25 July, 2007

Sketches so far

It has become a routine nowadays to have my pencil and sketch book in my back pack, just like other essential stuff required for a journey. Every week it is a different experience. I keep some newspapers or magazines with me, to draw few interesting pictures. From the day one I entered UK and all these years I have not seen a paper without headlines about Beckham. He is one of the most popular sportsman in UK. Now that he has joined LA Galaxy in USA he was in the headlines again. This picture tempted me to draw Becks.
On 08 th July, when I looked for newspaper in my bag, I found few Tamil magazines. Poet Vairamuthu's picture in one of those magazines was really tempting me to try my hand.
There were lots of news about the outgoing PM Tony, and incoming Brown. One of the newspaper had published few photographs which showed how Tony is transforming into Brown. It was a very good thought of the photographer. I always admired Tony for his dynamic personality. His speeches are his pluspoints. The whole nation was eagerly waiting for Brown. He is unassumable right now. His face also drew my attention.

On 15 th July, I reached earlier for my train. I did not know what to do. Then I decided to open my sketch book in front of London Euston station. I sat quietly in one of those benches and started drawing the station. People were coming and going. Those two were standing for few minutes and chatting. Also the person on the bench was there for few minutes.

On the same evening while I was travelling the train stopped at Milton Keynes Central for few minutes. It could be hardly 2-3 minutes. I have drawn whatever I could see from my seat. The station was empty and this is how the station looks on a Sunday evening around 7.45 p.m.
I never worry if I do not carry any newspapers or magazines. In UK most of the commuters in public transports have the habit of leaving their newspapers on their seat, after they finish reading. So others who would like to read them can take them. In case, if I do not have any papers to read and draw, I look around to see whether there is any paper around. If not, sometimes I pick up the Virgin magazines and pick up few pictures. One of those is the picture of Yorkshire street with boat on the river and houses on one side. Also, the other man whom I have drawn with beard is from one of those magazines. I think he is an Italian and there was some article about him.
I do not need to say anything about Hillary Clinton. She was there in one of those papers on one day. Her picture was appealing. I enjoyed sketching that too.
Most of the times when people see me spreading my sketch book and pencil kit they become inquisitive. It is nice to see them becoming inquisitive about my activity. Few see from their sides and pretend as if they are not noticing me. But they do try to have a glimpse at my drawing when they move around. Few openly exclaim. Once a Jamaican girl asked me whether I could draw her. I politely said that I am not a great artist and she should not be offended if the picture does not resemble her. She kept quiet. Once two African boys who were sitting opposite were often looking at the pictures, during their conversation. Once when their stations arrived, they had a final look and said it has come out well.
On the whole, I enjoy every time I travel. Last week I met a lady who was very interesting. Only few have conversations during the journey. I pick up conversation easily. This lady, was so good. Though she often said that she was not highly educated, she had immense knowledge about many things. She must be over 60 and was returning back after visiting her daughter. She said that her daughter visits India very often. She was talking about the Indian culture and said that she was very fascinated to hear about it. It seems her daughter likes India so much and keeps visiting very often, through her job. She has few Gujarathi speaking friends and knew a little about India. We had convesation ranging from Indian Culture, Children, Problems in moving places and schools, etc. She said that her husband being a Jew, wishes more love spreads among fellow human beings. She said that inspite of being a Jew he likes Germans. We also had conversation about Gandhi and she said that it is a shame that he was killed by his own religious person. She said that she regards Indian origin people, for the reason they have come from the land where Gandhi was born. I felt really proud about Gandhi.
I am eagerly waiting for this Friday. I don't know who will be sitting next to me. Travelling does give lots of exposure.
I don't care even if the train is empty as long as I have my pencil and sketch book.
Next post you will know what I mean! I have drawn a very interesting personality! Guess who!

13 July, 2007

Man on Wheels

Every one as a child would have dreamt of driving a car. Especially boys have the habit of taking anything in the form of round, and use it as steering and run on the road murmuring "Drrr.......r..........m...............................”. As a child even I have done it. It was a great thrill when I learnt to pedal a cycle. Same way, hours of learning to ride a motor cycle cannot be forgotten. I have also gone on driving classes in India and learned to drive a car which was really exciting. But the traffic rules and driving standards differ from country to country. I knew those were different standard and always wanted to learn it well.

After coming to UK, I did not intend to learn driving and never wanted to drive with a foreign license(Indian). It is illegal to drive and you should have obtained a International Driving Permit before arriving in UK. The vehicles are driven in a much disciplined manner and there are great driving standards maintained in western world. Few of my friends were eager to drive and though they were half baked, they still took the risk of driving. I never wanted to do that, because having not known 100 percent, you put others in risk. This I thought was unfair. Also, I was sick of being on heavy traffics, having been on road for fifteen years in India. I really wanted to peacefully use the common transport and walk, and cycle rather than rushing on the road. In countries like UK since the public transport is easily available, there was no pressure for me to learn driving. Also, my work was just at the end of the road, from my residence. Having lived few years, and the family growing big, we felt the need of a family vehicle and thus I entered into the process of learning to drive. We need to pass a theory test and a Hazard test together. Though the theory test proves your knowledge, the Hazard test is a skill on clicking the mouse. There will be 15 clippings, which comes one by one on clicking the mouse. A camera is being fixed on a car and the recording is done. So, when the clipping starts you will feel like you are driving the car. As you are going from the driver’s seat, there will be few hazards happening, and likely to happen on the road. So, when you are just approaching a hazard, you are supposed to click the mouse. If you could see the hazard at the right moment and click then you get a good score. Very first time I practised it at home, I could not score a pass mark. I tried two or three times and it was a great fun. Then my son got attracted to it and he scored higher marks than me. He did not know any of the traffic rules, but could score more marks. When I asked him tips, he suggested that it has to be treated like a Video game or Computer game. The problem with the hazard test is if you click too many times, you will not get any mark for identifying the hazard and you may have to go to the next clipping. We had to buy several CD’s to practise various kinds of hazard. The funniest part of this test is, even though as a driver, if you identify a hazard like a cyclist crossing a junction from a corner, it has been programmed in such a way, that you get mark only if the car reaches a particular place and you click the mouse. You should not click neither in advance, nor a second late. Being an experienced person, I used to see those hazards well in advance, and never scored mark for that, because of clicking in advance. The final day came and I cleared the Theory exam which is of very good standard. I heard that this Hazard perception test is not in USA. Only after passing your theory test, you will be allowed to take your practical test.

Now you need to learn the next skill. It is not very easy to pass a driving test in UK. I have heard just before the hazard perception test was introduced, most of the truck drivers were asked to take a practise test, and test the software and 70% of them failed. I wish they all should be asked to take a driving test nowadays in UK. I do not know how many of them would pass. The driving standard is very high. Many of my friends who have driven in USA, having come to UK have told me that the roads are very narrow and driving is not as easier as in USA. I do agree. There had been a lot of talk about the way practical driving tests are conducted in UK. I would say you need Good luck to pass your driving test. Even the last minute just before entering the driving test centre, you will be forced to make a mistake by the inexperienced driver ahead. Especially in London, it is so difficult, since there are lot of illegal drivers, and drivers with those international driving permit. Even if you are perfect, I do not know from where they come and cause problem while you take a test. They rush up and scare you when you take a three point turn, or a left corner reverse, and even if you do not make a mistake, they force you to make a mistake. Driving test is a real nightmare. However best you drive you never know. I have had many moments in the past having driven wonderfully during the test and waiting for the result from the Examiner’s mouth. The disappointment grows in large, when they point out some silly mistake. Those mistakes have a benefit of doubt. For example, waiting to let a car pass on the main road could be marked as ‘Undue Hesitation’. Once while I crossed a pedestrian crossing, there was an Old lady chatting with someone else busily and never showed any sign of crossing, but the examiner pressed the brake and said that I should have waited. If I had braked there were possibilities of him saying that I showed undue hesitation? If somebody in UK said that they have passed driving in their first attempt, they were merely lucky. (According to me they should be the luckiest person on the earth!).

OK! Why all this moaning! I was lucky enough just few weeks before to be qualified to drive on the roads of UK.

YES! I passed my driving test in UK (and fit enough to be a driving instructor which I will definitely do in the future). I am happy at last my driving skills are recognised. I owe the credit to all of my instructors who always believed my driving was of great standard, and it was most unfortunate for not having passed before. The excitement is only to know that if I had not done this time, I should have started from the scratch, since my theory pass was getting invalid the next week.

The above picture was sent by one of my colleague on hearing the news! It was captioned as 'Someone got a photo of Bal’s driving test' … LOL...I liked the sense of humour.

03 July, 2007

Last week sketches

Last week was hectic and I did not know what to draw. So thought of reading a book and started reading 'Malgudi Days' . I was very impressed with the cartoon on the cover of the book. Immediately took my pencil and sketch book and tried to copy the same. That is what you see on this page. A lad hitting a ball with his Cricket bat, where the story and drawing were originally by RK brothers. I realised that it is not easy to draw something from someone's drawings. Though I have tried to draw similarly to what I found on the cover, I am sure that I was not perfect. After finishing it within few minutes, thought of drawing someone whom I could see live in the train. I found this gentleman of African Origin a bit attractive to be drawn. He was busy conversing with some friend. I scribbled him before he could realise that I was sketching him.
Anyhow, I was glad that I could finish drawing him too. I had an interesting incident last week while drawing. Let me narrate it in my next post.
If anyone of you had been to the Trade fair exhibitions, that is being held in Island grounds,Chennai (India), you would have seen some art students drawing portraits. I think it was in 1981 or 1982, I acted as a model to be drawn as a portrait. Do you know who drew me? It was nobody than Sabu Cyril. He was a student in Arts College of Madras then. I made a note of this name. I spoke with his teacher and took back the portrait he drew me. I think it should be still there in India in my house. I knew that the artist is going to become very popular. He was calm and quiet. He was so good with his hand. I was glad and excited when he became very popular with his talents in Art direction for movies. Drawing is really a great art!