An Arranged Marriage, a Lifetime of Love.

Aditi Raychoudhury. My newly married parents. 2017. Watercolors.
Aditi Raychoudhury. My newly married parents. 2017. Watercolors.

It’s been a little over 4 years since my father passed away, unexpectedly. Inherent in its suddenness is also a thankfulness that his heart simply stopped working one morning. Despite the ease of his death, and that a few years have gone by since, I still recoil at the thought of someday returning to his apartment – unremarkable in every way, except by way of tininess, and emptying it of all those household items – ordinary utilitarian things made extraordinary by memories of our life together. It is that last bit of physical record of my life with them that I dread to sever, even though I know that nothing can sever my memories of them.

There is that Sunmica table which bore our childhood meals, homework, board games, and many conversations – you know, that thing which humans used to do more of when they didn’t have TVs, smart phones, and very often electricity.  Yes, many of our dinners during the sweltering summer heat were by candle light. Fancy!

The hard, narrow little beds on which my sister, brother and I whispered and giggled before dribbling off into innocent, delight-filled sleep.

The rickety study table with its giant shortwave radio whose knobs I twiddled all through my teen years to religiously tune in to Dave Lee Travis’ “A Jolly Good Show”. The very same one that my aging father also used to figure out the mysteries and workings of the laptop, the internet and a whole new world to email and Skype with us.

And, then there is that bigger bed, the one that my parents shared since their wedding day,  November, 19, 1965.

Aditi Raychoudhury. My newly married parents. It was the start of something beautiful. 2017. Pencil on Tracing Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. My newly married parents. It was the start of something beautiful. 2017. Pencil on Tracing Paper.

Even though the furniture itself is of no great value by way of either money or design, I grew up in pre-Ikea days, when we bonded with our furniture like family. And, just like those people who never want to part with their mid-century modern masterpieces, I don’t want to part with these memory-drenched pieces either. I secretly hope that one of my relatives will adopt them, so that, when I touch them, it will feel like the next best thing to physical nearness to my parents, who, despite their extremely modest means, gave us an extraordinarily rich life.

They hadn’t met till their wedding day. And, they couldn’t have been more different. Him: a man of few words, and a home body. She: An extremely social extrovert, brimming with joie de vivre. Yet, I was never witness to the usual marital skirmishes, tensions and all-out wars. While my mother made friends, had them over for meals, my father sat quietly, contentedly and joyfully observant of the evening as it unfolded, mostly around my mother.

Many summers ago, on one dark evening, as my father and I made our way through the heady smells of jasmine, mangoes, decaying garbage and an unimaginable number of sweaty humans, as was common on our tropical, slum-fringed street, my father reflected on his time with my mother.

“I see so many marriages. I see how couples fight. I never felt that way about your mother. I felt like we were two separate instruments playing in harmony”.

I later found out that this hadn’t just come from a place of sentimental recollection. As I was cleaning out the cupboard, a few days after my father had died, I found a bunch of letters.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? My curiousity triumphed over my respect for their privacy. The first one was from my father to my mother, one of his earliest to her I suppose, expressing his desire to spend a couple of years getting to know her before starting a family. How could two virtual strangers be so intimate, I wondered? It is still a mystery.

I opened another, from my mother to my father. This was one was from a much later period in their life. We were teenagers and my father had to work in a different town for extended periods of time. It was about how much she missed him, normal parental concerns, ending again with her longing for him …. and then another… and another.. and another.. till the tears and guilt blinded me to the rest. They were so private and so full of tenderness that I wished that they had been written by some famous author, so that I could guiltlessly relish them.

Its not like they didn’t have their disagreements, but their love was apparent even to my little-girl-eyes that never saw them kiss, hold hands, or make any other physical display of affection in front of us. It was simply not a part of our culture. Yet, it is the best marriage that I know of.

Ma and Baba before we came along. Ma is wearing Baba's sweater. 1965? 1966?
Ma and Baba before we came along. Ma is wearing Baba’s sweater. To hug publicly was quite the statement in their time!

It was apparent in how they looked at each other, in their little gestures of affection expressed through food, praise, and my mother’s absolute indignation when my dad would walk straight into the kitchen as soon as he got home from work to do the dishes.

It was apparent in the sarees that my father brought back every single time he came back from a work tour (even if they didn’t always meet her fashion standards), and, in the box of my mother’s favorite summer treat (raw mango sondesh) that he would routinely buy on his way back from work, during the short time that they would be in season.

It was clear to me when my mother tirelessly marched up and down the insanely crowded streets of Gariahat to find the perfect “letter stand” for his birthday. It was clear to me when I watched her giggle all afternoon as she tried to find the perfect spot for him to “accidentally” find it and burst out laughing as she imagined his surprise. “Bolish naa Baba key.” (Don’t tell your father.)

Their love was heartbreaking when my father bathed her, clothed her, fed her and helped her walk to the bathroom as the cancer slowly but greedily sucked away her strength. It was heartbreaking when one day he mumbled to God, “Please take her before the cancer takes away her dignity.” It was the day when my mother had, ashamedly, soiled her bed. Cancer had succeeded in slurping up her very last drop of energy and humanness .

He knew, from his 32 years with her, that losing her ability to always look fresh in a clean crisp saree, bindi, and a bit of gold on her wrists, ears and neck, was devouring her spirit faster than this beast of a disease could her body.

Just two days later, his wish came true. She sank into a deep delirium. I laid down next to her, stroking her still butter smooth back that always reminded me of La Grande Baigneuse , while my father stroked her hair and face and arms and wept and wept and wept and wept.

 

——

This song by Nobel Laureate Tagore does a better job of capturing their relationship than I can ever do.

তুমি রবে নীরবে
হৃদয়ে মম ॥
নিবিড় নিভৃত পূর্ণিমা
নিশীথিনী সম॥

মম জীবন যৌবন
মম অখিল ভুবন
তুমি ভরিবে গৌরবে
নিশীথিনী-সম॥

জাগিবে একাকী
তব করুণ আঁখি,
তব অঞ্চলছায়া মোরে
রহিবে ঢাকি॥

মম দুঃখবেদন
মম সফল স্বপন
তুমি ভরিবে সৌরভে
নিশীথিনী-সম॥

তুমি রবে নীরবে
হৃদয়ে মম ॥
নিবিড় নিভৃত পূর্ণিমা
নিশীথিনী সম॥

You fill my heart
With the quietude
Of an impenetrably dark and lonesome
Night of the moon.

My life, my youth,
My universe beyond universe –
You fill with the dignity
Of that dark impenetrable night

Your poignant soulful eyes
Never cease their watch on me.
In your shroud, your shadow
I stay tightly enwrapped.

My sorrows, my pains
My dreams of joy
You infuse with the delicate fragrance
Of that dark impenetrable night

You fill my heart
With the quietude
Of an impenetrably dark and lonesome
Night of the moon

RELATED POST:
It takes a very long time to become young.

 

 

 

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Mimi, the Little Umbrella

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“In a very busy town…

A Very Busy Town. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.
A Very Busy Town. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.

On a very busy street…

2 City Street Store 29 BZ st lighter file_BZ st1
A Very Busy Street. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.

Was a very busy little umbrella store … with many fancy umbrellas!

A Very Busy Umbrella Store. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.
A Very Busy Umbrella Store. 2017. Adobe Illustrator.

At the very back of this umbrella store, lived a little umbrella named Mimi. But, Mimi wasn’t fancy at all… in fact, she was just a plain black umbrella. But Mimi had a secret, which, made her special… very special indeed.

Mimi. Adobe Illustrator.
Mimi. 2017. Adobe Illustrator.
Town, Street, Store, Mimi Panoramic. 2017. Adobe Illustrator.
Town, Street, Store, Mimi Panoramic. 2017. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. On a Very Bury. Busy Town, Busy Street, Busy Store, Mimi Panoramic. 2015. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. On a Very Bury. Busy Town, Busy Street, Busy Store, Mimi Panoramic. 2015. Adobe Illustrator.

On rainy days, lots of people came into the umbrella store to buy, well …umbrellas! And the shopkeeper would always show them his fanciest umbrellas”….

….”But, the shopkeeper never showed plain little Mimi to anyone… and no one even asked for her.
So, she just lived quietly at the back of the store, waiting for the right person to come along.”….

Does the right person come along? Does Mimi ever get to leave the store? What made Mimi special? What is her SECRET?

I am not telling till some one publishes this story… till then.. here are some illustrations/sketches of work in progress.

Aditi Raychoudhury. Very Busy Street. 2014. Pencil on Tracing.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Very Busy Street. 2014. Pencil on Tracing.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Busy Little Umbrella Store (With Baskets). 2014. Adobe Illustrator CS5.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Busy Little Umbrella Store (With Baskets). 2014. Adobe Illustrator CS5.
Busy Little Umbrella Store
Aditi Raychoudhury. Busy Little Umbrella Store. 2013. Pencil.

Character sketches –

Aditi Raychoudhury. Blue Boy with Mamma. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Blue Boy with Mamma. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Blue Boy with Mamma. 2013. Pencil on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Blue Boy with Mamma. 2013. Pencil on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Dad with Stroller and Runaway Girl. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Dad with Stroller and Runaway Girl. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Close-up of Runaway Girl. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Close-up of Runaway Girl. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Close-up of Dad. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Close-up of Dad. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Runaway Girl. 2013. Pencil on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Runaway Girl. 2013. Pencil on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Couple Behind Counter. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Couple Behind Counter. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Couple Behind Counter. 2013. Pencil on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Couple Behind Counter. 2013. Pencil on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Toddler Girl with Trench Coat Mamma. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Toddler Girl with Trench Coat Mamma. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Toddler Girl with Trench Coat Mamma (Refined). 2013. Blue Pencil on Tracing Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Toddler Girl with Trench Coat Mamma (Refined). 2013. Blue Pencil on Tracing Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Toddler Girl with Trench Coat Mamma. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Toddler Girl with Trench Coat Mamma. 2013. Pencil on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Exiting Mamma with Runaway Son. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Exiting Mamma with Runaway Son. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Exiting Mamma with Runaway Son. 2013. Pencil on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Exiting Mamma with Runaway Son. 2013. Pencil on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Tall Man With Umbrella. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Tall Man With Umbrella. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Tall man with Umbrella. 2013. Adobe Illustrator CS5.
Tall man with Umbrella. 2013. Adobe Illustrator CS5.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Trio. 2013. Adobe Illustrator CS5.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Trio. 2013. Adobe Illustrator CS5.
Trio. 2013. Pencil.
Trio. 2013. Pencil.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Smarty Panta Girl with Father. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Smarty Panta Girl with Father. 2013. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Smarty Pants Girl with Father. 2013. Pencil.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Smarty Pants Girl with Father. 2013. Pencil.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Smarty Pants Girl's Father. 2013. Pencil.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Smarty Pants Girl’s Father. 2013. Pencil.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Smarty Pants Girl. 2013. Pencil.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Smarty Pants Girl. 2013. Pencil.

The Bomb and The General V2.2009

Aditi Raychoudhury. Bushes. 2009. 6" x 4". Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Bushes. 2009. 6″ x 4″. Adobe Illustrator CS.

The original ‘The Bomb and the General’ is a delightfully optimistic, anti-war children’s book – written by Umberto Eco (The Name of The Rose), and brilliantly illustrated by Eugenio Carmi. It was published in 1989 –

In Italian: By Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri, Bompiani, Sonzogno, Etas S.p.A.;
and
In English: By Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

Inspired by the original story, this version retains some of the original text (italicized), and maintains a similar naïveté to create an anti-war message for children. For adults, its a more complex tale about hegemony and insular faith.

Aditi Raychoudhury. Land of Plenty. Adobe Illustrator CS. 2009.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Land of Plenty (In Green). 2009. 22″ x 11″. Adobe Illustrator CS.

The General of our story enjoys a life of ease and gluttony, till he is compelled to seek God, during a moment of personal crisis. This pivotal encounter awakens in him an unshakable passion for God’s word. But his myopic obsession with the minutiae of God’s message clouds its original intent, and provokes an ominous future. Will his country slumber on through the impending doom or will they arise to reclaim their right in a peaceful world?

Aditi Raychoudhury. Land of Plenty (In Pink). 2008. 17" x 14". Colored Pencils on Tracing Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Land of Plenty (In Pink). 2009. 17″ x 14″. Colored Pencils on Tracing Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Land of Plenty (In Primary Colors). 2009. 17" x 14". Colored Pencils on Tracing Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Land of Plenty (In Primary Colors). 2009. 17″ x 14″. Colored Pencils on Tracing Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Land of Plenty (In Orange). 2009. 17" x 14". Colored Pencils on Tracing Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Land of Plenty (In Orange). 2009. 17″ x 14″. Colored Pencils on Tracing Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Land of Plenty (In Orange). 2009. 17" x 14". Gouache on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Land of Plenty (In Orange). 2009. 17″ x 14″. Gouache on Paper.

Protected: People in the Park

I love you, Fair City. Aditi Raychoudhury. 2/2014. iPad drawing using Paper by 53.

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Rwanda: Twenty Years Later – To Forget or Not to Forget?

The skulls and bones of the genocide victims at a memorial inside a church at Ntarama, where 5000 victims sought refuge. (Source: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)
The skulls and bones of  the genocide victims at a memorial inside a church at Ntarama, where 5000 victims sought refuge. (Source: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)
The skulls and bones of the genocide victims at a memorial inside a church at Ntarama, where 5000 victims sought refuge. (Source: Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters)

 

On April 7th, 2014, Rwandans commemorated the 20th anniversary of one of the worst massacres in history.

Seven years ago, I had written a paper on design as an aid for reconciliation and memorialization. Here is a revised and updated excerpt from that 190-pages long report .

 

Part 1: To Remember, or Not to Remember? 

I am young, I am twenty years old;
yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear,
and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow.
I see how peoples are set against one another,
and in silence, unknowingly,
foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.

– Paul Baumer in ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque, 1929

—–

Every year, in April, the rains fall heavy on Rwanda. The earth turns green. New life begins. It is the growing season. Twenty years ago, in April, along with the rains, came, not life, but death. The earth turned red – soaked with the blood of over a million Tutsis and Hutus.

Every year, the rains ebb in July – as did the genocide in 1994. Over ten percent of the population had been decimated by then – their bloated bodies floated down the freshly replenished Kagera river, and all the way to Lake Victoria. It was the most efficient mass killing since Hiroshima. In Hiroshima, they used bombs. In Rwanda, they used machetes.

Now, every year in April, along with the rains, comes “Kwibuka” (Rwandan for “Remember”) – a government driven effort to remember, reflect, reconcile and unite; an effort to restore dignity to the men, women and children who died; unborn babies, too, ripped out of wombs and smashed with unimaginable brutality. It is an effort to reflect on the neatly organized rows of fractured skulls, femurs, ribs and every other bony part that has been collectively memorialized.

But for those who survive, along with the rains, come a flood of memories – “of despair, death, fear and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow.”

Anger and bewilderment still hangs over Rwanda – just like those dark, rumbling clouds before the rains. The call for remembrance, reflection, reconciliation and unity is hard to heed. For many Rwandans, the rains haven’t come. Spring hasn’t come. Life hasn’t begun.

Marie-Jeanne was only 16 years old when the genocide started. Her entire family was slaughtered. For her, and many like her, the genocide never really ended. The stench of semen is still alive through her daughter, 20 year-old Kirezi, who is one of the 20,000 children born out of rape. It is still alive in her daily dose of anti-retorviral drugs, which, control her worst symptoms of HIV/AIDS – an illness contracted by nearly 2/3rds of the estimated 500,000 women who were brutally and repeatedly raped during the genocide.

Every year, as April approaches, Marie-Jeanne’s heart goes numb. She doesn’t want “Kwibuka”. All she wants to do is forget. 

Source: CNN

The genocide hasn’t ended either for those parents who will never see their children, and, the children who will never see their parents. But they are not eager to forget. They are actively looking for their families’  remains and the chance to give their dear ones a decent burial.

Niyonsenga Erick Rafiki was 4 years old when his father was killed. His memories of his father, he says, have grown hazy with time. But he, too, is eager to find out more about his father along with finding his father’s body. He has an unusual set of accomplices – his father’s killers. The genocide weighs heavy on the genocidaires. They are just as confused as the survivors. They don’t understand why they betrayed those who gave them their trust, and, butchered who they, too, loved. Helping in the search for their victim’s bodies is the only hope they have for repentance, healing and reconciliation.

Source: CNN

 

“It takes a very long time to become young.” ~ Picasso

Pablo Picasso. Woman with a Book. 1932. Oil on Canvas.
Pablo Picasso. Woman with a Book. 1932. Oil on Canvas.

When my father died last summer, so did my childhood. Pouf! Just like that! And, very UNEXPECTEDLY. In that very moment as I stared at the slowly forming words, ” Your father passed away”. To this, and, with this one person in the world, I was, and, could always be, a child – not just middle-aged progeny, whose achievements (or lack there of) one could gloat or bemoan about. And his very last birthday wish to me (via Skype) said just as much.

Last message from Baba. March 20, 2013.
Last birthday wish from Baba via Skype. March 20, 2013. (A rasgulla is a spherical Bengali dessert)

It recalled an incident from nearly forty years ago. I was around two years old, and had been watching my brother, who had just started kindergarten, struggling to write his lower case “a” . Fluttering about him, I boasted that writing “a” was so easy that even I could do it. (Yes, kids can be insensitive!). During my last birthday, this incident was still fresh in his mind.

And, just like that 2-year-old, who hadn’t transcended the plasticity of time inside his mind, I continued to make demands long after I had left home. In the US, it was for the things that were almost impossible to find outside of Bengal – Gobindo Bhog Chaal (Very fine grained- fragrant rice), Shona Moongeyr Daal (golden very fine grained mung bean lentils), Moori (Bengali puffed rice), Mukhorochok (a sweet, salty, and sour snack mix) and Mokaibari tea. I knew that despite his failing health, and limited mobility, he would never fail me. And, sure as ever, he would arrive, with these common Bengali treats, packed in (and sometimes, disastrously strewn all over) his suitcase. Along with them, would also arrive a few banal trinkets that weren’t special to anybody, but me.

When he died last year, 16 years after my mother did, not only did I become a middle-aged orphan – but, I also lost that last refuge where I could always be a child.

That child who led a simple life, in a simple town, in a simpler time. That child who spent most of her afternoons reading, drawing, chasing butterflies, climbing trees, eating guavas, and, running around the neighborhood sucking nectar out of wild flowers. That child, who stared, with wondrous rapture at the birds flying across a bright fuschia sky, and, knew that it was time to wander her way back home from the hills behind her house, where she had just whiled away many happy hours. That child whose heart burnt just as brightly as that spotless evening sky.

As a parent to a pre-schooler, I know that it may be many years before I can shrug-off the self-generated urge to stress over school, organize my space to mimic an IKEA display, and make my meals look like they had just jumped out of the pages of Vegetarian Times, and release my heart instead, to long afternoons amidst the wild flowers of California, and, sink my feet into the wet ocean sand.

On the other hand, as a parent to a pre-schooler, it might just be more possible than ever to relive those childhood wonders of peering through grass, looking for snails, squeezing my eyes as the ocean surf hits my face, and dissolving into laughter at the first lick of ice-cream on a hot day.

While I no longer draw with the passion and freedom that I did as a child, my daughter’s free forms lead me to where I want to be.

Here are some of the things she drew when she was a little over two years old.

Inika Moni RayMukerji. Plane. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Plane. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Whale. January 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Whale. January 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Pig. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Pig. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Pig. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Pig. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Helicopter. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Helicopter. 2013. Crayons on Paper

Picasso had said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” May be by the time she is my age,  I will learn to draw and laugh like her again. 

 

 

 

Sanjay Patel

Sanjay Patel. Ramayana Book Cover. Chronicle Books. 2010.
Sanjay Patel. Ramayana Book Cover. Chronicle Books. 2010.
Sanjay Patel. Ramayana Book Cover. Chronicle Books. 2010.
Sanjay Patel. Ravana's Penance. Chronicle Books. 2010.
Sanjay Patel. Ravana's Penance. Chronicle Books. 2010.
Sanjay Patel. Ravana Encounters Jatayu. Chronicle Books. 2010.
Sanjay Patel. Ravana Encounters Jatayu. Chronicle Books. 2010.

With his new book, Ramayana: A Divine Loophole, Sanjay Patel, an animator at Pixar, has broken new ground by transposing an ancient epic into one that fits right into urban cool. Drawing on the works of artists such as Tim Biskup and Charley Harper, Sanjay’s Ramayana is unlike any that you may have seen at your religious Indian grandma’s Puja Room.

A transplant from Southern California, Sanjay works out of Oakland, CA. Check out more of his work at GheeHappy.

The Wicked Dragon of Pelmel

Aditi Raychoudhury. Forest Fire. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Forest Fire. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Forest Fire. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Forest Fire. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Forest Fire. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Forest Fire. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Forest Fire. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Forest Fire. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Forest Fire. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.

Synopsis:

‘The Wicked Dragon of Pelmel’ is a story about the addictive nature of power, and its potential to devastate, or, create. When the dragon accidentally discovers his ability to breathe fire, he uses it to terrorize the little creatures of Pelmel Forest. Alarmed by this sudden occurence, these forest creatures get all riled up to hunt down this horrible monster. When they do, they are in for a big surprise! Not only is the dragon sleeping quietly, but looks anything but the terrible monster they had imagined him to be. So they promptly include him in their circle of friendship. Will this innocuous invitation beget the scorching heat of his breath, or the gentle warmth of friendship?

Aditi Raychoudhury. Wicked Dragon. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Wicked Dragon. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.

There was a wicked dragon
And so wicked was he..
That every night
When all slept tight
He went on a burning spree..

Aditi Raychoudhury. Mama Owl. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Mama Owl. 2009. Adobe Illustrator CS.

“Whoo hooo, whoo hoooooo,
Has lost his grace utter-ly?
What can I do?
About this hullabaloo –
It wakes my chicks up early!

Updated Post: Why Obama’s [Original] Tax Plan Will [Would Have] Help[ed] Us

Its Election day tomorrow. With the economy sliding faster than a ride in “Great America”, we are justifiably nervous about the issues that have featured prominently – albeit not always answered with clarity – in the Presidential debates – the continuing war, government spending, tax reforms, jobs, education, mortages…

Sadly, in the Bay Area, even a 100k annual salary, is, shamefully, short of a mortgage on a three-bedroom home, quality K-12 education, and an occasional night out. The sad state of public schools in some of the Bay Area urban spots – San Francisco, Berkeley, and yes, the infamous Oakland School District, where I live, is testimony to the misplaced priorities even in this otherwise relatively liberal state.

Besides the crumbling public schools, Oakland, CA, also has the dubious distinction of being the homicide capital of America. But I disagree with such stereotyping. It is easier to stereotype than to scratch underneath such definitive descriptions, and find a solution for change. Continue reading