Art and Trade Fairs

Recently I came across the news that Chicago’s Old St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church is no longer hosting its World’s Largest Block Party. The 35-year-old, two-day festival of music and food drew thousands of people to the business district where Old St. Patrick’s Church is located. The pastor, the Rev. Tom Hurley, says that the "summer event environment in Chicago is more competitive than it was 35 years ago and more difficult for the 175-year-old church to navigate.
I have always had mixed feelings about the art and trade fairs that pop up like mushrooms in Chicago and its suburbs, in fact all over the country, every summer. On one side, I am proud of the tradition and the cultural heritage they offer to their audience,but on the other hand I am frustrated by the overwhelming corporate presence in them. They all look the same and they have lost the local flavor they carried in the past. Around twenty years back, each fair was different than the others, and it represented the…

My 'Hood

           I was the fourth child, a son, born to parents that fought every evening as if it were a ritual without which they couldn't go to bed. My father left us when I was seven. My mother did her best to make ends meet, but it was obvious that three jobs, paying minimum wage, were killing her. When I was twelve, my two older brothers were killed—One by a rival gang and the other by police. The grief soon killed my mother. My elder sister, who had been paying the bills with some help from the state, disappeared a year later. Some says she was a victim of sex trafficking, but I never came to know what had happened to her. There was nobody to pay the bills so I came to live on the streets.   Every night, I took the last green train and slept on it; then I went to my 'hood in the morning.

Photo by Paul G             In my 'hood, guns were everywhere.  I just needed to find an allegiance with a gang. I joined my brothers' gang. I wanted to kill the ones who had killed my …

The Future of Our Youth—Hope or Despair?

As a teacher, when I look at our youth, my feelings move from hope to disappointment and then disappointment to hope.
They are intelligent, but mesmerized by technology.
They lack basic skills, but believe that they are special.
They know what is on Facebook, but have little interest in the abstract ideas and deeper questions of life.
They are bright, but do not understand that hard work is as important as intelligence.
They want to leap and have unique ideas, but are too distracted to turn their ideas into reality.
A colleague of mine said that all generations are like this until … until one day life dawns on them and forces them to be pragmatic. I am not so sure about that. Just fifty years back the world was different and so was the generation that breathed in that environment. We did not have cell phones, and the internet was not part of our basic needs. Jobs were ample (at least in the Western world) and a bachelor’s degree was more than enough to move up to the middle class. Now, a ma…

The Language of God of Small Things

In Arundhati Roy's novel, The God of Small Things, the happenings in the lives of the main characters make it possible for us to visualize a southern Indian small town,and the way life takes its course through all its attractions and disappointments.

I very much admire the language, which often tastes like the right amount of chili sauce with your favorite food. It gives an additional tinge to the food without killing its real taste. At times, it pushes you to the edge of a hill, encouraging you to look down for a surprise in the landscape.

Roy also adds the shortest possible sentences to give depth to what was said. These are like small waves, coming after the main thought, highlighting its intensity and valor: "A limp floorswab, and two rusty tin cans of nothing. They could have been Paradise Pickle products. Pineapple chunks in syrup. Or slices. Pineapple slices."
Another technique of hers is to use the same meter in a series of sentences describing the same scene. T…

Rajput Painting of India

The Indian sub-continent had a very rich tradition of miniature painting that was not only tied to kings, queens and lords of different kingdoms of the Indian sub-continent, but also had a strong connection with the architectural forms of the temples, mosques, palaces, and courtyards of the region. Kings and lords facilitated painting to record their deeds (though at times their misdeeds were recorded too) and the intricate patterns of architecture repeatedly appeared in the miniature paintings.

The very first specimens of painting that have survived in the recorded history of India belong to the Ajanta caves dated 452-500 C.E. These paintings are depictions of different Buddhist tales called Jatakas. The later tradition worked with perishable materials that did not survive, and we have very little information about the art of painting till the 13th century. 

Cave 1, Ajanta, Bodhisattva, Rajarajeshvara Temple, Tanjavur,
462-500 C.E 1010 C.E


Morality Based Education

Before the commencement of 20th century, the role of education was to inculcate moral and religious values. Since the dawn of the industrial era and particularly after the Second World War, education became more career oriented. Its value as a job grabber and a mode for competition for industrial and corporate positions has increased tremendously.  Gradually the process of providing values and morals, both worldly and religious, moved to the end of the list of objectives of education. Another problem with moral education is that it cannot be taught directly in the form of a sermon. When it is provided in the form of a sermon, as we usually see in the religious dogma, it produces fear and may convince the receivers to hide and sneak in their immoral behaviors, but it does not create an impact that is capable of convincing the receivers about its everlasting worthiness and its impact on their personal lives. Morality is like the koan of Zen. The Bodhisattva comprehends the answer of th…

NATRAJA (The Lord of Dance) in The Art Institute of Chicago

Natraja is one of the manifestations of Shiva, a major Hindu deity. Hinduism
The origins of Hinduism are traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, dated from 4000 to 2200 B.C.E. Though Hinduism is commonly viewed in the West as polytheistic (worship of multiple deities), it is more accurately described as henotheistic— the worship of a single deity with the recognition that other gods and goddesses are aspects or manifestations of that single deity. One god creates many personalities to represent its different aspects and worship of one is actually the worship of all. For the ongoing birth, preservation, and death of the cosmos and of the entities in it, there are three personalities of Brahma which are essential and which persistently keep creating this cycle  Brahama:  Creator who continues to create new realitiesVishnu: Preserver, who preserves these creations. His most popular manifestation is Krishna.Shiva: Destroyer, who is sometimes compassionate and erotic and sometimes dest…