For Halloween, Go to The Lucky Restaurant and See The Husain Painting in the Graveyard

lucky restaurant1If you are in Ahmedabad and you don’t know where to celebrate Halloween, that would be an amazing coincidence, but why not try this bizarre snack bar called The (New) Lucky Restaurant and eat among the graves? You can find it in the area of Lal Darwaja, not far from the old center of the city and next to the famous Sidi Saiyad mosque and its even more famous tree-shaped Jali!

 Fifty years ago, a tea stall was situated next to a Muslim graveyard but it was so successful that the owners decided to extend it among the tombs and neem trees.

lucky restau

Neem tree and graves

Today, the graves are painted green and surrounded by railings. They are respectfully cleaned and decorated everyday as they are the highlight of the tea joint. But whose graves are these? After searching on the internet, I read they might date back from the 16th century and were supposed to belong to the family of a Sufi.

lucky restaurant3

Croque-monsieur among the dead…

 I went there in a morning with my friend Shubbhra and we had a dosa and a delicious grilled sandwich. We were sitting by a lovely range of tombs! If you want to improve your French, it is funny to notice that the grilled sandwich I ate is a kind of snack which exists in France too. It is actually called croque-monsieur, ( croque = munch) ! And by the way, it also sounds like another French word croque-mort, (mort = dead), which is nothing less than an undertaker! ( French undertakers were supposed to bite the thumbs of the corpses to check they were really dead!)

Well, if you don’t want to try the lucky “croque-monsieur”, I heard maska buns were the best. (warm buns with butter…). The chai is also really famous for its inimitable chocolate aftertaste. The fresh mango juice is thick and yummy!

lucky restaurant4

by MF Husain for the Lucky Restaurant

 However, my friend and me didn’t even notice the highlight of the place, the gold icing on the jalebi; a real picture by Maqbool Fida Husain himself hanging on one of the walls! We didn’t know a masterpiece was in the restaurant then! The great painter loved going there and he was friend with the first owner Mohammad. He said that place gave him “a feeling of death and life”, a kind of carpe diem sensation. He made a picture and gave it to the restaurant in 2004. Well,to my mind, it looks a bit like a poster for a Tunisian travel agency but I heard it cost a great deal of rupees!

Stories are told about the great costumer: it is said the painter used to come there barefoot. Other rumors say bottles of tea from the Lucky Restaurant were ordered to be taken by friends especially for him while he was self-exiled in Dubai!

 Now, the last question is: Are you ready to have lunch among the dead? In Ahmedabad, some people say they feel the presence of God thanks to the shrines and some others go there every morning to spend an auspicious moment providing luck for the rest of the day… so now, you know why this teashop is called The Lucky Restaurant!

For further reading, you can go to Oddity Central or Live Mint.

Click on the photo to see where there are from.

And to finish, the rules of the restaurant pinned on the wall. I can’t read Gujarati but I know the last rule is “Don’t fight with the waiters!”

lucky restaurant2

Categories: Gujarat, India in pictures, Kitchen, Museum, Voyages | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Raghunat Manet at the Institut du Monde Arabe: Shiva Dances in Jannah!

Mughul India (Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris)

Mughul India (Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris)

Raghunath Manet is one of the greatest Indian dancers in the world. He made Bharatha Natyam popular and opened its door to male dancers. He is also a choreographer, a veena player ( it’s a kind of huge lute that you can see in the photo above).

Despite his fame in France, (he was knighted by the French government and took part in many French shows), Raghunat Manet is still a mystery. How old is he? Is he married? Where does he live? Is he a God? Is he a man? Difficult to really know…

It was the first time I had seen him on stage. It was at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.

You may ask: But what was an Indian man doing in a place dedicated to the Arabic culture?

Actually, the performance was called « Mughul India » and Raghunath Manet was not on his own on stage. Tunisian violin player Jasser Haj Youssef was there to collaborate with the amazing dancer. I must admit the two men do not have the same physical appearance and you may wonder what on Earth they can do together! Actually, as soon as Manet touches the strings of his veena and Youssef joins him by making his violin weep, it is quite magical and enchanting!

Jasser Haj Youssef  Raghunath Manet

However, what I preferred was the dancing parts. Raghunat Manet is both graceful and virile. His face has determined and godlike expressions and his gestures are broad and generous. It is a real pleasure for people who like dance…- and the others! – and this show really made me feel like seeing other performances like that.


Click here to watch a report on Youtube and you’ll see that Manet speaks French perfectly!

Categories: Dance, Museum, Shows | 1 Comment

IDEAT Design Magazine: a colourful trip to modern India

Today, I want to talk to you about a very beautiful magazine. Its name is IDEAT. This magazine is about Design, Modern Art and Architecture. I’m not really fond of that kind of magazines but when I saw it was a Special India Issue, I didn’t hesitate to spend 5 euros ( 300 rupies!) for it.

Trop beau! The pictures are colourful and make you travel. The articles introduce trendy artists or designers from India. The texts are short, so you never get bored and you have pleasure reading them. I learnt and saw a lot of things in this magazine. It is like visiting a Modern Art Museum in your sofa.

Click on the pictures to see them bigger or pass your cursor on them to get information.


IDEAT – november 2012 – Travel in India and visit the main cities in the country – The trendy places to go shopping or to visit exhibitions – Nine French people who have worked in India talk about it – What’s your favourite city: Marie-Hélène de Taillac, jewel designer: Jaipur; it is the capital of jewels and gems; 3 million people work in this industry there. – What do you miss when you leave India? Normal Studio, Design Agency: street food and bazars – Strength and weakness of contemporary India? J.François Lesage; furniture embroidery: India can organize its chaos with a feeling of energy and freedom but they are too eager for modernism – Sangaru Design Studio makes practical objects with bamboo – Satuendra Pakhalé, the Indian Philippe Starck – Doshi and Levien make glass objects and colourful sofas – Kama soap, organic cosmetic – Tata Dinasty – Manish Arora and his world of coloursDesigner Arjun Bhasin shows his home in MumbaiArchitect M.N. Sharman, the man who built Chandigarh with Le Corbusier – Hotels and shopping in Delhi – Discover Bollywood and Victorian architecture in Mumbai – Shanti life in Pondichéry – Auroville – Indian art: Anish Kapoor, Rina Banerjee, Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher – Selection of music – Indian shopping in Paris…


Categories: Bookshelves, India in pictures, Library, Museum | Tags: , | 1 Comment

A Sikh Kid and a Bleeding Building!

While going sweating in a gymnasium in the East of Paris, you can discover worth seeing things! That’s why yesterday, I found a bleeding building and a sikh child!

In Bercy Parc, near the Palais Omnisport de Bercy, – a place where people can see tennis championships, Madonna Concerts, surfing contests or sumo wrestling – , I met strange creatures standing on the lawn.

These still silhouettes are bronze sculptures by artist Rachid Khimoune. They were made in 2001 with pieces of streets such as paving stones, pieces of curbs, non-slip plates, manhole covers and so on… These kids have been lined up on the lawn. Each of them has a name and represents a country. The artist raised the matter of children’s rights for the twenty-first century.

Unfortunately, the sculptures are continually subjects to the weather and people’s bad tendency to damage street furniture. However, if they’re made of street stuff, where else could they be?

(Other pictures on this site)


Another thing drew my attention while I was passing on an elevated railway train. A bleeding building! I would have found this idea horrible if the district and the building itself hadn’t been so common! This flashy painting dripping along the façades conveys a bit of joy in all this urban sadness.

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Antinuclear Demonstration and Indian Cinema Masterpiece

Antinuclear demonstration in front of Guimet Museum…

Namaste everyone!

It’s been very difficult to find time to write my blog recently. I would like to be a Blogger Superstar like Big B.  He just has to tell his day or to express his feelings. He does not have to find a subject for every post and does not have to check on the Internet every piece of information he wants to publish. Well, never mind!

Today, I wanted to talk to you about this wonderful film by SS Vasan: Chandralekha. I saw it yesterday, at the Musée Guimet. It’s my favourite museum which shows a wonderful collection of objects from Asia. Every year, there is an Indian film festival called “L’Eté Indien” ( Indian Summer). I wait for this festival impatiently every year; it is my moment of happiness despite the start of school.

So yesterday, when I arrived place Iéna, I found strange creatures greeting me on the steps of the Museum. A group of environmentalists showing banners saying slogans against nuclear power. I think there were more CRS ( = State Security Policemen) than demonstrators but, well, I had to walk all around the square to enter my dear museum and watch this classic of Indian cinema.


SS Vasan, – I spare you his long first name, you wouldn’t remember it, anyway – was the director of Gemini Studios, great film studios situated in Madras. There, Tamil films were shot. Chandralekha is one of them. It was made in 1948. We saw a hindi version because there is no Tamil version with French subtitles. It is a black and white movie, of course but the film was so old that it broke, so the projection had to stop a couple of times. I didn’t know movies were still shown that way. I thought projectionists had DVDs or that kind of things!

 The story is about a kind Prince and his nasty brother who wants to have the whole kingdom and the girl that the kind prince is in love with. The script is classic. It is a series of kidnappings, fights, escapes and so on and so forth. But what is really impressive is the decorations and the long singing and dancing sessions. This film cost a lot of money. it was risky but it became a classic in India. It reminded me of Gone With the Wind made ten years earlier.

Some scenes can’t be forgotten: the war scenes, the circus acts, the animal training and this incredible scene where women dance on huge drums containing hundreds of soldiers.

One usually says that the Indian cinema is the most beautiful in the world. It must be true.

Categories: Cinema, Museum | Tags: | 1 Comment

Sunil Gawde: Keep the Light On!

Sunil Gawde and Virtually Untouchable 1

Contemporary art is a difficult journey for uninitiated travellers. Exhibitions of contemporary artworks are often like the creation of a new world with new dimensions, new codes, new languages and visitors like me know very little about this world in which they try blindly to find any kind of way.

However, there is sometimes a miracle – I’ve talked about Rina Banerjee on this blog –  a miracle through which everything seems clear and natural. That’s why I would easily match Rina Banerjee with Sunil Gawde. Of course, they have Indian origins – Gawde has always lived in Mumbai – but above all, both of them seem to have the same approach to art in a way. On one hand, both of them search for aestheticism through their act of creation; on the other hand, their artworks always convey a message to the viewer, or at least a feeling, whatever the mystery lying in them.

But contrary to Rina Banerjee’s, Sunil Gawde’s message is often disturbing. Hidden, disturbing and unexpected. It appears like a bitter after-taste, a bad surprise.

One of his most famous installations in France is Almost Untouchable III which was shown in Musée Beaubourg in 2011 in the exhibition Paris, Delhi, Bombay where French and Indian artists had been invited to set out their visions of today’s Indian society. At first sight, the visitors can see a large garland of red flowers; the kind of garlands which are used in Indian religious ceremonies or to greet an important guest. But as you get closer, you realize suddenly that the garland is mostly made of blood-red razor blades. Hundreds of razor blades, side by side, which suddenly remind us of the violence which can burst out at any moment, unexpectedly, like the bomb hidden in Rajiv Gandhi’s flower garland.

Almost Untouchable III

Sunil Gawde likes playing with “perception and reality”, apparent purity and underlying rot, security and danger, the shadow of death in the light of life.

The same feeling of danger crouching in insouciance appears in Virtually

Untitled 2008

Untouchable 1, a large mechanic butterfly which bristles with razor blades when you get close to it and whose body is a dagger. Beautiful, attractive and worrying… It is the same kind of feeling in Untitled 2008; big black ants, the hungry servants of death, are crawling along a delicate,  long, white rose.

But death is not the only hidden monster! Danger is lying anywhere. Don’t trust the appearances!

In “Still Alive (2008), burnt wooden heart-shaped balloons are studded with nails. Love is a cruel peril, but you can survive it!

Sunil Gawde’s art is generous. No-one can be indifferent to his works. The visitors just have to see. They just have to keep the light burning in them. In Blind Bulb, a huge fiberglass bulb painted black has lost its first function: lightening. It is hanging heavily and uselessly, like an immobile punching ball, a motionless pendulum! That is certainly what an artist like Sunil Gawde expects from us: keeping the light in our mind on, this light which makes us love, hate, think and create.

Blind Bulb

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Krishna, Krishna, Krishna

Three pictures of Krishna. they’re made by contemporary artists. I love them!

Young Krishna, Gopal Krishna and well, Krishna made in France!

Bal Krishan by Devendra Bhardvaj

by Ajay Garg

Pierre and Gilles

Categories: India in pictures, Museum | Tags: | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Indian Secret

You often discover uncredible things when you surf the Web! I typed something like « Amazing India » on Google and I found myself in Ireland!

Cause in the Irish county of Wicklow, there’s a park called Victoria’s Way. Nothing surprising, so far! But in this park, there’s also a strange place created by its owner Victor Langheld.

When he was younger, Victor travelled to Asia, especially to India; he was really attracted to spiritual stuff. When he came back home he imagined the Indian Sculpture Park. You get into it through a kind of vagina dentata gate and then you can have a walk in a world of hinduism and enlightment!

Follow me!

Is this the entrance to Nirvana?

This is a lovely collection of 8 Ganesh sculptures. They were made in Tamil Nadu with black granite.

Eight craftmen took one year for each statue!


Let’s have a walk in a field of stupas…

and let’s relax before the Nirvana Man…

Namaste, Lord Shiva!

Links I used to write this post:

Ganesh Pictures         The photo of Shiva       The site of Victoria’s Way

Categories: Museum, Voyages | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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