The Banarasis - II

Following my conversation with my grandmother and the photographs that I took of her (you can see them here http://bit.ly/2lmx6ue), as she indulged in one of her long lost loves (the Garden), we were both filled with a sense of joy and deep contentment. The process of helping her get ready and taking her to the garden had moved something inside me. It was like re-living a moment from the past, but a whole new version of it. 

The next day I was in Patna, chatting with my Aunt. The session with my grandmother was still at the back of my mind and prompted me to ask my Aunt to tell me something that she was passionate about but hadn't had the chance to do for a long long time. 'Sports' came the answer. A few minutes later, I found out that she had been the Basketball captain at her school. She had also studied in a Convent school, a sister concern of the school that I went to in Patna (in fact one of the Principals at our school had taught her as well). I showed her photographs from my session with my grandmother and asked her if she would be okay with wearing a Banarasi sari in a basketball court. As you can see, we ended up having a brilliant time in the court, with my Aunt not only enjoying the game but also brushing up quite a few of her tricks! And, I must say, she managed to get the ball into the hoop quite a few times!! More power to her and her love for the game! She managed to run, jump, kneel down and do all the basketball moves in a sari and it was such a pleasure to watch her in action :)  

These photographs are a part of my series called 'the Banarasis' - a personal project with portraits of women engaging in a favourite activity from the past which, they have now lost touch with. They are wearing ornate Banarasis (some of which were possibly gifted to them at the time of their wedding). The idea is that the activity as well as the fabric shall serve as a conduit for exploring the relationship of these women with an older version of the self, thereby enabling them to embark on a journey into their youth and memories, whereby they are able to approach, remember, engage with, relive and revive a part of themselves, which has remained ignored due to various factors - whether age, time constraints, family commitments or even self-denial leading to a shrinking of self-esteem. When they do something they truly love, it revitalises their whole being, leading to a feeling of optimism, hope and rejuvenation of the self. 

Special thanks to Sr. Lucina at St. Joseph's Convent for permission to do this shoot in the Basketball Court that day. As luck would have it, she had been the Principal when I was in school and had come back to SJC as the Principal again, a couple of years ago! I really got lucky that she was there in school that day.

The Banarasis

Two years ago, I was sitting in my grandmother's living room (where she spends a large portion of her day) and we were talking about 'Har-singars' among several other things. She was telling me how she had neighbours from Bengal and they used to prepare kaajal by squeezing the petals and heating the nectar/juice over a low flame. She had learnt from watching them. This went on to tales of her cooking - how she used to constantly create new dishes from her mind and enjoyed the creative process. I still cannot get over the taste of the yummy Seekh Kebabs made over a coal stove and have distant memories of when she used to make them for us. The topic shifts to the 'Garden' - her passion and love and, she goes quiet. I hadn't seen her going to the Garden in the last 4-5 years (or even more) whether for health reasons or age. I ask her about it and whether she would like to come to the garden for a photograph. As you can see, she was sporting enough in more ways than one.

These photographs are a part of my series called 'the Banarasis' - a personal project with portraits of women engaging in a favourite activity from the past which, they have now lost touch with. They are wearing ornate Banarasis (some of which were possibly gifted to them at the time of their wedding). The idea is that the activity as well as the fabric shall serve as a conduit for exploring the relationship of these women with an older version of the self, thereby enabling them to embark on a journey into their youth and memories, whereby they are able to approach, remember, engage with, relive and revive a part of themselves, which has remained ignored due to various factors - whether age, time constraints, family commitments or even self-denial leading to a shrinking of self-esteem. When they do something they truly love, it revitalises their whole being, leading to a feeling of optimism, hope and rejuvenation of the self.     

Happy Birthday Mumma - a big thank you for being the wonderful, sensitive and kind person that you are. 

 

Wake up and smell the flowers!

Everyone has a different sight they like to wake up to. For me, it's this. These gorgeous harsingars falling gently on the ground. In fact, I love collecting them to keep at my desk (in a simple handmade clay pot which, I made in Andretta :)) so that I can experience their delicate and beautiful fragrance as I work on my photographs. Work feels like worship and, I'm grateful to finally reach this stage in my life.   

Harsingars - making my mornings!

It wasn't always like this. I remember days when waking up in the morning was a struggle. Not for the body, more for the mind. When we constantly keep working within closed office spaces and rarely give our eyes and mind any breathing space, the mind collapses in a way and our vision becomes smaller. This lack of head space is often used as an excuse for being cranky or stressed at work. How can we change this?

Every day and every moment in our life, we have a choice. A choice to be as gentle and kind as these beautiful flowers. Nature is a wonderful teacher. She never hurries - yet, accomplishes everything. A seed doesn't grow into a plant overnight. Similarly, our growth takes time and any shortcuts wont really help us grow in the real sense. When the time comes, we all need to realize that detachment is essential - especially the current trend of being so attached to 'things'. Nothing is real except this present moment. The rest is all in the mind, the past and even the future.

The human mind is the most fascinating piece of creation. A work of art! Our responses to most situations are based on the various layers of conditioning that we have received throughout our life. Our influences at home, school and work add to our personality in very subtle ways. Who we spend time with, what we read and do - all of it determines who we are and how we will respond to/react in a given circumstance. I read somewhere that the mind needs its dose of inspiration every day. In fact, many people like to ensure that their mornings are not rushed up and they have a morning routine - whether it involves yoga, a cup of coffee, some pleasant music, a morning walk (or all of the above). Yet, many of us (and I've been guilty of this) simply wake up, grab our breakfast and rush to work. We may read the news on our way to work or make a few calls (like speak to our parents if they are living in a different city). On the point of news, I've never been one to devour the newspaper in the mornings (or even as the day passes by)! Major sections of the newspaper are often devoted to either politics, crime, pollution or even advertisements. Whenever I pick up the papers, I am appalled to see that the much coveted front page is covered by a full-page advertisement. To make things worse, what follows is a dismal portrayal of the news around the world. Why is it that positive and inspiring stories rarely find coverage? Why do we have to resort to 'alternate sites' like TED or other inspirational sites on the world wide web to feed ourselves with some inspiration in the morning?

Do think about this. How can you give yourself that time and head space in the morning, to ensure that you have a goodday? Think about a morning ritual - something that enlivens your state of mind. Morning light and energy is beautiful (I know, coming from me, it sounds strange since I have always been a nocturnal creature). Enjoy the moment. 

SMELL THE FLOWERS. Have a great weekend!