Monday, 21 July 2014

Belong


At what point do you start belonging to a city? Not when you fall in love with the big, obvious things about it. Not when the wind blows fair. Not when the nights are young. But when you start noticing the small things. The sparrow sitting on the signboard that says West. The old man going about his business. The distorted glass that captures you and that yellow cab melting into the city. It's that moment, the city becomes you and you become the city.

Friday, 11 July 2014

New York


The Hudson is alive with the waves and toxic fish which some bait despite the warnings. Choppers fly by like flies and land like flies, making a noise that only New Yorkers can be deaf to. The sun rises on the East side, but sets in Jersey, leaving a trail of colors that is indescribable. All sorts of people go by, walking, talking, buzzing. Tough lives are forgotten as the sail boats bob in the waters of high tide. The statue of liberty still waits with its arm raised and the Brooklyn bridge carries its hipster solidiers by the trainful. New York is well and alive around the twenty something and 12th near Chelsea.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Young

A coyote pup chasing a butterfly, jumping about, with what seemed like a smile on his face. The young ones of yellow headed blackbirds wondering at the sunset. The little bunnies of all sizes coming out and about in the world and these two shy raccoon pups trying to tiptoe their way back to the nest. The world was young these past two days.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Sunday, 2 March 2014

My fucking journal









Some fucking pages of my fucking journal that I make when I am fucking bored.

Saturday, 30 November 2013


Sometimes what you don't see in the picture says a lot more than what you do see in the picture. What the picture's captured magnificent autumn colors, the duck making its way across the sky that has fallen down in the lake, the sun taking its annual vacation on the trees making them turn yellow and gold, the flatirons in the distance - don't show is the coyote that hurried its way to the water, drinking its fill and going quickly out of sight. Scaring a few rabbits. But it paid no mind to the white tailed wonders. It was on some other quest. What the picture doesn't play back is the soft sound of the birds who are quiet this time of the year. Cars stop, people get out, people run, people run with dogs, dogs run with people, cameras with their flashes (oh why), camera with their flashes closed (phew), everything and everyone stands, watches this view, captures it, Instagrams it and Facebooks it. And move on. Always hurrying away. Like the coyote. And I wonder, sitting there, not moving, not running, not running with my Nikes on, not running with a dog - that there are so many stories we will never listen to, never hear, never look for - for they exceed our internal camera specifications of finite megapixels.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The trouble of being a gypsy


The troubles of being a gypsy don't come with the travels. They arise when you go back to things. Places. People. You go back, often with memories - green - expectant that you will be met with the laughter, the joy, the solitude that you found so dear once. You approach with weary, hesitant steps. Only to find old walls and dried branches of what once used to be the evergreen shades of comforting friendships and everything home. But that's natural. People move on. Things decay. Friendships run out of conversations. The trouble starts when you begin enjoying this decay, this passing of things. This going back to ruins of what you loved. Goddamn it, you love it so much that it doesn't hurt anymore. It would, if it wasn't this way.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A sky full of sky


A sky full of young ones. Baby Orioles. Baby barn swallows – in feeding frenzy. Baby Violet Green swallows – who took wing and fluttered about carelessly, amazingly. A sky full of Brewer’s Blackbirds who settle down in thousands on one big patch of land across 33rd. A sky full of rainbows, double. A sky full of stories from the past told in shapes of clouds. A sky reflected down in a pond where we saw an Otter! Or that’s what we thought and then furiously searched the internet. To figure that while the very endangered Otter has been spotted around town, this was probably his cousin – the mink. He’s cute. Or she’s cute. A sky full of swallows. A sky full of clouds. A sky full of sky.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Binoculars

And one day you finally get yourself a pair of binoculars. It changes everything. Every square foot of this seemingly quiet land can come alive. The birds can't hide anymore. And the rabbit that believes it's a still picture doesn't know I am looking at every movement of its whiskers. And the chickadees seem plentiful when it seemed there were none. And my eyes hurt. Now.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Bobolinks


When it is but written in the sand and concrete that you have to work the weekend, the mind begins its confabulations. It starts making plans for a heist. Almost. Stealing time, more like it. Could a few hours be stolen from the weekend routine to go and walk in the Boulder country?
And so, on Saturday I did walk the South Boulder Creek. Reaching the Bobolink trail. Now, having read about bobolinks in Emily Dickinson’s poems, one is desperate to see that famous bird. And the long walk brought us to streams and haunted cabins. Haunted is a romantic notion. But then when you’ve grown up reading Louis L’amour westerns your mind is always thinking of old cowboys and Indians on their horses, sipping burnt coffee and talking about nature when they were not fighting.
And swallows. Hundreds of them. Flying all over us.
Six miles on, there was no sign of the Bobolink on the Bobolink Trail. Except that drawing of a lone bird on the stone that marked the trail.
But there were those swallow nests to watch and whisper to. And flycatchers, magpies, robins, blackbirds, wrens, doves, and.
Just when it was time to hike the long way back, we look up to spot an eagle or a heron. And we did. But then we saw them. Bobolinks. Five of them. With bright yellow heads. Flying across the blue sky.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Boulder, one evening


It's about 7 pm. Ben Smith is giving me a lift back home from office. The clouds have made the summer heat cool down. And far away into the distance the Rockies make love to the setting sun. That it was a hard, hard day is forgotten. Quickly.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Indian Childhood Policy


Indian Childhood Policy: From the home to the bus, from the bus to the class and back to home for the homework, tuition, exams and repeat.
Fattened on this efficient feed, children will grow up for the corporate slaughter. Engineers and MBAs. That’s what we need. Questioning, curiosity is a disease that will stay away from our society. We will produce the high economic products, made in India, serving the world. There is no other way anyway. Free range is a luxury we can’t afford, for we have destroyed our forests and trees and open spaces. Childhood is an infection that must stay away.
(My latest comic with the very talented Garima Gupta published 17 April, 2013 in Mint) High res here: http://mantaraycomics.com/images/stories/TSP/087_high_website.jpg

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Cold data, dark thoughts

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Above: watercolour and pen on paper

Everything will be connected. Stupid things like spoons and bins will become intelligent. And data will be at the heart of it. These are the words I catch before falling into a dark, dreamless sleep.
I wake up, or not, depending on the definition of waking up. It’s 1982. I am just about 8 years old. It’s the stone age in my hometown, Kota. There are only a few bicycles around and one of them drops me to my school.
Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
I remember the words waking me to the world to literature and writing. Since that day and ever since all I wanted was to put words on to paper.
Darkness falls.
It’s 1998. I still don’t have a job. I light up my first cigarette. I get a rush. I blink.
It’s 2003. I step on the airplane for the first time. And once the fears of crashing and ears bursting vanish, I sleep. Peacefully. Tuned to the buzz of the airplane.
2007. Amsterdam. Things have changed. Life seems to have settled down nicely along the canals of the Dam. There’s music in the air. There’s a whisper too. I fail to listen to it, at first. Then it grows louder.
Digital or die.
2013. I am staring at the screen of my mac. It’s hurting cold outside. And dark. My screen lights up the room. I am trying to understand and write HTML, slowly making my way through the online tutorials.
I type in HTML:

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitlessness.


Fruitlessness.
From Kota to coding. It’s been one strange, lonely trip to write an HTML code.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

I have questions


In my recent travels to Dehradun, Kota, Delhi and Mumbai, I met a lot of people and saw a lot of changes. And a lot of questions popped up in my mind.

What’s the point of having all the money in the world when you can’t appreciate the birds on a banyan tree?
Why does wealth have to be comparative? Always dependent on making someone else feel bad or lesser off?
Why is environment a geopolitical issue?
Do you always have to buy something to enjoy it?
Why do we have to buy nature to enjoy it?
How did a home become an investment? Home is somewhere you live life. An investment is something which you sacrifice life for.
Why do we think destiny can be manufactured?
Why does art need to have a reason?
When did art become a commodity?
How do people live with 5 hours of garish, loud television with horribly painted faces and obnoxious voices every single day of their life?
Why do people hack trees to make way for parking?
Why do people dump waste in the greens and then complain that the green cover is vanishing?
Why do people install mobile phone towers on their houses?
Why are hospitals in India so damn dirty? Are they trying to scare off the germs?
Why do people believe hype more than they believe their own eyes?
Who’s paying for all those political posters that literally cover more landscape than trees in India?
Why are these questions so tough to ask?

And there are no answers blowing in the wind. The only thing that blows in the wind these days is smoke. Covering the landscape, filling our lungs and making pretensions of a warm cosy night that tempts us to sleep. Forever.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Shorter of breath

And one day closer to death. Hopefully there will be a lot more of picking up the pen in 2013 than this year.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The ghost town of memory


The clouds are heavy. Maybe they know of the impending death. I've heard songs about death and read ruminations on it. But I never knew until two years ago that dying could turn entire cities into ghost towns of memories. Living, breathing, but yet lifeless. For the one who mattered has gone. The smoke from the day lingers. His last breath. How we hung on to it. For, till it was there we lived. We lived like children and our memories lived and his voice lived and his dreams coloured our journeys. But the last breath took everything away. I haven't let go of it. It's frozen.
It was. Until today.
When everyone's outside the room. Waiting. For one more last breath. Death shows no mercy. It never did. It sits with us, has the hospital tea, comments on the lack of sugar, and then it walks in and takes away what it has to. Leaving a whole lot of childhoods and an entire city dead with it.
As I write this, I visit the ghost town of my memory. I run around the house looking for my dad. But all I find are walls. Blackened by death. And haunted by ghosts.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Who's In?



My latest work. Shot in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. A film for Cuervo Cold.
Client: Jose Cuervo
Agency: Albion London
Executive Creative Director: Nick Darken
Creative Directors: Tim Bateman, Hemant Anant Jain
Copywriters: Tim Bateman, Hemant Anant Jain
Art Directors: Tim Bateman, Hemant Anant Jain

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Grasmere


"And a single small cottage, a nest like a dove's. The one only dwelling on earth she loves." - William Wordsworth. (In this picture - Grasmere, Wordsworth's hometown).

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Lost tales


Was it an old and wise elephant or a chestnut tree looking at me curiously? I guess I will never know. My world is full of stories and magic and who knows which chapter, which tale was this from?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Stupid simplicity

If things can be explained with such stupid simplicity, then the situation with the country is really fu*&ed. Published in HT Mint 23 May, 2012

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Seattle


Hey there Seattle. Long time. Well. Over a month now. But I can't seem to get you out of my mind. I thought when I go away, everything will just become grey like the clouds and the rain. But the coffee from around the corner still smells strong. And the guitar, though now out of tune, manages to recall familiar notes that didn't sound so bad then. And the long walks to the Arboretum still make me happily tired. And the trees, filled with elusive birds seem to call me and tell me about the big old owl that sits there, oblivious to the crows who just wouldn't give up. And the Discovery Park. I never see it in the 'places to see in Seattle', but I have it mapped in my memory forever. And Eliot Bay bookshop. And Mollymoon icecream. And the summer days when the mountains suddenly appeared and surrounded the city. And the bar around the corner where I sat down with friends and made them wonder often what's this fascination with beer when I can drink barely a couple of pints. The thing is, Seattle, it's difficult to think of you as grey and rainy and cold and dark when the memories just shine and get brighter with every passing day. Because Seattle,  I can hear you in my friends' voices and I can recall you in that crazy dreamer's visions. And those voices will never fade away. Years from now maybe I will struggle to walk all the streets in my mind but I will, I am sure, still retrace step for step to Ballet with Pat. And I will recall every word of Jim. And I will recall those debates with Kelly on politics and history and poetry. And I will always be a student to Andrew, the most amazing teacher I found. Seattle. You were kind to me. And to me you'll always be the sunniest place on this planet.

For Pat, Kelly, Jim and Andrew.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The hand that rocks the cradle.


Whose is the hand that rocks the cradle? My full page in today's HT Mint. (To see full size and read, open image in new tab) A part of The Small Picture by Manta Ray.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Exhibition at The British Council





The Great Indian Clearance Sale was exhibited at The British Council in February 2- February 7, this year. This was a part of the Unbox Festival. Here are some pictures from the exhibition.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Fresh off the press







My first children's book. Published in Amsterdam by Veenman Drukkers.
With Boyd Coyner. Here are some spreads from the book.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The urban dream


Published in Mint on 18th January. http://t.co/WF8pieW1
I woke up one dark night. Haunted, frightened, shaky like a leaf. I had the strangest dream and in that dream I saw that I had turned into a consumerist zombie. Made of words they wanted me to believe.
I lived in my own luxury cage of EMI, and I lived my life as an advertising script. I consumed sugar water for happiness and I replaced my brain with an app library.
I had all the money in the world and if I missed the trees, I saw them on a LED tv screen.
My car had a toilet and my world was controlled and the sky was blue, projected on an anti UV dome. And I wondered what took humans to convert this planet into a cave of steel. We should have killed all the animals and cut all the trees and spewed carbon by tonnes much faster.
And I woke up frightened. Not sure if that dream was already part real. I switched on my tablet and turned on the app for counting sheep.