The Color Brown


Among the various throbbing and chaffing stimulations in Hyderabad, India, the most poignant is the color brown. Brown is a really cool color and it is everywhere here. It conceals more than it reveals, and is a far cry from the sterile, clinical, whitewashed colors found in most metropolitan cities. The dirt, the soil, the cow shit, they are all indexes of something else, something old and weathered but also brilliant. Something you have to sit, like an ascetic, and realize and wait for. Brown really elicits much more than the obvious nod to the agricultural economy of India; it encapsulates the entirety of my experience thus far, of subtly realizing the gold enshrined in this mother of antiquated brown.

By now, the Ganges should have opened its copious mouth, allowing its piety to talk with the land, leaving only specks of desiccation as ironic punctuations of its ablution. But, in India, brown abounds: it ensconces itself amidst tokens of burgeoning metropolis, cradles the pavement, and sheds itself in its wake. Cow dung rests like a landmark on an otherwise barren path. Dirt mingles with wind to remind orifices of their comfortable negation.

Initially, the land appears as a repository of the earth’s collapsed bowels: heaps of wounded, ploughed soil, accumulated exhaustion, as if some ladder, instead of merely tipping towards demise, decompresses downwards, forgetting its hopeful heights in the process. As if the architect of this land overestimated nature’s fecundity, depositing masses of soil and dirt to steel the environment for vertical, green outcroppings that even the mystic monsoons cannot wholly sponsor.
A shimmer of gold, beset by a white or black background, is far too obvious: its rarity is mocked. Its vociferation becomes a tawdry advertisement. But, against brown’s forbearance, gold is an evanescent sojourner. Caught with an unassuming eye, brown transmutes into its metallic equivalent – and the Buddha pretzels his legs.

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image – Balaji.B