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  • September 19, 2014 03:00:59 AM

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Impact of digital technology on culture. Books, travel and family tales.

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The Saree Project: Week 4, Kunbi Drape

This week's inspiration comes from Goa. The Kunbi drape has two distinct styles worn differently by Hindu and Christian women. 

This week’s inspiration comes from Goa. I need to go to Goa with Ipshita and Mark, to repeat our Bombay adventures. I don’t know where all these eleven years have gone. Maybe it’s my post maternity state, but it makes me want to cry. I feel so overwhelmed by nostalgia. Is life just passing me by?

Now, Goa I remember vividly from my college memories, but it’s way too cool not to keep going back to. It has had several unique influences in Portuguese and Konkani style culture –  that includes food and clothing among all else. The Kunbi drape has two distinct styles worn differently by Hindu and Christian women. 

Traditionally, the Kunbi Saree is a colorful check pattern. More fine details are available here. I don’t own a Saree like that, and used what I had available in my closet. I tried the Hindu styling for this week. 

Reminder: Here’s a single page to view all the styles in one go. 4 down, 48 to go. Meanwhile, here’s week 4:

Drape: This drape is mainly used by farming communities. It’s a nice hands-free Saree, and doesn’t require much. A cotton or a softer fabric that can be tied at the shoulder is essential. My Saree had this stiff Pallu so I had to use a pin to keep it in place. You can drape it with or without a blouse. The drape helps cover up. Here’s the YouTube link. Also, Kunbi folk dancers in action here.

Saree: The Saree I chose is 6-yard chiffon- and no matter what Yashraj films make you believe, they’re not suited for winter or snow. To feel a bit warm, I wore a dress underneath the Saree, and also a Petticoat and layered it up. The Saree is from Meena Bazaar (I have hardly ever left that store without buying anything), and has the Mukaish pattern on it in waves. The Pallu has some latkan or hanging beads for effect. With the way it is designed, it is perhaps made with Nivi drapes in mind. 

Blouse: I dressed it up with a knitted, body con dress. It has been close to 30 degrees (0 Deg C) and I didn’t want to step out and catch a cold. Besides, I felt a dress was an interesting layer to try. The dress is from Nordstrom.

Since I am still on maternity break, my boots aren’t out yet. I wore this Saree at home (indoors) as we had some friends over, and wore my Nisolo shoes for a quick picture outdoors. I would not recommend wearing these shoes at this time outside in Michigan. But if you live here, you already know frost bites and cold feet are not a good idea.


The Saree Project: Week 3, Mohiniyattam Drape

This drape is often associated with the Mohiniyattam dance form.  Dancers may wear pre-stitched versions

This week’s inspiration came all the way from Kerala, which is interesting especially because the Michigan winters have started so soon, and with 75 degrees and sunny, Kerala appears so exciting! 

Here’s a single page to view all the styles in one go. 3 down, 49 to go. Meanwhile, here’s week 3:

Drape: This drape is often associated with the Mohiniyattam dance form.  Dancers may wear pre-stitched versions like this. I used a version from Border & Fall, where the pleats are offset, and not necessarily central. Making them central is not a difficult task though. There are no pins, petticoats or accessories required.

Saree: The Saree I chose is 9-yard silk that makes it easier to brave the weather. It’s a traditional Navari from Nasik in Maharashtra. It also has its own distinct style of draping, but I’ll save that for another time. I intentionally chose to wear it differently from its traditional roots. The Mohoniyattam style itself has a gold and white Saree that’s more traditional. 

Blouse: I dressed it up with a sweater because: Michigan (at 42 degrees, and a snow storm tomorrow, no less). The sweater is from Nordstrom.

It’s early November, so I haven’t really taken to winter boots yet, but some winter Sarees will need extra support to avoid freezing :-). I wore this one with simple jutis from Fizzy Goblet.


The Saree Project: Week 2, Kuncha Drape

The Kuncha drape originates from Odisha. Like many drapes across India, it is worn in the Dhoti style, where a part of the Saree goes underneath one leg, and then the remainder drapes over.

I began the project in October, and here’s a single page for tracking all the designs for the upcoming 52 weeks.

In the meantime, here’s week 2.

The Saree Project: Week 1, Nivi Drape

Living outside India means one may need occasions to wear Sarees. I decided to challenge that and wear 52 Sarees in this year, weekly, with different draping styles.

I don’t know what to do with all these Sarees that I have locked up in the basement here in Plymouth and at home, in India. In the spirit of minimalism, I needed to wear them, or donate them.

I had often been stymied by ‘finding occasions’ for Sarees because it’s easy to get stuck in that zone. I live outside of India, and Sarees can appear overbearing, especially because I don’t need my clothes to talk more than me in a meeting. This feeling, however, has shifted in me. Beyond barriers like, it’s a snowstorm and a Saree is a bad idea, I feel a little liberated as a mother. Why do I need to care about how others view my clothes? I need to wear what I enjoy. For this reason, beginning a Saree a week project seems to be the right thing to do! I feel excited, and here’s how I have begun…

The Saree Project: Draping Styles

The Nivi style is the only one that I’ve worn Sarees in. I intend to now learn other styles, and wear Sarees in 52 draping styles for the purposes of this project. I’m also going to liberate the blouses, shoes and accessories, and make it easy, to re-use what I already have available in my closet, or build using pieces that can be worn more frequently.

I am amazed at some draping styles that look like dresses/ skirts. It almost feels like I’d never want to buy a dress again. A Saree is amazingly forgiving and is a new outfit depending on how you drape or accessorize it. It keeps on giving for a long time, and doesn’t have to change in sizes pre/post life changes like a baby. Using handwoven materials from brands that care about artisans, and help push for sustainability, it’s perfect with my current personal mood.

Week #1, October 27th, 2019: Nivi Saree Drape

A 30-day Song Challenge

Based on specific cues, I had to select songs that came to mind as a part of a 30 day song'll see the usual suspects.

By the time I read this again, it’s possible that Twitter may die and all that may remain is my blog- as long as I’m paying BlueHost. For that reason alone, I wanted to save this 30 day song challenge here to look back on.

Based on specific cues, I had to select songs that came to mind. I mainly kept it for Hindi songs, and usually thought of these in my 3-5 a.m. feedings with the baby. Maybe five years from now, I’ll be curious why I had to Tweet at that time, and maybe these songs will make everything seem ok.

via @Tanviidotcom

My list has the usual suspects: Gulzar, Shah Rukh, Meena Kumari, Rafi, and surprisingly or not, a lot of A.R. Rahman.

Here goes my 30-day song challenge list:

  • Day 1- Song with a color in it: First song that popped up in my head is this (neele neele ambar…) 
  • Day 2- Song with a number in it: Also major lullaby song for baby for some reason … Do lafzon ki hai 
  • Day 3- Summer song: Cheating a little, because it’s really end of summer, but this is more Indian summer to me than anything else – also just the best shot Bombay song (Rim Jhim Gire )
  • Day 4 – Reminding me of someone I’d forget: Tere Bin – I have an inherent hatred for this song representing a phase rather a person in my life.
  • Day 5- Song that needs to be played out loud: Many but current mood – Zeb & Haniya / Afreen from Coke Studio
  • Day 6- Song for dancing: Relatively new, but very fun /Zingaat
  • Day 7- Driving song: Because I listen to so much throwback hip-hop on the way to work, it is actually Eminem (radio edits sure enough :)) I’d have a different pick as a passenger in a car.
  • Day 8- Alcohol/Drugs: I thought this was hilarious when I was younger – it’s not and AB is majorly hamming & who choreographed thodi si – also known as go to Antakshari song starting with ‘th’.
  • Day 9- Happy: SRK’s playlist on a loop 🙂 but also from my childhood Chandni – this is when I understood playback singing is a thing and even with Sridevi’s nasal tones, cousin and I danced each day to entertain ourselves and our mothers.
  • Day 10- Sad: Please don’t judge but it must be my teen hormones still I’m always moved by Kajol in this song each time I see it. Because, what’s with you Rahul! Of course there are better sad songs still …
  • Day 11- Never get tired of: Strangely I’ve seen Mai ni Mai (this song) on YouTube more times in the last 9 months than ever. I still am not tired.
  • Day 12- Preteen: So many things happened in the 90s. This was hard to choose- too many options, but this is what I recall a lot today with Anna choosing Deepak Tijori over Shah Rukh (googling Deepak Tijori now)
  • Day 13 -70s: Lots to love. But then, jo kahi gayi na mujhse, woh zamana keh raha hai
  • Day 14 – Wedding: I always liked this song for us because we spent time in Delhi6. I don’t know how it would retroactively fit our wedding (songs from our wedding that I do recall were folk/ Kashmiri and performed live)
  • Day 15 – Cover: The original is great but I love this version mainly because of 90s nostalgia and Shaan. Julie, I love you 😀
  • Day 16 – Classic: Rafi although I like the other version more but Rafi ast, ast and more ast. Dil jo na keh saka…
  • Day 17 – Karaoke: SRK + Madhuri because what could go wrong? Aur kuch ho jaye toh, kuch yakeen hai kya?
  • Day 18 – Birth year song: Deepti Naval & F Sheikh, because we need people in zindagi who are a ghana saaya.
  • Day 19 – Life: Muskuraaye toh muskuraane ke karz utaarne honge aka Gulzar / RD
  • Day 20 – Many meanings: I’ve been obsessed with this song from Masaan
  • Day 21 – Song with a person’s name: Anand Bakshi didn’t know if it was a girl or boy’s name in the film when he wrote the song, so he made it gender neutral, just like Bobby sounds 🙂
  • Day 22 – Forward: over ten years ago, this song got me out of a rut. Who wouldn’t when you’re rubaroo roshni…
  • Day 23 – I recommend: It’s pensive but such a companion album when you’re feeling a little uneasy with anything ever. even in its sadness, it’s calming. (I love Meena Kumari in general)
  • Day 24 – Band broke up: Not a band but Abhijeet stopped singing for Shah Rukh (or anyone). At the time this song released, I had seen 3 Shah Rukh films in the theater on the same day and thought this voice really suited him. Roshni se bhare bhare. I have similar feelings for SP/Salman.
  • Day 25 – Artist not alive: Although Kishore and Rajesh Khanna were a thing, this one is unique. To be fair, I like this song for Rafi but Khanna’s dance moves are not any less ordinary. Gulabi aankhen…
  • Day 26 – Fall in love: Thoda sa dard tu, thoda sukun
  • Day 27 – Heartbreaking: The context in the film made me cry and now as a mother it’s even more heartbreaking. Luka Chuppi
  • Day 28 – Artist I love: Sukhwinder especially Chhaiya chhaiya.
  • Day 29 – Childhood: Ulat palat galat salat thaain…
  • Day 30 – Reminds me of myself: Luckily saw the movie before it was banned. Was obsessed with yeh rishta kya kehlata hai. It’s not a song, it’s me in mid 2000s

    It’s a good exercise to jog your musical memory! 🙂

What I Love You Feels Like- Our Birth Story

When the baby grows older, he'll know our birth story and how Mama and Dad experienced his birth.

Contrary to what this blog and my social media presence may lead one to believe, I’ve had an intensely private year. I didn’t know I was going to be writing our birth story this soon, but it happened, and our hearts are mellow and mush. Being pregnant came with its due course of health concerns: from low platelets, to sugar spikes and a thyroid transgression and like everything else worth having, this rainbow had to wait out a storm.

Our birth story
Two people understood our fancy birth announcement 😀 Alfetta means baby Alfa in Italian!

Emotionally, baby creation is and has been hard and overwhelming, and each day it feels like it’s not even begun yet. The one thing that kept me going in the last nine months was a plethora of audiobook led walks, and I am yet to find such an anchor postpartum (I suspect this blog may become important again).

Baby cometh by love to create love

It’s kind of ironic that on my first day alone with the baby (just him & me) I began writing this post after forcing him into some milk led stupor. My first time in a car alone without the baby in my immediate vicinity happened this weekend, and I cried on my way to the destination (thankfully killing no one in the process). These emotions are tangibly physical and uncontrolled. I can’t talk myself out or into them. They show up on demand. It’s not a miracle because I’m superstitious. It’s a miracle because so many things that we have no control over, have to fall into place for things to work. The human body generates an entire organ (I did not eat the placenta) to feed the gestating baby. What else could explain the physicality of the connection that feels so feverishly potent.

Before becoming a mother, my reasons for it were mainly related to my age and partly driven by the culture around procreation. I need to have a child by so and so time frame, because my OB will make me feel like I belong to the geriatrics ward in a second (it happened anyway). While making a baby in the past months, my feelings on this topic changed as a response to a physical and emotional transformation.

I’ve questioned why I’ve wanted a child, and it has inherently led itself to a very emotional cause. It’s hard to truly understand what I love you feels like unless experienced in a state of no control. I also believe that for me, this truly is the most unhinged and selfless love I can express. Of course it’s nice if baby loves me, but even if he doesn’t, I will, by instinct. It’s the most amount of courage I’ve had to put together being responsible for a little human. I do not ascribe to the cultural pressure around motherhood and believe that it takes just as much courage to take a different stand, and choose if it doesn’t work for you.

Having said that, I am now counting how many more pee/ poop explosions and feeding sessions remain till Dad comes home. While Dad is telling me he’s in some cool downtown Detroit meeting, I am trying to curb the urge to text back my panicked new Mama state.

Our Birth Story

A while ago in Germany, our friend Brian had kids and ended up writing an email about ‘what was happening in the world when you were born.’ I don’t know if I could be just as detailed, but I did want to think that baby came the weekend when Charles Leclerc won the Spa F1 race. I promptly tagged Dad via Twitter on the day I found out in the hospital. It was also Ganesh Chaturthi on the day we finally got the babe home. When the baby grows older, he’ll know his birth story and how Mama and Dad experienced his birth.

I had never imagined a birth. So, I didn’t really have a birth plan (except that I did not mind help in pain relief). Considering, intuition lies somewhere between fear and hope, I had leaned a little too heavily on fear, leaving much of the excitement and hope for Dad to think about. I’d conveniently skip parts of multiple pregnancy books which focused on the actual birth (we did attend a birthing class though).

My first plan was that, I’d work from home a week before the September 9 due date. On the Thursday night, a week before, when I did my post dinner walk, I felt a bit tired. At 12 a.m. I was wondering if I had contractions. I didn’t want to be sent back home with a false alarm, so I kept at it thinking this wasn’t real yet. We still had a week to go. At 4 a.m., we had called triage because we felt it was time to get external advice. We were asked to monitor and call back between the ideal 3 to 5 minutes contractions range.

My mother or any parent/ immediate family was not going to be with us through this process. Again this wasn’t something I had imagined, but then I hadn’t imagined much at all. I did fully anticipate that I would go to the hospital in the Alfa to bring home the baby (called Alfetta, till the name was announced) . Despite his aggressiveness, there’s few people who I would trust to drive beyond my babe’s Dad. Since we were a week ahead on our plan, he had a court appointment (contesting a traffic ticket) at the same day/time. A no-show at a court can be a legal issue, so we called our friend to stay with me. At 7:47 a.m., friend in tow, we decided to head to the hospital. Dad was at court and unreachable. The only plan I had going in, had also changed now.

The triage nurse came to check on me at 8:30, Dad reached in the meantime, and we discovered that we were already in active labor and 6 cms dilated. I felt we were going to meet the baby in a few hours. I thought 16:00, same as Dad’s time of birth. Dad thought 15:00. Water was manually broken, peanut pillows were used to arrive at the go-time. Finally, the nurse and a kind resident gave their heads-up for final pushing at 17:15. We had felt so overconfident we’d be done sooner, clearly, babe had other plans. The kind resident from San Diego talked about Michigan winters and her VW but did not push Mama enough.

Two hours in, a couple badass midwives had arrived. Finally, after four hours, a doctor came in to offer help via vacuum suction. It was long and arduous enough that Mama had to change music from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun to Eminem through the go-time pushing. Baby decided to stay sunny side up, took an enormous amount of time with Mama to push out of the pelvic zone, and came out only at 21:43. Physically, once I could feel the head, it was a fifteen minute push. His mop of hair seemed to explain my Tums reliance in the first trimester. After that everything felt like a blip. I can remember people messing around with my body, but all I can really recall is the babe on me, skin to skin. It’s hard to describe what this golden hour felt like, except a huge moment of relief, and disbelief. We had created this living, breathing thing. And it was so miraculous. What’s not to love or cry?

All bets are off

All bets and plans were off. It was in fact the beginning of reminders which said, this is not in your hands. All you can do is love, fully and meaningfully. The rest belongs elsewhere. It passes through you, but creates its own new universe.

Mama and Baba love you, Adi, our very own Alfetta. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to us. We are grateful that you chose to be a part of the world through us.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

Khalil Gibran, Brain Pickings

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