Six Tips for being the Sane Half of a Programmer!

For some of us, marrying a programmer might have been a deeply considered, well-thought-out decision, but for others it was a decree of fate. Those of us who’ve embraced a programmer as our life-partner, while in full senses, are courageous women and men, who knew exactly what they were getting into; but others, who got tossed into these turbulent waters by a quirk of fate, have learned some survival techniques through bitter experience.

Cartoon of a programmer - binary love funny -six tips - programmer jokes.

I now share some of these tips with you, and hope that you will add your own experiences to this list, and share them with others of our kind.

  1. The Bug-hunter

When you detect a roach trying to sneak in, and squeak (or scream,) “A bug…a buuuuggg!” and instead of materializing behind you as your protector, your knight in his crumpled tee and faded jeans jumps up from the sofa, shouts “where, where?” and rushes to his computer, then don’t lose heart. Don’t assume that he has lost his sense of direction or that he doesn’t love you – it’s just that he loves his programs a wee bit more.

  1. The Java-lover

When he takes that cup of coffee from you, draws in its aroma, closes his eyes and smiles – and you wait for him to say something really nice, really sweet to you; instead he sets the cup on the table, looks at the monitor, and says, “Java is awesome,” don’t ply him cups after cups of the same brew. You must learn to appreciate how one Java leads to another, and how the real turn-on is that Java which scrolls on his screen.

  1. The Bean-picker

When one morning, he finally comes unstuck from his seat, and condescends to accompany you to Mother Dairy where you look at the beans to exclaim, “Aren’t these beans looking great,” and he drops the shopping bag, grins widely, and asks, “Are they enterprise beans or session beans?” don’t surmise that he has lost his mind. He’s overawed but thrilled, because he thinks that you are finally learning to speak Codemese!

  1. The De-bugger

When he looks buggy-eyed all the time, it isn’t because he’s contracted conjunctivitis. It’s because he’s been debugging a particularly nasty piece of bug-riddled code. Debugging might sound a bit like deworming and your may wonder if it feels similar, but if you’d wait long enough, then you’ll witness a look of pure delight on his face. You will also get the opportunity to experience that Eureka moment when he fills his lungs and shouts, “I found it!” You might think that he had found a treasure trove and not a crummy bug, and you’ll want to tell him exactly that, but don’t. Just join him in his glee, and throw a party!

  1. The Code-master

When you want to find out if he still loves you and whether his love for you hasn’t been relegated to a background process, and you ask him, “Do you love me still,” but he continues to stare at the antsy-looking text called code and says, “One minute,” don’t stress yourself out wondering whether the flame of passion in your relationship was beginning to flicker. Just parse his statement, pick “one” from it, and tell yourself that zero is false and one is true, and so he still loves you!

  1. The Keyboard-Warrior

And finally, if and when you really want your keyboard warrior to come and save you, you must shout ctrl + s if he uses Windows and command + s if he works on Mac. And yes, you better find out, pronto!

My Egyptian Short Stories Collection needs a Cover Artist!

I am planning more than I am doing.

And one of things I am planning on doing is: writing a collection of short-stories set in Ancient Egypt. No mistake there. I am writing, NOT illustrating this collection. But why not? Come to think of it, if writing comes to publishing, I’d need a cover, and all the serious writer-bloggers who’ve self-published recommend that we must never make the cover ourselves. We must shell out some moolah and hire a good cover artist for our books. I agree whole-heartedly. I mean, if all writers began illustrating their own book covers, we’ll be soon out of business.

Note that a lone eye like the one below isn’t something that I am going to put on the cover. It merely tells that the artist who did this was lazy.

Egyptian Eye - Artwork for short story "The King's Chamber" by shafali.

So stretching the main logic some more and spreading it quite thin, when I write a book, I must hire a cover artist to do the cover. Hiring myself is beyond my own modest means, which means that I must find another. However, my mean-means would allow me to get only stick-figure artists!

Do you see my dilemma?

I think I’ll try to haggle with myself and try to get me to reduce my fee, but I know that my charges are very reasonable, and I’d feel terrible about bringing my own price-points down.

Do you realise that this is a Catch 22?

I think I should sling my camera around my neck, get into my time-machine, go to ancient Egypt, and shoot some pictures for my cover.

But another writer’s blog recommends that illustrated covers sell better than photographic ones, especially for the fantasy and historical fiction genres; and the fuel-bill for the time machine would burn a whole in my already quite hole-y pocket.

Have you noticed that I am stuck? 

And this is why I must plan the whole thing again! Meanwhile, if my author/artist friends shared their experiences and suggestions, I’d be grateful. I am serious about this short-story collection, so please take me seriously.

Some Brain-on-Vacation Doodling…

As a rule, I don’t publish my doodles. They should be found no place other than my to-be-shredded-in-the-future tray, and all the new ones should follow their brethren to the gallows. They aren’t pretty and they aren’t happy – and when has the world been kind to the ugly and the unhappy?

And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to throw this one away, because it tells a story in which I once played a part.

I’ll let you read the story in these overlapping, untidy lines.

Happy Unhappy Sad Curious Anxious Expressions Doodle - A Pen and Ink Drawing by Shafali

Cartoons vs. Caricatures – What is the difference?

In this short post, I would like to differentiate between cartoons and caricatures, and then discuss the gray area that lies between the two.

I’ll begin by reaching out for my Merriam Webster Collegiate dictionary – Tenth Edition. Yes, I do it the old way…lug that bulky tome to my table and then patiently flip the pages until I find the word that I am looking for!  I find the word “caricature” – in the first column of page 173. Let me pick the definition for you.

“A caricature implies a ludicrous exaggeration of the characteristic features of a subject.”

And now I flip a couple more pages to find the term cartoon.

“A ludicrously simplistic, unrealistic, one-dimensional portrayal/a preparatory drawing.”

As you can see, a caricature exaggerates the characteristic features of a subject (person, place, or thing,) whereas a cartoon is a simplistic, unrealistic, one-dimensional(?) portrayal (of what? – anything, even that of an abstract concept.) Notice the elements missing from a cartoon – a “real” subject, whose features are being exaggerated, also notice the additional element of simplistic rendering.

So exaggeration of the defining features would lead to a caricature – ex: caricature of Bill Clinton, with his nose, his jaw, his florid complexion – all exaggerated, leading to his picture becoming a funnier version of the subject’s likeness.

Icon President Bill Clinton - Cover Art and Two Page Spread done for Talk Business and Politics Magazine.

And a simplistic rendering of anything (including a subject: person, place, thing, concept) would be a cartoon – ex: the following cartoon drawing includes cartoons of three persons, a few objects, and presents a concept.

Toony Pretzels Cartoon of a doctor operating upon a patient while a nurse looks on - Theory vs. Practice

 

But then a caricature of a person may be rendered simplistically enough to be called a cartoon too, and hence the confusion. For example, the cartoons of Ajit Ninan published in The Times of India are not just simplistic renderings, but they also exaggerate the characteristic features of the politicians to poke fun on them. While they are still cartoons (simplistic rendering,) they are also caricatures of specific subjects.

Hope this boring post has managed to clarify matters:)

Now hop to my art gallery here to enjoy some colorful caricatures.

Cover Art for Fantasy Novel “Kaylyn – The Sister in Darkness” by Barbara G. Tarn.

Ten years after the return of the crusader, his people know he’s evil and try to get rid of him and his wife. Kaylyn escapes the fire of Baldwin’s manor with Bran’s help and leaves Lincolnshire for good. A long journey through 12th century Europe allows her to meet other fledglings of her mysterious maker, Bran the Raven. Then it’s Muslim Spain and up to Damascus, where everything started for Baldwin.

A travel journal through the centuries across Europe, North Africa, Asia on the Silk Road, to the court of Kublai Khan and then India for the making of her brother-in-darkness, Rajveer…

… And it’s only half of Kaylyn’s story!

Last month, Barbara G. Tarn commissioned me for her second book in the Vampire Through Centuries series. Here’s the cover of the book, which is now available for pre-order.

Cover Art for Novel - Kaylyn the Sister in Darkness by Barbara G Tarn - Medieval Vampires
My process of working on Ms. Tarn’s books begins by my reading her stories (yes, you got it. First, I get to savor the worlds she builds, enjoy the company of the characters she creates, and visit the places they go – in this case, medieval Europe and India.) She’s an awesome client, who sends me a folder of references along when she books me for a commission. In this particular case, those references helped me visualize Kaylyn’s dress correctly (12th century Europe.) The mansion behind too required help – a building from the same time, it had to be mansion (not a palace, nor a church.)

I’d like to thank Barbara G. Tarn for the opportunity.

Do visit Unicorn’s Productions website to check out the other books by this fantastic Fantasy Author and visit her personal blog here.

Face in the Fire – A Short Story and the Caricature of Anger Divine.

“If I could, I would kill him!” the man in the tattered jacket and stained trousers hissed as he watched the flames that danced violently mirroring his own state of mind.

He didn’t expect his cry to be heard, nor his pain to be felt by another. He sat in a small recess that was between two cliffs that faced each other, touching and teasing at times then moving away, just a little, just enough to let a man escape the freezing wind that could peel the skin off his face; just enough to let a man build a fire that could warm his chilled bones and melt the blood that had frozen in his veins.

“If they wouldn’t hang me for killing him, I would kill him,” he muttered to himself, contemplating why he hadn’t killed him. He knew they would hang him, or take him out to the fields, ask him to make a run for his life, then put a bullet in him – they’d call it encounter. They ignored the law when it came to punishing a crime against their own kind.

And now, more than ever before, he couldn’t die. He had to live. He couldn’t even get arrested and be put away for years.

He turned his attention to the fire. He needed to stop thinking about that man.

But how did you stop thinking about someone who stole your reason to live?
How did you tell yourself to go on, when your reason to go on, had gone away… taken away… wrenched away…hacked away?

He couldn’t staunch the flow of his thoughts, but watching the fire soothed him. The fire hadn’t lost its strength yet. It still burned strong, nearly white in the center; and a fiery orange outside. It threw a golden glow on the walls of cliffs that faced each other. The flames still danced passionately, angrily, demanding to be assimilated, absorbed in each other.

And then he saw a face – among the flames, made of flames; so full of anger that it could have been his own. The matted hair that coiled on the top, the impression of a third eye – he knew the face, and he knew that the anger that filled this face that was made of flames, was the force of justice.

Caricature Portrait of an Angry sadhu -

“What did he do?” he heard a voice, which sounded like it came from the face in the fire.

The calm voice from the angry face, made him feel better. Gradually he began remember everything in vivid detail – everything including that which reminded him why he couldn’t kill the man who had rendered his life meaningless. Images rushed to fill in the space that his receding pain and anger left vacant. He saw the woman he loved and their son waving him goodbye – the image was lit with the soft morning light that fills hearts with joy and hope. Then he saw the broken door, the picture of him and his wife on the floor with its glass shattered, and inside, he saw blood on the sheets. The light he saw it all in had the ink of night spilling into it – throwing his soul into the dark abyss of hopelessness. She wasn’t there, nor was his son. Then he saw her – bloodied, clutching her throat and dying near the scarecrow they had both built together. Finally, he saw in her fist, the piece of paper that stopped him from going after him and killing him. He had taken away their son! He had known him for fifteen years and considered him a friend.

“He should pay,” said the angry face in the fire, or he thought it said. But could he? If he killed him, and they killed his son, what then?!

The stream of his thoughts was dammed by a scream that came from above. He looked up and saw a man falling, hitting the walls, rebounding from one then from the other. He crashed to the ground just a few feet away from him on the other side of the fire he had built. Before his body struck the ground, the man’s face turned toward him. His head smashed against a boulder that lay at the bottom of the cliff’s wall and spattered it with blood, before his eyes closed forever. The police uniform that he had always admired on his friend was soaked in blood, even his badge was twisted out of shape.

The man watched spellbound. He had wanted this man to die – but his death didn’t soothe him the way he thought it would. His death couldn’t become life for her…and his son? He was still missing.

He turned to look at the fire.
The face was gone.
Or was it never there? 

He looked up, wondering if the face was up there among the stars, but it wasn’t. Instead he saw a tiny silhouette of a little head. He could’ve recognized it anywhere. Against the backdrop of a moonlit sky, he saw the child. They used to come here, father and son; they knew the place like the back of their hands. His son was safe. Now he had to only get up there and pick the threads of his life again. He had a reason to go on.

Before he prepared himself for the climb, he turned to look at the fire again. It was suddenly close to dying, like it didn’t have a reason to blaze and sing anymore.

But he was sure.

There was a face in the fire.

Aspiring Writers! Looking for the ‘W’ Factor? Let David Farland help you find it :)

A Drawerful of Manuscripts begs their Creator to Pursue Publication – This month we are sharing a writing success story for anyone who writes manuscripts with their whole heart and soul . . .

and promptly puts them in a drawer.

 Or

for anyone who stresses over if their stories have the W factor.

If you are an aspiring writer and don’t yet subscribe to David Farland’s Writing Tips, please do so now:)

Remember this badge I once shared on the blog:

Writers of the Future - Honorable Mention badge for my science fiction short story.

My first sci-fi story won an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest, and his Writing Tips newsletter is what motivated me to participate. His book Million Dollar Outlines helped me see my writing from the reader’s viewpoint, and this year, I might finally start approaching agents and publishers for those manuscripts in my desk-drawer:)

David Farland's Newsletter and Website - My Story Doctor.

On the art-front, after I’m finished with my current illustration assignment, I promise to draw a few light and bright caricatures, solely for this blog and for you:)

Three Portraits for Cover Art – Clinton, Bumpers, and Pryor

I recently did this artwork for the cover of TBP Magazine’s March-April 2016 issue. While it might look like three regular portraits of three gentlemen standing in suits, sharing a joke; the assignment was a challenging one, and when the client’s approval came in the first shot saying “I like it a lot,” it felt great.

Here’s the artwork:

Portraits of Bill Clinton, Dale Bumpers, and David Pryor for the cover of Talk Business and Politics (TBP)

 

The cover:

Portraits of Clinton, Bumpers, and Pryor for the TBP Magazine
And the story:

Portraits of Dale Bumpers, David Pryor, Bill Clinton - for Talk Business and Politics Magazine.

Photograph Courtesy: Bryan Pistole

 

The Challenge:
This might sound like a problem from the GMAT Question-paper, but it isn’t – it’s real, factual data. Mr. Bumpers (the gentleman at the left) is about 10 years older than Mr. Pryor (the gentleman at the right,) and Mr. Clinton, the rather cute looking gentleman in the middle is about 10 years younger than Mr. Pryor. Mr. Bumpers belonged to the expensive and low-res era of photography and so the web isn’t choke full of his pictures (which obviously means that the references weren’t easy to come by.) Mr. Pryor was close to retirement when the digital era began, so there were some pictures of his older self available but not many of the time when he was politically active. However, there was no dearth of pictures, as far as Mr. Clinton is concerned.

But this is just one part of it.

I needed to paint all the three gentlemen as they looked in the past; as their younger selves. That and the differences in their heights – all that had to factored in while creating this artwork. I enjoyed the challenge and also the fact that I was drawing and painting portraits for a change:)

So that’s that. Coming up soon is a post by the writer in me.

 

Feeding on the Carrion of Humanity: The Two Vultures.

The Two Vultures

“I didn’t kill it,” said the human.
“It doesn’t matter,” replied the avian. “What matters is, whether or not you want to survive.”
The human slipped deep in thought. The avian hopped closer and looked into the human’s eyes. “What’s wrong?” he enquired.
“I’ve been thinking,” replied the human.
The avian raised a brow. “If you are repelled because it’s carrion, remember that this is all what we will get to eat today, and when we have eaten, there are others who must feed on the remains.”
“No,” said the human, assessing the booty that crawled with maggots.
“No what?” asked the avian, confused.
“We can store the rest. We can use it tomorrow and the day after – why should we let others consume it?”
The avian remained silent. Storing food for tomorrow and the day after wasn’t the way of the vultures.
“But it won’t last forever, then what?” the avian asked.
The human turned to look at the avian and allowed a thin, cruel smile to creep across his lips, “then you, my friend,” he replied.

Caricatures of a man and a vulture - artwork name: two vultures .

Artwork: Two Vultures
Size: 6″x8″

Smiles – Frolic: A Color Pencil Artwork that celebrates life.

In 2014, I had started working on a series of drawings that I had named “Smiles.” I had barely managed to color one of them when I faced my first real loss – the loss of a loved one. All other drawings in this series found their way into my Incomplete Drawings folder, and have stayed there as sketches.

This morning, I was struggling to find something happy to post. As I rummaged through my drawings done during the last two years, all I came up with were dark angry works – works that have no business appearing on a caricaturist’s blog. Then I came upon this, and I thought that if it was bright enough to bring a smile to my face, it was bright enough to be posted here.

Caricature of a funny girl smiling with a mouse that swings from her ears. Smiles Caricatures by Shafali.

Series: Smiles, Title of the Work: Frolic, Actual Size: 8″x10″, Medium: Color Pencils

I hope this spring-summer caricature brightens up your day too. Now I must get back to painting the Cover for Barbara G. Tarn’s novella “Charioteer of Buddha.”

Read some, draw some, write some, but blog none? Ho hum!

I last posted about the Song of Ice and Water series by GRR Martin. I can now declare that I am two books into the series already. With the way life’s been this past month, Martin gets the credit for this feat of mine. He weaves such a complex web of tales studded with such intriguing characters, that once caught in it, you can’t leave, until you’ve traversed along every shiny sliver that holds his web of ice and water together.

So I read some.

Then I painted a magazine cover with the portraits of three gentlemen, and now I am painting another cover with a whole mad group of toony looking people on it. I got some inquiries that made me scratch my head rather furiously and lose some hair. I’m also looking forward to painting a couple of beautiful covers for SFF author Barbara G. Tarn, who is also a long time friend.

So I drew some.

I spent some time writing some short stories around the concepts that inspired my hat paintings. I should’ve been writing a new story for the new quarter of the Writers of the Future contest, but for some inexplicable reason, I was more drawn to explore the human mind and its machinations – and so ended up writing these stories, which are more in the realm of psychological fiction.

So I wrote some.

But I couldn’t blog. There are times when you want to find a quiet corner and create. I guess that the last whole month was that time for me:)

 

The Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Sometimes somethings come to you unbidden. They steal upon you with the finesse of a cat and surprise you; they wipe the frown off your brow and break your face into a smile.

I had been hankering after The Song of Ice and Fire for more than a year. Actually, since I watched Game of Thrones on TV. I’d look it up whenever I’d visit a book shop, but I could never bring myself to buy it. A set of seven books, each splitting at the seams with about a thousand pages, can make you worry. Will you be able to read them all? Will you like the author’s writing style? Will the story be engaging enough? It’s one thing to sit through an hour-long episode and another to plod through an unending ocean of words. Before you’ve read an author, you never know whether his words are tiny angels that will take you in a world that you won’t want to leave, or little black devils that will plunge you into the depths of reading hell. I had never read anything by George R. R. Martin, so I had no idea what kind of little guys his words were.

Now you must be wondering why I didn’t buy just one book at first and then went for the others? That would be the practical thing to do. Unfortunately, I am not practical. I haven’t made a single practical decision in my life. I am impulsive and emotional. One of the zillion impractical impulses that drive my life is buying books that aren’t just great to read but that also look beautiful. I also like books from an author to look like they belong to him. So unless I’ve already fallen for a specific writer’s work, and I must buy their books as soon as they hit the stalls, I enjoy getting sets. They give me a sense of security and continuity. I know that after finishing one book, I’ll have the next one waiting!

Now George Martin’s books tell one long story, they look mysterious and attractive, and I couldn’t say if I’d be hooked or be saddled – and so the plan of getting the books went into limbo, but the secret yearning didn’t fade away.

Three days ago, I received an unexpected gift. Wrapped in red, it stood on my desk. I suddenly knew what a groom in an Indian arranged marriage feels when he first sees his bride – a package wrapped in red, a bundle of surprises, but first he must lift the veil.

I picked it up, expecting it to be lighter than it was, and immediately knew that it had books inside. All those words, they weigh a lot. For the last whole month, I hadn’t mentioned my craving for GRRM’s books – not once! And yet, there they were! Looking awesome, fantastical, mysterious, rich, and inviting!

Here’s a picture of my treasure:

Song of Ice and Fire - the set of 7 Books - Game of thrones by George R. R. Martin.

Ready to forget myself!

The books in the picture aren’t in sequence. Here’s the order in which you must read the series “A Song of Ice and Fire”:

  1. A Game of Thrones
  2. A Clash of Kings
  3. A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow
  4. A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold
  5. A Feast for Crows
  6. A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust
  7. A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast

I’m already at page 359 of A Game of Thrones, and this is just the beginning of my journey into Westeros and Essos.

I am also reminded of the only Game of Thrones character that I’ve ever sketched – Peter Dinklage in the role of the unforgettable Tyrion Lannister – the only Lannister who stands tall (I speak from what I know of him through the first 359 pages.)

Caricature, Cartoon, Pencil Portrait of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) - Game of Thrones

Knowledge and Cunning are my most lethal weapons!

 

 

Interview with StudioVox

Dear Art-lover Visitor,

This one is for you. StudioVox interviewed me last month, and the interview went live just a few hours ago.  StudioVox is an online network for creative professionals. They’ve recently partnered with Robert Redford‘s Sundance Studios to provide artists with an opportunity to exhibit their works in the Studio’s gallery.

If you are interested in learning my thoughts on caricature-drawing and painting and are looking for a few quick tips, head over to StudioVox.

Shafali Anand Caricaturist Interview with Studio Vox

If you want to set up and Art Gallery and connect with fellow artists, Studio Vox provides an interesting, easy-to-use environment that facilitates connecting with other artists.

Writers of the Future Contest – Honorable Mention.

Here’s the story of the story that I wrote for the Writers of the Future Contest, and which won me this cute blue badge:)

Writers of the Future - Honorable Mention badge for my science fiction short story.

It all began in mid-September with David Farland’s newsletter, in which he mentioned that the deadline for sending the fourth quarter entries for Writers of the Future contest was September 30th. Like all serious readers of his newsletter, I considered the date seriously, and noted it on my whiteboard. Then I checked out the site and realized that the contest invited entries only in Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, which meant that the stuff that I had been writing until then, which included modern-day mysteries, thrillers, or even inspirational stories involving non-fantastical real world beings such as cats, dogs, even birds; wasn’t welcome.

This limited the scope somewhat. My connection with fantasy genre is limited to a casual reading of Tolkien’s LOR and an artist’s peek into my wonderful client Barbara G. Tarn’s books. That left me pondering if science fiction was something I could play with. I enjoy watching science fiction movies and I am Michael Crichton fan. My regular readers know that I own a rickety time-machine that has developed a habit of running out of fuel in odd places and times. Oh, and I am an engineer by education. All this made me decide upon science-fiction as the genre for my contest-entry.

And so I wrote a story and uploaded it for the contest. Right after the bird had flown, I began to see the cracks in my story. My descriptions of smells, sounds, even the characters were either non-existent or minimal;  stuff that I had just skipped over suddenly started looking important, the climax of the story came too late, the resolution could’ve been stronger…the list went on and on – the only thing that actually made sense still, was the story, and a wow that it had garnered from its only reader, my rougher and saner other-half. After berating myself for being in such a tearing hurry all the time, I shook my head, got rid of those nagging thoughts, forgot about the story I had sent, and got back to work.

In the first week of December, I received a surprise email from Ms. Joni Labaqui of Galaxy Press telling me that I had won an Honorable Mention for my story. The badge arrived this morning and I just had to share it:)

So there you go. That was my story of the story that I wrote for the Writers of the Future contest.

Now I must get back to the drawing tablet:) I will share some of my new creations with you very soon.

 

Pilgrims arrive in Cuba – Illustration: Governor Hutchinson & Castro Brothers

Following is one of my more recent illustrations for the Talk Business and Politics magazine.
Pilgrims on Mayflower - Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson travels to Cuba to meet Castro Brother for trade. Illustration for the magazine Talk Business and Politics

The Artwork:

On the left page, you see Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Randy Veach, and Lisenne Rockefeller. The right page has the Castro brothers (Fidel Castro and Raul Castro) in a red car. The left page artwork (which also was the cover-art) is conceptualized around the Pilgrims theme.

The Pilgrims:

In 1620, 132 people sailed from England to America (or the New World.) They arrived on the shores of America in an awkward looking ship called the Mayflower. This ship wasn’t built for long voyages on the open seas, and so the journey from England to the East Coast of America lasted two long months. Upon arriving at Cape Cod, they experienced a climate that was colder than they were used to, so they stayed aboard facing an outbreak of a disease that dwindled their number to 53. The passengers then made huts, settled down, and came to be known as the pilgrims.  Land was sighted on November 9, 1620 and it was then that the first prayer of thanksgiving was offered.

The connection:

The brief was that the Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and two other dignitaries who traveled to Cuba with trade-plans must be shown as the pilgrims approaching the Cubans in a ship (Mayflower.)

The Castro Brothers:

Fidel and Raul Castro have ruled Cuba for more than 50 years. The brothers are often seen together in public.

US-Cuba Relations:

More than 50 years ago, Cuba was placed under sanctions by US. The sanctions that were the outcome of a tussle on oil were imposed in the Kennedy era, and are still in existence. A few years ago, relations between the two countries began to thaw, with both President Obama and Raul Castro “apparently” being on the same page of the embargo story.

And yet, Cuba isn’t really opening its heart for trade with the United States, because despite the green-flag that the United States has been waving on the business front, the embargo is still on – and they would remain until Cuba demonstrates democracy. In general human rights in cuba have been a serious concern for the world-community. According to the US Government, between 1959 and 1993, 1.2 Million Cubans left Cuba for the US for reasons ranging from political executions, forced labor camps, and myriad other instruments of oppression have been in use to the lack of decision-making freedom on issues of health, religion etc.

For the embargo to go, Cuba must become more democratic. Changes are underway and the US Government has been taking a note of it. For instance in 2011, it became legal for Cubans to buy and sell homes. In 2013, Cuba abolished travel restrictions, allowing Cubans to travel the world over. If things move in the right direction, Americans might even get an opportunity to own a home in Cuba.

Right now, US and Cuba are approaching each other with caution and hope:)

Check out the Cover Art here.

 

7 Googling Accidents – What they wanted and what they found.

There’s a saying that an empty mind is the devil’s workshop. Yesterday, my mind was empty, and so the devil rented it for a day, set up office, and went rummaging my stats.

This is what it found:

1. madurie dik shet necked pic

Either you know what that is or you don’t. The underside of being a screen-diva is that about half the world population wants to witness you in all your “necked” glory. It doesn’t matter if the diva is now past her prime, it doesn’t matter if she now wears the highly respectable shoes of an Indian mom, all they want it to see her “necked” pic. Now why a passionate search for such “pics” of Ms. Dik shet should bring someone to my blog is beyond my comprehension. I never sketched nor painted Ms. Dik shet, and I never draw necked pics. In fact, sometimes, even the mice I draw are either wearing diapers or at least a bandolier.

2. download images of scheching in acters

Scheching in acters? What is scheching?

  • Scratching?
  • Measles?
  • A euphemism of something unspeakable?

Or could it be a euphemism for sketches? Aha. Perhaps it is. Glad I got it right. But why download such images, if not for the nefarious purpose of painting over another artist’s sketch. Over the years I’ve received odd requests. A lady wanted to “copy” my caricatures and sell them with my permission; a gentleman wanted to use a drawing to create a 3D model of the face with it, another young man wanted to use a caricature for his avatar. I come across bloggers using images of paintings that they found by googling in their blogposts – without a permission statement/declaration that it’s a free image.

3. +18 caricature stories

Now this is a 66 percent match! caricatures and stories you can find here but unfortunately the +18 stuff isn’t. (I presume +18 is the steamy stuff of the “necked” kind.) I am genuinely curious to find how that search-string was born. Do people really enjoy +18 stories drawn as caricatures? Perhaps they do. Years ago I heard of a comic that presented a certain bhabhi (elder brother’s wife,) a +18 super-woman who engaged in various +18 acts with a wide-range of men. I am not a caricaturist who does those kind of drawings. Sorry searcher. You’ve got to take your searches elsewhere.

4. pics of dirty and comedy indian people with name laxman

I’m lost again. Dirty and comedy Indian people with name Laxman? Specifically named Laxman? Huh? I know that dirty clothes can actually make you look funny (comedy) but only if the dirt tells a story. My blog isn’t about Laxman, nor about dirty and “comedy” people, and so I trust that this searcher didn’t find what he or she was looking for, at least on my blog. I wish the searcher luck and cleanliness.

5. death caricatures

What?
Are you really looking for caricatures of death? I am not sure if I’ve understood your requirement correctly. I also have a feeling that upon arriving on my blog, you felt cheated. You wanted to give me a single-star rating and tell me that you didn’t find what you had expected, and so in your opinion my blog isn’t good, while I’ll continue to wonder how a basket of fresh apples could be rotten just because you were looking for oranges.

6. pictures of ugly people cartoon drawing of a naked woman

???

Ok. Pick one of the following:

  • Ugly people drawing naked woman
  • Cartoon drawing of ugly people with naked woman
  • Cartoon drawing of naked woman watching pictures of ugly people
    Pictures of ugly people that’ve grown hands and are now animatedly drawing a naked woman
Now the clincher.
None of these options are available on this blog. Ugly and naked don’t happen here.

7. was cleopatra ugly ?

Finally. Now this is a question that only an intelligent person can ask. Cleopatra’s pedigree doesn’t matter. The fact that she was the last Pharaoh of Egypt doesn’t matter. That she could seduce both Caesar and Antony and wrap them around her pinkie doesn’t matter. All her accomplishments don’t matter. She couldn’t have become this famous by using her brains – could she? If she weren’t beautiful, then how in the world she did all that?

Good question. It is answered on this blog. Search again.

My Tutankhamun Affair resulted in this Caricature!

First, the caricature.

Caricature of a Grumpy Old Man (Inspired from the description of Theodore Davis in The Tutankhamun Affair by Christian Jacques)

My friends know that I love Egypt. Not the bundle of confusion that it is today, but the Egypt that existed in its glorious past – the Ancient Egypt. Blinded by this love, a few years ago, I purchased a book called “The Tutankhamun Affair.” It is written by Christian Jacq, an author noted for the fiction and non-fiction works on Egypt. My friends also know that I have a marked preference for fiction. When I picked up the book around a decade ago, I had no idea that the guy wrote non-fiction too…and that I was buying a somewhat boring biographical account of Howard Carter’s quest for Tutankhamun’s tomb.

I brought the book home and settled down for a thrilling ride that I hoped would take me through both ancient and modern Egypt. As I started turning its pages, I realized that there were easier ways to die than reading The Tutankhamun Affair, and as dying wasn’t on my to-do list, I pushed the book the farthest I could inside my boring-books book-rack.

A month ago, one of my archaeological expeditions yielded The Tutankhamun Affair – a book I hadn’t read. So I gave it another shot.

Oddly, I didn’t find it as boring this time as I did earlier. Either my own boredom-resistance quotient has gone up, or I’ve learned a few things in the last 10 years – things that now enable me to relate to the tribulations of poor Mr. Carter.

I know that the yarn is growing longer – before you get tangled up and are thrown off-balance and off my blog, I’ll let the story of this imaginary caricature of Mr. Theodore Davis out of the bag.

Mr. Davis appears on page 124 of the soft-cover edition.

“Of average height, Theodore Davis gave an impression of weakness.He did not move without a stick, hid his throat with a white scarf and covered his head with a wide-brimmed hat. His Jodhpurs and puttees made him look like a rider without his horse. A thick moustache spread like the wings of a bird covering the lower part of his face. His gaze was aggressive behind the round lenses of his tiny spectacles.” – Chapter 28, The Tutankhamun Affair by Christian Jacq

I removed his Jodhpurs and puttees and gave him a sensible pair of trousers. (Jodhpurs and puttees are both Indian terms – puttees: bandages.)

That description painted a picture for me and I laughed. So I drew that picture for you, hoping that it would make you laugh too:) I hope it does.

Paris Attacks – Why?

Paris Attacked

They attack everything that celebrates life.
They love to spread hatred and sow strife.

They do it…
Because they follow orders unthinking,
They walk around like zombies, unblinking.

They do it…
Because they think that the world is theirs by right.
They kill because they want to show their might.


They walk into a concert, they throw grenades,
they blow-up and smoke rises against the colonnades,

They do it…
Because venom was injected in their blood-stream,
long before they began to love, desire, and dream.

They do it…
Because caught in the web of their rote-learning,
they only want to see everything else burning.

Pen and Ink portrait of a girl - 9/11 and Terrorism. Cue-art for Creativity Carnival.

Sometimes the harshness of reality blinds us. It makes us avert our eyes, turn our back, and run away – back to the comfort of our homes, where we think we are safe.
But the reality doesn’t cease to exist.
It exists as 9/11, 11/26, Charlie Hebdo, and yesterday’s Paris Attacks.
We see the flares and wonder how it may have happened.
Then we turn and go back to the comfort of our homes, where we think we are safe.

 

The Kingfisher – About Rain, Dew, Tears, and Fish.

As a student of Management, I had learned about TOMA or Top of the Mind Awareness. If we remove the chaff of the jargon, what it means is that some brands grow so big, that when a customer thinks of an industry, that particular brand comes to his mind first. For instance, if I think of sport-shoes, I think of Nike, if I think of watches, I think Titan, and so on. TOMA is the final stage of creating brand-awareness – the first two being brand-recognition and brand-recall.

This is precisely the case with this kingfisher who often sits on the electricity wire that kills the view from my window. I sometimes wonder how various animals and birds make such connections. Either evolution hardwired these connections in them or they got conditioned to make these connections, but whenever I look at the kingfisher, I feel that he’s connecting the dots.

Bird kingfisher painting - wildlife, pets, and bird paintings by shafali

A single-minded, focused individual is like this kingfisher here. An artist or a writer is however the stark opposite of this kingfisher. For these ilk of people, a raindrop is pregnant with a hundred possibilities; a dewdrop with a thousand. The creatives need the kingfisher to continue creating; the kingfishers need the creatives to make their lives worthwhile.

The Caricaturist Returns from Krypton via Atlantis!

Just returned:)

A time-travel-space-travel combo can leave you drained! As you might’ve already surmised, my visit to Krypton took place in the past, before the planet had exploded. I didn’t go there by choice, General Zod‘s forces had abducted me and taken me away to caricature the whole council of elders. (Apple-polisher, that General Zod.) I had finished creating all their caricature-portraits just a few days before the cataclysm – and from there I was jettisoned into the future and landed in Argo City. Most of my time there, I was a prisoner who was tortured and had to draw whatever they wanted me to draw.

Superman helped me escape. Mainly because Krypto the Superdog put in a good word for me. I must tell you that Superman might be a great guy otherwise, but he really needs to wash that cape of his.

Unfortunately, before I could land safely back and before my feet could find solid ground, Superman was charmed away by a bevy of Atlantian beauties; meanwhile I was whisked away to Atlantis, where I was once again forced to paint their council of elders.

Last night, I suddenly woke up in my own bed. I have no idea how I reached home, but I have a feeling that the Atlantians decided that I was changing a nation of beautiful people into caricatures of themselves, and so they decided that enough was enough!

And so, ladies and gentlemen! I am back:)