Saturday, February 04, 2012

Travels with an Identity Thief – Part Three – Seeing Through Marilyn’s Eyes


As a writer assuming the identity of a visual artist, I am faced with a special set of challenges. Marilyn thinks in pictures, whilst I process life through words. To be true to my ‘character’s character,’ I must learn to experience the world as she does, to open myself to her emotions as triggered by the colors and textures around us, to let my eyes experience the world before my intellect.

On the other hand, to be true to myself as a wordsmith, I am committed to finding the language that will convey Marilyn’s experiences as vividly as possible. No wonder I am totally exhausted at the end of each day!

It was not until I reached Aurangabad, two weeks after my arrival in India, that my shift into the visual mode gained noticeable momentum.  Who can visit the rock-cut caves of Ajanta—discovered in 1819 by a band of British officers hunting a tiger—without being transfixed by images masterfully created by the great sculptors and painters of 2nd Century India?

Marilyn had pored through books of photographs and listened with fascination to her husband Shankar telling Jataka tales of Buddha’s reincarnations and the Bodhisattvas. No way had this prepared her for a face-to-face encounter with the ancient world.

Later that same day I visited a market in Aurangabad, along with hundreds of shoppers caught up in the Diwali festivities. From the grey stones and ancient murals of the caves out into a modern riot of color… what a transition! I could hardly snap pictures fast enough. This one will definitely inspire Marilyn to paint as she never has before.