Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Typical Walk

When I am in India, my time spent here is a blend of being a local as well as a tourist. I never leave home without a camera. You never know what I may run into.

About a day or two after I came back from the museum, I saw these hanging out in the sun.

I often pass by this area while I am in some kind of public transportation, mostly a three wheeler rickshaw. They are fun to ride, Being open from either side, you can catch so much of happenings while travelling from point A to B and are also quite cost effective.

The flip side - They are very noisy and the drivers are notorious for squeezing in every empty spot they see on the roads between two vehicles to get ahead.. You just have to trust those drivers that they know what they are doing. Honestly, 99.99% of times they do!

It's quite the experience. My kids love it! When they were little, they would get on an empty rickshaw standing on the roadside without us.. It was little scary to loose them momentarily but the drivers would honk to catch our attention. We could quickly grab hold of them :-) No worries, this would be matter of seconds.. We were very responsible parents.

I took this picture from another rickshaw. There is a limit of three passengers. we split the family in two. My husband and I went in different rickshaw.. Unfortunately, my kids don't know this town as well, and neither of them speak the language. I wonder if they would find their way back home on their own if they ever got lost.

Ooops..I got a little side tracked...

Back to the first picture..

I had seen them several times from far and assumed that they were saris hanging.. Yesterday, I was on foot and saw them from up close.  A sari folded in half with layers of fabrics between two layers, stitched into 4' x 7' long quilt/godhari..

Their humble appearance made my day! My sister in law, who was also with me waited patiently with a smile.. My friend from school who also informed me about the exhibition of Godhari said, '' Sujata, I don't understand your passion but respect and admire it.''

I guess, I must see the world slight differently than some.. and that's really fine with me and them.

Here are more random pictures of what I see on my walk.


Second-hand book store

City buses

I am leaving for Ahemdabad tonight.I have not been able to respond to all of your comments but know that they are well appreciated. Sometimes my thoughts are as random as these photographs. I apologize for that too. I hope just like those improve quilts we all love so much, pictures from past few posts paint an unusual but memorable image of Mumbai for you. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Godharis of Maharashtra

My visit to the Prince of Wales museum was a great experience. I met the author of the book, Godharis of Maharashtra. I wish you could have seen those quilts in person. They are equally beautiful as the quilts of Gee's Bend. Every single one of them is made with materials on hands for everyday use.

and the materials range from thin cotton fabrics to nylon and polyester.

Some even have embroidered patches with metallic threads.

They display the colors of daily life in India..They are bold and vibrant but also earthy because they come from used saris and skirts, shirts. The stitching is done randomly.. Most of them are heavily quilted in straight lines, very similar to the quilts of Gee's Bend. Extreme stitching gives the thin, already used fabrics new life and durability it requires during it's heavy use.

My plans to visit Rajasthan had to be postponed but because of that, I was able to visit this exhibit that ran for only three days. Also, if it wasn't for that temporary disappointment, I would not have been able to meet so many artists in person at the Paramparik Karigar show. So again, I am thankful for life's opportunity and experiencing the a true meaning of the fact, 'When one door closes another one opens up'.

Meet the author, Geeta Khandelwal. She has also served on the committee for International Quilt Study for two years. It was my pleasure to see her at the exhibition.

Appliqued triangles/ log cabin.. Can you imagine doing this by hand and then hand stitching those millions of stitches?

After spending many hours at the exhibit, I went on to visit rest of the museum.

Met some local care-takers of the museum grounds and they were happy to let me take a picture.

The window with white frame was at the right of the entrance of the exhibit. Look closely, you will see few quilts hanging in the bright sunny window. Colorful quilts soaking in all that sun! Can you imagine putting your quilts in the sunlight?

Here is the picture of that frame from Inside.

My heart skipped a beat when I saw this upon entering the hall but people in India are used to hanging their quilts on the fences, clothes line and cement walls to bleach and to air dry.

I loved the playfulness of this quilt.

If you haven't had chance to flip through the pages, I highly recommend that you do. Godharis of Maharashtra is published by Quiltmania.

Is this charming or what?

Oh what a happy day that was! My train ride was uneventful. I shared my book with a complete stranger. She was eager to know why I was taking so many pictures during the ride.

Here is a picture of the inside of a subway train. Depending on the time of travel and the train you are on, you may or may not get to seat. During the commute hours, these trains are pretty packed. The bars and handles are for support during the commute. I saw some school girls get on the train... It took me back some 35 years to my college years! Not sure if I would attempt to travel during commute hours any more.,

It is the best way to reach to the heart of city of Mumbai. I am sure I will be on the train again soon.

Hope you all enjoyed the show and tell of my day in the city.

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Arts and Crafts Show

I spent past few days visiting a local craft show held by Paramparik Karigar, an organization helping artists and their families to preserve and promote traditional crafts from all over India. This experience has been like none before. Not only I have had opportunity to talk to artists and craftsman from all over India, but also was able to purchase lot of folk art, silk saris and other textiles from karigars/craftsman who put their heart and soul into their crafts and these events.

Yesterday, at the exhibition, I took a workshop to learn traditional Phulkari embroidery from the state of Punjab. Phul is Hindi word for flowers. Mothers start working on embroidered textiles as soon as the girls are born. They continue working on them to give them as gifts when the daughters get married. The colors represent the flowers in the garden and appropriately the style is also called Bagh. 

I found out, I am not good at embroidery stitches. 

A bit of practice is needed.. ''It is not about the perfection'' she said ''But being comfortable and enjoying the stitching.'' It sounded familiar to me. 

Some more eye candy.

You can find out more about the organisation here. If you are ever in India during the times of their scheduled exhibition, DO NOT miss it. Visit their website to check more of the art and stories of Indian folk artists. 

I met some award winning craftsman. 

I can not wait to show you what I purchased from this artist after I am home. 

My sister in law bought this piece from iron smith at the show. I bought the sari with kantha embroidery. Tomorrow I am also taking the workshop to learn the kantha stitching.. Stay tuned. 

Quilts and block printed sheets were hard to resist. My dear friend Smita, showing off the quilt she loved. 

Sadly, I have only one bag to bring back. I wish I could bring the whole show with me. It's hard to resist the temptations to buy it all. Although, it seems like I am hardly succeeding at it.

 I am working with very slow internet. I wish I can blog daily to update you all on my discoveries but it seems impossible at times to sit and continue with the thought process.

I am leaving in an hour to visit the exhibit of Godharies, the quilts featured in the book by Geeta Khandelwal. I will write a full report when possible. I am taking the subway to the city after a long time. Let's see how different it is today than it was last time. It's been many years since I went to the city by myself.

Wish me luck!   

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hello from India

I did not think it will take me this log to write my first post while in India. I have had the best time so far. My family has returned back home. Most of them are still in transit, considering the news of snow storms and airport closures, I hoping for their safe and hassle-free return to their final destination.

In past couple of weeks I visited many sari shops, markets and taken few pictures of life on the street side. I have been updating my instagram at SujataShah7 with daily pictures textilediary. It's been fun looking for daily inspirations.
Here are few pictures I am sharing for the first time.

This was the first thing I saw at Mumbai International Airport while walking to the baggage claim.

I looked closely and this is what I saw.

If you ever come to Mumbai, the new airport is absolutely beautiful. It is leaded with all kinds of regional art representing modern and ancient culture of India.

I took this picture last night when I dropped Kavita off to the airport. I am looking forward to my return trip just to see the rest of the airport.
Here are some pictures of my last few days on the streets on Mumbai.

It's loud and dusty, chaotic but colorful. My kids had a fabulous time. It seems like every visit they learn new things about themselves, make connections with their heritage and culture. It was fun and emotional to watch them enjoy their visit. All three of them returned home with hopes to come back soon. I am enjoying my time with mom. From tomorrow on, I plan to reconnect with old friends from grade school and college. Meet some quilters in Mumbai and learn a few things from them.

Hope you are busy creating during this winter. Me on the other hand, just collecting inspirations.. It is very easy to do!

If you haven't had chance to visit the Cultural Fusion Quilts blog, I urge you to check it out. It has become quite an eye candy.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Random Thougths at the Trafic Light

It was cold today. Well, the Sun was out and it was warmer than yesterday, but still cold enough to want to run to the car after a very sweaty Zumba class. While running to the car in the parking lot, all I could think of was to get inside and turn on the heat so my sweaty long hair wouldn't turn into icicles.
I pulled out of the parking lot and came to a red light at the traffic light. There has been lot of construction going on for past six months on the road. The city is finally doing much needed widening of the road to accommodate the recent growth.  Waiting for my left turn signal, I saw the newly installed traffic light, all covered with tarp and burlap behind old/still working, existing light. I thought to myself, ''I did not notice that before!'' 

As I drove further up, I started noticing things: Neatly lined up orange cones and cans with couple exceptions which may have been knocked over by some drivers. The cement dividers that had moved a few times and the lane markings have shifted to accommodate the construction crew and to divert the traffic. I could still see the old markings and where the lane used to be but new road is emerging. There are new sidewalks and turn lanes with clean bright concrete along with patched up pot-holes on make-shift lanes. I have gone up and down this road almost every single day. These observations were nothing new, but today there was a parallel  thought pattern that went along during my ten minutes' drive. There was chaos along with harmony. 
Contrast is a beautiful thing!

This same road used to be a one-lane highway about one hundred years ago. It was the only link between the mines up north and nearby highway. As I write, I wonder about numerous layers of tar this road is covered with up until now.

Those who have not witnessed this change as it happening, will never know the past. From them it will be a wide, clean and efficient route connecting them from point A to B.  
Layer is an interesting element. What you see on surface is not the only thing present. Every other layer from the past, may be covered or unknown to the world, remains as crucial as the one on surface, like life itself.

Life is beautiful when all those layers, old and new, combine with new textures and bring peace and calm.  

Speaking of unknowns and layers, I have yet to share many layers of my life with you all.

This might be my last long post for six to seven weeks.Layers I am about to reveal have been building up for few months now.

Do you have my book?
I am leaving for India in couple of days to attend my nephew's wedding. It is time to surround myself with colors and textures not just in the studio or my house but everywhere I turn. I will post pictures on my Instagram (therootconnection) and The Root Connection facebook page (link on the side-bar). I had planned this trip for a while but the news had to take the back seat and let my book bask in all the glory! 

After the wedding, I will travel to Rajasthan and Gujarat with few friends from college. In 2012, I traveled to Rajasthan with my family, most of them are engineers. This time it will be with my artist friends and to the cities I missed during my previous visit. That's six sets of eyes and cameras focused on all things arts! Can you imagine that? 

We met when we were 16. It's will be 30 years since we graduated as graphic designers. No matter how long the time between each visit, our friendship is still the same. My visits are hectic yet I have never left Mumbai without spending time with my best friends. Traveling together is going to be a special experience. We all will be adding another layer to our lives. 

I also plan to meet people who make Godharis. My wish is to learn from people who know it first hand. I hope I get to stitch with them. A visit to the Textile Museum in Ahmadabad and meet folk artists in Gujarat is going to be a treat! 

That's all for now! I am taking copies of my book with me. My mom is so eager to see it and I am anxious to see her face when she opens the pages for the very first time.

I will stay connected with pictures and quick posts from the land of peacocks and paisleys, I promise!