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sarees

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

sarees tell stories

  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…

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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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sarees tell stories

the black paithani

sarees tell stories the black paithani

i think it was in 1984 that i first heard of paithani sarees. while struggling with the correct way to say the name and marveling at all the stories of how real gold thread was used in its tapestry weave and how the art was almost dying but now the government of maharashtra was reviving it, and oh they were so expensive so exclusive (that favourite word) and almost sighing at the fact that i’d never ever be able to…

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