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sarees tell stories

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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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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sarees tell stories

sand banks, memory, and baluchari

golden arrows rained down, a charioteer looked back at the archer standing behind him. who was he shooting at? i looked to the left. a man stood on another chariot holding the reins as a pair of horses reared, one of the chariot’s wheels seemed to be stuck in the mud and a warrior in reddish orange and gold was beside it perhaps trying to get it out. who were they? even though my mind wasn’t articulating clearly, i knew…

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sarees tell stories

a saree from kerala

fine fine off white cotton with a layer of shimmery soft gold on edges, on ends, six whole yards of it. i absolutely love the kerala kasavu. i never knew what it was called, asking in my inelegant way for “you know one of those white and gold kerala sarees,” when my friend said her mother was going to her home town in the southern state. aunty bought me my very first kasavu, and as i stared feeling pretty tongue…

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sarees tell stories

totally fair

a saree has never heard of size zero. actually a saree doesn’t care too much about size at all. short, tall, thin, small, fat, squat, what, not… a saree is happy to drape you; no discrimination, no snigger at the inches, no unseemly joy at chancing upon a slim waist. before the saree, all are equal. my boss once told me, he is singaporean chinese, that he thought the saree was the most creative “dress” ever. just a length of…

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sarees tell stories

bandhani ties

i have no idea why bandhanis are so colourful but i keep thinking the arid lands where the craft grew, the desert all round, the dry parched earth, the overdose of browns and ochres might have had something to do with it. a burst of happy colour to take on the sombre hues, perhaps a note of defiance in them. in the western states of gujarat and rajasthan, bandhani, bandhej or tie and dye has been a way of life…

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sarees tell stories

that combination

  kanjeevaram silks are known for their combinations… the body and border clash and contrast. usually its about the colours. their richness, that depth that you can’t quite catch and explain in mere words. this one’s combination had me standing rapt before the shelf at ambara, this lovely boutique right by my friend’s place in bangalore. of course, we had rushed to shop the moment i’d arrived. i had several sarees from here thanks to my friend who tolerates my…

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sarees tell stories

talk of the tangail

i have grown up around these light, floaty, slightly see through sarees in beautiful colours, or a typical ivoryish off white with woven borders, sometimes little bootis or motifs all over them, sometimes plain. taanter sharee. sarees of the loom. for hundreds of years and more – shantipur goes back 500 years i read – across weaving centres in bengal, both west and east (now bangladesh) cotton sarees have been woven by hand by ordinary people, no designers they, the…

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sarees tell stories

time for a lal benaroshi

i was pretty young, six or seven i think, when i decided i’d wear my mother’s wedding saree when i got married. it was of course a lal benaroshi as bengali brides have worn at their weddings for years perhaps centuries… a red banarasi saree from varanasi where beautiful sarees are made with fine gold and silver and silk thread work, where the ganga flows deep and wide and shining with tales, where bulls charge you in narrow lanes  with…

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