I first met Poonam in 2014 on a family trip to Hampi. She was 22. Poonam had a small shop across the river on Monkey island with a wooden hut behind where she cooked and slept with her three sons and husband. She worked 14 hour days trying to sell clothes, hair wraps and henna tattoos to the few tourists that passed by. My first impression of her was that she was a truly beautiful person and we developed a friendship immediately. At this time much of Hampi bazaar had already been destroyed by 'local government initiatives'. Poonam was aware her trading days in this dwelling were numbered.
I retuned to Hampi in December 2017 and Poonam's family were nowhere to be seen. Her home and shop had been destroyed * Flattened. We found her trading from a small table on the side of the road. Her family had been temporarily relocated to a small village 3kms away. She now had 4 children under 10 and hence traded even longer hours to make ends meet. Her oldest son has become quite sick with a neurological issues and she does not have the money to do any tests. He is very weak and feinting frequently.
During an evening meal at her tiny house this wonderful white cow entered the kitchen. It became known as the intruding cow..
I decided to paint this cow to help raise awareness of Poonam's situation.
I will be making postcards this week to send out to Poonam to sell in Hampi.
* Hampi is a place of sprawling beauty and a world heritage site of 2,000 monuments scattered across a landscape of enormous granite boulders. It pulls in nearly half a million visitors a year from around the world. The local people who helped transform it from an overgrown ruin, who made it a living monument rather than a museum, there is now little no sign. They have been swept away, ordered out by Unesco conservation authorities determined to restore the site to the way it looked in its medieval heyday, without any sign of human life however.