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Accessories, Lifestyle

The Memory Of A Clip That Lasts Forever

July 19, 2019
Filigree Hairclip

It was a warm winter month on the sidewalk that love met me. I walked into this space of unknown strangers. Sometimes some strangers just seem familiar. And in this unfamiliarity, I noticed him walking up and down. As ever unsure of myself; forever trying to not get too close to anyone, the fear of my gaping vulnerability is my self-defence. I remain politely formal. But he insisted on meeting my eyes. I was drawn into that warmth. I too looked into him, at him. Little knowing there would be much more than what would meet the eye, this time.

What followed was a trip into the unknown spaces of my life. He was more handsome than most others. He offered me coffee and biscuits. I told him I would get fat if I ate those cookies. He smiled and with that mop of so much hair on his head, he shook it and said don’t worry. Just eat it.

I smiled at him and took one biscuit and he insisted for at least two. We both laughed and I agreed. I had not been more comfortable in my skin in real long. Not seen so much honest decency in very long.

After my meeting got over. He insisted on dropping me to my car. To my utter horror I wanted this unspoken familiarity to end. He complimented my white kurta. I again thought why? Also told me his mother loves Pakistani serials. I thought thank god another mother fixated man. Just not my type for sure.

As we walked down. He spoke animatedly about his life that I must hear from him someday. He was also staring sharply into my eye with each sentence. He opened my car door and with all the chivalry that I so notice in men, he waved bye. We had exchanged phone numbers quite unashamedly. I was slightly taken aback at myself. As the car turned into the curb, I turned around to look and he turned around too. It was embarrassing.

I had worn my hair in a bun and secured the bun with a filigree hair design – only seen in the temple sculptures of Orissa and West Bengal. Strangely he noticed the little details. I fastened my hair tighter. Because suddenly I was aware that this meeting may turn into something that would prod me into myself & I wasn’t willing to meet myself, just now!

I thought I must share my work details and without a hitch we exchanged contact details. I kept reiterating that this is just another work contact. He got in touch too. But just like a game of cards I was constantly cancelling and he constantly agreed to my changed days.

I can’t narrow it down to the why and where and what made me choose this journey. But my universe above was smiling. I dialled his phone number and prayed he won’t answer and all will be well. But he answered and said he wanted to meet me. I cancelled once and yet he agreed to meet another day too.

The day came and I was casual as hell. It was an evening under the warm winter fading evening. We sat and he spoke. I only listened. He asked me what’s my story. I lied saying I have none. He prodded next day. I again lied.

It was a winter evening, the moon shining on my face with the candle between us. As a gush of wind blew the hair against my face, his long strong hands were on my face and he moved the strands from my face. I didn’t protest. It seemed just the right way for the evening to progress.

It’s been years since then. We don’t keep in touch any longer. But every moonlit dusk as the light kisses my face, I tie my hair with the filigree hair clip he gave. It’s hidden under the letters and whenever the unspoken grief of some lost moments arise, I look back at those moments of us. That never ever became us and remained forever you and I.

Accessories

An Arabic Prayer On My Armlet

July 16, 2019
Armband

Armbands go a long way back to history. It is a unisex design, worn by the men around their biceps of the upper arm. Studies show that the literature of the Bronze Age people wore armbands rather than a finger ring. In Asia we wear Armbands to ward off ill luck. A young bride is encouraged to wear an armband. It is a thing of beauty to watch a woman who wears her armlet or armband with as much gusto as her other jewels. The open arm with a band is extremely gorgeous and sexy with a minimalist design clothing.

The designs are galore of different motifs on armbands. My Dida had a beautiful armband that she wore as a bride. With all her pride she used to narrate her story of how the armband finally did not fit her arms over the passage of time. As she grew fatter and more voluptuous with age and her loving, much older, once married and widowed husband, my Dadu loved watching her tie her armlet. Dadu had married her elder sister, who died at childbirth. She left a young daughter behind. The chosen one to get married to Dadu was my young Dida at the tender age of 12 or maybe 13.

I still recall her jewellery box that she kept hidden under her clothes in her cupboard. It was called the “Sindhook”. A large wooden box with ornate brass handles. It had compartments and a mirror on the lid. The mirror had stained over time. But that glass even in the twilight hour was truthful to her. Dida’s older but extremely beautiful face shone with the love of a life lived with pain, love, longing and loneliness. Those lines on her forehead and face had her years of untold tales. I used to tease her saying you must have been like a pudding. How would you be proud of being large?

 

Armband

Armband

 

Her eyes used to widen and she looked at me like I was an absolute imbecile. She said with complete honesty, “Skinny girls are not desirable”!

I often look back at the times her gentle fingers touched my collar bone she would look at them and tell me. That’s terrible my darling!
A necklace should fall on a full neck. Who would even find that attractive?

Today after all those years as I try one diet after the other to try to reduce my weight, so often I have lamented over my full figure. I felt inadequate and unattractive. Her words of kindness, I sit silently and reminisce. She said a woman is beautiful when she is kind, compassionate and loves herself in totality. As the years progress, she needs to nourish her soul and also love her body. Her stomach is the spiritual pit of giving it the best food nature has to offer. Her pride in her stories of being a full-figured woman still brings a tear in the corner of my eyes.

I place my ear against the wind and I try to hear her voice again and again. To my utter horror I only hear those words that injured my soul and self-confidence as a teenager – “FAT”. I raise my hand towards the skies and pray to the Devi to give me the strength to accept myself in all my glory of having become a mother and accepting all the body changes.

I know my armband is supporting that strength I have garnered over the years to raise it and say STOP body shaming us. I know an attractive woman wears her kind attitude on her sleeve. May the armband that clasps our arm, that helps us in holding our young children and also turn the ladle in the kitchen to nourish the family we create, may that forever remain resilient and strong.

Clothing, Lifestyle

Sexy In Sequins

July 11, 2019
Sequins

It was a hot summer noon in Delhi and we decided to meet over coffee. As I walked into the crowded snaky lane of Shahpur Jat, I recalled the little unknown spot in Delhi with a handful of shops. The growth of this place from the 90’s to today is the greatest sign of the changing fabric of the city. To me it was a realisation that the hours doesn’t stop for anyone ever. Time has a strange way of telling us that this is not your resting spot; it keeps moving just as you think you have settled into a constant and life shakes you out of your comfort zone.

As I walked into the familiarity of the old café with kettles hanging and beautiful home décor, I ordered my favourite black coffee and as I waited, I noticed each gentle well mannered staff in the store were from the north east of India. I immediately struck a conversation and I could sense that feeling of camaraderie and the simplicity found in hill folk. I am often happily mistaken for an Assamese or a Nepali. And I love playing along with my broken knowledge of both the languages.

As I settled into the familiarity of the city of my birth and was about to take my first sip of coffee, I looked up to see Sonam Dubal walking into the store. He looked the eclectic designer that he is. A fine cotton black kurta, glasses and a big bag and as he apologised for being few minutes late, he complimented me with an endearing honesty. I could see the frank appreciation in his eyes. I felt at ease and as we ordered for our cake, he spoke in Nepali to the staff and I joined in showing him my language skills. We settled into a known sense of not belonging to our current spaces yet not knowing how to return to the old. He told me he was from Sikkim. I told him I was from Shillong. We both took mouthful of cake bites and coffee. We spoke about our undying love for the East – the often neglected and not showcased craft of India’s extreme corner, often referred to as North East with little knowledge of each state and its art.

We finished our cake and walked up into his store. The store had tasteful designs and embroidery on western jackets and Ikkat shift dresses and a major influence of the Islamic design structure. I loved the Mughal inspired designs. And I gravitated towards a black Angarakha.

Sequins

Sequins

 

I tried on the Anghrakha and it was tad bit loose and Sonam promised to get it fixed to my size. Which was done and delivered to my hotel room that evening.

This Angarakha is a cotton muslin with black sequins border. As you wrap the garment you can tighten the sides with metal buttons resembling a Chinese traditional jacket button, again adding to the Indo-Asian silhouette of this design collection.

Sonam Dubal’s brand – Sanskar – is  the for the uber stylish woman who cradles both the traditional and the contemporary with equal panache. As I walk out in this garment with my black kohl eyes and a nude lipstick, I feel uber sexy in the way it wraps around my body. Just how love is or should be. Just gently wrapped in the warmth of your own skin yet against each other.

Clothing, Lifestyle

Dotty About The Dot Design

July 4, 2019
Polka Dress

It’s the summer noon and the mood is frisky. I look out into the bright sun. The summer wardrobe special is always the whites, pastels and the one polka dot dress. It takes me back to time. I feel light in my being and miss the caress of the warm wind against my shoulder blade. Polka dots are the easiest to wear. It needs no styling. It stands out among the milieu of the hardened stripes, the paisleys or the wild flowers. Polka dots are flirtatious, just the way I like it.

Dots are representative of the many moods of a woman. The traditional bindi is a dot. In Bengali we call it the teep. Here it represents the intuitive chakra of your body. We press against it to hear the intuitive sound clearer and sharper against the din or cacophony. There is also the three dots tattoo which I was born with on my forehead. It symbolizes the common prison tattoo that says “Mi vida loca” or “My crazy life”. It’s commonly done around the eyes or the hands. In my case I grew up with three moles in a trilogy of sorts on my forehead right in between my brows. As I grew older, the dots got darker and deeper. I knew the gods above had decided it would be my crazy life with its myriad shades of grey.

Polka dots were inspired by the Bohemia dance called the polka. It was in fashion as house dresses and garden dresses in the early 1920s. This captured the youth driven fashion look. I find myself still gravitate towards this unconventional arrangement on fabric, where each dot is accurately shaped and placed against each other in an array of a wild dance pattern.

 

Polka dress

Polka dress

Polka dotted dresses are also part of the Bohemian fashion style. Commonly referred to as Boho Chic. The early years of the 21st century saw the reflection of this unconventional style norm. Fashionable girls wore ruffly floral skirts with short tops and boots. And among them was the polka dotted dresses with cowboy hats, or flowers on the head like a tiara. It shouted out loud, the need to be unconventional, free in spirit and sexual freedom. This was not just a print, it was a lifestyle. The non-bourgeois gypsy girl was an expression of being themselves, feeling sexy in their artistic pursuits. It also meant not giving two hoots about fashion diktats.

Bohemian women were the grand synthesis of the feminine Wonder Woman. She didn’t need the metal bra or the corset. She roamed free, smelling the flowers in the forest, as she wore her femininity on her entire demeanour with an unhindered attitude.

And my polka dress is a reiteration of just that. I wish for every woman to not be pressured to fit into the mould of right and wrong, prescribed by a patriarchal mindset. As I wear the dress and feel the soft fabric over my skin, I know I will travel where my heart can hear the song of the butterflies and catch the blush of the morning dawn.

If I find myself on a placid cool lake with flowers growing on each side of its bank, I shall chase the ripples on the water and dip into its coolness with my polka dot dress soaking in the cool wetness of freedom.

Gender

From The Broken Mirror Of Hope

June 24, 2019

What is your identity? What is your eyesight, is it male or female? What is your heart? Do you refer to it as he or she? What is the colour of your emotion? Do you dress up your emotion? Do you flaunt it in ways that suit the coloured lens of the world you inhabit? Yes, we do. I stand guilty of not treating another human being just as me.

Emotion is as fluid as the water and blood running in your veins. Do you see yourself in the totality of who you are?

As I rummage through my things that are tucked away in some corner of my mind, I am forced to look at the summer noon of Delhi. Those lanes with the tree shaded pathways, homes with blaring air conditioners, windows tightly shut with the mind too. The troupe of Hijras who are dressed loudly with make up and low saris revealing their infertile tummies and an ill-fitting blouse with padded bras and one man among them as their troupe member.

They are tired of running away from corrupt policemen and searching home to home for a newborn or a newly married couple to bless, sing and negotiate the price for the blessing. We buy blessings like a commodity. It’s all a business that blooms in the name of faith.

My heart used to bleed to watch this glaring injustice of gender identity acceptance. Just the sheer shame I felt rising in my cheeks as I saw another human being being treated like a pariah for this difference. Yes, we live in dystopia.

I feebly smiled at them because I was guilty of not being able to help, eradicate this bias or even wipe their tear. I was always greeted with warmth that is found in the honesty of pain and an ardent need for redemption from this chain of identity that they fought forever.

Over time I realise how insensitive and inhuman we all are. All this mumbo jumbo of acceptance is beautiful in essays and writings and in LGBTQIA marches. No one really wipes their tears or give them equal opportunity in this unequal world of division on sexuality, monetary status and the list is endless.

As we celebrate this month of equality in sexual orientation, I shut my eyes and and I can vividly reminisce the bleeding lipstick, after an entire noon of running from home to home. The eyeliner and mascara that has dried on the face after streams of tears that have not been wiped by one human to another.

Yes, my flight is not safe like yours.
Yes, my step doesn’t match yours.
Yes, I don’t glide over the turmoil of the tide,
As smoothly as I should.
Yes, I crave my mother’s touch.
Yes, I crave the sunshine.
Like you I am human too.
My heart isn’t a vagina or a penis,
It is shaped and beating with trepidation.
Like you I am scared of the rain and thunder.
Take me as I am,
Yes, my flight is not safe like yours.

Art & Culture, Clothing

The New Snob In The Block Called Khadi

June 20, 2019
Khadi bustier

When a bright brick red bustier hangs from the mighty colossal hangers of vanity, you are confused what to feed the ever growing, demanding devil. Amidst all that predicament, shouts out a soft voice inside you. It gravitates towards the memories of the past. In those racks I found the soft silks, the flowing georgette, the linen, the cotton and in all that is the rough exterior but soft to touch, the lost story of Khadi. It is hanging on to its last remnants of survival with hope of a new beginning.

The bustier by Mishe is an ode to the age old fabric of India. A fabric that has seen the blood of the martyrs of India. We had forgotten Khadi in this quest of wanting more. We sold our loyalty quite easily to the arrival of mixed unnatural fabrics. And now is emerging the revival of Khadi in the haute couture of India. Leading designers are creating designs with the long lost unsung protagonist called Khadi.

This bustier fabric of Khadi was woven in Barmer, Rajasthan, in the dusty little town – where its arid landscape and cattle fair makes it known among the tourists. Barmer was known as Mallani in the 12th century. Over time, places have changed their geographical demeanour and the onset of modernisation destroyed moderation. The cattle fair is still a tourist crowd puller. In Barmer lies a small fort on top of the city, also known as Barmer Garh. This has been witness to the changing hands of history of this region.

 

Khadi bustier by Mishe

Khadi bustier by Mishe

 

Mishe, like many designers today, are inspiring artisans and craftsmanship to incorporate the legacy of Khadi into the contemporary fabric landscape. A fabric that was considered coarse and not chic, is the choice of fabric and runways in many fashion shows today.

My relationship with Khadi dates back to my grandfather, who loved me dearly and I called him Dadu. As Ma rebelled against her in-laws in moving out of the ancestral family home. She was 22 and a young mother in Shillong. A town where she knew no one except the faith she had in her husband – my father. He settled her at home just in the initial phase and then he began his travelling job. She was lost in that large Bengali household. They were hostile to her. As she packed to leave with her little girl of few months, Dadu came from Delhi to help her settle with her little daughter.

Dadu lived with us till I was in class 2 and I still recall the winter and rain drenched streets of Shillong as he waited for me to finish school and he stood there, behind the tall walls of my school – Loreto Convent – in his Khadi Bandhgala coat. He endearingly called me Didimoni. His stories were about kingdoms and prince and princesses. As he got me ready, he used to dress me after school in a yellow embroidered Khadi coat. The winters were bitter and the money wasn’t sufficient. Khadi helped keep the cold away. Ma was ambitious and wouldn’t settle for anything less than a chaste Convent education for her only child. I didn’t understand how she navigated her loneliness, her financial situation and total lack of support from her extended family.

Today I bow my head to this historical fabric that has seen the changes of India. It is again on its way of resurgence with elegance and a snobbery of belonging to the thinking masses.

The Khadi boutiques and fashion shows have Khadi as the order of the day. I smile every time I see a Khadi clothing. I know somewhere in those folds lie my memory of Dadu, those winding lanes of wet and cold Shillong, the big umbrella covering the constant rain and he waiting for me in his Khadi jacket. It was frugal in comparison to the other fabrics of those years. Today it’s reaching a place in the wardrobes of the richer and I am smug at this yearning of youngsters to belong to the new India.

Accessories

Evil Eyes That Stare At Me

June 17, 2019
Bracelet

The Evil Eye is synonymous with the city of Istanbul. Everywhere you go, you are surrounded with the evil eye staring at you. The Turkish believe it as the good “djinn” that protects you. I watch with fascination the Bosporous River flowing in the city and a nation that was given birth by their leader Attaturk. The man who freed women of Turkey from not having to wear the head scarf.

The bright coloured cafes, the brilliance of the turquoise, it is almost supernatural. No matter however radical and scientific you are towards your approach to life. The presence of the evil eye is flamboyantly displayed at all things of vanity. You find door knobs that stop the bad djinn from entering your home and spoiling the magnanimous bonhomie of a good home.

The bazaar is a treat for tourists where you find pendants, bracelets, earrings that you imagine are baptised with the dervishes to protect you, from the unknown fear lurking behind you.

The store that caught my fancy was run by a large, bright eyed middle age lady who had lamps, jewellery and the omnipresent evil eye staring back at you.

She had dark kohl rimmed eyes and a mop of matted hair and her hands were coarse and rough from work. As she adjusted the evil eye pendant on my neck. I told her I love Istanbul and the author Elif Shafak and her book ‘40 rules of love’ and Orhan Pamuk. She immediately broke into an indulgent smile and told me her story.

The evil eye was specially very important for me to have because I have a growing son who looks happy and my eyes sparkled with his happiness. She said her sole purpose in life is to make her daughter self sufficient and she secretly harboured anger towards her ex husband who had left her for a younger woman. The evil eye and her coffee kept her from not planning revenge because every time she gazed at her daughter. She saw the light from Rumi’s poetry. So, she keeps the evil eye always with her. To remind her of the good that gets buried under the bad at times of extreme loneliness.

I understood she too was grieving like you and me. Things we take for granted may not last forever. You keep the evil eye to ward off those niggling thoughts of the bad djinn. It always tries to overpower you with its utter strength of making you feel powerful.

I settled for a door hanging and a bracelet that had a bohemian look. The evil eye in between the leather and thread bracelet were a reminder that most things in life has many dimensions to it. Wherein lies the darkness also lies the light and we fragile human beings hold on to that perfect moment, where we go through the phases of abandon and again a deep sense of insecurity. It’s this play of the certain and the uncertain that makes us wonder if we have been able to overcome our petty thoughts.

I couldn’t contain my curiosity to learn what the supernatural was trying to tell me. So, with the bracelet around my wrist I know the bad djinn may just have to tussle hard with the good djinn. The evil eye has to keep the good-hearted sentiments always above my magnified sense of self.

Accessories

Ladybugs Or Ladybirds Aren’t Ladies Afterall

June 11, 2019
Ladybird earrings

Ladybird beetle is no lady after all. She stinks and stings. It has the reputation of being a harlot or a mistress in old English parlance. The ladybug beetle consumes insects. And by mistake if you think, you can eat it, it would emanate the foulest stench of all the insects it has devoured till you vomit your mistake out.

I was most fascinated with the design sensibility of this ear stud that represented this beautiful coloured insect. I choose it because it wasn’t a bird or a lady. This statement ear stud didn’t have the seven spots on its back. Which in mythology is supposed to represent the seven pains of the Virgin Mary. I wouldn’t want any holy association with this predator who knows what she wants.

I am always intrigued with the association of women with animals. Since time eternity with absolutely vulgarity multiple animals and insects are named after us. An older woman loving a younger man is called the cougar, a docile woman is called a cow, a loud woman is referred to as a hyena. By now I am absolutely certain I want this insect on my ear. Which represents its piercing and stinking abilities. Maybe it would inspire me in life.

I am fascinated to witness the amazing hierarchy of the insect kingdom where kindness isn’t really the rule. This red slow moving beauty is a predator. It seeks the stupid in its redness and camouflages its strength with its bountiful colours.

Ladybird earrings

Ladybird earrings

I decided to look demure in my white dress but wear my beetle ear stud. It was my silent protest for all the flak Priyanka Chopra faced for marrying a younger man. It was my war cry for the articulate Sushmita Sen, who after many relationships has now settled with a very young man and also proudly chooses to be a single mother.

I salute all the women of today who are choosing to become mothers, irrespective of marriage or social acceptance. They are going ahead with IVF pregnancies or finding a man who they think is worthy enough to be the father of their child, without the facade of being socially secure need as the wife. They are bold, brave and have a damn care attitude. They are defining the truth of motherhood which in reality is a sole journey into your soul connect with your child.

I tighten the screw of my beetle ear stud and silently remember and reiterate, “You are the passionate red of lust, beauty incarnate and you no girlie girl at all”. I say out loud, just be you.

Clothing

A Contemporary Batik Art On My Traditional Saree

June 7, 2019
MoodyMo

As I draped the grey, charcoal saree over my body, I felt the mixed sensuous fabric of soft linen, cotton and the sheen of silk drape over me like a poem. This poem I have given it a name, calling it Mahua from Label Zohra. The sari was woven in Chhattisgarh, the land of the unhindered Mahua wildflower.

Bordering Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, there lies this untouched little place in India, lost in time and a history that doesn’t reach our textbooks. Only recently the limelight it got was because of the Naxal movement there.

I travelled extensively as a child with my parents. Both argumentative, creative, quintessential Bengalis with an unending thirst of discovering places, cultures and history, which was part of my growing up years. I clearly recall the trip to Chhattisgarh and into the village of Bastar.

The dusty road was narrow and little homes surround this insignificant place in India. But Baba was keen I go and watch the Mahua flowers in bloom. After all, I was named after this flower. I couldn’t fathom why the Adivasis there worshipped this flower and danced on its nectar. Today, I understand the Adivasis perfect harmony in life with nature and the deep love for it. Nostalgia with things associated with memory is a strange kind of a love affair. And after so many years, the memories that were tucked away into some corner of the mind were awakened out of its deep slumber. Suddenly, the mention of names and places evoke memories that were long lost and buried in time.

Ruma Of Label Zohra is another wanderer like me. She lives her dreams with her art in her fabrics. I had never laid eyes on a contemporary Batik sari and I have often lamented that art and craft need to evolve with the passage of time, retaining its intrinsic identity. But at the same time, art and craft also need to be adaptable to the changing moods of fashion; Label Zohra just nailed this.

MoodyMo

Ruma told me that she wanted to do something different with her creations. She did the Batik printing in Sanganer in Rajasthan which is famous for the Sanganeri prints. In all my yearly visits to Rajasthan, I never found a Batik in the craft of the mighty Saraswati river dyes and prints. And Ruma decided to introduce the art of Batik with Label Zohra, to create this eclectic mix of upcycled yarn, which doesn’t shrink and stays looking mint fresh, even if draped from dusk to dawn.

Batik has been part of Indian clothing and culture for the last 2000 years. It’s origin is in Java and was introduced in India by the traders from the South East. Bengal has had a huge influence of the Batik tye and dye which was also introduced as part of the syllabus in the University of Shanti Niketan, Calcutta. It’s resurgence began among the artists there and over the years many different types of fabric were being used to create more of this art.

I am hopeful with artists like Ruma and her Label Zohra, she is bridging the gap between the lost voices of the weavers and their craft. Some arts and crafts truly need a reintroduction in our lives. This collection is a tribute to the earthy, subtle tones of warp and weft in the sarees. It is ironic that when an art form dies we lament its loss. Yet, when it is here we overlook the struggle it requires to upkeep a tradition.

I will wear this saree and dress myself up, like as though I would be meeting my worst enemy and I need to say aloud, that the wilder I grow, the more you miss me, a tamed woman is a boring creature. I find my elegance over the years with Indian arts and crafts and I know money can never buy sophistication and style. Either you own it or you don’t.

This endeavour towards the crafts of India is being taken forward at the curated show called the Shringar Of Sindh at the Le Meridien, on 13th May from 10 AM to 8 PM.

The exclusively curated Lifestyle and Fashion Exhibition – Deepanjali 2019 – will showcase designer wear, diamond jewellery, accessories, footwear, home decor and more. This endeavour is the latest in a series of initiatives taken up by Sindhi Youth Association Ladies Wing over the years, to help the marginalised sections of our society. The funds collected this year will be used to create an endowment for cancer care. The interest accrued from this will be primarily used to help in the early detection and prevention of cancer. The Sindhi Youth Association Ladies Wing endeavours to make a difference to the lives of the recipients, in their own small way.
So buy a product of love towards a cause and help light up the lives of the needy and deserving.

Accessories

The Pensive Peacock And The Lusty Rabbit Saga

June 3, 2019
Peacock Earrings

As my train touched Nizamuddin Railway Station, New Delhi. I knew my trip into nostalgia was beginning. It is always a plethora of emotions that engulfs me when I enter Delhi. I recall me staring at the train station in Bangalore, when Ma came visiting me. The tears used to stream down my face till I could see the train till the last turn, chugging into a distance and I held on to my longing for home with a tearing cry.

Yes, I am melancholic about the passing of the past and also relieved it probably didn’t continue. I grew up learning that relationships change, evolve. Delhi evokes the painful and poignant memories. Lost relationships, broken promises and the inevitable growth with it. School friendships that have ended and some renewed with a more mature understanding of each other’s limitations and evolution.

In my circle of trust, I found Shimonti, the articulate, music loving, self proclaimed Bengali snob. I find my unspoken special Bengali connect with her. We are both Delhi Bengalis and extremely cynical of ostentatious sequin clad aunties with large crude brand totting bags and jewellery that has no history. We often roll our eyes in unison when we meet those types. We are both ardent fans of Indian Classical music and most things that have art as its main story. The others call us pretentious and prude. We are not exactly offended with that.

As always, she is game to walk into the by lanes of Chandni Chowk, stop to eat at the roadside eateries selling kebabs and my jewellery hunting in the small lanes and stores, where window merchandising is an unknown realm. Dariba Kalan has her favourite store – Dev Jewelleries. The father and two sons charm every customer, mostly women who try every jewellery on. They flirt and compliment you and also choose some designs for you. It’s like taking a trip into the nostalgia of small stores where the space between the counter and your tummy is divided by few inches. The old rickety fan buzzes over your head and what Dev Brothers do is make you believe you are the Queen of that hour. The shop has a narrow mirror and you can see your reflection in that distressed glass. They take out one box after another to show you their collection and you are transported into the world of art and craft of India.

Peacock Earrings

Peacock Earrings

 

As we rummaged through the boxes, I had mentioned to Shimo that I wanted a peacock earring with rubies set in zircon and silver. She never shows her amusement at my imagination. She always joins me in this mad trip of my blah and blue of memory and reality. She just takes over as we enter the tiny store. She summons the brothers to show their best. One Dev Brother says to the other, “Show them the Jaipur collection”. We saw earrings after earrings and finally found the peacock that had opened its plume. All around the finely crafted earring was the eye of the peacock with love and divinity.

My fascination with the peacock as a motif dates back to my trip to the summer evening in Rajasthan, when I heard the shrill cry of the flying peacock over my head and finally, it came down on the soft grass, looking up at the sky, as it threatened to rain. The fresh summer rain, that the peacock opened its feathers to and started the slow dance. As it opened every feather, I could see its hundred eyes stare at me. It shook and moved with the grace of a celestial dancer. I stood fixed soaking in the peacock’s narcissism. It slowly moved its head from side to side and stared intently towards oblivion.

In Greek Roman mythology, the peacock is identified with Hera (Juno) who created this magnificent bird from Argus whose hundred eyes symbolizes the vault of heaven and the eyes of the stars. In Hinduism, the peacock is associated with Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity, benevolence and patience. The virtues associated with women and her divinity. In Asian spirituality the peacock is the nurturer and stays immortal to guide humanity into its spiritual evolution.

The peacock motif is symbolic to the arts and crafts world over. Each representing the vast structure of religion and mythology. I wear the peacock earring on days when I feel the need to dive into my diva mode.  It always gets the attention it deserves and I feel elated to share Dev Jewellery store details with other women.

Chandi Chowk, Dariba Kalan lane is the treasure trove of jewellery stores. It has small almost unnoticeable little windows and as you peep closer you find the arrangement like a trip into nostalgia. There are turquoise, rubies, pearls and silver all ensconced into the little space. Delve deeper and you find the piece you are searching for.

I wear my peacock earrings and rummage to search for the lusty rabbit handcuff bracelet. Dev brother says he has it and I believe him. His collection is unparalleled among the other stores of that place. I didn’t realise my tea had gotten cold while I was busy pampering my vanity. He claims he supplies to the larger air-conditioned stores in the posh parts the city. I am glad Shimonti made me find this store in the historic lanes of Chandni Chowk, Delhi where the pricing is not too tight on my purse strings.