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sarees tell stories

sarees tell stories

in a pink nylon saree

it was my maternal uncle’s wedding. may 1966. i was six, my cousins between four and ten. we were five of us girls i think. we were all going to attend the wedding in calcutta and then go to delhi for the reception. my grandmother, always generous, fun, a bit over the top as grandmothers really ought to be, decided to get nearly identical lehengas and sarees made for us. the lehengas were in red silk with green cholis and…

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sarees tell stories

patola dreams

the edges of the patterns are slightly blurred, the colours are shimmering, the silk flows. i am holding this darkly lovely saree at a boutique in bombay and quietly falling in love. the fabric is soft as it falls languidly to the floor, the base is black with a mesh of yellow and magenta and purple and red and on it, the borders are ganga jamna… one red, the other magenta, not too wide, not too narrow. everything about the…

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sarees tell stories

the nizam of mangalgiri

i didn’t even wait to iron a blouse. i had to wear one of the five sarees instantly. my husband had just returned from his trip to the chilli fields of india in guntur and cuddalore with bags of dry red chilli and the sarees. there they were, the sheets of newspaper around which they’d been folded lay on the floor, i had shaken them out impatiently. there was no carry bag or box. when he said to me he’d…

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sarees tell stories

the last saree i flicked from my mother

“where did you get this saree from?” i asked, when she came out of the room in this lovely light tangail. my mother was visiting me in singapore. she looked sort of pleased for i am sure she’d noticed the pique of interest in my voice. she said, she didn’t remember the name of the shop but she had decided to get herself some comfortable cotton sarees before coming here. so she had gone with one of her favourite cousins…

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sarees tell stories

of real and fake and chanderi sarees

he loved vintage cars. every morning, practically, he’d come to look at his collection, which used to be kept in a garage built on land rented from my family. he always wore pristine, brilliant white pajamas and a flowing crisp kurta, his hair would be neatly brushed and the most pleasant smile would appear on his face if he happened to spot you or any of your elders. “namashkar!” he’d greet in a low amicable tone, as he raised his…

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sarees tell stories

A Unique Silk

Our family is vegetarian, which lifestyle later led to one member in the family taking this non-violent way a little further by adopting a vegan way of life. LALITA ARYA, our first guest writer on Sarees Tell Stories, brings us the tale of a delightful fabric and more. Many thanks to Lalita for enjoying Writersbrew and deciding to write about a saree that touched her. Being vegan has become quite popular in the west, although this has been one of…

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sarees tell stories

when did the kantha become a saree

the simple run stitch. needle moving up, needle moving down, a stitch you see, a stitch you don’t, anyone can do this, of course, it’s not an art. it’s the everyday, good old run. women untrained, housewives, aunties and grandmothers chatting together after lunch on a winter afternoon chewing their paan, they use it to make soft quilts with old sarees and dhotis. quilts called kantha. the “n” is a soft nasal one and the “a”s stretch long, and it’s…

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sarees tell stories

girls and their sarees

will you both wear sarees one day and let me take some pictures, i asked. one of them grinned, the other did not. my sixteen year old niece loves to wear sarees, my almost fifteen year old daughter doesn’t. my niece held up the white tangail with gold border and black and gold motifs. it’s a beautiful saree, fine cotton, classy and cool. i think my mother picked it up from a shop in lake market in calcutta, almost twenty…

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sarees tell stories

the shelf

i took this picture to send it to the landlord’s agent, so she’d understand why i was asking for a couple of shelves in my cupboard.  i am worried that my sarees stacked, as you can see almost forty sarees high, will get ruined if i leave them like that. it’s already been two years. i hadn’t meant to write anything. though i have to say, i found the shot interesting. amitabh bachchan sang the national anthem yesterday at eden…

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sarees tell stories

a madhubani saree or two

my aunt said, “shall i get a madhubani saree made for you?” i was intrigued, madhubanis were paintings, weren’t they? with endless little lines, geometric figures, krishna, radha, peacocks, flowers, faces with elongated eyes, deer, forest… fine lines and bright colours. how do you make a saree of that? madhubani pieces are fairly commonplace or at least they used to be. i am not talking of extremely intricate pieces, it’s the more basic ones, often in black/green/red and maybe blue…

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