The Missing Black Horse at the Art Gallery Square

Update for 16 February 2010

The urban tourists had a gala time over the last fortnight, as they congregated at various parts of South Mumbai’s fashionable addresses. They wore their ethnic best, which was not the sari or the dhoti, traditional Indian attire for women and men, respectively; but wore their capris, with stylish kurtis while the men wore their T-Shirts emblazoned with slogans extolling peace, love, and what-not. Some men and women alike, liked to wear tight blouses or shirts – showing their concern for the environment, by using only the appropriate amount of clothes to cover their modesty; so altruistic; some used fewer buttons to be eco-friendly by shunning plastic to the extent possible. They all carried jholas, long cloth bags strung on the shoulder, and talked animatedly on their mobile phones – I am not sure who they spoke to as I did not eavesdrop, but I was intrigued nonetheless since they held the hands of their significant others and looked in different directions while they spoke into their mobile phones in hushed tones. Those who went to see theatre had to pop their phones into their bags, while those who wanted to see Iranian and Swedish films had to be content with the auditorium that had no provision for pop-corn or cola. The art lovers hovered around the main street and the art gallery, looking at installation art that said so many things, and so loudly, that I could not comprehend much; except some fibre-glass life size wild animals, and a black horse atop a faux brick platform; and some painted and decorated fibre-glass canoes – the theme that most of them wanted to purportedly convey was something to do with greening the world and going eco-friendly. So some walking-art-installations (oxymoron, anyone), actually looked like a garbage dump that suddenly fell off those BMC dump trucks, except that were much cleaner and did not smell of rot. They extolled the virtues of going green and dangers that lurked around if we littered. Good message, but wrong place I think. Because all the food stalls selling exhorbitantly priced “arty” and “local” meals, served it on plastic plates, with plastic spoons and forks stuck into it and had left behind huge plastic bags to collect the refuse in. And the food ranged from Chinese Dumplings to Burmese Khowsuey with a few Indian foods like puri-undhiyo, jalebi and gulab jamuns around. And for those looking for something light, there were sandwiches to fall back on. The arty crowd was absorbing all the “Indian” art and culture and music at the 2 week festival, which had tributes to a departed Mr Jackson in every second dance act. And at the end of day they were mighty pleased to see a potter’s wheel where the he taught them to make small mud pots for a little fee, just like in Indian villages. Oh how so earthy and helping the planet go green!

The festive mood at D Street was in play today, as they D Boyz reminisced their evening trysts with the arty crowds that gathered on the streets adjoining D Street. They initially looked for cues to play their daily game – and seeing the Chinese enjoy their New Year Holidays and US staying shut for a long weekend, they just chose to play safe and skim the surface. Then they heard of the European tourists that flew into an unexpected Africa and out and heaved a sigh of relief to see that they actually enjoyed their holiday. So what if they were startled in the beginning, but at the end of it, they did manage to catch up with wild-life at its best, and pastoral Masai in their traditional gear and they did indulge their oral senses to game meat, but did not like the smell of raw meat roasting over a pit. So the D Boyz took that as a cue for a buoyant SENSEX and raised it to over 200 points today, but finally ended at the magic number of 16226 – 188 points up; the shave off of a few points was because of the bad air over the roasting meat.  

The suburban Mumbaikars are ruing the fact that they do not have an art festival in their midst. Yes, they did have some sessions of music at a fort by the Sealink, and some poetry reading sessions by Lahoris and Lucknowis (or their nearby neighbours), but it was not a festival. It was thrust down their throats like their morning newspaper is thrust from under their main doors each morning. Maybe some of the “artists” among suburbanites will put together something.



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