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ISSUE #2 Theme BEAUTY
Aahsome is a quarterly, free PDF magazine from India made possible by readers like you. Aahsome showcases the human spirit, mind, ethics and morals.
For this issue, we asked you to interpret beauty any way you like. You amazed us with what you think is beautiful! The cover is Lady Godiva depicted by Pre-Raphaelite artist John Maler Collier. The legend goes that Lady Godiva had a dispute with her husband Leofric, the Earl of Mercia, over taxes he levied on the developing city of Coventry. He challenged her to ride naked across the town, promising to reduce the tax if she did so. Godiva took the challenge and became a local legend. Townsfolk had stayed indoors to show their respect but one person peeked at her anyway, the character we now know as “Peeping Tom”. Aahsome was founded and initiated by Anand and Arun, two designers with a shared passion for art, culture and free expression. Anand’s initial brainchild, Aahsome’s mission is to showcase both the outwardly and the inhibited alike. Let us know what you think at email@example.com.
K.A.Anand is a user Experience Designer by profession and blogs about design and everything else here: http://rega.in
J. Arun is a designer at SlideShare. He dabbles in art, sketching and typography. He’s on twitter at twitter.com/SimplyArun
veryone knows beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. That implies as many definitions of beauty as there are eyeballs. How do we even start to define beauty? Can it even be defined?
and hence they are shown in that color doesn’t hold. As in are those the only gods who have their auras in blue? The dark skinned Goddess Kali came back as the fair skinned Gauri. There are various versions to this story, the changes being in why did she do this, but that is not important. What is important that she came back as fair skinned. Maybe there is some link between this and the fact that fairness products account for more than 50% of the skin care market segment in India. This is the only segment that grew at more than 10% even in the recession of 2009. Why is body hair being unwanted like mongrel puppies? Of course more testosterone has the side effect of more body hair, so some might want to remove hair to look less masculine. But still there is hair in specific places of our bodies for specific biological reasons (increasing the surface area to spread pheromones, being one of them). Isn’t it worth considering that their only fault is that they are unwanted? Unwanted by you (or by your lover). — K.A. Anand
Many cultures have tried to. Some have even marginally succeeded.
Bringing down beauty to a set of formulae, as is the wont of western scientific method. Maybe those formulae can even help by making beauty an assembly line product. But is it really so simple? Going eastwards, we have the Indian rasas, out of which the most important is the Shringara rasa. Though it encompasses beauty only as seen by the eyes of a lover, still it is the closest we have to a rule, regarding beauty. It is, as it is with most Indian philosophy, without strict rules, more in spirit than form. Moving further eastwards, you begin to hear the sounds of one hand clapping. WabiSabi is the beauty of worn down things, which still have a charm and grace about them. This is the beauty coming out of imperfection. Imperfection leads to uniqueness. A clay bowl slightly misshapen is thus beautiful. Coming to human beauty, does it have any anything to do with skin color? Why do some gods which are supposed to be dark skinned shown not as shades of black but of blue? The argument that their aura is blue www.aahsome.com
“Adam and Eve”
From when he can remember, Rajesh Babu remains an art enthusiast. He is currently an Art Director in uAE.
Iyer and Irene
The names matched The personalities didn’t Yet they had an intangible something that held them together From his veshti to her sleeveless dresses From his temple to her church The smiles on their faces Made most hearts melt One wondered how it had happened Where the story lay It had begun many monsoons ago A stalled car. Rain pouring down in sheets. A smile did it all.
— Kirti Manian
Title credits to Ravi Sivaraman
Illustration: K.A. Anand
Prayer Wheels near rumtek monastery, nor th Sikkim Kirti manian
Lehrate Hue rangeen Kapde, nor th Sikkim Kirti manian
gurudongmar Lake at 17,100 feet Kirti manian
Kirti Manian She writes. She takes photographs. Sometimes she does both together. She’s 28 and lives in mumbai. Kirti enjoys travelling, having travelled to both South and East india in the last couple of years. Ladakh is the next destination she has in mind. Life is meant to be lived — corny but true and each day lived with joy. view more of Kirti’s work at http://lifeaseetees.blogspot.com.
The Elephant Kid
by Alok Mohan
He ran off again but not without uttering that “U” word followed by “Thank you”. Now what difference does that make? Curse me first and then follow up with a thank you? Or you’re thanking and cursing at the same time. Children these days! No morals I tell you. And there at 22, I was feeling old. I’ve never been happy about growing old. Why, given a choice I’d stay four all along — days when my dreams and ambition revolved around being an elephant. Why I wanted to be an elephant, though, is beyond explanation. But that I wanted to be one remains part of my family history. For all I remember I never said I was six and a half or will turn 12 next month. I’d have been happy not aging at all. But then life doesn’t roll that way. So as I crossed 13, I began hoping against hope that growing old could be a good thing. How hard could it be? Everyone I knew was growing old. My grandmother was always smiling and shes 72. So I thought let’s not jump into conclusions, let’s take aging one year at a time. I pretended to act mature. www.aahsome.com 11
o I’m walking down the road and this young guy, not more than 12, short of breath, runs to me, “Uncle, Uncle what’s the time?” The question took me not so much by surprise as it did of being called “uncle”. “12.30” I said.
I wanted to go out and play and mom would say “just wait till you finish your tenth, and you can play all you want.” I complete tenth and I’m playing and she would call again, “12th is all that matters. Everyone will want to know your marks, besides getting into a good college. Play as much as your want after 12th.” And before I know it I’m in college. And 18. I soon realized to my horror I’ll have to wait till after college to start playing because if I played then I wouldn’t get a good job and then what would Sita’s uncle’s wife’s brother’s nephew’s father-inlaw and his wife, daughter of P. Krishnankutty say? Out of college and I’m free! No more classes. No more exams. I can play at last! And then a relative who does not wish to be named says, “Is this the age to be playing? Guys your age already have good jobs and are settled in life.” and I’m like WTF??? Today, at 22 and a half, all I have to look forward in life is another 40 years of work. And then I’ll be 62. And I’ll commence my cycle of being a child again. Being a child I always wanted to be an elephant. Elephants are beautiful. Being a child was beautiful. The Elephant Kid photo by Koka Sexton. He blogs at www.kokasexton.com and you can find his pictures at http://www.flickr.com/people/ ikoka. 12
Alok Mohan is a copywriter based in Abu Dhabi. When not caught between saving the day and being a gemini, he blogs occasionally at onelessthought.blogspot.com.
Live in Concert
The Fender wails… High on psychedelia; Higher on love. Wood and steel in unison Sculpting air. Visions. Smoke everywhere, Sweet, full of breath; Asphyxiating all care uncalled. Ghosts of the living, Albatrosses, hopes, flying. Gods in Act, acting Gods. Stirred and shaken, Perfect blend, Amen! Touched by the Metatron Sonic N-Bombs, a zillion Ktons. The river of sweat, Sound bytes and more, Ambrosia over a setting sun in Eden. A bend in time. A Big head Bang. A furious mix of sweet and tang… www.aahsome.com 13
…Marshals, frenzied, roll. The equalizer set to equalize Ranges beyond the console! As geographies melt, Iron and Gold smelt. Roger and Dave serenade, The Wright-Mason duet made. The lunatic smiles overhead. The dark moves into the light, Quivering hearts & stage fright! She glances & smiles. Pompei, in my head. Flatlined, wonder-eyed, in bed. There she was, my flower child, My elusive Floydian wild.
Art by Harish Shankaran
Left with no choice, Harish Shankaran has fallen in love with music. He also loves movies, theatre and enjoys writing. He blogs at www.oxygenflow.net and tweets at twitter.com/spikedelik Psst… he’s single now!
by Mukta Raut
his morning, as I crossed the road to catch an auto, I saw an exquisite woman. She stood in the shade of a mango tree. I think I found her remarkable because she was so comfortable in her own
The only thing that seemed to be in stark contrast to this bleached perfection was her complexion. It was strong and beautiful and… in some ways… emphatic. She looked like she bathed in the finest cognac to have the color softly coat her skin and make it glow. There was such a gorgeous sheen about her. As I left in my auto, I turned back to see her again. Around her, the world
skin. Didn’t seem rushed. Didn’t seem uncomfortable without any of the modern-day accoutrements we use to avoid eye contact with strangers — mobiles, magazines, iPods. She just stood there, simple and beautiful. She was fairly tall, and her straw-colored linen dress fell a few inches above her knees. Her calves were sinewy and her arms were shapely. Her arms were toned, sure, but they didn’t look like the over exercised walnutcrackers that some women have. She had shoulder-length hair that seemed to glint of honey-hues when the sunlight shifted through the leaves. Everything about her seemed to have the delicate fading of timelessness — like the edges of a beautiful, heirloom sari, maybe. Her dress was almost white, her hair was almost brown, her eyes were cappuccino but again, almost so. From head to toe, her seasons in the sun seemed to have lightened off some of her demeanour, but admirably so.
had gotten busy, and the Monday had gotten manic. But this lady just turned this crazed little lane a background for her portraiture. There she stood, with a wonderful glisten reflecting off her — in the shadows, in the spotlight.
Mukta Raut veni, vidi, wrote. Sometimes, i just wrote. reve3.blogspot.com
The Mathematics of Beauty
by Arvind Subramaniam
lates to it with his poetry, a layman thinks of all the sizzling hot stars on the big screen. Beauty means something to everyone. Since ages, wise men from all walks of life have not only attempted to define beauty, but also tried to relate it to their field in some way or the other. To understand what makes beauty, well…so beautiful, a class of men set it upon themselves to unravel the secrets of beauty. These were the mathematicians and they set out to prove that beauty could be determined by mathematical relationships and formulae. www.aahsome.com
he word beauty conjures up something for everyone. An artist may be reminded of the beauty in nature; a writer re-
The thoughts of this is very well reflected in Bertrand Russell’s words: “Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show. The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry.” From beauty in theorems and geometry, they went on to suggest that physical attraction
increases if that person’s body is symmetrical and in proportion. Leonardo Da Vinci plainly suggested the beauty of objects depends on a ratio, known as the Golden Ratio. To understand what the Golden ratio is, draw a line, and bisect it in two unequal half’s, a long segment A, and Shorter segment B. The Golden Ratio appears when the ratio of A to B is equal to the ratio of the entire line (A+B) to the longer segment A. If objects relate to the Golden Ratio, called Phi and which roughly equals 1.618 in various proportions, the physical affinity towards that object increases. This fact is very well illustrated in the Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. 17
Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci Galleria dell' Accademia, Venice (1485-90) Original drawing photographed by Luc Viatour www.lucnix.be
According to Leonardo’s preview in the accompanying text, written in mirror writing, it was made as a study of the proportions of the (male) human body. From this diagram, Leonardo, summarized some interesting facts…
Thus in Theory every face that has a “good fit” in this mask is Beautiful. The human body is not the only object, which if it corresponds to the golden ratio makes it beautiful. In fact, mathematicians have noticed the golden ratio in every aspect of nature, including for example in the petal arrangement of a sunflower. Having understood the beauty of the Golden Ratio, architects and engineers all over the world have strived to constructs monuments and other structures in a attempt to make them beautiful. The Pyramids of Egypt, The Pantheon in Greece, The Notre Dame Cathedral in Europe are all said to have been built based on the Golden Ratio. In modern times, photographers may relate to the Golden Ratio with the Rule of Thirds, which emphasizes placement of the subject in ways pleasing to the eye. If you thought the application of the Golden Ratio ends here you are wrong. Even in music, the Golden Ratio can be applied to the intervals between different notes, to bring about soul
stirring, beautiful music. Someone said that a mathematician is one who understands the beauty in the mathematics as an art form, funny because none of us would have contemplated math as an art form. Galileo said “Math is the language in which God wrote the universe”. We will have to understand that math gives structure to the whole universe and this is the beauty of mathematics.
• The length of a man’s outspread arms (arm
span) is equal to his height
• The distance from the hairline to the bottom
of the chin is one-tenth of a man’s height
• The length of the hand is one-tenth of a
• The length of the ear is one-third of the
length of the face
• The length of a man’s foot is one-sixth of his
height, etc… The mathematics website www.intmath.com has come up with a mask of a human face based on the Golden Ratio. The proportion of all facial features correspond to some aspect of the golden ratio. www.aahsome.com
Arvind Subramaniam is a Strategic Brand Consultant and Web 2.0 Evangelist, an amateur photographer, founding member of Coimbatore Photowalking, and a complete foodie. He blogs at www.beingarvind.com and tweets at twitter.com/arvind_p
Day of the pots! Seema KK
Day of the pot sellers! Seema KK
To a rainy day… Seema KK
The boat, sky, beach and the pier Seema KK
Good Friday! Seema KK
A year ago… Seema KK
A graphic designer by profession, Seema keeps a keen interest in social documentary photography. She almost likes any subject under the sun, happy when traveling and eating good food. She hails from Kerala, currently pursuing her masters in Communication Design at Pratt institute, new york. www.seemakk.com
by Anjana Jambunathan
he word beauty conjures up something for everyone. An artist may be reminded of the beauty in nature; a writer relates
dignity. We watched her beautiful long fingers move about, the movement causing her glass bangles to jingle. Her lovely kohl lined eyes had the most serene and content expression, her long dark curly hair was loosely braided and she was dressed in a simple parrot green cotton saree. We drank a glass of delicious tea while observing her or maybe it was just her persona that made the tea seem like it was the best we ever had. She was surrounded by a bunch of men gawking at her and I don’t blame them at all who wouldn’t want to start their day with such a lovely sight. I realised then that beauty lies in simplicity, in everyday aspects of life and is all around us but we just have to look.
to it with poetry, a layman thinks of all the sizzling hot stars on the big screen. Beauty means something to everyone. I stayed only for a very short while in Hyderabad; my favourite time of the day was the early morning hours when Aparna and I would go for long walks admiring those sprawling bungalows on Banjara Hills. It was during one of those walks that we came across a roadside tea stall. There was quite a crowd there which drew our attention. A woman squatted on the floor pouring tea from a kettle and washing the glasses. She was a middle aged woman with a slight frame and not the conventional on-the-face beauty but it took just a minute to observe her at work which left you completely en-
An avid reader and dreamer, occasionally getting confused between the two, Anjana is an mBA graduate often heard quipping — “Life, in spite of all the shit you put me through, i remain, o so in love with you.”
Illustration: K.A. Anand
thralled. She worked with such grace and
by Dakshayini Gowda
Based on Varanasi’s rich brocade silk collection. www.aahsome.com 29
Varanasi. Kashi. Banaras. The old, oldest, the legendary city, the eternal city at the banks of the mighty Ganga River. For ages this place has been radiating a strong mystical image both within India as in the west, marveled at for its never-resting life around Mother Ganga, where Religion melts into Magic as well as for products like the traditional Banarasi hand-woven silks. This collection aims at bringing to you along with a small piece of this precious material, a small piece of the ageold magic of this holy and worldly genuine piece of Varanasi. I personally oversee and train rural women, but encourage their individual creative explorations for any design. Currently, I have trained women from Karnataka villages, and aspire to train more rural women all over India as part of the women empowerment project is being pioneered by Sanchali. These designs are my personal creations out of textile scrap and such other material which has the potential to be recycled. The intention is to recycle this precious material to the fullest using leftover that is thrown by tailors, weavers or an old sari which is out of use. These scraps are transformed into work of art or an expression of www.aahsome.com
the craftsmen of today. This jewellery is sequenced with stone, glass, clay beads. Or bark of a tree, wood or seed, which are naturally found, to add to the aesthetics of the craft in its traditional way. Recycling has been part of our tradition since the time one can remember. This has been handed down for many generations. Without any training, Indian grandmothers have creatively conjured up designs and crafts out of everyday excess scrap materials like broken bangle fragments, textile scrap, seeds or any other such materials. A lost tradition in today’s world of recycling plastics and other manmade wastes, salvaging natural remnants from like tree bark shed during seasonal changes as sources of artistic mediums, is a dying trade. Not only saving artisans a trip to the market for art supplies, but also these mother-earth provisions are readily available at no cost at all. Inspired by this novel system of waste management, which is part of our age old tradition, my goal is to revive this dying tradition lost to modernization as well as encouraging art novices and connoisseurs to draw upon their proclivity for nature. The jewellery is eco-friendly via the re-utilization of old sarees, leftover bits discarded as waste by tailors, weavers. Especially the old discarded Banarasi saree is a museum piece because it is difficult to get a genuine Banarasi sari these days. I have preserved my grandmother’s damaged sari into jewellery. It just got an extended life. :) www.sanchali.org 30
by Malvika Jain
to insiders. If you can look past the squalor, you can enjoy the Sufi-ism, the sandstone domes and IHC. He also said that no one belongs to cosmopolitan Delhi. If a person says he is from Delhi, people ask “No, tell me, where are you originally from?” To which he may answer “Arrey, I am from pro-par Delhi.” Pro-par = Proper I realized how Delhi grips one, when I hit South India for a long trip and started missing the www.aahsome.com blingy jordaar tube-lit dhabas on the highways — the Las Vegas strips of Dilli. So again, is Delhi beautiful? Only if the following makes it so: Dilli ki sardi. The invigorating brrrr of winterrr. The Sin-Cityness of Dilli. Dark alleys where you’ll be yanked in a Maruti Omni (kidnapper’s vehicle of choice) and feature in the newspaperheadlines the next day. Old-world Chandni Chowk with streets
s Khushwant Singh said — Delhi is like his hijda mistress Bhagmati. She is ugly to an outsider but reveals her charms only
stocked with spare auto-parts. Grease and black. Food lanes stuffed with beggars on haunches. Animated halwais. Stoned sadhus. Qutb minar. Ghost town Tughlaqabad, accursed by Saint Nizamuddin. Nizamuddin Dargah. Pigeon specked 31
Jama Masjid. Dirty Yamuna with glorious yestyeryears. Dilli darwaza. Ajmeri darwaza. Bullet-marked Darwaza. Horseshoe darwaza. Rashtrapathi Bhavan. Wide avenues on Janpath road. Embassies. Fat ambassador cars. Hauz Khas (the royal bath). Haus Rani. Lutyens grandeur. Bohemian jaunts in Janpath, stories of Paharganj chemical drug concoction explosions, strangers I meet at Blues and TLR. The dude-ism of Delhi. Guys who you know are MCPs just by looking at them, designer gloss, rash driving. Café Turtle + Book shops. Insomnia and house-hunting. Real estate brokers with aquariums. Greedy shopping at Ambience/ Select Citywalk. *** Dilli. Too much personality to be called beautiful.
Malvika Jain is a copywriter at an advertising agency in gurgaon. She also does freelance branding, graphic design and illustrations. She blogs at blog.malvikajain.com.
Photos: 1. Delhi II by KRRISHwTrampkach krrishwtrampkach.deviantart.com 2. Chandni Chowk by Gorgoro gorgoro.deviantart.com
Facenotes and footnotes Gudalur, Nilgiris J. Arun
Facenotes and footnotes Gudalur, Nilgiris J. Arun
J. Arun twitter.com/SimplyArun
Elf with earrings J. Arun
Contribute to the next issue of Aahsome! theme: Food you could think of food from angles as diverse as economics and history. Food is a primary necessity. governments have fallen due to increase in onion prices. new continents have been discovered searching for spices. unusual twists to usual recipes are also welcome! your submissions could be traditional art, digital art, poetry, short-stories, opinions, photographs or comics. Submitting is simple! Just email your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org tell us what you think! Have questions, feedback or just saying hello?
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