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sarees

sarees tell stories

maharanis, construction workers, ics officers – a saree wearer’s longish ramble

six yards, five and a half metres, sometimes nine yards, of material. you have to wrap it around yourself. tuck here, tuck there, make the pleats, hold the pallu in place. it must be so difficult. one must sit still or move around in luxury cars or palanquins if one is in a saree. yet a saree has never demanded that. not really, not ever. in fact, if your palanquin is late, you can simply hitch up your saree a…

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the other blue banarasi

in the middle of may or was it june last year, when a good friend and his wife invited us to their daughter’s wedding in kerala in december, and i said, yes, would love to come, i was fully prepared for an enchanting time in the deep green southern state which has an even deeper affair with red. today, the only state in the country with a communist government. i would be passing through bengaluru. when i lived there, it…

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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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sarees tell stories

muga and memories

there were always butterflies to chase after and try and catch; powdery colour left behind on your fingers as the winged one found a way to escape your clutches. not just the usual yellow and white butterflies. they were blue and black, brown with large eye like patterns, some had purple streaks, some ornate wings with frilly edges. in the reserve forest there were many more. and there were moths too. big ones, tiny ones, in the house, in the…

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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

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

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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