I wanted to enlarge my experience. I am a congenital rebel. I wanted to defy the superstition of Kala Pani. As I couldn't walk on water, (I didn't try to because it had been done before), I took the liner S.S. Canton on July 22, 1949 from the docks in Bombay. Of course it was not merely a case of going "phoren" or going "vilayti". This was in 1949 soon after the historic exhibition of the Progressive Artists Group of which I was the Secretary, and all the five other Members of the Group, Raza, Ara, Husain, Gade, and Bakre came to the pier to wave me goodbye, along with several friends and members of the family. Of course I realised that in India all the relatives and friends turn up to wave goodbye in proxy to someone going abroad. I arrived at Tilbury Docks in London on August 8th 1949. I was astonished by the grimness of England.
... At the time Alkazi and Nissim Ezekiel, who had come a little earlier, were the only friends I had in London. In any case, I stayed a few months in London and then crossed the English Channel and went to Paris. I had a friend there who was a former student at the Sir J.J. School of Art, E. A. Mogul - I stayed at his hotel on Boulevard Montparnasse, saw all the Modern Art in museums and private collections there was to see, and joined the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Later Ram Kumar, Raza and Padamsee arrived in Paris, and together with Laxman Pai, we had a great time discussing what the School of Paris had done in relation to our own activities in the Progressive Artists Group.
(Written interview with Varsha)