The story goes that whenever an accomplished, and even emerging artist or performer wanted to travel, the Taj stepped up to provide subsidised or free hotel accommodation and Air-India provided the air tickets. Out of gratitude, these artists would lavish the two corporations with gifts of their art, and both of these built extensive art collections running into thousands of paintings. these would adorn the walls of their various properties, and also be used in promotional material.
This photograph taken around mid-late 1955 shows the tastefully decorated Air-India International booking office in Geneva. Seated on the sofa in the sari is young Nargis who was on vacation in Europe at the time. Now look at the murals on the walls, and guess what: Hussain again! Yes, the murals on the walls were done by the master himself. The same wooden puppet cut-out treatment as in the poster. Notice the group on the right, two drummers and a dancer. Also, the second group from the left, partly obscured by the pillar has horses, and a chariot. now look at the poster again. Amazing.
It is difficult to put in words how pleasing this hobby is for me, and how grateful I am to the kindness of well-wishers who come forward to bless me with stories of this airline, and endow the collection with irreplaceable artifacts. Air-India is the stuff legends are made of.
Air-India International reservation office at 7, Rue de Chantepoulet in Geneva. (c.mid-late 1955)
The mural is by M. F. Hussain, one of the greatest contemporary artists in the world.
Please pardon the fold in the center of the photograph.
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