(Written below is a spontaneous outburst that the author experienced on her second visit to the Hussain-Doshi ‘Amdavaad ni Gufa’, Ahmedabad. Images from the first visit still haunted her and made themselves present, every now and then, when she wrote. Here is the result.)
Light hits across my face almost slapping me with its tungsten glow. My white sheet of ruled paper suddenly feels tainted with yellow.
Zen Café and the Hussai Doshi Gufa. Bulbous onion-like mosaic structures, rising up with curiosity from the ground; surfaces that mirror the light in the morning- every shard drinking the light in and reflecting it back to your eye and making you shrink them. Burning white round onions – that’s what they look like.
Feet walk across the light; its dusk. Crass voices stop some blaring speaker’s Bollywood music from reaching my eager ears. Glasses of just-drunk juices lay scattered. Unfurled umbrellas, still wet with the drops of the evening’s drizzle shimmer like black satin with studded diamonds. Insects bite my feet when not flitting across the light lecherously.
Shadows speak volumes, assume forms and shroud the monument in gloom. For once, the café is the piece of art and the Gufa lies like a forgotten rumble of round masses.
It is late afternoon and as you enter the Gufa, you are stunned by the exploding colours. Red, black, yellow, blue- in their unadulterated pure forms-painted across walls, ceilings-in patterns and in stretches. Statues in black, installing themselves in calculated randomness stare from sockets of emptiness- proud of their two master creators.
Glassy big eyes stare at me inquisitively. They are not unfriendly. Yet they are unacquainted. They have a strangeness, yet someway they belong to the landscape as well. They are like little alien babies from netherworld, poking their heads out of the ground in wonder. They look amused at me that I dared to cross the feisty place and ventured into their secluded dark space. I stare back at them. The un-worded conversation continues. Something is understood. I walk back to the lights and sounds.
Meandering pathways are etched on the ground directing the crowds to walk through. Light streams in through the skylight and forms spotlights to feel special under. The vivid colours, in surreal tones, take you to a whole new world. You walk on…expectant, wondering and like a crack of a whip on naked skin, you are lashed out a blunt surprise and an abrupt end of paths. The Gufa dies in your eyes.
By night, the bright round bulb of light looks better. There is a buzz of activity. People flit in and out placing orders-“Cappuccino”, “Grilled Sandwiches”, “Cardamom tea”- words pronounced and faces slurred by the busy-ness of the hour; hands moving swiftly-brewing, slicing, taking, feeding; hands-expressive, gesturing a million tales to the eyes that bother to see; voices adding on meaning to those hands; different hands; some hard, some soft; yet all of them expressive.
The Gufa dies… yet it rises above too, with its limiting space and delimiting colours, it speaks volumes. The world might have made one artist surrender and restrict his space. But the other artist breathed a limitless expanse to the enclosure. Gufa? No more. It is an infinite entity.
Sounds and sights; light and darkness; undulating surfaces; people perched in different places- a whole happiness washing over you with a million waves- erasing off all the blues in particular. One single lamp under the light of which I pen, fills my vision with a kind light. A promise of belonging, a hand in friendship; maybe a love, shall blossom with the city; or maybe, a comfortable friendship. This shall always be the beginning.