Nailing him for a chat is slightly difficult, but not impossible. As soon as he returns from the buzzing area around the Gateway of India with his wife, we get round to our talk. “I love Mumbai. There is something about the city that fulfils me,” says cartoonist Paul Fernandes, rather thoughtfully, recalling his early days with ad agency Trikaya, in the city.

Gallerist and cartoonist Paul Fernandes on his latest labour of love, his book Coastline that circles in childhood experiences of driving along the Arabian coast

But Bengaluru is home for the well-known gallerist and cartoonist. And that is where he took off from, to experience the west coast of India. The result was CoastLine—“an ‘amuseum’ of musings, a happily haphazard collection of coloured, and black and white illustrations”—quintessential depictions of the life and times of Mumbai, Goa.

“It was a beautiful sensory experience,” says Paul, as if reliving the magical, warm smell of spices that filled every chapter of his solo sojourn. “I grab every possible excuse to go to Mangaluru,” he says with a laugh.

“We would jump into the family car, all of us 10 siblings, and my father would drive us down along the west coast of India. So I have grown up along this stretch since the time I was in my nappies,” he says. The book brings in a running commentary from Paul’s co-author Chicku Jayadeva, with energetic characters and experiences that climb out of the pages and into your heart, splashing it with colour, stories and experiences galore.

It was a collective experience for Paul: the childhood memories kicking back into being, the swish of the multitude of coconut trees, the warm, loving people whom he met along the way… and more. “I enjoyed myself thoroughly,” he says. “I discovered so much more. I always feel I do not know enough, and need to know more. I am still learning things about the west coast.

Shilpi Madan for New Indian Express

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