Tag Archives: Saree

Walking The Minefield

We glorify anger. We present and consume revenge sagas, hate politics. This is an easy narrative because feeling hard done by is a universal experience and few other things incite people to react as blindly. We justify rage reactions, arguing for the right to be furious and citing catchphrases like ‘tone policing’ and ‘right to expression’. We dramatize and applaud wrath.

We even turn emotionally shut off, violent, abusive people into role models for masculinity and how the ideal human being at the top should be. Behaving the way your oppressors have behaved with you only makes you part of the problem. Yet, we prize anger like it’s a value.

First, there is dealing with your own anger in a healthy, constructive way rather than allowing it to make you a ravening monster. And then there is navigating a world that prizes wrath.

You can’t avoid angry people or situations that make others and you angry. But you can remember that anger is always, ultimately poisonous. And choose, keep choosing not to consume it. When you do, spit it out like any other rotten thing you may have eaten, sneeze it out like that fiery bit of chilli you breathed. Cry a little, wipe your tears and breathe afresh again. You can own your anger.

What about the anger of others? You do not have to be defined or cowed by other people’s wrath stories. Hold your precious self above the world’s reactions. Protect your hard-earned peace of mind, body and spirit from from those who have not yet learnt how to do that for themselves.

There are people who will treat you badly, because they think they’re owed a revenge opportunity against the world. It is not your job to educate them. It is not your place to deny them their life lessons. But it is your job to get out of their way. Maybe that is your life lesson.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The High Road

Have you been hurt badly? Betrayed? Fooled? Discriminated against? Violated? Injured? Destroyed, ruined, shattered? So have I. So has every human being on the planet. 
This doesn’t nullify your pain or mine. It doesn’t make it bigger or worse or more worthy of attention, consideration, empathy, respect. It doesn’t make it easier because contrary to popular belief, misery does not love company. But how you respond to it, is up to you.

If you choose vindication, you let the person who hurt you, be a continued part of your life. If you think revenge, you add to the pettiness, the fear and hate that no doubt, drives the person who violated you. If you hate because of this, you make this hurt your identity rather than one of the many things that happened to you.

And if you lash out and attack those around you, you add to the weight of injustice in the world, except now you are also a perpetrator. You live in this world. This is your home. And you’ve just added to the garbage that someone else dumped in your living room. Who lives with the stink?

I’m not saying ignore your hurt. No, acknowledge it. Give it the respect that profound emotions deserve. Don’t be in a hurry to convert it into bitterness, rage or cynicism. Wars came from hurt but poetry also came from hurt. You get to decide what you want to create with the stone you’ve been given – a weapon or a statue.

Courage/strength are not appendages one is born with. They’re active, conscious, minute-to-minute choices. Not to treat the people who’ve hurt you in the same way. Solutions over one-upmanship. Healing over revenge. Growth over gossip. Being yourself over being toxic. Choosing constantly. It’s tiring too.

The high road is a choice one makes for oneself, regardless of circumstance, background, gender, caste, class, age or any of the things we hide behind. No one else can rescue you or carry you up that road. You don’t do it for moral brownie points. You do it for yourself. 
Walk the high road because that is the path that YOU deserve to walk on.

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THE HIGH ROAD Have you been hurt badly? Betrayed? Fooled? Discriminated against? Violated? Injured? Destroyed, ruined, shattered? So have I. So has every human being on the planet. This doesn't nullify your pain or mine. It doesn't make it bigger or worse or more worthy of attention, consideration, empathy, respect. It doesn't make it easier because contrary to popular belief, misery does not love company. But how you respond to it, is up to you. If you choose vindication, you let the person who hurt you, be a continued part of your life. If you think revenge, you add to the pettiness, the fear and hate that no doubt, drives the person who violated you. If you hate because of this, you make this hurt your identity rather than one of the many things that happened to you. And if you lash out and attack those around you, you add to the weight of injustice in the world, except now you are also a perpetrator. You live in this world. This is your home. And you've just added to the garbage that someone else dumped in your living room. Who lives with the stink? I'm not saying ignore your hurt. No, acknowledge it. Give it the respect that profound emotions deserve. Don't be in a hurry to convert it into bitterness, rage or cynicism. Wars came from hurt but poetry also came from hurt. You get to decide what you want to create with the stone you've been given – a weapon or a statue. Courage/strength are not appendages one is born with. They're active, conscious, minute-to-minute choices. Not to treat the people who've hurt you in the same way. Solutions over one-upmanship. Healing over revenge. Growth over gossip. Being yourself over being toxic. Choosing constantly. It's tiring too. The high road is a choice one makes for oneself, regardless of circumstance, background, gender, caste, class, age or any of the things we hide behind. No one else can rescue you or carry you up that road. You don't do it for moral brownie points. You do it for yourself. Walk the high road because that is the path that YOU deserve to walk on. ——————————————————————– 📸: @gadbadbaba 🎶: EKLA CHALO RE – Rabindranath Tagore #theideasmithy

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Angry Girl Of Indie Rock Persuasion

I was fascinated by the saree as a child. Unfettered by stitches, lacking the artifice of buttons, a saree was freedom.

I’ve struggled with gender boxes my whole life. Every damn thing, a fucking war. Short hair. Tattoos. Red clothes. Short clothes. Boots, not sandals. Science projects. Marketing jobs. An analytical mind. Single status. Silver, not gold. Diamonds I paid for. Sci-fi. A love of graphic novels. English poetry. Silent performance. A business. A band. A breakup. A failed engagement. Boundaries. These became my trophies.

Warriors don’t wear shyness, they wear war paint. I RAGE, oh how I rage. I rage with the eloquence of Alanis Morissette. I rage in the shriek of Gwen Stefani. I rage with the mellow harshness of Tracy Chapman. I rage in all the ways of women who refuse to be pretty.

But sarees, these speak of modesty, of tradition, of maternal memories, none of which identify me. I’ve struggled to find my self in a saree. Should a love of this garment mean I trade in my warrior card? Must I pay for the respect accorded to a saree with my right to rage?

How do I not lose the essential me in the drapes? How do I keep a palluv from stifling my scream? How can my inner supernova burn through the folds? How do I keep my steel from drowning in cotton? Always a war. 
I found my saree self in the bitter eloquent long locks of Alanis Morissette, the dark chocolate wrath of Tracy Chapman and Gwen Stefani saying don’t speak in red lipstick.

My colours are clashing screams. My patterns are silent drama. My folds are parodies of shame. This is who I am, in a saree, in a dress, on stage, on screen, on a page, in relationships, in my sleep. It looks like in the next second, I’m going to turn & run sat you so you want to get out of the way real quick. You won’t want to be caught in the fire gaze of those eyes. Someone called this a superhero pose. I’ll name it Angry Girl of the Indie Rock Persuasion. I wear the label, it doesn’t wear me.

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ANGRY GIRL OF THE INDIE ROCK PERSUASION I was fascinated by the saree as a child. Unfettered by stitches, lacking the artifice of buttons, a saree was freedom. I've struggled with gender boxes my whole life. Every damn thing, a fucking war. Short hair. Tattoos. Red clothes. Short clothes. Boots, not sandals. Science projects. Marketing jobs. An analytical mind. Single status. Silver, not gold. Diamonds I paid for. Sci-fi. A love of graphic novels. English poetry. Silent performance. A business. A band. A breakup. A failed engagement. Boundaries. These became my trophies. Warriors don't wear shyness, they wear war paint. I RAGE, oh how I rage. I rage with the eloquence of Alanis Morissette. I rage in the shriek of Gwen Stefani. I rage with the mellow harshness of Tracy Chapman. I rage in all the ways of women who refuse to be pretty. But sarees, these speak of modesty, of tradition, of maternal memories, none of which identify me. I've struggled to find my self in a saree. Should a love of this garment mean I trade in my warrior card? Must I pay for the respect accorded to a saree with my right to rage? How do I not lose the essential me in the drapes? How do I keep a palluv from stifling my scream? How can my inner supernova burn through the folds? How do I keep my steel from drowning in cotton? Always a war. I found my saree self in the bitter eloquent long locks of Alanis Morissette, the dark chocolate wrath of Tracy Chapman and Gwen Stefani saying don't speak in red lipstick. My colours are clashing screams. My patterns are silent drama. My folds are parodies of shame. This is who I am, in a saree, in a dress, on stage, on screen, on a page, in relationships, in my sleep. It looks like in the next second, I'm going to turn & run sat you so you want to get out of the way real quick. You won't want to be caught in the fire gaze of those eyes. Someone called this a superhero pose. I'll name it Angry Girl of the Indie Rock Persuasion. I wear the label, it doesn't wear me. ———————————————————————————– 🎶: BITCH – Meredith Brooks #theideasmithy

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Be Incomplete

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BE INCOMPLETE. BE IN THE LIVING. Today I didn't feel cool, collected or in control. I left home less put together than usual (hair still wet, no lipstick). I impulsively changed my Saturday plans. I stumbled into things, upturned a glass of water into my plate, dropped my phone, pulled a chair onto my saree and bumped into people. It prompted my friend @shaunwilliamsi to remark that he'd never seen me this clumsy before. I gawped at beautiful women wondering if they were judging me or laughing at me. I froze with a stiff smile at a acquaintance who had never spoken to me before, hugged me and asked me to dance. My wise @deveshm told me to just let go and enjoy being the teenager that I never was. I remember why I never was this – because I hated it. It's hard, really hard to stand in that place of vulnerability, without the defenses of perfection or control. It's terrifying and I've never stayed in it a second longer than I had to. But the kind of strength that one projects with grace, with style, with articulation is just that – a projection. A performance. A mask. A wall. Real courage is to stand as your messy, uncontained self and face the world with it saying, "This is me. I have a place here too." Today I was messy. Today I was brave. Today I was me. PC: @jaivardhan.verma #IWear #saree #sareestyle #indianwear #growingup #adulthood #courage #strength #strengthquotes #quotes #lifequotes #lifelessons #inspiration #beingyou #beingyourself

A post shared by Ramya | IdeaSmith (@ideasmithy) on

Today I didn’t feel cool, collected or in control. I left home less put together than usual (hair still wet, no lipstick). I impulsively changed my Saturday plans. I stumbled into things, upturned a glass of water into my plate, dropped my phone, pulled a chair onto my saree and bumped into people. It prompted my friend @shaunwilliamsi to remark that he’d never seen me this clumsy before.

I gawped at beautiful women wondering if they were judging me or laughing at me. I froze with a stiff smile at a acquaintance who had never spoken to me before, hugged me and asked me to dance.

My wise @deveshm told me to just let go and enjoy being the teenager that I never was. I remember why I never was this – because I hated it. It’s hard, really hard to stand in that place of vulnerability, without the defenses of perfection or control. It’s terrifying and I’ve never stayed in it a second longer than I had to.

But the kind of strength that one projects with grace, with style, with articulation is just that – a projection. A performance. A mask. A wall. Real courage is to stand as your messy, uncontained self and face the world with it saying, “This is me. I have a place here too.” Today I was messy. Today I was brave. Today I was me.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

I Wear: Independence Sari

Independence Day fell close to a weekend this year. And it was also a sunny, dry day in the middle of a wet August. I took the opportunity to pull out a garment that I added to my wardrobe on another Independence Day four years ago – the sari.

I won’t talk about all the merits of the sari and how it suits Indian weather and body structures. But I will say that it gets better and easier with practice. I’m almost entirely sari-normalised now in that I don’t consider it a special garment to be brought out only among fanfare and tripped around in awkwardly. I reach for a sari as easily as I reach for a pair of trousers or a favorite top. It does tend to reduce in the monsoon because of the filthy city I live in and the fact that I prefer cottons which don’t dry as easily.

But here’s the look that it only took me 20 minutes to get on, right before I went out on a family dinner for Independence Day!

I Wear:

  • Red and white cotton saree: Bengal cotton
  • Lace croptop: Lokhandwala market
  • Painted wooden earrings: Bangalore airport

If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts and videos.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

I Wear: Sunday Lunch With Family

Mum bought me this gorgeous saree. It’s quite unlike the usual collection you’ll find hanging in my house. It’s silk but not a kanjeevaram or one of the classics. The pattern isn’t just geometric (which mum hates) but abstract as hell. And only when I draped it, did I realise it had added quirk by way of a different colour on either side of the pleat-bunch. Then I learnt from a friend’s comment on the Facebook picture that the pattern is inspired by artist Piet Mondrian’s style.

If you’ve been following my (admittedly sparse of late) style posts, you’ll already know that sarees with blouses-that-are-not are my signature. This one is a sheer, ribbed black top that mum got me a couple of years ago, that I haven’t worn since it looks a bit too tweeny-partygirl even for me. But with this saree, well, see for yourself…

I Wear:

  • Mondrian print saree: Handloom & Handicrafts exhibition
  • Sheer black top: Chemistry
  • Blue ballerinas: Clark’s

* Check out the other I Wear posts and videos.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m onTwitter and Instagram.

I Wear: Indian Wedding

*This is a sponsored post.

Two of my friends got married this week. I attended a ceremony that lasted over 6 hours, included a pheras-around-fire ritual, several small in-family practices, a wedding dinner and reception. And this was actually an Indian Wedding Lite. I didn’t have much time to dress or even plan what I’d wear, considering it was a speed tracked wedding (7 days to organise, invite and conduct!). Also, it was in the middle of a  weekday in oppressive, pre-monsoon June in Mumbai.

I went to my saree cupboard, of course. Sarees are my staple wedding wear. And the past year of saree experimentation have given me a mean confidence about a quick drape. I picked out an old favourite, my first ever Kanjeevaram saree, actually. I chose this one because its blue/green colour would be different from the traditional red/pink/purple hues that dominate Indian wedding guest attire. Also, with its stripy design and brown-gold border, it defies the kanjeevaram tradition of plain hues with gold buttis and  border.

I’ve been struggling to find good blouse alternatives for sarees and the last year has been full of experimenting with tee-shirts, croptops and even a blazer once. But for a wedding, I wanted to go a little more traditional (convention having being defied adequately in choice of saree). I wore a chilli green readymade silk blouse that I found available under a brand called Ethnicity. The fit is good, the colours vibrant and the design, just the right blend of saucy and conventional.

And finally (or rather, primarily), the accessories. The jewellery would have to be gold or close (I went with minakari) to match the saree border. My regular steel strapped watch would clash with the gold/yellow/brown tones. My latest timepiece came in handy. I have a new Jord Woodwatch in an unusual Cherry wood shade. It went beautifully with my attire. The watch is entirely made of wood, including its strap so it didn’t conflict with the material/fabric ensemble either. Here’s how I looked:

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I Wear:

  • Blue-green striped kanjeevaram saree: Nalli, Chennai
  • Chilli green silk readymade blouse: Ethinicity (available in InOrbit mall)
  • Minakari jewellery: Central Cottage Emporium, New Delhi
  • Woodwatch: Ely Series (Cherry), JORD

*JORD wood watches can be ordered at their online store. The one I’m wearing in the photograph is here.ely-11-front-angled

 

Unimpressive Me

I had dinner with two nice but very boastful people. This much is okay. I don’t grudge them their successes. And it’s always good to see people take pleasure in things that make them happy. But I felt a heavy somethingness push me into the corner (where the water-on-glass fountain thingy leaked, stained my saree palluv and left blue marks on the marble floor). When I walked out, I realised it had been just as heavy as Mumbai’s pre-monsoon mugginess that settles on skin, clothes, hair, working spirit and weighs it down.

I’m starting to feel unimpressive in most social situations these days. And this unimpressiveness seems to automatically translate to inappropriateness. I’m not allowed to underwhelm. The most interesting things I can find to say, are about people I know, who are doing impressive things. But what, they ask me, are you doing with your life? And tonight, I want to say,

What am I doing with my life? Why, living it of course.

I feel too tired, too weary, too bored, take your pick to perform. Sometimes, when the pressure is too much, I take out my past and flash it around. It’s not great and it’s fast losing value but at the moment it still passes for currency. Yet, it’s an experience that drains me. Nostalgia always does, doesn’t it? And I feel that pathetic something that oldish people must feel, trying to keep a bygone past alive.

There are the ideas that keep coming my way, pitying sometimes but then growing in intensity to eagerness. Everyone is so eager to open my eyes to something that will make my life impressive. Travel, they say, you’re a free bird, why are you stuck in the shithole of Bombay? I don’t have an answer, I truly don’t. But why should I travel? Shouldn’t that have an answer too? ‘To see the world’ is not an answer. At least it doesn’t answer any questions that I’m asking. If I’m travelling so that I can have a cool Instagram feed, a flashy resume and a handful of interesting stories over dinner, hey that’s great but it’s not answering anything. And frankly, I don’t feel upto making the effort. Getting up and getting through the day smiling is effort enough and reward enough, as far as I’m concerned.

Last week I tried out Secret, an app that I thought I might really like, given its anonymity. Within an hour I found nobody was talking about me or even saying things that I felt a part of. I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or disappointed. And it struck me. The girls, those unnamed girls (but everyone knows who they are), they are the new MEs. Eight years ago, some guy ran a slightly offensive blog pitting all the big women bloggers in a horse race against each other. Of course, I was one of them. Newspapers ran stories about the new thing young people were doing and my face was on the pages of national dailies, being quoted as a pioneer. I know now that around the country, several young men crushed desperately on a quirky, sombre woman they only knew as IdeaSmith. But that’s not me anymore. The world has moved on to newer news and younger, fresher, more vibrant, more energetic faces.

No, wait, that’s not quite what I’m trying to say because it sounds as if I’m sad. I’m really not. That’s a life I lived when I lived it. I don’t live that life anymore. I’ve performed the tricks, danced through hoops and done the requisite impressiveness. I have been the belle of the ball, the star in the room. And I’m not anymore. Never mind whether I could be or not. It’s that I just don’t feel like doing it anymore – it’s too much effort for things too fleeting.

A few days ago, someone I met recently said that he enjoyed conversations with me. But I wanted to protest,

“We don’t have conversations. We trade wisecracks.”

These are fun to do, no doubt. We show off our wit, our think-on-feetness, our cool references and our hotshot selves. Then what? I’d really like to know the person this is, after all the sparkle has settled. What does he like to eat when he is bored? Who does he think  of when he is unwell? And I’d like to tell him these things about me. But I can’t. He’s off and running, to seek several someone elses who can impress him.

I wish the world didn’t expect me to continue performing. I’m not expecting to be impressed anymore either. I’ll settle for a nice conversation. I guess I am settling down to 35 after all. Unimpressive is not fabulous. But it is comfortable.

I Wear: Saree Funk

I’ve adopted the saree as my new go-to garment. I mean, mum has such an awesome collection that my wardrobe quadrupled overnight! Quadrupled because the saree can be worn in so many different drapes and styles. I grew up watching mum deftly drape sarees of cotton, chiffon, georgette and silk for the nights out. And when I was tall enough, I’d play dress up with her cast-offs at home. The saree is as versatile as it can get – it spans the entire range from girly-frothy to staid lady to seductive temptress.

I’ve worn sarees as an adult – for college presentations and then it was relegated as my wedding guest attire. Here’s one instance that I wore it the ‘regular way‘ (I know the photo on the left is bad but I was being plagued by trolls at the time of posting and needed to preserve some shard of anonymity) and another where I funked it up.

full lehenga1

But I wanted more occasions and a broader spectrum of fabrics and colours to experiment with. So, I figured, why not do with the saree what people have been doing with the salwar-kameez for the last fifteen years? The salwar kameez has attained that hallowed individualised status where every woman picks a cut, colour, fabric, length, fit and style that suits her. The saree offers at least the same range of options, if not more.

My biggest problem has been finding a good tailor to stitch the kind of blouses I want. Still, this problem is a blessing in disguise, given that it gave me the idea to funk up my saree look with what was already in my wardrobe. Necessity being mother of invention and all, I dug out my fitted tops and teamed them up with my sarees. Here are some of the things I’ve been trying.

It started with this, on Independence Day, with a saree too transparent for mum to want to wear it. I wore it with a plain green sleeveless top.

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Then there’s the orange and white saree that found its soulmate in a red mock-halter top that I don’t really like wearing with jeans. I wore it in December, on a cool day, with a leather cross-body handbag and a shawl draped over one shoulder.

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This beautiful grey silk saree that mum picked up in Delhi worked like magic with a purple-and-grey tartan croptop.

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And emboldened by the success of the above, I dared to wear this on a cold evening out with the family – a turquoise corduroy blazer with a cream printed Moonga silk.

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A couple of other things that I’ve tried that I don’t have good pictures for here – a denim skivvy with a pale blue saree (see picture below), a white lace croptop with a green saree and a black studded leather top with a grey silk saree (this one I really wish I had a picture for!).

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Update: I wore this the very next week. A return to the traditional but funking it up by going retro. I believe this style was very popular in the 70s, especially among the pioneering careerwomen. It’s a Bengal cotton saree with a slinky, sleeveless blouse and the same cross-body leather handbag I’ve carried in the earlier pictures.

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The saree is really just a really long length of fabric. It’s really not very different from wearing an ankle-length skirt and a dupatta. Pins in the right places and some practice make it a perfectly comfortable outfit to wear. If you’ve mastered the basic pleats-at-waist and shoulder drape, there is a whole range of things you could do with it. Here’s your basic saree drape (yes, it really is as simple as they make it look):

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