That was a day at Jhoola Mussoorie when sun was kissing the west horizon and was about to create a grey hue around. I was there on my portrait- spree of summers.
Waiting for someone to drop in for a portrait… that was more for the relish of the eyes so far female portraiture was concerned, than for money. I was sitting on a folding chair, an easel in front with paper and another folding chair waited in front for a model.
Yes, there appeared a large man clad in dhoti-kurta, perhaps a Lala from somewhere. Maybe Mathura. He wanted a portrait. What I was charging for a portrait was fine with him. But his weight would have certainly broken my chair. To avoiding offending him by stating the real cause I fabricated an excuse saying I was tired and wanted a break for tea. He agreed for this and I shot off from there. I leisurely returned after fifteen minutes hoping he’ll be gone by then. But he was very well waiting for my return. I was forced to divulge the real reason that my stool was too fragile to sustain his weight and I did not want to lose it. But he persisted and requested that I make his standing portrait. I too had to stand up to make it. The portrait came up nice. The Lalaji paid for the portrait and went away happily.
With darkness approaching I shifted my paraphernalia under the lamp-post waiting for more takers. Suddenly I again saw the Lalaji coming back towards me. I was scared a bit with the apprehension that the Lalaji might ask his money back citing one or the other excuse, having repented the deal. But I was proved wrong. He only requested that Imake a cap on the head of the portrait. I added the cap. I was happy seeing him going away with his wish fulfilled. He did not return.
That was a time I stayed in a dharamshala in Library area. The room I occupied was near a temple. I never like visiting temples except for its architecture and I did not visit this temple either. Exhausted after the daylong toil of portrait-making, I entered the room after dinner. But the sleep was fitful. I dreamt of snakes.. After I woke up, a priest of the temple confronted me and asked me to visit the temple upstairs, maybe in the hope of some offerings. I reluctantly went upstairs and entered the hall of the temple. To my amazement it was the temple of Naagraja (Snake King, Waasuki ) and a huge Naagraja statue was vividly showing up just in front. It was just incredible but a truth corroborating my snake dream through the night without my knowing that it was a temple of Snake. It was a miracle to say.
I used to take assignments of portrait-making in hotel-rooms too. I went to hotel Hakman on invitation of a young girl for a portrait. I insisted for the side pose of the girl that was giving a better look for a portrait. She agreed. I did the portrait and it came up very well. The girl was happy. For money, she went inside with the portrait. I heard a lady inside, the mother perhaps, saying the artist shouldn’t be paid in full because he has drawn only half of the face. Deeply hurt on hearing this, I picked up my bag and rushed down the ramp. I found the girl running after me requesting me to take the money. Not to cause distress to the young girl I accepted the money, which was the full amount.