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.

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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.

The beloved flower in the covers of a book; A book of romance and of dreams coming true

DSC_0167We all love magic; the magic of romance and youth. The excitement and naivety and faith, that which makes the world rosy and life like a dream. The beloved flowers in the covers of a book, letters written in red ink, the secret meeting, the telltale smile, and surely, each time we press a flower in our favorite book, we dream of these romances. To be a part of the unspoken true love, of fighting against all odds, of the long walks in the monsoon and the fields of flowers, to be mesmerized in love and be besotted with each other. We want surprise gifts of jewelry and chocolates, stuffed toys and scarves, flowers on occasions and dates to celebrate.

But isn’t it blissful to be able to pour one’s heart out or sit in silence through the night, every night. To know that even though you argue over the silliest of things, you’ll walk through the rough patches of life holding hands. And to be right there armed with tubs of ice-cream, even when you are complaining of everything you have. There may not be surprise gifts and date nights, and there will be many caustic comments, but there will also be secrets you share and the dream of a future, and the promise to build it together.

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Tomorrow: a wonderful place to be

DSC_0364It’s next time once again, and I still don’t have anything interesting to say. My plans are still in my head. Tomorrow is this wonderful place that I never reach. I am drowned in a lifelong of todays. Somewhere, deep down inside of me, a voice tells me, it is good to be at least dreaming of this wonderful tomorrow, that it is what lends you hope and the strength to wake up smiling every morning; but who am I kidding? That voice is just my way of procrastinating without feeling guilty.  Then the other voice chimes up. The depressing one, which reminds you that your wonderful tomorrow is a hoax, because you haven’t really done anything to deserve it, and are not focused enough. This voice at least eventually leads to something constructive. Because, then you list down all the steps you have taken to bring you closer to at least one of your dreams. It may be as small as cleaning your cupboard or pruning your small collection of plants. I think this is the reason some people always start their serious work sessions by cleaning up regime. If only I could stick to one single regime.

For me, one session might start with a cleaning up regime, which I will abandon halfway because I have had an idea, and that needs to be executed immediately. Then the next time, I would just keep sitting in a mess because I have no time to think of anything else. If I make out any pattern of my working style, it is last minute panic. That just sets it off. I envy the people who can put out good work effortlessly. You know the kinds who get up in the morning, know exactly what needs to be done around the house, read the newspaper and take a shower. They get dressed and head for work. They work till the evening. Head out, meet up and socialize, come back home, and all the while produce great work. I’ll tell you the secret. They don’t give up when they are bored or low. They go on. And so do I. I will start

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enjoying the walk to that wonderful place

finishing my mini projects. As soon as I clean up my cupboard and do the laundry.