Crossroads to the World

(A post from the past that never got published. Which I read and loved so here it is now ūüôā

Times Square, New York City is considered the crossroad to the world. It is said, if you stand there for a while you will definitely meet someone you know also passing through.

In my small quiet Austrian town in the Alps of Leoben, I found¬†another kind of crossroad. One where you might not meet someone you knew before but you’ll definitely meet kindred spirits, make friends and enjoy a varied repast.

Two years ago my life swung 180 degrees when I found myself living in Austria. From the maddeningly huge Delhi, of which I had been an organic part off, to a foreigner in a quaint little town. Bumbling along, learning the language, coming to terms with the food and wanting strongly to become part of this world, along came my way a local Facebook group. I came in contact with a few people and started making friends.

One of the activities the group promotes is a monthly get-together for foreigners living around the town along with like minded locals. It’s called √áafe International’ and each time a different cuisine is served. Prepared by a group of people belonging to that country or region, living here.

In January the theme was South America and this month it was our turn to present India. To showcase our hospitality, culture and our cuisine. What fun we had planning the menu. The Sunday afternoon meetings to discuss.

Cooking day, with it’s last minute dashes to the grocery stores.

And finally the Cafe itself. A beautiful warm and sunny Saturday. A lovely group of guests. Conversations galore and in the midst of it all, I¬†felt I’d because a part of this town.






Perfect happiness

The quiet, rare joy of enjoying the work of an artist previously not known.
Hans Robert Pippal

In a medium that’s my particular favourite and quite uncommon.

To top it further was the subject depicted.
Streets of Vienna from the late 20th century. Vital and vibrant.

Vienna, 8th district. Theater in the Josef Strasse in Winter. ca 1975 Albertina, Vienna ©Bildrecht, Vienna, 2016

There is a special fragile quality of paintings from the 1970s , 80s and 90s.

Artists were facing a challenge from photography like never before. Painting had not found its new space that it has today in the 2010s.

As art became more abstract and non-representative, paintings like these, masterly in their confidence and skill, depicting reality as it was, yet more than just a capture of the scene, were rare. A treasure for the viewer today.


Candid homesickness

When I feel homesick, I go through my photographs from India¬†and most times it’s the simple spontaneous shots that ¬†evoke the greatest emotion.¬†Like this family waiting to cross the road when my car came to a stop at a crossing.

Yes beauty is in the perfectly composed, dramatically lit shot of the perfect Taj Mahal. Yet these shots, often off in composition and exposure are so much more powerful in their ability to strike a cord. The changing expressions creating bonds¬†reaching across time, space… lives.


What makes a museum?

In conversation at the Neues Museum, Berlin

Earlier this year museum visiting the acclaimed Museum Insel in Berlin,¬†I ducked in at the¬†Alte Nationalgalerie. To¬†browse at leisure through it’s rich collection of ¬†Romantic and Impressionist paintings and sculptures.

In the entrance hall, “STOP!!”, commanded a staff member. “All coats MUST be deposited at the cloakroom.”

This essential cloakroom turned out to be a little hole in a wall tucked into one side of the lobby. It’s entrance like the narrow¬†one-man-only corridors in medieval forts. A hassled lady stood behind the desk while groups of excited schoolkids meleed around for their coats and bags.
Feeling from this moment on that this was not the right place to soak in art, I ventured in further nevertheless.

Inside the museum continued in a similar vein. Poorly planned, badly lit, over heated and rudely staffed. Its  Constables and unparalleled collections of German Impressionist painters made it a treasure trove, yet barely half an hour later, I was standing outside.

History and art had lost to the quality of the experience.


Part of me thinking it might just be pleasanter to find a nice Coffee Shop, I walked over next to the Neues Museum. The Neues Museum is located on the same plaza. Standing physically at 90 degrees to the Alte Nationalgalerie. As an experience it proved to be a full 180 degrees different.


“Hallo!” smiled the man at the entrance as he let me into the¬†large foyer.

There I was free to meander and explore.


I joined a stream of happy visitors, engrossed in the Art. Surrounded by priceless statues and objects from ancient Egypt, some of the earliest human creations. Including the exquisite statue of Nefertiti. In terms of importance in art, just this one statue could have perhaps competed with a whole floor of art in the previous Museum.


A couple of hours later, mentally saturated, I still didn’t want to leave. And next time in Berlin I’ll be back there.

So what makes a museum?

Is it the quality of its collections or the quality of the experience?

What is the purpose of a museum?

Is it only to collect and save or is it also to interest and involve?

Does art stored in vaults serve a purpose or is art valuable only when it is viewed, interacted with? When it is loved and appreciated.






Some warmth and sunshine

In this season of cold and often grey days,
I bring you some warmth and sunshine and invite you to visit my new website.

While it has been several months in the making and much still needs to be done,  I hope you like what I have there so far.
I look forward to your comments and views.

Walk with your head held high


Walk with your head held high because high above, you just might chance upon a Rainbow cloud. Beautiful to spot and photograph, these are extremely high altitude clouds that form in extreme low temperatures.


rainbowcloud1As always  Wikipedia is the go-to for the explaination. Read the science behind this beauty here


Is this the defining moment for this century?

Flash back to the middle of the last century. Thousands of people fleeing a terror regime in Germany and across mainland Europe. Undergoing unimaginable hardships to reach peace and security in the USA and England.

The people who were fleeing proved their grit, endurance and ingenuity by the very act of fleeing. Once there, they proved their loyalty as well to their new countries. For the countries that took them in, specially the USA and UK, they proved the catalyst for breakthroughs in science, excellence in the arts and a new vigor to social and cultural dynamics.


So much so that English became the language of new ideas, the language of science and communication replacing German and French.

Today it¬†is¬†the same situation again. The terror is centered in the Middle East and the immigrants are Asian but it’s the same terror. A terror of religion and race. The routes and methods taken by the fleeing populace¬†as¬†arduous as before.

A refugee is a person who is outside their home country
because they have suffered (or feared)
persecution on account of race, religion, nationality,
or political opinion;
because they are a member of a persecuted social class of persons;
or because they are fleeing a war.

But the wheel has indeed turned.

While the countries that benefited from last century’s exodus¬†close their borders¬†and try every ¬†method, diplomatic or otherwise, to keep the present immigrants out. Germany welcomes these refugees. Angela Merkel standing up¬†for them, silencing the few odd groups of her own countrymen who protest against her stance. “Being the country to which so many want to migrate should be a source of pride” she says.

‚ÄúThere can be no tolerance of those who question the dignity of other people,‚ÄĚ she said, standing in front of placards accusing her of being the people‚Äôs traitor.

How will this present situation play out? Going by historic examples it will definitely have a positive result for Germany. Making it richer in every aspect.

Needless to say this lady has proven to be a hero.