Back a full circle

>> Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thats Vani for U now live from Ahmedabad!


February 2010

>> Monday, March 01, 2010

I carefully wrapped the china

feeling its cold weight in my hands
in my favorite blanket,
the one with the jaipuri print
also my red stilettos

One by one it all went into the box
to be donated the next day

I sat sorting the pile of papers
for some important bill or a letter from you maybe?
as they came and took away the furniture
there muddy boots all over my sterilized carpet
I cringed, you held me back, "let them" you said.

The little green box on the book shelf now lay on the floor
with wine corks from our date nights, doodled paper napkins.

I dragged myself into the kitchen,
cleared the shelves, the strong sweet aromas of the masalas stayed.
emptied my barnis of dals - big small green and yellow.
tossed the turmeric stained washcloth
packed the devara and my little gods in your mom's old saree.

gently pulled down the Toran from the front door
and once again I held your hand, and moved on...

Jaipuri- from the region around Jaipur, India
Masala- spices(Indian)
Barni- large glass jars used to store dried beans, lentils etc.
Devara- A small temple structure to house idols of gods. (Marathi)
Toran- A decoration hung above entrance door to a house, meant to bring good luck.


Indian Textiles and Handlooms

>> Saturday, January 23, 2010

My ultimate fashion dream is to one day have a collection of saris/ salwar kameez/ dupattas that covers traditional prints and weaves from regions all across India..:). The vibrant silks and the chikan kurtas in pastels, the intricate embroideries and the modest "not so perfect" hand prints, I want it all...I really havnt gotten far along but one day I will!

Here is just a glimpse of some of traditional weaves and prints of India..
Kalamkari: Hand painted on cotton generally the prints are very distinct featuring flowers and "bel" or creepers. The term Kalamkari comes from "kalam" or pen. The craft is native to Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh. I do have a beautiful black and white kalamkari print dupatta from Fab India that I got more than 7 years ago..:)

Bandhani: Also called "Bandhej" or "tie and dye" bandhani comes from "bandh" or to tie. The authentic Bandhani uses natural dyes. Comes from the "Kutch" region in Gujrat and also parts of Rajasthan. Married into a Gujarati family, I got some lovely bandhani sarees as a part of my trousseau! :)

Batik: Batik printing technique is popular all across South East Asia. Originated in Egypt to wrap mummies. It is a wax resist dyeing technique where linen is soaked in wax and scraped using a sharp tool. The technique traveled to India centuries back and became it's own! Major centers in India include Calcutta. I have in the past had a couple of bartik kurtas, currently don't have any. Now added to my shopping list! :)

Chanderi: Famous for it's light-weight quality and intricate designs, Chanderi Silk sarees are hand woven in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh. I have a black and purple dupatta in chanderi, next on my wishlist is a saree! (Kareena Kapoor was recently spotted wearing a lovely Black Chanderi on the promotion tour for 3 idiots)

Paithani: Woven from very fine silk in Paithan near Aurangabad, Paithani saree is the quintessential wedding saree in maharashtra. Love the vibrant blues, reds and yellows that are very characterstic of a traditioal Paithani. Also Lookout for the "peacock" design if you want the real thing! And no I dont have any Paithani saree yet..:(

Kashida embroidery: "Kashida" itself means embroidery in Kashmir. The single stitch embroidery is done using very fine silk thread. Generally done on wool and silks, it is one of the most intricate embroidery styles that I have come across. When I was a little girl my dad got me a very pretty white pauncho with red embroidery from his Kashmir trip..loved it! Hopefully I will visit the beautiful Kashmir valley myself one day and indulge in some serious shopping! Those kashmiri shawls are gorgeous!!:)

Vegetable hand block prints: Hand block printing is a technique practiced all across India, each state has it's unique colors and patterns. The Hand Block Prints of Gujrat/ Rajasthan are called Ajrakh. Blues and Reds are the most characteristic colors of this print. I owned several cotton salwar kameezes with beautiful hand block prints (all brought from Sarojini Nagar market in Delhi) and these were actually my signature during architecture days.. :)

Patola: Patola comes from Patan in Gujrat. It includes a very intricate weaving process where threads of silk are carefully marked, tied and dyed separately and then woven together to create a beautiful piece of art!

I could recognize a patola print as early as I was eight, thanks to one of my mom's wedding sarees - patterns of green and blues woven into a deep pink/ purple base.. I still haven't come across any other saree so beautiful! Last time in India, I was shopping for a family wedding I kept asking for Patola and was always dismissed saying it was old fashioned! I know the heaps and heaps of embroidered chiffons and Georgettes can never match up to my mom's pink patola! :)

Kantha: Type of embroidery in bengal with decorative running stitch motifs. The traditional Kantha designs include flower patterns and animals. Recently got a turquoise blue saree with a Kantha print..:)

Chikankari: Shadow work embroidery from Luckhnow, done in white thread on muslin cloth. The classic all white chikan kurta and churidaar- Sheer elegance! :)

Zardozi: Very rich and elaborate designs hand embridered using gold and silver threads. Extremely popular in Bridal Wear these days. Main Centers are Bhopal and Lucknow.

With cheap mass produced garments and the influx of "branded wear" in Indian markets, many of these traditional crafts and techniques are on a decline. There are constant efforts being made by governments as well as several non profit organizations to revive these industries. I hope that these local handloom and textile industries continue to flourish and add color to our lives..:)


Freakonomics is Fun!

>> Friday, January 22, 2010

Freakonomics is statistics made fun and entertaining!

I read the whole book (not very long , about 150 pages) in a breeze. For a book full of facts and "data analysis", it did not overwhelm me or bog me down, on the contrary it left me wanting for more...:). How effortlessly Steven Levitt uncovers the "why" behind a diverse range of everyday life topics. He analyzes the economics of drug peddling, crime, abortion, in the process humanizing these otherwise distant and touchy subjects. And then goes on to present a case for correlation between (people's)names and social development!

Intelligent,Witty and highly interactive, the book definitely challenges conventional wisdom and so many assumptions that we just consider "givens"... AND without sounding PREACHY!

If you are looking for a light read for your next beach vacation or those 22 hour India flights, this is IT! :)


Kitchen Jugaads!

>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jugaad: "Jugaad refers to an improvised solution; inventiveness, ingenuity, cleverness. It means creative improvisation and finding alternative ways of doing improbable things. It reflects on a person’s ability to think out of the box and optimize resources in the best possible way" (source: this blog)

Recent talks around sustainability and "Greening our lifestyle" led me thinking about all the little innovations in an Indian kitchen that we all grew up observing. Be it dishing out tasty recipes from leftovers or reusing "Bournvita jars" for storage, these little "jugaads" were always easy on the planet and on pockets! :)

Here are some green tidbits that I remember from my growing up years..

Use it up, Wear it out: Empty bottles and containers of any shape, size and kind found a use in the kitchen! Empty glass bottles were used for storing dals, chai, sugar..roohazfa bottles-washed clean and used to store drinking water in the refrigirator and the tiny ones which did not find a suiatble match were neatly displayed on the window sill with a little money plant. Most of us will also remember the little film roll containers-each and every one of them was put to a good use- to carry ketchup to school, for storing saunf/mukhwaas, a perfect little container for loose change and I still have one little one here with angara in it..:)

Eating off of leaves!: As a kid I loved attending weddings and family functions with my grandparents . As is a custom in marathi weddings, food was always served in batches and in pangats- sitting down on the floor in rows facing each other. The food used to be served in Patravli- plates and bowls made from dried leaves . I so vividly remember the aroma of varan bhat with ghee served on a dried leaf platter, think it actually made the food taste even more delicious! :)

Newspaper to the rescue: Old Newspapers were widely used everywhere. The paper cones with tasty chana chor garam and moongfali at the street vendors, as liners in kichen cabinets and drawers, and as paper plates during family trips and travels in trains. :) And come Diwali when aaji made several rounds of chivda and shankarpales in batches- newspapers were generously used to drain off excess oil in place of paper towels..:)

The multi use utensils : I still remember our oldest casserole-a green and white milton!. other than keeping chapatis and curry warm it made a great yoghurt maker- mix a little dahi in warm milk, stir well and place it in the casserole..whoa fresh curds for the next meal! Sharp edged vatis/ katoris were used to cut perfect round for pooris and the one pressure cooker was used for cooking and steaming and everything in between...

What trash? : I am still amazed at how little garbage an average household in India generates. Vegetable waste almost never finds its way into the trash can. packaging is minimal, all plastic bags (even the little amul milk bags) are washed and reused. No paper towels. No 100 type of kitchen cleaners. Amazing!

Old food, new avatar: And how can we forget resusing food in tasty and innovative ways? Leftover polis/ rotis became tasty kuskara, dals were hidden inside thalipiths, curds turned sour made the most delicious kadhi and spoiled milk meant matar paneer the next day....:)

As I struggle to make my kitchen as smart and easy on the environment, I understand how hard it really is. The economics have changed. We no longer think twice before buying a new kitchen gadget, paper towels are an "easy" alternative to the wash cloth and recycling takes "effort".

Maybe I will come back and post about our little experiments in sustainable living...
In the meantime I would love to hear green tips, stories and suggestions from your book of life as well! :)



To Tatya with love..

>> Friday, August 07, 2009

Tatya, that’s what we call him- never recall calling him azoba(marathi for grandfather), Tatya he is for everybody. ..
Friends (and fans) he has many, he proudly claims that if he heads off on a journey and eats his three meals a day at three different houses (where he would be whole heartedly welcomed) everyday he would not have to come back home for an year. .I believe him.
With countless friends he has countless stories to tell. We have grown up listening to all his fascinating stories and the reminiscences of his past. He is also the one responsible for making algebra interesting for us! From arithmetic to Shakespeare verses to Sanskrit shlokas he was our door to the vast world of knowledge..He's a fun person to be with, a gifted story teller, with a super strong memory. Even today, everything is afresh in his mind-names people, places dates, events pooja hymns, everything…..
Tatya was born in 1918 in Devas, a small town in Madhya Pradesh that time a princely state under the rule of Pawars. He was the 8th child I guess and was thus named Damodar (Another name for Krishna). Born in a humble Brahmin family,He grew up learning Sanskrit verses at home and Wordsworth and Shakespeare at school….We have experienced his childhood countless times through his numerous kissas. All his stories are so amusing; it’s hard to believe that he's lived it all..!! I remember him telling us about his 4th grade English school teacher who taught the class a poem called Daffodils. Since none of the young kids in Devas had ever seen a Daffodil flower, the teacher painstakingly made trips to all the public libraries available to find a photograph. Once he found one, he neatly drew a Daffodil with yellow chalk on the black board for all to appreciate the beauty of this unique flower..
He fondly remembered that teacher when he saw a Daffodil flower for the first time in his life (some 60 years later) on a trip to Kashmir…
Such is his memory and his love for people..I found that poem online..
To Daffodil by Robert Herrick.
Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain'd his noon.
Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the even-song; And, having pray'd together, we
Will go with you along.
We have short time to stay, as you,
We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay, As you, or anything.
We die As your hours do, and dry
Like to the summer's rain;
Or as the pearls of morning's dew,
Ne'er to be found again.
I hope to see him soon, leisurely squatting on that rocking chair with his evening cup of tea, trying to make sense of those clues in the Sunday times crossword…
Happy 91st Birthday Tatya! :)


>> Wednesday, May 20, 2009


  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP