Letters to a Friend.

Parvez Kabir is my best friend’s classmate at Tagore’s Shanti Niketan. He is an Arts student (Ph d). Our friendship is so subtle (very faint) we never met; never spoke much to each other, just heard stories about each from this common friend of ours.

I happened to read one of his forwarded messages about his work at an Art Work shop and then the letters between us started.

To follow the letters you will have to read the below pieces:

Kabir’s Work

First –     http://khojworkshop.org/book/peers_2008_project_book

Second – http://khojworkshop.org/node/7163


 from parvez kabir kabir.parvez@gmail.com

 dateThu, Jun 12, 2008 at 10:51 AM

subjectkhoj essays- first and second ones


hide details 6/12/08

dear friends, 

my second essay for khoj peers 2008 is up on the website. those who have recieved and read the first one [and those who didn’t] have more or less shown satisfaction with the piece. i guess that gives me the opportunity to send another one, with the hope that u all will be kind and patient enough to read me again. this essay, i believe is a little more uncompromising in nature, and my next, i hope will be even more sharp and critical. i beleieve in arithmatic progress..so lets hope i’ll be thrown out on the fourth. thank u and pl give ur feedbacks. this is the link: 

the first piece [for those who didn’t get it earlier]- http://khojworkshop.org/book/peers_2008_project_book

the second piece [new]- http://khojworkshop.org/node/7163 

p.s- sahana di, i am working 🙂

    -arnab, life is made of two things: chaai and everything else.

    -sritama, dont concentrate on shiv da’s assignment

     -subrata, see u in 6 days, have been eager to see ur new works

    -baba, see u in 8 days and this time i am gonna burn ur beard completely.

    -shabari di, see u in 12 days, have been missing u for some time.

    – ankita, arnab, and sritama, see u in 25 days.

    -papan da, trying to get the gurudakshina !

    -jackie, …………[the nodding from dulhe raja]

    – dhrupadi, i will b expecting a response.


 Reply Namrata Nekkanti to parvez


Dear Kabir,

I just went through your essay!

I kind of liked the process that’s happening in Peers. I am freely voicing all my comments on your work though I am not competent to do so. But I think somehow this is near to my heart.

(l am not an artist or not even near to such a kind so most of my words will be from the generic world).

Firstly the Process, I am very glad to know that even the artistic process has begun to get importance. I believe, when the end product is too impressive the good process that went behind it goes down in importance. The product records more praise than the process and the process is slowly forgotten and left much behind the excellence of the product. On the other hand when the end product fails to live up to the expectations the process behind it is easily thrown into the dustbin.

All of us fail to understand the hard work that has been put in either case. I think this is universal in nature in any field of work.

Secondly your peers at Peers, It is fascinating to learn how people are, how they think and how impulsively they can transform their thoughts to reality. I am sure the passion and determination behind would be immensely strong. I liked the story of Sandeep and the way you conceived it to the outside world.I feel, Sandeep has achieved the most important thing- Captivated the enigmatic perceptions of people and designed the armor between God and evil. The potential of creativity is brought out to light, with the combination of minimum raw material, constraints of the world and pouring imaginations. That’s the beauty of art. .It is very interesting to know, how fascinating ideas can be constrained by various forces like natural incompatibilities and technical incapability. And the process behind this is definitely worth a notice or worth applause.   Your stories have brought out the concealed facts how each person adopts his ideas with in the existing world to bring out the best at the same time preserving and radiating his true inner self.

Finally your Presentation, I probably wouldn’t have to tell you that your presentation of the topic was very appealing otherwise you wouldn’t have been picked to elaborate. I am happy about the fact that I was able to read this and share my ideas with you. Apart from the three Ps I mentioned (Process. Peers and Presentation) with reference to your essay I have been impressed by the usage of the following Ps in your presentation –

“Project Priory” 

“Pedagogic Project”

“Powerful exorcism”

“Parallels the experience”

“Perceptive Observations”

These words have given the intended support and strong emphasis to the point in narration. They increased my adherence with the topic and persuaded me to write to you so elaborately. The only one disagreement I have is a “fissure” compared to a “bridge”. I some how was not comfortable to perceive it the same way as you did.

Also, the descriptions of Delhi reminded me my childhood days. I distinctly remember the word ‘Murals’ which was explained to me by a tour guide in the bus, when we made a trip to many historic places and monuments in Delhi, following my curiosity after text book lessons at school.

After I finished the last paragraph, I realised that I have completed one full word sheet. I am sure I am giving enough pain to you even before you replied to my last mail. Anyways have a happy reading session. And dont forget to reply me mentioning how much you felt like tearing this mail off if it were a paper. Haha !

Bye ! 




parvez kabir to me

show details 7/1/08

dear Namrata,

finally i am replying ur mail !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! went to Bombay for 3 days…just came back. this is the first thing i want to do without wasting any more time, so lets begin…

u wondered whether i’ll feel like throwing ur response to my khoj paper into the bin. Very funny. I think ur response was extremely perceptive, and if I am allowed to say so…out of the ordinary. all this may sound too bookish but i have reason to say so. lets look at the reasons first. why perceptive?

the first thing that touched me in ur mail is ur sensibility. i liked the way u wrote…”The product records more praise than the process and the process is slowly forgotten and left much behind the excellence of the product. On the other hand when the end product fails to live up to the expectations the process behind it is easily thrown into the dustbin.  All of us fail to understand the hard work that has been put in either case. I think this is universal in nature in any field of work.”

this, i believe, shows how attentive and even sympathetic u r towards the process we are talking about. I know u wont like the word ‘sympathy’, but let me remind u that in renaissance Italy, the word was used in the context of ‘connection’ and not pity. Leonardo da vinci [an aries as u know] once compared the landscape to the human body, the mountains are the bones, the rivers blood…so on so forth. this was understood as sympathy. so, i think i would not b wrong to say that u seemed to b sympathetic to the matter in question and i applaud the fact. many of us do not think twice before commenting on something which is outside their ambit of knowledge. some even pretend to be all knowing. they r cynics. a truthful and unpretentious reader always try to connect himself/herself to the matter in question. that needs effort. that needs an erasure of ego. that needs humility. cynics do not have any of that. u have, and u made an effort to voice on the subject u feel connected to. i loved that.

secondly, why ‘out of the ordinary’?

i believe any person related to my field will miss the coincidental use of all the ‘p’s used in my essay. i myself missed it. i dont know how u came up with that observation, but there can b various reasons. may b one of ur ancestors had a cup of coffee or shared the pipe with sherlock holmes. perhaps one of ur ancestors put on a scarf made by miss marple. also possible is ur terrific preoccupation with word games. but i think the real reason is ur ability to spot patterns. this is a quality which is rare in people. there is no underlying law in here, some people are simply extraordinary in spotting patterns out of a random wave of words. u need to think visually or see verbally to do so. i am happy to let all these words go only to be returned through ur processing mind. it makes me feel good and it makes me grow as a writer.

now that i have explained myself in my usage of the two phrases to describe ur response, let me go ahead with two or three other related observations. i am glad u liked sandeep’s work. u will b amazed to know that the other artists have complained that i am giving sandeep a relatively greater importance! it is true that i feel connected to his work but i never did it consciously. i felt sad when they accused me of favoritism. i actually feel very sad for people who want me to change something which i believe is not unfair. i feel sad because they force me to hurt them. i am writing the third paper for khoj, and here too i have very nice things to say about sandeep’s works. i dont want to hurt the other four, but i am fated to carry out what i think is right till my death. so…thousand complaints wont help here…i am not budging [sigh].

now the question about the fissure and the bridge. i kind of agree with u that i did not articulate it well and it rather looks like a half hearted rhetoric. i dont have anything to say in defense, i could have done better. i accept. it is a poor theorization. next time i will do better.

the murals! i am glad to know i returned this word to ur life after so many years. a mural, i believe is one of the truest form of art. it is open, for everyone, is part of a functional architecture and it gives u a feeling that u r living with it ! imagine ur drawing room with murals by Raphael [another aries], imagine ur bedroom ceiling with van Gogh’s [another one] starry nights. a mural, unlike a painting is not caged or compressed inside a wooden frame. it spreads and engulfs the viewer. a mural is like a very good friend, enveloping and assuring u with comfort. but well, u need to know the limits…too much handling will spoil both.

okay so that was my response to ur response…but i have no intention to stop here. since u have asked in some other mail questions about my favorite cuisine and other things…i would bore u a bit more with these informations. about cuisine, i love anything punjabi and i love hyderabadi biryani. besides, i love anything which starts with the word c. curd, cheese, chicken, chocolate, coffee….u name them, the list is endless. now let me randomly put forward some of my scattered thoughts around my favorite topics, starting with..

1. philosophy: a certain understanding of philosophy keeps me alive. i will die the day i lose interest in philosophy. i believe in two forces…one which is expanding, another contracting. after every act or decision i take in my life, i ask myself whether this act has made me big or small. its an inner feeling of being satisfied with something or bearing a guilt. i am extremely sensitive and i cannot sleep knowing i have done something wrong.

2.chess: i play chess at the second highest level of professional chess. what i love in chess is its similarity with life and art. all three have one thing in common. in everything u do, u know how to begin. then after a point u adjust urself to the rhythm of things, u have to embrace the logic of the game. when u paint, u start with something. then u adjust it with the medium, the color spreading, the paper getting dirty etc. same with arranging a bunch of flowers in a flower vase. however great a chess player u r, ur play is only possible in relation to the opponents moves. the best player is he who is capable of playing a game irrespective of the course the game takes after sometime. he will adjust and modify accordingly. same with the best artist. same with a good human being who can come to terms with the course his/her life takes, however good or bad it is.

3.literature: i read everything but nothing touches me more than latin american literature. i love the work of borges and marquez. a very very strong recommendation for u: go get ‘100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE’ by gabriel garcia marquez. its a nobel prize winning novel which changed innumerable lives so far. if u r less interested in epics and prefer love stories, get urself ‘LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA’ again by marquez. if u want to know about art…start walking towards a book store and get STORY OF ART by E.H.Gombrich. this book is the mother of all art books and i have a longtime ambition to write a Story of Indian Art as a supplement to this masterpiece. i have already into collecting materials but will take a good ten years time to launch my masterpiece. hopefully by then i will b known everywhere.

4.kids: my best friend is a four year old. he is an extremely intelligent kid and he loves me. he refuses to believe that i teach in a college. when i meet u in delhi or wherever…i will tell u his stories. do bring a hammer then, u may have to hit urself on ur head in order to prevent laughter. anyways, kids are the best. i always treat them as equals and they have never let me down. one of my friends, prithwish, who is married to a serbian girl is about to become a father in october. his serbian mother in law cannot pronounce prithwish properly, so she calls him Peter. guess what name am i going to give to his kid if its a boy ! i am going to call him ‘Repeater’.

ok, i am stopping here. u know…i can go on and on and on, but i should give u a breathing space atleast ! i guess this mail was full of self indulgent things and there r times where i sounded a bit narcissistic. i am sorry for that. but the point is…the next mail then will b all about u. its ur duty now to reply with things that r close to ur mind and heart. i will be waiting to read all that. till then, take care…have a nice time. my wishes for u, ur hubby, ur family and friends. all the best.

p.s- have u ever noticed what a perfect aries u r ? there is R-A-M in N-A-M-R-A-T-A ! aries is symbolized by a ram.


After whole big conversation and a few chats in between, it made me realize ART is so universal. It can penetrate through any one just like the feeling of LOVE does.


PS: ‘KABIR’, I have a lot affinity to this 5 letter word, Esp after learning so many ‘Kabir key Dohe’ in Hindi Classes I know it has a lot of good Associated to it. And after watching Mani Ratnam’s ‘Bombay’ Movie, in which one of the twins name is ‘Kabir Narayan’, this name became much closer to my heart. I have it on top of list for my to be born Kids’ probable names.


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