Proverbs, 2010


Until the age of 14, I was brought up in Belgium in an area called “Pajottenland”.  This is where the famous painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder made many of his paintings.  It is also where local legend says he probably lived in a small castle in the village of St Anna Pede for some time. The castle is depicted in one of his paintings together with the local church. Both the castle and the church are still standing. The Belgian Government has now designated much of the area as protected.

When I was young, things had not changed much since the famous painter lived in there in the middle ages. The people were very much like the ones you see in his paintings. The locality remains quite well preserved though the people have changed dramatically and are modern.

There is one painting that the famous painter Bruegel made, which is about all the traditional sayings of his time. I was inspired to make a painting with the same subject in his honour. The meaning of many of the sayings In Breugel’s painting can be found in a Wikimedia project. Small squares will appear by zooming in on the painting shown on the website page. Clicking on the squares will then reveal the proverb and its meaning.

My painting includes proverbs and sayings that are particularly relevant in my life:

  • Don’t cry over spilt milk.
  • Leopards don’t change their spots.
  • One bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • The one who laughs last laughs longest.
  • When the cat is away the mice will play.
  • Birds of a feather will flock together.
  • A golden key opens every door.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.

There is also one especially pertinent saying in my painting, it is “ A wall that has ears”. Since I   
 live in a joint family I can tell you that the walls in my house have ears.   


There is one portion near the wall where there is a traditional Indian saying ( look at the metal bowel with cement and trowel).  This saying has a great deal of meaning for my husband and me. The translation is somewhat like this, “where there is cement and brick, a house can be made.“ The saying means, “if the ingredients are there, a family can be made”. This is the saying my father-in-law used when Satish and I decided to marry. He used this saying to convince my mother-in-law to accept a foreign daughter-in-law. I think she took about 45 years to accept the fact that maybe the house we both built did not only belong to her son and her.

There is one more Indian saying that I have included which is one of my favourites.  It is, “when you eat chicken often, you start thinking that it is very ordinary, just like lentils.“  When you say this to someone you are trying to say that you feel that they are taking you for granted. I finished the painting on April Fools’ Day and showed my dog, “Boxster”,  staring at the calendar trying to figure out what all that day’s fuss is about.