Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Illustration Friday: Haunt

That was the summer we had the most fun. We played through the hot and sticky afternoons, the fiery Indian sun beating down at us. Our mothers did their best to keep us inside the house, so we could be safe from the heat and the tropical diseases that were doing their rounds in Rampore. (Rampore is a small cantonment town in India and my father was posted there.)

But we were a bunch of small children, who loved to play. And we would sneak out when our mothers were taking their siestas and our ayahs busy with other work. We’d play under the big mango tree at the edge of the mansion grounds. Made-up games that kept us cheerful in spite of the insufferable heat. We played till we were found and brought home for a good scolding.

But that summer was a short one for me. All of a sudden I couldn’t talk to my parents and two brothers. I could no longer live in the mansion or play with my friends. It was as if they couldn’t see me any more. All they did was cry and mope around. I waited under the mango tree, wishing that my little brothers would stop crying and come out to play with me. But they never did.

Soon, my family left the house and went England, where my granny lived.  And I was left behind.


I still visit the mango tree and our old house. The tree is larger now than it was…the house, old and crumbling, with bats living among the shambles. But now I spend a lot of time at the little cemetery in the cantonment. It’s a quaint place with old grave stones and long grass. Wild flowers cover the ground, making it look like a playing field for lost angels. I’ve got another friend to keep me company – another little girl, who died that summer. We play the same games we played that summer and wish we weren't left behind

- Angela. 

'The Spirits of the British Era - story 1' - story and art by Chandana Banerjee

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Story Postcard: The Moon's Secret

Maya stands at the edge of the clearing, in a place between evening and night, forest and ink blue skies. The handful of bright yellow stars aren't warm enough to take the chill out. They seem to move around the sky, tip-toeing around the big round, placid disk of a moon, whispering secrets and spinning reams of mist. Mist, as white and gossamer as the spirits in the forest. As Maya looks up at the moon, pale and silver like a large mother-of-pearl pendant, she catches him smiling down at her. The kind of smile that has a story behind it. "Maybe there's a secret in this forest. Maybe the story everyone whispers to each other about this forest is true," wonders Maya, suddenly feeling cold.

Art and Story by Chandana Banerjee

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happiness is like Gold

'Happiness' - artwork with water colour, pen and ink, and colour pencils on ruled paper by chandana banerjee

A balloon, as red as a shiny lollipop, climbs up a sky scattered with clouds and awash with yellow sunshine. Almost everything you need to be happy - sunshine, an orange sun, twittering birds, peace - the sky seems to have in plenty. At least that's what Maya thinks. She is happy for today. This day full of sunshine. This day in the park, amidst swaying green grass and crickets, with blue birds swooping down to say hello. Happy moments are like gold. Happy moments are like this, simple and fleeting yet sumptuous and wholesome .

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Illustration Friday: Sky

'Searching' - water colour, pencil colours and pen-and-ink illustration on ruled journal paper by Chandana Banerjee

Story Postcard - Maya's Search

The lights meld together - a mix of shooting stars and aurora borealis, dreams and questions, horizons and bits of coloured sky. Little Maya stands at the helm of the world, between wonder and journey. "What am I born for?" "What is my purpose in life?" "What is it that I want to do here?" "What do I want to be?" "How do I want to make a difference?" Questions swirl around her, whooshing in answers in the form of bolts of tinted light and twinkling stars.

There's light, there's shadow. There are blues and there are yellows. Violets meld with green. Questions fuse with answers. Love with life. Laughter with tears. The sky is a like a big jigsaw puzzle, like a show-and-tell of thoughts and stars. There are words scribbled in magician's ink, playing hide and seek with Maya. She mixes up the lights of the aurora borealis with her hands, sorting through the layers of coloured sky. She tries to hold the words, catch them with a light-catcher.But words are elusive. They are like butterflies, nimble and beautiful. They leave a trail of stories and a sprinkling of thoughts. Something for Maya to remember.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Friend, Philosopher and Dog!

Our friend, Muffin

Muffin as a puppy

Photo credit: Sandeep Banerjee

Almost three years ago we brought home a tiny, golden furry friend. We named her Muffin because we thought it was apt for the cute little goldie she was and the majestic golden retriever she would grow up to be. While I would like to say that I fell in love with her instantly, it would be a lie if I did. Well, I was no dog lover and having a furry creature toddling around the house, pooping, peeing, nipping, shedding – well, it was far from the rosy picture of owning a pet that I had in mind.

To cut a long story short, we took oodles of time to get used to each other. We tip-toed around each other, gave it time and space and went with the flow of things. As weeks turned into months, we began understanding each other. “Oh, she really doesn’t like me chewing her contact lens cases!” Muffin understood finally. “Oh, she doesn’t really mean to bite when she comes hopping towards me for a quick nip!” I understood. We understood lots of things about each other, and then some about life.

With Muffin by my side, I don’t really need to look at books or posters for inspiration and life’s teachings. She’s taught me so many things, much more than most people have. Here are five:

Don’t expend energy on things/people/situations that you don’t like. Just ignore them and find something better to focus on.

Live in the moment. Don’t mope about the past or worry about the future. Enjoy the gift of the present moment.

There’s nothing like a good jog or a long walk to clear your head.

Looking for inspiration? Just get out of the house and look around. There will always be something interesting to enjoy.

Be nice most of the time and be fierce only in situations that really demand it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Illustration Friday - Water

'Aqua' - art by Chandana Banerjee, on ruled journal paper

This is Maya and her moment at the ‘fish zoo’. She has never been to one before and is amazed by the different kinds of fish that swim by. She wishes for a small aquarium, where she can keep her own goldfish at home. Maybe, she can name each of them. Zara. Gold. Orange.  Or, maybe someday she can meet a mermaid. With a little magic and the mermaid by her side, she can dive into the depths of the sea, riding on sea horses, swimming with hoards of colourful fish. Or, maybe, she can befriend the water fairy that she’s sure lives in the brook near her home. How she’d love to live on the river bank in a little cottage made of river-smoothened pebbles, sand and ferns. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beauty in Brown

photo credit:

I took sabbatical from my blog. To find my voice…my blogging voice. I didn’t want to write until I had something to share. Well, I don’t mean that I didn’t have anything to say all this while, but here at Cookie Jar, I wanted things to be different. The posts I write must strike a deep chord within me. The opinions, thoughts and things that I type out for Cookie Jar must inspire me. 

There are enough times when we talk for the sake of social chit-chat and I find that that drains me out. So, at Cookie Jar we’ll talk because an idea is interesting, inspiring, simple, happy, energizing. Amen J

Having said that let me share what I’ve been thinking. I’m in the midst of Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I like her prose, the way she weaves out her descriptions and unfurls her story. The other thing I like about her prose is the way she chooses luscious words to celebrate the colour of the skin. ‘The lush colour of rain-drenched earth’, ‘mahogany’, ‘ebony’ – how beautifully she revels in the elegance of dark skin. In a world, where light is favoured over dark, white over shades of brown, it’s a delight to find prose, people and photographs that celebrate dusky skin tones.

Photo credit: via Pinterest

Photo credit: via Pinterest

I’m an Indian and live in a country where every citizen is some shade of brown. But unfortunately, it’s the ones with the lightest of skin tones, who are considered good looking. As if, being fair is a virtue. When we can celebrate burnished browns, we’re too busy paying homage to fairness creams and the imaginary power of light-coloured skin.

From chocolate to cappuccino, warm cocoa to caramel, rain-drenched earth to mocha, there are so many shades of delicious brown around us (what we know as 'Black' is actually a shade of rich brown). In no way are these any inferior to light brown, pink or white. There is richness in the whole set of browns, each shade burnished and beautiful. The question is when will we as people of this country, as citizens of the world accept that skin colour is as individualistic as our DNA and finger print? That skin tones are a result of how much melanin we’re born with? That God created a whole gamut of skin tones like we created a whole set of different colours to paint with? That each person is different and special in their own way? That beauty is as much about dark brown as about light brown and white?