It could have been a crazed fan or just a peace-loving person who recently spray-painted the wooden gate of Hollywood actor Halle Berry’s home in Los Angeles with a rendition of Mahatma Gandhi’s face in hot pink. The LA police attributed it to vandals. Gandhi’s appeal crosses many boundaries. No world leader is as ubiquitous. To commemorate Gandhi Jayanti, we looked for Gandhi in unlikely places all over the world and found him on road junctions in Indian and European cities, on crowded beaches and nondescript walls. Here are five memorable ones:
This Gandhi statue stands in a lane that cuts through the Chinmayananda Mission Hospital (CMH) Road in Indira Nagar in Bangalore. Till last year, the feet were visible. Then the municipality decided to raise the road level to prevent waterlogging during the rains. The residents complained about the fate of the statue.
Initially, the local authorities decided to remove it, but there were protests. Ishwaran, a long-time area resident, who runs an automobile parts shop opposite the statue, says there was a statue of Jawaharlal Nehru in an adjoining lane which was removed. The lane dwellers decided they wouldn’t allow this one to go. On Independence Day, Republic Day and 2 October, residents conduct a flag-hoisting ceremony and occasionally, the statue gets a wash. Nobody in the neighbourhood or the municipality knows who put up this sculpture.
Ehjaz Saiyed Painter gives the final touches to a painting which portrays Gandhi and the Babri Masjid. Gandhi had to pay with his life for his unwavering espousal of communal harmony in the wake of Partition. The Babri dispute is a potent reminder of his unfinished task and of the resonance of his message 60 years after his martyrdom.
A corner in Phoolbagan has a wall where a graffiti artist painted a smiling Gandhi a few years ago, as part of a local municipality initiative to prevent the city’s residents from damaging public walls. Every monsoon, dense foliage frames this painting of Gandhi.
Take a left past Jodhpur’s Clock Tower (where you get the best omelettes in town), head down the narrow lane towards Manak Chowk and you’ll see a curious stencilled Gandhi near the gates of a 500-year-old haveli. Sporting a white vest and flashing a thumbs-up sign, this Gandhi seems to be admitting his love for both “curry” and “Yogi”, the name of the guest house the haveli is now home to. “There are four of them,” says proprietor Pankaj, “two near the gates, one on the water tank on the terrace and one on a bit of plywood that my friend took away.” He says it was the work of a “dreadlocked Spaniard” who stayed at the guest house six years ago. “He created a stencil blueprint over which he then used spray paint,” Pankaj says. “We all loved it.”
A visitor with the sculpture Mahatma—The Youthful Perspective by Debanjan Roy at the Hathisingh Visual Art Gallery in Ahmedabad. “I portray through Gandhi what is happening in today’s world,” says Roy. “It is easy to communicate with the viewers through him. I am not representing his ideology.”
Krish Raghav, Shamik Bag, Rahul Jayaram and Sanjukta Sharma contributed to this story.
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