Beyond Measure

Beyond Measure Travel Updates! Visit India's artists with me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Journey to India

In November of 2011 I will be leading a long awaited trip to India, exploring the parts of India that let you feel part of the greater reality and not just a viewer from the outside. Although, every step you take while in India seems to give way to something deeper and greater, in my many visits to that sacred place, I have come to find a few places/experiences that should not be missed. If you feel the call inside to go to India, to break away from the familiar and to discover some things about yourself that you may have never realized were there, then I hope that you will make this journey with me.

First stop! Chennai: Chennai is one of the largest cities in South India (formally known as Madras) and will be our landing and assimilating grounds.

Chennai is a coastal city that in spite of its large population maintains a sense of relaxation and tropical color.

From Chennai we will head a short distance north to the smaller city of Nellore. Nellore is the home of Little Hearts Orphanage run by Mr. Kumar his family and a small group of employees. This orphanage receives funding from an NGO, the River Fund and my organization Beyond Measure Arts. In 2010 I spent three days visiting Little Hearts and another nearby orphanage they are running. It is the moments you spend with these children that will stay with you.

While visiting Little Hearts you will have the opportunity to share. Whether you do an art project, sing a song, show them a science experiment, or just play games, the children will benefit from YOU. And you will undoubtedly benefit from them. I am incredibly happy to let you share in this experience. We each have something to offer, you may not have pinpointed it just yet... but it is there. And no matter what, your presence will make a difference.

From Nellore we will board a train for Mysore. Mysore is a special city by Indian standards... you will be surprised by how orderly and bright it is. Mysore is famous for many reasons including Mysore Palace, silk, sandalwood, Chamundi Hill (the site of the mythical slaying of the demon Mahishasura), the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute and the ashram of Sri Ganapati Satchidananda Swamiji.
Mysore is a place where you can offer up your own wishes, prayers, and truths to be honored amongst the rituals of Hinduism and the traditions that have been practiced here for thousands of years.
Here we will climb the 1000 steps of Chamundi Hill with the other pilgrims to reach the 7 story gopuram (temple).
Once we reach the top you can make an offering of flowers and fruit and view the inside of the temple.

Sri Ganapati Swamiji is a unique man among Indian gurus. Like many gurus his story of birth and his youth contain many miraculous events and he has devotees spanning the globe (indeed a woman from Zimbabwe was how I came to know him) but his darshan (sacred blessing) is given through music. Although never formally trained Swamiji his music reaches millions in India. His ashram is also one of the most beautiful and peaceful places of rest in all of India. Is it any wonder the leaves on all the trees there seem just a little bit brighter?

Of course one of the best ways to experience a new place is the market. The Devaraja Maket in Mysore will bring color, smells, sounds and the beauty of much of what south India has to offer to one place.

"God's Own Country" is the famous slogan for Kerala, the south-western most state in India and arguably the most beautiful one. On my first trip to Kerala I thought I had won the lottery. The views of the spice hills, the slow moving richness of the backwaters and the FOOD! Amazing coconut infused food was exactly what I had hoped for without even knowing it.

Most tourists to Southwest India make a stop at the famous beaches of Goa, Kerala's northern neighbor. But it is Kerala, the one state in India boasting 100% literacy and a huge mixture of religious diversity that most Indians consider paradise.

The Spice Hills and Thekkady:

Here you will take in all of India's natural beauty and wildlife. A tour of a tea plantation and the spices that have sustained the livelihood of these hills for many years will give you great appreciation for the ingenuity of the Indian people and their way of life.

The backwaters:

Let's just say that no trip to Kerala is complete without a tour of the backwaters. You'll hear the quote "The Venice of the East" many times, but what is most unique to this place is the life happening on the water. Viewing the daily rhythms of the backwater and the people whose sidewalks and roadways float along with you is a rare experience.

It is these last few days in Kerala that will give you time to reflect and absorb all that you have seen on your journey. Kerala along with its many other wonders is also home to many Ayurvedic (traditional Indian healing) establishments. I would highly recommend a massage or two (even though you will smell like massage oil for two days :) or any other treatments of this sacred science of India.

This trip will keep with its schedule and its many destinations, but the real journey will happen in the unexpected moments and just being in each place you are at. What India can teach you about yourself cannot really be described in words, but there is a deep trust that I have developed in the ways of this country. The energy of this place that is so potent.. no one whose eyes are open and whose heart is willing will ever be the same.

Wishing you a Happy Journey every day,
Jessica Martin

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back in America

Its been nearly two months since I've returned to the USA from India. It has been a busy and successful time that has encouraged my work for Beyond Measure in a great way. I have recently printed the first run of t-shirts featuring the famous "Lorry Eagle" that is seen so often on the side of the cargo trucks in North India.
This design was duplicated for me by an Indian girl in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh. It has been a great success so far and I am really happy with the results. Next I hope to print two more designs featuring Tamil writing and Telegu writing. We are also working on a format to sell the t-shirts on our website. I am grateful to all the encouragement and support I have received while working on this design and first printing of the shirts. My thanks also to Jacqueline and Earth A-Wear Printing.

I recently spoke at a small forum with a two other young adults who had founded or who worked for a non-profit organization. I realized more clearly that night, the beauty of how much each of us is capable of doing for one another. The three young people speaking (we were all in our mid twenties to early thirties) that night were all completely different in our gifts and abilities. One of us was an artist, one a surfer and musician, and one a zoologist, and we had all found a way to help people in developing countries by incorporating those gifts into our work. I do more fully know and believe that our natural state is one of the need to love and help one another. I know I will continue to be inspired the more I meet and people and share my own story. I hope that I will also ignite and inspire that place in others. It is a job I feel grateful to do.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Last stop.

I have just reached Chennai this morning traveling on the Circar Express from Kakinada. I will spend the last two and half weeks of my journey here in of my favorite cities in India. Chennai is very metropolitan, but also feels green and cozy.
As always, I felt a lot of sadness leaving my friends in Kakinada. Somehow, almost magically many of the people that I had not seen in nearly 5 years appeared in Kakinada on my last two days. The old driver from Hope Village orphanage, the sweet and happy Jesuratnam stopped by for a visit at my Aunty's house. Devi, Aunty's old servant girl, who is now married happened to come to town for the week and stay with Aunty. Simon, one of the Hope Village boys, who is a great artist, just stopped by the Cancer Hospital after arriving from Hyderabad nearly 10 hours away. Brinard, a former teacher from H.V. who was working as a postmaster in a remote place hours away was in town after recovering from Typhoid. Joshua my inspiring and peaceful friend who I wrote about in my "about me" section on the BMA website also came to see me while waiting for a seat in the local college.
And...on our last visit to India my mother and I were driven around Kakinada by Sam, who was the first boy in Hope Village. My mother and I both quickly grew very fond of Sam and we have kept in touch over the past 4 years through written letters. I was very anxious to see Sam on this trip but had no way of reaching him as he doesn't have a phone and is living in a village 1 hour from Kakinada. Suprisingly, just two days before I was to leave Sam arrived in Kakinada after hearing I was in town.
Sam was raised by his grandparents until both died of Cancer by the time he was 8 years old. After that he came from his village and grew up on the orphanage in Peddapuram. On my last visit Sam decided to go to Bible Training, and shortly after completing his training he married Sasi. They now have two children Chandu (nearly 4 yrs.) and Jessica (1 and half yrs).

I have officially told Sam that since I have no brothers or sisters by birth, that I chose him to be my brother. He always smiles ans nods his permission when I say this.

Sam's village is a farming community that grows sugar cane. In 2004 I visited this village and took a picture of some of the same children in this very spot. Now, there are many new faces, but their excitement to have a photo taken is just the same. Many of the adults talked about the photo that I sent of them from my last visit.

I couldn't help but take a picture of a game two girls were playing on the roadside that I walked on my way home everyday in Kakinada. One girl felt too shy to have her picture taken but the other was all smiles. I'm not sure what the game was but all you need are a few bottle caps and some broken bangle pieces to play.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I am back in the town of Kakinada, the place in India, that I could say feels most like home. I know the streets and shops and have even run into a couple of familiar faces at the internet cafe, faces that I haven't seen in nearly 4 years. I am most happy to have seen a few of the boys from Hope Village, although now they are nearly adults.
I last saw Gideon in 2003 when he was in 7th class. Now he is studying Deisel Mechanics at a nearby vocational college. We were so happy to see eachother!

You may recognize this logo... with a few changes. Now that I am in Andhra Pradesh, I decided to have the Beyond Measure logo and slogan translated into Telegu. A pretty cool looking language in my opinion.

I also spent two days visiting my good friend Murali and his family in nearby Rajamundhry. There I enjoyed his mom's homecooked food with the rest of his very large family. We had a nice time visiting the Iskon Temple and strolling along the Godavari River. I was also able to work with one artist named Vizzy, who created some very nice paintings for me and, asked for nothing in return. Of course I begged him to take something and after some time he conceeded. I hope we will work together again. Here he is with his youngest son.

Once again I want to say thank you to everyone for your generosity and enabling these artists to create change in their country. I have met with two artists here in Kakinada and will hope to have my first paintings done this weekend.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Curry, Canvas, Culture

Busy Bombay

I thought I would include a few non-art related pictures to share a bit of my every day life. The one above was a typical scene on a Bombay street, which honestly looks much more orderly then many of the streets in India.

I took this photo in Warangal a couple of days ago while I was leaving the vegetable market. This is one of the stands in a whole line of chicken shops along the road, semi-obviously, outside of a mosque. Many Hindus are vegetarian, and therefore do not eat or handle meat. So, this is naturally a great business opportunity for the Muslims, who although have specific rules about how animals are to be killed, are more than happy to do the job.

This "baba/swamy/holy guy" was walking around nearby a temple collecting money. Something is soo perfect about the whole look of this man. The colors of the robes and turban, the graying beard and the calmness in his face express a combo of the vibrancy and stillness that India so uniquely holds.

If it weren't for my semi-regular, involuntary bouts of intestinal flushing, I would no doubt be 25 lbs. heavier each time I returned from India. This is... "my lunch" photo, minus two items that were finished off already. I had some "channa masala" (chick peas), "mutton curry" (cute little goats), "rasam" (spicey broth), rice and curd (not soo creamy or sweet plain yogurt). Yep, thats a regular meal. And its also why I need to take a nap every afternoon to devote all my energy to digestion. Whew!!

And finally, the whole reason I am in India...the Artists. Here is a photo of a few of the artists I have been working with in Warangal. These gentlemen all belong to an "artists club" that meets regularly. They were all happy to share the load of work I have for them. They each took on one or two paintings and happily offered up more help from friends if I need more. We sat and talked for a while in Mr. Murthy's (pronounced, "murti")shop while they showed me their portfolios, discussed concepts, and talked about the changing face of art and technology. I'm really excited to work with these guys and I think they are excited as well. Not to worry, I am also working with two female artists in Warangal, but they aren't a part of "the club"...yet :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Moving South.

So much has happened since I last wrote. Shiva and I have moved from Nainital, a cool hill station in the North, to Bombay, Ellora, Shirdi, again to Bombay (Mumbai), Hyderabad, and now Warangal. I am happily back in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. This is the Telegu speaking state that I am so familiar with from my times here at the orphanage. I am staying with the people I fondly call my "Indian parents", because they have such a loving and nuturing nature it always feels like home around them. Here in Warangal the former capital of the area, I will have plenty of opportunity to work with sign painters. My hope is that I will stay here for at least a week and collect a lot of work. Then my plans are to move on to Kakinada, the city in which The Cancer Hospital, AIDS hospital and orphanage are near to.
It has been inspiring to visit some of the ancient places in India lately and look at the influences of the artwork from thousands of years ago. In these places, such as the Ellora caves, you can walk around, sit, and touch the same stones that were carved thousands of years ago. I felt amazed to be able to touch something so old and with so much history. You could really feel the time and energy that has been in these places for so long.

Detailed carvings from the Kailash temple at Ellora Caves

Afer visiting such spiritual and ancient places we headed off to Bombay (Mumbai) undoubtedly the Indian equivalent to New York City. Originally, I had thought of staying in Bombay to collect some pieces from the many talented Bollywood style artists. Unfortunatly, like NYC Bombay is intimidating, large, and exspensive. After spending a few days here I realized that I would need a few weeks and some assitance to accomplish everything here. After thinking about it, and talking with Shiva I decided that it would be best to move on to a smaller more managable place and save Bombay for another trip.
And sadly, Shiva is leaving for Europe this week to work and continue his world tour. I can't say enough how grateful I am for his help on my journey and project. He has selflessly given his time, assistance, and support for my cause and it has made things so much better for me. He has an exciting journey ahead of him and I am glad that he could have this time to share before he left. Thank you Shiva! You have given more than I could have asked for... India and I will miss you :)

Shiva with the Disco DJ in Nainital...what a pair!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Diamonds in the rough

I have discovered a great artist here in Rishikesh and I'm so happy to have his work. I have decided not to post any more pictures of the actual work I am collecting just to save it for the final product.
Today we traveled to a town about an hour from Rishikesh to Dehra Dun to meet a painter named Mr. M.S. Kumar. He has been painting since the 1940's and was an illustrator and designer with talent that has not been matched by anyone else I have seen in India. Because his business has moved more to digital printing, he has not painted in years, but he generously donated one of his older paintings to Beyond Measure. I felt honored to meet him and see his work. It was exceptional.

Mr. M.S. Kumarof Derha Dun