Express press service
BENGALURU: Several years ago, one sunny afternoon after finishing work, a colleague asked me if I wanted to visit the National Gallery of Modern Art. I said “yes” on a whim. We wandered around the premises and just like that, NG MA became my most loved place in Bangalore. Whenever I needed time away from the resentful realities of the material world, this was my go-to place.
Sometimes there was an exhibit that provided enough food for your brain, while other days just sitting on one of those stone benches under an old tree with a book was more than enough. There would be a constant stream of art lovers and artists going about their business. The serene pond seemed to be able to reflect our thoughts. On rainy days, when the whole world was shrouded in greyness, I would rush to the Gallery, sit with a book, drink delicious coffee and sandwiches from the canteen. At NGMA, I have always been able to write so easily, without interruptions or distractions.
All of this, of course, before the pandemic, after which I developed a constant fear of visiting public spaces. Being locked up at home for months and suffering a lot from Covid-19 had a huge effect on my psyche. For a long time after my recovery, I was very afraid to interact with strangers, even though I put on a brave face. I ride the same corner two-seater on the Namma subway to this day and am puzzled by the sea of strange faces I meet at Majestic station.
I didn’t get on a city bus after the pandemic and was about to have a panic attack after attending a wedding. When I finally decided to venture out on my own after much deliberation, it was for a book release event. I was convinced that this was the perfect place to find my old schema. I had heard of this writer and there was a good turnout. However, I started to feel claustrophobic soon after and had to rush out. It took me a little longer to get into a bookstore as I had gotten used to ordering them online. We were driving down Palace Road last week and my daughter suddenly asked me, “Wasn’t this your favorite place?” You often disappeared there,” she asked me.
I peeked at the entrance and told him it had been years now. “Why don’t you come back? ” she says. I nodded and wondered why I hadn’t thought of this place. I remembered seeing an artist sketching in a small newspaper on campus while reading Bob Dylan. She saw me looking at her and smiled. We had a brief discussion about poetry and a Korean artist whose works we had both come across some time ago. I also remembered writing a poem squatting in a scenic spot I found next to the canteen. I’ve come to realize that it’s a place of tranquility and creative fun. I plan to visit NG MA one of these days and I know I will be charmed and delighted again.