My dear artists – Aabra’ca’Dabra – conjurors of urban street art

April 16, 2015, 17:45. A break between two sax-guitar-sitar jam sessions. Some of them – clothes and palms coated with thick paints – are busy with their brushes on the pitch road along Dhakuria Lake. The two amateur announcers reluctantly get up, once again rub the dust off their jeans and take yet another hesitant step towards the audience. “Here. Look at us once more – two idiots in white – the colour of peace, you see? We are Aabra‘ca’dabra. We like to do art. Art is magic. The space where we live today severely needs magic. We believe that anybody can perform a magical act like we are performing today. And in this time we live, road is the only road leading to that magic.”

They could have just uttered the spell: Aabra’ca’Dabra!


Dhakuria Lake, Kolkata

The ‘performance’ that they are referring to is urban street art at its purest. It is a nonchalantly crazy blend of paint and music, movement and sound, talent and whim; a deceptively peaceful battle of the arrogance of aesthetic-intellectual elitism (almost annoying, though intriguing) versus the humbleness of rustic-bohemian intimacy (almost endearing, though incomprehensible). Last but not the least, Abra’ca’dabra is a chant about ‘art in protest’ and ‘protest in art’.

8B bus stand: Jadavpur

8B Bus stand: Jadavpur, Kolkata

Street art is often considered to be synonymous to begging – coins all around, a thin circle of half-bewildered half-amused mostly disinterested passerby crowd, an old mangy dog. A’ca’D is all that (except the dog, as of now) and some more. Deeply influenced by certain aspects of the mystic ‘Baul’ way of life, it is not contrary to the concept of begging. Similarly as the Baul, the A’ca’D ‘madhukori’ doctrine uninhibitedly offers its audience a fair share of pleasure, faith, knowledge, experience and realization as well as a promise of an alternate way of life in a coded language of art.

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Recipe for a Pepsi-cuisine

I had a brand new experience last night. Of dropping a Pepsi bottle right in the middle of the room and the content going WHOOSH all over the floor, okay, not all over, but say three fifth of it. I should have taken a photo of it. This sort of description only goes well with visual evidence; no one believes word of mouth any more.

Pepsi is a funny thing. Apparently some dude somewhere boiled or did a similar shit to it. And what he got was some thick tar-like viscous weirdass object that none of us would want to taste even if paid for it. I am not going to link or hyperlink to the video or anything. I heard it from the mouth of a friend and I believed, particularly after what happened last night. One should try to find it in Youtube. All these visual evidence type stuff are to be found there.

As soon as I dropped the bottle the fluid, like a gigantic dark red amoeba, filled the space with its random vicious limbs. I wiped it once, I wiped it twice, I wiped it five times at a row, each time after the previous wipe dried up. When the floor was equally sticky as it was before, I started wiping right along the map of the semi-transparent trajectory of what was supposed to be a soft drink but resembled a hard glue, and systematically invaded inside, to no avail. Then I gave up and asked my mother what to do and she said, she didn’t know jesus that kind of horsecrap never happened to her. So she asked our maid, who without even thinking promptly said, I should wipe it well with some soap water.

That was a great idea. Just that I did not have any soap. For, like a month or so.

Today morning I asked a security guard who works at our hostel to kindly ask, if he would please, one of the sweepers to kindly clean my room, if she would please, please. But the staff here are free souls you see, which is a great thing, shows us oppressive bourgeoisie Indian middle class bastards a thing or two. It does. So I went out in the evening and bought some detergent powder. What other kinds of soaps are there? Oh yes, floor cleaners. But this is like, the end of the month, and floor cleaners…come on. I also needed a mop, which I did not have, but you do not get mops out here, not within the radius of a kilometer of this place. Beyond one kilometer, yes, but not within. And come on, a mop too now?!

So I finished the cleaning and it sort of looks okay now, though I cannot be sure if it is indeed okay or just that I got used to the stickiness somewhat.

Mate, Macha, here is a recipe for you Bro:

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Travelogue 13 – some of what indeed happened in Toronto

As against what did not exactly happen in Toronto, here is some of what did happen there.

This was at the backyard of the Math. department of Fields Institute (with some coffee stain on it), where I used to read or doodle cutting talks. That girl in the picture here is not me. I never sat there. One evening, while I sipped my free department-coffee and watched without interest like a regular caffeine-addicted voyeur, a couple played table tennis on the cement slab in front of the girl in the picture. Though it is actually some sort of a fountain – not a table at all. Suddenly they stopped playing and started kissing. While they kissed, each held the other’s face with one hand and the table tennis bat with another. It was a complicated dance that they were performing.

Backyard of Fields Institute Math. Dept.

Backyard of Fields Institute Math. department

This was drawn at Beverly Park – where I felt right home since everybody else including the birds and the bees looked high on pot and keen to hump. The whole park smelled of joints. After a while the girl on the left with the hibijibis in her hair started crying – probably got too stoned.


Firangis’ Ganja Park

This was at the shore of Lake Ontario at the end of Spandina Avenue – another spot I used to spend time cutting talks, even though it was a long and boring walk other than the Chinatown bit. The shore was beautiful because the lake was deep and blue and mysterious. It was a warm and sunny day, though windy. Both me and the seagull were too comfortably tucked up to move. An oldish Canadian man came to me and said – `Hey I’m an author and I need an illustrator!’ Then he saw my drawing of the seagull and said – `Oh but I need a really good one at that you know?’ and left.

The ruminating seagull

The ruminating seagull

If I Reacted to Other People’s Careers the Way They React to Me Becoming a Mathematician

Finally somebody said it :D


You’re a doctor? I don’t really know anything about medicine, but can you explain exactly how the endocrine system works in two minutes or less?

You’re a writer? I had a terrible writing teacher in high school. I bet I wouldn’t like you.

You’re a carpenter? You must be super good at carpentering.

You’re a singer? I stopped singing in 11th grade. The last song I sang was… hmmmmm… let’s see… Mozart’s Requiem. I wasn’t very good at that song.

You’re an engineer? I used to play with building blocks when I was a kid. Show me exactly what you’re designing and, if there’s anything I don’t understand, it’s probably your fault.

You’re a banker? So that means you print money, right? What kind of money do you print?

You’re a lawyer? Argue against the Electoral College in front of me right now for my perverse amusement. I’ll just be…

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My dear artists 6 – Chitra Sahasrabudhey


Chitra Sahasrabudhey is a painter of the people, in a medium where majority of her people have no access to – a contradiction that caught my eyes first, when Neeraja, her daughter showed her work to me in her laptop. However technology and humanity were never as vicious enemies as the romantic idealists would like them to be. Chitra Sahasrabudhey’s art is not of a romantic idealist – but again in some sense they are. Her digital canvas, style and subjects possess a romance that is so very mundane and minimalistic, and hence the more idealistic – especially in today’s so very shiny consumer world that we live in.


Seth (Businessman)


Knowing her daughter Neeraja for past one year, I have aspired to meet Chitra several times. One may have no lack of various motivations behind meeting a person as versatile as her, but for me it was mostly to meet an artist I have admired. Besides the place of art in politics has been a subject that I have opted to understand several times and she seemed to have an opinion about it,

Nrithya (Dance)

and more importantly she had a first-hand experience of being and remaining an artist as well as a political person, for whom the two fields often merged together.

Shakti (Women power)

I am not sure if I agree with (and it is totally irrelevant in this context)  the `quasi-Gandhian’ driving force behind Vidyashram, of which Chitra is one of the founder members, and which is a center for practice and preservation of people’s knowledge (Lokavidya). Based at Sarnath, Varanasi since 1995, Vidyashram came up as a result of the involvement of its associates with various other organizations working on people’s science and technology, with farmers and labours, and self-help projects for women and men through marketing their handcrafts and other products in the local markets. Among these organizations one that I would like to mention is Nari Hastakala Udyog Samiti (of which Chitra was the President), since women at work is a recurring theme in her painting.

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Recently I drew this picture and wrote this poem –

I smoked a cigarette

And she smoked a cigarette

She smoked a cigarette

And I smoked a cigarette

I smoked a cigarette

And she said – No smoking,

‘cos we ran out of matches.