Browsing Tag

Indian Fashion


An Arabic Prayer On My Armlet

July 16, 2019

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?





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.

Clothing, Lifestyle

Sexy In Sequins

July 11, 2019

It was a hot summer noon in Delhi and we decided to meet over coffee. As I walked into the crowded snaky lane of Shahpur Jat, I recalled the little unknown spot in Delhi with a handful of shops. The growth of this place from the 90’s to today is the greatest sign of the changing fabric of the city. To me it was a realisation that the hours doesn’t stop for anyone ever. Time has a strange way of telling us that this is not your resting spot; it keeps moving just as you think you have settled into a constant and life shakes you out of your comfort zone.

As I walked into the familiarity of the old café with kettles hanging and beautiful home décor, I ordered my favourite black coffee and as I waited, I noticed each gentle well mannered staff in the store were from the north east of India. I immediately struck a conversation and I could sense that feeling of camaraderie and the simplicity found in hill folk. I am often happily mistaken for an Assamese or a Nepali. And I love playing along with my broken knowledge of both the languages.

As I settled into the familiarity of the city of my birth and was about to take my first sip of coffee, I looked up to see Sonam Dubal walking into the store. He looked the eclectic designer that he is. A fine cotton black kurta, glasses and a big bag and as he apologised for being few minutes late, he complimented me with an endearing honesty. I could see the frank appreciation in his eyes. I felt at ease and as we ordered for our cake, he spoke in Nepali to the staff and I joined in showing him my language skills. We settled into a known sense of not belonging to our current spaces yet not knowing how to return to the old. He told me he was from Sikkim. I told him I was from Shillong. We both took mouthful of cake bites and coffee. We spoke about our undying love for the East – the often neglected and not showcased craft of India’s extreme corner, often referred to as North East with little knowledge of each state and its art.

We finished our cake and walked up into his store. The store had tasteful designs and embroidery on western jackets and Ikkat shift dresses and a major influence of the Islamic design structure. I loved the Mughal inspired designs. And I gravitated towards a black Angarakha.




I tried on the Anghrakha and it was tad bit loose and Sonam promised to get it fixed to my size. Which was done and delivered to my hotel room that evening.

This Angarakha is a cotton muslin with black sequins border. As you wrap the garment you can tighten the sides with metal buttons resembling a Chinese traditional jacket button, again adding to the Indo-Asian silhouette of this design collection.

Sonam Dubal’s brand – Sanskar – is  the for the uber stylish woman who cradles both the traditional and the contemporary with equal panache. As I walk out in this garment with my black kohl eyes and a nude lipstick, I feel uber sexy in the way it wraps around my body. Just how love is or should be. Just gently wrapped in the warmth of your own skin yet against each other.

Art & Culture, Clothing

The New Snob In The Block Called Khadi

June 20, 2019
Khadi bustier

When a bright brick red bustier hangs from the mighty colossal hangers of vanity, you are confused what to feed the ever growing, demanding devil. Amidst all that predicament, shouts out a soft voice inside you. It gravitates towards the memories of the past. In those racks I found the soft silks, the flowing georgette, the linen, the cotton and in all that is the rough exterior but soft to touch, the lost story of Khadi. It is hanging on to its last remnants of survival with hope of a new beginning.

The bustier by Mishe is an ode to the age old fabric of India. A fabric that has seen the blood of the martyrs of India. We had forgotten Khadi in this quest of wanting more. We sold our loyalty quite easily to the arrival of mixed unnatural fabrics. And now is emerging the revival of Khadi in the haute couture of India. Leading designers are creating designs with the long lost unsung protagonist called Khadi.

This bustier fabric of Khadi was woven in Barmer, Rajasthan, in the dusty little town – where its arid landscape and cattle fair makes it known among the tourists. Barmer was known as Mallani in the 12th century. Over time, places have changed their geographical demeanour and the onset of modernisation destroyed moderation. The cattle fair is still a tourist crowd puller. In Barmer lies a small fort on top of the city, also known as Barmer Garh. This has been witness to the changing hands of history of this region.


Khadi bustier by Mishe

Khadi bustier by Mishe


Mishe, like many designers today, are inspiring artisans and craftsmanship to incorporate the legacy of Khadi into the contemporary fabric landscape. A fabric that was considered coarse and not chic, is the choice of fabric and runways in many fashion shows today.

My relationship with Khadi dates back to my grandfather, who loved me dearly and I called him Dadu. As Ma rebelled against her in-laws in moving out of the ancestral family home. She was 22 and a young mother in Shillong. A town where she knew no one except the faith she had in her husband – my father. He settled her at home just in the initial phase and then he began his travelling job. She was lost in that large Bengali household. They were hostile to her. As she packed to leave with her little girl of few months, Dadu came from Delhi to help her settle with her little daughter.

Dadu lived with us till I was in class 2 and I still recall the winter and rain drenched streets of Shillong as he waited for me to finish school and he stood there, behind the tall walls of my school – Loreto Convent – in his Khadi Bandhgala coat. He endearingly called me Didimoni. His stories were about kingdoms and prince and princesses. As he got me ready, he used to dress me after school in a yellow embroidered Khadi coat. The winters were bitter and the money wasn’t sufficient. Khadi helped keep the cold away. Ma was ambitious and wouldn’t settle for anything less than a chaste Convent education for her only child. I didn’t understand how she navigated her loneliness, her financial situation and total lack of support from her extended family.

Today I bow my head to this historical fabric that has seen the changes of India. It is again on its way of resurgence with elegance and a snobbery of belonging to the thinking masses.

The Khadi boutiques and fashion shows have Khadi as the order of the day. I smile every time I see a Khadi clothing. I know somewhere in those folds lie my memory of Dadu, those winding lanes of wet and cold Shillong, the big umbrella covering the constant rain and he waiting for me in his Khadi jacket. It was frugal in comparison to the other fabrics of those years. Today it’s reaching a place in the wardrobes of the richer and I am smug at this yearning of youngsters to belong to the new India.


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.


A Contemporary Batik Art On My Traditional Saree

June 7, 2019

As I draped the grey, charcoal saree over my body, I felt the mixed sensuous fabric of soft linen, cotton and the sheen of silk drape over me like a poem. This poem I have given it a name, calling it Mahua from Label Zohra. The sari was woven in Chhattisgarh, the land of the unhindered Mahua wildflower.

Bordering Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, there lies this untouched little place in India, lost in time and a history that doesn’t reach our textbooks. Only recently the limelight it got was because of the Naxal movement there.

I travelled extensively as a child with my parents. Both argumentative, creative, quintessential Bengalis with an unending thirst of discovering places, cultures and history, which was part of my growing up years. I clearly recall the trip to Chhattisgarh and into the village of Bastar.

The dusty road was narrow and little homes surround this insignificant place in India. But Baba was keen I go and watch the Mahua flowers in bloom. After all, I was named after this flower. I couldn’t fathom why the Adivasis there worshipped this flower and danced on its nectar. Today, I understand the Adivasis perfect harmony in life with nature and the deep love for it. Nostalgia with things associated with memory is a strange kind of a love affair. And after so many years, the memories that were tucked away into some corner of the mind were awakened out of its deep slumber. Suddenly, the mention of names and places evoke memories that were long lost and buried in time.

Ruma Of Label Zohra is another wanderer like me. She lives her dreams with her art in her fabrics. I had never laid eyes on a contemporary Batik sari and I have often lamented that art and craft need to evolve with the passage of time, retaining its intrinsic identity. But at the same time, art and craft also need to be adaptable to the changing moods of fashion; Label Zohra just nailed this.


Ruma told me that she wanted to do something different with her creations. She did the Batik printing in Sanganer in Rajasthan which is famous for the Sanganeri prints. In all my yearly visits to Rajasthan, I never found a Batik in the craft of the mighty Saraswati river dyes and prints. And Ruma decided to introduce the art of Batik with Label Zohra, to create this eclectic mix of upcycled yarn, which doesn’t shrink and stays looking mint fresh, even if draped from dusk to dawn.

Batik has been part of Indian clothing and culture for the last 2000 years. It’s origin is in Java and was introduced in India by the traders from the South East. Bengal has had a huge influence of the Batik tye and dye which was also introduced as part of the syllabus in the University of Shanti Niketan, Calcutta. It’s resurgence began among the artists there and over the years many different types of fabric were being used to create more of this art.

I am hopeful with artists like Ruma and her Label Zohra, she is bridging the gap between the lost voices of the weavers and their craft. Some arts and crafts truly need a reintroduction in our lives. This collection is a tribute to the earthy, subtle tones of warp and weft in the sarees. It is ironic that when an art form dies we lament its loss. Yet, when it is here we overlook the struggle it requires to upkeep a tradition.

I will wear this saree and dress myself up, like as though I would be meeting my worst enemy and I need to say aloud, that the wilder I grow, the more you miss me, a tamed woman is a boring creature. I find my elegance over the years with Indian arts and crafts and I know money can never buy sophistication and style. Either you own it or you don’t.

This endeavour towards the crafts of India is being taken forward at the curated show called the Shringar Of Sindh at the Le Meridien, on 13th May from 10 AM to 8 PM.

The exclusively curated Lifestyle and Fashion Exhibition – Deepanjali 2019 – will showcase designer wear, diamond jewellery, accessories, footwear, home decor and more. This endeavour is the latest in a series of initiatives taken up by Sindhi Youth Association Ladies Wing over the years, to help the marginalised sections of our society. The funds collected this year will be used to create an endowment for cancer care. The interest accrued from this will be primarily used to help in the early detection and prevention of cancer. The Sindhi Youth Association Ladies Wing endeavours to make a difference to the lives of the recipients, in their own small way.
So buy a product of love towards a cause and help light up the lives of the needy and deserving.

The Untold Stories

Manipur’s Mighty Weaves

May 14, 2019

As I tie my Manipuri sarong over my waist, I was transported to the calm Loktak Lake where the ripples on the calm water is a camouflage of the constant anger of the common Manipuri. The History of Manipur has seen blood and a barbarous past like so many North Eastern States of India. Cut off from mainstream India, their protests were mostly unheard by the Government Of India. From 1980 to 2004, the impotent Indian Government referred to Manipur as a “disturbed state”-  a term given by the Ministry Of Home Affairs. The Army was given special powers to act. The laws allowed the Army to use public and private space in any manner they deemed fit. I can’t help but recall how my home in Shillong was finally the Army resting spot. With guns in their hands and lust in their eyes, they took over homes, streets and lives of the simple hill people.

Legal immunity was given to the armed forces. The rape of Thangjam Manorama Devi still sends shivers down my spine. A young mother raped by the army. What followed was the nude protest by the Meira Paibis Women Association, which later went on to be known as the Meira Paibis movement. And the hunger strike by Irom Sharmila Devi, that which Indian history won’t ever forget.

Northeast Indian fashion

Northeast Indian fashion

My dearest college friend from Jamia Millia Islamia was another young girl sent to Delhi to study. The terror-ridden state was a hindrance to Binaya Yumlumbum. We called her Dolly and at times to irritate her, we called her Yumbum. And Dolly came to Delhi from little Manipur. We struck a friendship on being critical of others, that we thought were plebeians and foolishly believed that we were different. The bond we formed lasts even today.

We text every morning, write unhindered on that group. I can feel her love from across the blue mountains of Manipur, where death, curfews, atrocities are in continuity. I remember her wearing her traditional Phenak in college and looking every bit the Manipuri princess that she is. I told her my heart weeps for my friend Kishen, another classmate who was shot down by insurgents. I bleed from inside, recalling his eyes glinting into the Delhi sun, discussing his future plans with us.



As I wear my Phenak, so many are unaware of the traditional attire of the North East. I want to protest, against this proud lack of awareness about this part of our own country.  They are called Chinkys everywhere.

As I write, I hope I can shed some light on the dark stories of the gentle Meiteis of Manipur and their art and craft, lost to the blue mountains.

I returned home to find a courier with Dolly’s address on it. I held that against my heart and gently opened the packet. She had sent me a Phenak from the looms of Imphal. I was tearing up from within. I travelled back to those days of Delhi and how she swore she would never marry and never leave Delhi ever. We were three friends. Kamini Sanan, Dolly and me. Each of us had a dream. None of us could achieve what we had planned that summer noon at the college cafeteria, where credit was the way forward to the extra samosa and extra cup of tea. A break up meant that the world was crushing under its weight and we sat hours discussing the boy in question and also worry about the Romanticism paper we had to pass.

Today, I wear the Phenak with love and a big thank you to friendships that have stood the test of time. I am humbled.

I am a dreamer.  I hope readers would include the wonderful North Eastern weaves and clothing into mainstream Indian fashion. Also, adapting to the Northeast Indian fashion sensibility is an incredible way to learn and understand more about the art and craft of the people from this almost forgotten land. I get ready to meet my drinking buddies in a bar in Bangalore. I enter the space with people dressed in western attire and me in my Phenak. As I walk towards the bar to ask for a double shot of Vodka, I have two young girls walk up to me and ask if I could tell them where I got my sarong from. I tell them from Imphal. They look disappointed and confused wondering where Imphal is. I quietly worked on my kindness reserve and not get angry, because to not know your own country is a shame. But I refuse to give them a lecture about the geography of India and suggested that they could buy this online. Buying one Phenak will continue the dying looms of Manipur.

I again bow my head to the resilience of the Meitei people who smile through their tears, sorrow as they heal from the atrocious political history of Manipur. A bloody past that we hope would be calm like the Loktak Lake that flows gently towards its destination.

I see myself lying on that boat with the Phenak and the dupatta breezing over my face. May those oars of uncertainty take me forward, dear lord, I pray.

Meira Paibi movement, the nude march of the women of Manipur should make each of us angry forever. I cover my ankle with my Phenak hoping no one can see the nudity of my failings and fallings from there to the now.

Clothing, Lifestyle

The Entwined Twins Of Kota At The Weave Anthologies

May 2, 2019
Moody Mo

The May summer has the brightest sun pouring into every nook and corner of my room. The leaves look parched and the cry of the thirsty bird engulfs my being. As I run amok into the unending insane search of familiarity of childhood memories. The terracotta earthen sweet water and the constant movement of the fan above my head. I am woken with the pitch of sounds, smell and the heat of summer, yet again I am awash in its poignant soft evening rays. The setting sun just falls lightly on my lilac Kota saree from The Registry Of Sarees. I feel all woman in it’s soft drape over my body.

This saree is benign in the summer months. The lilac is softer than the flowers soft bloomed petals and the yet to bloom ones of my garden. I wonder what took me so long to reach The Registry Of Sarees. Here I was in wonderment and divinity of the weavers love story with its muse. Here the Venus is the soft check woven Kota with block prints in gold.

We have the Jugalbandi in Indian Classical music. Jasrangi is the classic form of Jugalbandi. The two singers in this confluence of voice and raga gives prominence to the Ma note of the female voice and Sa of the male voice.  Weave Anthologies did just that in the curated exhibition, bringing together the Mysore prints into the Kota weave of Rajasthan. The perfect Jugalbandi of weave and print.

Kota saree

Kota Weaves

The artisans on behalf of The Registry Of Sarees went into the clusters of the Rajasthan Kota Doria weavers and created their confluence of South Indian prints with the chequered weave of the light Kota saree.

The Kota is called the Masuria. They were originally woven in Mysore. A general in the 17th and 18th century in the Mughal army by the name of Rao Kishore Singh brought the weavers to Shada a small town in Kota. These sarees were called Kota Masuria.

At this eclectic curated event by the Weave Anthropologies, history is being repeated and replayed again. I was staring shamelessly at the collection of Jamdanis, Kanjiveerams, Kota and more. The dyes are natural, earth-conscious and the sheen of the fabric is pristine.

If you love your weaves and the feel of natural dyes over your skin, please head to the curated show at The Registry Of Sarees, Research And Study Centre, Domlur on the 4th Of May, 2019, 11.00 am to 7.00 pm.

I gifted myself the light Lilac Kota. Haven’t fallen in love in long, with the sheer gauze like the softness of this fabric over my body.

It reminds me of the heritage of Indian arts and crafts and crusaders like The Registry Of Sarees. It makes me believe, the lost, sad sound of the clanking of weavers creating magic on yards of pure fabric won’t perish too soon. It shall continue its song of love, hope and beauty.

I believe there are many who will still uphold this tradition forever, of wearing handloom woven fabrics. Because as you buy a Saree you are continuing the dream of a weaver, who many times feels bereft without the constant use of his hands on his weaving wheel. This is their livelihood to create art on fabric. And I am an eternal optimist.

The Untold Stories

The Voice Of The Workforce

May 1, 2019
May Day

Today is World Workers Day. The Labour Force Union Movement was recognised. The 5 day work was given to them after much protests and resistance.
I watch silently everyday the building being built. The jarring iron rods and the mud, mortar and the churn of the cement mixer. I look from my window. My room is cool and the curtains are drawn to keep the harsh sunlight away.

But I flinch as I see the scorching rays on the naked child’s back running helter skelter around the mud and grime. The mother while carrying the bricks on her head gives a sidelong glance to her baby. He too copies her and tries carrying bricks on his little head. I hold on to the railing tight. I feel the lump in my throat and the moist tear on the corner of my eye. He reminded me of my baby.

I walk across to give some bananas and water but I can’t stand long. They seem oblivious to their right to education, right to a shaded spot in the heat, right to a break. I have seen the contractor shout at them & they scurry like animals. Almost ant like in their march to the discipline.
Are we really free as human beings? Do we really have dignity of labour? Do their hands hurt from splinters that cut into their skin, while they build our palaces.

May Day 2019

May Day 2019

Are their children aware? That this is not childhood. This is slavery to a system. A system that needs change.
We don’t greet our security guards when they open the gates many a nights, we don’t bat an eyelid to give left over rotten food to the street cleaners outside.

Is this civilisation I ask myself?

Today is the day the unskilled labour force world over were recognised and were given the 5 day week. The Union was formed for rights.
But there are many workers who still need activists and crusaders to give their voice a language that would be heard above the din of power and inhumanity.

The Untold Stories

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। 

The Untold Stories

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.