’t create what they imagined. Nevertheless they enjoyed.

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In two days of painting, we involved the administrative staff and teachers as well. They reacted very positively towards our request but the best reaction came from bablooji who took care of us with constant supply of tea, coffee and snacks.

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On second day when Meenakshi was finalizing the big painting, Bablooji came and said, ‘Madam, yesterday I thought you guys are messing up the wall but today it is looking so good. I don’t know what it is but it looks soothing and beautiful.’

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With that memorable reaction we ended our work in the school. It was time to move to a village to learn something new.

We will write about that learning soon.

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The story of an Incomplete Painting…

School was in a bad stateThe journey towards Muzaffarpur started with Rain. We were drenched and reached late to the school where we were supposed to paint.

We wanted to paint in a school which is deprived or under privileged. People suggested us to paint in any school in the red light area named Chaturbhuj Sthan. We were put in touch with a local leader who promised to help. We wanted to paint with sex workers as well and share their joys and troubles with our audience but we were unable to convince the concerned authority for any help.

kids playing hopscotch

In India, Prostitution is still illegal so we understand the dilemma. We reached our destination crossing the crowded markets of Muzaffarpur city which is also famous for the litchi fruit and also for Hindi poets like Late Suryakant Tripathi Nirala and Late Pandit Jananki vallabh shastri.

We got to know that Muzaffarpur is also known for the deadly mosquitoes which are called Machhar, hence Muzaffarpur is also called as Macchapur jokingly.

kids eating mid day meal

We reached the dingy, dirty and utterly disorganized school where the local leader was waiting for us with the principal and one teacher.

There were 40 students of different ages sitting together in one room. The school had no toilet and the children used the nearby Sulabh Shauchalaya for bathing and other purposes. When Meenakshi needed the use the toilet, she was forced to use the men’s toilet because of the intolerable stench and clogged toilets for the females.

food was not great

We started interacting with students and played with them Kit Kit also called hopscotch. Students were really poor and most of them came to school to get free food. They were a bit difficult to handle as they kept shouting all along.

We tried to make blocks where we planned to paint Hindi and English alphabet puzzles.

This kid was smart

We ensured that each child painted at least one block. Jey kept asking kids to keep quite but everyone was so excited and they started fighting to paint.

It really went haywire at some point when few girls started fighting and there was no one to manage them. Teachers kept sitting in their chairs chatting among themselves.

After two and half hours of struggle the situation went really chaotic. Meenakshi got really annoyed with the non cooperation of the teachers and decided to pack up and leave without finishing her painting.

Now the painting startsmore and more kids joined

We came out of the school and got surrounded by the local people. They started complaining about the teachers.

We kept quite. We knew about the teachers in Bihar. There are good ones but there are also teachers who came to school just to collect their salary.

everyone got a chance

We were told that this is one of those schools where teachers only came to receive their salary.

We didn’t react to anything as we were upset because of our half done painting.

It was for the first time in our two and half year journey that we left a painting incomplete.

It was sad but we couldn’t have helped. God save those kids who were handled by such teachers.

Jey helped kids

Building blocks of life….and much more

When we have great hosts we end up painting more. That’s what happened in Amnour village of Vaishali. so this blog will have more pictures and endless pleasure we had in the rural setting.

Meenakshi preparing the colrs

The work in Amnour started with Meenakshi arranging and mixing the colors.

Kids ready to paint

Next Jey had to help kids to prepare for the painting. Meenakshi is making the basic sketch.

The hand prints

Awesome kid, one of the youngest from LKG wanted to color the whole wall then suddenly she wanted to pose.

rabbits and snails

Now some serious work. Elder kids came forward to fine tune the hand print painting made by nursery kids.

Everyone will paint

Rural life- A Tree, a house, a rabbit, a snail, sky, flowers…all painted with the help of hand prints.

Building blocks

The school is few years old and still the buildings are in progress. Meenakshi got this idea of building blocks from there…and why not.Schools are also building blocks of life.

painting completed with hand printsMeanwhile kids from the nursery completed their painting. They are fast. now they wanted to do more…

the kodak moment

Hey Jey…Click my picture……Kids are smart these days….everyone got the chance to paint one block at least.

waiting for their chance

Mera Number Kab Aayega….Oh Sorry..these kids are asking…When will we get the chance to paint….Meenakshi said-SOON and they surely painted their share of blocks.

The completed oneAlmost completed Blocks. It was not easy controlling kids but we managed to work with 150 kids.

Help from another painter

Shamshad is a local painter who came forward to make the black outlines…Tough job but he felt appreciate by us.

The group photo

All the kids of the school..They came for the group photo. You can see the long wall with blocks giving a wavy feeling.

Lets go to school

Next Day….New wall …same school….Typical Meenakshi’s idea to paint kids going to school. This time teachers painted.

One more sketch

Meenakshi made the primary sketch and then fine tuned the whole work. lot to do…but Meenakshi was determined.detailed

The work….Lets go to school in full detail. Happy kids going to school. It looks awesome ..Isn’t it?

Masti time

And Now the Masti time….Jey and Meenakshi…..Lets do the photo session…..where is the cameraman

more funWe wanted to capture the happiness we were feeling. Jey was saying…….guess guess……I love you Meenakshi.

Complete one

And Yes the whole picture of Lets Go to School…Before I forgot to upload the full picture.

Meenakshi with building blocks

Meenakshi wanted to get her photo clicked with the Building blocks…She liked this one….

with the host shekhar

Here is Shekhar, Our friend and host. we came to paint one wall….and ended up painting three…all because of him. our eyes were moist when we said goodbye to Shekhar.

More fun by Jey

I liked the Lets go to school Idea most so ……I got one more picture with that painting.

Last pic but not the leastLast Picture but not the least… Our Bihar-Jharkhand rural India trip is still one. Hope to meet wonderful people and make amazing murals on the walls and in the hearts of people we meet.