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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.

Fashion Clothes, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Introduction, Tradition

Desires Cut Into The Fabric Of Love

March 14, 2019
Moody Mo

My love for good things began very early on. To the utter horror of my middle-class parents, they were worried I wouldn’t ever settle for the mediocre. A factory outfit never made me feel my best, it had to be a bespoke outfit. After much thought and pondering would my tailor add the Kutch mirror work patch or the lace to give my mundane outfit its edge, and make it my statement. The aim was always adding an Indian sensibility over my denim or the check-patterned Kilt.

With this undying need to be always surrounded by beautiful things, it surely was a constant struggle with my limited income. I had that discerning eye for all good things, including my male friends. I wasn’t exactly generous at that choice, but he needed to have more than just good looks to keep my interest going. Most times, I was disappointed so I decided to put my energy into clothing that saluted an art form of India. As usual, most things had to be a cut above the rest. Being raised as a Bengali in Delhi, you are forever struggling between the two identities that you can’t fathom when which one takes over. The constant struggle of being a quintessential Bengali with the cacophony of the Peacock Punjabi. It surely was a sure shot path to schizophrenia. But my love for Rajasthan and it’s arts and crafts is a constant. Till date, it remains a passion that needs regular acknowledgement. Every week four times at least, I wear a Bandhini or a Sanganer print over my jeans, that size hasn’t remained constant. I recall the small store in the early days of fashion-hungry Bangalore at Commercial Street which had RJP, Rohit Bal, Anita Dongre and few more well-known designers. RJP always stole my heart with his fine cotton and minimalist design sensibility.

RJP is famous for his pintuck kurtas and remarkable indigos. I had to attend an elite function at Bombay; a very important second wedding of a friend. I had to look the part, so I choose this black cutwork kurta over a white crinkled skirt to wear for one of the evenings. It was my first Rajesh Pratap Singh ensemble. Cutwork is typically a technique where you cut the fabric, resulting in holes, which is reinforced with embroidery or needle lace. It originates in Italy and is called Punto Tagliato. Renaissance was the period of new things and cutwork began in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. And even in the fashion world of today, cutwork is very much prevalent and is also called lace. The hand cutwork is one of the most traditional forms of this art.

As a child, I still recall the sari petticoats that were dried in the sun with cutwork on its edges. Our home linen had cutwork on them. So cutwork was a natural draw to my senses. Senses that were carved from nostalgia and memory. RJP cutwork kurta makes me feel sensual without baring much. The arms on one side have the cutwork that reaches up to my shoulder blades. It fits like a dream and black makes me feel sexy, desirable and shapely. In spite of the PMS bingeing, black is so forgiving. Just like how a gentleman should be. Most women over time stop listening to the voice of their bodies and the need to be cherished. Just as we are flawed or perfect. Because beauty is a factory idea, created by the advertising lobby. Real women have fat and bad moods.

Like great love stories where there is passion, romance and my favourite word called Ishq.RJP with his signature pintuck kurtas and this cutwork design makes me crave for the moonlight on my shoulder blades and my lover finding spaces to kiss away my loneliness between the neatly cut fabric. Exposing just that much and more.

 

 

 

Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Introduction, Lifestyle, Own Life Story, Tradition

Firdaus Is Omnipresent

February 26, 2019
Firdaus

The sound of the marching boots and the incessant screams of the tribals fighting for their land reverberated into the stillness of the chilly evenings. Evening fell early on those eerie mountains and the morning sun broke through the dark clouds very early. It was the night of 25th December 1982 that I recall clearly. A bunch of Khasi men trying to enter the compound of my home and attempting to light up the meter box. I stood stricken as Ma held on to the boti that she used to cut her fish, instructing me to be brave.
“They are cowards, we have no fear”, said Ma to console me.

My young mind knew she was lying because her frail body was shivering. I understood that to face fear you need to lose fear. The Khasis were opening the meter box and screaming Dokhar, Dokhar! And just like the Gods above were deciding we needed to live longer, the CRPF marched close above our heads and the insurgents ran as fast as lighting into the bamboo forests opposite our home. We just kissed death and stood holding on to each other like a boulder withstanding the raging seas.

Truth be told, the mountain people were a peaceful lot. Till the Bangladeshi refugees starting infiltrating into the crevices of the hill. They were insecure about this new phenomenon and one day they decided to take the law into their hands and finish the evil from its roots. They caught every Bengali on the dark streets and punched them till they bled uncontrollably.

The Centre was cut off from this part of India. They didn’t understand the differences between the various tribes and their culture. The Centre intervened by sending the CRPF force with a shoot at sight order.

My school was suddenly shut and the grey-white building looked like a forlorn ghost waiting to be lit again. I didn’t miss school much as I disliked the discrimination against the Bengali students which the nuns too practised those days. The Khasis hated the Bengalis like plague. And I was their easiest target because Baba didn’t stay and I was just suddenly made aware of this reality. In spite of the matrilineal society structure, I felt aware of being a girl in the Khasi land.

The men made lewd gestures but didn’t ever touch. They said mean things about Ma but they never physically harmed any woman. The men were targeted to be butchered.

Just as the CRPF walked past, I saw Ma call a jawan & in her impeccable Delhi Hindi, she told him, that she lived alone with her little girl. She wanted to give them water to drink every time they were tired of marching. They agreed readily because water in the hills is difficult to get and arduous to carry. I saw her carry a bucket with a glass on the side and keeping it outside our gate. I knew she was smarter than the Khasis and the CRPF forces. She gave them deluge in her demure way and protected her daughter and herself from being burnt alive in that wooden home. I learnt the word jugad that day at a tender age of 10.

The CRPF became first name acquaintances. I knew she was putting her best foot forward to keep them happy. They were gullible to affection. She didn’t voice her truth to me, but I I could see her, much more than others did. Her shared sorrow of loneliness, survival and cunning was all visible to me. As she negotiated life, insurgents, army and her patriarchal surroundings of judgement. She still wore her hair in a neat bun and her crisp cotton sari. I realised she was not the one who would ever give up on life and living.

As I take out my red sari, I remember how in that environment of hate, Ma gave me this red sari and said every time you feel lesser, wear your sari and your courage like an embellishment from the Universe above. Once the sheen of courage reaches your eyes, the wrinkles fade, the grey ceases to matter and what remains is your grace and gratitude of your life experiences.

I call this Firdaus which means paradise.

May each of us finds “Firdaus” in the mundane and the marvellous.

Indian Fashion, Introduction, Lifestyle, Own Life Story, Tradition

A Year Gone By

December 31, 2018
NY2019

Let me begin with folded hands and express how truly blessed I feel with you all. I am here today because of you. My heart is full of gratitude, with your support. I was reluctant and skeptical, all of last year when I began MoodyMo.

Having gotten used to always failing and never being able to follow any project to its end. I lost interest midway because household responsibilities had a way of showing up every time. I needed the discipline to surge ahead. The lull of monotony was an easier tune to follow.

It was easier to cry into my pillow and recall the past glory of winning and consoling myself that whatever happens and has happened was for the best in life. I had numerous friends tell me what a charmed life I had. They were blind to where and how I had gotten there. I felt debilitated of being in a crowd full of people, happy only on the surface. I was crying inside because I felt a deep sense of loneliness amongst the crowd. The past few years had taken its toll on me.

I met people to overcome my boredom yet I was left more lonely. Most were cruel, quick to judge and it was always about winning an argument in most get-togethers. My old trusted, rusty friends told me: hey why don’t you write? We still have your notes from college and school. I was always procrastinating their good advice. After all, it was easier to drink on a Saturday evening to dull the ache and get over the hangover on Sunday. The week would somehow pass with a lunch thrown in between and sometimes a film or a coffee. Yet, I was alone in the midst of it all.

I can’t remember that moment of epiphany. But looking back and to pin it to this journey. I thank my dear foes for releasing me from their complex hatred and resentment. I nurtured anger all of last year, reasoning and reminiscing. Recalling the utter meanness and the humiliation I faced from close relationships. Because only the people you love, are the ones with the ability to hurt you the most.

And my vulnerability of being lonely, I allowed that behaviour towards me. Like most of us, we reason with our loved ones when they make us feel lesser. It was okay to be insulted. After all, it’s easier to hear our flaws being pointed out loud because we are not used to being lauded loudly. Conditioning tells us to be modest always.

I felt fat, sad and extremely lonely. The loud whisper became a crescendo inside my heart. It said to express and bleed with ink.

It was one noon that Karma knocked on my door. My blog inspiration walked into my life and said give me time. I will help you and you do nothing. Just write as much as you can. I was sure I was wasting his time and with all honesty told him. I won’t succeed. He said honesty never fails ever. Technology is surging ahead and people would read you on their phones and computers. But an honest read will always be treasured.

My closest people broke me in ways more than one. But I realise I am too tough to be taken down. That angered them more. They saw their insecurities in me.

I thank all the people who left me when I was unwell, heartbroken, insecure. I hope they never return because that journey is over.

This new journey is about you and me. You have helped me reach here. To all my readers and followers, a big thank you. You have healed me without meeting me. We only met with our words and mid-sentence I stopped to sigh when I saw a “like” or a “heart emoticon” on my story.

2018 was a year of change and a realization that pain, unhappiness, love, ugly and beautiful is transient.

MoodyMo is nothing without you. Thank you. Wishing you a fantastic 2019.

 

Indian culture, Introduction, Lifestyle, Tradition, Travel

Devi Also The Diva

November 12, 2018
Devi Also The Diva

The sharp cries of a woman from her window in Delhi’s tony locality of Lodhi Road, never left my mind. It was ‘’Karwachauth’’, a day celebrated by married women all across India fasting and praying for the long life  of their husband and not eating till they see the moon. They break their day long fast ,they dress up in the fineries, jewellery & are resplendent in all the attire they gather to thwart all pangs of hunger to prove love for their spouse.

This was a turning point in my young mind of 14, I used to wonder why my Bengali mother never fasted ever for my father. My home never had loud ruckus arguments where Baba would be so angry that Ma wouldn’t talk. It was always a democratic environment where each of us were encouraged to express how we felt emotionally towards a situation.

The debates were essentially about a political leaning or mainly about the tempering used in the meticulously cut vegetable dish. I knew I would never wear jewellery to pray for my husbands long life. At 14 I knew it was archaic and again extremely patriarchal.

This trip to Delhi took me to the same lane of Lodhi Colony and I found the landscape had changed. There was a designers market where upmarket brands were shoulder to shoulder in their store window display.

Leaving Delhi has brought about a massive shift in attitude towards brands and prices. I don’t seem to appreciate the sequins or the shiny stones on clothing and I much rather have that on my cushion and sofa bolsters.

I walked into this jewellery and accessories store and it was again Lodi Colony. I tried hard to soften that muffled sound of  anguish of that woman in my head to no avail. I find myself searching for a refuge and constantly seeking louder sounds to dull out that unforgettable sound that is so easy to recall.

The cry used to haunt me and I often thought of her in her home with the tiny window that had her shrieks. I was desperately seeking a closure of her pain in my head. After all I didn’t know her, but even then & more clearer today I can understand her sorrow. Her husband was an alcoholic abusive man. As I heard and enquired that time from the neighbourhood. I don’t know why she never leaves my head.

In that tony locality to numb the conversation in my head. I knew retail was the answer. I walked inside a store with accessories and what caught my eye was a shell pink bracelet. I picked up the bracelet, that said Devi on his clasp with baby  pink beads. It was symbolic of the delicate nature of women and the strong gold clasp of Devi in Hindi alphabets in between.

The Devi is there in each of you reading this piece. Some Devis just have tremendous amount of emotional resilience and deep empathy to trudge on in spite of the surroundings and some Devis are strong enough to walk away from situations that hinder their speech, voice, growth and desire.

I wear the Devi bracelet  almost everywhere like a talisman that reminds me of my inner strength. A Devi always says ‘’don’t mess with my mind because if I wish, I can be of the ruthless kind’’.

Introduction

Another Day But Always My Way!

July 18, 2018

Reaching the wiser side of 40 is when you have shed so much of your inhibitions and you discover the unhindered part of your personality that was hindered so long. You have by now maybe settled the children and gotten into an unspoken tango with your spouse, or you have figured out that you are not the one to settle down into the monotony of matrimony. But we continue to seek the uncharted territory of reality and the dream you have tucked away into the corner of your mind. Like the dust settled on your furniture you dust your mind and clear out the debris. You finally learn to speak freely.

I wanted to express myself since I remember I learnt to speak. I always noticed the sad eyes of a passerby and I noticed the glee in a stranger. I wanted to always have a meaningful conversation and share my stories of lost love, lost innocence and new found freedom. But it was always thwarted because you have to learn to speak the voice of consent. What I learnt over the years of being a mother, wife, daughter and above all a woman is she needs to express what is acceptable to the majority and anything outside that exterior major consent is considered indecent and inappropriate. I am now fatigued being the one towing the line. I wish to walk out of line, ruffle your feathers with my honesty and a whole lot of love and hope. I want to share my journey with whoever can relate to being raised as a minority in a state rife with hatred toward you and eventually be moving into the big city that has larger spaces and larger hearts but a very large gaping hole that can swallow you into its oblivion.

To each of us who search for the elusive rainbow in our grey skies and often bask in the supple sunshine of our souls. To all we beautifully flawed and perfect human beings I hope you enjoy reading my posts. I grew up in insurgency-ridden Shillong and was taught to run away every time I was accosted for being a Bengali who was hated those days. I felt rebellion color my cheeks every time I was pushed by a Khasi on the road itching for a fight, I lowered my gaze and my voice and under my breath used expletives but didn’t dare tell him or her what a coward I think he or she was. It saddened me but could not break me.

With the hope of not being harassed anymore for being a Bengali and a minority. We overnight ran away to Delhi in search of a cosmopolitan life and the familiarity with the city that my ma grew up in. I did not get a chance to say my goodbye to my childhood friends and cousins. I was too young to comprehend that I was just passing away a chapter of my life that would be etched forever in my heart. Even today on rainy days I recall the wet roads and the folded umbrellas that had stories hidden inside them.

I thought I had found my coveted long lost friend called freedom. Freedom to be me. But Alas! I learnt soon that here too I had to thwart men and their advances by acting coy and towing the line of what was considered appropriate. I had to wear my dupatta over my growing breasts because anything showing would be considered an invite. I was 13 yet going to 30 in my head and heart. I was always worried if I displeased the moral police or even my extended family members. They could see the fire in my eyes and the hunger in my belly to express. I was always told please keep quiet and lower your gaze and speak like a lady. I resented that friendly advice because I knew it wasn’t friendly. Over the years learnt that my tiny heart had so much capacity to forgive and forget but it needed to be expressed.

Met a motley group of men, women, artists, writers, bankers and above all met myself at this juncture where I needed to cry, shout and write it out like a cleansing of sorts. Every time I feel the world is heavy on my shoulders I listen to music, wear a nice dress or a sari to feel happy with the fabric swathed all over me. It may be considered very plebian to find joy in dressing the part. But have you met anyone who does not smile when you tell them that they are looking nice?

So, It has been a long journey of finding those little moments when I stand near the mirror and really love myself. I liked myself at 75 kilos and I like myself today many kilos lesser. It was the simple thing called celebrating life and a deep down satisfaction that no one could get me down.

To those happy and not so happy interactions between the animate and inanimate connections, I dedicate my blogs.
I thank all the good, bad, the righteous, conformists and the non-conformists not to mention the morons who taught me to be kinder when they made me feel lesser and taught me lessons of empathy. They showed me how one can feel when one is judged or shamed for color, desire, age, body weight and all the things that make us beautifully flawed human beings.

To those and the journey ahead is MoodyMo – Another Day But Always My Way!!!