Essays on The Education of a Bengali Gentleman –
Why do I Doodle?
Yes, I Doodle. Seriously. What I like to Doodle most are icons. I fell in love with doodling icons over the many years I have been a technology coach. Mostly I coach adults. A lot of technology or computer coaching often involves showing screenshots, powerpoint slides, YouTube videos or flipping through manuals. I like to sketch out and label the windows and screens my students are learning about and often ask them to follow along sketching and labeling. Another modality and reinforcement of learning. The other place I like to Doodle is in my journal, which sometimes I refer to as my BUJO or bullet journal.
Have you ever performed a Google image search for icons? Say, “namaste icons”. Pages and pages of results. A search for “India” reveals wonder and amazement. The small details in shape, lines, colors of icons are very attractive to me. I find it quite easy to draw icons and fill up pages with them. Often my morning routines start with making a journal entry. On the top center of the page I draw an “OM,” the purifying sound of the Hindu religion. “OM,” is internationally recognized as a signature for peace and devotion. Repeating the vibrating sound of “OM,” produces a calming and stabilizing effect which encourages meditation. I like to decorate the OM with leaves and flowers surrounding it. It becomes my own icon for the rest of the day. To the top left I enter the day, date, month and year, followed by the high and low temperatures of the day, followed by a miniature sketch of the weather. For this I use the help of the Yahoo weather app and their iconic representation of the weather. Across the top I draw mini figures of boys and girls playing in the park, chasing butterflies, leaves flying in the wind, flowers sprouting, birds and insects, a grassy field, quarterback passing the ball, a red cricket ball hurtling through space. I use colored pencils for sky, clouds, trees and objects. All together they become my page banner across the top of the page. I sit back and admire my handiwork with a smile spreading across my face.
The best doodle I have ever made was on a birthday card to my wife. At that time we were dating. One of the things we loved to do on our dates was to go for a long bus ride to the Kolkata airport, then called DumDum International Airport. At Esplanade is one of the Kolkata bus terminals where the S2 express bus leaves on the hour for DumDum. If you were in the front of the que you could hope to get window seats. Most of the times we got lucky and that way enjoyed the hour long or so ride. We brought along snacks and water. At some point the S2 bus was upgraded to air conditioned buses. As students the bus fare was a stretch but there not many safe options for dating couples. Approaching the airport you saw a huge billboard inviting you to a vacation in far away Mexico. The man in the large colorful sombrero was fascinating to watch and the rest of the Mariachi band seemed to come alive with some invisible music. So did the dark haired fair Mexican lady dancing the Flamenco. That is the same picture I doodled on the birthday all from my photographic memory. My wife was very impressed and has saved the card as one of our lives’ treasured possessions. In our family calendar her birthday precedes mine by two days. Two days later she returned my favor with one of the prettiest hand drawn cards. Of course my wife is quite the artist.
Do doodles say something about the man? In my case it is the story of an aspiring artist. I really cannot draw well at all. But doodle I can. I mean I have to look at models which are the icons I find on Google. Representations of the photographs in my head. Tiny little drawings with volumes to speak like the stick figures jumping around in my BUJO. Did you know you can make stick figures bend and stretch in all of those daring yoga poses you can only imagine performing. They run at the speed of wind and scale tall mountains in one leap. Imagine with what strength they hold the inside-out-umbrella that the storm is trying to snatch away from them. As a child I was fascinated by flip through books where the still stick figures on each page suddenly sprang to life. Today doodles have a life of their own in my journal.