Monday, January 18, 2010

Best foot forward....

It was one hell of a day - all good, though. So.... no complaints. I was photographed for a foreign magazine by a compact, cheerful Italian named Chiara Goia.... with a Hasselblad! After years and years...a 'real' camera to pose in front of! Digital photography has made ace photographers out of amateurs, but top professionals from the old school still prefer cameras like the boxy Hasselblad with its square format- the Rolls Royce of cameras, according to me.Chiara was efficient, relaxed and competent. Chiara now lives and works in this competitive city - she has the right credentials, and more importantly, the right attitude to make it big here.

Earlier, I was invited to a supremely elegant afternoon carefully put together by Tikka Shatrujit Singh for the LVMH President, Yves Carcelle , who flew in from Paris just for a few hours to visit the old store at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which was totally destroyed during the 26\11 attacks, and to say 'Hello!" to the latest Louis Vuitton store that opened this evening at the Taj Land's End, Bandra.He has been with LVMH for twenty long years and has some fascinating stories to narrate about the world's number one luxury brand. But let me reveal just one 'secret' for now - LVMH has decided to celebrate Diwali in all its stores worldwide this November, and putting these spectacular displays in place across all the store windows globally, is my old buddy, the immensely gifted Rajeev Sethi from Delhi! Look out for the Festival of Lights in all the countries that retail LVMH products. I got so carried away with the fantasy, I promptly suggested the creation of a 'Lakshmi Bag' from LVMH, to mark the occasion. Mon. Carcelle seemed to like the idea! What could be more appropriate than the Goddess of Wealth inspiring a gorgeous bag that can be stuffed with money by ladies who lunch?? Talking of which ( lunch ), Chef Oberoi had excelled himself at this one. His Seabass Kapurthala was memorable. Paired with vintage Dom, it made heavenly music on the tongue.


This column appeared this morning in the Bombay Times. I am happy to report Ramakrishnan sold most of his paintings....

"I am writing this a few hours before the Mumbai Marathon sees the city putting its best foot forward. I confess to a small level of nervousness since I’ll be attempting the Dream Run for the second time for CHILDLINE 1098, with a whole bunch of enthusiastic bachchas. With each passing year, the Marathon just gets bigger and everybody says, better too.It has been said before, but bears repetition – this is one day of the year, when all differences melt into nothingness in this humungous metropolis and Mumbai runs as one – no ‘outsiders’ and no ‘insiders’. Just people who share the same sane, democratic outlook and are participants in something far bigger than any individual agenda or achievement. The last time I ran ( shamefully, minus any preparation or training – ditto this year as well ), I actually felt like there was some mysterious force that was propelling me ahead and ensuring I kept going. I’m counting on the same to come to my aid this year as well. For anybody who has been there at the starting point, it is one of the most electrifying and exhilarating moments that is powerful enough to get you on a high, without artificial stimulants. I’m looking forward to that thrill once again, and feel lucky to be a small part of such a gigantic effort.

But it was my meeting with an extraordinary person called Ramakrishnan on the eve of the Marathon that made me acutely aware of the true meaning of the phrase, “ Putting your best foot forward.” He was just three days old when a vicious and crippling attack of a particularly virulent form of jaundice left him with minimum motor control over precisely two toes of his right foot. It had to be divine intervention that converted his acute disability into an artistic gift. Ramakrishnan started painting with his two ‘good’ toes in 1986 at the age of 15, and he really hasn’t had to look back since then. By 1990 he had become a member of the International Mouth and Foot Painting Association ( the first Indian), and now receives a modest stipend from the body. He has held exhibitions in several cities across India, and one in Taiwan. Today, with his parents gone, he manages to live by himself with some help from well wishers and a part time caretaker. Since he has a pretty high IQ (110), it becomes both, a boon and a curse, as he can understand several languages and is intensely aware of the world around him. The fact that he plays a mean game of chess underlines the true state of his impressive mental levels. What struck me about his work, was the optimism in each and every painting. All the imagery was positive and uplifting – bright skies, flowers in full bloom, soaring mountain peaks, trees reaching up to fluffy clouds …. idyllic vistas that betrayed nothing but hope and positive thinking. Even the one abstract work in acrylic ( he is constantly experimenting – watercolours, oil on canvas and now acrylic) featured birds in flight against a vibrant red and yellow backdrop. If there is rage, frustration, disappointment simmering under the surface it isn’t evident in his work or his attitude – both remain remarkably upbeat.

After meeting him and admiring his paintings, I came away thinking to myself how petty and absurdly stupid ‘normal’ anxieties and problems seem in comparison to what Ramakrishnan has to live with for the rest of his life. We crib and complain constantly when the smallest things go wrong, and we protest vociferously if our personal plans don’t work out satisfactorily. Here is a man trapped in a wheelchair , his limbs painfully contorted, every small movement a huge effort, but his eyes – what eyes! - shining with enthusiasm as he energetically paints birds taking wing with no trace of bitterness or irony. And I wonder – who is truly blessed – Ramakrishnan with his undaunted spirit … or people like us??"


madhu said...

Would it be possible for you to find out if he sells his work online. I tried googling his name and came up with 2 broken links. I would love to buy some of his work for the uniqueness but unfortunately, I do not live in India to check it out personally.

nishi said...

best foot forward indeed! loved the article... Ramakrishnan's paintings are mirrors, so we can see what we hold n feel blessed!

supriya said...

thats a true example of "where there is a will,there is a way!!!"
Hats off to Mr. Ramkrishnan...We Indians are really proud of him!
And this should encourage all of "put our best foot forward!!!"

Anonymous said...

Art is a gift gifted by God to few chosen people And they are special. Let us handshake. Let us salute.

Maddy said...

How about posting your photograph by Chiara Goia??

Is Mr.Ramakrishnan by any chance was a New reader(Tamil) in Doordarsan?

'Lakshmi Bag' from LVMH?? Can't wait to see!

RAJ47 said...

Robert Downey Jr got the Golden Globe Award for best actor in a motion picture in "Sherlock Holmes".
Just for information.

Illkilya said...

Madhu, Try this link,
I've bought products from them. they door deliver.

SNSMT said...

Madam, I work as the project coordinator for Smt.Nandini Satpathy Memorial Trust, Bhubaneswar.

You had met our Chairman Shri.Suparno Satpathy when you had visit Bhubaneswar along with Mr.Amitava Ghosh.

I have to send an invite to you.It will be very kind if you could kindly share your contact details with me.

Thanking you,
Pema Wangdi

ekta khetan said...

Best foot forward, is indeed the most apt title. It is my favorite phase too!

I dunno the IMFPA but I know the MFPA for sure. I am a buyer and must say the talent is incomparable. It all begin when my SCM head handed a promotional mailer of MFPA to my HR head who then asked me to look in the matter. I liked their work immensely and ordered few greetings card to be put on an exhibit at office. They further sent me some complimentary cards which were even more beautiful. This new year, I got a calendar from them and it is beautiful. I was a “helpage buyer” since childhood but now I strongly recommend MFPA. For further details you can contact them at-

These ppl paint masterpiece with their foot or mouth. Something a lot of us cant draw with all our four and me with my 3 aqnd half. Hee hee. The work is really good.
@ Madhu, I shall mail you their coordinates and website. You can touch base and get enlightened.
tel: 022 4009 8888

Sidhusaaheb said...