Monday, October 19, 2009

Diwali wishes..

I have been away long. Caught up with this and that. After months of being unorganized and not liking it too much, I am going to use the festival of lights as an excuse to get the blogging mojo back.
So here wishing you all a very very happy Diwali..!!
We did the lights, the diyas, a poor excuse for the rangoli, mithai and plenty of fun....

The rangoli my eight-year-old helped me make. Hardly traditional and far from pretty, but that's about how skillful we are with floor art. A friend suggested a name for the thing, `Kali the killer butterfly', I thought it fitting and the boy, dazzled..!

One year old baby tested her boundaries yet again, but I'd like to think she was trying to be helpful :)

Hope you guys had a lovely Diwali...
Do get back to this space in a day or two because more festive stuff follows..

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bali Random

Just an upload of random pictures from Bali before I can go on to other things........

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Balinese Villa

Ancient Indonesian legend has it that the Gods created the realm of the heavens-sky- for themselves, the earth for animals and the ocean for fishes. For men they chose an earthly paradise. Pulling a fish out of the bowels of the sea, they held it to the light, its tail forming a peninsula, gills- water of lakes and the backbone a string of mountains stretching across the length an the breadth of the island.

Shadow art
Thus created ~Bali- which also means offering was given to man.  The island has won an unearthly reputation as `heaven’ and `Eden’ ever since.
Bali resonates with stunning natural beauty that permeates the very fabric of life and aesthetic on the island. Reflecting variously in the islander’s expression of beauty in art architecture, dance music and even the everyday rituals of life.

The Villa
It has long captured the imaginations of travelers from all over the world.  Overcome by the fecund landscape and all pervasive expression of beauty, Playwright and composer Noel Coward in his witty style complained to friend Charlie Chaplin in verse:
As I was saying this morning to Charlie,
There's far too much music in Bali. 
And though as a place it is entrancing
There's also, I thought too much dancing.

It seems that each Balinese native
From the womb to tomb is creative.
And though the results are quite clever,
There's too much creative endeavor!

Private plunge pool facing the Indian Ocean in our villa

River facing  plunge pool of  a neighbouring villa.

The island's famous beauty has attracted hordes of settlers, designers, artists and people from all fabric of life further enriching the cultural tapestry .  Moreover it attracts tourist by the droves from all over the globe.

The room *

Dining Area of the Villa
Posting a few images of charming stone villas we stayed in during a recent trip to the island haven. 
Built in the local Balinese style, the thatched Villas are  open-sided pavilions, each with its  own stunning view.  The villas are furnished with traditional bamboo and colonial furniture. 
Cheerful Indonesian fabrics and artifacts are an important part of the decor.

Despite their  deceptively  simple indigenous  appearance  the villas come kitted with all conceivable creature comforts, offering visitors  an idealized experience in tropical living albeit in open pavilions and  under thatched  roofs.  The outdoor stone and bamboo shower areas and quaint private plunge pools only  complete the very pretty  picture.

Outdoor seating in the open pavilion.
In the 1960s vacation houses first started being built on the island. In the late 1980’s the Amandari hotel opened near Ubud, setting a new standard for boutique hotels. By now the island is transformed. While the Balinese struggle to retain their traditional values, the island is increasingly colonized by tourism.  
Dinner table
Staying in the pristine carefully beautified and structured environment of the island today it is hard not to ponder over the real impact tourism has had on the island.
As vehement critics of how tourism has invaded the local culture and ecology write Bali off as a paradise lost already, it will do well for us as tourists anywhere to be mindful of the footprints we leave in the process of visiting and enjoying new places.
Tips for green travel:
At your Hotel
  •   Reuse bed linen and towels etc
  •   Keep showers, short
  •   Use reusable dishes and cutlery only
  •   Pack wisely and reuse plastic bags if you’ve carried any
  •   Do not litter. Carry a small bag for your garbage.
  •  Find out about your hotel’s recycling program and dispose your waste accordingly. If the  Hotel does not have a recycling program, consider carrying all recyclable waste such as  empty plastic and glass bottles back home with you.
  •  Minimize use of Air-conditioning and other electrical amenities in your room.

* The room picture courtesy,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Spotted  these at a local store recently.  The day-beds by  designer duo Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levine  rethink the traditional Indian Charpoy with fabulous results.

Exploring the concept of `unity of opposites', the range combines handcrafted and industrially produced work.

The day beds use cotton and silk mattresses embellished  by embroidery applique and mirror work. The patterns evoke the ancient Indian game of `chauras' or `Chaupad'.

In an endearing detail, all crafts women who have worked on the mattresses have embroidered their names and the date on the edge of the mattresses.

Check out the designers website at -
Images from  here

Monday, March 9, 2009

Textiles: Hill tribe weaves

Getting back to posting about Textile traditions from Asia. This one is  about the most vibrant, most eclectic and most lovingly preserved traditions one will encounter. The hill tribe weaves from Indochina. 

An intricate  flower Hmong blanket  with extensive embroidery ,
 applique and batik used as alternately a throw or coverlet in the bed room.

Indigo dyed Black Hmong clothing from Vietnam. The collar, belt and sleeves are worked in
  cross-stitch and applique and attached  to the main garment later.

The hill tribe people from the region are diverse- almost 50 from Vietnam alone.  They present a mind boggling diversity in attire, practices customs and traditions. It is impossible for the casual visitor to illustrate the whole gamut in a single blog post, it is more a subject for a serious ethnographer.

What unifies the vast number of ethnic people spread across Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and even China, to my mind is their love for textiles.  Each minority is easily identifiable with their dress Most of them derive their names from the particular style of clothing they wear - Black Hmong, Flower Hmong, Red Dzao or Yao, White-trouser Yao so on. 

One of the more vibrant tribes, Red yao, or Dzao clothing. Remarkable for their  detachable aprons and belts worked with embroidery, applique and liberal use of woolen and metallic embellishment.

Flower Hmong blanket used as a window runner in the study room

The garments are made by the women. Harvesting  and weaving the hemp,  breeding silkworms, applying indigo dye, producing the batik designs, embroidering  and sewing the garment and embellishing them with pompoms, shells and sequins, a virtually limitless  range of techniques go into producing colorful and flamboyant dress which are utilitarian, ecologically-kind and expressive.
Have posted illustrations of the Black Hmong and the Red Yao or  Dzao clothing from Vietnam. (Only I have not managed  to get the right shades of indigo dyes in the illustrations which differ from the original in that respect. )

An unusual Sin ton, or belt  and Plastron or Chap, of the Red Yao tribe

A lasting memory from my trip to Sapa, Vietnam is observing a Hmong household up-close. Ventured more by accident, seeking shelter from sudden rain- the  half an hour spent in a ramshackle hut told me enough about the love of textiles, for the small area inhabited by the Black Hmong family was rife with fabric dying and weaving paraphernalia. A pungent smell of indigo fermenting in vats permeated the mostly cane and bamboo house. The women of the house  had inky-blue hands - a tell tale sign that comes from handling indigo dyes.
The  prettiest  sight  one will encounter roaming the emerald rice paddies of this exquisite hill station in Northern Vietnam is the sight of  White Hmong  and  Flower Hmong women swishing voluminous skirts on the way to the weekly market. Called `skirts of thousand pleats' on account of  the painstaking hand pleating that goes into creating the garment.

Flat cushion made from a Hmong jacket
A visit to the weekly Hmong market in  Luang Prabang, Laos, was another occasion to arrest lasting images of a very colourful people out in their finery. 

Over all the trips I have come back with stashes of textiles. Posting a few pictures from around the house and a slide show of images from  Vietnam and Laos.

 A child's cap embellished with wool, metal, and old coins : Red Yao tribe

Besides the colourful flamboyant clothing, the hill people use jewellery and accessories extensively, a subject that will take up an entirely different post.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Rise delicate one
from the liquid  womb
murky and quite.
Rise to the kindling
of  the heavens above
Rise to the skies. 
for you will float above it all
and eventually
keep the company of Gods.

On a good day like this a package arrives.

Brimming with pink and white lotus buds

You hear them slowly unfold  into blooms ..

and quietly remember a day not long ago that went something  like today goes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I have been tagged... Its been a month since blogger buddies, Dithi and  Jagriti  urged me to put down six things about me  before I could pass on the pickle to another six people.
Although it sounds easy, I have taken my time with this one. If  there are only six things to say, like only six things mattered, what would one say and what would one leave out? 
Instead of spending too much time procrastinating about what it will be and why, I'll post pictures of six things I made at pottery class a few years ago.

What is important about these six things is  that they are really bad, quite the opposite of the magnificent artistic game plan with which I approached them. Please understand that these misadventures in amateurish shapes and awful glazes are more about the love than success.

Despite my perseverance and complete dedication, I never graduated beyond hand-building. The few sessions I spent in the studio were usually a complete waste of time, but how I enjoyed myself!
Beating mounds of hardened clay down to smooth malleability, the squish and slurp of slurry.. the hours of contemplating singular shapes, the intense meditation it is possible to achieve and the labour of it all.. Sometimes after the class, the only thing that would bring me back from the pure state of zen I'd achieve in the preceding two hours was the sight of the monstrosity staring back at me from the work table.

So it is with a lot of courage and apprehension that I will unveil if only for the sake of the tag, six terrifying signs of a failed potter... again and again,  you are urged to look on only at the love. 

Now for the six people who I am going to pass the tag on to,


1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

There guys, happy tagging and happier blogging.


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