TGIH: Thank God I’m Home

The Year 2020 has created the biggest cultural disruption at the Home front. Suddenly the house got transformed in form and functionality. Never before have we spent so many waking and sleeping hours at home.

All these years we took the home for granted. We fulfilled our dream of bigger-better-beautiful homes but hardly had the time to spend at home. In and out home, we were, 24×7 running, here and there and everywhere. It was as if life happened out of the home – in our great rush for gold and glamour. That was the historic Pre-Pandemic times.

Work From/For Home: Conferencing n Cooking

Come Pandemic, all the action was forced to shift in-home; everyone and everything grounded. Home became like the central nervous system, connecting all the live wires of work, eat, pray, sleep, study play- all happening under one roof. Home became the safe haven, holding us, protecting us, within its four walls. It suddenly felt like hiding in the bunkers during wartime.

Right from the times of prehistoric cave-dwellers, the home has been a primordial icon of human existence. In the 70s, Roti, Kapda aur Makaan ( food, clothes and house) became the popular slogan, capturing the Indian sentiment for the 3 basic necessities of life. A house, a roof over the head, is the fundamental need and right of life. On the other end of the spectrum, the size and address of the house is a status symbol. At an emotional level, a home is a place of being myself with my near and dear: a place of comfort and refuge. For an immigrant in search of a sense of belonging, home-land defines identity.

The Pandemic makes me ponder over the concept of ‘Home’ – an oft taken for granted place. It made me examine its meaning and symbolism from a physical, social, cultural and spiritual perspective.

Home Centred.

As I dwelled upon home, it reminded me of our family song, in praise of a beautiful home. I have grown up singing this prayer song together on family functions and festivals. It’s part of our family tradition, passed down the generations. I not just loved the melody but also the lyrics celebrating the ‘Beautiful House’ in which the Supreme Lord speaks.

Thinking around ‘home’ made me decode the lyrics as a cultural text. What fascinated me was the layers of meanings interwoven: the literal and the connoted. One at the level of the house as a physical entity, and the other at the metaphoric level of a house as a human body. Decoding the lyrics of this song, sung in praise of the beautiful house, opened the door to the Hindu philosophy of life- connecting the material with the spiritual. I marvelled and felt enriched to understand the deeper meaning in the concept of a home: the universal construct of life and living.

Yeh Bangla Khoob- Lyrics in Hindi.

The song celebrates the beauty and bountiful of a house- a creation of the Supreme Lord. At a deeper level, the house is viewed as the metaphor for human body: as per the Hindu philosophy, the Soul, the eternal self, resides in the home of the physical body.

It asks the question of what the house is made of- the material, the method, and the doer. It goes on to answer the question from the perspective of the Hindu philosophy of life: Paanch Tattva, Teen Gunas and the Supreme Creator.

The bricks of the house, our body, is created from the Paanch Tattva – the five elements of nature- air, water, earth, fire and space. Unlike the concrete, the human body is created from nature, and in nature it dissolves. The mortar are symbolic of the Teen Gunas: Tamas (darkness & chaos), Rajas (activity & passion), and Sattva (beingness & harmony). The interplay of these three Gunas, present in everyone in different proportion, defines the character of nature and determines the progress of life. It’s the innate quality, peculiarities of our nature that binds the being as a whole. The builder and the creator of this beautiful house is none other than the Supreme Creator.

The song goes on to marvel the wonders of the house. The central pillar of the house is symbolic of the Universe: the invisible space that no one can see, flowing in and out. Viewing from the the body perspective, it refers to the lungs, and the invisible breath, inhaling and exhaling. And how wondrous that is. This brings to our awareness the miraculous working of the universe and life, that’s we cannot see and yet it sustains life.

Further the song honours the union of man and woman residing in the house- from where life is born. Saint Kabir, in state of surrender, says that its the Supreme Power that creates and destroys. We are just instruments in the hands of the Creator. At a deeper level, it’s also symbolic of the duality of masculine-feminine energy- YinYang. The balance and harmony in life lies in the dynamic interplay of the opposing yet complimentary forces. Yeh Bangla Khoob. Yeh Bangla Khoob. Sung in praise of a beautiful house, made plentiful, in which the Supreme Lord speaks…

I honour, I salute, I sing in praise of the house I reside in.

I honour, I salute, I sing in praise of the house- my physical body, in which I, my eternal Soul, resides in.


The Linear Paradox

Last time when I travelled to the USA, what struck me most was the Culture of The Line! I observed how mechanically people fell into a line in the West. There was no push, no shove. Just a quiet, polite, patient standing in a queue. The concept of ‘personal space’ of leaving a foot of gap between the first two people in the line seemed so alien. In India, half a dozen of people would have fitted in that ‘space’! I was taken up by the order, the discipline and the silence in the movement of the line in every walk of life in the West. Just like a ‘well-oiled machinery’ of the human race!

Come to India and the chaos hits you. Of course, there is a line but there is no concept of line in the Indian psyche. Like sardines, we stick close behind each other in a mile-long line. With much push and shove, we jostle to get our way in the line.  Anything it takes to get ahead in the queue. There is much action, noise and chitter-chatter around the line.

Some trying to break ‘Into’ the line, others trying to get order into that line. Some striking a conversation with the stranger behind to pass the time. What a stroke of luck it is to find a ‘friend’ in the line, who quietly squeezes you into the line!

The divergent behaviour in a Queue made me reflect on the East-West dichotomy from a linear perspective.

A line is symbolic of the discipline of a systematic, linear order.

1. arranged in or extending along a straight or nearly straight line.”linear movement”

 2. progressing from one stage to another in a single series of steps; sequential.”a linear narrative”

DIctionary meaning

Vishnu is God that organises the world. Society comes with rules and regulations,  roles and responsibilities, milestone that give life direction and standards that create hierarchy.” – .Dr. Devdutt Pattnaik

Culturally speaking , Indians are conditioned to a ‘linearly sequenced pattern of life. For Hindus, life is a sacred journey in which each milestone, marking major biological and emotional stages, is consecrated through sacred ceremony. Rooted in the samskaras [16 rites of passage that punctuate the symbolic line of life in Hinduism], Hindu Indians are conditioned to live by the prescribed code of conduct and customs within the complex social matrix. Each relationship in the extended family structure is given a unique name, with defined roles and responsibility. There is order, discipline and respect inherent in the Indian culture. And we all are bound by this linear system of life, no matter how modern we get.

My question is why is there such a lack of order and discipline in the public space?  A paradox! It forces me to think deeper on the psyche of the Indian line culture…Is it the number game?  

 A population of 1.2 billion is credited to India. Yes, people, people and people. Everywhere you go, you see a sea of people….that’s India for you! We have intrinsically been a ‘society of scarcity’ as opposed to the ‘society of abundance’ of the West. Out on the streets, we are competing with millions for the same resource. We are struggling with the constant fear of getting left behind in the daily rat race of living.

The ‘society of scarcity’ keeps us on our toes, with the mind ticking all the time. There is nothing predictable when people rub with people in the sea of emotions. The Indian mind is forced to think of creative, innovative ways around the constraints. How do we get there before others take it? How do we stretch our rupee? Nothing comes easy. The ingenious Indian mind is known for its ‘jugaad’ – i.e. “what ever it takes, I will find my way around…I will find ‘my’ solution around this situation.”

In a country where no two days are alike, where the systems may not toe the line, you will quite often hear people say: “Yeh desh Ram bharose chalta hai” (this country runs by God’s Grace.) And we carry on in faith…

There may not be the ‘conveyor belt efficiency’ of linear order in India, there may seem no method but there is a method in the madness that is real, palpable, organic, spontaneous and creative.

© Aiyana Gunjan

The Art of Now

The stroke by stroke flow of calligraphy brings me closer to the gift called the Present. On one hand, the monkey of a mind swings between past and future…being here but wanting to be there. On the other hand, the calligraphy stroke approach anchors my attention to the Now. It takes full energy and focus to create the stroke – with a definite beginning and an end. Each stroke is complete in itself, with a definite beginning and an end. Just like inhaling and exhaling of the breath. And then you move to the next. The head, heart and hand is centred in the Now – a space in which thoughts cease. It’s in this process, stroke by stroke, the painting reveals itself.

When my mind gets caught in the vicious cycle of rumination, I take inspiration from the stroke by stroke flow of my calligraphy pen. I bring my full attention and energy to the stroke: the present task in hand. Typically our actions are seen as means to a ‘bigger’ end. The stroke by stroke approach teaches me to view each action as an end in itself.

I surrender to the intuitive flow, where the mind is primarily focused on attending to the demands of life, moment to moment. Every time my mind ruminates, I think the calligraphy stroke.

Truly, fine art is called fine because it’s the art of making me feel so fine within.

Its not just the dynamic beauty of the calligraphy stroke that inspires me but it connects me to the way of life. The Buddhist concept of Ichinen Sanzen guides the past-present-future exist in one single moment. Calligraphy practically teaches me the art of life, directing me to stay anchored in the present. It’s about one moment, one stroke, one task follows the other, trusting the intuitive flow of life to lead, and life unfolds itself, in beauty and harmony. Art is life and life is art, and it takes a daily practice to stay centred. I call it my meditation in movement, and in that lies the joy and sanity quotient.

The joy and sanity quotient. #calligraphy #calligraphyart #stroke #life #contemporaryart #artvideo #presentmoment #monkeymind

Health & Identity

A Doctor’s Call: Please create a LOGO for the new respiratory and critical care department in the hospital. I was silenced by the gravity of the brief, specially in today’s covid’s times. How does one design a logo for a critical care department impacting the bottom-line of life.

A logo is a visual identity, a symbol, that communicates the core essence of the brand. This matter of health took me back to my anatomy drawings and semiotics. As an artist, I have been inspired to study the physical anatomy of human organs which give us life and function. And then taken a creative leap from there. So, the starting point for conceptualising the logo design was the anatomy of respiratory organs – the Lungs.

Semiotics empowered me to think design, in terms of signs and symbols. It helped me to understand how meaning gets created, subconsciously. Staying true to the lungs form, and applying the power of symbology, the design concepts options were developed.

The concept of ‘transforming life’, using butterfly as a metaphor, was most befitting for this new department.

In culture, the colours signify different meanings in different contexts. From the respiratory context, the chosen colours- green and blue, cue flow of oxygen, fresh air and nature.

My creative tool is my calligraphy pen, ink and paper, not the computer. You dip the pen into the ink pot, and then create the stroke on paper, like a single breath. The calligraphy stroke brought me closer to the life-giving function of the lungs. Unlike the mechanics of a computer, calligraphy line is as natural as life itself.

Developing the visual identity for The Institute of Respiratory, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Max Hospital, Saket, gave a deep sense of gratification. The logo, on top of every prescription, subliminally gives the hope of life to the patient. The promise of respiratory critical care recovery.


My God in Music

Who is your God? I was once asked. Without a second thought, I replied I pray to many Gods.

As if I had committed a blunder, pat came a statutory warning –

If you pray to many and all, then, none of your gods will come to your rescue.

Who is the ONE God you call out to in distress??

Now I saw the logic from where it was coming, and yet my heart couldn’t explain the unity-in-multiplicity of my faith. My Gods of God never let me down, and I love and talk to each one of them. Different forms, different strokes.

How can I chose ONE over another? I pondered, I wondered…

And lo behold,  music in my heart found the answer, in the universal  7 notes of Sargam- where each note comes with character and power of their own, and yet they all came together, in synchronicity.  

Yes, My Gods of God reside in the Sound of Music and Colors of Life.

🟣SA.Shiva. the foundational note
for my primordial God Shiva…the origin
🔵Pa. Vishnu avataars – Krishna, Jesus.
🟢Ga. Ganesha – new beginning, removing obstacles
🔴Ma. Shakti -Durga, The Mother
🟠Dha.  Buddha – wisdom, courage, compassion
🟡Re and Ni :Sun and Moon, the daily rhythm of morning and night
⚪️Sa. Saraswati- knowledge, aspiration,learning.

Yes, I found My Gods in the Sargam of music, and they all come together, in harmony, playing the Raga called Life.

Even my favourite Calligraphy forms from across global scripts – English, Hindi, Hebrew, Korean- are united in the sound of music. After all, a letter is simply a cultural symbol of sound.

©️aiyanagunjan.2020. #indigo#calligraphy#faith#music # Hebrewletters.

Life (or) Style

Come corona and there seems to be social distancing between Life…..Style!

Life is lived In-Home, and  Style stated Out-of-Home. 

Locked in home, who cares about style. After, all nobody is looking at me. Keep comfort and carry on…After all,  the Style comes alive, when socially out there…Out of Home.

…the social climbing,  beauty and glamour, designers and branded, money flash and  botox, selfies and  spirits, sexy and stylish…

All hip and happening AT hotels, restaurants, cinemas, pubs, bars, malls, gyms, spas, salons, sports clubs, social, political,cultural functions, weddings, parties, business trips, airlines, globetrotting, even going to office! 

Come Corona. Lockdown.

The (life)Style Hotspots

All Shutdown

I ponder- will we come out the ‘same’ once the doors open? How the socialising, life&style  norms, adapt and evolve,  in the post lockdown context? To what extent?

Corona has forced a Cultural Shift, subconsciously, impacting consumer attitudes n behaviour. For brands to survive and stay relevant, it will become imperative for brands, to align with this new cultural context. 

#corona #lockdown #outofhome #social #culturalshift #covid19 #socialdistance #publicspace #lifestyle #semiotics 


Looming doom

Come corona and life turned into a hanging-garden of death… all-pervasive, all inclusive, discriminating none.

Never before has death felt so close home. Come corona and it’s dark cloud of doom looming on mankind. Existence threatened. 👿

Let’s face it…how long can we brush the gloomdom of fear,panic n anxiety, 😱😳🤬under the carpet. It’s so palpable but we push it way under our skin, in all the song n dance of the lockdown . The thought it self is so scary, the rising numbers seem like the waves coming closer home. God forbids, if anything, even other than Corona happens-You go to the hospital alone. No one coming with you. Scary. It’s even scarier when elders are told that there is no ventilator for you. The doctors n healthcare workers fighting on the frontline, are over stretched. There is no way to see, your doctor, in his clinic, god forbid, any other ailment pops up. Wish all ailments could be treated virtually! All the media noise of corona spreading faster than fire, surface2surface, symptomatic-A-symptomatic…a reality check it may be..but it only adds to fuel to the psychometrics! And the horror of the horror is there is no cure to corona!

And life hangs between Life and Death, so we fear….And we are ALL in it…where to escape? Lockdown.

Yes, Corona ‘psychosis’ makes me look at death squarely and fairly. I can die, my loved ones can die, anyone can die…Corona makes us live on the edge. Thats the fact of life. Reality bites!

What to do?

Thanks to Corona, I go back to the battle ground of Mahabharata.
Krishna guides Arjuna not to fear death, not to be a coward in the face of death. Krishna metaphorically explains- The body is like the clothes the Soul wears; once worn out, it’s discarded. And the soul adorns new clothes, new life. The Soul, आत्मा, never dies, it can never be destroyed or burnt. It can not be killed and it lives on eternally. O Arjun, do not fear death, just go ahead and do your duty, your karma- fulfilling your purpose of life.

Thank you Corona for will helping me find peace and solace around the fundamental question life and death, in this sacred dialogue of Krishna. 🌺😊

Corona or no corona, we have one life to live and love, whatever maybe the span❣️❣️Just live it❣️🌷


#corona #covidtimes #death #fear
#bhagwadgita #lifepurpose.

Retail ‘Fasting’

Come corona, lockdown, all shutters down….     we-the-consumerism under serious threat. 

Irrespective of where we stood in the superlative-branded-hierarchy, we are brought down to the lowest common denominator – Roti, Kapda aur Makaan.

All the zillion things bursting out of the cupboards, the frills n fancies, the super-premium brands we paid through our nose for, seem meaningless, so irrelevant, in moments of covid times.  

It feels like  going on retail-fasting, forget retail therapy!  So, chalk-n-cheese to the ‘BC times’  of DiL-maange-more- n-more, the oneupmanship game, the compulsive  shop-holics, filling a bottomless pit -in the fear of being left behind. A rat-race it was!

Looking at the magnitude of materialism owned, it makes one ponder…How much is enough? Where to draw the line? 

Thank you corona, for reconnecting me to the age-old wisdom. It’s not about ‘how-much’  but with what mind you consume-

Mind-lessly Or Mind-FULLY 


#covidtimes #consumerism #compulsivespending #mindfulness. #lockdown 

aiyanagunjan. drawing.2017


Covid and Text2Talk. Come corona and there was a shift in connecting people, back to the old.  All locked in within four walls, there was a  yearning for human touch, see, feel. 

Pre-Corona, there had to be  reason, so valid, to dial a number or else DND.  ‘Please text me and I will get back to you!’ Forget the ‘cold’ text chatting, now  we see ourselves picking up the phone to directly chat. We have all the time in hand! 

Nothing beats a two-way flow,in real time. No fancy emojis can express, what simply listening to the voice can reveal. Feel good and relaxing lockdown time it is. 

And then technology takes a leap forward….video calling makes it even more real. Who cares how one looks in the lockdown, it just feels so real, comforting, talking face2face , in that very moment. No texting,selfies or emoticons, can connect the way, seeing the person’s face, in real time, can. 

Even though you pulled us apart physically, Thank you Corona for giving us all the time…to re-kindle, re-connect, voice2voice, face2face, heart2heart…in real time, here and now

📞☎️ +91 8525893290

#covid #lockdown #connecting. #texting #phonecall #humantouch #realtime #busy

aiyanagunjan.connecting strokes..2019