Homebird

Home is a place of comfort, but not necessarily luxury.

It’s discovery, soapy finger by soapy finger, under layers of dust & other people’s existence. It’s building it, one familiar memento at a time. It’s owning it, inch by inch with every step, every piece of my own life that I put down in it. It’s looking around and saying, “I created this.”

Home is a state of mind, as much as of a place I’m at.

It’s where I feel able to take off my clothes, my masks, my inhibitions and my fears. It’s the place I fall asleep, when everywhere else is just a space for a nap. It is a place, a time, a person, a mood, a state of being that recognizes me, that facilitates me, that makes it possible for me to be me, that says, “So-and-so lives here.”

Home is where I lay my hat but it’s also where I rest the deepest, most precious part of my soul. There’s nothing more personal than home. Home, truly, is where my heart is.

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Two very different pop culture references to home:

First, Jagjit Singh in an Asian Paints ad, which puts into words that irrevocable attachment we feel to home:

“Har ghar chupchap se yeh kehta hain, ke andar isme kaun rehta hain
Chhat batati hain, yeh kiska asmaan hain
Rang kehte hain, kiska yeh jahaan hain
Kamron mein kiski kalpana jhalakti hain
Is farsh pe nange pair, kiske bachche chalte hain
Kaun chun chunke ise pyaar se sajata hain
Kaun is makaan mein, apna ghar basata hain
Har ghar chupchap se yeh kehta hain, ke andar isme kaun rehta hain
Kyonki har ghar kuch kehta hain”

(rough translation)

“A home whispers of who lives inside it
The roof tells us who owns that piece of sky
The colours speak of whose world that is
Whose are the dreams that sparkle in each room
Whose are the children who run barefoot on these floors
Who has adorned this space, bit by loving bit
Who has made their home within these four walls
Because every home says something”

And secondly, a Simon & Garfunkle song called Homeward Bound which tells of that intangible sense of incompleteness & yearning that surrounds us when we are far from home.

“All my words come back to me,
in shades of mediocrity,
like emptiness & harmony,
I need someone to comfort me.

Homeward bound, I wish I was.”

We all need a place to belong to and home is what lets us know that there is room for each of us in this universe.

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If you liked this post also read:

  • How a city I resist brings me closer to the city I love in A Tale Of Two Cities
  • My conflicted emotions when I travel in Home

A Rose In My Hair


Now isn’t that pretty? I bought this at the counter-shop on the third floor of Mega Mall, Oshiwara. It caught my eye despite the gold background (which if you’ve been following me, you’ll know I normally loathe). Also the big earstuds are a little staid/90s soap opera star (remember The Bold & The Beautiful, Santa Barbara?) for my taste. But this pair of roses just captivated my heart and I brought them home.

Here’s one occasion I found they were a perfect match.

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

Friends

Friends used to be people I could talk to.
Now I hang the tag of FRIEND on anyone who lets me be silent.

* From the idea-archives

A Soft Spot For Silver 2: Indian Designs

I like to call this FabIndia chic as the look is best supplied by this brand & its me-toos. It’s about Indian prints, natural fabrics like cotton or silk and traditional jewellery designs in silver or wood. In the past few years, FabIndia have added a decent jewellery range to their merchandise, which complement most looks. But their designs are best matched with their own pieces – kurtas, kurtis & mix-match salwar kameezes. Like a lot of urban women, I’ve found this look perfect for everyday work wear since it is comfortable, smart & appropriate for most situations from a board meeting to a temple visit to an impromptu after-work drink with friends.

Here’s my must-have collection that matches the Indian end of my wardrobe.

These are (from left to right):

  • Silver filigree ear hoops: FabIndia
  • Thin silver chain: Neighborhood silver store
  • Elephant pendant on silver base: FabIndia
  • Silver bangle: FabIndia
  • Silver ear danglers with green semi-precious stones: Goa flea market

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If you liked this post, follow the rest of my love affair with silver at A Soft Spot For Silver.
Also catch my Indian looks on I Love Ikat! and Kanjeevaram Cool.

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

I, The Offering

So Mumbai kicks off festival season that will last till the end of the year, with Janmashtami. In honour of the birthday of our neighbor state Gujarat’s favorite god, here’s one from the idea-archives:

Inspired by a chat with Srini, who told me that:
Krishna said, “Whatever you do, do it as an offering to me”

soraya nulliah offering

Image by soraya nulliah via Flickr

My body is a tribute to life, that grows and endures and generates
The wrinkles on my forehead bear the same patterns as the weather-beaten mountains
My intensity is the fire of disturbed volcanoes
My love is life itself, warm and caressing at times and violent and destructive at others
My tears are as insistent, yearning waterfalls
And my smile reflects sunrise and rainbows
My rebellion is a flight to freedom
My anger is a dance of thunder and stormy seas
My breathing and my heartbeats pound in time to the music echoing through the entire universe
My every happy moment is a celebration of you
And every sad moment is a new understanding of you

Yes, in my every moment, I am an offering to you.

I Wear: I Love Ikat!

I was under the impression that Ikat was an Orissa-based textile print craft with close cousins in the southern Pochampalli. The internet however, informs me that this art form is also present in Indonesia, Cambodia and other parts of Central Asia. In the recent times, these intricate line-based designs have also been spotted on the Western runways.

My favorite source of Ikat prints is of course, FabIndia and some other similar shops like Cotton Cottage. Clothing, accessories, linen…you name it and I’ll never be tired of Ikat. My bed always has a bedspread of Ikat print on it. Actually, I have two such bedspreads in different colours & Ikat styles so when one is in the wash, the other one covers my bed. Ikat is never far from me!

I already have plenty of the standard FabIndia kurta design – round neck with slit, straight cut, side slits, 3/4 or full-length sleeves, knee-level in different colours – to be worn with white/beige/black chuddidars. Even so, when I spotted yet another at the FabIndia sale a couple of years back, I couldn’t resist picking it up. This even though, the piece in question was XXL and I usually wear M or S. Of course I looked like a peg inside a tent in it. But I thought I’d improvise and wear it over a black spaghetti top, with a shoulder drooping off, sew up the side slits to make it a dress and accessorize with a funky belt. That look, I’m afraid to say, didn’t quite work since the silhouette isn’t quite suited to the cool casual of a loose dress. So instead, I snipped off a patch at the bottom to make it knee length and decided to wear it as a superloose (and equally comfortable) salwar-kameez.

My Indianwear has been largely untouched these past few months on account of the weather (it’s heartbreaking to see a splash of mud on a pristine chuddidar!). But I decided to take it out on this occasion when it looked like the monsoon was on its way out. I had a temple visit & a few house errands to run with mum.

The traditional way to wear it would have been with a black or even a white chuddidar and I did indeed a couple of times. But then I found this block-printed chuddidar at the back of my cupboard. I bought it for a French colleague a few years back but she didn’t think she’d be able to pull it off and decided to retain only the french-collar kurta & dupatta that I’d paired it with. I returned with this pair figuring I’d find something to wear it with. In the time since then, I’ve matched it off and on with a plain kurta. But plain kurtas aren’t really my style (I don’t like that extra-big patch of solid colour) so this chuddidar has largely lain unused.

To my delight, I found it matched my Ikat kurta perfectly! The kurta is green and white and black while the chuddiar is black & white. The prints are different but don’t clash at all. In fact I think the starkness of the chuddidar‘s block print actually accentuates the subtle class of the kurta‘s Ikat.

The rain began just as I was stepping out so I ran back in and grabbed one of my trusty scarves, this time a fine silk one in black that I’ve never worn before (well, except to pose for a display pic for this post). More and more I find scarves are really becoming my thing. This is one of the few times I’ve paired a scarf with a chuddidar-kurta but it worked so well, I think I’ll do it more often now! Apart from protecting my throat from the damp monsoon winds and my hair & face from the traffic pollution, it also added some definition to the neckline of the kurta. Without it, the kurta did still seem a tad shapeless but with the scarf, the look just suddenly came together.

I considered wearing a green semi-precious stone/silver set to match the kurta. But with so much going on in terms of prints, I decided that would be too much and settled for my old favorite – basic, plain silver in delicate designs. First, my latest favorite earwear – faux silver bird eartops from Accessorize. Then, my trusty steel watch from Casio on the left wrist, a heart-charm bracelet from Estelle on the right with my favorite square silver ring.


This bag is yet another in a large collection of cloth bags that I have, embellished, embroidered or otherwise decorated in various ways. I haven’t ever used this one since mum brought it back for me from Dilli Haat last year.

And finally, on my feet, an old, old pair of embroidered leather mojris from Janpath market, New Delhi (boy, I sure do own a lot of stuff from Delhi, don’t I?).

It’s been raining since I left home, which is a pity. But the outfit is so comfortable, I’ve not felt the need to change, even after I got back. There’s nothing quite like Indianwear, after all. The scarf makes even the chilly, unhealthy damp manageable and all in a crisp, clean, stylish look.

I Wear:

  • Green & black & white Ikat kurta: FabIndia
  • Black & white block print chuddidar: FabIndia
  • Black silk scarf: Cottage Emporium, New Delhi (Rs.485)
  • Beige embroidered mojris: Dilli Haat, New Delhi (Rs.250)
  • Black mirror-work cloth bag: Dilli Haat, New Delhi (Rs.175)
  • Faux silver bird eartops: Accessorize (Rs.345)
  • Steel watch: Casio (Rs.2000 odd)
  • Silver heart charm bracelet: Estelle
  • Silver ring: Local silver shop, Khoka market, Vileparle West

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If you liked my Indian look, also see me cool up the Kanjeevaram saree.
Follow my love affair with silver on A Soft Spot For Silver.
And here’s more on my scarf style at Scarf It Up!

The Superhero Fiasco

A common joke doing the rounds a couple of years back was that the measure of a man’s love for his woman was his willingness to sit through a romcom (especially Sex & The City, Confessions Of A Shopaholic & the Twilight series). By that same logic, I think I’ve achieved the status of devotion since I’ve sat through numerous superhero movies (we won’t talk about such disasters as Predators here).

A few months ago, I was made to endure the rather horrible The Green Hornet. Last month there was Green Lantern. And this weekend, we were taken to meet Captain America. I say we because The Third Toothbrush is the boy’s partner in comicbook crime and his girlfriend was made to suffer the same fate as me.

I quite happily ascribe to the stereotype of the girl who doesn’t get superhero stories. Capes, chaddi-over-tights, secret identities & stupid ‘smart’ gizmos are things best left to the boys. Still, there has been a Batman Begins & The Dark Knight which films I’d watch even reruns of. There is room to appeal to the non-fanbase through the medium of cinema.Green Lantern, I’m afraid did not do that. The boy tells me that there’s way more to the character of the green jewel-toting superhero but I didn’t see any of that in the movie, which was only a couple of smartish lines & Ryan Reynolds in a creepy green face mask (that made him look eerily like Hrithik Roshan).

Ryan Reynolds

Image by cmjcool via Flickr

This photo was taken by my uncle, Aashish Chat...

Image via Wikipedia

 

And then there was Captain America. I spent the first hour of the movie guffawing & ‘you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me’ ing and the remainder (nearly 2 more hours) shifting uncomfortably in the seats trying to fall asleep. Apparently this character was created as American propaganda but grew to story hero status through comics, a fact that’s referenced in the movie. I’m guessing the sepia feel to give it the authentic 1940s look was mighty appealing to a certain crowd too. But I struggled through the film, this even though I was flanked on either side by an enthusiastic fanboy supplying extraneous details & pointing out references. It just wasn’t an entertaining movie. Picking a popular theme does not guarantee a good movie. I just call it lazy film-making & a film-maker who tests my patience this way pushes me from indifference into outright loathing.

One of comics' most iconic covers: The Avenger...

Image via Wikipedia

I spent much of the last hour, ready to bolt. But noooo! Every potential end stretched into another extension! And finally, when the credits began rolling, I almost couldn’t believe my good luck. And then again, my hopes were crushed cruelly. We were made to sit through the 15-minute credit rolling, watching the names of every spotboy & extra (Lady with dog, man in trenchcoat 1, man in trenchcoat 2). All for a 5-second trailer of the upcoming Avengers movie that has apparently been tagged on to the end of every Marvel comics movie of the recent years. The boy & BBB maintain that it was worth it. Well, let’s see what they say when we’re buying 4 tickets for the next Shopaholic movie.

Cover of "Confessions of a Shopaholic"

Cover of Confessions of a Shopaholic

A Soft Spot For Silver 1: Lock & Key

Silver is my favorite metal. It’s one of my favorite colours. It is also my birth metal, given that I’m a July-born Cancerian. A touch of silver always brightens up my look and my mood. I’m never seen without at least a single silver ornament.

From right to left:

  • Imitation silver key ear danglers on clasp-holders
  • Sterling silver chain bracelet with heart charm by Estelle
  • Imitation silver lock ear studs
  • Single imitation silver key ear dangler

I mix and match these by pairing a dangler with a stud. Or a earring as a scarf ornament. Or as a charm on the chain bracelet. Locks & keys go together after all. All of these have been picked up over the years, off roadside stalls, except for the chain bracelet, which is available at the Estelle counter at Landmark.

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* Cross-posted to Divadom.

RomComs To Action Flicks

Jennifer Anniston is the one person who can make me go from HBO to AXN in a click. Not a great talent for a romcom star to have.

A Piece Of Sky

Not far from this mausoleum of Mumbai’s textile mills, lies the rapidly growing upper-crust uber-urban area of high rises (and higher prices). They’re shooting up into the skies, they’re advancing rapidly to engulf the hitherto mill belt. I know I’m probably harping on and on about a forgotten age. A city must develop & grow, its older structures, both architectural & social, must perish and be replaced by newer definitions of urban life.

I’ve lived in flats all my life. Staircases, then lifts and now escalators are all everyday things to me. My father who grew up in rural Tamil Nadu himself, used to tell me that when our first flat was under construction, he’d look up at the construction site and think,

“That little piece of sky there, that’s going to be ours.”

Recently I happened to be in Lower Parel. I rode a tiny old-fashioned lift that had probably been added on some years after the building had been built in an additional wing. The flat I visited, was tiny. But the furniture was tasteful, the fittings luxuriant and everything was stacked up, tucked away or fitted at the edges so perfectly, it seemed larger & more opulent than it was. Everything that had gone into that flat, could only have been paid for by someone who had enough money to live in that area. At the same time, it was a flat in a congested, under-redevelopment area of Mumbai so it couldn’t possibly have been any bigger. It seemed like it fit its identity, its space perfectly. If that flat were a person, I’d say it fit into its skin comfortably & well.

Then I stepped out and here’s what I saw. This slice of sky will probably not be seen again for a few generations in Mumbai. In a year or two, somebody will claim it for their own, somebody somewhere will call it home. Security guards will man the gates, landlords & lawyers will brand their names with contracts & leases and residents will glare or protest if you look too hard or too long at them.


But today, this evening, the sky belongs to no one. It’s free to be stared at, to be photographed and to be remembered. This is just me, holding on to fragments of the world I once knew before it vanishes right before my eyes. Goodbye Mumbai, city of my childhood, chaperon of broken dreams, home to everything new & ruthless & transient.

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