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Accessories, Bengal Culture, Ear RIngs, Fashion Blogger, Moody Mo

Designs of Undivided Bengal

May 7, 2019
Moody Mo

As she walked into the train compartment. She saw the gaps in between the boogies. Mrinalini often wondered what would happen if the connecting iron chains would disentangle and the compartment would lose its chain of continuity. As she stared at the ugly black soot filled track below. She could see her life in those moments when it derailed from its original destination of familiarity.

Mornings in a train still remain her favourite hour to get to the steel wash basin and praying a bridge doesn’t come while she is washing her face. The water would spill all over her neat cotton dress. As she negotiated the timing of the shaking of the compartment and her clever manoeuvre of unnecessary wetness. She was woken from her unheard thoughts.

The same old man who kept watching her in the compartment came and stood close to the window. He smiled at her as she blew out the water. He told her that you must be like the train charting new territories and finding resting spots in between to see the changing sky colour and the changing landscape.

He said he was Amal. When Mrinalini told him her name. He said it was Tagore’s wife’s name. He told her of the huge Tagore household where Mrinalini lived forever pining for the love of her poet husband.

Mrinalini was only 12 years old when she was chosen to be the second wife in the illustrious Tagore household. She was not highly educated for the progressive Bengali aristocratic household yet she was a quick learner. Her intelligence was not noticed ever in the narrow shroud of her beauty.  Tagore’s Mrinalini after 15 years of marriage wrote her first letter to Tagore, her husband.

Now as the years have passed the train journey still remains etched in Mrinalini’s mind. She recalled the connection of Tagore’s women and her equal connection to all the beautiful things in her home, she was also one of those things.

Every time she watches a train from a distance what remains is the conversation between Amal and her. He held the strong iron handle as he alighted from the train and waved to her. She waved back to say goodbye. But the remnants of those piercing eyes into her own telling her the truth gets mixed with the loud banging of the tracks and her reality. It silences her yet the muffled scream remains.

As Mrinalini wore her kaan pasha which was the traditional undivided Bengal design, one of her favourites, the gold earring held the weight of Ma with her turbulent mutinies of finding herself in the cold hills of terror-stricken Shillong. There were no lockers those days. Ma had a traditional engraved wooden jewellery box. She kept most of her jewels in that box hidden below clothes in the cupboard. Mrinalini knew the hidden spot.

Ma looked beautiful with the kaan pasha in the flush of her youth. These traditional ear studs were part of the Shringar of a Bengali woman.

Mrinalini recalled Amal’s eyes. And she thought of her inherent nature of being free, fearless, quick of tongue and always ready to give back as good as she gets.

Mrinalini wore the kaan pasha and her bindi and she knew she could never be the domesticated woman most men seek. She would be crazy to most people, as long as she remained beautiful, eloquent and cerebral.

That is the fate of most of them. How would she be different? The kaan pasha covered most of her ear. But the shrill loud voice of reckoning, the jewellery couldn’t withhold.

Accessories, bracelet, Ghalib Nazm, Mirza Ghalib

Yearning’s Of A greedy heart.

April 22, 2019
MoodyMo

Love me like no other will. Behold me like no other will. In my madness give me my sanity. When you see my undone hair, falling over my face and shoulders. Don’t push it back to see my wrinkles instead herald the sun-kissed shadows of shame on the years that have gone by. Those who have made me feel lesser for wanting more out of my life.

Yes, I was happy. When I caught you admire the gap between my breasts while I was bending to pick your thrown dirty sock over your used shoes on the side. I didn’t know you were admiring my still retained remains of youth and also your invisible iron chains around me. You knew my degrees were a mere conversation starter. Because the min I would get excited and get drawn to explain my passion for Wordsworth or Tagore. You would cut me short to explain about the next merger in the world of conglomerates and corporates. I would stop midway in my track and admire your intelligence. Felt proud that I was yours.

In the moments that would follow. You would lovingly gaze at me and ask me if I wanted another glass of wine. But it was an unspoken rule that I can’t get drunk on wine. Everything measured like your speech and my emotions.

MoodyMo

MoodyMo

The ladies around me came up to me and told me. He is so madly in love with you. I had learnt to fight my tear in the corner of my eyes. Because if it was love. How could you not let me finish my love for that mid sentence of Wordsworth. You knew most of my days were with the house help planning the next meal at home. My world was you. When the call from my best friend from New York came. I heard her with glee. She was the bureau head of NYTimes. But after I hung up I recalled the distinction I got in English and art.

I got into my big car silently and put on my headphones to listen to Farida Khanum sing “Aaj Jane ki Zid Nah Karo”. I felt a lump in my throat because I recalled the lost lanes of my youth. Where the sun was shining bright. My heart knew I would be a writer someday. It felt like a distant dream. I knew I must be gracious in accepting the big car, the servants, the large empty balcony and my everyday ritual of drinking tea in a china cup with organic leaves, brewed at the right temperature. But I yearned the kulhar chai with the passion of doing something in life and saying bye to my besties to meet again tomorrow. But I was not maybe gracious after all. To be happy with all the material possessions and yearn for more and more. More love, more art, more freedom.

MoodyMo

MoodyMo

I was touched by a poem of Mirza Ghalib that loosely translated as. There are so many desires in my heart, each desire a stab of pain. So much I desired in life yet so little…….

I wear the bracelet around my wrists and it says Haazaron Khwahishe Aisi….the rest of the Ghalib Nazm in my heart. I don’t say it out loud, lest others hear my cries of lament. I keep that nazm in my heart and smile at people around me. Because my secret is with me in my songs, poetry and my art. Till there is cinema, music, art and craft. I will strive to open the Pandora’s box searching for my alter ego in all of them.

Accessories, Amruta Dongray, Assam, Indian Fashion, jewellery

Blue Was My Reflection

April 16, 2019
Moody Mo

The forbidden Apple is fraught with the bad reputation of defiance. It was the union of Adam and Eve. It turned the Gods and the world upside down. Biblical stories are galore of the first bite that made the serpent happy.

In traditional Hindu philosophy, a fruit is given as obeisance to the Gods to appease them. I am fascinated with Amruta Dongray’s choice of her brand name Amrud which she calls “The Abundant You”. My mind races with the thought of the gorgeous nymph who bites into a ripe Amrud known as Guava in English. As the juice of the fruit soaks her chin and mouth, she knows the art of seduction isn’t only about the body. It is an amalgamation of all the senses.

I recall the summer months at my aunt’s home in Assam. It was humid and the tree in her garden had much ripe Amrud hanging from the branches. I saw Pishi’s maid who was 21-year-old and unmarried. Hell of a lot beyond her marriageable age in the tribal community of the Bodos, she was seeking a partner.

She went every day into the terrace in peak afternoons when all the elders slept. She used to seductively bite into the ripe Amrud while flirting with Pishi’s neighbour’s cook. He too would go upstairs at 3.00 pm.

As the huge grandfather clock in our home struck 3.00 pm, Baku would furtively walk upstairs in the pretext of picking up dried clothes just to meet him.

I never slept and with one eye watched her routine every day. One day, I told her I would tell everyone at home what she was up to if she didn’t take me along. I was 10 years old and I knew the threat would work. She made me promise to never open my mouth and also offered to pluck the ripest Amruds from the tree for me. We agreed on that arrangement. It became a ritual for both Baku and me to quietly walk up the stairs without a sound, open the terrace door and walk towards the edge. The Amrud tree was hanging heavy with fruits that squirrels had eaten and left some for us.

Baku stretched her arm forward and I envied her mature body as I prayed to Jesus to quickly bestow me with those curves. She smiled at me, cleaned the plucked Amrud from the branches on her cotton sari and gave me the prized fruit. I smiled back at her while eating the ripe fruit.

The neighbours cook stared at her while she plucked the fruit and Baku just exchanged glances while licking and eating her green fruit. I recalled the moral science class of my strict Convent school and told her to be worried about snakes. She scoffed at me like I was the greatest dunce she had ever met.

Next morning, Baku snapped at me for something and I decided to tell Pishi about Baku eating all the guavas. Baku was reprimanded and the terrace door was locked from that day. Baku stopped talking to me.

My holidays came to an end and I walked up to Baku, apologized to her and offered her my pack of chocolates. She smiled and gave me an ocean blue pendant that she had in her little box of accessories. She put it around my neck and said, “ teach me to speak English”.

Years have passed but the reflection of the blue pendant haunted my mind for a very long time. I knew I had wronged Baku.

Years after, as I rummaged into my belongings, I found Amruta’s necklace with the sugar dropsy blue ocean pendant holding on to a silver drum as its companion. It reminded me of Baku. I sat holding that piece in my hand, wondering if Baku is married now.

It was a moonlit night and I held the pendant against the still water. It reflected the blue. The moon above played hide and seek into the dark skies. The blue colour just looked pristine pretty. I begged again for forgiveness and stared long into its reflection.

Baku will forever remain a pang of guilt in my heart and this sugar dropsy pendant will forever be my coveted piece till the waves crash into the high tide of my soul, bleaching my bone marrow and soaking my ankles with the chains of doubt. Does Baku still eat the Amrud at 3.00 pm in another terrace, waiting for a man to complete her?  And if I get another chance, I shall tell Baku that the cook wasn’t man enough to hold her and tell her she is beautiful. I hope Baku isn’t waiting any longer.

Accessories, Indian Fashion, Nagaland Jewellery

The Warriors Of Nagaland And Their Jewellery

April 12, 2019
Moody Mo

As I once again take familiar steps into the known terrain of the North Eastern hills of India, I realise having grown up among the Khasi and Jaintia hill folk. It has taught me to differentiate between the various tribes living in that untouched pristine terrain of flora and fauna. Each of them beautifully different from one another. The traditional clothing and jewellery are unique to each tribe.

The organic home loom weaves, is sure to leave you spellbound with its richness. The colours and motifs each different from the other. The northeastern women are slender with a clear complexion, high cheekbones and straight long hair. Among them, the  Naga women are especially the prettiest. Aware of their warrior genetics, there is an unspoken strength of the battles they have won over the years. The athletic gait and the clear skin with a bit of freckles makes them the sexiest among the other gorgeous North Eastern tribes.

Moody Mo

Moody Mo

As I grew up, I longingly looked at the Naga older women and admired the way they wore their shawl and jewellery. The wrap skirt around the waist with fitted blouses and the chunky bead necklace was like a eulogy of their past lore and the struggle of their today. Wanting to be recognised and not misunderstood is what each Naga strives for. I for one was always quietly, furtively staring at Lalrempui, my Naga classmate. She embodied her free sexuality and strength combined with beauty all around her persona.

Loreto socials were the day where you see the difference between the wealthy and the not wealthy school girls. The sharp divide was so palpable to my young mind. The Khasis, Mizos, Naga girls wore knee-length boots with kilt skirts and floral blouses with sweaters. The Bengali and Assamese girls were more traditional in their dressing. The forever living in fear Bengali girls were mostly unfashionable near the fashionable Naga girls in school.

I was the Bengali girl with oily hair and a skirt that had a folded hem that was unfolded for a few years, till you stop growing up. To my mother’s relief, I didn’t grow too tall. So her opening up the stitch and stitching it again got less tedious as the years passed.  I wanted those boots and the wrap skirt that would flaunt my hips and small teenage waist. But Ma wouldn’t allow. She liked me in polo sweaters with skirts or dresses that were always below my knees.

As I grew up and moved out of the North East, I had forgotten the fashion sensibilities that had shaped me up. But some things have a way of returning. As I visited Assam last year, I found myself in this little store with Mekhala Chadors and the Naga necklace. I was excited about the collection as I  tried each of the colours of beaded necklaces.

I picked up three of them. The brown Naga necklace is one of my favourites. It reminds me of the days when I wanted this but didn’t have the means to buy it. Today, I have gratitude for keeping the memory of the feisty Lalrempui with me. She got caught for running into the boys’ hostel one night and the entire school spoke in whispers about her. I listened to them all, but I saw the proud, gorgeous Lalrempui walk unabashed in her stride like the true Naga queen that she was.

 

Accessories, Amruta Dongray, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, jewellery, Rajasthan

Amruta Dongray’s Abundance Of Amrud

April 5, 2019
Moody Mo

I was navigating my path ahead with trepidation. I knew all along nothing about this relationship was okay. It was a narcissistic, mind-numbing experience. It always a game of who won that was beginning to tire me out. I was staring ahead into the unknown. Fear of ending relationships stopped me from saying my final goodbye. It’s easier to have two evenings of toxicity than have the rest of your life being alone on weekends and watching everyone having such a full life on social media.

During one of those evenings, after a fight and with a tear at the corner of my eye, I met Amruta Dongray. She is feisty and mellow, it was a rare combination to find in people. I was drawn to her infectious laughter and a huge sense of relief to meet confident women, who embody faith and grace. We got talking and she told me she had bid her farewell to Bombay to be in Bangalore. And she started her brand of jewellery called Amrud, The Abundant You. We rummaged through her collection and I was drawn to a  pair of earrings that had a moonstone embedded in its beauty.

She told me her story. The inspiration for the earring was the Jharoka and the utensils in her Maharashtrian home. The style is a mix of western sensibilities infused with an Indian essence.

Moody Mo

Moody Mo

I couldn’t help but look back at the jharoka and its existence since medieval times. This overhanging enclosed balcony is used in the architecture of Rajasthan. It is also an Indo-Islamic architecture. It served the purpose of women to see the outside world without being seen themselves.

It’s a secret world of women, where they admire the people without them knowing. You can create your own stories.

Amrud’s earrings are an ode to those hidden stories of the women behind purdah. They are the lost shadows that run against the silhouette of dusk and dawn. We just see those shadows like X-ray films. The rib cage clear against the light. The heart with blood and breath are hidden away from most others.

Lady of Jharoka urges you to say your goodbyes when the time is right. To overstay is toxic and the vision gets altered of self and the other. My earrings have a gold polish that catches the jalli reflections of light and shade.

Accessories, Fashion Clothes, Gender, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Introduction, Lifestyle, Tradition

Try To Tie Me Down And Fail Forever

March 29, 2019
Moody Mo

The hand that rocks the cradle also rules the world. Women have balanced this multitasking job since time immemorial. I looked back at the muscular smiles that mocked my femininity. Telling me oh stop! It’s not easy for a girl like you to do what you are seeking out to do. I smiled like I did, remembering the cold blue night of my loneliness and knew that this fight will go a long way ahead in time. When we are allowed to express without our own also judging us or choking our voices with their opinions.

I found Ashwini Oza another soul just like me, expressing her creative energy with her jewellery brand Arnav. I loved the necklace she has created. Her inspiration was a tie. Which mostly men wear or tie down women in submission. I was hooked on to this style statement as I held the tie silver necklace with dye motifs and an owl pendant.

My mind was raging with the imagery of my mother praying every Thursday to Goddess Lakshmi whose carrier was the beautiful white owl.

Moody Mo

Moody Mo

I understood even religious texts uphold the fairer owl as auspicious, unlike the darker owl. Dark is demonic and dark isn’t considered attractive. So many years of subjugation. Women are guilty for being dark, infertile, free-spirited or not towing the line. It isn’t a pretty sight at all for the patriarchal rules of society, when women who dare to walk out of line, are condemned as crazy.

I wore my tie necklace over my bare shoulders and I knew the light from the coloured glass pane was reflecting on my collarbone. I was waiting to be admired. I realised how we seek validation of self from the eyes of another. Never delving within to seek the source of our strength.

I decided I won’t wear my tie necklace in front & as he came in. I pushed my tie necklace behind my back. I knew my spine felt the weight of the necklace fall carelessly behind me. I moved my hair to turn and look. He barely speaks much. He just sighed and said wow!

As I bend down to strap on my sandals. I saw him staring into my face and he looked straight towards me. I knew he was tied down forever. He won’t forget this evening. It was the falling of dusk and my conditioned patriarchal moral values. All created by human beings who are frightened, of the hand that rocks the cradle and also rules his world. He felt vulnerable and I was sure, I wasn’t getting tied down ever again with the weight of his expectations from me. 

Accessories, Gender, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Lifestyle

Pug Marks on The Moist Kumaon Hills

March 27, 2019
Moody Mo

The Himalayan Writing Retreat is nestled between mist smeared mountains and the elusive Himalayas. Mountains covered in snow with the sunlight streaming through the magnanimity of the forces of nature. I found this post on Facebook by Chetan Mahajan. It had all the promise of the writing seclusion that I was searching for.

Tired having played roles for years. Never having ever done a solo trip ever. And with strangers stuck in a place called Sathkol. It wasn’t my regular idea of tripping. But fate has a way of propelling you to your destination. I gingerly dialled the phone number from the Facebook post. Was pleasantly greeted with a nice voice that had the warmth of a wooden log on a nippy night. I tried imagining the person on the other end of the line. He was polite and encouraging. It just seemed doable. I booked myself for the single room and told him I wasn’t exactly friendly in the mornings. My marriage has rules and rule one is, no one greets me in the morning. They know I don’t fancy enthusiastic roommates in the morning. It’s my angst hour. I am angry about female feoticide, rape, inequality and with my weighing scale too.

I decided that I will go to Sathkol and for Himalayan Writing Workshop. As luck would have it. All that could go wrong with my travel happened this time. The airlines cancelled the early morning flight at 5.00 pm. I wasn’t meant to go. I didn’t join the rest in the train because I wasn’t exactly excited to have conversations all the way. This motley group of writers were all exuberant and happy unlike me. I was a grouch. The one person that I looked most suspiciously at, was another participant called Rahul.

Also, truth be told. I have always had a thing for this name Raahuuul. He was the photographer in my favourite film of Aparna Sen’s Parama. Rahul the photographer in her film was the catalyst and also the one who bought delicious doom in the much-married Rakhi’s life. And typical me,  I liked the rebellious rake Rahul of Aparna Sen’s Parama.

This Rahul was willing to send his car to drive me 10 hours into Sathkol for the writing workshop. I kept thinking what does he want in return. And suddenly in a flash, you lose logic. I agreed to take up his offer and his car with his driver. My parents were again heaving in fear. Saying, there she goes again! Now, this Rahul.

I was duly warned about North Indian men. But I had already strapped the seat belt into my ride to the unknown. I had already said, “Teri Aisi Ki Taisi” in my mind.

Rahul’s driver Mithilesh was an amiable chap and I tried bonding with him. It was midway into midnight, empty roads into the badlands of Uttar Pradesh I knew I was mocking luck and divinity. Between Mithilesh and I, we both can’t read maps and it didn’t help that he asked for directions to Google in his Bihari accent English. I was tired and realised I had an insane stubborn streak to myself that few would understand.

My parents told me that my Bengali upbringing was no good. When I should have studied I didn’t and now trusting a stranger called Rahul and it doesn’t help that he is from Delhi. They were stricken and said they shouldn’t live another day. The words fell off my ears like cacophony. They are dramatic quintessential Bengalis with a constant existential crisis. They aren’t the ones you seek when in trouble. Was most glad my phone connection was playing up. I lied saying I knew Rahul and Chetan from my advertising days. They bellowed when they heard Chetan was a Mahajan. Punjabi was always a big No, No!

We halted for the night in Rudrapur at 2.00 am. It was a cool night with stars above my head and nothingness ahead. An unknown destination with danger lurking at every bend we traversed. Mithilesh and I.

Moody Mo

Moody Mo

By now I had reached my sweet spot of leaving everyone behind without a care. It was Mithilesh and the unknown Rahul and the somewhat dependable voiced Chetan. My girlfriends were most excited with both the names. They kept saying, tell us more!

The morning I started again with Mithilesh towards my Himalayan Writing workshop. Few hours into the road and I found myself breathing the mountain air and little streams gushing out from nooks and corners. More mountain people with the easy step of familiarity and simplicity. I was in love with love again. It was 14th February, Valentine’s Day. As I passed curves and bends. Suddenly I was greeted with clearer skies and my path to destiny. I could tell my past had died a little death right there in the right now. What was ahead was the doom of finding me. Which is not easy for a troubled heart like mine. Losing the past was like a piece of your intestine cut away from you. You can’t digest it all without the sour dull feeling of being full from past pain. I was resisting this clarity and divinity. What would I hold on to, from here?

We reached The Himalayan Writing Workshop and strangers greeted me with a warmth that I was unaccustomed with. Over the years I had mastered my fake real smile. But each of them broke my resolve bit by bit. The fireplace in the corner and the floor seating was familiar from before. I did my writing with the wonderful group of 9. Realised I maybe did know how to write enough to be appreciated and read. I cried among them. The debris of the past they each took turns to heal me. The familiar word “Dumb” became a distant sound in my head. The same harsh sentence, “don’t worry your pretty head. Just enjoy life!” Those words had bruised me & broken me. Here I was again among strangers with love. I was being healed.

After a day of writing. Chetan and Vandita took us for a bit of retail therapy. We walked through the hilly road towards the store. I found wollen shawls, tea, honey and handmade soaps. I choose a beige wollen shawl. As I wrap the woven shawl by the Kumaoni women from Chirag, the NGO shop. The brand is called Kilmora and the profits from the sale of Kilmora helps run a school and a community hospital set up by Chirag. I understood again the simplicity of those meanderings of the mountains. The lights flickered ahead as dusk fell. I knew again I was face to face with divinity. I forgot my sense of self as I opened my heart at the altar of this godly abode.

As I finished my writing workshop. I recall Chetan’s words to me, “Don’t be afraid, get naked on paper”. I took his words very seriously and wrote those few days without control. It came gushing from corners that the sunlight hadn’t touched. The dark spots of my past. The numerous emotionally unavailable relationships, that I had nurtured and accepted over the years died a death there. I wasn’t accepting this second-hand love anymore. The bruised inner child came back slightly healed, slightly lost but massively hopeful.

The shawl covered my bruises and revealed the blood-soaked sides of my heart that dripped near this motley crew of Krish, Ravi, Viral, Vandita, Shabnam, Souniya, Ashwini, Karan, Rahul and Chetan. I was delirious without me knowing, that they could smell the stale blood mixed with tears on the little corners of me. They saw me like no one had in a long time.

Accessories, Indian Fashion, Lifestyle

Sacrifice Of Self

March 25, 2019

She made the mistake of not shutting the door fully. That languid summer noon, the cherry blossoms and the weeping willow were resting. Everyone in slumber and half woken siesta, Molina was awake. It was her time to her herself. She stood next to her overused bed sheets that had patches and were losing colour, to furtively open the cupboard. Those large wooden shelves had huge stained white potlis. All tied tight and no chance of ever any knot loosening its grip. Her security lied in all that her late husband had left for her. He never loved her – she was ugly, infertile and had a disgusting habit of never wearing any finery.

Molina came to terms with his mistress and her beauty. The more he travelled to spend time in Mumbai, the more unkempt she became. Her hair had an oily sheen, her sari was patchy that had not seen any detergent. Only washed with water and dried under the soft sun. Her large unproportionate breasts fell over her tummy. Her eyes were like an eagle that even a soft-hearted person wouldn’t notice. Teeth yellow from regular consumption of pan and tea.

I saw Molina Pishi and her soft-eyes moist, just that one summer noon. She opened one large potli with much more smaller cloth packing of jewellery inside, filled with Rubies, Emeralds, Diamonds and Gold. She held one necklace against the sunlight. This was her favourite, I could tell. She stared at it long and lovingly. It was an old Rajasthani piece, meant for the bride that she never could be, in spite of being a married woman.  It was exquisite with round crystals that would clasp your vanity with pride and joy. I still just couldn’t feel sorry for her. She was too ugly to love. I was just 10.

Molina had this large house bequeathed to her by a handsome late husband. It was years back, she recalled, that he returned back from Bombay with a baby girl who looked exactly like him. Fair, petite, with a visage that you could compare to a Goddess from one of Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings. Molina was silent. He told her, “Let her be your companion. Bring her up like your own”. He said she was like his daughter and needed a home. Molina knew it was his daughter. She kept quiet. Again, those eagle eyes had sadness.

Who would feel sad for ugly Molina? It didn’t help her crooked nose with a growing mole. God was unforgiving with her. No one ever felt sad for her. She was a miser like Scrooge and nasty to everyone around. Khasi women always gave her leftover vegetables. She barely spent a rupee. Everyone disliked her. She was used to people catcalling her. Unperturbed, she continued her miserly ways.

Meera was her only love. As Meera grew, Molina knew she would lose her to a man. The insecurity kept her distressed like a raging mad woman. She matched Meera with a gambling addict and an extremely ugly man who couldn’t ever keep a job. His name was Rathin.

Rathin married Meera and sat at the jewellery shop that Molina had. Meera never loved Molina. Meera never called Molina “Ma”. Molina called Meera her daughter, knowing fully well, it was his mistresses umbilical cord remains. Rathin devoured Meera and she had 10 children. Motherhood didn’t tarnish Meera’s beauty. She continued looking every bit the beautiful wife, complexion like honey and hair falling to her hip. A small oval face, with doe eyes.

As the years passed, their hatred grew evident to all. Molina was neglected and treated shabbily by the children and Meera alike. Meera said, “Don’t see Molina’s face in the morning”, as infertile women were considered inauspicious.

My 10-year-old mind knew Molina had never been loved. She held the choker against the sunlight and as it caught her beady eyeball, I saw unrequited love and grief.

She turned around and saw me looking. She let out a scream and I ran as quick as I could. People told me Molina was evil. As the years have passed I wonder who was more evil, Meera or Molina. Maybe none. Both trying to find their own.

I know we all live in our little desolate spaces of loneliness and that dark space is covered with moss and non-flowering plants that are like creepers. They hold on tight to your throat many times. The muffled choke quietened by the perfect people around. The ugly will remain forever unforgivable and the beautiful will always be forgiven.

Molina’s memory is available with Arnav. Ashwini Oza recreated this piece with a salute to the transience of beauty and her passion for the arts. She too found love in her craft. In each and every piece of Arnav, you find yourself looking like the bride that needs nurturing with loads of generosity. Arnav just got me hooked with the finesse of craftsmanship and beauty.  

Molina’s Qurbat will remain unspoken forever. She never found love ever.

Accessories, Fashion Clothes, Gender, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Introduction, Lifestyle, Own Life Story, Tradition, Travel

The Lost Land Of Afghanistan That I Found in Rome

March 22, 2019
Moody Mo

Flea markets world over has been my never-to-miss spot. As usual once in Rome I tried to follow the adage – be a Roman in Rome. I got my gladiator sandals out and decided to look for Al Capone on the streets. I found many with noses that could hold a hanger with my freshly ironed robes. And was amused at the confidence levels with which they charm the panties of a celibate. The Romans are loud, emotional, proud people with a daunting history that takes you back into time. The architecture lying in ruins throughout Rome reminds you of the history books you have read as a child. The paintings and the sculptures breathing life into their stone eyes and structure keep me spellbound for more.

Opposite the river bank on a Sunday noon, are tired and hopeful shopkeepers selling art, jewellery and pasta stalls. In the midst of all this, I find the city filled with migrant labourers from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and many more places. Selling their wares with the hope of earning a good future for their families. I always find myself drawn to people whose eyes have stories. As I navigate my path into the Flea market below a long winding staircase, I am reminded of the absolute genius of this country and it’s Neo-Realism films that have inspired so many artists. I am reminded of the genius of Vittoria Di Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and the many more films that have made me weep for the protagonists.

In this flush of weeping and awe of the city and its history, in a corner, I found an open stall with the most exquisite Afghani jewellery. The shop owner was a tall, burly man with a complexion that has traces of his Afghani Roots. His eyes are proud and he is selling not because he likes to sell but has to feed himself and his family. I find myself lost in his beautiful, intricate, stone inlay traditional jewellery. It is made up of German Silver and glass with enamel inlay floral designs.

He tells me his name is Ahmed and he is a Kuchi nomad. They are the nomads from the Ghilji tribal confederacy, the largest tribe called the Pashtuns from Afghanistan. He said the poorer families wear these silver pieces because the more exorbitant things are used for the Nikkah (marriage) and those are also made with floral and crescent moon designs.

Ahmed sold me his choice of jewellery and I couldn’t say no to his gaze of hope. He said it looked beautiful on me. Rome had taught Ahmed to be a Roman in Rome. Effortlessly flirting with women who thronged his space in the flea market.

I wear my Afghan tribal jewellery with much pride. It speaks of the resilience of the nomads who are not bound by chains of settling down. I can’t help but smile at the irony of life, we the settlers who are always unsettled in our hearts. Searching for the elusive spot of sunshine and security. Unlike the nomads, they live one day at a time.

The crescent moon on my necklace is one step away from its fullness. The tiny silver on its edge is illuminated by the glass pieces reflecting the sun rays. I imagine a bride in the finery of her Afghani resplendence saying “Kubool hai, Kubool hai” even if her heart says no. I had to have Ahmed’s story on my neck.

Accessories, Fashion Clothes, Indian Fashion, Lifestyle, Own Life Story, Tradition

A Classic Called The Angarakha

March 18, 2019
Moody Mo

When you feel vulnerable and think that you may lose your soul to this crazy thing called life. You protect yourself by listening to music that heals, or you indulge yourself till the thoughts are dimmed and what stays is the feeling that the universe is protecting you with compassion. As I listened to music, I tightened my Angarakha strings over my breasts, protecting my heart from more pain. The pain which I wish to forget and not go down that road again.  I have always been fascinated with the clothing from the Mughal era. It has the Ishq of a bygone era of opulence and craft. One such clothing is the Angaraksha also called the Angarakha, the other name is Jama.

The word is derived from the Sanskrit word “Angarakhsaka” which means protection of the body. It has over the years seen many variations on the ramp. The long and short of this shirt dates back to the 16th century Emperor Akbar. The first King who had the vision of uniting India on religion and culture. His clothes were a reflection of both the rich cultures, in the fusion of Indian dressing.

I recall falling in love with this garment since my school days. Watching Merchant Ivory’s Heat And Dust, and the white cotton unisex Angarakhas. It falls over your body, hugging the contours. You may loosen or tighten it based on the mood of the moment.

I recall the time I wore my first Chikankari Angarakha for my first date. I remember how he stared at my first flush of youth. Covered from prying eyes, yet revealed exactly what promise lay inside. A girl child blooming into a woman. He too was young, unsure of his ability to love and be confident of self.

An Angarakha to me is one of the sexiest garment created since time immemorial. It covers yet it reveals, exactly how style should be. It is an amalgamation of our experiences, of finding our own divinity among all the beautiful and ugly experiences we have gathered over the years. We are gatherers of stories, of our own lives and others experiences who visit this space in our lifetime.

Sonam Dubal captures my imagination of the fluidity of this garment in its totality.  I am drawn to his aesthetic as a designer. Drawing my experiences from the past to the present me. The little mirror work on the edges catches the light of the sun and reflects in my heart and soul.