Events · Journaling · life · Life in general

Happy New Year 2021

We welcomed the new year with a slice of pizza, a large bite of home-made beetroot chocolate cake, and a game of What do you Meme? 

When the laughs died, and the friends left, we sunk into our couch, and spent the weekend watching The professor and the Madman, The one I love and The Hobbit: the desolation of Smaug

The slow weekend dribbled into a week filled with the pressure of keeping up with new ambitious resolutions. Bursts of good news came in: A friend was getting married, another was buying a house, yet another was expecting. 

Excitement hovered in the air. It was often disturbed by the familiar knocks that signaled the arrival of Amazon and Wayfair packages: a teal loveseat, a gigantic picture frame, and Turkish cotton hand towels. 

Cabinets were cleaned, bedrooms were reorganized, and future plans were neatly laid on the table. New blank journals were opened and in them were written thoughts about embracing the year… no matter how it played out.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Happy New Year!

2019 was life changing. My husband and I, we walked in the darkness of Mammoth cave in Kentucky, explored the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and strolled the busy lanes of Miami on a sultry summer evening. We moved houses, and slowly, carefully, turned it into a home. We laughed over Frasier on Netflix, hopped in and out of several art galleries in Texas, Maine and Tennessee, and tasted the best of Bourbon in Kentucky. We had Amish ice cream with his folks, and lazed around in Rehoboth beach with mine. Most evenings, we sat on the couch, enveloped in a white throw, watching a tearjerker like Marriage Story (my pick) or a mythical action flick like The Witcher (his pick). Sometimes, the nights were short, sometimes, they continued to the wee hours of night, with conversations and arguments over several glasses of wine.

Somewhere in between all this, we, he, and I turned a year older.

At White Mountains, New Hampshire

In 2019, I read 23 books, watched 94 movies and 25 odd series. Over the course of last two years, I covered 29 States in the United States. With each new book, movie, or place, I came to know a little more about myself. Insecurity, fear and doubt surfaced at several instances. But so did bouts of courage, strength and resilience. There were episodes of sadness, happiness, excitement and dismay. Like clouds in the sky, they appeared, and disappeared. This year, I started learning a new language; built a routine that included Yoga and meditation; and took up a new position as the editor of a newsletter in a local women’s club. All the while, writing content for a Pennsylvania-based non-profit (Friends Association for the Care and Protection of Children) that helped 354 men, women and children find a home. I also Marie-Kondo’d my closet, finished a sketch book, and turned to plants as the new home decor option.

It’s been a magnificent journey. And for that I am grateful.

Happy new year, everyone!

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Inside Hicks’ world

Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands; The exhibit traveled to the Venice Biennale in 2017, and to Belgium before finding its way to Miami. Right next to the bundles of fabric are tapestries that Sheila wove during her time in Guatemala. 

In Miami, Florida, our feet coated with wet sand, we enter the quiet galleries of The Bass to see veteran artist Sheila Hicks’ show titled Campo Abierto (translates to Open Field). 

Walking inside a gallery is akin to the experience of turning the pages of a new book, embracing the strangeness, yet hoping to connect with a character. Hicks’ art bypasses this strangeness with the burst of color in her works; like skittles scattered on the floor, like rainbows kneaded into round balls.

For example, standing before Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands, a fabric installation of gigantic balls of yarn stacked up till the ceiling, we fight the urge to collapse on the fluffy bed. The weaves evoke a sense of mischief, innocence, and playfulness.  The installation, which takes one entire room, demands the same space in our minds too. 

The Silk Rainforest; In Hicks’ work, you see a generous use of silk, linen, wool and cotton, besides nylon, rayon, polyester, bamboo and cashmere. These are woven, knotted, and braided in a style that is both exotic and grounded.  Known to be one of the pioneers in redefining the use of textiles in art, Hicks exploits the intimacy that one shares with the medium to reach deep into one’s mind, and trigger a thought, that helps you discover a little more about yourself. 

Sheila, 85, was born in Nebraska, and went to Yale University School of Art, where she had the opportunity to study under American German artist Josef Albers. Albers is a Bauhaus designer and artist – he went to Bauhaus Design School in Germany, which was shut down by the Nazis in 1933. However, the thought that the school preached — of combining fine art and craft and bridging the gap between art and industry — kick-started a movement called Bauhaus Movement. It embraced symmetry over asymmetry and focussed on lines, shape and color, instead of floral and ornamental designs.  Hicks’ works are simple, minimalist, and geometric. They concur with the Bauhaus principles.

The Moroccan Rug

Hicks, who divides her time between Paris and New York, discovered her medium, the fibre, when she went to Chile, on a scholarship from Yale, many moons ago. Over the decades, her mission has been to give textile medium a new meaning. The subtle gold and beige La memoire, made of linen silk and cotton, the naturally handspun Morroccan rug, and The Silk Rainforest made of linen silk and cotton, stand proof to this.  

The exhibition ends tomorrow (September 29, 2019).

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Settling in

View from our new home

“There is something strange about settling in to a new place, the laborious adaptation and familiarization…” wrote Mann in Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain). And as my husband and I journey through these times, I cannot help, but think about the home that we moved from.

We started our lives there as a newly married couple. Everything was new, right from the feel of the carpet to the workings of a relationship. But as we grew familiar with sharing a holder for our toothbrushes, a rack for our bath towels, and one closet for all our shoes and clothes, we also grew familiar with the grey doors, eggshell-painted walls, and the smooth wide kitchen counter top.

Together, we made the house our own; covering the floors with purple rugs, and walls with paintings — some done in the quiet of a weekday afternoon, some done on a cheerful evening after a glass or two of wine. Some mornings, as we sat soaking in the first rays of sunlight leaking in through the window, we sensed the sound that was unique to our home. It was a mix of the traffic noise on Philadelphia Pike, the melancholic call of mourning doves, and the muffled footsteps of our neighbors upstairs.

These days, on afternoons, as I sit sipping tea, I can’t help but think about the goings on in the world that we left behind. Around this time is when an elderly lady in her long skirt, and full-sleeved shirt came out with her Chihuahua that had a small limp; she would most often pass a group of kids walking back from the pool, still in their colorful neon swim clothes. Here, in the new place, afternoons are marked by the sight of a jet black cat lounging under a pine tree, grooming itself leisurely. There is indeed something strange about settling in to a new place. The laborious adaptation and familiarization…

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Imagine love as a star shining in the sky. Twinkling; sometimes bright, sometimes faint. Stars twinkle because of turbulence in the atmosphere of the earth; love twinkles because of turbulence too. The fights and make-ups after. The separation and closeness. A constant see-saw. A twinkling.

On the movie set

DNA, a new English-Marathi movie, is about this twinkling love. A couple in love with each other want to see themselves in their baby. Only, the miracle of giving birth is so damn common, until it isn’t. The movie gives a brief lesson about hardly-heard-before Mitochondrial disease, which the wife carries. It reduces her chances of natural birthing to almost nil. But their desire to pass their genes to the next generation has now grown into a monster of an obsession. A monster that causes turbulence. The twinkling. Love is now a star whose light is blocked. Until, they find themselves in a situation where they must parent an infant temporarily. Will the infant let the star shine again? The movie is a tearjerker that leaves you silently rooting for love, even as you sit through all the turbulence that rocks a young marriage. 

Assistant director, Nitish Vasudevan
Team DNA

This movie is close to my heart, as my husband Nitish Vasudevan is the Assistant Director for it. He was part of a fabulous team that worked night and day to make this project happen, and hopefully, touch several lives. If you have two hours to spare, check out DNA, now available on Amazon Prime. Click here to watch.

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Game night

Pandemic with friends
Personalized Monopoly

It started with Monopoly. N and I would sincerely carry the rectangular box along with a bottle of wine to all our friends’ houses. An hour into the game, the laughter would cease, and there would come a sense of tension, jealousy, anxiety, and a raw need to win. So we kept the little houses and mansions aside, and instead, got tiny rail carriages. In Ticket to Ride, USA version, there was no room to argue, beg and trade, as in Monopoly; and there was less left to chance. But then, one could always block another player’s route. When this happened, there was one less happy person. It was the same with Risk, Catan, and Seven Wonders.

Until one day we trespassed on Forbidden Island. N and I played it nine times, always defeated by the game. But together, we strengthened our resolve to beat it, and the tenth time we did. Us against the game. Together, united. Whether we lost or won. We found the same joy in Pandemic, last night. We plotted for hours to end a breakout, find cures, and build research centers around the world. Over pizza and wine, six of us fought our hardest; and when we lost, we cursed the game, swept the coins off the board, then laughed and planned another game night the next day.

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The seconds that we missed

It’s 6.30 pm. The room is dark. The projector is on. The vent is blowing enough heat to keep our feet warm. A soft white throw covers us till our chin. A bag of hot buttery popcorn rests on our laps.

The projector comes alive with the face of Tom Brady and Julian Edelman. In anticipation, we watch the white and blue clad New England Patriots ram their heads into the blue and yellow chests of Los Angeles Rams.

We cut short our calls, ignore some; we skip dinner, and instead refill our cups with coke; after every loo break, we dash back to ask the other, “Any yet?”

No touchdowns, yet.

So we continue to sit, occasionally stretching our backs, and cracking our knuckles. Two quarters done.

Sketch of a Patriots player seen on tv; by yours truly

Adam Levine goes shirtless on stage, and the web world starts comparing his tattooed torso to a Chipotle bag. It cracks us up, but we start itching for the game to be back on.

It’s the fourth quarter. No touchdowns yet. Each team is three points – one field goal strong.

And suddenly, the screen is stuck.

Is it the wifi? Is it the streaming app? Is it the laptop? The projector? We switch the devices off, and wait, with FOMO, while they get back to life.

It probably had been a few seconds – only they were the most important seconds of Superbowl 2019.

The screen comes alive with a new score board.

Patriots are now 10. We had missed the only touch down of the game that night.

I sink a little lower in the couch, and continue watching the game. Eyes now heavy – I see a heady concoction of blue, white, yellow. Voices fade, and the green field extends beyond the television.

I wake up with a jerk to see pink confetti fall all around Brady’s face. Now, without helmet. In a feeble voice, I hear myself ask: “Any yet?”

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The Lights Fest

We were a little apprehensive before we reached Kenneth Square in Pennsylvania for The Lights Fest. Widely advertised on social media platforms, with pictures of people holding beautiful white paper lanterns – a warm glow from the fire lighting up their faces – we were sold on the idea of participating in it. So we booked our tickets almost two months in advance, but never received a confirmation, a fact that we failed to check till a day before the festival itself. Now, there were news in a few sites that the festival was a scam. A little tensed, we took our chance and wrote to the official email id of the fest that we would require our tickets (thankfully, I had the order number). In no time they got back to us with our tickets. It was no scam after all. We breathed a sigh of relief. The next day, at about 5 pm we started to what was a wide wide green field dotted with thousands and thousands of people. Some laying on their beach spreads, some others, under beach umbrellas, some even under proper full fledged tents. The spot buzzed with activity, with children playing around with their plastic helicopters, and adults patiently waiting in long queues before the waffle stall. And when the sky turned black, we were asked to let our lanterns free – all at the same time. “At the end of this countdown,” the anchor on the makeshift stage, announced. So we lit our lanterns, and let them drift into the black sky. Hundreds of them floating like a sea of stars. All our apprehensions flew away with them. This was one of the most beautiful events we ever attended.

My article about The Lights Fest was published in the media this week. Please find the link here.

Here are some photos from the fest.

This was the sight at 4 pm. As the sun dipped the crowd increased, as the ticky torches lit the aisles a warm yellow

We were encourage to write/ sketch on our lanterns. So I sketched the couple that was sitting right in front of us. 

IMG_20180623_204314 (1)
Just a few more hours to go.

The gang that we went with.

The lanterns finally in the sky. It was, believe me, quite a sight.

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In India, one of the most important festivals is Diwali, also called the Festival of Lights. Given the diversity of the country, there are many versions of why the festival is celebrated. But universally, it just denotes the victory of light over darkness. And this, quite literally. For people decorate their houses with oil lamps and LED lights, and light the sky up with fireworks. Sparklers, ground spinners, fountains, poppers, snakes, rockets…you name it and they have it. The use of fireworks is not just restricted to this festival. Weddings, funerals, a cricket game, or New Year’s eve, the box of fireworks are unpacked. So I waited with bated breath for July 4, to see some stunning pyrotechnics in the sky, here. On the night of the US Independence Day, we drove to Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, and with the Delaware river and a row of historic boats behind us, we looked up at the spotless sky to see train of bright light glide to a height and explode into stardust. A few couples embraced each other in a warm hug, children jumped in excitement never taking their eyes off of the sky, and a bunch of them shouted ‘USA’ in a patriotic fervor. The display went on for a good 30 minutes, like a rehearsed and well-organized theatrical piece. At the end of it, I would have clapped, almost, but for the flood of people that rushed their way to the exit.


Events · Life in general

First snow

Our old car looked like a white sheep at the end of the day. Scroll down to see our new car. And do not call it a black sheep.

I experience snow for the first time when the Disney movie Snow-white and the seven dwarfs hits a milestone. It’s been 80 years since the movie premiered at the Cathay Circle Theatre in California. And as we approach closer to the big day (December 21), the Swann Galleries in New York gears for a big sale of the original sketches of the beautiful Snow white and the seven dwarfs by Disney Artist Ingeborg Willy.

But the exciting news apart, Claymont, Delaware had the first snow of the season this week and it was beautiful than anything that I have seen in movies, picture postcards – even beautiful that Snow white herself. While the roads looked like there had been a massive lemonade slush spillage, the trees were giant paintings done using brown paint and white highlighter. Grass blades drowned in whipped cream and the roads floated in beds of fog. The cars looked like a pack of overgrown sheep resting together. Groups of men and women with pink nose and ghost-white finger tips made round cold balls with scoops of snow and mercilessly aimed at each others’ necks. They came back shaking, their noses a shade of paprika by then.

There is something about watching the flakes (which btw look exactly like the snowflake icon on WhatsApp) free fall from the sky. So weightless, they are like drifting pieces of paper – like torn love letters, or confetti, or a burst of cotton after a pillow fight. And when they settle slowly, it’s almost like someone is gradually switching on imaginary bulbs that light up the ground all across the town.

Now, what kills the romance is the numbness in your feet after you walk on the beautiful lit ground and when your gloves and hat feel like fabrics made of ice. So then, the second best thing to do is sit by the window and sip on some hot chocolate while you see the town getting painted white, and maybe fall into a death like sleep and hopefully get woken up by a charming prince’s kiss.