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Goa Carnival 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Goa Carnival takes place four days prior to Ash Wednesday, a day of obligation which marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent, in the Christian calendar. Lent marks the period of 40 days before Good Friday, when Jesus Christ was crucified and killed. People generally prefer to mark this period with fasting and abstinence from meat and alcohol.

This year, the Goa Carnival was to be celebrated from February 18 to 21, 2012. The Carnival is celebrated with a march of floats in the cities of Margao, Panjim, Mapusa and Vasco. It is celebrated in the villages too, but not on that grand a scale.

The Carnival is patronised by people of all castes and creeds. People come from far and wide to partake of the merriment and revelry, by singing and dancing and even cross dressing.

The carnival was first introduced to Goa by the Portuguese, the erstwhile rulers of Goa. Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule only in 1961. The Portuguese word for Carnival is “Intruz.”

My mother recollected that in pre-Liberation days, Goa used to celebrate the Intruz by singing and dancing. Families used to attend the events and enjoy themselves thoroughly.

Every year floats are floated by communities from various parts of Goa to celebrate the festival. Unfortunately, of late, the Carnival, and the floats, in particular, have become very commercial with a number of companies advertising their products via floats. This takes away the essence of the traditional floats.

This year there were rumours that the carnival would not be held on a grand scale as the Goa State elections were approaching and campaigning was on in full swing. But something far more unfortunate happened.

The Goa Carnival got cancelled because of a school bus which accidentally plunged in the waters of the River Kalki at Aldona Calvim, thus taking the lives of four children and two adults. The Carnival was cancelled on February 18 to mourn the deaths of the innocent children and the hapless adults.

Here are photos of the Goa Carnival 2012. A special thanks to Hithakshi Kotyan for the same.

Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Kala Ghoda Art Festival recently concluded at Kala Ghoda in South Mumbai. The area is home to many famous structures such as Jehangir Art Gallery, Watson Hotel, David Sassoon Library and the one-time favourite haunt of music lovers, Rhythm House. The place is easily accessible from Churchgate station on the Western Railway Line.
This festival has been a fixture on the art scene for quite some years now. This was the first year that I decided to check it out, hoping to get a glimpse of something special. And guess what, I have loads to talk about. Read on to see what I saw there.

Kala Ghoda
I walked to Kala Ghoda from Churchgate. It was a nice 20-minute walk. On the way, I saw a few buildings built by the British, including Churchgate railway station, the BSNL Building, Mumbai High Court, Mumbai University, once-upon-a-time Watson Hotel and David Sassoon Reading Library.
I will write about the heritage structures soon, but this post is dedicated to my time at the Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2012 (KGAF 2012)
As I crossed Flora Fountain and walked towards Kala Ghoda, I saw a shining pyramid standing in the distance, with a big crow and a lady with a nodding head nearby. Automatically my legs started walking in that direction as fast as possible because I wanted to know what it was. Curiosity killed the Cat. I guess when we are keen on knowing or learning something new, we dedicate all our energies to it and will not give up until we have achieved our goal.

Cutting Chai glasses
Within no time I was there. The pyramid that I had seen from a distance was actually a pyramid made from Cutting Chai Glasses all piled one above the other. They were made to stand on a metal plate which was one inch in breadth. The glasses were balancing themselves on that thin plate. There were 34 storeys of glasses there and one glass right at the top. I can imagine the hard work that must have gone into making this pyramid. Even one miscalculation would have brought the entire pyramid down. I estimated that the pyramid was at least 12 feet high. Making it must have been one big feat.  Nevertheless it was beautiful and looked even better when the rays of the sun shone on it. This was the concept of Krsna Mehta but was built by 10 artists. God alone knows the amount of manhours taken to build this structure. But at the end of the day it was a job extremely well done.
Next, I visited the Big Crow and the small-life sized crows placed around  it with spilled milk from cans and eggs all around. The artist who made this, Sumeet Snajay Patil, indicated that as per Hindu beliefs, the crow is synonymous with salvation (Mukti). He said that crows represent the problems in the city and the want of salvation from them.  It represents how immediately crows gather around if there is spilt milk, broken eggs and other stuff.
There were many local artists selling Kathputali (traditional Rajasthani dolls). For example this lady in the picture has around a dozen of them, some individual and some in pairs. These dolls are made of cloth and are usually made to dance in a puppet show.

The Big Kathputali  

This huge Kathputali represents the current state of women in today’s society. It shows how a woman reacts only when she is touched; it showcases that she doesn’t have the freedom to do this the way she pleases. I know for sure that a woman is equally capable of achieving everything a man can achieve but at the end of the day she is still a Kathputali in the hands of a man. This structure was installed by Vandana Somprakash Kori who wanted to depict the sad plight of women, for whom life hasn’t changed over the years.
Dinesh with his Drums
I met Dinesh, who was selling drums. He tapped me on my shoulder and said, “Sir, would you like to buy a drum? Very reasonable rate, just for you.” I guess he was under the impression that I was a tourist there and tried his luck at persuading me to buy his stuff saying, “All tourists who have come here, buy these to take to their homes as a remembrance.” At this I replied to him in Hindi saying, “Humme nahi chahiye, aur hum yahin ke hai, India ke,” meaning “I don’t want it and I am from India.” He was stunned to hear me talk in Hindi. You should have seen the look on his face. Wow! I didn’t know that I look like an African with a bald head and a French beard. I guess that I should sport this look longer and enjoy the attention I receive.
Bottles ar 3'RS
At a distance I saw a store crowded with people. I too was inquisitive to know what it was selling. So I became a part of the crowd. They had kept bottles on display. Bottles in all shapes and sizes which could be used a showcase item for decoration. The stall was owned by 3’RS. The bottles were suspended from the ceiling via metallic chains. It made a very neat photo for me. Some of the bottles were moulded in various outrageous shapes.  How can they make these waste bottles look so beautiful with their imagination? Truly commendable.  They collected waste bottles. I didn’t mind giving mine to them; after all they would convert it into a piece of art beyond my imagination. 
The Bisleri Bottle Maze
Next, I visited this structure made of disposed Bisleri water bottles, all of various sizes. They had built it like a maze so that people could walk in there; the path was thin enough for one person to pass at one time and come out from the other. I would never have imagined that someone would use this to their imagination to build a structure like this.
Volkswagen Beatle
What caught my eye next was this Volkswagen Beatle. Not the yellow car worth Rs. 25 lakh but one made from scrap. Yes, you heard that right. The body of the car was made from scrap and painted yellow. The tyres were real. Keyboards, cassettes, sheets of plastic, glass bottle caps of various sizes, beer bottle caps and cans and loads of stuff I don’t even know were used to make the car. This waste was actually collected by Volkswagen at Think Blue drives held at various locations. This teaches us that even stuff that is unwanted can be put to use to make things so beautiful.
King Akbar
Next I saw the Moghul Emperor Akbar sitting on the steel railing near the pavement. Akbar was dressed in a shiny salwar kameez with loads of jewellery around his neck, a crown on his head and golden mojris (shoes) on his feet. I guess he was looking for someone. Who would that be, Birbal or one of his wives. And to my surprise he took out a cellphone and started talking.  It was nice to see Akbar talking on a cell phone. I guess he realized that cellphones are faster than messengers and pigeons. Looks like you have to give in to technology as it does make things better. 
Cycle Cart
I then moved on to see a combo of a cycle and a four- wheel cart. The cycle was the one which is usually used traditionally by milkmen to transport milk to households and the cart was a vegetable selling cart, both joined and painted bright red. It had plenty of bhopus, traditional mikes-cum-loud speakers, on it. This was the concept of Paresh Maity. He wanted to show that 20 years ago these speakers were in use, but currently they are being fazed out.
Brand Ambassador
I then moved on to see Brand Ambassador, created by Hetal Shukla. This installation was painted white and had circular mirrors placed all over it. Ambassador was one hell of a car. It was as rugged and tough as an SUV. I guess when I was a kid there were plenty of ambassadors and premier padminis on the streets. Maruti 800 put them all out of business. The ambassador was then used as a taxi and was used as a mode of transportation for state ministers.  Today I don’t even see them on the roads. Where have they gone?
One of my friends owns an ambassador and takes it out on Sundays. He has people’s eyebrows raised as he moves his car around.  I guess it will hit the vintage car books soon.
Horse Grafiti
Next I saw this wooden horse decorated with graffiti, designed by Pankaj Garde.
The Noise Reduction House
Next I saw a house made of bricks, red in colour, with a seating arrangement inside.  I too wanted to go visit it from the inside. As soon as I stepped in, it cut off the outside noise completely. Wow, this is the power of grass placed on the inside of the house; even with windows it still reduces the noise. Amazing, isn’t it? Grass can reduce outside sound.
Smoking Kills
Smoking Kills, Smoking Cigarettes is Injurious to Health is written in small characters on each pack of cigarettes. But people are so busy smoking in this stressful world that they have no time to read the same. This piece of art shows how smoking cigarettes kills us from within. Cigarette butts resting in an ash tray made of bones and colored in red depicting blood. I hope this sends a message to all who have still not given up this habit. It is high time you give up. Pranav, are you listening?
The Booth
This booth standing here is just a booth and not an artifact placed for display. Please don’t be fooled, as I was.
Flowers made from waste plastic bottles
A little further I saw a few flowers suspended from trees. These are not real flowers but were made from plastic water bottles. Three joined to each other at their mouths and then suspended.
Lanterns and Kites on the trees
A few kites, lanterns and torrans (traditional Indian decorations placed at the door) were hanging from the trees which made the trees colourful.  


There was a man dressed as a dacoit with a handle bar moustache, goggles and sideburns posing with everyone who wanted to be photographed with him. I saw another man with a sword and people flocked around him for a photo too.

Kala Ghoda made from waste
Kala Ghoda means black horse in Hindi. The original statue of a Black Horse has long since been shifted elsewhere.  But at the fest, I saw this horse made of cycle tires, scrap metal, twine, plastic rings and paper. This was made by Sukant Panigrahy.
The Hand Cart
I saw a vertically suspended handcart. From a distance, it doesn’t look like a handcart. There is the outline of a man painted in white which stand out against the black paint of the cart. The handcart was used in ancient times to transport produce and played a vital role in building cities and trade. It is still used today in our modern world. The image showcases the pain involved in carrying the load.
The Motel Hand Cart
This is superb, another handcart with wheels on the floor decorated with cloth, built in such a way that it acts as a mobile cart for the cart puller. It can be his place of rest when he is tired, like a mini rest room on the cart. Beautifully designed, it urges one to sit in the cart and have a feel of it.
Golden Bricks
Another cart painted black caught my attention; this one contained golden bricks.
A huge Green Beacon (laltain) suspended from the tree made of disposed Bisleri bottles. I guess I used to see these lanterns at vegetable vendors when I was a kid. But of late these have disappeared. Today vegetable vendors have small electric bulbs displaying their produce.
Rajasthani Dancers performing
Moving through the crowd, I noticed people gathered around something. I could hear the sound of music. But I didn’t know what was happening inside. I somehow managed to get in and see what was inside. There was a troupe of men mostly dressed in white sporting red turbans and playing traditional musical instruments. A couple, dressed in traditional Rajasthani costumes, danced in between.  There was also a man riding a beautifully decorated horse. A few women danced to give them company. The music and dance were very nice and had me glued till the end of the performance.  I guess women were not a part of these troupes as males played the role of females here. Nevertheless the energy put in by the man dressed as a woman was tremendous.
Fishing Nets full of waste
A few gigantic fishes made of fishing nets with plastic bottles and footwear were suspended from hooks. I guess the artist wanted to display the amount of plastic, unwanted articles we have around us so much so that instead of fish getting stuck in the nets we have these articles that we have disposed off in the water bodies replacing them.


A man dressed as Charlie Chaplin stood there for a few photo sessions. Though he didn’t exactly look like Charlie, he was still able to pull a crowd around him.
A man dressed in traditional Rajasthani clothes was playing the flute. Now you will say, so what is unusual about him?  he was playing the flutes through his nose and not his mouth. Talented, What say?


Art depicting Blind Faith
Another structure depicting blind faith towards superstitious beliefs, designed by Dominic Anthony, caught my eye. 
Pool of Shit
A Pool of Shit featuring three dustbins invited us to drop our sadness, fear and doubts in there.  We should all leave our sadness, fear and doubts behind and lead a happy and joyful life.
Inverted Table
The inverted table suspended from the tree featured a desk having paperwork, typewriter, pen stand, table bell, name plate, a telephone and a tray full of files.  This showcases that our government employees work as per the terms framed by them to enrich themselves and not society. This art depicted that most people adopt the under-the-table method to get their work done. People prefer government jobs, not for the pension but because they can generate more money this way by taking bribes. This is bad for society as a whole. Even an honest man is compelled to give a bribe or else his work will never get done. Sad, but the truth.
Suspended Buddha
I saw a Buddha suspended upon strings. From a distance he looked as if he was floating in mid-air with many colours coming out of him. It was a nice sight to see. I met the artist who made this and congratulated him on the same. He told me that we are heading towards darkness. We should enlighten our lives like Buddha and spread the light to people around us.
The human ear plays an important role in today’s world. As we listen to people, we fail to ponder and think for ourselves but adapt to what is told to us. This is the message I received from this artifact. God has given us all a brain to make our own decisions and not let someone else the same for us. When we disregard our own thoughts, the results are sometimes disastrous.
A few circular pots were suspended from the ceiling. These, I guess, were filled with water and had 3D images of the Gateway of India, Jesus Christ, Taj Mahal and many more that I could not identify. At night these ejected blue lights, which was quite a sight.
Lighted Pots
Finally I reached the Amphitheatre. It was crowded with people watching the performances of people on stage.  Many were taking snaps and recording the performances.  These were 30-minute performances. I too watched a Punjabi and Assamese folk dance, and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Performance at Amphitheatrre
A few stalls near the amphitheatre were selling metal artifacts and traditional cloth articles. People were patronising these stalls.
There were many painters there who were displaying their art work, these paintings were beautiful.
I saw many photographers here with their DSLRs and compact cameras, trying to get the best photographs. The number of people was increasing by the minute. The atmosphere here was colourful like a modern mela. I liked the artifacts put up on display too as they were made of waste. How beautiful a piece of art can be made out of waste if we only put it to use.
The KGAF 2012 had heritage walks, workshops and musical performances too, which were patronised by people. I am very much concerned about the use of waste, so I will start recycling the waste materials at home to make superb artifacts. Hope you too are influenced to do the same.
I will be visiting KGAF 2013 next year. Hope to see you there too. J

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