For him, creativity is a drug. He cannot live without it. His name of him has an eponymous ring around it. And he also has a pseudonym. he is Ashok Chitrakar who owns the famous Ashokas Kalagram Art Gallery, just 2 km away from the hustle and bustle of Pathankot city. An alumnus of the local St Joseph Convent School, he fell in love with the nuances of art at a young, impressionable age. He knew art has a voice and he should let it speak. Reason enough why he did a Diploma in Fresco Art from the prestigious Rajasthan Banasthali Vidyapith. People do not very often undertake courses in fresco art. It is considered to be a difficult art to master. Actually, not many may know the intricacies of fresco painting. It is a technique of painting executed upon freshly laid (wet) lime plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for dry powder pigment to merge with plaster. With the setting of plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall. Ashok is adept in both water and oil painting. He says if he creates from the heart, be it oil or water, nearly everything works. If he creates from his head, almost nothing works. The man, like all artists, indeed has a poetic bent of mind. “Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas. You just cannot store creativity. The more you use it, the more you will have,” he says. When asked to compare both forms of paintings, Chitrakar sums it up beautifully: “If mundane Gurdaspur is a water colour, scenic Pathankot is an oil painting.” Now, that is indeed like a poet! Ashok has displayed his work twice in exhibitions organized at the prestigious Lalit Kala Academy, Delhi. He has also taken his work from him to the All-India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi, where innumerable accolades came his way from him. “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint reality. The motivation comes from within. If you do not like the road you are walking, start paving another one. My heart and soul lie in my art. I enjoy my work. As soon as something stops being fun, I think it will be time for me to move on. Actually, life is too short to be unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is not a good way to live. As for now, I am enjoying what I am doing. When the time comes for me to stop, I will stop. I will cross the bridge when I come to it,” he says. Well, that’s the Chitrakar in Ashok for you!
Stubble blaze that devoured a school bus
The other day Batalvis were shocked when the reports of seven children with burn injuries started doing the rounds. They were students of a private school located near Bijliwal village on the Batala-Dera Baba Nanak road. The school bus they were traveling in while coming back home from school suddenly entered a smoke-filled area. The smoke was emanating from a nearby wheat stubble blaze. Driver, Jagpreet Singh, lost control of the vehicle, following which it turned turtle. Diesel started leaking from the overturned bus. Within no time, the bus was up in flames. It was then that Jagpreet rose to the occasion. One by one he managed to pull out all 32 children from the burning debris. Seven of them sustained serious injuries and were rushed to a local pediatric hospital. Five went home that evening while two — Gurpartap Singh (8) and Sehajpreet Kaur (5) — suffered serious wounds and were shifted to the Marwaha Multi-Specialty Hospital. Here they were treated for burns by Dr Anil Marwaha. The doctor made it clear to the family that things may get complicated if infection sets in. Hence parents did not allow many visitors, including media men to go near the kids. Both children are now out of danger and will return home next week. Till then, they will remain in the trained hands. While still on stubble burning, the authorities are turning a Nelson’s eye towards such incidents. Putting stubble to fire has been banned by the government. How effective this ban is can be gauged when one takes a drive on the Gurdaspur-Batala road. Seventy per cent of the fields have been put on fire. The DC and SSPs of Batala and Gurdaspur regularly take this road. What stops them from taking action against the erring farmers? Senior officers often drive on the Gurdaspur-Pathankot highway. Again, no action is forthcoming. Or is it that they come under political pressure whenever they think of some action to be taken?
(Compiled by Ravi Dhaliwal)