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The world, their canvas

At the `Tropicana Painting Prodigies' contest, over 600 children drew their version of a better world

The world through their eye: children busy with brush and paint

SEEN THROUGH the window of the St. Bede's Higher Secondary School auditorium, the sea is blinding in the afternoon. A brilliant shade of blue set against an obnoxiously bright beach, it makes for the kind of view that forces you to scramble desperately for your sunglasses.

The view inside the room is just as vibrant. More than 600 children crouched, kneeling over canvases, water colours and pencils. And a vast, dazzling collection of soggy, just-painted pictures spread across the floor.

In spite of the admittedly fuzzy `A World of Good' theme, the young artists participating in the `Tropicana Painting Prodigies' held at the school on Saturday, had obviously put heart and soul into their work. So, besides the inevitable oversized doves and exaggeratedly green planets and blue seas, there were some interesting ideas that surfaced through all the paint stained palms, spilt water and mess.

At their creative best

Luckily for outsiders, most of the children had painstakingly labelled their work. So the big beefy guy in one painting who was trying to lift huge pink dumbbells was evidently at `The Olympics,' while the fat cat reclining on a purple cushion like Cleopatra and reading `India Today,' was the grateful beneficiary of an `Animals need education too' campaign.

If you think both ideas have little to do with world peace, here's another bit of news. The next generation is also convinced that India putting a man on the moon will solve all world problems. A number of children had pictures of starlit skies with flaming rockets bearing the Indian Flag zooming past. One young man even had what looked like the Eiffel Tower on the moon, proudly bearing an Indian Flag.

There were also a number of ambitious spellers: One little girl, for example, carefully wrote `in world good there will be no pollination,' in what might just have been a brave attempt to wed pollution and population.

The contest will travel across the country to eight cities to discover who the country's child prodigy is. Going by the Chennai leg of the competition, the judges are going to have a tough time finding the winner — and not just because they'll be chuckling with glee at the entries.


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