Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Aix en Provence : a beautiful experience.

Sept 5th, 1996:  My dad and I were sitting in the admissions office of l'Université d'Aix Marseille, and the lady behind the desk was trying to find me a host family (au pair - where usually a foreigner is welcomed into a French family where they are treated like a family member, which also means that they get to share household responsibilities. It'd also be easier to pick up French). 
We found a certain Mme. LeHyaric...An old lady whose income depended solely on au pairing. When we were at her place, I was introduced to two other foreign girls who very happily welcomed me into the family. Elena was American and Arantza was Spanish...I was given a pretty large room with a queen sized bed, a walk in closet and a view of the park. It had wooden flooring and all the essentials that I'd need.
It was afternoon and time for the Zohar-Asr prayer. My dad and I offered our prayers together in my new room. I asked him to bless it with more prayers while I went out into the lounge and spoke to the others for a while.
Later I went out with my dad and we had lunch together.. I was starting to feel this heaviness in my chest and a lump kept forming in my throat which I kept gulping down. My dad was leaving that evening and the feeling was killing me. Already saying goodbye to my mother was like being torn apart with bare hands. I'd been crying non stop for three days and missed her every time I saw something beautiful.... which was most of the time in Aix en Provence...
After we got back to my new home, my dad hugged me and walked out with tears in his eyes. I felt like such a baby!!! Arantza, who was much older than I and was like an older sister, smiled at me and consoled me. She took me out that night for dinner and we bonded. I was fine after that, but called home (Kuwait) at least twice a day.
In the small community that I belonged to, I was the first to pave the way for many girls to leave home and study in Europe or America. Parents used to freak out just sending their kids to India, but I can only thank my mother, who had the courage to send me so far away after putting all her trust in Allah and inculcating strong values and principles in me.

Faced with a new culture, a new language (and body language),surrounded by beautiful people who were enclosed in their own bubble...

I was sitting outside the room where I was to attend my very first French class, in the Université d'Aix Marseilles in Aix en Provence...the same université which was attended by the following greats.
  • René Cassin – a French jurist, law professor, judge, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Paul Cézanne – a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter
  • Gaston Defferre – Minister of the Interior of France: 1981–1984
  • Toussaint-Bernard Émeric-David – a French archaeologist and writer on art
  • Christine Lagarde – Minister of the Economy, Industry and Employment of France: 2007–presen
  • J. M. G. Le Clézio – a globetrotting French author, professor, and Nobel laureate
  • François Mignet – a French journalist and historian
  • Frédéric Mistral – a French writer, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature
  • Philippe Séguin – President of France's Court of Financial Auditors: 2004–2010
  • Adolphe Thiers – 2nd President of the French Republic: 1871–1873 
  • Joseph Pitton de Tournefort – a French botanist, notable as the first to make a clear definition of the concept of genus for plants

I was thinking "How do I communicate?... I wish I'd picked up some French in school"... but what the hell do you pick up when your teacher reads French and it sounds like some south Indian dialect?(no offence to south Indian dialects- I'm sure tulu would sound strange too if spoken in a French accent)...
My first acquaintance was sitting next to me. She was immaculately dressed in a tweed skirt, a white top and an argyle sweater. She had black leggings on and black platforms..She looked very 'Zen'..She couldn't speak English and I of course couldn't speak Japanese... and neither of us could speak French...So we started with the universal 'hello'...A smile...she bowed... " OK .. that's the first step.. now what?"... I introduced my self...placing my hand on my chest" I'm Amberina"... and then she did the same... "Fumi - from Japan." I was intrigued... It didn't take much to intrigue me now... Leaving home to come so far away ... every thing around me was intriguing...

In class, surrounded by people from practically every country...The pixie like Turk, Birgul , Duc , a shy and hard working Vietnamese, A stylish Mi Hyun- Korean, A devout catholic and almost fairy like Brittany from America, Tina, statuesque and graceful from Sweden, Alicia, with a bohemian air from Spain, Constanze , a  very serious but warm hearted and amiable German, Inge Birte with her spiked hair and mature attitude from Netherlands.... I loved this!!! It was amazing to be surrounded with so many different nationalities...Most of them could speak English but it was strictly discouraged...

There, at that moment, I realized how big this world is. After having lived a very cocooned life with my parents in Kuwait, this was a huge change, like a breath of fresh air...I had flown out of the nest.

After class we would usually wander into the courtyard. I'd usually head for the cafeteria and pick up a searing, hot cappuccino and a croissant. Little did I know that this was to become my staple diet for the rest of the year..

The architecture here is 12th to 17th century...The fountain in the center of the yard was eyes stopped to admire it...the stone work, the curves.. I was told by an older student later that Aix is known as the city of fountains..I love fountains.... I got my very own one now in my apartment...but this one has to be plugged in and its about the size of a bowl... Someday I'll have a huge one in front of my house, carved in stone just like the ones I saw in Aix.

But what really blew my mind was the fact that Paul Cezanne studied in this université, (He was forced to study law because his father was a lawyer. But being of a free spirit, and having a mind of his own, he discontinued  it and took up his passion - painting.) lived in this city, walked these streets. I had an attachment to Paul Cezanne thanx to my moms love for Art. When I was little, she'd lent me a little book with paintings to go through and asked me to pick one and reproduce it with my water colours. I remember I'd chosen one by Cezanne titled 'Apples, pears and peaches'

A month later, the université organized a trip to his atelier (studio/workshop). I was thrilled... more ecstatic, really.
I cannot forget that day. We were to meet in front of the université entrance and a van was to take us there. It dropped us off at a little distance from Cezanne's workshop. Amongst a spread of olive trees, as we kept walking, his atelier came into view...I wanted to run in (partly because it was freezing and partly because I was just too damn excited to walk into a space once occupied and breathed in by one of my favourite painters.)
The ambiance inside was romantic (at least to me). Dim sunlight filtered in through the clouds into the room, through the window...I started to rub my palms together to feel warm again, moving about in slow motion as a guide talked to us. I was eyeing one of Cezanne's well known painting 'The bathers', when the gentle patter of soft drizzle against the window beckoned to me....and when I looked through it, I was transported to a higher level of  thought and consciousness...A sort of gradual metamorphoses started to take place in my mind. For me, time actually stopped. I felt like there was no such thing as time any more.... no past, no future...only NOW...only this moment... and I felt like in this moment Cezanne would walk into his atelier at any second and resume the painting of the sculpture of a little boy. And what really caused time to stop, you might ask?.. It was the view. Framed by the window, was the Montagne St. Victoire. I had gone hiking there the previous week with a group of buddies...completely oblivious to the fact that this mountain was a source of both repose and torment to a great artist....And now as I stood drinking in it's beauty, for some bizarre reason (as time had ceased to exist for me) I felt as though while I was up there hiking and complaining how much my feet hurt, Cezanne was painting one of his numerous paintings of Mt. Sainte Victoire. I felt like I was a speck in one of his paintings, a brush stroke, a pixel that formed a masterpiece.

Mt. Sainte Victoire - Paul Cezanne.

Upon returning to the université, I was both exhilarated and depressed. Exhilarated, because I was now on a higher level of consciousness. Depressed, because I'd no one to share it with. I missed my mom at this point. She would totally understand me...
While walking into the courtyard with my hands jammed into my manteau's pockets, I heard someone playing the piano...I have always wanted to play the piano...I have a very good ear for music, but never had the chance to learn under a teacher...I wandered into a hall, following the music and found the source. It was Fumi. I could hardly see her behind the piano. She was so petite. Her tiny hands ran across the keys like magic.Every note she hit was like a word and the music was starting to form sentences. It was her own composition and she was telling the world how lost she felt here. Or maybe she was also going through what I just went through - A gradual change; and her way of expressing it was through music. I sat on the bench not far from her. By now we had become good friends. She must have felt my presence and she stopped. I wished she hadn't. She flashed her shy smile which failed to reach her eyes. I smiled back. I wished I could do something to uplift our moods, so I started playing 'chopsticks' on the piano. Fumi burst out laughing 'coz I was messing it up.

I heard someone else laugh then...I looked around and saw an attractive face. She almost looked Indian."Wow, you guys are so talented... I wish I could play the piano" she said in French with an American accent and introduced herself as Maria. She was Mexican but lived in LA. Extremely shy, Maria is also one of the few people I know who can love unconditionally.
We talked some more and decided to take a walk on Cours Mirabeau, an avenue bustling with happy people in terrace cafés, a path lined by trees on both sides, embellished by bubbling fountains of warm and cold water. We were engulfed with a feeling of joie de vivre. It's an infectious feeling. We walked for about half an hour and stopped near the famous 'Cafe Deux Garcons' - a cafe that has the names of Cezanne and Emile Zola (brilliant writer) attached to it. We decided to stop for a hot chocolate and chill at the famous hang out of these two great minds. That same feeling engulfed me once again.. I felt as though Cezanne and Zola were walking down in the opposite lane of book shops and would enter 'les deux garcons' any minute. I shared this view with Fumi and Maria, and they looked at me like I'd lost it. Maybe I had.
It's amazing what Art can do to you.... and it's best to keep ones feeling to ones self. If I was the highly sensitive, crazy one, Maria had the loving and caring heart, like a warm Tuscan day, and Fumi had the calm and quiet mind like cool, still waters (for now at least).

A week later while walking out of the university, on a notice/advertisement board, I saw an ad. of someone who needed Hindi lessons. I found this quite bizarre. I jotted down the number and decided to call after I went home. At home, after a dinner (again) of overcooked(burnt on the outside) and undercooked (still slimy and runny on the inside) omelette (I know, it really was gross) made by the my old land lady, I sneaked a couple of flavoured yoghurt into my room and ate that, so I wouldn't die of starvation. I dialled the number I'd copied down on my forearm and spoke to Sylvain. He sounded like a nice guy. He spoke  English with a heavy French accent. My French was not yet that good, so we had decided that I'd teach him Hindi, provided he gave me extra help with French i.e. conversing. We decided to meet the next day at an appointed time. Sylvain turned out to be an extremely interesting guy, with vivid blue eyes and longish chestnut hair, tall and gangly, with a hippy-ish air about him. I knew we'd hit it off the minute I saw him. Sylvain turned out to be someone completely in love with India. He was a dedicated yogi and would meditate everyday. His eyes were impossible to look into (that had really freaked me out coz I believe in maintaining eye contact with whoever I'm talking to.)  due to the yoga and meditation techniques he followed religiously. He'd go to India every summer and stay in Benaras with his guru for a couple of months.
I started off with my very first Hindi lesson. अ, आ, इ, ई, उ, ऊ...(my high school Hindi teacher - Mrs Raj Johri would be so proud  of me even though she didn't like me). He said then that he already knew the vowels..and asked me to start off with consonants.. So I started off with क, ख, ग, घ...,and eventually about a month later, he was able to write words... Sylvain introduced me to 'Gaston Lagaffe', who remains till date, my favourite comic character. I have a little Gaston figurine that I have given my son now. He calls him 'Gusgus'.

Another experience I can never forget was when I had gone for a Flamenco performance by  the celebrated Spanish danseuse, actress and choreographer, Cristina Hoyos. It was Arantza who made the plans and I was so glad I went. It was the first time I'd be watching a live flamenco performance, and I'd always loved this form of dance, which can only be defined as full of raw passion, grace and rhythm... and at a certain point, it's almost a spiritual experience.
WE found our seats in the hall and started to chatter excitedly, when suddenly the lights went out and everyone went silent. (If this was India, it'd get noisier and a riot would start :P).
On the stage, a single, soft beam of  gold light fell upon a man dressed entirely in black, sitting on a cube like stool, his wild curls falling on his beautiful, olive skinned face. Keeping his head low, he started to sing in a heavy, husky, rustic voice. It was of course in Spanish. There was no music to accompany him and none was needed I believe,  for his voice was so pure, so sincere, so heart piercing... that for the life of me, I couldn't stop my tears from falling. He sang for a good 10 minutes, and the only thing I could think of was Kerbala.
He then started to add a beat to his tune by drumming on the base of his seat with his hands... and very softly, two more beams of light appeared on stage and there were two beautiful flamenco dancers  who started to move sensuously to the beat of the rhythm created by the singer, their hands, creating mass hypnosis. Only when the guitar started, did Cristina Hoyos enter and completely took over... This experience completely moved me... and again, I wished my mother was sitting next to me, for I'd have loved to share this experience with her.
There are so many more incidents I'd love to put up here, but this is already gotten very long..
Though I'm in touch with Maria online, and have just found Sylvain online too, I have lost touch with Arantza and Fumi. I hope where ever Arantza is, that she is married to the love of her life and where ever Fumi is, I hope she is well, still playing the piano and composing happy notes. I think of her on cool, breezy days, because the  black Zen bell she'd gifted to me for my birthday still hangs in my balcony. Whenever it tinkles, I think of our silent conversations and send her positive thoughts.
As for Cezanne, He has always been an inspiration..If he wasn't good at realism, he was the best at capturing moods and temperatures in any given ambiance.
I sure hope I'll be able to return to Aix en Provence one day... a heavenly little place I know like the back of my hand.

Creative Commons License
This work by Ambereena Razvi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The nursery

Sleepless nights.... from the time the pregnancy test showed me those two red lines, until right now...(it is 5:30 in the morning, and it's my winter break) and I'm sure this is how it'll be for the rest of my life..
My son, with his bright red cheeks, thick black eyelashes fringing huge dreamy, almond eyes, and a dazzling, killer smile had flipped my life upside down... I don't exist any more...! Ali Mahdi...this name is enough to resurrect me and bring a huge smile on my face.

It was the last week of my nine months and I was still adding finishing touches to the nursery, my little sister encouraging me on...' C'mon Aps, We need to finish off the other wall before he comes!!!'...

A cool mint green with lilac arabesques... and a 'tree of life' with birds of paradise, exotic blossoms and prayers for my baby in Arabic calligraphy, forming shapes of birds and fruit.... I felt content. I was ready to welcome him into this world, to love him, protect him, nurture him, educate him, guide him and to inculcate in him strong values and principles.

Little Paradise - The two (orange and blue) birds on the top of the tree are 'YA ALI'*. After experimenting with numerous Calligraphy techniques, I settled for this simple style. *'Ya Ali' is the call for the mighty Imam  Ali, the 1st Imam, in times of need.

Little paradise

Little Dervishes

I got this idea of painting little dervishes soon after I'd finished my 'Sema' painting while I was pregnant. I prefer to expose my son to the beauty and depth of 'Irfan' or 'Gnosis' from a young age, inshallah.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Turquoise and Brown

My family lounge is now complete. It's warm and cozy with a hint of vintage, yet I've managed to retain a contemporary feel.
To paint a room a dark chocolate brown is something not many people do or want. But I've been obsessed with the idea of owning a room of this colour. It's daring, I know....but nothing has ever dared come in the way of my sudden outbursts of creativity.
I have always thought that Brown looks gorgeous with all the shades and hues of blue (from lapis, cobalt, sky to navy) and green (emerald, bottle green, aqua, lime or olive)....I settled for a deep turquoise.
Amidst my vines and tendrils of brown, there are shy little exotic blossoms peeking out from behind them in happy harmony... playfully teasing the eye of the beholder.

It feels great to be done with this's been pending for about 6 months now...With my baby boy playing about and dancing to the beat of 'If you're happy and you know...' and 'Insy wincy spider', I found inspiration through his beautiful smile and piercing, naughty eyes full of love.

The only thing left to do now is the lighting...some diffused light behind the wall mounted television and maybe some hidden lights behind the couch should complete the look and this room for a warm and cozy winter. Can't wait to fire the grill and BBQ some sea food baby!!!

Update: Finished off this room after adding the right kind of lighting and arranging my dried flora in the corner.

Creative Commons License
This work by Ambereena Razvi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Lucky escape

OK - So I dropped my hubby off to work today and was on my way to; and of course, as dreaded, I got caught in the worst traffic jam EVER. Maybe my friends in Dubai will have a good laugh- 'coz I was stuck in this jam for only 45 minutes....but for me it was quite nerve wracking...While in this jam, I played Scrabble on my iPhone, honked like a true Indian, spoke to my brother n sister in Canada, and later to my husband, texted the head of my department 3 times explaining how my car hadn't budged for the past 15 minutes, swore in French, English and Urdu at the cars responsible for the jam and decided what to cook for lunch.

Once we started to move, I got out of that jam only to get stuck in another one within 5 minutes. There was a round about ahead, and a police car with it's annoying blue and red lights on. The policeman sat in it, day dreaming, while we just waited for something to happen. I basically had to take a U- turn, but the cars around the round about were motionless. It looked like one of those scenes from a Sci-fi film where everyone abandons their cars on the roads and runs for shelter 'coz a giant hybrid is walking around having fun stomping anything that gets in its way.

I had to make a decision: Either I prepare myself to be late to work by a good half an hour, OR I pretend I'm an impatient Kuwaiti (which I can pull off, coz I'm a lighter skinned Indian with Iranian genes - add to that my hijab, - et Voilà!!), and do the obvious, try to drive over the curb to get on the other side of the road and avoid the round about all together.......... So I did it, I steered to the left and accelerated onto the curb, which according to my approximate and faulty calculations was 'a little' higher than I expected....The front wheels of my medium sized four wheeler climbed up on the curb. I continued accelerating thinking they would land on the other side allowing the rear wheels to get on the curb and then I'd be free to speed my way to work....BUT NO!!! Oh No sirreeee!!.... The belly of my car settled comfortably on the curb with my wheels rolling away in mid air. Now, at least the people in the cars around me had some entertainment!! As much as I like to keep a low profile, I usually land in situations where the spotlight is on me and this is usually when I wish for a hole to appear so I can disappear into it. All I could say aloud was " Amber, Amber, AAAAMMMBEEERRR!!!!!!!! Why Do You keep doing this to yourself!!!!!Merde!!Woman!!!! U have to STOP!!!!!" .. and other things on the same lines accompanied by profanities and hand movements that usually follow an extremely embarrassing situation.

I started imagining sitting in my car and being towed away.... or running after my car, one arm outstretched,  (Bollywood style), screaming 'NOOOO!!!' while it was being towed away. Praying hard and desperately trying to figure out a solution, I looked in my rear view mirror, and saw a white van with an Indian behind the wheel. His expression told me how 'not funny' my situation was... and all I could do was shrug and look sheepish. The next thing I see - two Indian men trying to manually lift my car from behind, asking me (in Arabic, coz they thought I was Kuwaiti) to step on the accelerator.... I was, at first, stunned but also so, so touched. I rolled down my window to let them know that I was Indian and spoke to them in Hindi...It was adorable how their smiles went from 50 watts to 200 watts!!! They pushed harder and Hallelujah!! or should I say AlHamdulillah!!! I was on the other side (of the road, of course).. My embarrassment turned to ecstasy!! I would not be late to work after all!! I had the goofy, moron expression on my face with my " I'm such an idiot" smile plastered on it for a good 10 minutes.

I wanted to repay my fellow Indians. All I had was my smile and 5 dinars... and I wanted to give it all to them. But before I could turn around and thank them, they were already in their car, smiling at me from ear to ear. I was really moved. It's not everyday that one comes across kindness and help offered so unconditionally. And I have noticed that it is mostly us Indians who willingly offer it. No offense to other nationalities, who were having a good laugh at my predicament...or maybe their reflexes to help a lady in distress are slow.

But seriously, anyone planning to drive like a Kuwaiti, make sure you own a car like one!!!.

P.S: This post is not meant to hurt the feelings of my Kuwaiti friends. I love you guys. I've lived in this country all my life - But y'all know deep down, you drive like Kuwait is a Formula 1 race track!! :P

Creative Commons License
This work by Ambereena Razvi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Summer of 2010: Realisations and Nostalgia.

So, I'm back after a crazy, humid, summer 'break ' from India. It was awful. What global warming, pollution, 'paan' and a complete lack of hygiene and social responsibilities has done to the sublime beauty of India is unimaginable.It breaks my heart to think that this is my homeland... Yes, because I am an NRI, you might say that I've no right to criticize India.... but believe me you - If I'd be living there, I'd have definitely been doing something about it.... I'd even become one of the pain in the @$$ social workers cleaning up India for free shouting slogans and reprimanding public urinators...I don't understand how the super powers of the world can see India as a future power to reckon with... with the fetid smells and pestilence plaguing it still....Yes - out of this breeding ground of exotic parasites, come out our doctors and engineers - only to run out and join the West or the Middle east.....And what of the educated class of India? Where is your pride? I'm not saying that it should be clean and smelling fresh when the NRI's visit in June, July and please - do something about the hygiene!!! for the sake of our kids!!We want to protect our future - our children, not turn them into high resistance mutants.Why does it have to take a Munna bhai or an Amir Khan to resurrect our pride?

I went there with my husband and 10 month old son and stayed at my in - laws. A couple of days later, my baby became ill. The sudden change of weather, food, environment and people took it's toll. I think I met more doctors than relatives during my stay there. I was too overwhelmed by the negativity to even notice the few good things that still exist there.

A long drive at midnight with my son peacefully asleep in my lap took me back down memory lane to my Grand's ancestral house...I was back to being 5 years old and being the center of attention for all my aunts, and older people...A memory of me plucking bright pink blossoms of the willow tree and it's extremely sweet smell hit me as I remembered stringing them together making little garlands for my aunts... I remembered the little puppy I found trapped inside the fence around an old gulmohar tree, and how I'd rescued it, taken it home and given it a bath and some leftover bones to eat....I remembered how clean everything used to be... and how taking a deep breath wouldn't burn my respiratory tract...I remember crawling around the grass in the park after a heavy monsoon rain, looking for 'birbabottis' (red velvet beetles) with my little brother who is the Gerald Durrell of our family.  I miss waking up at 5:30 in the morning and dashing up the stairs to the terrace to watch the Brahman lady opposite our home come out with wet hair and make a rangoli with white rice powder on the front doorstep in the speed of lightening... and then I'd go back to bed with a smile on my face after having viewed a very basic and beautiful form of Art. Eating Mangoes to my fill, until the sugar got to my head and made me woozy is something I can now feel only in memories. And what I miss the most is the rains... oh dear Lord.. the smell of wet earth seductively caressing my senses is a high I miss being on. The soft, fragrant breeze drifting in after a heavy shower enveloping all senses, making me one with it, is now just a memory that I conjure up on unbearably hot, dry and stifling summer breaks in India..... I miss being carefree and blissfully oblivious to anything bad around... because there never was anything bad...

I miss you India....I miss your beauty.... your unpolluted spirit.

I come back into your arms every year eagerly anticipating the feeling of being home... like the embrace of a mother...but now it has started to feel alien.

But no matter what. A mother is a mother...never mind the distance or state (pun intended).

Creative Commons License
This work by Ambereena Razvi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Sema

For years I kept calling you,
And suddenly you came to me at dawn,
And whirled me to the Sema,
You left me with not a moment to spare,
Not even for my morning prayer.
  (watercolours and acrylic)

I painted this Dervish in a trance, in celebration of this verse by Rumi. Someone very special had read it to me and it has been part of me for a very long time.
The colours are a gentle intermingling of warm, cold and earth tones. It is difficult to explain 'Nirvana' or 'Moksha' or 'Najaat' using the visible spectrum of seven colours and the shades in between. 

This Dervish is a representation of myself. His feet are still planted on the ground while his head or mind is reaching for the heavens. I wanted to depict the non existence of time and space when in ecstasy.
The 'Simurgh' which represents the 'self' or the 'soul' in Sufism is depicted here above the head of the Dervish as reuniting with the Source, the celestial Almighty, which is why I painted it in the same colours of the skies.

Passion can never be satisfactorily put on paper or canvas. This is a glimpse of my fleeting imagination... a feeling I felt when I heard the verse above.

Creative Commons License
This work by Ambereena Razvi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Lune.. qui là-haut s'allume.

Something compelled me to part the icy green silk curtain and look up at the sky.... And there it was again.... The full moon....This time though, grayish clouds shaped themselves in front of the moon in such a way that it looked like the moon had eyes... and was looking down at me... Around it were heavenly bodies.. in motion..orbiting around each other and around the moon.. in perfect harmony...It was like a mini galaxy, with the moon in it's was a beautiful....a rare, almost divine sight for mortal eyes.

I looked around and asked my mom for her binoculars....and I found a pair right besides my prayer rug. I picked them up and rushed into the balcony, with my mother behind me, asking me not to look , because there might be shooting stars. Unlike many people, we believe that they are a bad omen. I ignored her, coz I feel that I'm above all this and looked through the binoculars... nothing great.. just a slight magnification....when I wanted more detail.....

The full moon is recurrent in my dreams. In different moods, different ambiances. The overall feeling in my dream is that of awe, peace, happiness.. as though I am able to see that which I am in search of...

I don't know what I am in search of.. whether it is the self, a hidden truth... It's like having tasted something superlatively gourmet and am craving for that taste again.... Or having smelt a divine fragrance and am desperately in search of the source.

I don't know what the allegory of my dreams is.....but I do know that my soul hasn't been at rest in a long, long time.There's is always turmoil somewhere inside me.

Looking up interpretations online, asking my mother for a meaning, discussing this with a friend... have failed to sate me... I'm still thirsty.

P.S: The title of this post 'Lune..qui la-haut..' is a song from the hit theater musical 'Notre Dame de Paris'...this one being one of my favorites. I had the good fortune of attending this musical while in Paris. It was absolutely entrancing!!

This is a really mediocre rendition of my dream...I shouldn't have attempted it...Let my dreams be where I left them.... where allegories are realities.

Creative Commons License
This work by Ambereena Razvi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Abstract feelings... Abstract series

Allo! Amber (pronounced Ombairrr)... Ca va toi? Je voulait juste te dire qu'on a choisi ton dessin pour la carte et les invitation pour l'expo de fin de l'annee.

That was Francoise Conte. She'd called me from Paris to tell me that my design had been chosen to go on the invitations and the poster for the annual exhibition at the end of the year. I was proud.

That was in 1999.

Over the years, like everyone, my experiences, thoughts and emotions varied, matured, have been influenced by others, struggling to burst out on the canvas, or in the form of words....but language, I feel is such a barrier....

I'd been asked to give this work an Islamic but modern feel.
Recently I'd been playing around with my 'chosen design' and came up with this series. I had decided to do each one when in different moods. With my moods - I should have come up with at least a hundred different colour palettes...but lack of time has allowed me only the following. It goes without saying that 'The Philosophy of Warhol' was a bit of an inspiration. I will keep adding to this series....wondering what my final one will look like.

Impression (pun intended)


Cold and warm

Passion - caged

Black light


(mixed media)

Creative Commons License
This work by Ambereena Razvi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Awakening

Sitting with my mother in her room, talking about gnosis, trying to drink it slowly, not gulp it down like I normally have a tendency to...She is telling me the story of a king who had the most beautiful garden. In it he had streams of sweet water, fountains, ponds with water lilies, exotic flora and fauna...peacocks adorned his garden, displaying their beauty and happiness, for it was a happy place. Then one day, the king bound one of his peacocks in a tight leather jacket and placed on top of it a basket. This basket had a hole on the top to allow in some sustenance.......The peacock soon forgot about it's friends and the perfect world outside the basket and started to believe that this was it's world.. and that the jacket was its body... It could breathe, it got food and water.
Sometimes though, sounds and scents floated into it's little world...and it would wonder...

My mother then asked me about the significance of this abruptly finished tale... and I was confused. For a 12 year old, I didn't know where this was going. I was asked to sleep on it. I woke up the next morning after having dreamt of sad peacocks and leather jackets.
I don't know if my mother was disappointed that I hadn't been able to decode the symbolism of this story, but I was absolutely awestruck, excited, overwhelmed after she did... and I fell in love with this new world that had been revealed to me.

Passion stirred from his sleep,
He stretched his limbs gracefully and arched his back,
He looked at me.....smiled and embraced me.
He now accompanies all my senses.
He possesses me.

For those of you who may not have been able to understand the symbolism:
The King is God, the garden is Eden, The peacock is you, the jacket is your body, the basket is this world.

Creative Commons License
This work by Ambereena Razvi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.