The Passionate Quest

Serendipity – I first heard of artist Amrita Sher-Gill this week in a reference in Tarquin Halls’s Vish Puri mystery, The Case of the Missing Servant. I was intrigued to learn about another accomplished Hungarian woman artist. Okay, half-Hungarian. What a fascinating cultural blend in her family!
Check out this great post including some lovely examples of Sher-Gill’s works.


I have always been in awe of Amrita Sher-Gill ever since I happened to see some of her paintings in a leading Indian glossy. Those were the pre-Internet days when we had to rely on the library, books and media to update our knowledge. Apart from some tidbits I couldn’t get to know much about her.

Image One of the artist’s self-portraits.
My sincere apologies for the bad quality of the photograph and also of the ones that follow.

Ever since it started in 2009, the National Gallery of Modern Art has been a boon for art-enthusiasts in Bangalore. There have been cultural events galore in its green campus as well as exhibitions of the works of big names in the contemporary Indian art scene. In mid-2012, the gallery held a mammoth exhibition of the paintings and installations of Ram Kinkar Baij and in mid-2013 the paintings of Rabindranath Tagore were…

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Loved this view into Hungarian life at the time of my father’s youth. From the delightful blog; ADiligentObserver.

the Diligent Observer

Many thanks to the National Geographic which, in its pursuit of conserving World Cultures, took it upon themselves to document life in Rural Hungary in the June, 1932 issue.

Lusty Magyar youths couldn’t just share a shake at the malt shop, or go necking at a drive-in movie in order to share some quality time with their honey.  For them, flirting took place 10 feet apart, separated by a wall and surrounded by friends and siblings (and most likely with a mother lurking close by).

Who is courting whom, one wonders.  The girl on the far right looks none too pleased with the amount of attention she is receiving.

Who knew that dancing the Csárdás was no different than slow dancing to *NSYNC at a middle school dance?

It looks like the male/female ratio in this rural enclave is slightly skewed to the latter.

dancing the Csardas.jpg

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Kellemes Húsvéti Ünnepeket !

Easter Monday sprinkling is an old Hungarian custom. Young men would sprinkle cologne or water on the ladies of their fancy, often extended to all the women in the house. Mother told of a Canadian boyfriend who upon hearing of the tradition showed up at their house and woke the family at the crack of dawn on Easter Monday with a bottle of perfume to be the first to sprinkle her. A sweet gesture not much appreciated by her tired parents. 

Apparently some communities take it quite a bit further, drenching the girls with buckets of water.



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The Early Magyars, from The Gin Chronicles (

The Early Magyars

I have been reading or at least skimming through a pile of books on Hungarian history to get a bit of context on the lives of my ancestors. Then I came upon this illustration which I think does a marvelous job of explaining where the Magyars came from.

The Gin Chronicles

John and I have been really dragging our feet talking about Budapest because not only is there an absurd amount of history, but it’s also our favorite city of the trip.  I mean, can you blame us? Look at it.

Alright, lets start with a little bit of history.

Who are the Hungarians?  Were they originally Huns?  Slavs? Really hungry people that ate their way through Eastern Europe?  Not quite…

Hungarians are the Magyar people; nomads who were known for their equestrian and archery skills.  If riding a horse isn’t hard enough, they perfected shooting arrows while bouncing up and down.  It is debated whether or not Hungarians descended from Asians or Caucasians (DNA evidence and previous features point to Asian).  Does it matter? Not really.  Asian or not, they made their way from the Ural Mountains to what is currently Hungary (more or less) around the 5th century. Here is…

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