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Mitch said to me, “My left eye is cloudy—as if my glasses are dirty but I’m not wearing glasses.”
We were boarding a flight to San Juan, P.R., our destination alternative to a Hurricane soaked Big Island. Thus began a four-month ophthalmic odyssey involving around a dozen eye and retina appointments, two nasty procedures, two surgeries and the terror of temporary blindness. It’s been a tough year for my sweetie.
We got to know most of the doctors at the UCSF Ophthalmology department. With nothing to do but worry, I kept myself busy during the appointments by sketching.
Recovering from retina surgery is an ordeal. The patient has to keep his face down/parallel to the floor 90% of the time for four days. We rented a massage chair thing and apparatus for sleeping as well.
The planets were aligned against us, as two weeks following the left eye surgery, the right eye retina tore as well. What are the odds? This took us…
The ordeal—two torn retinas at the same time: blind man’s bluff for 4 months. The sketches are all from eye #2. And it doesn’t include the appointments in Puerto Rico.
Thanks to the incredible Ophthalmology staff at UCSF for restoring Mitch’s sight! Now for a new prescription…
I’ve been phone banking for Democrats since January 2017. This week and next are critical so I’m ramping it up. Go out and do your part—VOTE and do a little volunteering to flip your district blue. It matters!
Okay, enough sermonizing. I also did a self portrait on Art Day. I had a hard time getting the proportions right so I drew the first sketch up side down.
I loved the open markets of India. Have been meaning to draw from a photo I took. Fantastic colors!!
Manali is a starting point to the Indian Himalayas in the state of Himachal Pradesh. We had heard that the best way to get there was to take an overnight bus from Delhi. We investigatedt other options but none of them much reduced the number of hours of travel. So, we flew from Jodhpur to Delhi and situated ourselves on the overnight bus.
The seats on the bus reclined and elevated our legs but there was no bathroom aboard. I dubbed the ride “the Kishkaville Express” because the last half of the trip, on rocky, unpaved mountain roads, bumped and jumped in the early morning. After 13+ hours, we arrived in Manali.
On the bus, we met Alaka and Dev, a friendly couple from Delhi, who told us about a local festival that was happening that day, the Manu Festival.
You can tell that Manali was probably a sleepy hamlet twenty years ago. Its beauty and location an all to familiar blessing and curse as it’s become a tourist haven of the north and jumping off point for mountaineering. Most of the visitors are Indian, coming for adventures and ganga, which is smoked pretty freely in the old section, despite being illegal. There are a myriad of outdoor outfitters lining the main road and over a hundred guest houses and hotels. During high season (late May and June) the traffic can be complete gridlock.
We stayed a few days in Manali and then took a car to Tosh in the Pavarti Valley.
I was awestruck by the views from Tosh. The stunning snow capped mountains in the distance and homes tucked into the steep hillsides reminded me of the picturesque villages of Nepal.
Although we had been told that it was “the best place to stay in Tosh” our guest house was a dirty dump. The transformer had gone out and we had no electricity while we stayed there (not the fault of the guest house).
The latch on our door needed oil. It squeaked loudly whenever we struggled to pulled it over to lock or unlock it, the bedding was soiled and the combination squat/sit toilet seat was loose. I don’t want to talk about the rest of the bathroom.
That said, our balcony had a wonderful view of the mountains and gave us a great vantage point for watching the comings and goings of the village.
From Tosh, we walked along the valley to the Waterfall Café, where the tables sit in the gushing flow.
Further on was Kulka, a tiny mountain “village” consisting of two guest houses, a small store, a babbling brook, grazing horses and a lovely high meadow with an awesome view. We would have loved to stay in Kulka.
The next day, we took a car, which dropped us off near Pulga, another village nearby. The road is still being built there so we backpacked in. On the way, we met some travelers who recommended we stay at the #capitalcafe, a new guest house with bamboo cottages (and electricity)! The place was SWEET as was the young owner, Chetan, who spent time with us and told us his story. It was a highlight for me to share my greeting cards with Chetan and his crew, who are all Nepalese. His cook recognized one of the places I’d drawn.
We took a hike in the dense forest there, passing a waterfall and a herd of cattle (right there on the path). To our surprise, we happened upon this shrine in the woods.
We wanted to stay another night there but had already made reservations at an Airbnb which was in Gargi
I returned from a month long trip to India two weeks ago. It will take me a few postings to get it all down but here’s a start…
I remember that a light would appear in the eyes of my hippie friends when they spoke of their travels to India. I was 22 years old and my imagination was sparked forever. Although I visited Nepal, Burma and Thailand, I was fearful of India, my chief concerns being health and crime.
So…when Spring Studio’s office closed in April, and I was out of a job, I saw an opportunity to follow that old dream. And luckily, my childhood friend Liz, with whom I had traveled many years before, was game to join me on the adventure.
First day we stayed in Old Delhi and visited Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, the National Crafts Museum, and went shopping for Indian clothes (I bought kurtis and balloony pants). We ate lunch at a little, packed hole-in-the-wall and sat with some young teachers who were visiting from Goa.
Auto Rickshaws are everywhere in India. The way they get through traffic is by driving really fast and honking their horns for everyone to get out of the way. Actually, everyone drives this way. The streets are a cacophony.
Next we went to Jaipur in the state of Rajastan
Took a sweet old train (pukey greenish color) with plenty of legroom and surrounded by women! We also treated ourselves to a room at a converted palace, which was pretty amazing.
Took an Uber to Albert Hall Museum, which had wonderful art from all over the country.
It was really crazy HOT. When they say it’s going to be hot in California’s Central Valley, they mean 94. That’s a full twenty degrees cooler than it was in Rajastan.
The city is known for a walled section known as Pink City. I was really into the open air markets. The scene was alive with color as women went in to do their shopping, buying saris, groceries, herbs, clothing.
And we went to the Anoki Museum of hand printing, where we saw some impressive traditional craft techniques.
Then on to Jodhpur, also in Rajastan
Meharangarh Fort hovers over the city of Jodhpur. There are converted mansions in India, which are called Havelis. We stayed at one that was a hotel, on which, the roof restaurant afforded a great view of the fort and of a girls’ school.
It was kind of enchanting. I drew the courtyard, seen below. They had displays of artifacts there as well.
Jodhpur has wonderful, colorful open air markets. I loved seeing the women sit with shop keepers to order their saris.
The markets are where it’s at.
We went to the Meharangarh Fort on the last day. It was an incredible fort and palace. We had a guide named Sanjay.
But the heat was still an issue…it was oppressive. We decided to make our way North to the cooler climate…
I’m excited to be exhibiting my work with my mother and my grandmother all together in one show! We open this Thursday at the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco.
Le-dor va-dor means “From Generation to Generation.” It expresses the directive to teach your children the culture, values and lessons of Judaism. In our case, the teachings included art! My grandmother was a painter and sculptor, my mother is a metalsmith, ceramist and one who draws. I’m a sketcher and painter. Together, our work will span over a hundred years of art in one family.
I never knew my grandmother, but I’m so honored and thrilled to be showing my work with hers.
The Bay Area Jewish Weekly published a nice article about our show.