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Bengali New Year, Indian culture, Own Life Story, Tradition

1426 In My Lunisolar Calendar

April 14, 2019
Moody Mo

It’s that time of the year again. When the roots come barging into my being. I never knew how it had such a stronghold in the essence of me being me.
Today is Poila Boisakh, the Bengali new year. To most others its ludicrous to celebrate new year in April. But to me it is a celebration of being with my quintessential Bengali parents and relatives who won’t stop discussing the freshness of a fish or the difference between the coveted Padma River Hilsa versus the Ganga Hilsa. We also talk about the latest films while lamenting the lost glory of Ray, Ghatak and the Sens.
As I sit among them we are transported into Calcutta. The shopkeepers today have started a new ledge book as the tram moves slowly through the April summer roads of my soul city. The Ganga flows unhindered towards an unknown gushing of new tidings. The lone rickshaw puller knows today is a bad day for business, because most are busy cooking and playing old Bengali songs.
I watch detached yet I know deep down how attached I am to being a Bengali. Speaking my language of love, eating my comfort food and arguing that businessmen don’t create a nation or society. It’s always the thinkers, poets, artists, musicians and academicians who bring in the new wave of thinking towards a progressive society. This is as Bengali as it gets today. Tomorrow I will be the cosmopolitan woman that I am…but tomorrow can wait.
Subho Poila Boisakh

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.

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

Firdaus Is Omnipresent

February 26, 2019

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.

Fashion Clothes, Gender, Lifestyle, Own Life Story

Frida Kahlo And Her Refusal To Accept The Rules

February 20, 2019
”I hope the leaving is joyful; and I hope to never return” 

Frida Kahlo was an iconic artist from Mexico who painted portraits, of pain and passion. Women all over will remember her till time to come, for her unashamed rebellion against the norm. She had polio as a child and nearly died in a tram accident. During that time, with a broken rib and multiple fractures, she painted her anguish on to the canvas. She took Mexican folk art to a world platform with her attitude on her sleeves. Feminists world over lauded her for her unconventional choices.

Her view on sexuality wasn’t restricted with what society deemed right and wrong. She loved deeply and was hurt deeply, in her multiple relationships with men and women. She grew as a person to become a better lover, artist and celebrated every moment of her failing and falling. When we say beauty is skin deep, which holds true for her because she is known for flaunting her facial hair, her uni-brow and carried her limp with style. She chooses to wear Mexican weaves and art on her clothing. She met the much married Riviera Diego, an artist par excellence, who taught her to paint. She later married Diego and became great friends with his wife. While in the relationship that was tumultuous and full of passion, she found her art. They were both artists who loved Mexico and while being married to each other were not scared to experience love and life with others. Diego was her anchor and she was his.

 Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

Frida’s flowers on her head were like a crown that she wore. They were symbolic of her free nature, her free style. She truly embodies that style is not restricted to trends in fashion. It is what you make out of your choice in clothing that becomes your statement. A statement, which you eventually choose as your external identity. She wore Mexico all over the world with pride.

I recall one chilly nippy winter month on my visit to Paris; I read that there was a museum displaying Diego and Frida’s art. I wasted no time in booking the tickets for the show. Crossed over the river Sienna, the bridge which was filled with locks that lovers had put on the bridge and threw away the keys into the river with a promise to be forever together.

My little boy asked me if I too wanted a lock and I replied “no”. I held his grubby little hand in mine, feeling the wind on my face and in my heart I knew we all break promises. Relationships that do not celebrate the evolution of one another remain stunted like the stale odour of a dead horse being flogged to ride and move.

I picked my tickets, grabbed my black coffee and croissant and walked inside the gallery. Diego’s art was sublime, whereas Frida’s art had her anguish all over the canvas. Her aborted children, her bedridden state of wanting to break free yet confined. Her art was full of pain and also a celebration of that growth which comes out of that pain. I am drawn to anything that has Frida Kahlo on its cover. I feel her energy embody my rebellious mind.

Obedience to society and its conditioning. I know, it’s a long battle for women to be sexually free. But I have hope…

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

A Year Gone By

December 31, 2018

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.


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

Clips For The Hair Knot

December 24, 2018
Hair Clip

Most of the women I knew from the memory of my sepia-tinted childhood, wore long hair & tied them in a high bun fastened with a pin or a long braid that fell over the back like a snake. Hair was the beauty accessory that you flaunt during family gatherings and festivities. On weekends they washed their hair and let it loose to dry.

It was a vision of beauty combined with subdued sensuality. Those days, you are not allowed to express your sexuality with too much candour. I still recall my grandmother rebuking me to do my hair in a long braid tied at the ends with ribbons. It was an unspoken rule to keep everything in control, your desire, your thoughts, your voice, your consent and not to forget your tresses.

And it was one of those gentle summer evenings, the rain god was threatening to break into a thunderous revolt. I heard that Mrinalini Di had an artist guest visiting her. He was adept with his hands in creating jewellery and filigree work. He had done magic with silver and gold. Mrinalini had never met him & told me that I hope it’s not too long and arduous to spend time explaining the design concepts. She seemed unsure of her decision to invite him over.

I was spending my summer with them. Mrinalini was my Pishi’s daughter. Pishi in Bengali is your father’s sister. And pishi was the matriarch who everyone looked up to. Mrinalini was confident and had an easy pleasant personality with a rare combination of wit, creativity and charm. To her trepidation, the day dawned & the rains were torrential. There was a knock on the wooden doors. He stood in the doorway with a small bag, reticent but with the confidence of an unspoken journey that had marked his face. He was handsome with his gentle demeanour.

He shyly smiled at me. I was only 15 and I flashed him my grin. Mrinalini took his bags in and asked him if he wanted tea. He politely said yes. That evening we sat quietly eating dinner. Post dinner I said my goodnight. Strangely that night I saw Mrinalini was disturbed with his all-encompassing creative energy around her. She wished it would end soon. But I knew this looked like a long-term plan from above for Mrinalini. The universe had wished her this.

Silver Hair Pins

Silver Hair Pins


Next morning he showed her the silver pins he had designed. He gave her the pins & said it would look nice on a woman’s hair knot. Mrinalini was uncomfortable in his presence because it was gently coaxing into a dormant desire in her, to learn more about him and his art. She tried to spend as little time as she could away from him. But desire is like an unhindered river that gushes without any warning. It envelopes you and gnaws with an annoying uncontrollable force reminding you that your spirituality lies inside that warm heart in each of us. That sometimes becomes cold with life experiences. It’s like that wild river waiting to find its embankment and nourish all the flowers growing at its edges. It’s called the water of life.

Mrinalini decided to show him the house. They walked into a room and he was explaining to her about art and the different mediums of colours on canvas. He told her about Gustav Klimt and his favourite painting of the kiss by Klimt.

Mrinalini turned around to look into his eyes. He held her and kissed her with a passion that even my 15-year-old heart could fathom. That Mrinalini had found her embankment in his hands and his spirit. He took the pins out from his pocket and adorned her hair knot. He held her and touched her like a work of art. I watched Mrinalini’s face and the shine in his eyes. I shut that door and left them both together. He was so close yet so far from her reality of who she had become.

He left in two days & I never asked her whatever happened to him. Mrinalini wears those clips and some days looks lost, and when I ask her, why she is sad? She told me that “ I untied my long tresses to feel abandon and I can’t be free again. Those pins jab me into reckoning that what we desire in life remains unrequited”.

This beauty of unrequited love and Klimt in the corner of her room stares back into me long after Mrinalini left.

I know the hair knot will remain untied from within, but to the outside world, Mrinalini remains the charming, controlled beauty who tasted the beast of hell. Burnt in that desire and knows that being hindered is the only way ahead. However arduous that may be.


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

The Universe Dares You To Walk The Unknown

December 17, 2018

It was the winter sun that casts its shadow at the far end of the horizon. The gates were shutting and the fierce walls of the desert fortress would shut. It was the setting sun of Jaisalmer.

Also called Shonar kella. Made most famous by the master filmmaker, Satyajit Ray. His eternal celluloid work of art remains a children’s favourite film. There I stood staring at this magnanimous structure, half lit and half dark with stories in the coloured glass windows of the homes in that fortress.

The golden walls amid that harsh, dry landscape and the deafening silence of the fortress is broken with the brightly dyed clothes of the Thar desert folks. The camels had done their day of work, resting with their hump juxtaposed against the colourless landscape.  The only coloured vision of the turbans and the sparse white Dhoti Kurta against the fading winter sun, cast a spell like it was god’s evil scheme of making me trip over for a long time after.

This was my first trip into Jaisalmer. The Thar desert devoid of any cultivation and the only thing visible was sand dunes followed by another dune that had no end. I sat on my long awaited camel ride with my baby and showed him the cactus growing unhindered unabashedly here & there. It almost seemed to rebel against its natural habitat. It stood up against the raging fierce sun and no water, mocking at the inhabitable surroundings. I heard them say fiercely. “ I will grow and thrive in spite of you”.

There was a storm brewing ahead and a bunch of women had come to fill water in their matkas or earthen pots, they wore the Ghagra Choli & wore leather jhootis.

Those jhootis were minimalist in design but sturdy. It was unisex footwear for the strong Rajasthani people. The stoic folk both wear the minimalist black or brown jhootis to trudge into this harsh landscape, in search of livelihood and sometimes their destination ahead.



I sit and marvel at the strength of those shoes. They trudge miles on end in search of water. Braving the burning sun, the harsh winters, the sandstorms and at times the camel refusing to move & rebelliously goes down on its haunches. I am humbled with this story of resilience in the kohl rimmed eyes of the desert people.

The women wear the jhootis with a flair that no other can. Their thick anklets around their feet and the swathes of fabric of their coloured skirts just higher than the heel, catches the dust and sun and continued to trudge ahead. It’s an untold story that only the wanderer and its wandering search would know.

Returning to the city after this surreal trip of the sun playing hide and seek games on the fortress walls of Jaisalmer is not easy. It keeps tugging you back into its romance. Returning to see all around you the western styled sandals and you are forced to remember the black, brown jhootis.

Many designers today create colourful jhootis. That are hand embroidered and made of silk & sequins. But my favourite remains the minimalist handmade Rajasthani leather unisex jhootis worn by the desert wanderers and the camel riders. A vision that stays entrenched in my soul.

All I can envision is the magic hour ahead and dark brown weathered legs wearing the worn out jhootis. It hangs like a story untold. It goads me to ask and hear. After the many miles that you have walked, trudged. Did you finally reach your destination?

I try to put my foot into their shoes and I try to know their stoic story of walking the unknown. On their way, they must have come face to face with unfathomable secrets of themselves. Will it ever reach their own ears. Or would their stories also remain untold, unheard and unsung like most of us. We keep some of our truth hidden from others. Stories of valour, love and moments of epiphany. Would it have changed them in any way ever?

Jaisalmer and the desert dunes remain immortal in my love stuck story of wanderlust.


Fashion Clothes, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Lifestyle, Own Life Story, Tradition, Travel

Song Of Sanganer

December 13, 2018

Traveling to Jaipur with school friends for my birthday was a trip reminiscing the days of no money. Fights over some grace marks to make it through some exam, somewhere deep conversations about lost friendships, our first love and how life was slowly changing shape in our eyes. What seemed important earlier isn’t so any longer. What we craved for seemed so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. We spoke about losing parents, divorce, children flying the nest. Most evenings we dressed up to drink in style and fight over which song to sing or hear. As the night progressed the voices got louder, we laughed at all our heartbreak and recalled the stupid men we loved and lost. We also promised friendship that would last as long as we could take a trip together and visit each other’s homes. As the night progressed the vodka was finally doing all the conversations. Crying, laughing and blown we planned the next day itinerary to visit Sanganer.

The promise was to start early but as always vodka decides when we can pull ourselves out of that haze of the night before. We all sauntered out at the nick of breakfast closing time. Again forgot time sat and eventually decided to take the dusty road to Sanganer village, the hub for block printing of Rajasthan. It was a fun road trip into the narrow lanes with traders selling wholesale fabrics. There were shops that sold bed linen with the typical dyes and motifs of Rajasthan.

Sanganer town is known world over for its colourful block printed textiles and hand made paper. Most tourists are taken on that route for an excursion to witness the micro, small and medium printing units running in that little town. The people there are dependent on the Sanganeri print industry for their livelihood. It’s an art form that has been passed on through the generations.

Rajasthan being a dry arid land, the dye from Sanganer has the Saraswati river water that flows through the colours of the print that is radiant of the naturally dyed fabric.

This art form is 500 years old, it gained popularity in the 16th and 17th centuries in all European countries with its calico prints. It was one of the major exports from the East India Company. The Chhipa caste engage in this block printing technique and is a coveted art form and the pride of so many homes outside Sanganer.  The aesthetic styles just adds so much sophistication to a drab ambiance in any home or a garment with its traditional motifs and the colour scheme.

In Sanganer we see the perfect union of the two most volatile religions of India create art together. The Chhipas are Hindus and they are involved in the washing,  dyeing, and the printing process. The block makers are the Muslims of Sanganer. A lesson which the rest of India could learn from this sleepy, dusty town forgotten by us city dwellers.

As I went mad seeing all the swathes of fabric around me. I picked up my bag with the loot of  Sanganer. I realised I was carrying marigold, peacocks, jasmine and javakusum flowers in my memory of the holiday. And I know everytime I wear the fabric I bought from that dusty town, the fragrance of the river and the mud scent stays on my body. I know I can also remember the silence with which we drove back from that trip. Each of us prisoners in our thoughts, hoping next year would be different from this one.

We trudge on and Sanganer continues with its belief that no matter what. Art will live a life full, in its fabrics, music and the fading sun of Rajasthan.

Sanganer is a song that needs no tune, it’s hums on its own scales, reaching a crescendo, that beauty, art, and belief are immortal in this universe.