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handloom fabric

sarees tell stories

checks and no balance from chettinad

it was a couple of years ago i think, that a good friend of mine said, since i loved sarees so much we should go to chettinad together. chettinad? i was surprised. what did chettinad have to do with sarees? chettinad was about chicken with a distinct peppery taste, which no matter how many recipes i looked up on the net, i never seemed to get right. it was about food: spicy, aromatic, delicious. it was about the famous chettiars…

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sarees tell stories

iron nails and camel dung

the more i look at the saree, the more it wraps me in thoughts. random ones that i can’t arrange beautifully like the profusion of hand printed patterns on it. i want to write a simple piece, i mutter to myself… about those nails and camel dung, but i can’t stop the steady stream of images and words: shadowy memories of things heard far away in the past, and some just the other day. cotton trade, american civil war, indigo…

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Now Brewing

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

a thing for khadi

then he said “hey ram!” and he died. every time i heard that as a child i was captivated. a funny kind of beauty in that image. a pristine clean thing, nothing could taint it. complications are for adults perhaps. the back gate of my grandparents’ home in delhi would take us down a narrow lane to the back gate of birla house. this is where gandhi ji used to live, and where he died on a winter evening twelve…

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