Baithak Khana

DSC_0254.JPGI’m sure that by now you have figured out our love for the traditional, with our quirk to it. This is visible in our spare bedroom, half of which is a slightly raised platform with a mattress and bolsters, defined by two wooden petis (built in chests for storage) on either side.

The other side has the TV unit which is basically the television  set up on a wooden ledge with drawers. The backdrop is the same gray paneling of exposed cement sheets which we have used in the living room, which seems to work very well with the earthy brown of the wooden furniture all around. This room is perfect to just hang out or laze around, watch some TV, or just read a book. There are times when our friends have come over and we have spent the entire day guarding spots, some lying on the bed, some on the bean bag pulled in from the bedroom and some curled up on the wooden peti like a cat, while we debated on the best ways to spend a Saturday afternoon. This is indeed our version of the quintessential baithak khana, where our grandfathers used to have heated discussions over cups of chai or a hukka and some paan.

authentic tribal arrows and some painted dry gourd picked up from the tribal fair called “adhirangam” held at Daman for the last couple of years.

Initially, we didn’t have a clue about how to accessorize this room. The simple brown and grey of the room was relieved slightly by the olive green chic blinds from our earlier house converted into the paneling behind the low bed and the deep maroon jute finish curtains behind the bamboo chic blinds. Apart from that, a Kashmiri yak wool rug gifted by a dear aunt for our wedding, adorns the wall behind the baithak. Slowly, A’s collection of weapons have started taking over the TV ledge, bows and arrows from a tribal fair, a small collection of knives and a wooden samurai sword picked up while visiting Pratapgarh.

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the wooden dhol from Goa flea market, artificial dahlia’s from Crawford market, some bamboo explorations from my NID days and a bamboo bow with bastar art.

There’s also a wooden dhol that I had picked up for him while visiting the flea market in Goa with friends, to celebrate his love for music and a couple of artificial dahlias picked up from our first accessorizing project. A bastar crafted whistling bamboo adorns the opposite corner standing tall on the peti with a bowl of white roses from a craft shop in Bandra. An Andhra leather craft lamp adorns the other peti and its bright glow magically transforms the room to some distant reality, while a dokra art boat (a gift from my mama and mimi visiting us for the first time) is being rowed by a boatsman against the bright green feng-shui bamboo blooming in my favorite black coffee mug. A ceramic glazed coconut shell bowl with a bamboo stick musical instrument from Cambodia, a boat shaped water hyacinth basket which is a peace offering from A and a ornamented quill in a small antiquity bottle make up the rest of the setting against the bamboo chic blind backdrop.

 

 

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a small antiquity blue bottle with  a ornate quill from Willam Penn  stands alongside a wooden damroo from Trambakeshwar and a dokra boat with boatsman from Kolkata.
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pebbles from the ladakh trip as a keepsake of their prayer stones and small ceramic pots from our road trip to mahabaleshwar

So yes! This baithak of ours has now become our favorite afternoon place, where we play cards and read newspaper while sipping on our cold coffees and listening to our favorite music.

Dinner is served

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The dining is in continuation with the sitting area, and it also has the Temple wall while looking into the kitchen on the other side.  This allows for us to cook and have fun, even when there are many people around. If you remember, I mentioned that we have friends who love to cook and eat; well the last time they were around, we did just that. Six of us sat around the table, buttering breads, and singing loudly, while four of us danced around the kitchen while the food was prepared!

The dining is a very good example of how we used A’s family legacy. This wood is also a legacy of A’s ancestral home; cupboards, cribs, windows, benches used for making sev (dry snacks), and everything wooden lying in the corner room was put into a truck and brought here.

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Every once in a while A talks of this joIMG-20150612-WA0003.jpgurney. What he remembers the most is the road from the truck’s windscreen, moving through the dark night, only what was lit up by the headlights visible and stars peeking through the leaves of trees on either sides. Of course, most of the road had a lot of traffic and was more like playing videogame on big screen!

The dining table is wooden with two wooden benches.The wall behind the dining has two wooden ledges  initially meant to hold all sorts of condiments necessary to a meal, which is now represented by a couple of anchaar bharnis (ceramic pickle jars) we picked up from the street side on our way back from a road trip.

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There is a miniature brass tea set, and a brass cooking range with cylinder, a wok and a pressure cooker, the first thing we picked up when we went to shop for accessories and hardware fixtures for the home.

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A miniature brass panther leaping towards an invisible prey (from Cambodia), and a fiber baby elephant waiting for its mother on the kitchen ledge(previously introduced in the kitchen blog named “let’s cook!”) ridiculously co-habitat the dining ledge.

A couple wine bottles from the “sand and shell” upcycled series specially designed for a previous project, an old pic of baby A and his family, a red wooden oriental design bell and a small white bird cage that I picked up from Bandra, linking road while on a prowl with friends adds a little vintage romance to the ledge._DSC0323.JPG
The ledge also hosts timeless classics like a brass and glass hour glass, that we often use now while playing dumb charades or pictionary, a round marble table time piece with rajesthani enamel and stone work adding royalty and a small dark wooden jar from Siem Reap’s local market.

 

The dining table has a runner, which is what my mum and my aunt now love gifting us,and sometimes it is the Jaipur patchwork, sometimes brocade and sometimes handloom runner that brings in the flavor of the month. A random visit to a bamboo workshop en route Mumbai provided us with the triangular hot plate holders, which double up as gateways and tunnels for our toy cars and stuffed animals to pass through.

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There is some kind of flower arrangement on the table on most days, and it brings in a lot of warmth and cheer, a tray with black earthen glasses holding chopsticks encased in bamboo sleeves, and colorful glass bottles from Crawford market while on a client visit make up the rest of our dining space.

More often than not, the dining table is used by us for playing board games. My brother comes to India once a year, and he has to bring something for Ma and me. So he brings these really pretty wooden handicrafts for Ma, and for me he brings award winning board games that he has had fun playing with his friends; now our place has become a board games hub for all our friends, and we often end up playing into the wee hours of night, sitting around the table, fighting over whose turn it is, cheating a little and at the end of the game confessing to it; all in all, a lot of high energy with loud bouts of laughter, some cookies and milkshake around the table!!

Blessings from the Wall

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We belong to different faiths, but we both believe in the essence of a temple; the mild fragrance of incense sticks, the resonate clanging of the temple bell, the trance like quality of chanting shlok, the energetic evening aarti that gives you hope. The other thing that brings hope and faith in our little world is the people we have around us, maybe not physically, but definitely emotionally. Thus our reverence is not restricted to the temple, but spills over to the wall adorned with little gifts we received from our friends and family. _dsc0230

 

The wooden mandir itself is a blessing from A’s mother. It was handpicked by her years ago for her personal mandir. She had lit lamps in it to keep her family happy and healthy. She was an amazing woman, with love for her fellow beings evident in everything she did; her family was not restricted to the residents of her house, but spread out near and far.

Inside this mandir, we have the friendly god of well being and prosperity, Ganesha. This idol is a gift from my Ma, who, knowing our finicky taste, patiently waited for us to choose for ourselves. She quietly, but firmly, told us that this tiny idol is much needed in our stressful lives; that sometimes it is good to have a physical representation of someone to have faith in.

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So in our dark wooden temple sits a royal blue and white, rajasthani stonework Lord. There is also a white marble imprint of the feet (or pagliya as it is called) of Ramdev baba, key to A’s family faith that his father gave him when we installed this mandir. And there is a rosary of 108 wooden beads, given to us by A’s maternal grandma, who is now a Jain nun, or Mara sa, which _dsc0238was her blessing to us as a couple.  Apart from this, we have a set of miniature tablas in our mandir and a couple of miniature idols of Natraj and Lakshmi, handpicked by my father on his trip to Hoobly, which he had to get for us for they are so well crafted. This is the whole and sole of our temple; here we fold our hands, bow our heads and close our eyes two minutes a day, and go to work with renewed energy.

Below this temple is a wooden ledge, and over it sits the rest of our spiritual collectibles.

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A black and gold elegant sleeping gajanan, gifted by my parents. It reminds us not to forget about the important things in life, like sleeping and taking time out for ourselves.
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A colorful leather ganesha from Bolpur, which doubles as a coin box, bought from a handicraft mela. A buddhist om bowl, from Ma’s visit to Sanchi Stupa.
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A black and orange ganapati, a gift from our friends as we said goodbye to our house by the sea, a simple brass bell and a small conch shell bought from our trip to Trambakeshwar.
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A wooden dhoop batti holder, which fills up the entire house with fragrant smoke every day, a gift from A’s sister. A small convoy of brass elephants, another memory of our Trambakeshwar trip, makes an interesting composition on the ledge.

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There’s another ornate brass bell, with ganesha carved onto it, which hangs at the far end of the ledge, and marks the end of our temple area.

 

Thus, we have built ourselves a mandir, where not only do we acknowledge our fears and look for inner peace, but we also celebrate the different relationships that make our lives complete.

Carefully crafted…

254526_10150288162500931_7915622_nWe were born in the age of telephones, and though our grandparents and distant uncles still wrote letters to us, we haven’t ever had to learn the art of letter writing. We didn’t have to. Whatever we wanted to say was just a phone call away. And the easier it became to make a call, the further we went to penning our thoughts down. We became careless about what we said and took offense on what we heard. There was nothing to fall back upon. Memories became distorted, till we found a way to store every moment of our lives in our pockets. Intimate moments needed to be picture perfect, like fairy-tales, and so we started to weave our moments around the picture. We became lesser than the moments captured, and feelings became a tool we played with..

It’s been some time now I’ve been wondering, how words used to cherish our feelings in those carefully crafted letters. Letters that we cherished all the more because of the long wait, the anticipation, looking for the postman every morning. Letter from your mother telling you about the nest in the courtyard tree, or your grandfather reminiscing about football with his brothers in the long forgotten village. The nostalgia of finding a yellow worn out letter in your favorite book with times long gone, but with the hint of rose.  Of all the arts dying in this world, the loss of letter writing is the close of an era.

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Fairy tales

all pics 219Isn’t it funny? That when we grow up, our fairytales become chick flicks? Or is it only the popular culture that has robbed us of the magic? Why do we now have to believe that to be happy, we need a big golden limousine? Or did we grow up with the wrong stories? Of princesses and unicorns? And forgot all about the heartwarming tales of children playing in the fresh air? Stories that inevitably thought that too much or too little of ambition ruined simple pleasures and stole the joy out of living. Stories that taught us that there is good in every person and the villains are people to be pitied. But one thing that age teaches us which is that being happy and being attached is not the same thing. Embrace everything, but don’t get addicted. Addiction cripples imagination and innovation. Loving without addiction is detachment. Detachment without loving leaves us cynical and eventually embittered. It’s an art worth cultivating.

Kintsuki

IMG-20150105-WA0004When I said what’s broken cannot be mended, did I mean that we cannot have a long fruitful relationship? Or did I mean that lifelong relationships are perfect, and no mistakes are committed on either end? The Japanese perfected the art of mending broken objects, kintsuki, in which the fault lines are highlighted. The important thing is not to try to hide the broken edges, but to highlight them; to be proud of your differences, and to celebrate the bridges. You lose the innocence, but you gain beauty, that is the beauty of memories and stories; of standing together even when you hated each other.

That is the beauty of lifelong relationships. We start to appreciate each other’s differences. We find peace within ourselves; the one inevitable relationship we have to maintain!

Work from home!

It’s been a long time since I had an urge to write. To be honest, I am here today only because I saw the journal, and felt a wee bit guilty. The thing is that there is just no time. Or let’s put it this way, there’s plenty of time, but I just can’t manage it well. I want to do so much, and all of it all at once, it’s like god forgot to the basic planning  software in me. I want plants in the garden, with fairy lights entangled among creepers. I want every inch of the wall to be filled with sketches and every room filled with flowers. I want clean kitchen and neat cupboards (I also want this to happen magically by on its own). I want to play and swim, and go for long walks on the beach, have a cup of coffee while reading a book. It all is so idyllic. The trouble is, often when I would make myself coffee, I would be too busy imagining how idyllic it would be to sit in the veranda, reading the book and sipping coffee, to really get any time to read the book. Then the outside would be so distracting with crows on the tree and dogs on the street. Often, I would end up reading a couple of pages, without really taking anything in at all. I store movies on my hard disk, to watch when I have time. But when I do have the time, I spend it day dreaming, about all the wonderful things I would do. And the cycle starts again.

Maybe, next time, sometime, I’ll have something more to write about, than my rumbling thoughts…..