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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.

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.

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.

Accessories

Wood and Word

May 17, 2019
Moody Mo

London is one of my favourite cities in the world. I seem to just blend in with the cosmopolitan vibe of that city. The English weather and the tea sessions with scones are a few of my favourite things. As usual, my last visit a few months back was filled with trepidation of meeting my son who is studying there. I wanted to see how well he is doing there, without me and his first six months away from home. I was hoping he would be teary-eyed to see me and tell me how much he missed home. To my utter horror, he looked fairer, happier and had a hint of a slightly proper British accent. I asked him if he missed India and he said not yet. I tried hard to tell him home is where Mom is. And continued my barrage of questions and asked what was his favourite thing to do in London? He said the women are beautiful and he loved watching the pretty girls.  He saw my face and quickly added he enjoyed to study and be in his room reading and overlooking the roads below and the buildings ahead. The little liar!

I settled after the jet lag and must admit it wasn’t a bad one. He told me after you have rested, will take you to my favourite places. I told him I wanted to especially go to Camden market. The vibe of Camden had an irresistible urge for me to feel like an unnamed person in that confluence of different cultures.

brown black finger ring

brown black finger ring

There were different stores selling kitschy art, jewellery and bags that shouted loud “FAKE CC” and glasses and artists who sell handmade silk flowers on chokers, earrings and finger rings.

I realised I just gravitate towards the non-conforming fashion forward movement. And I was awestruck with this store in Camden that was called Shanti. I knew I would find a hungover British selling Karma bracelets, incense sticks and Ganesha statues.

Her store in Camden had the most beautiful delicate pieces of jewellery made with stones, metal and wood.

I smiled at her and she wasn’t sure if I was Indian or Spanish. She saw me admire the wooden finger ring. And in her typical English customary greeting, she asked me “Love you want that one”? I was taken aback because my first response would be “I love you too”. I composed myself and realised I am in London where it’s good manners to say darling, love and exclaim your appreciation or trepidation with “Good Gracious Me”!

I tried the ring on and she said again “Love if you want it you can take it, but you can’t try it on”. I was embarrassed but with practised composure, I told her “Love I want that packed”. She told me I had a good choice and only I had noticed the various gradation in the seasoned wood colour of the ring. I hadn’t noticed but didn’t want to tell her that. I was pleased with myself in keeping quiet.

She packed my ring and as I was leaving the store, I overheard her telling another customer, “Love you got good choice”. I just learnt that to be a good sales lady you have to pump your customers’ ego and make them feel special.

I sit with my brown-black finger ring and can’t find much gradation in the colours but I surely know that when I meet my friends I exclaim, “Love you look super today”! And I always get a smile back. I just learnt love is a universal emotion and everyone craves to hear it and to be able to respond back too.

Camden is a haunt for all things eclectic and kitschy. The ring is one of my favourites, among my collection of London memorabilia. As I wait for my ale and fish fingers with tartare sauce. My Shanti ring sits pretty on my fingers.

Accessories

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

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, Travel

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’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.