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Archive for August, 2009

The latest Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone starer “Love Aaj Kal” have created lot of buzz around. Firstly, its a good movie and in no time attained a blockbuster status. And secondly, Deepika Padukone’s profession – a “Fresco Painter”. When I say buzz that is because lot of people (including me) don’t know really what Fresco is all about. The funny thing is even in the movie there is a dialogue which typically states that nobody know or understands what Fresco is all about. I too got curious and did little research on this form of painting. Let me share with you all about Fresco in brief….:)

What is Fresco ??

Fresco is any of several related painting types, done on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Italian word “affresco” which is derived from the adjective fresco (“fresh”), and has Latin origins. Frescoes were often made during the Renaissance and other early time periods and was highly refined form of artistic expression appreciated by diverse cultures for thousands of years.

Fundamentals of Fresco.

Fundamentally, fresco is the art of painting in which hand ground natural earth pigments are put onto a damp lime plaster wall. As the painted plaster wall dries, the lime in the plaster carbonizes and absorbs the particles of painted pigment into place. The chemistry that occurs between the lime as it calcifies and the earth colors as they are absorbed into the plaster creates an effect of inner light and luminosity that only intensifies over time. Rather than being an image made of colored pigments that sit on top of a surface, the fresco painting becomes part of the structure of the wall. This is why, in many climates, frescoes can be installed indoors and outdoors.

In fresco painting, it is necessary to have a well-thought-out design prepared before hand, as the medium does not permit experimentation or changes in drawing as is possible in most other ways of painting. If the plaster dries before it is completed, or if you have made a serious error, start over again with a new coat—a little bit of plastering experience will convince you that it is wiser to do the best you can with the piece before you—as plastering is really the only hard part of fresco painting.

Light, space, air and architecture are all determining factors in how the fresco shall be painted. The carrying power of the painting must be experienced in the actual setting, and it usually takes one patch, or less in establishing the right key. This is one reason why a fresco is painted directly on the wall, where it will always be seen, has a better chance for being right than anything painted on canvas in the artist’s studio, and later glued to the wall.

On a large fresco toward the beginning of the work it is sometimes difficult to key the color. The first sections are so high and isolated that there is nothing to which to key the color, value and intensity. In addition as the work progresses the fresh new plaster is darker than other previous (and dry) patches next to it; it takes experience to trust that each daily section will match the previously completed ones.

Here are some sites where you can get more info about Fresco Paintings.

http://truefresco.net/
http://www.truefresco.com/
http://www.italianfrescoes.com/

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Today would definitely be one of the memorable days of my life…I along with my family decided to visit the ‘Art of Living” center here in Bangalore. The place was generally more crowded that its usually is. In my previous visits to the ashram I have not encountered such a crowd. In the beginning I was little taken aback as there was a big problem getting a parking. Soon I realised this is no ordinary day in the ashram. This crowed is for SATSANG!! It was drizzling but still were not allowed to visit the meditation center which was full of people. Near the huge convention hall was sitting the Ganesha idol and a chair serenely decorated, needless to mention for someone very special.

As the time went by, the crowed started gathering near the convention hall. And people sang Ganesha bhajans in unison. I knew guruji was around but could hardly believe my fate that I am actually going to see someone whose philosophy I deeply admired. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar arrived in his usuall plain white attire. Purity personified I would say. Devotees stood up for their Guruji (as he is fondly called), raised their hands, bowed down…and I stood there completely mesmerized. Where I was standing I could see him clearly..but still now and then looked at the big screen….just didn’t want to miss anything at all. Guruji was welcomed with garlands and flowers. He accepted them with grace. No air at all in his gestures..he was calm and his eyes as if did all the talking. Some more bhajans ( devotional songs) followed. And then came the moment…he spoke. I just couldn’t believe my ears that am actually listening to him. He predominantly spoke about spirituality, Ganesh utsava and the mannerism of the universe. Answered questions with his subtle smile and always telling people in his own way that there is nothing or no problem in life that is not curable. People clapped, laughed and it seemed everything was just perfect… so peaceful…so devine.

About Guruji

Guruji was born ( 13th May 1956) to Venkat Ratnam, a businessman in the automobile industry, and Vishalakshi. His parents named him Shankar since his birthday matched that of the 8th century CE Hindu saint, Adi Shankara. According to his biographies, at the age of four he could recite verses from the Bhagavad Gita. He was said to be often found in deep meditation even at a young age. Some followers of the Art of Living movement claim he received an advanced degree in physics at the age of 17.
Shankar is a former disciple of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. At his early age, his father delegated him to the care of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. IIn early 1990s, he added the honorific Sri Sri to his own name.

A non-government organization, Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) was established by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the year 1982. Though teaching people the art of Sudarshan Kriya served as the main focus of this organization, with time, he also taught the science of yoga, meditation as well as breathing techniques to people. Today, AOLF is one of the largest volunteer-based organizations in the world, with presence in over 140 countries. It works for the educational and humanitarian development of the world at large.

About Guruji’s Philosophy !!

Guruji emphasizes ‘breath’ as the link between body and mind and therefore a tool to relax the mind. He emphasizes both meditation and service to others. According to Guruji, science and spirituality are linked and consistent. His stated vision is to create a world which is free of stress and violence through acquisition of wisdom, and his programs aim to offer practical tools to accomplish wisdom. In his view, “Truth is spherical rather than linear; so it has to be contradictory.” “Anything that is spherical is always contradictory,” says Sri Sri.
Sudarshan Kriya is the core component of the Art of Living courses. Sudarshan Kriya is a cycle of breaths—long, medium and short. Since the mind oscillates wildly between the past and the future, the breath, which is by definition necessarily in the present, is used to “rope in the wandering mind”.

The Art of Living(AOL) course combines the kriya(work) with meditation and teaches how to observe the mind, to live in gratitude and to discard expectations. The workshop also provides a value-based framework to life and tools with which to build the superstructure. The benefits of the workshop include stress reduction, a resurgence of vitality, mental clarity and joy of living. Those who attend the course routinely report relief in respiratory and spinal disorders, diabetes and heart problems. The program has been acclaimed by the World Health Organization.

I remember Guruji saying, “the language of the head is words. the language of the heart is love. the language of the soul is silence.” Today I would like to speak the language of silence so that I can hold this moment of truth..cherish this sublime moment… and admire our very own Guruji. I couldn’t stay there till the end of his discourse. But those few hours were a life time experience for me. Nothing at all can ever take away those hrs of my life when I saw Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for the first time………overwhelmed !!!

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Spirituality to me is the search to know our true selves, our identity and to discover the real nature of consciousness. This quest has been the foundation of all the great spiritual teachings, and the goal of all the great mystics. Throughout the history of humanity it has been said that the self we know is a very limited form of identity. Ignorant of our true selves, we derive a false sense of identity from what we have, or what we do — from our possessions, our role in the world, how others see us, etc. And to create an identity we tend to take up things in due course of time. It has been rightly said that ” The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose”.Because the world on which it is based is continually changing, this derived sense of identity is always under threat, and our attempts to maintain it are responsible for much of our “self-centered” behaviour.

As already said before, behind this identity is a deeper identity, what is often called the “true self”. This can be thought of as the essence of consciousness. Although our thoughts, feelings and personality may vary considerably, the essence of mind remains the same. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person? The answer is No !! We are each very different people than we were twenty years ago, but still we feel the same sense of “I”. This sense of “I-ness” is the same for everyone, and in that respect is there something universal that we all share? Yes, our inner mind, consciousness, our souls and our sense of spirituality !!!

When we discover this deeper sense of self we are freed from many of the fears that plague us unnecessarily. Frances Moore LappeI once said ” I’ve grown certain that the root of all fear is that we’ve been forced to deny who we are”. The moment we realise that a greater inner peace, an inner security does not depend upon events or circumstances in the world around us, we become less self-centered, less needy of the other’s approval or recognition, less needy of collecting possessions and social status, and become happier, healthier and more loving people. In many spiritual teachings this is called “self-liberation”.

Most spiritual teachings also maintain that when one comes to know the true nature of consciousness, one also comes to know God. If God is the essence of the whole of creation, then God is the essence of every creature, and every person. This is why the search to discover the nature of one’s own innermost essence is the search for God.

Spiritual enlightenment is a must for every human being. And as we go on with discovering our own self, we discover our strength and weakness. And thus able to nurture all the little nuances of our life, making our life not only lot more easier but most importantly peaceful and happy. A coherent existence of mind and body is the ultimate mantra of peaceful life and the only way to attain it, is through spirituality.

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Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

“Its nothing but soft porn”- was the first comment I heard when a friend of mine saw me reading Eleven Minutes by none other than the master storyteller and my all time favourite Paulo Coelho. For a moment I thought i would give up, but I choose to continue. The reason was simple my faith in Paulo’s creativity and his unusual thought process. And now that I have finished the book I dont regret spending my time and energy reading this novel. Unusual surely, this book does make you feel at times that its nothing more than Paulo Coelho’s knowledge about woman anatomy and sex. But a broader and a closer look does get you to think about the different aspects of a woman’s life from a different points of view. Can’t compare it with “The Alchemist” though, Eleven Minutes is definitely worth a quick read.

Eleven Minutes is a tale about Maria, a young girl living in Brazil’s unsophisticated interior. Maria’s unsuccessful experiments with men and romance at her girlhood days convinced her that love is a delusion, or at least it is not for her. Attaining her maturity, she becomes a sales girl with limited prospects for a better life in the future. But sudden change in fate becomes inevitable when a vacation to Rio brings her into contact with a Swiss tourist named Roger, who was looking to hire dancers for his club in Geneva. It was nothing less than dream come true for Maria who finally started believing that she is in for a high flier life. Unfortunately things were not as rosy as she expected and eventually after falling out with Roger, she drifts on her own initiative into life as a bar-girl. Quickly adapting to the coarse but not uninteresting role of prostitute, she endures nearly a year of service, until she has accumulated enough money to return to Brazil in style. Maria quickly mastered the act of satisfying men on one hand and on the other she lived a life of any ordinary simple girl with her dreams and aspirations. When Maria was all set to live Geneva for Brazil, she meets a young artist, Ralf Hart and begins to fall in love, disturbing her hard-won equilibrium and raising the issue of whether the two halves of her nature can be satisfied by any one man.

Eleven Minutes is by far a book about sex. You can cut a cake anyways, but a cake remains a cake. And thats what this book is about. Paulo in his own style has tried various interpretation but at the end that’s what it comes down to – sex is after all sex. The title itself refers to the length of time it takes to commit the act, eleven minutes. The world we live in revolves around sex, no matter how much people try to disguise or argue that fact. Rather than dispute it or make sex ugly, Coehlo presents sex as a beautiful lesson to be mastered as one gains experience. Interestingly Paulo has atributed sacredness to sex thus making it nothing less than a divine affair.

This novel is typically about Maria’s trials and triumphs-she goes from restaurant dancer to high-class prostitute-would make for an entertaining if rather prosaic novel, but Coelho, does not leave it there. Instead, he embarks on a philosophical exploration of sexual love, using Maria’s pseudo-philosophical diary entries as a means for expounding on the nature of sexual desire, passion and love. However, if you’re able to get through the more graphic parts with an open mind, you will find that this is more a book about love – and how we confuse sex & love – and how we no longer seem to be able to find the love in sex… Also cannot deny the fact that through Maria we are able to see some of the ugliest sides of sex. But it is through her development as a character that we are able to appreciate the beauty of the act of sex as well. And here comes Paulo’s mastery which is worth an applause. To have a thinking cap on for something so mundane routine human act as sex is highly commendable. Though at times the whole plot looks very preachy but a closer look does gives you feeling of how things are and should be.

The strength of the book is the simplicity of Coelho’s writing. It truly is fascinating, just that it is nice to finally see a prostitute not as a helpless victim but just a woman trying to survive even though many in reality might be victims…Nevertheless, Eleven Minutes if not like The Alchemist but does have a positive point in every stage. Though the only hitch I have is the opening line…”once upon a time there was a prostitute called Maria…” sounds as if the beginning of a fairy tale. I wonder how much fairy tale does a prostitute have in her life….!!!!

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