Sankalp, the Smithsonian and the magic jigsaw puzzle

The installation that we are creating at the museum is called “Sankalp”. There are many interpretations of the word, and my interpretation, the one that I am using on the brochure is :
“Sankalp is the seed of Intention. Subtle but firm, it is a resolve deep in consciousness.
Artistic expression lies beyond thought. Beyond the Ego. It lies in calling upon creative forces of the universe through deep seated intention. And then letting go of intention. For expression is not permanent. It cannot be enclosed in time/space. Like a Crystal it is ever changing with continuing possibilities and potential. Each moment brings different possibilities and potential.
There are no beginnings and no ends. Expression is fluid and eternal.”
The installation is possible only because of the co authorship of my brilliant architect friend David Adjaye, who has just won the contract for one of the most prestigious architectural design of today : the new Smithsonian Museum for the African American Arts………

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Durga Puja and Singapore’s red light district Geylang.

singapore's red light district.jpg
That is not my picture of Geylang. I picked it up from google images (and hope the author does not mind). But passed the place with my friend, Pratik Bose, on our way to the Ramakrishna Mission Temple in Singapore. Pratik is an ardent follower and I love to visit places of worship of all faiths all over the world. Something about the energy and vibrations that people of ardent faith leave behind that I find energizing. Funny thing about Singapore. this city of malls, order and discipline, turned into something that felt like a suburb of Buenos Aires. Chaotic, streetwise and interesting. And Singapore’s most interesting recent films at Cannes was a docudrama based in Geylang. Street life makes the most interesting films. Pratik, who is Bengali told me this :
“The clay for the image of Mother Durga which is made for the Durga Puja festival is often mixed with clay from various sources to prepare it for worship. One custom is to collect soil from a prostitute’s house in the red light district and add it to the mix.. The idea is that the divine mother is present in each woman on earth and each woman is potentially the divine mother, with this theme in mind, even the prostitute’s soil constitutes the mother’s image which is worshipped during Puja for sake of completion of the earthly image we create for the worship”.

God’s country

Just leaving Innsbruck for Singapore. Kept my windows and balcony doors open so I may breathe the fresh mountain air all night, and stayed awake listening to the gentle patter of rain. As the light broke over the mountains that I can see from my balcony, I saw fresh snow powdered over the trees on the mountains – God’s very delicate touch reminding me to come back here,
I am back here on the 17th of June for the opening of my Art Installation


you can change the world, of course
but can you change yourself ?

Hungry Hearts again

Sohaila’s musical play Mahim Junction that opened to rave reviews in Edinburgh, Singapore and in Delhi comes back on popular demand at the Epicentre in Gurgaon this weekend (18th and 19th) and then at Islamic Centre at Lodhi Road on the 1st of May. Those that missed should catch it if they are able to. It is a great satire on our lives today, and a lot of fun,
Scroll down and you will see the poster and the wonderful reviews,

passion and attachment : a real perspective from Kavitha

Though not entirely related to the main thrust of the original post, it provoked me to write about detachment, in the context of a human spirit every one of us will or have experienced at some point in our lives…
The notion of death and mortality has engulfed my psyche this past week – triggered by a couple of tragic developments (or should I say tragic devastations) in the extended family…one around the completely unsuspected, sudden and symptom-less end of a life…another around the discovery of terminal cancer.
How does one deal with a tragedy such as death of a seemingly healthy being, particularly when it’s timing was so unpredictable? Even more mysterious that it happened immediately following “darshan” at an *auspicious* religious vortex in south india, on an *auspicious* day last week. Was he blessed that he had to endure no pain and suffering and his last breath was a breeze, after a divine encounter? Or was it a misfortune that he jumped the age line to reach life’s finish line, leaving behind many older counterparts in the family to enjoy “longer lives”? So on and so forth.
Earlier in the week it was dealing with news about terminal cancer…..

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Passion and Attachment

Ray asked “I get conflicted about whether to live life with passion or dispassion? Attachment, passion and egoism aren’t they impurities of the mind? I get further confused when the above comes from you. ”
I never want to take on the mantle of someone that imparts knowledge, Ray, but as a fellow searcher let me explore. Passion belongs to the moment and Attachment is addicted to the past or the future. Attachment is desire while Passion is pure acceptance. Desire brings with it the fear of non achievement, but Passion has no fear. Mira’s passion for Krishna was not a desire for Krishna but a Pure Passion. It was not an attachment to Krishna but a love so pure and passionate that she was one with Krishna. Passion is universal and flows consistently and is limitless, the bhakti of Mira was never ending in it’s force of expression.
Shakespeare wrote a great line for Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) ” he is a beggar that can measure his worth”. She was speaking about love. Passion is beyond measurement, it explodes through the clouds of contextualization. For it has no measure to compare it to.
Attachment and desire are contextualized and contained by measurement – they are reigned in by fear of non achievement – and by comparison, self loathing and envy. Passion is not only selfless but the letting go of the self. Passion is action not addicted to a defined result. Pure Passion leads to pure action. Attachment leads to reaction, not action”.
Lets continue to explore.

It all comes around

This is from Manav. I feel completely humbled. I had no idea when I started the blog this is where it would lead :
“whatever you wrote is so much sense, that it all comes around in the end. My wife has lupus and her kidneys are 80 % damaged. Doctors here in US, have suggested Dialysis and she just believed Ramdev so much, inspite of me telling her not to risk her life, she did all that therapy diligently that she is feeling better.. all her edemas are gone and the blood reports are getting back to normal. She had this clarity & a positive mental Attitude that works wonders for her even at times, when most of the people would probably give in. Now I, not only respect her, there is this feeling that is indescribable. Sometimes, when I am into some trouble, she would just say ” Bhagwan jo karta hai, achhe ke liye karta hai” and now I realize that simple statement to be so true..
So it all comes around.
I have been an avid reader of your blog and read and forwarded your articles to thousands of people (I know off)all around the world to know and understand, at least try once a day to understand as to WHY and WHAT you write…
This world should be better because of people like you.. Like you said ” we must be responsible bloggers”.
PLEASE keep writing. Always.
Manav Malhotra

Nicole Kidman to Baba Ramdev to Isabelle Adjani and the Parisian world of fashion

I was supposed to leave for Paris to edit my commercial with Nicole Kidman, when I got a call from Baba Ramdev to come to the opening of his new Yoga and Healing center in Hardwar. And who could say no to him ? The last time I met Baba Ramdev at a friends house in Mumbai, he just sat me down next to him and held my hand. There was such an auro of peace around him and I just hoped he would not let my hand go.
Can you think of a big center for Yoga and healing ? Whatever you thought multiply it 10 times. The centre can take in 10,000 people at a time and most of the treatment and yoga lessons are free. It amazes me how people like him get things done ! There is something about faith, passion and clarity of purpose that moves the impossible. The universe seems to buckle under the force of your passion and creates the path, like the seas parting for Moses.
There something there that we ordinary mortals can learn. That people with extraordinary passion and clarity refuse even to acknowledge obstacles, for in their vision they are already at their goal. They see their goal and themselves as one, almost in an eternal relationship. The do not conceive failure.
One night of being surrounded by the yogic ambiance and I was in Paris in the thick of the advertising world. Bold, creative, brash, but completely out of the box, French advertising is quite heady and out of the box. I worked with a new agency called ‘Fred & Farid’ run by two young men called (of course) Fred and Farid who have won more advertising awards than is possible, and are turning advertising into an adventure. More power to them. I really enjoyed working with them (and fighting with them over the cut of the film)
And so they arranged for me to have lunch with Isabelle Adjani to bribe me. They won hands down. Who could resist meeting one of the great actresses of her time ? Remember Le Rein Margot ??
After losing my wallet all my cash and credit cards ( it’s Paris – what do you expect ?), I arrived last night to my favorite place on earth. The Hotel Speckbacher near Innsbruck. Came to my room and opened the curtains to let the full moon stream in as she lit up the snow clad peaks in the back. Ahhh , I sat down and did some Pranayam as Baba Ramdev had taught me.
It all comes around in the end.

Need consumption vs Greed consumption

I dont get it. For years we cursed the US and Western Europe for consuming too much and living far beyond the resources that our planet could afford. And now trillions of of dollars are being pumped into the US and Western Europe to stimulate demand, encouraging, for example, the American people to buy more cars ! All in the name of avoiding a global slowdown. Any one see a contradiction in there ?
So does that mean that the only way the Global economies can continue to grow (and therefore not collapse) is for the Western Economies to go on consuming at ever increasing levels at what I call ‘Greed Consumption’ at the cost of the rest of the world ?
I would suggest that if this is really a Global economy, most of those dollars should go to correct the unsustainable imbalances between the ‘greed consumers’ and those that cannot even hope to attain ‘survival consumption’. For till that happens, no stability will come to the world, and therefore no global financial prosperity.