Friday, April 30, 2010
Caravaggio, Maharashtra Day
I envy my friend DS who is in Rome right now, because she's seen a Caravaggio exhibition that I will miss. He's one of my three favourite painters; and though I've seen most of the canvases in the exhibition at different times and places, it would be fabulous to view them all together. Ah, well, the show will probably travel to other destinations and I hope to catch it in one of those.
Caravaggio died in July 1610, which means it is 400 years since his demise. The Scuderia del Quirinale in Rome obviously put this show together with the anniversary in mind. I can only guess how long it took to gather the paintings necessary to make a worthwhile display. Caravaggios are pretty hard to come by, and museums that have one or two (outside of Rome it's hardly ever more than two), part with these prizes very reluctantly. I'd say the idea was put in motion about two years ago at least.
Which brings me to the 50th anniversary of Maharashtra, which is being celebrated tomorrow. The Congress - NCP government which rules the state, and the Shiv Sena which rules Bombay's Municipal Corporation, were obviously not thinking of this occasion back in 2008, when prep should have begun. I got a call two months ago asking me to contribute to a publication commemorating the anniversary. I'd have refused anyway, since I avoid any connection with government stuff where possible, but I was gobsmacked that they were beginning to commission articles in March 2010. Near my home in Shivaji Park, the Sena is putting up some kind of mural depicting, what else, Shivaji's victories. The path around the park is dug up for the latest bout of beautification, guaranteed, like previous ones, to leave the place uglier. Nothing's ready in time, even though the things they're doing require only a few weeks work.
Forget Caravaggio, there are people who buy tickets for their next vacation a year in advance, despite the possibility of volcanic ash or protests by Red Shirts throwing their schedule out of gear. The anniversary of Maharashtra's founding was not going to shift because of inclement weather, so why not plan ahead?