Curated Chaos: Profiles Of Bangalore's Most Incredible Collectors & Collections for PUMA #KeepItReal - Homegrown

Curated Chaos: Profiles Of Bangalore's Most Incredible Collectors & Collections for PUMA #KeepItReal

"Every passion borders on the chaotic but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories." - Walter Benjamin


We've been cooking up something special with PUMA for a few weeks now; an event that might border on chaos if you will. The chaos of memories, the chaos of passions and the chaos of well, sheer diligence in implementing that chaos!
We wanted to bring out the ones that hide underground and hence, we came up with the first of many 'special' events, the first being Puma Keep It Real--The Collectors/Curators Edition. We came across a breed of people who diligently and passionately toil away at building what many might consider to be a house of cards at best--collections that mean something to them--and felt compelled to give them a chance to show the world what they've kept tucked away in the safety of their own homes. Bangalore being the alternative hub that is, turned out to house some incredibly unique collections that have been formed over long periods of time. Think natural curiosities with everything from skulls & bones to seeds & exoskeletons; matchboxes; themed newspaper clippings; vintage motorbikes; comic book covers and so much more. With the event just around the corner, we thought it would be nice to bring a few of the chosen ones under our roof before they all father under PUMA Social Club this Saturday for a more -in-the-flesh- reveal of their 'hobbies.'
The PUMA #KeepItReal, Collector and Curators edition showcase in Bangalore at the PUMA Social Club on the 22nd of March (Saturday), will eventually lead into a film screening curated by various short film makers & we will round up the night with a curated MyPod session. We are also bringing together some of the best artwork + photography + illustrations from the young creative minds to display their work. Will give you more insight into this tomorrow.
Read on to learn more about some of Bangalore's most incredible & inspiring collections:
I. Name: Noel Manasseh Age: 33 Collection: "There's Only 5 Left" rolling paper warning strips.

Manasseh is an actor/theatre director who graduated from the Film & TV Institute of India, Pune and is currently living in Bangalore. He started working on his collection back in 2006 when he decided to quit smoking cigarettes and move to flavoured tobacco instead. He found himself attracted to the sheer wit & intelligence that went into their slogans like 'it's what you make of it.' Slowly, when his friends found out that he'd begun to collect these strips, they began to save their own for him, tucking them into their wallets and giving it to him whenever they met making many of the contributions, community-sourced! Sadly, as the RIZLA brand itself began to die out, the collection automatically shifted to the other brands in the market however, it will always remain his favourite and something he aspires to collect more of since he finds them more creative.

"The only challenge is that you can't take your collection with you, wherever you go & that other people don't value your collections as much as you do."
Our questions:
A). Where do you think your own personal desire to collect things stems from?
I have always been collecting something or the other for as long as I can remember. The first things I collected were these small pictures of cricketers, which used to come in BIG FUN bubblegum & I remember if you collected a 100 of them, they gave you a poster of Kapil Dev or something like that. I remember trading in those 100 strips for a stupid poster & I remember feeling like I preferred having the strips instead.
I also used to have a collection of hot wheels & He-man action figures which I unfortunately managed to misplace over the years and the only other collection I still have is my collection of all the Tintin Comics which I was a huge fan of growing up.
B). Any challenges in your endeavour to collect?
The only challenge is that you can't take your collection with you, wherever you go & that other people don't value your collections as much as you do, because many times you come back home after being away for a few years to find out that your folks just "gave away" your stuff to someone because they "thought" you didn't "need" them anymore. People don't realise that every collection is a memory of that time in your life when you were actively involved & passionate about something.
C). Tell us about one of the most memorable experiences you've had while doing this. 
Every time you get to add to your collection is a new & memorable experience. It's difficult to point out just 1 incident.
D). Would you say your collection is complete? Also, apart from this, is there anything else that you'd be interested in collecting?
I think this collection of warning strips is more than complete because when I sat to sort them out for this event, I realised how much smoking has been done by me & people around me & the sheer number of strips was quite unbelievable & overwhelming. I think it's time to start a new collection of something that isn't as detrimental to my organs.
E). What's the most impressive collection apart from yours that you've seen?
I love motorcycles so even if it's not a collection, seeing someone riding a well-maintained classic motorcycle is always a pleasure.
F). Vijay Mallya (who's known to be quite the collector himself) offers you a million dollars or more for your collection. Would you sell it?
I might if I was starving or needed the money to produce a future project, but the collection is a memory of the last few years & time spent with friends  & you can't put a price on that.
G). And lastly, what do you envision the legacy of your collection to be in the future?
I was thinking of framing the strips in their different colour combinations & gifting them to everyone who has contributed to them over the years. Kind of like the Andy Warhol art. Maybe that's how the collection should be showcased at the event.
II. Name: Amit Roy Age: 32  Collection: Matchboxes from around the world.

Roy is a partner at ThinkTanc which is an F & B consulting firm based out of Bangalore. He's set up places like Skyye, Blimey, The Blere Club etc. He's been collecting matchboxes from clubs/pubs/hotels/restaurants from around the world including India, Singapore, Thailans, Dubai, Italy, Switzerland, America, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, France, UK etc. He started collecting these when he was about 18 ('98-'99) when he went to Goa on vacation with his mom and found himself intrigued by a matchbox that appeared different from all the normal ones they'd see. His mom kept it and that triggered the hobby. Since then, he's been collecting matchboxes from every place that he's visited/dined/partied at and has over 200 till date.

He enjoys it because each matchbox has a memory associated with it of a place that he's visited and it's extremely personal since he'd never ask friends or family to het matchboxes for him from various places, they have to be self-collected.
"My collection will never be complete because everything is self-collected. There will always be new places for me to visit that will help me add to it!"
Our questions:

A). Where do you think your own personal desire to collect stems from? 

I think I got this from my parents as they always collected a memento from places to keep aside.

B). Have you faced any challenges in this endeavour to collect? 

Not really. Actually yes, at a younger age family members and elders would be like "you smoke" why else would i need matchboxes?

C). Tell us about one of the most memorable experiences you've had while doing this. 

Haha this is in the papers as well. We went to a strip club in Melbourne and during the star performers show I was busy checking the matchbox instead of her so she actually walked up to me took the matchbox away and was wondering what interested me more than her! Then she gave me her autographed costume, returned the box and walked away!

D). Would you say your collection is complete? Also, apart from this, is there anything else that you'd be interested in collecting? 
It will never be complete, always new places opening up, new countries for me to visit.
E). What's the most impressive collection apart from yours that you've seen?
I like off-beat collections which need not necessarily equate to money hence I like :
1. A friend of mine who has collected coasters from over 300 pubs across the world
2. my brother who used to collect empty liquor bottles (which we drank first) each was different brand, type etc no repeats and he had over 100 !!!
F). Vijay Mallya (who's known to be quite the collector himself) offers you a million dollars or more for your collection.Would you sell it?
YES YES
G). And lastly, what do you envision the legacy of your collection to be in the future?
I would give it to whoever can appreciate it the way I do for free or ok fine, not free but for a beer. :)
III. Name: Yashas Mitta Age: 25 Collection: Comic Book Covers

Yashas is an ex digital advertising fella, a designer and the co-founder of Mukha. He's always had a huge inclination towards comics and this whole imaginary world that it creates so he used to sac up everyday pocket money when he was really young to go buy a bunch of comic books and fortunately, he go at opportunity to work under one of the legendary people in the comic book industry - Suresh Seetharaman, co-founder of Liquid Comics. and he got a lot more interested in the origins of characters he really loved. As such, over the past 3 years, he's spent an unreasonable amount of time collecting and creating an archive of comic book covers from the early years.

"I believe comic book covers, or any cover, summarises and tries to portray the whole story in just one image which is what fascinates me and probably what drives me to keep doing this. Although, It is only a digital archive right now, I would like to see how many from my collection I can convert in to a physical collection.
I also think I've been a little obsessive about it -- My digital archive is categorised to the t. Starting from years, then to publishers and then the titles within each publishers and so on. I also think I've lost count on the number of back ups I have of this humble little collection."
Our Questions:
A). Where do you think your own personal desire to collect stems from? 
It definitely stems from wanting to archive and document the origins of some of the most amazing stories of fiction we know today. Somebody dreamed of these stories and someone else felt so much connection with it that we've continued re-presenting stories in new mediums for generations!
Personally, I really think comics, especially super hero stories are a lot like mythological stories of different religions--where the super heroes or gods who have other worldly powers fight demons and villains who want to destroy or rule the world.
B). Have you faced any challenges in this endeavour to collect? 
I think there have been two challenges--
1. Me. To keep doing this over and over again becomes really tiring. I think at the end of the first year, my computer crashed and I lost the entire archive till then (It was my mistake not to keep a back up). This really depressed me and I stopped collecting for months.
2. To keep it organised. There are a lot of really intense comic discussion forums online that keep sharing stuff like this but it's really hard to track down and put it in a timeline. But I think the beauty of it keeps me going.
C). Tell us about one of the most memorable experiences you've had while doing this. 
That's a super good question. I was in Brussels (the comic fan heaven) about a year ago and I immediately lost myself in the second hand book stores which have a huge collection of comic books. I even found a bunch of comic books I had worked on which were read a whole bunch of times! I had left my e-mail id in one of the books asking the next person who purchased to contact me and an 18-year-old mailed me three months later and he actually was doing the same thing -- collecting comic book covers from the 1900s of sorts but physical copies of it! Unreal stuff!
"I believe comic book covers, or any cover, summarises and tries to portray the whole story in just one image which is what fascinates me and probably what drives me to keep doing this."D). Would you say your collection is complete? Also, apart from this, is there anything else that you'd be interested in collecting?
I don't think it'll ever be complete. I really want to see how much of the digital archive I can convert into a physical archive.
E). What's the most impressive collection apart from yours that you've seen?
I've skyped with this 50 year old man in Tunisia (I know right!) through an online comic book forum and he gave me a walk-through of his entire library. Half of his house is literally stacked with actual comic books arranged according to a timeline. Mind = blown.
F). Vijay Mallya (who's known to be quite the collector himself) offers you a million dollars or more for your collection. Would you sell it?
Does he have millions of dollars anymore to collect? HAHA! Jokes apart...I don't think my archive is that much but well since it's digital and I can always have a copy of it, might as well make some money! Although, I can imagine me being all super possessive when I convert it to a physical archive.
G). And lastly, what do you envision the legacy of your collection to be in the future?
I actually want to make an archive site where this can be an open library to the entire world. I mean, it's not my property and if I've spent so much time doing it, I might as well open it up to everybody right?
IV. Name: Pia Meenakshi Age: 25 Collection: Natural curiosities. Including skulls, bones, insects, teeth, seeds, leaves fungus, feathers, crab shells, star fish etc.

Pia runs a professional illustration & tattoo studio in Indiranagar, Bangalore called Studio Gumani. Her collection, as you can probably deduce, is always found, never bought and is usually from her travels to places where nature is plentiful.

"My fiancé is also a great contributor to our collection. We plan on doing something interesting with it one day! Most of the things I find - I find with him around on our holidays or wherever. The collection to him is something that is beautiful and strange and fascinating- to me this collection is also valuable art reference."

Our questions:

A). Where do you think your own personal desire to collect stems from? 
Like anyone else, I started collecting things as a child. Like so many other things you forget about how as a child you would enjoy rummaging in gardens and finding nice looking stones and things.
I really started collecting my natural finds probably a couple of years ago. I frequent Banerghatta forest and I starting picking up bones and seeds and insects from my walks and general snooping around. I first found the skull of a cow up on a hill, perfectly bleached out by the sun. I took it back as a joke but as someone that paints and draws- it soon became intriguing and I enjoyed drawing it or including ghosts of it in my finished work. Soon I started analysing and noticing the ridiculously beautiful details, symmetry, colours and patterns in all these things I found- whether skull, bones, insects , seeds.
B). Have you faced any challenges in this endeavour to collect?
I wouldn't call them hurdles, but some difficulties are bringing back what I find. I carry loads of ziploc bags on my travels. Also I don't kill anything for my collection- I only pick up what's been dead and not too damaged. So sometimes you see something beautiful and can only leave with a picture of it. Another small obstacle is completely decomposing bones that I find. I've stopped finding decomposition strange or disturbing. It is difficult to find something dead - but in a beautiful state.

C). Would you say your collection is complete? Also, apart from this, is there anything else that you'd be interested in collecting?

My collection will never be complete I guess. I don't know when you would stop collecting when it comes to natural things. The things you find/come across - just get better and better and are so different from the last.

D). What's the most impressive collection apart from yours that you've seen?

I haven't seen an impressive collection of anything that's beautiful or worth collecting. Iv seen friends horde cig packets or tic tax boxes but there's nothing great about that. My dad has a huge and cool collection of rock LPs which I have been listening to.


E). Vijay Mallya (who's known to be quite the collector himself) offers you a million dollars or more for your collection. Would you sell it?
I don't think Vijay Mallya would be interested in my collection of bones or insects :) also I wouldn't get rid of them for the world. Each and everything I found has a special memory of where I found it, with whom and I'm happy that even the found - had their own life stories .
"Another small obstacle is completely decomposing bones that I find. I've stopped finding decomposition strange or disturbing. It is difficult to find something dead - but in a beautiful state."F). And lastly, what do you envision the legacy of your collection to be in the future?
I'd like to mount the insects in display boxes. Keep them as reference. Maybe ill be a really cool aunt with a cool collection to some kids. Maybe I'd give them away to someone who's really into it.
V. Name: Sarabjeet Singh Age: 30 Collection: Matchboxes & Amul cartoon pictures that come out every Wednesday in the Times Of India.

Sarabjeet started collecting the matchboxes a while ago when he found a really cool matchbox that had fallen on the street with a pistol picture on it. Post that he would keep his eyes open for different kinds with interesting images.

The Amul cartoon pictures too started a fair bit of time ago because he enjoyed their funny take on the biggest happenings in the week.

Our questions:
A). Is your collection complete? And is there anything else you might consider collecting?
No, I suppose it won't ever be complete unless they stop printing Amul ads! Actually, I also collect vintage motorbikes. I already have a 1946 BSA 650 CC, 1983 YAMAHA 350 and1990 VESPA.
Mostly laziness but I do try hard.
C). What's the most incredible collection you've seen aside from your own?
I know this guy called Pappi Singh from hyderabad who collects norton motorbikes. He showed me his collections of bikes, he has over 150 and he is so crayz he named his first kid Norton singh!
D). Most memorable moment?
Don't really have any but I have met a lot of really cool people since I started keeping an eye open for unusual things.
E). Vijay Mallya (who's known to be quite the collector himself) offers you a million dollars or more for your collection. Would you sell it?
Yes.
F). And lastly, what do you envision the legacy of your collection to be in the future?
Most probably a family passing on thing but let's see where all this goes.
VI. Name: Bishweshwar Das Age: 38 Collection: Antiques & LPs

Das was born in Cuttack Orissa though his early childhood was spent in the mining towns of West Bengal, where his father was posted. He completed my engineering from a Govt. College in Orissa and worked briefly in the power distribution sector but his love for photography and writing drifted him away towards creative arts and communication. After a brief stint as a still photographer on film sets I joined advertising as a copy hand. He's also a partner with his wife in an independent venture - Be Design: A brand identity and artistic services shop. They live in a quaint part of town with Old Bunglows, avenues lined with tress (slowly disappearing with monstrous ugliness) and a lot of stories and history associated with the Area.

"The love for antiques was born out of a necessity rather. We were looking for a cupboard as my Barsati type terrace house here doesn't have any wardrobes. Frustrated with not being able to find what we needed we happen to pass by a curio shop few lanes behind our house. An old chest cupboard (the kind you would find at a homeo's clinic for stacking) came to our notice. We knew instantly we have found what we were looking for. Also it dawned on us that the answer doesn't lie in modernity. The answer to many of our choices and needs have been there around us. Over the last few years we have been picking stuff from this curio shop and elsewhere to fit our taste."
"My desire to collect stems from an initial curiosity to a respect for the era bygone. I like the old world charm that is slowly vanishing. The innumerable stories and lives that must have been associated with that object."
Here's a list of items from his prized antiques collection:
1. Chests & Cupboards - Rose wood 2. Two partition wooden Separator 3. Writing Desk (Rose wood finish) 4. Radiogram (Wood finish with Philips Valve Radio & Amplifier and a 7 LP Gerard LP player and changer 5. HMV Fiesta Mono suitcase LP player 6. Sanyo Suitcase player (Tape recorded + Radio including FM, LP player, MIC) 7. LP Records (Approx 150) 8. Medium Folding chair 9. Ravi Varma Calender picture of Lakshmi for Vinolia Soaps, England framed  10. Brother Portable carry case Typewriter  11. Smith Corona Carry Case Typewriter (Made in England)  12. Old Railway guard signal lamps (2 Nos) 13. A very old Oil lantern  14. A big Tiffin / Lunch carrier that Railway men used.  15. A black dial telephone 16. A Wooden book rack with draws  17. Twizzlers – the things used to stir drinks 18. Matchboxes 19. Animal figurines – in stone, glass, wood and every other possible material.  20. Seashells
Our Questions:
A). Where do you think your own personal desire to collect stems from? 
My desire to collect stems from an initial curiosity to a respect for the era bygone. I like the old world charm that is slowly vanishing. Collecting gives me a sense of satisfaction that I have been able to love something that has seen the ravages of time. The innumerable stories and lives that must have been associated with that object.
B). Have you faced any challenges in this endeavour to collect? 
Primarily funds. But my curio guy is extremely kind to always extend me credit if I run short. The second biggest challenge is restoration. I have faced hiccups in getting parts for LP players (It needs a lot of research and patience), and getting the right tone and finish if its furniture or woodwork. Carpentry work on antiques needs a special eye and skills.
C). Tell us about one of the most memorable experiences you've had while doing this. 
I have got immense amount of information while researching for parts for my Radiogram and other L P Players. It has led me to be friend a technician for LP players. The relationship continues and I have been humbled to know about his knowledge in the field. I also like the fact that he works with his hands, using a soldering iron pulling and putting in the valves. My curio guy has also become my friend. Going to his shop is not knowing what I will come back with. But I have never been disappointed.
D). Would you say your collection is complete? Also, apart from this, is there anything else that you'd be interested in collecting?
There can never be an end, apart from one becoming an antique himself, hence I don't think if my collection will be ever complete. It's hard to say what I will collect next as all depends on the piece and its value and utility to me.
E). What's the most impressive collection apart from your's that you've seen?
The cars at Umaid Bhawan. Jodhpur and many of the artefacts in the museum there.F). Say tomorrow, Vijay Mallya (who's known to be quite the collector himself) offers you a million dollars or more for your collection. Hand across your heart, would you sell it?
I have a personal aversion to Vijay Mallya, though I drink Kingfisher beer sometimes. If he offers me a million I will say 'No, thanks. I am having a good time'
G). And lastly, what do you envision the legacy of your collection to be in the future? (would you sell it, donate it, pass it down the family line etc.)
Depends on how the future looks upto. I will only sell an antique If i get over it after a point and maybe want to buy something else. But I will always make sure it goes in the correct hand. Off course what happens after me can't be predicted but that's the thing about antique. It will probably move house and begin another journey.
[Note to readers--Due to logistic purposes, his antique collection will not be on display but his vintage LP player, huge collection of amazing LPs will all be a part of a curated listening session in the latter part of the evening as well. Don't miss it.]
VII. Name: Meghal Anukul Age:21 Collection: Analogue/ Lomography Cameras

Meghal is a 3rd year Visual Communication student in Srishti and an amateur lomographer who just started experimenting with film. She loves illustrating, anime, coffee and Murakami among other things. She first started shooting film and illustrating about 2 years ago and it was in her first year of college when she made a pinhole camera out of a matchbox. She wasn't really expecting any results but they came out quite nicely and she knew then this would become something she'd be spending more time on. She absolutely loves shooting on film and now has over 700 photographs. She also made cyanotypes out of her negatives. The cameras she shoots with the most are the Sardina and Fisheye from Lomography and the Blackbird fly.

Our questions:
A). Where do you think your own personal desire to collect stems from?
People are greedy. How can you not want them all? There are so many different cameras that can do different things, and I love experimenting. My collection of analogue cameras isn't very big right now, I have about a dozen of them, but there are a hundred more I would like to own.
B). Have you faced any challenges in this endeavour to collect?

Yes, far too many times. The stores in India have very basic Lomography cameras and equipment, so I always have to order them online. Shipping & customs is such a nuisance. Finding a reliable photo studio tops the charts. I have a few cameras that won't work and nothing major is wrong with them, but finding someone for the little tricky repairs is all but impossible. Also, most places here that I know of don't do any other kinds of film processing apart from plain old color negative processing. So every time I cook my film, or try out an experimental film I have to post it to one of my lomography friends abroad. So yeah, quite a few problems.

C). Tell us about one of the most memorable experiences you've had while doing this.
Can’t think of the most, but taking pictures with these cameras is always a lot of fun. I always carry one of my cameras when I head out. I take pictures of anything and everything, and end up having really random conversations with people passing by.
D). Would you say your collection is complete? Also, apart from this, is there anything else that you'd be interested in collecting?
Not even close, there are so many things that I NEED! Lomography keeps coming up with these really cool cameras with illustrations, it's hard not to want them. I also love Swatch, the watches.  They collaborate with a lot of artists, it's amazing.
E). What's the most impressive collection apart from yours that you've seen?
Has to be one of my teacher's matchbox collection and even Alienmeatsack (aka Rodn) on Lomography has a huge collection of some amazing analogue cameras.
F). Vijay Mallya (who's known to be quite the collector himself) offers you a million dollars or more for your collection. Would you sell it?
I believe in unicorns.
G). And lastly, what do you envision the legacy of your collection to be in the future?
I will keep it with me forever! If that is not possible then I would probably give it to someone who would actually use them and value them.
For more event details, click here.
Words: Mandovi Menon Image Credit: The Collectors 
 

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