Rosalyn D'Mello: Diving deep into the hitherto unknown

Published: Jan 13, 2017, 07:55 IST | Rosalyn D'Mello |

This year is going to be the one of embracing the rich possibilities of both failure and frugality that lie outside of one’s comfort zone

At the Fratelli vineyards, I had my first mini “vacation” in over a year, by which I mean I spent only four hours on my laptop wrestling with a deadline. Representation pic/Thinkstock
At the Fratelli vineyards, I had my first mini “vacation” in over a year, by which I mean I spent only four hours on my laptop wrestling with a deadline. Representation pic/Thinkstock

By the time I landed in Pune, just about a week ago, I had composed my letter of resignation. I had typed it on my phone, but deliberated over each word, slightly uncertain about the consequences — I’ve loved being a consultant to one of India’s leading galleries, but I knew the time had come for me to move on, to dedicate myself irrevocably to the pursuit of my art.

On the evening of the 11th, before I was to head to the airport to return to Delhi, I met up with an old friend, Sheece, in fact, one of the first few people to believe I had a writerly calling. He was in transition too, between jobs. “I know it’s different for you because you have a family to support, but I think we can live frugally and still be happy,” I happened to tell him.

I did believe I had some authority to dole out such advice, given that living the life of a freelancer ensures you are well schooled in matters of abstinence and indulgences. I wonder, though, if I was unintentionally directing what I said to him at myself, given that I, too, am suddenly on the cusp of all possibilities, about to surrender to the word.

I must confess, the instant I submitted my notice, I started to feel lighter, as if a million different molecules within my constitution had suddenly dissolved into air. When, a day later, I was being driven to the Fratelli vineyards in Akluj in Solapur, I found I was smiling with the wild abandon of a circus freak. The voices in my head had returned.

The muse is a well-documented category within the writing realm, and yet, many mistake it to be something static that is to be unearthed or re-encountered. I think the muse is always already present. What is often not accessible is the language with which to make it flesh. The voices in my head allow me to dialogue with my muse(s), however, for many months they had silenced themselves, or perhaps I had put them on mute, afraid as I was of all that was on my plate: deadlines, assignments, projects, the whole business of sustaining a livelihood. I kept the voices at bay and so they deserted me. I was secretly paralysed by the thought that they may never again return to be fed upon. Perhaps their reappearance was my reward for de-cluttering my mind space.

At the expansive Fratelli vineyards, I had my first mini “vacation” in over a year, by which I mean I spent only four hours on my laptop wrestling with a deadline. The rest of the time I rambled, I sampled wine, I took long strolls along acres of cabernet sauvignon, chenin blanc, sangiovese and chardonnay that were in various stages of blossoming, from a gush of flowers — to green almost-fruit to ripe, ruby-red grown-up grapes, and went on a private tour of the art of wine making. On my first evening there, I even climbed a ladder to the roof and watched the sun sink behind a hillock, its vestigial stream of light cast upon the vines. Later, I sank into a bottle of Sette, Fratelli’s finest (in my opinion), and gorged on a dinner that was in fact, farm fresh (almost all the vegetables had been grown on site). My big discovery was smoked cheddar made exclusively in Satara, which paired exquisitely with every wine.

Everything about the two days there was unpretentious, a tall order considering how well wine can often pair with artifice. And yet, even though the voices in my head spoke to me continually, I did not write. I allowed them to be, allowed them to converse with my dreams and my wakeful state. I let them gestate.

On Sunday evening, I will be on a late-night flight to Goa, though not for a vacation. Nikhil Chopra, Madhavi Gore and Romain Lousteau, co-founders of the fabulous HH Arts Spaces, have invited me to spend a month on a residency at their new space in Arpora. I’ve been asked to think about writing and performance, and it entails pushing the boundaries of my current practice, thinking beyond the concept of the page.

I’m ecstatic about the idea of inhabiting a space, however temporarily, and creating something that is outside the periphery of my comfort zone. I realise that for most people, life is precisely about surviving surely and securely within the boundaries of the familiar. For me, it’s about what lurks beyond the predictable, what remains unchartered.

This year is going to be the year I embrace the rich possibilities of both failure and frugality. Between the two, is an in-between territory of ecstasy and indulgence. That’s where I hope you might find me, nestling in the womb of my imagination, listening to the secret repertory of all my unsung songs.

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D’Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx. Send your feedback to

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