Cartoon: Gay Marriage Legalized – Republicans Bristle, Democrats Giggle.

Now is the time for the elephant to pull himself up, dust himself off, and get to work on larger issues.
Cartoon: Gay Marriage Legalized – Republicans Bristle, Democrats Giggle.
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Scotus makes Gotus fall in love with it – A Toony Pretzels Cartoon. (Gay Marriages become legal)

On June 26, 2015, in a historic ruling, the Supreme Court made gay marriages legal all through the United States.

There are two sides to this coin.

Side 1 thinks of gays as an aberration, even an abomination, and while the moderates among these feel that gays may be allowed to do what they want in the privacy of their homes but marriage must only be between a man and a woman, as it was ordained by god as union for the purpose of recreation;  they hate Scotus for making gay-marriages legal.

Side 2 thinks that being gay shouldn’t mean that a person must either never marry, or marry a person of opposite sex in order to have a family and/or have children. They believe that they have the right to live life as they see fit and have a legal and ethical union with the person they love.

  • Does Side 1 own the institution of marriage?
  • Is Side 2 asking for the sky in asking for a legal and moral stamp on their union? 

Here’s a Toony Pretzel that I did a few years ago. It’s been sitting in the hard-disk of my computer…and I think it’s the right time to get a tiny smile out of it.

gay-marriages-legal-in-US-scotus-supreme-court-decision-love-wins-cartoon-toony-pretzels-by-shafali

Of course, there are other issues. Important ones. What happens in the military – where men have always been men and brothers-in-arms? What happens in the case of property disputes? How will the children that are adopted by such parents cope? The answer to all these questions is: we’ll know soon enough. I believe that humans are resourceful and they can usually find their way out of any situation.

Yet, in a world where we speak of the rights of people regardless the color of their skin, their gender, their religion; in a world where even convicts are allowed to marry and enjoy conjugal visits; why must people be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual preference? I’ve had some gay-acquaintances, they are some of the nicest people I know. I think the world needs to focus its attention on the criminals and the terrorists…isn’t it odd that America still hasn’t made up its mind about them?

 

Caricature – Bobby Jindal: Beautifully Brown and Seriously Smart – Announces Presidential Run.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced his candidacy for the US President on June 24th, 2016 and I am glad he did because I got the opportunity to paint an Indian face. It’s funny how skin color actually matters in art. Here’s a portrait of Bobby Jindal that made people wonder if he was actually a white. The artist either wanted to make a point (that the color of our skin doesn’t matter) or he just didn’t want to go out and buy new tubes of burnt sienna and yellow ochre, and so painted with whatever colors he had in his inventory.

Anyway, the great thing about painting portraits and caricatures digitally is that you never run out of colors…and a brown-skinned man remains brown-skinned 🙂

Caricature Cartoon Portrait (not the official one that sparked a controversy) of Bobby Jindal - Two-term Louisiana Governor who is now a Republican candidate for the 2016 Presidential Elections

Wha…? “Am I not white?”

Now a teeny-weeny itsy-bitsy biography of this “Indian-American” who detests this particular hyphenation. But I’ll let the cynics know that it doesn’t matter if he wants to disown his Indian roots, Indians will always know him as his own…as long as he looks Indian and bears an Indian name, he’s an Indian for Indians. Still clucking? Check the Indian Newspapers.)

Piyush Jindal (ok, he likes to be called Bobby) was born to a Punjabi-Indian immigrant couple in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was a very smart kid, who grew up into a very smart young man, and got admission to Harvard Medical School as well as to Yale Law School. He also won the Rhodes scholarship and so pursued his higher education in Oxford.

He got married to Supriya, whose parents too had migrated to the same city around the same time as his parents. The couple happened to go to the same school too. Now they have three children, none of them have Indian names/surnames (smart move, going by the remarks that some Americans (of Indian and other origins) have been making on Twitter,) and Bobby Jindal is onto his second term as the Governor of Louisiana.

And yet,

Should Bobby Jindal have really run for the President at this point in time?

While his first term as the Governor was considered a super-success (he was re-elected by a huge margin) his second term is considered a super-failure. Why? Well….he tinkered with the budget for education…and a few other things too.

He is a conservative (sounds odd that being a child of immigrants he is a conservative, but then so is Marco Rubio) and he leans to the far right. He isn’t keen on being reminded of his Indian heritage because he rightly believes that his parents went to America to be Americans and that if they wanted to remain Indian, they’d have stayed back in India; and he’s not a Hindu (as his name would mislead you into believing,) he converted to Christianity when he was a teenager.

Though this might not be the best time for him to run for the presidential election and though I don’t agree with his views on Abortion and Gay-marriages, I still wish him the best 🙂

International Yoga Day (Caricature Art)

The mood is upbeat. Today is the International Yoga Day. One might think that UN suddenly woke up to the health-concerns of the world and made this announcement. It did wake up, but only after some lobbying by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who himself starts his day with yoga.

(Feel Free to reuse this caricature-artwork graphic, to laud this day and to herald Harmony & Peace. Though welcome, no special credit/link-back is required, but please use the graphic as-is, in its entirety.)

Caricature of Narendra Modi and The International Yoga Day Symbol - June 21

 

May the world become healthier and happier.

Amen!

Jeb Bush: Will the eagle soar despite his name? (Cartoon)

On June 15th, Jeb Bush or “John Ellis Bush” Bush announced that he is a candidate for the President of United States. As a candidate, the biggest problem that Jeb faces is that of his surname. Before him, two Bushes (George Bush Sr. and George W. Bush) have been Presidents, and there are enough Americans who aren’t keen on seeing another Bush in the White House. The comments that I see on Jeb Bush’s Facebook page, his announcement to run, and his recent interview with Sean Hannity, inspired this cartoon.

Cartoon Caricature go Jeb Bush as an eagle trying to fly despite the legacy of his name.

Will he break free?

I’ve just finished watching Jeb Bush’s Interview with Sean Hannity (Fox News.) I enjoyed the interview – and though it wasn’t as entertaining nor as un-diplomatic as Donald Trump’s announcement, it left me wondering whether his name could be the only thing that might stop him from becoming the Republican nominee.

As a two-term Florida Governor he has credentials to show. His political outlook is moderate conservative and he might have a certain appeal for the hispanic and the Asian voter. in fact, his viewpoint on certain topics (for instance, gay-marriages) has been moving toward moderate in the recent past.

And yet, there are voters on both sides of the fence, who don’t want to send another Bush to the White House. Jeb is perpetually on the receiving end of pokes and barbs about his name. In all probability he understands the liability of his name better than anyone else – he stood in front of a red on white board with “Jeb!” printed in red. No Bush, only Jeb. 

 

Hitler is a lock, an ice-cream, and a packet of cigarettes – so what’s the deal?

Recently someone took a picture of an ice-cream cart selling Hitler ice-cream. The cart also had an image of Hitler on it. While this picture  and the fact that someone was wretched enough to brand their ice-cream Hitler, has made a lot of people squirm in their seats; I don’t understand how Indians can go about raising eyebrows, wondering how someone could do something so (gasp!) “tasteless.”

Adolf Hitler, the Nazi Dictator, the Designer of the Holocaust and the Devil - News from Hell.

The Devil Abdicates…

Here are three reasons that I can think of:

1. Most Indians use the term “Hitler” to refer to an authoritative and disciplinarian figure. So if an aunt stops little kids from going out in the sun and playing, behind her back, she’s branded Hitler Aunty. If dad doesn’t cough up the moolah that sonny boy needs for going on a date, daddy dearest is termed Hitler. When mom asks dad not to drink so much that his friends have to drag his flopping body into the house, the next morning, dad tells the kids that their mom is a Hitler. When a teacher is strict about Homework, she is a Hitler. The boss is always a Hitler. These are just a few examples. Actually, at some point in their lives everyone must’ve been called a Hitler. Why? Even some dogs are names Hitler.

Why?

Don’t ask me. Started happening long before I was born, and will continue to happen – despite the teeny-weeny tweets done by our politicians and paparazzi alike.

2. Tiny villages that don’t care about social media still dot the Indian Landscape. Most of the villagers there won’t even care what the English-spouting, social-media savvy, colonial past-toting jokers like us are saying about Hitler. For them – the ice-cream must be sweet and cold – doesn’t matter whether it goes by the name of Hitler or the Queen of England. What the British were doing to us cannot be termed as cuddling either – so why are we so chummy with them, then? You want to do the explaining? Learn the regional language first…or at least learn Hindi – it is officially the national language of India. Wondering how many of the English-speaking elite can handle that? Trust me, nobody knows what Hitler did and most don’t know anything about Holocaust. They aren’t being evil or heartless – they just don’t know. They just want to sell that damn ice-cream, so that the hawker and the manufacturer can both go home and feed their kids.

3. India isn’t packed full of Jewish people either and that makes it doubly difficult to explain the whole Holocaust tragedy to a lay-Indian. According to this Wikipedia link  India is home to 5000 Jewish people. 5000?!  In a population of 1.252 Billion, it’s actually quite difficult to bump into a Jewish person, let alone know their history. Do you think that because an ice-cream or a lock or a pack of cigarettes, or even a fashion store is called Hitler, Indians become Nazis or anti-semitic? Perhaps you also think that the Hindu Swastika is a symbol of the Nazis? You’ve got it upside down, my friend. Hitler stole the revered and respected symbol of good-luck from India and turned it into the much-hated symbol of the Nazis. That flushes Swastika’s glorious 3500 year old history down the drain. 

I do wonder at times whether our politicians really know the ground realities of India. When Shashi Tharoor says that naming the ice-cream Hitler was the height of tastelessness, he makes people wonder whether he really is an Indian who understands the nuances of Indian day-to-day life. Had he called it the height of ignorance, it would have made at least some sense. And when he doesn’t criticize the Hitler Didi show on the television, and doesn’t try to stop Hitler Hero from screening, one begins to wonder why.

Hitler shouldn’t be glorified – that’s right; but the critics must understand the context and the ignorance that in the first place made Hitler such an everyday word in India – and now that it has happened; don’t vilify those who did it in ignorance or in innocence. By doing this you mimic Hitler who killed the Jewish people because he “felt” they didn’t deserve to live.

If knowledge doesn’t bring along a willingness to understand the reasons and motives of others; if all that reading and learning cannot alleviate us above the need to make a mountain of an insignificant molehill; those who missed out on this education and decided that Hitler can be the name of their ice-cream are better. They do it in ignorance – we do it with full knowledge.

Why Symbolism can go where Realism can’t.

Let us begin by understanding the two terms.

Realism:

Realism, especially modern realism, which flourished at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and since then has fallen into a predictable rhythm, is about depicting a scene as-is, with almost photographic precision. There has been another school of art also called realism, which flourished in the medieval times, and which presented an idealized and beautified version of a picture.

Let me explain through an example. If you were to paint the scene of a bench in a park with a garbage bin in the vicinity – as a modern realist, you’d show the banana peel under the bench, and if perchance the garbage disposal squad hadn’t arrived by then and the bin was overflowing, you’d diligently paint the garbage too.  However, if you were attempting to replicate medieval realism (closer to romanticism,) your painting will have replaced the banana peel with a dandelion and the garbage bin with a statue of a voluptuous woman. In both cases, you’d have painted the proportions, the colors, the lights and shadows…and everything else very, very realistically.

So that was about realism. Now, let us talk about symbolism.

Symbolism:

Simply speaking, symbolism is the use of symbols in your imagery. For instance, if you want to show pain and agony along with the feeling of being trapped, you might use objects that relate to these feelings (so an artist may decide that the imagery of a barbed wire fence with a bloodied rag could convey the feeling,) or you might use a totally different representation to “show” the mental condition of such a person. How an artist wishes to symbolize a feeling, an idea, a thought, is for the artist to decide.

Do you see the difference?

Realism vs. Symbolism – The Difference

Realism is a faithful replication while Symbolism is the presentation of the artist’s interpretation. For this reason, odd and unrelated imagery may be found in a symbolist’s art. The artist would always have an interpretation for the artwork that he or she created, but as a person viewing the artwork, the audience must carry away their own interpretation of it. Just the way a writer explains a character’s personality, thought-process, plans, ideas, fears, expectations etc. all through the use of similes and metaphors, the artist uses the visual counterpart of these tools to establish a story within an artwork.

This is why Symbolism can go where realism can’t. Realism can present you with the faithful representation of the visual that the artist sees, but it cannot take you into the hearts and minds of people, it cannot tell you the story of a person, it cannot transfer feeling and emotion into the artwork. No amount of realistic imagery can tell you anything about the thoughts that crowd the mind of a woman who becomes a dacoit after being gang-raped; Nothing in the domain of realism can show you the mental strength and capability of a man fighting his own schizophrenic demons. To paint such pictures, you must step out of the comfort zone of realism.

Photographers – The New Realists

The photographers today do a better job at realistic depiction of visuals. Some photographs have the ability to evoke emotions so powerful that they move nations into action. And yet, a single photograph cannot take you on a visual odyssey into the world of feelings, thoughts, emotions, or even stories – because stories don’t happen at a point in time, they happen over time – and this is where the artist steps in and  takes you beyond the surface of the paint, into a world that begins to make sense…little by little.

Most artists start as realists. They faithfully paint what they see. Then they begin to feel the constraints and start exploring. Dali discovered Surrealism, Andy Warhol found Pop Art, and Picasso got Cubed. I don’t think that artists deliberate too much upon the path their art would eventually take – I think their art finds its own direction and then they just follow.

I think I’ve just finished writing the Dummy’s Guide to Realism vs. Symbolism 🙂 I am sure you’ve got it all. Now I must find my digital easel and get back to work. 

Malcolm Gladwell vs. John Paulson – Making sense of a $400 Million donation to Harvard.

I am appalled!

A $400 Million donation to a $30 Billion Institution!!

Gasp!!!

It’s crass.
It’s gaudy.
It’s ugly.

But when Malcolm Gladwell, the author of several non-fiction super-sellers such as The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, did those smart and sarcastic tweets on John Paulson’s donation to Harvard, some low-thinking individuals tried to bring the house down upon his head. (Read: Malcolm Gladwell just went nuts on a Wall Street billionaire’s $400 million donation to Harvard)

Caricature Portrait of Malcolm Gladwell, the Author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and What the Dog Saw.Here are some of his tweets:

Malcolm Gladwell tweets about John Paulson's $400 Million donation to harvard.

First, I’d like to ask the Malcolm-critics:

What’s wrong with Gladwell criticizing the donation?

He’s got all the right in the world to drag Paulson’s name through the mud. After all, even I deserve that $30 Billion more than Harvard does. Why? Because I don’t have a billion, or even a million. I am so much poorer than Harvard – and that makes me more deserving of Paulson’s 400 Million donation.

Twitter has played cupid and made me fall in love with Gladwell who has said what I’ve been saying all along – albeit a bit differently, and a lot more humorously. People who can buy diamonds, shouldn’t buy them for their loved ones; people who have amassed a fortune, shouldn’t leave it their families – why? Because those loved ones are rich too…and hence they aren’t deserving enough – there are enough who are poorer (poverty being a relative concept,) and they must become the heirs to the rich.

There’s a pitfall in my reasoning though and that becomes my first argument in favor of what Paulson did. (Gasp again – I mean, how could he give it away all to Harvard? but I’ll reserve the whining for later…)

Argument 1: It’s my money – so I decide.

Most people are motivated to earn because they feel they have the right to decide how they must dispose their earnings – and most people prefer to spend their money on those who they love or care about. Recall that self-actualization need comes after family and belongingness needs (Abraham Maslow) – and your alma-mater is…well, your “nourishing mother” and hence family. John Paulson admits that he owes his unprecedented success to Harvard – and so he decides to gift “some of it” to his foster mother, who’s already rich no doubt, but who can still use that money to help her other “children” through life. How in the world does this compare with donating for the cause of poverty?

This of course, is one viewpoint.

Argument 2: I’d rather help those who can help others.

Another viewpoint is that – helping the ones who can help others results in greater benefit to mankind. So if Paulson thinks that his alma mater could find a good use for his money – he is actually investing in the future of mankind – and that in itself is an act of philanthropy. If an institution consistently produces billionaires and multimillionaires and they donate a part of their wealth for the poor of the world – the poor get more.

Argument 3: You invest in today, I invest in tomorrow.

For the third argument in Paulson’s defense, I would like to say that who one must donate to (or whether one must donate at all) is a personal choice – and giving money to an educational institution has a far greater impact on humanity than any other kind of donation. True that the impact may not be as immediate as in the case of donating food and health supplies, yet someone has to do it – or in a few centuries from now, we’d all have reverted to growling and snapping at each-other’s heels…we’d be back to living a life centered around fulfilling our basic needs.That would wipe the artists and the writers out of existence. And neither Mr. Gladwell nor I would like that. (Excuse my quick and distorted but inevitable time warp example. I am a caricaturist and I thrive on exaggeration, which brings the imperfection into sharp focus.)

But all said, I am still in love with Malcolm Gladwell – and I defend his right to tweet his thoughts. They are an exact echo of my thoughts, and I thank him for putting them across – because his words are stronger (and far more retweetable) than mine. I too would’ve preferred that John Paulson had directed at least a quarter percent of his donation towards me – the rest could go to poorer folks, along with the donations made by a zillion other billionaires and organizations.

And to top it all…Harvard just doesn’t need that money. The keyword here is “need,” you see? 

115 F, a blistered finger, and feeling blessed.

The middle of an Indian summer isn’t exactly paradise. During the two months of May and June, the fire of hell escapes from the belly of earth and smothers us with a blanket of hot air that scalds the lungs and burns the skin. The afternoon temperature hovers between 110 and 120 F – the computers heat up, and so does my direct-to-screen drawing tablet.

In the middle of all this, I find myself working on an urgent assignment that, as I will later discover, to work from 6 in the morning to 7 in the evening. I wake up, ready to go to work, hoping that I’ll be able to use the air-conditioning for those few hellish hours of the day; and then the unthinkable happens. Right at 5 AM, the power goes off! while the heat hasn’t begun to show its true colors yet, I am devastated!

As I try to introspect and reschedule my work to afternoon, wondering if sending the files to the client in the middle of the night would make any sense; I see a tiny speck of hope. “It’s a planned power-cut of 6 hours,” said the official newspaper reader of the house who is also my organized-to-a-fault much better half.

So I decide to work until the power-backup exhausted itself. No Air-conditioning – aircons are power-hogs and they aren’t plugged-in to the backup. Without the air-conditioning, my Cintiq heats up and starts scorching my fingers. A small selfish part of me keeps praying for the backup to die. It would cut this torture short and give me a temporary respite. It doesn’t happen. The tablet continues to heat up…the air around keeps pace.

The power comes back on 30 minutes earlier than expected. Awesome! A quick breakfast and I am back to work. And then it hits me. The artwork that I was working on was complex and it would take me a very long time to finish it. Especially if I took all those breaks that the Doctor advised. So I do the unthinkable – with my fingers crossed, I take my chances. I decide to work non-stop (except for the loo-breaks) until I am done with my work. I am hopeful that I’d be done by 4 PM. I strike gold – finish the sketch on time – but with an angry red boil on the side of my little finger.

I should’ve been happy that it was done – I should’ve given my tired me a break from work, but I couldn’t. All through the day, I was nagged by the thought that a part of the concept didn’t appear convincing…and I had to handle it somehow. What the client wants is something that you must create, but what your conscience suggests is something that you mustn’t ignore. So I return to my art-mate, sketching furiously – creating an option that would take out the thorn from me side. Providing a possible alternate to something that I feel may potentially harm the client, is my job – or so I think. All that extra work – Not pragmatic? Perhaps…but it leaves me more at peace with myself.

So I work three extra hours and upload the sketches by 7 PM.

Delivered as promised; delivered as it should’ve been 🙂

It made me feel good…but what made me feel blessed was the fact that this morning, I woke up feeling OK, except of course the blistered finger, which reminds me that if these tiny things are beginning to register again, I must be feeling better. I know I haven’t yet healed completely, and by working 13 hours at a stretch, I had taken a chance that I shouldn’t have. And yet…

Right now, I am feeling blessed. Frazzled but blessed.

Feeling blessed - a pen and ink drawing - shafali's art. Artists and Commissions.

Feeling frazzled but blessed!

PS: Need those gloves…pronto – and yet, a delivery deadline met so… despite a blistered finger, feeling blessed 🙂 After all Happiness is…