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Indian art and craft, Jaipur, Ram Kishore Derewala

उमस भरी दोपहरी में सुंदर, सादे, सूती बगरु की ठंडक !

April 24, 2019
Ram Kishore Derewala

राजस्थान की भूमि मुपानी ग़ल वास्तुकला और हिंदू राजपूत संवेदनाओं का एक संयोजन है।वहाँ की शुष्क एवम् बंजर ज़मीन में भले ही की कमी हो लेकिन वहाँ के लोगों में रेगिस्तानी मज़बूती की कोई कमी नहीं है। धार्मिक विविधता और कठोर मौसम के इस संगम में, सपने देखने वाले भी हैं। ऐसे ही एक व्यक्ति हैं जयपुर के राम किशोर डेरवाला। एक राष्ट्रीय पुरस्कार विजेता और पद्मश्री से नवाजे जाने वाले, वह राजस्थान के ब्लाक प्रिंटिंग आर्ट के पारम्परिक शिल्प में अपने अटूट प्रेम और विश्वास के साथ अग्रसर हैं।

जब मैंने उनसे बात की , तब मैं एक कलाकार की सादगी से काफ़ी प्रभावित हुई जो अप्राकृतिक कपड़ों और मशीन मुद्रित कारखाने के कपड़ों की तेज़ी से बढ़ती व्यावसायिक दुनिया से अनजान था। उन्होंने मुझे अपनी विश्वास और प्रेम की कहानी बतायी और साथ ही शिल्पकार के रूप में अपनी यात्रा के बारे में बताया। उन्हें पूरा यक़ीन था की उनकी अगली पीढ़ियाँ भी ब्लाक प्रिंटिंग की इस परम्परा का पालन करेंगी। उनका ये विश्वास देखकर मैं चकित थी। ब्लाक प्रिंटिंग के साथ उनका विश्वास और एक दिव्य सम्बंध था जो कि उनके अनुसार शाश्वत रहेगा। जीवन के चक्र की तरह ही यह हमेशा की तरह जारी रहेगा। उन्होंने मुझे आत्मविश्वास और ज़बरदस्त धैर्य के साथ बताया की यह समय के साथ और बेहतर होगा।

Moody Mo

Moody Mo


प्रसाद बिदापा भी एक स्वप्न देखने वाले हैं और साथ ही आस्तिक भी। उनके साथ हर बातचीत में कला और शिल्प के प्रति उनके जुनून को महसूस कर सकते हैं। उन्होंने बैंगलोर में अपने संस्थान में डेरवाला के संग्रह का प्रदर्शन किया। मेरा सौभाग्य था की मुझे उन मॉडल्ज़ पर रंगों, कपड़ों और प्रिंटों की सारणी देखने को मिली, जिन्होंने महान भारतीय कला और शिल्प के सार के साथ मंच को धार दी। प्रसाद एक उत्साही शिल्प योद्धा हैं, जो चीज़ उन्हें बाक़ियों से अलग करती है, अपने सरल व्यक्तित्व से दिल चुरा लेते हैं और साथ ही साथ हमारे देश के कई अनसुने शिल्पकार को एक मंच प्रदान करते हैं। मैं विसमय और प्रशंसा में बैठकर तमाशा देख रही थी और महसूस कर रही थी की भारतीय कला और शिल्प के बिना मेरे कपड़ों के संग्रह की कल्पना करना भी नामुमकिन है। यह मेरी जड़ें हैं।

जैसा कि मैंने सफ़ेद बगरू प्रिंटेड चन्देरी पर सफ़ेद कपड़े पहने हैं , मेरी साड़ी के बॉर्डर पर सोने की धार है। मैं जानती हूँ कि इसने भारत के धार्मिक विभाजन की संकीर्ण सीमाओं को पार कर लिया है। ब्लाक बनाने की यह कला राजस्थान के चिपास द्वारा बनायी गयी है। वे मुस्लिम समुदाय हैं जो ब्लाक बनाने में मास्टर कारीगर हैं। हिंदू प्राकृतिक रंगो को सरस्वती नदी के पानी के साथ मिलाकर बनाते हैं। और अंत में जो बनता है वो ऐसा कपड़ा है जो दो समुदायों की दिव्यता और लचीलेपन को दर्शाता है, जो बहादुरी से प्रेरित होता है।


राजस्थान की यात्रा हर सर्दियों में एक वार्षिक अनुशठान की तरह की जाती है। और प्रत्येक यात्रा मुझे अलग अलग तरीक़ों से हर बार छूती है। जैसे ही क़िलों पर सूर्य अस्त होता है, मैं आराम से बैठकर अज्ञात रूप से सुकून के साथ आँहें भरती हूँ। लुप्त होती किरणों की सुनहरी रोशनी अपने रहस्य को उन दीवारों पर उकेरती हैं जिन्मे कई कहानियाँ अनकही हैं। मुझे पता है कि हम कला और संस्कृति के एक ज्वालामुखी पर बैठे हैं, जिसने अभी तक इसका शिखर नहीं देखा है। जैसे ही उस गुलाबी शहर के हर घर में रोशनी बंद होती है, एक कलाकार अपने कपड़े के कैन्वस पर जादू पैदा करने के साथ पैदा होता है, जिसे उम्मीद है कि दुनिया उसके काम को स्वीकार करेगी और साथ ही उससे होने वाली आमदनी उसे अपना जुनून पूरा करने के लिए बहादुरी देगी। 

Ram Kishore Derewala

Ram Kishore Derewala


शिल्पों का समर्थन करने के मेरे लघु तरीक़े में, बहुत ही सजगता से, मैंने कभी किसी कलाकार के साथ भाव तोल ( ख़रीद फ़रोख़्त) नहीं किया। मेरी आत्मा रोती है क्यूँकि मैं जानती हूँ कि मैं उस ऊर्जा को कभी उतनी गहरायी से नहीं समझ सकती जो मास्टरपीस बनाने में चली गयी। 

जब मैं अपनी राम किशोर डेरेवाला साड़ी पहनकर निकली, मुझे सफ़ेद पोशाक में सुहावनी हवा का एहसास हुआ , जिसने मुझे अपनी प्राचीन रोशनी से ढाँक दिया। मैं जानती हूँ की कपड़े की बारीकी और उसे पहनने के प्रति मेरी प्रतिबद्धता काफ़ी लोगों को आकर्षित करती है। यह क्षण मायने रखता है क्यूँकि यह अब मेरी अनंत काल है।कल की अवधारणा अज्ञात है और शिल्प के लिए मेरा यह युद्ध हमेशा के लिए जारी रहेगा।

गरमियों में चलने वाली शुष्क हवाएँ इस निरंतर परिवर्तन नामक बदलाव की याद दिलाती हैं। मौसम की तरह ही फ़ैशन भी बदलता है लेकिन शिल्प स्थिर रहता है। 

Indian art and craft, Jaipur, Ram Kishore Derewala

The Bountiful Bagru Prints On A Summer Noon

April 24, 2019
Ram Kishore Derewala

Mughal architecture with a fusion of the Hindu Rajput sensibilities is what the land of Rajasthan is all about. In that arid, dry landscape where water is a scarcity, we have the sturdy resilience of the desert people. And in this confluence of religious diversity and harsh weather, there are the dreamers. One such dreamer is Ram Kishore Derewala from Jaipur. A national award winner and proud recipient of the Padmashri, he marches on with his undying love and belief in the traditional craft of the block printing art of Rajasthan.

As I spoke to him, I was engulfed with the simplicity of an artist who was blissfully unaware of the fast growing commercial world of unnatural fabrics and machine printed factory clothing. He told me his story of faith and love and his journey as a craftsman. What moved me was his faith, he was very sure that his next generations would also follow this tradition of block printing. He had trust and a divine connection with block printing, that he believes would remain eternal. Just like the cycle of life itself, this would continue forever. He told me with confidence and tremendous grit that this would only get better over time.

Moody Mo

Moody Mo

Prasad Bidapa also is a dreamer and a believer. One can sense the passion towards arts and crafts in every interaction with him. He showcased Derewala’s collection at his Institute in Bangalore. I was fortunate to witness the array of colours, fabrics and prints on models who torched the stage with the very essence of the great Indian art and craft. Prasad being an ardent crafts crusader which sets him apart from the rest, steals my heart with his easy personality and also giving a platform to the many unsung craftsman of our country.  I sat in awe and admiration watching the show and realising I can never have enough of Indian art and craft in my collection of clothing. This is my root.

As I wear the white on white Bagru printed Chanderi, with the minimalist gold edge on the borders of my sari. I know this has crossed the narrow borders of the religious divide of India. This art of block making is created by the Chippas of Rajasthan. They are the Muslim community who are master craftsmen in creating the blocks. The Hindus create the natural dyes mixing it with the Saraswati river water. And finally, what comes together are yards of fabric that has the labour of divinity and resilience of the two communities that continue bravely inspite of the odds.

A trip to Rajasthan is done like an annual ritual every winter. And each trip touches me in different ways every time. As the sun sets on the forts, I sit back and sigh with a comforting sense of the unknown. The golden light of the fading rays casts its mystery on those walls that have so many stories untold. I know we are sitting on a volcano of art and culture that hasn’t seen its pinnacle yet. As the lights go out in every home of that pink city, there is an artist born with the dream of creating magic on the canvas of his or her fabric that they hope the world would acknowledge and the commercial returns would give them the bravery to continue this passion.

Ram Kishore Derewala

Ram Kishore Derewala

In my miniscule way to support the crafts, very consciously, I never negotiate with an artist ever. My soul bleeds because I know I can never fathom the energy that has gone into creating the masterpiece.

As I walk out in my Ram Kishore Derewala sari, I feel breezy in the summer white, enveloping me in its pristine light. I know I am able to make heads turn with the finesse of the fabric and my commitment to the cause. This moment matters because this now is my eternity. The concept of tomorrow is unknown and my crusade for the crafts will continue forever.

The summer dry winds are a reminder of this constant called change. Like seasons fashion too changes. But craft remains constant.

Accessories, bracelet, Ghalib Nazm, Mirza Ghalib

Yearning’s Of A greedy heart.

April 22, 2019
MoodyMo

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

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

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

MoodyMo

MoodyMo

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

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

MoodyMo

MoodyMo

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

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

Accessories, Amruta Dongray, Assam, Indian Fashion, jewellery

Blue Was My Reflection

April 16, 2019
Moody Mo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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, Indian Fashion, Nagaland Jewellery

The Warriors Of Nagaland And Their Jewellery

April 12, 2019
Moody Mo

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

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

Moody Mo

Moody Mo

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fashion Clothes, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Tradition

Saris Folded With An Unheard Prayer

April 10, 2019
MoodyMo

As I entered the dark dank space of my grandmother’s room, I opened the creaking window meshed and unmeshed with cobwebs shining in the soft supple sun rays. Those cobwebs seemed to smile whenever the light fell on them. It was like such a fine art of weaving by the spiders. That light at times gave the cobwebs such character that they shone with an inherent, incredible resilience that only my curious mind could fathom and unfathom its faithfulness or unfaithfulness towards this gift called life. That unlit room had a dark wood wardrobe. In that space of unheard prayers and heard cries was Dida’s grief and grit. I saw the saris kept unused for years now. I was guilty of not giving it the sun. Just like the greedy cobwebs who had taken it all, with its selfishness to live in the grind with grit calling it life. They were not independent and they grew with the love of the nurturing spider that was trying to create a home in the dark space around that home.  

A sari wardrobe meant the world to her. Her unspoken love drama that had separation, unrequited emotions that were wobbling like the sinking boat. Her boat needed to be moored. Her movements were at times shaky and sometimes firm. I saw her dreamboat when she touched the saris. They shook & also became still. Her saris were her refuge. She had matching blouses with her couture collection. Her fashion sensibility was like an ode to her vintage era. Blouses had puffed sleeves and lace. And her saris were worn with elan for her evening soirée with my Dadu, my grandfather and her much older husband. Her couture collection was a mix of Patolas, Jamdani, Benarasi and Tangail, Kantha and there were colours that were tasteful and elegant. When I opened that sari ki almirahs and its heavy wooden door, I could feel her presence around me. I remembered how I saw her change her wardrobe over the years. She wore subtle and bright weaves with the passage of time. Her weaves were a reflection of her mood for the day.

And then overnight, when grandfather passed away. She was just propelled to wear what tradition demanded of her. A frugal, bare white sari with a small border of black, blue or green. It couldn’t even dare to touch a pink, red was a crime. It would mean she was defying the entire identity of wearing her grief on her body. Her hands were shorn of the red & white bangles and all she allowed was thin gold bangles and no earrings or a necklace. My rebellions mind was restless. I told her I missed her red bindi and her beautiful saris draped around her happy hips. She told me her bountiful body was decaying. This is the cycle of nature. Now it was my turn to wear those colours and catch the rainbow on my flight to youth and abundance. She said to strive to be Poornima, Annapurna and Mohua all weaved together in one person. Poornima was the full moonlight teasing your lover, Annapurna was the bountiful paddy fields and Mohua had to grow unhindered and be intoxicated with life. I understood only in my later years.

Her words of wisdom. Her saris won’t be forlorn anymore. I will clean the debris away from the dark dank room and allow light into that wardrobe of life. As I celebrate another day of sun and shade into that space I call freedom. I wear her saris as a reminder of her life, happy, lonely and strikingly beautiful in her appearance. Like the full moon on a dark sky. The light shining and separating me from my past into my present. I hold Dida’s sari against my bosom & I know that a sari is a passing of the guard from one generation to another.  My pink Benarasi sari is one of them from her collections. The silk has become softer but it still holds its place in a crowd of branded svelte ladies. I can feel her essence all around me.

Delhi, Fashion Clothes, Indian Fashion, nostalgia

Cross Stitch Crossed Over

April 8, 2019
Moody Mo

Every time I visit home which still remains Delhi because as the adage goes – once a Delhi girl always one. I never miss visiting Bahri Sons, my favourite book shop at Khan Market, there is also Anokhi with its winding staircase. To my surprise, at the back lane, I found a shop window that had the promise of a good premenstrual syndrome cure. The joy of retail when the world seems like a tilted space and only tilting towards the ones you feel has it all. I opened the glass door with the confidence of a woman who knew the difference between Pinot, Sauvignon and Reisling. The journey has been long from watching the posh who had travelled extensively and knew the difference between their wines and their Bubbly. And me as usual said anything in white wine because I remember my mouth had turned red after a glass of red,  almost like the paan stains that my aunt had, post the Sunday staple Bengali mutton curry rice.

I saw the obnoxiously exorbitant priced clothing that had tons of sequins and gold trimmings. I stared at them thinking and amused, who would wear those garish outfits. But I did quick forgiveness, I knew I was in Delhi, where more is less. My eyes fell upon a wooden bangle that was encased in blue silk with cross-stitch embroidery on it. I found that the bangle fit my wrists which is small in comparison to my ankle. I loved telling the sales girl that I need the smallest size bangle. After those years of having put on weight and my brutally honest father saying, “hey you look square these days”. So asking for the small size is like you talk to yourself reiterating that it’s been a journey.

Cross Stitch has never left my mind ever. I recall this embroidery that we were taught in my school Loreto Convent. It is embroidery that most young girls are taught so that they learn to embroider, record alphabet and sew in her household items to identify its owner. They wanted us to be the epitome of the perfect little women from a Jane Austen novel, who could play the piano, sing do re mi, embroider and say her A and O with the perfect rounding of the lips. Oh damn! I could think of more interesting things to do with rounding my lips.

I think the little rebel in me was growing its little unhindered horns. The day they told me that cross stitch produces a symmetrical image as both warp and weft fabrics are evenly spaced, I knew even surfaces are not for me. My fingers refuse to thread the needle. My Ma did most of my homework of cross stitch patterns and told me not to tell anyone. She didn’t know,  I didn’t need tutoring there. I kept quiet under the beady owl eyes of the Welsch nun who knew I would never follow her path ever. I was a master liar.

Cross Stitch is used widely in Palestinian embroidery. So for the love of Gaza, I will buy cross stitch wherever I find it aesthetically used. I don’t need to learn embroidery to be the perfect Loreto lady. I can buy it or better get someone to buy it for me. On the outside, I am the perfect cool and calm person but deep down I know how lesser I felt in those classes of “lady making” when I couldn’t thread the needle.

On lonely summer evenings, I recall those silences when I returned home from the hills with half done embroidered doilies. Today, I know half done is good because it leaves space overtime to complete the half done pieces. It’s never ever too late.

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

Amruta Dongray’s Abundance Of Amrud

April 5, 2019
Moody Mo

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

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

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

Moody Mo

Moody Mo

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

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

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

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

Delhi, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Jama Masjid, nostalgia

The Sensual Sheen Of Velvet

April 3, 2019
Moody Mo

It was one of those days when I recalled the lost nostalgia of Delhi’s Chandni Chowk lane at that twilight hour. The regal remnants of the Jama Masjid juxtaposed against the large ugly black wires hanging precariously over rooftops. In that chaos of rickshaws, human beings all rushing towards destination unknown. I sit back quietly and admire the untouched beauty of the place. Sitting at the Kashmiri Wazwan restaurant which overlooks the Jama Masjid, I order for my nun cha and watch the handsome Kashmiri men and beautiful women, unaware of their natural abundance of beauty. I know this makes them even more beautiful. The beauty that is unhurried and without any effort.

I love this trip into nostalgia. I soak in the ambience and watch the stores that are full of Islamic clothing. There are hijab stores and more. I am transported into mini Pakistan. The shops selling kebabs, men with kohl-smeared eyes and their Pathani suits. I spot a green sharara kameez. I am lost in the sheen of the green and the minimalist zardosi work on the pockets.

I walked up to Ajmal Khan’s store, which had a board written in Urdu calligraphy. He welcomed me in. Showed me many Pakistani sets that blew my mind. Told me names of serials that he loved watching and his customers too. So he dressed them up like the women of the serials. He found me staring at the green velvet set. He called it Noori.

He held Noori against himself and said it was the colour for me. I told him I was a Bengali. He didn’t believe me and said my zubaan was clear. I couldn’t tell him about my first crush who spoke chaste Urdu. I had learnt the difference between Zalim and Jalim; jalim as a Bengali would say.

He negotiated the price of the velvet kurta over a cup of tea and a samosa. I couldn’t say no to him. I went into the trial room and put on the kurta. It fit me like a dream. The sharara length needed to be altered because my height was of a petite Bengali woman, not the Pakistani serial heroines. He said, “Give me 15 minutes and I will get this done”.

Velvet because of its softness has a high cost of production. Velvet was introduced in Baghdad during the rule of Harun Al Rashid by Kashmiri merchants. We also have Ibn Battuta who mentioned that royalty of Mali wore that fabric as a caftan on Eid. Here, I was feeling like royalty wearing the abundance of this regal fabric.

I recalled the days of my life in those lanes. My ride into the known lanes of Delhi 6 was always with my friend from school Shimonti Sinha. We, two Bengali women were high on romance and hunger of the past. We didn’t speak at times, we would just look at each other and know that it caught our senses unaware.

I pack my green velvet kurta and walk past the lane of Ballimaran, home of the great poet Mirza Ghalib. That large door still has the Mughal architecture. I see Kashmiri men in Pathani suits standing against the door. They have large bags of walnuts and kesar. They look tired from the unrelenting reality of restarting life outside their home. I understand that he too searches every day for a release from this hard life in the capital of our country.

I did wear the Green velvet kurta without any jewellery. The kurta spoke aloud that evening against the sequined black western outfits of other women. What Indian clothing does to me is incomparable to any western outfit. I guess style is when it’s in your skin, when it is forced it kills the inherent nature of dressing up like you own the space.