What Ahmedabad's art world is doing in solitude

What Ahmedabad's art world is doing in solitude


‘I could be bounded in a nutshell,’ Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a young man of uncommon sensibility, says, ‘and count myself a king of infinite space.’ The current lockdown with the need for social distancing provides us an opportunity to see if we could say this. It is interesting to see how resourcefully individuals respond to this situation, unprecedented in the history of mankind. There are countless instances of people finding the situation dull and getting depressed. There are those few at the same time who can claim to be distant cousins of the Prince of Denmark.

Not that given the choice they would have welcomed the isolation. Having had no other choice however this small bunch, following an initial shock and confusion, not only manage to keep depression at arm’s length but also turn isolation to solitude. Loneliness is unwelcome and you look for freedom from it.  Solitude is a welcome state of mind in a welcome ambience. It pleases. It is freedom, freedom to talk with self as also to engage in creative pursuits. ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways …’ a sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning begins. Let us count the ways some of us in the art world enjoy their solitude.

A veteran painter who divides his time between painting and writing poems has no complaints about being at home all the time. On facebook, a young painter is always seen absorbed painting on her canvas. On completion of her Board exam,  the first thing a teenage Kathak dance learner did was to get guidance from her teacher on phone and resume dancing with encouragement from her mother, who is a senior dancer herself. A young poet, a genuine one, cut a higher notch in her expression and compassion when she developed on April 5 the motif of an earthen lamp that spread darkness instead of light from its flame. ‘My mornings get illumined every day by a young music composer having an exceptional literary sensibility forwarding a Gujarati poem he has musically interpreted.

One such poem, for example, written by Niranjan Bhagat, he sent the other day ironically assumed significance in the time of social distancing. The poem ran  :

Come, let’s walk together / We’ll warmly greet everyone who meets us

Where does the free air that comes in / Invite us to?

The paths are new, the wayfarers unknown / Come, let’s move with them

Step in step now and forever.


You need not turn or look arty to enjoy solitude. You need to get engaged in a pleasurable pursuit for it. A friend got inspired to change gender roles in household work, took a broom in hand and tried to sweep dust off all floors in his house the other day with disastrous consequences perhaps to his back. Nevertheless, broom in hand he got himself photographed and had it posted on Facebook. I found the situation mock-heroic and in the style of Alexander Pope composed a few lines in Gujarati. Let me try to turn them into English :

He gallantly lifted his hand and roared, ‘Get me the broom,

And go sit on the swing, but don’t forget to click my photo

I’ll put it on Facebook and then see how I look!

The administrator of one of my Whatsapp groups, a highly enthu one, put it on ‘Admin-operated only’ mode. The e next day I turned a mushayara poet and wrote :

Lagataa tha delete karane me zindagi yoonhi kat jayegi

Ab  ek ghanta poori zindagi-sa lambaa lag rahaa hai …


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