She sat with her head bowed, brows furrowed in concentration, bent over a small brown note book. SungA was painting me, as I sat engrossed looking at her sketchbooks which were full of wonderful sketches from her travels in Kerala, Goa, Hampi, Benaras and Mysore.
It is funny how I met this girl. A friend wrote to us, asking us to show her around Bombay when she visits India soon. So when she finally cam ego the city clogged with millions of people with their billion dreams, I was awed at the ease with which she sat outside the local railway station. She was painting people coming out of the station, people walking around, the building next to CST which we have always believed is beautifully designed but never bothered to go inside, the buses and the roads -everything she saw was transferred to paper.
Probably all o us within ourselves hope and nourish this dream of backpacking across the world, going without fixed plans, meeting people on the way, sharing food and memories with strangers waiting to be friends. But only when some people do it, do we feel that we were meant to be a bit braver, take the risk, plunge into the unknown without worrying so much. Because life would pass us by. And no time would be as perfect as the time right then. Maybe you wouldn’t like that life, maybe you would. But the only way to know is to try it out.. for once.
My perfect trip would have been in a place steeped in history and culture. One where locals will cook their food and go on with their daily chores, I would sit with them in the marketplace, listening to them while they sold their wares, writing about them while they bargained and bickered over the perfect price. I would jot down notes in the little brown notebook that I always carry – the same one on which SungA was drawing right now – write things about people I met, places I visited, experiences I wanted to remember even if my memory deceived me.
That’s not too different from the way SungA carries her sketchbooks and paint everywhere. She draws people as she sees them, the second sketch more familiar than the first. She takes few minutes to swallow as much of her surroundings as she can and then she sits with her pencil and paper. I do the same – writing from what I remember, often taking the help of imagination and second hand accounts of the same story. Writing, re-writing, striking off till I think they sound like me.
We are not that different, then. This painter and I.