I spent a long, delightful full day driving and sightseeing to Savanarabelagola, Belur and Halebid with Anande and Naveen, two art students from CAVA in Mysore. One of my favorite moments was stopping from breakfast at a “hotel” as small restaurants are called, chosen by our driver, who dazzled me by promptly inhaling two full breakfasts. The boys and I had delicious potato dosai. I needed to use the loo and was directed to the very back of the hotel, through a vast, dark kitchen crowded with men sitting on the floor preparing foods while giant grinders whirled away on tilted axis. The food and the whites of the men’s eyes glowed, jewel like in the dim, smoky light. I felt quite sure that I was the first western woman to ever walk through that place, and certainly that morning I was the only woman in the place. The men pretended to ignore me, perhaps because I was in the company of three men, and probably I would have been stared at more openly without their companionship.
The students were great company. Naveen, the younger of the two, let Anande talk as he was quite absorbed in shooting hundreds of photographs. Anande, a grad student who grew up in a village 60 kilometers outside of Mysore, knows a great deal about the myths and history of the sites and an extraordinary breadth of understanding about art and culture. I was really interested in hearing about his social projects like working with blind students to make drawings.
We drove returned to Bangalore on the 23rd to prepare for our trip to Delhi, where, after being interviewed for Bangalore TV about the exhibition, Bhagya and I spent some time at the Gallery of Modern Art. It was really helpful to me to see the post Independence development of Indian contemporary art, shaped by the Tagore family and their desire to shape an art that was free of western influence. Instead, the primacy of Indian religion and myth in their modern art can’t be exaggerated.