I brought out another saree that is a gift from another perima and this beautiful neckpiece earrings set that K gifted me for Valentine’s day from Madame Butterfly years ago. As I said, jewellery from K is a once in a while event but when he does, he picks the loveliest pieces 🙂 Apparently, K and his friend went out during lunch break and bought something for their partners for Valentine’s day from this shop at Marina Bay Sands. Just thinking of him doing something like that is an incredibly warm feeling. Madame Butterfly used to have a boutique at Changi airport (oh Changi!) as well and I have bought pieces for friends/ cousins when I would visit them and they would love it. Sadly, I haven’t seen this shop since a few years now and cannot seem to find much about them online either. The designs are so oriental and on rich bright glazed colours and they make a delicate statement. The saree itself is one of my firsts, a plain baby pink but with red-silver threadwork flowers on it. I got it when I was in 12th and it feels like a chiffon crepe but this is an overexcited-to-identify-the-material-me taking a guess so I would take my own guess with a pot of salt. I love it, I love how my perimas choose these sarees that one can overlook in a folded state but make for such beautiful drapes. Or maybe they just become yours. The last 8 days have made me look at my wardrobe with renewed vigour. I do sometimes wear a saree and spend some time in it, refold them to make sure they don’t tear along the seams, air them and sometimes just check on them. But this felt different. This reminded me of the abundance I am so lucky and proud of. Every time I took a saree out, it evoked an emotion and a story in me and how joyful is that? Not every object may come with a story, some you make as you go but it is these little stories, associations and emotions that make something inanimate, alive and yours. And the last days have again reinforced that.
I thought it is a great excuse to bring out this new handwoven Khadi with multi-palla from @hathkargha . The blue reminds me of the Bril ink royal blue that I loved as a school kid. Every time someone says “royal blue”, all I can think of is that pot of ink in the classic yellow packaging. Bringing home a pot of new ink was so precious and once in a while, I would get a new fountain pen, a Hero sometimes and opening the pot of ink would cast this smell on the study table that I remember to this day. And that ritual of filling your pens with ink! I continue to write in fountain pens though not as often as I would like to but I always have a pot of this ink with me and bring one with me every time I am in Mysore. Swipe to see the one I have with me now that pa gave me when I visited in 2019 🙂 I bought this saree in Singapore and it was a joy discovering khakis and linens as I continued to harbour my desire to wear them more often. It did not happen with all the activities and exchanges happening at school so here I am wearing it for an English autumn. The blouse is part of the saree and I wish I could show you what a fantastic job my favourite tailor in Mysore has made of it but that is for another day, I guess. The neckpiece is from @papreeka.store and I got it recently to celebrate something special. This multi-layered necklace somehow reminded me of something my paaTi had, as individual chains. I paired it with earrings from commercial street in Bangalore that I bought once upon a time. I love brass coz’ it ages so beautifully and it does not need much care and will always bring a rustic feel to it no matter how long it has stayed with you. This would be incomplete if I did not say a word of praise for the team at Papreeka – they have been absolute darlings, helping me track the order and also being very diligent with their communication.
Red for Day 6 of Navratri and today I brought out the Chanderi Shibori from @hathkargha that I purchased a few years ago when I was in Singapore along with a terracotta jewellery set that K got for me on a business trip to Kolkata from @biswa_bangla at Kolkata airport. It is really precious to me because it is not very often that K will pick up accessories for his wife without her being there but there have been a few exceptions and that makes these gifts extremely special 🙂 a bit about the saree – 2017 was a year I did a fair bit of online saree shopping for myself and loved ones. I was a PhD student living on campus and everytime I was called to collect a parcel, I would be so excited. The enterprises I shopped from were also very understanding and would hold on to each item I picked and only ship them together when it made most sense. Some (like @hathkargha a) would also get the falls and the edges of the saree done or even some embroidery on the pallu so when it came to me, it would be ready to wear. This shibori is a great summer saree, so light and weightless. But there is a chill in the air and I wore this earlier in the morning so I paired it with a sweater which helped. It is Day 6 already but what an absolute joy it has been so far❤
I have a few green sarees and it was a bit of a battle between choosing my Nalli Silks saree from my wedding and a beautiful Godavari cotton and this. This is the first saree K and I bought together in Singapore for a puja. And it tickles me as I realise it is the last saree we bought together. I have bought sarees for myself after that but never with K. I think this is a good reminder to change that. So anyway, we picked this up in one of the shops in Little India. I had zero knowledge of sarees and weaves and K was just there because well, I had dragged him along though he did help me pick one. This has patchwork border and pallu and drapes so so easily. I have come to realise that draping takes 2 minutes or maybe 2 mins 50 seconds but getting a picture of yourself by yourself that does not just show your face takes eternity and I really had to squeeze it in my lunch hour as my tummy groaned for attention and it was quite gloomy outside. I wore my first necklace that my chitti gave me when I was in 3rd grade, it has stayed with me since and perhaps one can tell its age but for me, it will always be evergreen and the pun is not lost on me. Hope you are enjoying your Navratri, dearest people 🙂
Entering Navratri with one of my absolute favourite colours – yellow! 🙂
I decided I would wear a saree only if I don’t feel too hassled with all the work meetings today and am so glad I did, because if anything, it brought me out of a state of daze (slipping in and out of online meetings does that to you on some days) and took me to the time I stole this saree from ma the minute her cousin gave it to her. I don’t think ma has ever worn this saree as I have preciously carried it with me everywhere I went. It is so light that it threatens to fall off me and the silver thread work that is barely there and yet so pretty always makes captivates me. This saree has seen through an invocation, a compering, a dance at a wedding and every time I realise how what we may call as material objects are so much more than that. I have so much to say but I have such an endless day ahead of me but I will say this again – I am so glad I did this today even if it means sitting at a desk and attacking tasks. I am fairly certain, it will be with renewed vigour.
Come August and September, there is a chain of festivals that get triggered and that sets off a series of memories that transport me to a different world and era indeed.
I really really miss the smell of new clothes on festivals, dabbing some turmeric to something new before wearing it while your parents check and double (and triple) check on whether you have done it or not, what a celebration new clothes were because they signified a special day or event. Oh that hustle in a market that smelt of fresh jasmine and marigolds and kanakambri, camphor, agarbattis and banana leaves that heralded a festival! Or when it inevitably rained on your day out but nothing mattered, not even the fact that you parked roads and roads away from the shopping street because you could look at all the new dresses on display, the happy smiles on people out for shopping, wondering what their shopping bags contained. And finally that moment when you found something you liked and your parents remarked it looks good on you, the pride with which you watch your parents pay for it and clutch it tight all the way home only to do a dress rehearsal again. I do feel happy when I buy something new, but these shopping trips that happened before festivals and birthdays, occasionally will always remind me of gentler lighter times, of unbearable happiness and rich pride. So when I do wear something ethnic especially on a festive day, it takes me to those times even if it is for a brief moment and I feel ridiculously happy to have those memories to relive until we recreate them again, someday soon.
A couple more close ups from last week because I finally wore this Lakshmi Kemp set from @aarvee.chennai that I bought three years ago. I have missed so many weddings, family events and just being with loved ones and the bustle of dressing up for an event, helping my ma and chitthis and perimas with their saree pleats, changing the accessories half a dozen times, kindly rejecting a suggestion, carefully drinking a hot coffee, sitting down with care for breakfast so the sarees pleats don’t get creased even before the event and photos, opening up the bindi store, convincing someone they look really good in something new, getting heady amidst half a dozen perfumes that circulate in the room amidst the flowers, waiting for everyone to be done/others waiting for you to be done and the million dollar feeling of walking into the venue and endless chatter. I miss all these little moments so much. Somedays I cannot wait to reach a stage when I can take a flight and go do all this and come back.
Hope is the hat rack I hang my dreams upon, indeed.
Somewhere this weekend, I spent some time in this saree that I want write about here (I have to give full credit to K’s endurance and creativity in capturing some really lovely moments).
You see, it was the first saree that ma and I purchased for me. Up until then, I was always whisking ma’s sarees for weddings, college events, everything. I used to stitch a blouse for myself because the kinds I would wear were never ma’s style but the sarees were all hers. When one of my favourite cousin’s wedding was fixed, I decided to buy a saree for the muhurtam and ma and I found this in the first shop we went to. I got an extremely elaborate blouse stictched for this with beads and ties and everything and I may have been as excited as the bride herself for this wedding day. I have a thing for white and cream sarees that have silver and gold in them. They are so regal and I love how they look on everyone I have seen them on. I have such grand memories of the few of us singing “Sita kalyanam” and “Malai maathinal” and “Unjal aaDinaal” in all our jasmine, gold and saree clad glory amidst that sound that new sarees make if you listen. I remember so many moments from that wedding in such vividity and the saree is always such a big part of it. I even wore this as part of one of the smaller events in my wedding. I know not much about weaves and the saree continues to be a small part of my life even if it means just wearing it for myself on a random day for a few hours. It is perhaps the way it makes me feel, or takes me back or maybe just part of who I am. It is not one to dissect for today but I love this love and someday maybe I will have a slightly more academic interest in it or maybe not. But I know that when I drape a saree and sip a coffee, I will be comforted in a strange way that only makes sense to me.
Instead of making sweet pongal for Sankranthi today, I decided to make Ragi huri hittu unDe/ pori maav unDe or ragi laddoo though we never really called them laddoos growing up. Also, I have a bit of a mental block against laddoos. Making them, I mean. I am more than comfortable with eating one or half a dozen. Therefore, very conveniently I decided to make my entry into the world of laddoo (that I have come to realise is endless) – making with ragi huri hittu/pori maav unDe with a fair bit of confidence but also a bit of nervousness because am still learning to not see every attempt as an achievement because I tend to do that a lot.
Anyway back to these unDes. It was one of my favourite evening snacks and ma would roast ragi and get it ground at the local mill (Gosh, those were the days). The roasting was key – it imparted a beautiful smell and also made it easy for digestion. She’d roast the ground flour again, carefully but generously adding ghee, shaving a ball of jaggery with a knife right over the pan as some powdered bits and little pieces fell into that aromatic bliss while my brother and I waited rather impatiently with a hope that we’d get a bulk of those jaggery pieces to bite into. She’d wrap this all up by adding some warm milk, quickly rolling them within her palm alternating between the ghee in the little cup and the ragi mixture. She’s make them a really good size and yet we wanted more. Always. I never liked the nosy nuts in them much so sometimes she’d roast and grind some nuts into this mixture as well.
Today I did all of what she does with the ragi huri hiTTu I got from home. I also went a bit wild and added some slivered almonds tossed in with the huri hittu when toasting it. It felt wonderful making this but it also made me really emotional to know I’d be eating them without my brother. I’ll get all the jaggery pieces for myself and that is no fun at all. Ah, I guess I’ll send a picture to him and make him jealous. Sisters will be sisters