How to Shake-Paw with Pune

What you need here, said the guy in a blue-and-white-striped T with coordinated blue shorts, sports socks, trainers and a cap which announced I AM DIFFERENT, is out-of-the-box thingies. That’s what the world is up to now. He waited for a response, all the while massaging a hunk of gum between his grinders.

You mean here at Gyaan Adab? Or in Pune?  I asked politely.

Everywhere, he said impatiently, walking around the centre like a caged lion, everyone seems asleep. Before I could respond, he continued. For starters – what’s the art scene like?

Going pretty good. We’ve had more than thirty shows and several community art experiences here at the centre in the last two-and-a-half years and we continue to promote new artists.

Good for you, he said condescendingly, but you guys are thriving in a mini-oasis. What’s going on in the rest of the city?

Artists are showing their work in every nook and cranny out there, the city’s next biennale opens at the beginning of next year.

I am sure he heard every word I had said but he seemed to pretend he hadn’t. So I rolled up my sleeves, metaphorically of course, and climbed into the ring (also metaphorically). I didn’t get your name. And I stuck out my paw congenially, assuming he’d shake-paw. But he ignored it and walked into our library to inspect the collection. From there he guided himself around the centre and returned to shuffle around me as if he was spoiling for a biff up.

Name’s Shinde, he suddenly said, friends call me Shinny. I’m in the IT racket, heading to become the head honcho of my set-up. And where do I land up? In this godforsaken city… and don’t know what to make of it.

It’s not as bad as most people make it out to be, I responded sarcastically. Besides, the more you try and make something of this city, the more  you’ll tie yourself up in stereotypes. Try and let the city make something out of you. I don’t know where you are coming from… but give the city a chance and it will love you for it. There was an embarrassed silence. Then I sallied forth. You sound like you are interested in art…

I paint…on Sundays.

I’d be happy to see your work.

Are you serious?

Sure.

Well, ok, I think I have some stuff  on my mobile. Huh, of course he’d have ‘stuff’ on his mobile!

And so we sat down over a coffee at Gyaan Adab Centre and I had a look at his very impressive work. Bold, adventurous and a lot more. His art spoke to me. Have you shown before?

Nope.

You want an exhibition?

Are you serious? Just as simple as that?

Sure. Now let’s talk about medium and size.

And so we did. I gave him dates. He returned again and again for other shows and events. He started buying art. In fact I overheard him talking to another visitor about a performance he had been to at the other end of the city.

All the poor guy needed was to be accepted.

And Pune is good at accepting….especially through her arts. So if you are new and vulnerable, (no matter where you come from), just let the city talk to you through her arts, listen and respond.

Randhir KhareRandhir Khare is an awardwinning writer, teacher, artist and storyteller who has mentored a whole generation of creative talent. He is Director of Gyaan Adab, Pune’s Premier Cultural Centre. Randhir Khare writes every Wednesday for Pune365.

Randhir Khare

Randhir Khare

Randhir Khare is an awardwinning writer, teacher, artist and storyteller who has mentored a few generations of creative talent. He is Director of Gyaan Adab, Pune’s Premier Cultural Centre. Randhir Khare writes every Wednesday for Pune365.
Randhir Khare

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