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accessory

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

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, 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.

Accessories

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. 

Clothing

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.

Clothing

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.