Peeping into India
Some years back I found a travel book on India written and illustrated by a Japanese stage designer Senoh Kappa. Even though I was not able to read much Japanese, I enjoyed looking at the sketches as they reminded me of my 1980s childhood living across India. I also likes his style of making observational sketches of daily life. I felt that the act of actually trying to draw what you see, helps us connect with the environment versus taking photographs. I gave away this book at some travel talk some year back. Yesterday, while randomly browsing a bookstore in Osaka, I found this book again.
Bird’s eye view of the hotel room
Kappa obsevered every day objects in meticulous detail
An air conditioned cabin on the train
The ubiquitous lunch carrier
How to wear a saree
A family planning poster
There used to be many cold water vendors in the summer months. I used to wonder what they did in the winters. Also an “air” vendor for the bicycle riders.
Perhaps the best comment that I have read about this book comes from Shanghai Daily penned by the opinion editor Wan Lixin in his article “There are still a few cities left unravaged by concrete and greed”
One of my colleagues recently sent me a copy of the Chinese edition of “The Kappa Peeped India,” by Kappa Senoh, and I was fascinated by how this Japanese artist is capable of perceiving the world in his gossipy, narrative style, set off by a profusion of masterfully wrought sketches. He shows how our obsession with speed has compromised our ability to see the people and the nature. If our economists and policymakers could view the people and the environs as this Japanese gentleman, probably we need not grieve so much for what man has made of man, or nature.