And that purple of Day 9 of Navratri is upon us in a flash. I say flash but I have lived these moments to the best I could and even if it meant spending a grand time on Instagram, it has been one with intent and mindfulness. It was not only a visual treat of sarees and colours that played as a film on my feed but a sense of community and collective spirit of coming together to celebrate. And it was a celebration at different levels and on different fronts for many of us. And #norulesnavratri made all the sense in the world. There was a purpose as I woke up, a colour to add to my day, a few moments of shringaar, an anticipation of words and a contentment at the end of it. There was a desire to relive memories, a drive to make more memories and somewhere amidst all this, weave stories we will live to tell another day. And somewhere along, for some of us, this was a creative outlet to express yourself in ways you felt like and send out your energy to the world and I, again, saw the power of a hashtag. There was inspiration in your wardrobe and on the internet and, corners felt like home – familiar and joyful. It was an opportunity to share a good word and trust me, I saw a lot of it just when we needed a lot of it. It truly did feel like #selfcarenavratri . And then, I had my personal highs of meeting and talking to people I have long admired, visit their homes from the convenience of my chair and also build relationships where I have sat in their presence and felt thankful. I am mindful this may have been a difficult period for some of us and I hope the positivity of celebrations touches us all. Constraints bring out a lot of creativity. But it is the community that has baffled me and left me with a hope and optimism that even amidst all the anxieties, there is someone out there who can be there for you, just a click away. And even though it may seem too simple to grasp and live on, let us not forget how these last #9daysofnavratri have made us feel and believe.
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 am wearing this lovely easy-breezy saree that my perima gifted me. I do have very generous perimas and chittis who have spoilt me silly and I don’t want that to change ever. The transition to being given sarees from salwar materials as cloth gifts happened in college when I started having events to wear them to and I really enjoyed that phase a lot – you know how you wait to be an adult to enjoy certain perks ? This saree had my heart the minute I saw those dainty parrots in green, blue and silver. I decided to pair this blouse just so I could wear this lovely glass jewellery set I got from Murano from our X’mas trip to Italy in 2015. When we were in Venice, K and I visited some glassmaking centres and watched some beautiful glassware being made. Those colours, the craftsmanship blew us away every time the glass was blown! We could not carry back anything heavy and I spotted some glass jewellery in one of the boutiques attached to the glassmaking centre. It was quite pricey and I was not sure if I wanted it so after dilly dallying, we left without buying it. We had walked about a kilometre from the place when I could take it no more and K who very calmly professed he had seen this coming, told me to hurry along and get it before they closed. I ran. I really did. I will never forget that evening as I ran across a couple of small bridges and my absolutely pathetic sense of direction left me in peace for that one moment. When I went back, the owner was almost getting ready to close and he smiled at me and said, “Ah, there you are! I knew you would come back darling.” I could not say a word or smile. I just picked this up, mumbled a thank you and walked back with the nervous energy and excitement that had not left me and K was sitting on the steps across the bridge waiting. It is in these moments I have felt acute elation and I am aware I can never quite put them in words. Will you believe it if I tell you I have never worn this jewellery ever as I kept waiting for an ultra special occasion? But today? After a lot of what we have been through, today is the surest and most special occasion to celebrate, after all.
This saree is given to me from my mother in law for one of the events at my BIL’s wedding. It is sort of in between a yellow- orange and I love it. It is super easy to drape and looks even nicer if I had put in some effort to iron it. We were in Singapore when she got this and so she had gotten the blouse and everything done for me and it fits me to a T ❤ There is a little story behind the accessories too. I am wearing a necklace and huge earrings I got from Jodhpur when a group of my uni friends and I went for a classmate’s wedding there. We did a fair bit of sight seeing and I bought this from a small shop run by an elderly person. It was all of 150 rupees but has stayed with me all these years in perfect condition. I still remember the joy with which I brought home a piece of Rajasthan which has always meant a lot, bringing home a piece from your travels. We also had a lovely day today, as bright and special as the saree and the pairings.
I am wearing another of ma’s sarees that I flicked the moment my perima gave it to her when I was in university. It is so soft and slides off weightless. I know we have a lot of mix and match saree blouses now that really look stunning but I have a soft spot for blouse pieces that come as part of the saree. If you swipe, you can see the blouse that came with this and I got this stitched right away. It has been a while since I wore this so I was surprised the blouse still fits me. My perima had gotten some work done on it as well and as I took some pictures in our dining hall by the window, a million lights danced on the wall and it took me a few seconds to recognize that the sequins were dancing in the sunlight. K took some lovely pictures today but I am saving them for another day and sharing these timed selfies for today. For a while now, I have been thinking of a grey saree but somehow it never materialized but here is what I have realized – your saree will find you. They come to you in all forms and from all kinds of people, but they will find you when their time comes. And then they find their way to another.
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.
There is something about fall that makes me do these captures almost every year now. As someone with intense olfaction and an undiagnosed synaesthesia, my senses are heightened when I see the leaves that seem to spread a golden carpet in our garden everywhere. The aromatic apparitions are coupled by strong emotions of course but that has not been seasonal. I try to keep track of what triggers what and where the cycle begins (?) but it is a complex web. Some of these are pure associations of a yesterday and I can discern those in a sniff. Like the pumpkin body butter that takes me to the streets of Auckland, the hand cream that takes me on a trip to Shropshire and a particularly green road that housed a teeny Dominos. There was a time I would buy a small perfume for every trip I made but eventually stopped. I realised the place brings with it, its own sensorial mirage and it is more lasting than anything money can buy. But this Kama Ayurveda oil surprised me – it takes me to the wire basket that my grandfather would carry, with several many paraphernalia all neatly arranged. He was an Ayurvedic doctor but the bag smelt of a mix of incense, old papers, freshly laundered garment and perhaps an uncture? But when I think of the bag, this is the smell I smell. And it oddly is also the smell I associate when I think of an afternoon when we made kohl at home with hibiscus. It smelt nothing of bringadi but that is also perhaps why it is a mirage. They bring me an overwhelming sense of comfort, despite what may seem like a sensorial overload. Something I have been going back to and will write about is also this beautiful book by Charlie Mackesy that I first saw on @namrathakumar29 feed. It is filled with the comfort and warmth that I can only describe through some of the above smells. I rarely write about this because it is hard to describe abstraction. So I dig into my Lara bar (stories I will tell you another time!) and watch the fleeting shower of leaves from my window.
Normalcy or normality is anything but that. It is truly something that I most strongly enjoy, crave for and pray for. Perfectly normal, routine days made of exceptionally special mundane acts. It is what I miss most when something abrupt strikes. It is what I am most nostalgic about. Sure, that thrilling day trip on that vacation 4 years ago is a grand memory to revisit and maybe even long for once in a while. But most often what my heart truly wants is all those everyday acts I do and did, that I no longer can. In these moments, I have found my way of making life feel grand. It is a tricky circle of realization – being or the fear of being deprived of something or someone tells you exactly what you love most. And a seemingly ordinary today is the grand memory trip of a further tomorrow.