6 TIPS that simplify my life when I paint:

I love to paint …. just for the pure joy of trying to create something that has beauty. Canvasses, glass bottles, pots ….. whatever. If i feel the flow I paint

When i create, i like having everything at arm’s distance so that I’m in the flow. And yet earlier, I used to find myself getting up ever so often to clean brushes, refill the water, clean my palette while changing from darker to lighter colours. Let’s not forget the mess on the floor that mom would look at 

I find the effort of constant interruptions annoying. 
what’s more annoying is that the palettes & containers start looking shabbier with every session of painting and storing them is an issue.

Also, I’m a big fan of recycling so I prefer to reuse something before discarding it.

here’s what really helps me whenever I sit down to paint:

1) Put lots of newspaper in and around you while working. Brushes have a habit of leaking, bottles like to overturn unexpectedly and canvasses simply fall over flat. If you don’t want to be yelled at, the old newspaper will save you.

2) Use thermocol / plastic glasses (used for serving soft drinks) to hold water for cleaning brushes. If you can recycle a few after a party, you’d be helping the environment. Dispose them once you’re done

Another really easy, disposable container is a soft-drink / mineral water bottle cut in half. If you’re going to keep long brushes standing in the water while painting, this is a pretty cool help

3) Wash brushes before storing, with soap water. Whether you’re working with oil colours or acrylics, the brushes harden if not washed properly. Turpentine is the right way, but not everyone likes the smell. Plus it’s expensive these days. I have started cleaning my brushes with a little detergent powder & liquid soap. Works really well and the brushes retain their softness!

You can choose to keep a glass of soapy water at hand so that you don’t have to get up between changes

4) Recycle Old bottle caps & tea-light containers. Use them to mix colours while creating shades and tones.

I have stopped investing in plastic r wooden palettes for years now. I don’t have to keep cleaning the palette if the shade is not right. Also, I don’t have to use the bottle cap of the existing paints to experiment!

I dispose them once I’m done. My helper sells off these used ones to the raddiwala, so everyone’s happy

5) Old t-shirts as rag-cloths. This one’s an “old as the hills” suggestion 
but, a reminder nonetheless. Clothes that you’ve worn enough should be given away to someone who could use them still.

But sometimes these clothes, especially t-shirts & p’jamas are too shabby to give away. Cut them into big squares and stock them as rag-clothes. Siblings should be requested to donate to this worthwhile cause !!

When you wind up, dump the disposables in some of the newspaper and trash it.

6) Once you wash your hands, do try and moisturise them with cream, vaseline or even coconut oil. The colours we generally use are not known to be toodamaging to the skin, but they are chemicals after all. They do tend to dry our hands, so it’s good to be gentle to ourselves even as we create

I hope these suggestions will add some simplicity & ease while all you awesome artists continue to create



The Man Who Saved Pumpelsdrop (re-narrated by Suhana)

Here’s a story I read at school and it has remained with me

Despite several google searches, though I found references, I couldn’t find the actual story by J.M Turner – so I decided to rewrite it as I remembered it!

Having recently witnessed how the Recession could bring down an entire nation – I realised how important it is to spend – if an economy has to flourish, not just function

And I personally believe that women are the ones that keep our economies thriving. While men can spend on weapons & cars, a few basic pairs of jeans and shirts and manage quite well …. the women go out and spend on much more – clothes, perfumes, jewellery, perfumes, shoes and more

So let’s spend some and save some – and keep our nations prosperous!!!!!

(and say your secret thanks when your women spend 😉 )

The Man who Saved Pumpelsdrop

– James Walter Turner

(re-narrated by Suhana Bhatia) 

The aftermath of the World War II was the Great Depression. All of Europe was in the throes of recession. Everyone feared when they would run out of what they had…. money, food, stocks…. so they kept what they had to themselves!!

People went out and bought supplies on credit – afraid they might never be able to repay it… and kept their last pennies saved for an even rainier day!

The town of Pumpelsdrop, somewhere in the heart of a once flourishing Europe, had seen great days! It was the connecting town between other tourist cities and travellers, stopped there, shopped there and spent there

Proof to it was the Rolls Royce showroom that stood, listless, with a dust-covered RR that had nowhere to go. The owner Paul had still held on to this last glorious memento of prosperity

Everyone in Pumpelsdrop was nervous, afraid and angry .. at themselves, at each other and at the war!

That freezing winter evening, Paul decided to shut his automobile showroom and go home an hour earlier. No one was expected anyway!

As he locked the grills, he was requested by a gentleman waiting behind to show him in. Well- dressed and refined, he explained that he was from a neighbouring town and now that he was travelling, he needed to have his own car. ANd it had to be a Rolls-Royce! Being from an illustrious family, he was not going be seen in a hired automobile!

He gave Paul his card and a check for 200 pounds – as down payment – with a request that the car be ready when he passed Pumpelsdrop next weekend!

Paul, unable to believe his stroke of luck, rubbed his tears in joy and relief! He rushed home and shared the blessed news with his wife. Still in tears, overwhelmed, he went in to his bedroom and opened his cupboard. He took out 75 pounds and called his wife  Ursula. He wanted her to go buy herself a new winter coat that she had been putting off – in order to scrimp and save for the other expenses of the household. She had sacrificed all these months and she deserved to be well-dressed now!! After all she was Paul’s wife and good times were round the corner

He realised that if people from other cities had started spending spending, the Great Depression must be over! So, besides getting the Rolls’ refurbished it was probably time to order other cars! 

His wife,, Ursula, rushed to the coat shop and instantly picked a lavish coat for herself and a thick new jacket for Paul – the good man really was a sweetheart – how could she not pick something for him? A prudent spender, with a few pounds left over she paid off some of the credit on her grocery bill as well, If good times were here, and the remaining money on the car would be coming any day, she could afford to be doing this!

Within hours, the coat maker ran to the wine-store, paid off his bills and bought school supplies for all his 6 kids – their education was not going to suffer anymore! His drinking had caused enough suffering.

The wine-store owner went to Paul to check on a good car to buy – he wanted to start living the good life too

Word spread around town that tourists would be on their way soon, and it was time to spruce things up – some spit & polish and brand new paint!

Cash stored in the boxes came out – spending attracted more spending! Money attracted money!

A fortnight later Pumpelsdrop was ready for tourists and with Christmas on its way – the little inns in and around had guests booked in advance

A month went by, but there was no news of the scion of the illustrious family. Other cars were bought and sold – but the ROlls ROyce stood – polished and ready

Paul fished out the visiting card he’d been given and asked about Mr. So & So and the booking of the car. The person on the other side told him that Mr. So & So was indeed the son of the family – but having been declared a lunatic at an early age, had been living in an asylum for 2 years. He had run away recently and was going around giving signed cheques to stores that caught his fancy

With the recession gone, the worries of money over and the great business that was coming in – Paul smiled and kept the phone! 

The man had saved Pumpelsdrop from further decline and probably the ripple effect had continued all around Europe!

This Christmas was going to be a good one after all….. the bells were ringing and ushering in joy

Dads – heroes forever…..

Time to honour all dads on world FATHERS’ day!!-our first teachers (along with moms naturally!), our buddies and our natural opponents every time we attempt to break free to find our own place under the sun!

These are men who held us as we took our first breaths, couldn’t handle their own kids’ puke, translated vague words in the middle of the night, made Geography seem fathomable & Geometry stop going in circles! 

Guys who were proud to talk of our crayon sketches to all and sundry. till we started getting embarrassed by the same praise 20 years later. Ordinary people who become superheroes on days when we just need to be rescued!

Men who don’t mind bonding with their sons’ girlfriends because their “boys will be boys” – but will drive away any potential, normal, regular, sweet guy who barely befriends his daughter, – just by looking (read GLARING) at him. no one is good enough for their daughters!!!!!!

who seem like villains on 1 day & the Dalai Lama on the other!

Fathers are just fellows who start off as protectors till they begin slowly turning into magicians cum plumbers cum carpenters cum drivers cum bodyguards cum friends cum competition for the tv remote !!!!!!!!!! 

Heroes who teach us

to change lightbulbs,door handles and ourselves when the time is right;

to cry at the movies when no one’s looking;

to be brave when everyone’s looking to u for support even if it’s crumbling inside,

to do what you’re supposed to do without being told

and to learn to let go when it’s time for their fledgelings to FLY!!


“Swa” – learning at the unlikeliest of places

It could be a manic Monday morning, a traffic jam, a lazy afternoon with a book or a slightly longish wait at the doc. But messages come to at the oddest of places

The Universe sends us gentle reminders all the time, to keep us afloat on our journey,or just to tell us we’re doing okay wherever we are at this moment.



2 weeks ago, I was back at my doc for the Homeopathy medicine that I’m trying to switch over to. The usual wait, meeting my doc, getting my packet of pills & powders before I head back home. That’s the routine. I paid for my visit and suddenly remembered that I had an unasked query, so I excused myself back into his cabin for a reply.

Dr. Patel’s reply done with, I turned back to the door and I spotted the square calligraphic painting on the back wall with the syllable “Swa” hand painted in Sanskrit along with a collaborating quote….. “what does this say?” I asked him

He smiled, read out the 2 line Sanskrit quote (a personal favourite of his), and then loosely translated the essence for me. A gift from one of his patients, this quote said “be your own true self (Swa)….. trying to be like others, won’t make you like them and you will never be who you are completely. You as you, are perfect…. If you are merely a garden flower, be content in being a garden-flower.  Don’t try being the rose. Roses are cut and sold in the market…. but the garden flower stays” 

I head back home trying to grasp some more, asking myself questions. There was so much more revealed in those words…..

“The Universe has created a place and purpose for you! “

“You are so awesome – just as you are!!”

“When you do nothing, nothing is left undone” – Lao Tzu

My “AHA moment” of the week had arrived …. it had slowed me down and it had made me smile. 

That little verse had fitted on a fabric of 1 ft x 1 ft, but there are still more layers of meaning hidden in it. Beautiful ancient wisdom that mirrors teaching from Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and Tao all at once, as you taste a drop of contentment in its words

For that one moment, my doctor also became my teacher…..

Well! Well! …. 🙂

So?? what message has come to YOU lately?? 🙂




To deserve before we desire

My little bro reminded me yesterday of what my grandpa used to tell him

“Deserve before you DESIRE”

It’s been ringing in my head all day!!

especially as i am witness to Partition second time in History. The lines are drawn not over religion, nor caste nor gender. It’s a battle for wealth. Everyone’s ready to seize whatever they can, as much as they can, as soon as they can…..

Have they earned what they’re taking??

the winner is the one who’s ready to walk away from the drama, the chaos & the greed … willing to LET GO!

Magicians without Borders


The Santa Claus of Magic:


As I waited for the American magician Tom Verner to reach the Churchgate restaurant (Mumbai) we’d decided to meet at, I amused myself as I wondered if he could turn me into a rabbit and whether I would go on to live a 24-carrot life?


The first thing I said to myself as I looked into his deep blue, bespectacled eyes and his wavy pepper-white hair & beard is – oh! Santa Claus!. Here was a man who should almost have been cast in a children’s film – playing the eternally lovable Christmas icon. Little did i know that he’s been playing him in real life as he travels around the world, surrounding himself with the most under-privileged & traumatised of children – distributing gifts of “magic” & “hope”


He had brought along his friend Ravi Nair, of Our Children – an institute that connects with various children’s organisations in India, and the reason why Mr. Magician has connected to the NGO Prerana,among others. Thanks to them, he keeps returning to India every 3 months with his sackful of tricks & treats for kids whose mothers are sex-workers, always at the risk of being pushed into it themselves.


Not only has Verner performed for underprivileged children across the city (in places like Faulkland Road, Kamathipura, Vashi, New Bombay, Thane, Santacruz) in the last 3 years, but since a year has been teaching Prerana’s children magic, so that they can eventually make it a vocation


Somehow, I wish, that the lives of these children that I’m working with – become more successful, dignified and they open up. They have been so closed and limited until now”.


He has already connected with 2 Indian magicians so that as soon as the children from Prerana are ready for “prime-time” they can start being paid for performing.


Here is a man who, at 13, left his home to join a monastery for 7 years. He was pursuing his Ph.D in psychology when he met “an extra-ordinarily good magician” Milton,his real teacher – then a patient undergoing rehab for heroin-addition! After pleading with him week after week, for months, Milton finally consented to teach him – one trick. One trick became many, and by the time Milton was ready to leave the rehab-centre, he and Verner had jointly opened a “Magic Shop” back home in USA.


I would spend half my time in the Magic Shop and half in the psychiatric ward. Occasionally my roles would get confused and I would pick up the phone in the hospital saying “hello!Magic Shop” to some psychotic person on the other side!!!”


His bond with India is an old one. 22 years ago, when his wife and he decided to adopt a child, he had no doubts in his mind that he would come to India and that’s how he brought 1 year old Mira home.


Another Mira – Mira Nair and her film Salaam Bombay – brought him to India once more. Through her website, he contacted the Salaam Baalak Trust and eventually associated with the organisations he’s working with now. He narrates stories of transformation – where the most inhibited or troubled of children are slowly discovering magic and the art of making the “impossible” into the “possible”, giving them hope for their own lives to change. He encourages them to use story-telling as part of their act and has sometimes been moved to tears watching them present a regular sleight-of-hand with a heart-rending tale to go with.


His roles as a psychologist, magician and teacher blend when he works with the children, allowing him to understand why a seemingly minute issue has deep-rooted reasons.


Verner or “woooooh uncle”, as kids lovingly call him, initiated “Magicians Without Borders” with his wife & partner Janet, in 2001 after his chance trip to Kosovo (Eastern Europe), where he ended up performing for refugees.


the psychologist Carl Jung calls it ‘synchronicity’ – when things happen, not by chance, but by meaningful coincidence. I think that there are invisible connections in the world, that sometimes, if our minds are open, become visible. That is what I believe is real magic – which is much more amazing that the tricks that i – a “jaadugaar” do. My wife & i refer to these as “Angel Moments” – as if the angels conspired to make something happen”


Well, between the Angels, a real life Santa Claus and a swish of magic in conspiracy, there are children in this city who are finding their lost innocence again and learning to believe that sometimes the “impossible can be made possible”


As he says “A magician’s job is not just to amuse or amaze but to awaken – Hope”