“I Live Under Your Sky Too”

It’s been a very satisfying Sunday. Not only because of Searching for Sugar Man (see below), but because of this lovely bit of public art that’s up at Carter Road, in Bandra.

This is Shilpa Gupta’s “I Live Under Your Sky Too”, which is going to be twinkling on Carter Road Bandstand for a little less than a month. I’ve kept the second-last blur of a photo because in there, one of the whooshy figures is Gupta. Understandably, she was well chuffed to see everyone and stare at the line written in Hindi, Urdu and English. Every evening-walker’s head turned. Lots of kids and ruffians pulled out their cellphone cameras and took photos.

Of course, my inner grouch is straining to point out almost no one seemed to be interested in reading the line or wondering what it meant. Did anyone wonder who the “I” in the sentence is, for instance? Not that I heard in the 15-odd minutes that I loitered around.

But today, courtesy Sixto Rodriguez, I’m feeling full of twinkly good cheer. So what the hell if more people seemed to want a photo that would look good on Facebook. The point is, there is some lovely public art in the city. Finally. Yay! And ok, so no one’s plunging into debate and philosophical pontification at the sight of the installation, which isn’t radically inventive (Gupta’s stuff often is spectacularly novel). But hey, it’s pretty and arty and people looked at it and they enjoyed it. This is good. They celebrated it, with photos and videos. And at some point, maybe when they’re showing off those photos and videos, they’ll wonder about those who claim skies as personal possessions, those who are unwilling to share their world with others. Someone, perhaps, will feel a touch of melancholia at a language whose script is slipping through the cracks of schooling and memory in India. Someone else will see a person or a creature on the pavement and think of Gupta’s line, written in brighter-than-bright lights. Works for me.

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