Vasant Panchami Part Two: Stealing Kul

Aditi Raychoudhury. My sister and I stealing kul. 2021. Colored version to come some day. #pencildrawing

Its the fifth (panchami) day of Spring (Basant) in Bengal and with it comes this festival dedicated to the Goddess of Knowledge, Saraswati. I used to love everything about this festival. It’s a day of freedom from learning as we surrender our books, instruments, ghungrus (dancing bells), pens and pencils in front of the Goddess of learning, so that she can bless each one of these tokens of learning and make us fruitful in our pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. It is often very intimate in scale and for us, it was always held at one of my favorite family’s home – the Chatterjis.

Chatterji Jethu* was sprightly, a great gardener and just an overall gentle and affectionate person to be with, especially because he would always invite us when the lychees in his yard were ready for our raiding. Chatterji Jethima* was known for her cooking skills through out the neighborhood – especially her aachaars** and ghughni*** and luchi***. The neighborhood adult community came together to cook giant vats of food as we ran around playing with our friends. We would sit down in batches to eat the bhog****, served on plates made with the shaal pata (Shorea_robusta).

Vasant Panchami. 2017. Watercolor and Ink.
Vasant Panchami. 2017. Watercolor and Ink.
Sal leaf plates: Stitched together with small sticks. It is a cottage industry mostly run by women.
Sal Leaf Bowls

But the most exciting part was that we could finally eat the forbidden fruit – Kul (Indian Jujube).. but only after the prayers had been offered. But, really wait for prayers before we could eat Kul?? We have waited long enough for the fruit to be just ripe and ready to eat.

Here I am with my sister Pratiti Raychoudhury throwing caution to the wind and creeping in to steal some kul after everything has been beautifully arranged for the Goddess to eat and bless but before prayers have been offered and blessings have been completed. Will eating kul before the eager Goddess make her petulant enough to dump a bunch of Math problems we can’t solve? Are we going to get failing grades? Who cares, eating this fruit before the ceremony has taken place is worth every drop in grades.

*Terms for your parents’ friends when they are older than your father
**Aachaar : Indian preserves
*** Whole yellow peas curry with about 4″ diameter fried bread
****Food that has been blessed by Gods/ Goddesses.

One for Inktober

Aditi Raychoudhury. Poster for SPICMACAY, Rajan and Sajan Misra. 1990. Pen and Ink

Aditi Raychoudhury. Poster for SPICMACAY, Rajan and Sajan Misra. 1990. Pen and Ink
Aditi Raychoudhury. Poster for SPICMACAY, Rajan and Sajan Misra. 1990. Pen and Ink

Before October is all but gone, here is one for #inktober – even though it is from 27 years ago! I had just started architecture school and quickly got involved with anything that needed an illustration. #SPICMACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth), was one such organization founded by #PadmaShri Dr. #KiranSeth. I ended up making a lot of posters for them – they all had to be exceuted quickly in black and white for quick reproduction and dissemination. Here is one I did for a musical night by #RajanMishra and #SajanMishra. Rajan and Sajan Mishra are part of a 300-year-old lineage of #khyal singing of the #Banarasgharana

Ban Maggi? Nooooo!!!

Aditi Raychoudhury. Twilight Zone. 2004. Pen and Ink. 8 1/2" x 11".

Aditi Raychoudhury. Twilight Zone. 2004. Pen and Ink. 8 1/2
Aditi Raychoudhury. Twilight Zone. 2004. Pen and Ink. 8 1/2″ x 11″.

The ban over Maggi has become national news in India. And, why not? It even featured prominently in a novel I had illustrated – The Loudest Firecracker.

“Maggi you see is more than just instant noodles. In a socialist India where Coca Cola was forbidden, Maggi from Nestle in the 1980s felt almost like cosmopolitanism in a packet..

“Fast to make and good to eat maggi makes a tasty treat. Maggi maggi maggi”
It broke the rules of cooking. Nothing needed to be chopped, ground or grated. It was East meets West, home meets the world. All with a masala flavor. Everyone had a Maggi memory – the schoolchild’s tiffin, the hostel student’s dinner, the newly-married working couple’s trusty stand by.

Unlike instant noodles in the US which was the epitome of the sad loner with a hot-plate, Maggi managed to sell itself in India as piping hot testimonial of mother’s love. The bright yellow packets still carry the legend Mummy I’m hungry. The ads all feature fond mommies.

Maggi’s sunny cheery ads promised us a snack that kids loved and mothers could serve without feeling any deep-fried guilt.”

From Sandip Roy’s report for KALW. 

And, now for a vintage Maggi commercials to bring back fond memories.

Malaria Dreams

I made these illustrations for the introductory section of Malaria Dreams (Gautam Bhatia. Penguin. 1996) – a book about the sometimes ridiculous demands of architectural clients. Unfortunately, I never documented the original drawings (as with most of my drawings), and the pages of the Indian edition of the book that I have are so thin – that the writing on the reverse shows through. 😦

Malaria Dreams Cover. 1995. Pen and Ink.
Malaria Dreams Cover. 1995. Pen and Ink.

Malaria Dreams Front Page. 1995. Pen and Ink.
Malaria Dreams Front Page. 1995. Pen and Ink.

Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.
Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.

Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.
Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.

Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.
Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.

Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.
Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.

Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.

Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.
Malaria Dreams. 1995. Pen and Ink.

—-

About the Book:

‘Building a house for someone is like getting to know the person himself.’ In the course of his career, well-known architect Gautam Bhatia has designed innumerable dream houses for a cross-section of people. Some of these people had the most incredible suggestions and demands, and the writer uses these as a springboard to create a set of quasi-fictional stories involving bizarre people with equally bizarre plans and theories. We meet an eccentric Parsi millionaire who wants to run a ferry service between Bombay and the Maldives; a guru, snug in his hi-tech ashram, who prescribes Body Shop moisturizers for better health; an obsessive collector who wants a secret basement in his house for his library of first editions and manuscripts; and an NRI who wishes to shape his nostalgia into a hundred-thousand-dollar ‘caando’. At once thoughtful and funny, this collection of stories will only cement Gautam Bhatia’s reputation as one of India’s most imaginative and witty writers.

Title: Malaria Dreams And Other Visions Of Architecture
Author:
Gautam Bhatia
ISBN:
014026213X
ISBN-13:
9780140262131

Binding: Paperback
Publishing Date: 1996
Publisher: Penguin
Number of Pages: 280

The Loudest Firecracker

Aditi Raychoudhury. Dabbawalla. 2006. Pen and Ink.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Dabbawalla. 2006. Pen and Ink.

My illustrations for The Loudest Firecrackerby Arun Krishnan have been published by Tranquebar Press (January 2009).

This will be the fourth book to be published with my illustrations.

17th-april-disco_ganapati_final.jpg
Aditi Raychoudhury. Disco Ganapathi. Pen and Ink. 2004.2-twilight-zone.jpg
Aditi Raychoudhury. Twilight Zone. Pen and Ink. 2004.
3-man-lion.jpg
Aditi Raychoudhury. Man-Lion. Pen and Ink. 2004.
4-ebb-and-flow.jpg
Aditi Raychoudhury. Ebb and Flow. Pen and Ink. 2004.
5-death-by-fire.jpg
Aditi Raychoudhury. Death By Fire. Pen and Ink. 2004.

Synopsis:
It’s India versus Pakistan and as the excitement soars in the final over of a memorable cricket match, ten-year-old Siddharth sets off a firecracker. The blast that follows will change his life.Siddharth discovers that growing up isn’t easy: he has to handle a tragic death, his best friend is gravitating to a rightwing political party, and his film-maker father has troubles of his own as he shifts away from the commercial but lucrative world of Hindi movies. And Poona is nothing at all like Bombay.

Will tennis matches help, or can his mother’s beautifully retold myths do the trick? Will instant noodles come to Siddharth’s rescue, or will it be his old elocution standby, The Charge of the Light Brigade? In this touching, poignant and often hilarious debut novel, Arun Krishnan has created a world we all recognize, one that will appeal equally to young adults and a more mature audience.

From the Author:

“Please disregard the message on Amazon that says Ships within 1-2 months. It ships instantly, like any other order. I am working with Amazon to get this message removed.

The novel is excellent reading for friends and family, so don’t feel scared to order more than one copy. (I think the Surgeon General recommends 4).

If those friends and family, turn against you, you can use specific portions in Chapter 4 and 9 that can be read out aloud as a form of retribution (recommended by the Government as an effective alternative to waterboarding).”

Cover Plate for PunchTanTra. Penguin, 1998.

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Drawing: ABC

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Sketches from Nepal

Aditi Raychoudhury. Village Scene, Kirtipur, Nepal. 1991. Pen and Ink.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Village Scene, Kirtipur, Nepal. 1991. Pen and Ink.

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