A WALK THROUGH THE GALLERY OF ARTS: DR. TEJUS NAIK

Posted: November 18, 2011 in Interview, The NamoLeague Times
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DR. NAIK IS A WELL KNOWN SURGEON, AN ANTIQUE LOVER, A PAINTER, A NATURALIST, A BIRD WATCHER, A PHOTOGRAPHER, A TEACHER, A PHILANTHROPIST AND ABOVE ALL, A GREAT HUMAN BEING.

• Being a doctor by profession, how did you get into art and collection of artifacts? 
I was first an art and antique lover and then a doctor. Since childhood, I grew up in an environment of art, particularly from the side of my maternal family. Because I could even draw and paint well, I got into the art circle since the early days. But, later on, when I was about 38 years old, I started collecting coins. My father was well-travelled, so he had a lot of coins of other countries. After simple world coins, I moved on to ancient Indian coins and antiques. For the last 20 years, I have collected a lot of things. First, they lay as a bulk in cupboards, but gradually, I started studying them, got into other, similar enthusiast groups and this is how the hobby grew.

 Right. So you are into coin collection as well as antiques and.. art.
Contemporary Indian artists: I collect their paintings also. I have other hobbies as well, which are not related to art. I am a naturalist, a bird conservator and photographer, I teach medical students as a hobby. And I do a lot of charity work in the tribal areas of North Gujarat.

 That’s multi-tasking!
That is multi-tasking. I enjoy doing all these and I find time to justify them all.

• How did you come up with this beautiful concept of ‘home-museum’?
That’s because I didn’t want my collection to be in cupboards. And if I want to display it for myself, I should live in it. So I have put it in such a way that me, my family and friends can see it all the time. This way it is not only maintained and kept clean, but also I can enjoy them every day.

 Is this concept known and prevalent? 
Yes, many people do this, not as a museum though. See basically, a museum is a collection of individual items, displayed in an organized way. There are different subjects and under each, there are lot of articles, some of them rare and ancient. So, otherwise, using antiques as an interior decoration for homes is a common concept.

• Museums are on an extinction mode. People have shifted to other mediums of entertainment. What are the responsible reasons?
Today, things are easily available in books and on the internet. So, any interested person who wants to study something or know more about something, gets the information through such mediums. But, seeing a particular thing and then studying it is always more enjoyable. Overall, the attention of people is shifting from art and antiques, because there are many other diversions. But these antiques are not made, they cannot be re-made. They are made once and can either be made available or they perish. And so, to preserve, study and enjoy them and our heritage is our duty.

• Do you think that people’s love for heritage moves somewhere around just the ‘Heritage Week’ that we celebrate?
During Heritage Week, my museum also remains flooded with people. But no, I see that they are interested people. They are searching for a cause, for a group where they can go and study such things. New comers hunt for experts who can teach them. And that is why there has to be a proper body, a proper organization that can guide them, associate with them and arrange programs for them.

• Do we have any such organization?
No, these things happen only occasionally. As an ongoing, permanent group, there is none. Antiques, you will be surprised, just this one term, has such a large connotation. It is a collection of many things. But I haven’t come across any group which is related to antiques. There are groups for coins and stamps though.

• Do you plan to start one?!
No, no! But I keep on inducing my friends and the young generation to get interested into art.

 What do you enjoy the most from amongst your prized possessions?
It is my grandfather’s Bharat Ratna Medal. Who can get a Bharat Ratna?! There are only a few people, who have been honored with this medal. So it is the most prized one for me. Value wise, I can’t imagine! Nothing is individually valuable in the museum. They are more valuable as a collection or as an ancient piece. Also, I have a letter from Gandhiji to my grandfather. These are some of the very precious possessions. They’re treasures.

• You belong to a political background. Gulzarilal Nandaji was your maternal grandfather. You never thought of getting into the field?
I don’t think he was a politician. He was a leader, he became the Prime Minister twice. But he never was a politician in today’s sense. He was extremely honest and till the end of his life, he did not touch any sort of money. He used to donate his own salary. So, politics did not come into our blood, as politics! And all us were and are professionals. We were never attracted to politics as a profession to make money or lead the mass. We are of a strong belief that we must change our own life and lives of those near us. And that is the best way of changing the world.

• You also head the Gujarat Coins Society. How does it work?
I was the President of Gujarat Coins Society for many years. It is a hobby circle, which promotes the hobby of collecting coins. Along with coins, there are currency notes and other related hobbies. Coin collection, basically, is a royal hobby. It is one of the oldest hobby. You can know so much about history and geography. Imagine, I give you a coin and tell you that this is of the time when Buddha was alive, how exciting it would be! This is a very interesting hobby, and Gujarat Coins Society promotes it.

• While collecting such a huge amount of artifacts, is there any particular memory that you would like to share?
Many things today, by value, might have become more expensive. But I got some rare things, like cameras, for as much as Rs. 15 or 30. One such incident is again, related to a camera. I have one that is a century old. It came as a simple box and the owner did not even know that it is a camera. When I opened it, it turned out to be a Bellows Camera and I read in the literature that it is so ancient. I bought it for just Rs. 250 at that time. Also, I have a two-three centuries old wooden sculpture of the Dashavatar. I had gone to an antique wood-carving dealer, where these were lying in dirt. Even the dealer never knew what this was. But I could recognize the Narsinh Avatar and others. So I bought the whole stuff, the ten pieces and got them cleaned.

• It requires a lot of study, to know what’s what!
You need to be in touch with it. You need to move around, meet people who can guide you and read the literature.

• Any message that you would like to give to the society?
Yes, of course. I would like to address particularly the youth that you must have a major hobby. And, I do not include reading, travelling, photography, music, watching movies/TV or even watching cricket as a hobby. Because these are essential things, everyone should know them! Hobby is beyond all these. Follow a musical instrument, collection hobbies like stamps or coins, follow a sport in-depth – these are real hobbies. So you must have a hobby that is a very good friend in your later life or in your leisure time. It is a good support to you. Don’t just be free, when you are free! Pursue a hobby. Another thing is, you must preserve your heritage. So many people have discarded old things from their homes and now none of them is available. Most of them are destroyed or they went out of India. We are losing out on our heritage.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=A%20Walk%20Through%20The%20Gallery%20Of%20Arts:%20DR.%20Tejus%20Naik_581

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