Kali Pundole was my friendly art dealer. I will miss him. Many evenings, finishing early and returning home from work, I would drop in at the Pundole Art Gallery, partly to get out go the heat and into its air-conditioned and artistic comfort and partly for his cheery company.
He would be sitting at his desk at one end of the gallery, from where he could view the paintings, the artists, the viewers. People would walk in from the street, take a look at the paintings, and walk out. As easy as that. I do not know if any of these bought a painting, I never did.
In his desk was an ancient Underwood typewriter. I also have an Underwood, almost as old, the one I am tight now typing this column on. Only his went back a further two generations, and it was always kept oiled and polished like a vintage car. I always thought it was the most precious object in his gallery, more precious than all the Husains and Akbar Padamsees put together.
Kali Pundole knew all the artists and showed and sold their works. I think the artists found it comfortable dealing with his, as I am sure they do dealing with Kekoo Gandhy also. Husain was his special friend and dealt with him from his early days. Often I would find him sitting in the gallery, whether he had a show or not.
I do not think Kali quite qpproved of what had started happening to Husain, the auctions, the tamashas, the out of context prices. But being the kind of man he was, he never made his depleasure know. And he did rejoice in the success of his artists.
Art was Kali Pundole's whole life. He had inherited for his familu a watch shop. Situated in the prime shopping area of Flora Fountain, it must have done well. But at some time in his life, he coverted half the shop into an art shop. Then took over the rest of it, thus converting a guaranteed business outlet into a precarious artistic venture.
This act, I believe, speaks more of the kind of man Kali Pundole was than anything else. For, at a time when art galleries are ebing increasingly used to hold sales of nighties and churidars and bed linens, Kali did the opposite. And I do not think he ever regretted it, not his family, which has taken to the art business with his. And we can be assured, thi sis one art gallery which will remain so.
But Kali Pundole won't be there any more. And I shall miss him.