Have you ever spent hours of heartfelt investment with beautiful ingredients to bake something incredible only for it to turn out to be a bit of a hot mess?! (forgot the eggs? misread a step? snoozed through the timer…?!) Are you the type of person who gets pissed off, discards everything and dejectedly shoves it into the rubbish or do you dig in regardless with gusto and giggles and a little hope that it wont be as shite as it looks after glaming up the results to the best of your ability?! Nothing like having your fingers covered in something or turning a disaster into a memorable discovery huh?!
To me, India (a very loosely used term here; I'm in no way colouring an entire countries perception with a short time in New Delhi!!) has qualities of a similar incarnation and it's perhaps why I love it so much- I'm all about memorable discoveries. It’s filled with passion and best intentions but it really is a heaving, complex concoction! My experiences are full of surprises and none of the fears I myself, or others projected, but I totally appreciate how this is a very particular animal to take on- to me, it all makes sense in its own way and on its own terms, but it’s in no way ‘easy’ or well baked as such.
I see patterns, colour, fun, logic and love in things which others disregard or are afraid of. India is a wild ride taking you where she wants you to go- the only piece of advice which has had any relevance or truth here was given to me by my wise friend Craig “You know how this works, treat it like an acid trip baby; go with the flow and all will be fine; but fight against it and you will hate the ride”. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to put it. She will give you what you see- if you can spin that into a positive then you will be rewarded ten fold, but focus on the flaws and you could become buried under the tumultuous waves of the realities of life in her rawest, most topsy-turvy manifestation. I acknowledge my gratitude for life comes from a conditioning to accept and understand the chaotic which is a little more unusual than the average, but really, there is just so much to admire. To be honest- I think I love seeming pandemonium because of two things- madness always has method, and I love not knowing things and having new puzzles to figure out; familiarity is not my friend.
Relinquishment. She's your best friend here… and I would say, actually in life in general this quality is by far my most useful. Hold onto preconceptions or bring judgements with you to India and it aint gunna be pretty- there’s a lot of difference if you are being literal in comparisons between where you are from and where you now are. However, If you can find similitude below the superficial and straightforward and into the metaphorical and esoteric, you’ll be onto a winning strategy. Aesthetically, New Delhi is lush, filled with dazzling architecture, stunning parks and vibrant wildlife; she is one of the greenest and most stimulating megalopolises I’ve visited and fuuuucking hell she packs culture punch like no other.
Over the years, I have seen disgruntled travellers bent out of shape within complex environments or at times been so myself, and I have thought- 'this is more than ok for everyone around me, why can’t this work for me?' I’ve learnt, it’s not the place that is messy, it’s more often the perspective of my mind within it and that it is only chaotic until you can fill yourself with local logic- everyone else is managing a system, it’s just different to the alien (that’s the neebie) :) This spin is a good one to be able to whirl when I'm in a foreign environment wanting to do something intense like travelling by motorbike at rush hour after landing in a new locale- because it makes me reflect and focus on configurations and similarities- not what is different, if a person can do this then they are on a sure fire way to finding middle ground, comparability and ultimately a sense of peace. This technique, is in my opinion the 101 of turning furore into fun.
Perhaps a disclaimer is necessary here however- there are many other cofactors and choices I have made in order to sustain a lifestyle like this- I don't drink, I am an experienced judge of character, I've lived and learned about my boundaries through trial and error, I can distinguish structure and rules and have a sensitivity to the ones which can be pushed and ones which must remain etc.. this is what is a bit of a worry to me with things like Instagram, it doesn't tell a back story- people see a post like me hitting clubs here: depending on character, choices and lifestyle, doing this could be incredibly risky for another person… In most instances I keep well away from tourist traps, I rarely stay in hotels and am far more interested in what Mr & Mrs Smith and the locals are up to within my location and I attempt to assimilate into local customs and mannerisms as fast as possible. AirBnB is possibly one of the best things that has happened for expeditions- it has a huge impact on safety and affording a sense of privacy and relative anonymity while travelling; it also presents an opportunity to learn local knowledge and the in's and out's of where you are from your host and community- this is gold. Ya gotta be canny- in upcoming locations there is an increased risk of kidnapping- have you googled your name and seen what a person can view through this? Does your social media profile give the impression someone might pay for you? Are you lax about location tags and travel plans?.. interesting things to keep in mind huh. I play many characters while I travel depending on how comfortable I am within my environment and what level of attention I may want to attract- sometimes there is a lot of incongruity between actions and depiction. In life and especially in travel it can be advantageous to be mercurial.
There is a huge amount coming at ya initially in New Delhi- people stare, people attempt to rip you off, people have a crack at taking you for a ride, there are affronting situations and behaviour, things run on a very different schedule and order- why the fuck would you want to be there some may say?! Because, it’s totally fascinating, how within this it all works, and to be honest, it’s really not that bad- it’s all part of a game. Everyone is trying to make a living and however you roll it, you 'look' like a cash cow- that's the impression anyhow. I see it this way- the person might get to make a little extra off me (definitely it will be a little more than the average local pays)- I want to find a place where that isn't ridiculous. So they get some good karma getting a little extra; they may only have locals for the next week, and I'm a lucky bugger getting to experience new things and selvage some respect within the system. Seriously, no-one’s lost an eye- is it worth getting bent out of shape about? Adjust the strategy for the next round, familiarity takes time ;) You eventually get what you want, where you need to go on time, and somehow, soooomehow in some otherworldly manner the loops link in… but that convoluted path- well I see a lot of extra learning in that squiggly line and I can’t help but to keep wanting to push the envelope to see how far it will all go. Don’t you want to test yourself and see what you can appreciate?!
A societies driving and walking characteristics say a huge amount to me about the underlying psychology of where I am. India is all about looking forwards, self entitlement, shooting the gap and filling space to get somewhere in any way possible now now NOW; traits mirrored in the way the country is growing, some of the major social issues, the ways people interact and the overall development of this nation. I have total admiration for their highly developed sense of spacial awareness however- it's a remarkable and enthralling thing to be immersed within. I’ve seen treadmills being transported by bicycle, cows in the middle of the road, endless people crossing highways (including myself- it’s all in your confidence I tell ya) a windscreen being carried by a passenger on a motorbike, been nearly crushed on one occasion, watched children running along the dividers of the motorway playing balancing games and other wacky eyebrow raising sights, but it has order- yes there's lots of beeping, complete disregard of lanes and relative disregard of traffic signals BUT there are other rules, in someways much more natural rules of flow and hierarchy and of letting others know where you are and how you are coming. It works- you’ll get there- no-one is intending to die.
Positive mind, positive life, looking forwards not back... ok yeah yeah we hear this all the time but it can go waaay to far (this really kind of makes me cringe & I totally don't agree with that last one)… but I think the more important factor in this is actually the digging out of the positive by recognising and evaluating the negative. Yeah, I am a happy go lucky kinda chick, but I’m not living in a bubble. Without experimenting with, imagining and thinking through scenarios, both fabbo through realistic to horrifically bad, we are not facing the realities of life and the consequences within. I would be a very dangerous person within my activities if I hadn't cultured these qualities. This type of expansive recognition to what’s going on, in a way similar to defensive driving, brings about a more compassionate, prepared and balanced way of living to strive for. The actions and skills that are needed within this technique creates successful developments, but I am more and more starting to think in some ways it helps deter the worst of the worst… yes I know this sounds a little superstitious, but honest to God, if I have a creepy inkling and concept and I attempt to hide it, I can be most definitely sure in some way it will become an issue to deal with. Thinking though it, not getting fixated on it. I wonder whether a little of this thought pattern would be helpful here… going forwards with blinkers on leaves a lot of collateral damage behind you.
Self responsibility to moderate one’s expectations, to consciously let go of controlling situations and their outcomes, an ability to take opportunities for completely indirect results, seeing pleasure and finding enjoyment in the wacky, pointless, absurd and wild, honestly recognising humanities flaws (this pinpoints my personal ones also) and social trauma for clearly what it is and ascertaining what I have of value to invest productively within this situation are traits that are very valuable here. India in relativity can be seen as extreme; she is relentless and volatile but I feel calmed by this rather than agitated. When there is so much intensity it is actually easier to find a path through because you just have to; there is no other option. I find something satisfying about having craziness wash past and around me, yet being able to be centred within it (or perhaps I’ve just found my own kind?)- it makes me feel alive and very much within the moment. India is unapologetic, unabashed, totally accurate in it’s in-accurateness and genuine (at times in a backwards I’m gunna rip you off way until you flash your stripes- head waggle waggle) and I have boundless curiosity for people and situations that are authentic and daring.
The fashion, textiles and colours I have seen in Delhi outstrips anything I have seen worldwide.. the only close rival being Japan- they are simply out of this world- the detail, the embroidery, the colour... YYYY.UUUU.MMMM. These shots were taken at the exclusive New Delhi boutique Ogaan.
Recently a beautiful man wanted to enquire about where my thoughts take me; in particular what my fantasies are. It threw me a little- you see, I live them, they are eclectic, spicy, wild, racy and sweet; at times dirty, exotic & chaotic; at others clean, fresh and gentle. They are filled with experiences and people which mirror and reflect my visions; passionate, seductive, individual, provocative, unique, complex, brave, diverse and courageous souls who I treasure. I construct these concepts over months, years and decades, piecing ideas together, following things people say to me, testing out theories, clicking little desires together; working through and looking at apprehensions; by shaping these, they create my reality. Facing things, this is really important- I am blatant within myself at really being honest about what I am up to, what I am thinking, who I am and what needs to be worked on. Fantasies implies make-believe, I don't really understand this- mine are real; I go get them and they come to me.
In another instance a friend asked me who my work derived from; who inspired me. Again I was reflective and a little stumped at the time. I rattled off names of artists I loved- but it's on their own terms that I do so- my work does not look like theirs. And I thought.. yes everything comes from something- but my method is not developmental in such a literal sense. My experiences; my emotions inform my work much more than seeing things. As a I grow older these become more powerful and defined as I learn more about them. I see what is available to me at the time I am feeling creative and how this material fits best with what I want to express; is it tactile? Is it 3D, 2D? Does it challenge me or am I bored by it? Does it relate to a memory? What does it make me feel while I am playing with it? Is it evocative of who I was, who I have become, or where I want to go? These are the things I am asking myself. The technique of expression is then either a development upon an existing skill or requires me to take those attributes and apply them to a new one. My life has a dominant and distinctive strategy however- adventure/ experience, creativity/ production, planning/ plotting and round and round we go…!
A selection of Nepalese and Bangeli deliciousness- predominantly homemade, which ya'll can appreciate is the next level up on mindblowingly tasty made with looooove =^+^= Sushmita I ❤ your cooking!
For example: when I was in Japan early 2015, I knew I wanted to challenge myself to make very detailed large scale 2D artworks. Over those adventures I saw many detailed and amazing works and had exposure to new aesthetics. When I came home midyear I was in Gordon Harris and I came across Gorman graph paper and it reminded me of memories with my father and a fascination I had had with that paper as a child- I liked exploring these and my mathematical mind liked the concept of making images within a framework, but this wasn’t something I had literally seen while I was away. Pulling on my skills in cross-stitch, embroidery, drawing and other mark making techniques and previous talents, I melded them together to create a new process for me. What was different this time though was I wanted to challenge myself to have faith in not planning the composition (I raised the stakes on myself)- I just started making the marks and trusted myself to be guided to create arrangements expressing my thoughts as I went along- this playful, happy, intense, meditative and fun process was new and suited to my headspace, my identity at the time and my accessible assets. So many factors have to be in play for things to work out and I have to make these line up- people; access to resources, income at the time, time itself, my inclinations… to me this is where the true value of the work lies- in my adaptability; this is what makes these unique, irreplaceable and precious. To create to a level of excellence with diversity takes immense dedication; it has taken me decades to create what I do next and this will have direct ties to what is happening now and every single thing that has shaped me to this point.
More and more I recognise patterns and links between how I navigate life and build my ideas. I am constantly feeding bigger concepts with new tidbits of related abstractions, inspiration and direction. These come to me through day-to-day life; sometimes in the strangest of places, but I disregard nothing and file each experience, each learning lesson and concept where it needs to go into the areas I am focused on. It's in the tumultuous curve balls; when it's got really really fucking hot in the kitchen, that the most valuable epiphanies are revealed. I believe every heartfelt investment (it’s our choice if we make these good or bad) is building our lives and orientation- literally constructing how and what comes to us and what we manifest. This is why it is essential to have the freedom to follow and arrange these dots and that we refrain from painting the colours of these for others. Enabling each other to write our stories legitimises who we are, our individual identities and our exclusive purposes.
Most people underestimate the effect of mirror reality; how we behave professionally in most instances has strong ties to our personal lives and vica versa. I adore people who are driven to live authentic unorthodox existences because it demands a consistency of character, an honesty to themselves and those around them, and because it inherently means they treat their loved ones with the same respects. To do this well means developing delicately balanced skills in order to be able to articulate what we need and how we need it without guilt about being unusual or hurting those around us- this is extraordinarily complicated. I find as a woman, seeking balance between ambition and acquiring what I need for a particular reason without endless justification can cause friction and conflict- with others but also with myself; that self destructive/ sabotage tendency can run rather deep in us wee creatives. Balance is easier for me when I am independent, but infinitely more elaborate (but wonderful) when we have grown to be able to incorporate this with partners, lovers and friendships.
Being an only child and very independent from young has meant I had a good hold on being assertive as an individual, but not so good in intimate partnerships. The last few months has challenged me to learn more about being better with those who love me; I needed to learn I cannot control how others feel and how they want to share that, nor is it fair on myself to push them away or restrain their freedom of expression towards me with powerful emotions. Interestingly, I was good at giving this but a total hypocrite at receiving it- we live we learn huh! I can get protective of my pride and defensive of my vulnerability when I feel I have overly exposed my emotions. My pattern in partnerships sees me at times to slip into a differing and more accommodating seat, a place where I inevitably become bored, repressed, uncomfortable or agitated- but with only myself to blame. Being exceptionally accommodating is a rather useful trait within a nomadic and transient life- but it’s not so good when it spills into personal interaction. Learning why I felt this was how I should behave or why I do this has been fascinating and immensely valuable in order for me to not repeat patterns of the past, and to paint a different vibrant future; fear of rejection can come in sneaky packaging.
Life can be totally ironic huh; my greatest fear has also been the thing I am most fascinated and enamoured with- I love to love, but had huge trepidation about being cherished in return. This fear having legitimacy due to past experiences- but something that had the capacity to be very detrimental if I decided I wanted to carry it with me into my present and future. One foot was planted in being scared of the restrictions upon my freedom, another in fears of rejection and increased levels of emotional risk for myself and loved ones- powerful emotions have volatility. It has been a complete revelation to realise that accepting adoration can be unrestrictive and incredibly empowering, but within this there is a responsibility to myself and others to not detrimentally compromise who I am and also to be honest about how I feel, where I stand and what I want to do. We feel certain ways and have instincts for particular reasons to be who we are needed to be; conditional and unconditional love are fascinating siblings.
There has been an internal battle going on between being grateful with what is provided and available, and getting what I require emotionally to be happy in my life for my needs. My expectations on myself of these requirements have been unrealistic and inaccurately appraised- me trying to fit my emotional desires into prefabricated boxes- not good for moi, not good for anyone around me either. To love, to be loved, to whom, how, where; to provide/ to be provided for; how powerful these energies can be.. these can be really touchy topics when they aren’t as others have described or what is the social norm- when I really started feeling these things out my intellectual concepts and my emotional ones were sometimes quite in opposition. I decided, it is not up to me to control my feelings, we can rearrange and question thoughts, but these responsive reactions are hardwired for a purpose. In my opinion, a power much bigger than me decides how these happen and where they takes us- all I can do is recognise each as it’s own and make the best of them within a balanced sense of compromise and contest.
Recently a man discussed with me a concept of how as humans we steal each other's energy. These methods are used to attract emotional attention and investment from one another in order to gain power. These four strategies we all use in varying measure, but we will have a natural preference to one particular way over another depending on our upbringing and conditioning. There is Aloof, Woe is Me, Interrogator and Intimmidator. It has been a fascinating concept for me to ponder, as you have just read, emotional investment and provision have been prominent concepts of recent.
India is helping me become assertive (eek I here some say, you are rather formidable as is)- I’m not talking about an external confidence or vocal sense (although this is needed here as a fair, Western woman- it is just reality that my sex/ skin/ colouring has a big role to play in how I am treated- and seriously, it has far less to do with noise and more to do with presence)- it's an internal strength, a sureness of self and my decisions. Nowhere else would be as perfect to help me work though my thoughts and impressions and develop further in these ways. Just as nowhere else was as perfect as being isolated in a house on top of a cliff in Japan to find a new strategy for communicating my feelings without articulating them through speech. This is the value of travel and pushing that comfort zone to the wall- life slams into full exposure.
Holi was wonderful, although I didn't get half as demo'd as I thought I would- everyone was rather timid and respectful in colouring and drenching me!
My memories from childhood and curiosity with India has spanned decades and it is wonderful that furnishing this passion has brought me to this land now. My love towards those that have assisted me in this adventure- you know who you are, is limitless, but it is also extended to a lifetime of people and situations that have accumulated towards this passion also. As I have become stronger, I have met others also on incredible journeys of discovery- life colliding our trials and tribulations, joys and delights; enabling us to help each other grow through participation and contribution. To share with others and unravel our anxieties and intimacies to me is the kernel of existence. We are reverberations of each other, and when we get this mix right; if the best we can be is what we strive for, then there is only benefit for ourselves and for anyone who encounters us in the process. For this luxury; to be able to explore, live and create while doing what makes me tick, fizz and flourish makes me ecstatic, eternally grateful and empowered.
आपका बहुत बहुत धन्यवाद!