Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Hindu

We get the daily paper. Most of it covers local politics I don't much care about and cricket I care even less about, but sometimes there's a snippet of something interesting.

Yesterday's paper had an article on an artist and his exhibition of ecology focused paintings. I was intrigued. I decided I wanted to check out the exhibit and once against ran into the plague of The Hindu - the lack of information. It's bad enough that most of the material reported has already occurred, so all the shows and exhibitions and performances were wonderful... yesterday. But when there is something current, gathering the information to see said artistic effort takes plenty of personal sleuthing.
The exhibition started on the 22nd, this past Sunday. It was in the paper on the 24th, yesterday. And it closes on the 27th, this Friday. It's not uncommon for events to be covered in the paper the day they are to occur, or to see billboards of events that are currently happening, so I guess this time was lucky that there was actual a couple extra days left for the exhibition. And the article included the times as well, right at the end.
I knew the days and times, then to find the place. That took a little extra work. I read and re-read the article. Nothing. I looked at the photo, then read through the caption. Ah, there at the end of the caption, the name of the gallery. But where?
I'd never been to the gallery and while I was curious about the paintings, I didn't want to spend an hour in the car to see them. So, I glanced again to see if it said its location. Nothing. I went to the old stand-by, Google. The Lalit Kala Akademi came up. In Delhi. No no no, I told myself, it must be in Chennai. The article was reported from Chennai. Ah, but the Lalit Kala Akademi site said it had regional centers, one in Chennai! I clicked and got an e-mail address. For as connected as India is, I do not rely on e-mail responses, and certainly not within the hour it would have been useful. So the search continued, with added parameter of a city name. There's no official site but has an outdated Arts section with exhibition listings and there it was... an entry for an exhibit at the Akademi, in Chennai, and a road name. I checked the map on my wall and discovered the street was right down from the Consulate, where I was going to be this afternoon anyway, and the Akademi was marked. Why not just have looked on the map first? Well, plenty of places are marked, but not all are in the listings. I could have spent all day checking square by square on the grid.
I was still hemming and hawing about actually seeing the paintings, but after the effort to find its location, I figured I'd go, by myself, something that I simply don't do because I'm self-conscious enough and safety conscious enough to know that I'm, well, obvious. I don't like being obvious. But I went, and boy was I obvious. There was one other couple, but the lady who met me at the door pointed to a particularly old man as the artist himself. He shuffled over and walked with me through the entire dusty, flickering-light gallery. I heard the story behind every one, some ecological visions of particular points around Chennai, some historical snapshots, some world views, even one portraying the destruction of the Earth by non-vegs. Yes, the meat-eaters as the root of disease and destruction.
At the end of my hour long tour, I was able to shake his hand with an honest thank you for his time and for sharing his visions. Some of his work really was impressive, my favorite was a nighttime chase, cheetah and deer. The rich blues and purples caught my eye among all the green canvases. He shared his hope that a foreigner would someday see his work, and that today his hope had been realized. It made me feel good to make an old man happy, even for an hour. All that address hunting was worth it.

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