Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We're bleeding blue!

As much as I try to stick to design and design related stuff, or at the very least semi-arty stuff....I cannot NOT write about the cricket fever that has taken over our country. And I cannot even get creative and think of a designy way to  segue into is cricket! Its a sport and has nothing to do remotely with design. America has baseball, Norway has soccer, Canada has curling....we have our cricket! Its the great national, poor, old, young, villager, city dweller, enemy and friend.......come a good cricket game and we are all glued to our TV sets. And if the team we are playing is Pakistan.....then its even better. And if we are playing them in a semi-final game....then nothing can beat it!

So yesterday afternoon, at 2.30 pm IST, in the blistering heat of a fast approaching summer, India and Pakistan took to the field in Mohali, Punjab....the wheat growing, mustard eating heartland of the play in the semi finals of the World Cup! Ordinary life in the country came to a standstill. Kids bunked school, corporates and executives called in sick, call centers shut down, Facebook statuses went berserk....and all one could see on the roads were street dogs and the occasional ignorant stray Indian!!!! 

And so I joined the ranks of all those match watchers.....armed with food and drink to sustain us through the 8 hour thriller! It was typical of any cricket game....dropped catches, bungled fielding, loud vociferous appeals, erupting crowds, bhangra dancing, banners, flags and so on. BUT IN THE END WE WON!!! So at 10.55pm, fireworks were heard all over the city, people shouted and screamed, horns blared, my dogs freaked out and then we all went to bed, exhilarated and now intensely excited about the finals on Saturday against Srilanka! Even though for most of us beating Pakistan was as good as winning the final..

So then, here are some pics to show how cricket mad this country was, is and will always be.....

A Pakistani prisoner, left, poses with an Indian prisoner during the Pakistan-India cricket match
Indians react as they watch the ICC World Cup cricket semifinal match between India and Pakistan, on a television set at a hair salon in New Delhi
Indian laborers listen to a commentary
Indians react as they watch on a television set
Pakistani spectators celebrate during the ICC Cricket World Cup semifinal between India and Pakistan, in Multan, Pakistan
India supporters cheering.....
 Members of Pakistan's Hindu minority pray for victory for their team Pakistan during a collective prayer ceremony, in Karachi, Pakistan 
An Indian cricket fan throws flames as others cheer during an event organized to wish the Indian cricket team good luck ahead 
And if this hasn't gotten you cricket crazy yet, watch this....

I can only imagine the scene when we win on Saturday! GO INDIA GO!
All images via

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Birthday giveaways!

One year ago at around this time, I was wiping the sweat off my brow gearing up for the launch of Saffron and Silk, putting the finishing touches on my blog, despairing about color and theme, agonizing over the name I had picked, trying out different templates, defining the content, finalizing the font, typing and re-typing my profile information so it was short and succinct but still descriptive enough, and last but not least, wondering if anyone would bother to read the blog, let alone comment.

Well, the time has flown by. My blog turns 1 year old today, the 28th of March,  and even though I still fret about content and font and theme, I know for a fact that there are people reading it. So for that, I am thankful to each and everyone of you that has read and/or commented on my rambling all-over-the-place posts this last year! I hope I can sustain your interest in it for more time....

So, as a HUGE THANK YOU and a celebration of my blog's first birthday....its time for a giveaway! 

{Now, it just so happens that my blog's birthday coincides with my birthday as per our Tamil calendar! For those wondering what on earth I am talking about, I have to apologize because it is way too complicated, I still don't get has to do with the sun and the stars and the moon, and the 27 segments the sky is divided into, and the 12 zones of the sky (the Zodiac), and the sun spending one month in each during one year, and the moon spending one night in each segment, so today is also the day the moon and the sun are co-horting in the same segment as they were the day I was born!!!! Sounds like 2 people having a clandestine affair!!!!}

In a nutshell, TODAY is the day my blog turns 1 year old, and if the venerated priests says it's the day I turn 50, who am I to argue? All the more reason to celebrate. 

So in honor of 2 birthdays I am doing a "double giveaway"! Here is what is up for grabs....these two pairs of lovely earrings made by the talented Aparna at Nine by Thirty

The first set of earrings has "faceted garnet with sterling silver beads and leaf hoops" 
And the second pair of earrings is - you're going to love this - "lava bead rondells with Bali sea shell silver beads with leaf hoops"!!!!

Now......a little something on Nine by Thirty. This is the brainchild of Aparna......a prolific writer and a chai-loving fellow Hyderabadi, also known to many blog readers as the Ketchup Girl! Not only does she have a totally wry, tongue-in-cheek approach to writing, the girl skillfully weaves silver into stunning jewelry as deftly as words into prose! Her witty writing leaves me rolling on the floor, her exquisite jewelry has me swooning on same said floor! Her caustic writing drips with sarcasm as much as her silver danglers drip with lustrous stones...(ok, so that was a weird analogy, but then SHE's the writer, not me:-). Then, as if writing and designing jewelry wasn't enough, the girl cooks like a dream. 

But, since I am giving away some bling bling made by her very own hands, here is a peek into some of the other stunners she has made...
A bloodstone and silver necklace
Cinnabar and silver hoops
and this, of which I recently became a proud owner...graduated sujilite with silver


So, what do YOU THE READER have to do to enter the giveaway? VERY LITTLE!

1. Leave a comment, one, or two or even three...three is the limit! Whether you leave 1, 2 or 3 comments, let me know which of the two earrings you prefer, which country you live in AND your e mail address/contact info. If you prefer not to reveal that information, you can alternately e mail me at, BUT YOU STILL NEED TO LEAVE A COMMENT ON THE BLOG to be entered into the draw. That's it. 

2. This contest is open to residents of India, the US, UK and Australia! And of course anyone residing OUTSIDE of these 4 countries who is entering for someone residing INSIDE these 4 countries.

3. Say whatever you want in your comment....complain, rant, rave, nag, talk about the weather, what you had for lunch, cricket, your weekend plans...anything.....just as long as it is a comment. 

You don't have to blog, or tweet or Facebook the giveaway, unless you want to! Just have fun commenting!

I'll keep this open till the 15th of April, midnight IST, and then pick the winners using Of the two winners the one with the lower number will get first dibs, in other words the earring of their choice! Winners in Australia and India should receive their spoils by end April, winners from either the UK or USA will have to be patient and wait till end May to get theirs in the mail! :-)

Good luck to you all and DON"T FORGET YOUR E MAIL ADDRESS - either leave it on your comment OR e mail me!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From the sublime to the ridiculous!

I'm on a roll here....a blog roll I mean. I figured while my Internet was up and behaving, I may as well do another post!

OK, so I am all for India getting ahead and showcasing its proud ancient heritage to the world. We're really making our presence felt in the world of design, art, politics, textiles and fashion. So when Lakme had its annual fashion week in Mumbai last week, its biggest fashion event, the papers were all agog. And I did my share and googled to see what had happened.....

Here are some pics from that week with my added (unasked for) commentary beside it....

OK, so this is nice. Pretty girls in lovely saris, a bit defiant looking, but still lovely!
 A model in a Satya Paul sari.....sublime and still lovely!
Accessories by Malini Agarwalla. Chunky, bold and blue. Still nice......
A touch of folk music to add the local flavor....lovely
and a creation by VJ Balhara...probably my favorite
Then things began to get a bit dramatic...but still within the boundaries of "nice" with Manish Malhotra's outfit
 and Anita Dongre's work...which, by the way I usually am a fan of
And then it started to get a bit bizarre....with Masaba Gupta's take on the turban. Really? Turban? No....
 Eina Ahluwalia's creation...what is this? Sari? Dhoti? 
 and Sabyasachi Mukherjee's nightwear???? I mean when does one wear this?
 .........and gold accessories
And then this sort of sealed it for me....I gave up! I mean what were they thinking? Or more specifically what was Pria Kataria Puri thinking?????
So there you have it....glimpses of Indian fashion. I say we stick to what we're best at...which is gorgeous saris, lovely churidars and kurtas. If we want to get creative let's tweak the fabrics and the designs and even maybe even experiment with adventurous ways of wearing them, but lets stay away from the other stuff and leave that to those who are experts at them!
And my final comment - I mean no really I don't! Just my 2 cents worth!

Ayurvedic Design

We've all heard of Ayurveda. It is the oldest existing medical system on the planet – the word Ayurveda means the science of life or living. The medicines are prepared using all natural ingredients found in herbs, plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables grown indigenously.
No, no this is not a post on Ayurveda, so don't wander away....
There's plenty of info available so I won't go into it, but simply put - we are all born from a combination of five elements that pervade the universe - earth, water, fire, air and ether. Earth, heavy and solid constitutes our bone and muscle mass; fire generates heat for metabolic processes like digestion to happen; water brings calmness and emotional succour; air gives us life breath and allows for the play of the mind; ether is the space in which our organs reside, giving us mental expanse and clarity. This play of elements is the fundamental principle of Ayurveda. These reside in pairs and give rise to three "doshas" which make up our constitution, namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

So what dosha are you? 

(Stay with me, I am getting somewhere "designy" with all this....)
There are a gazillion websites that will hep you figure it out, some more complicated than others and some with such a long questionnaire, by the end of it you don't really care, you just want to be done with it. But for us visual designer types who have little patience with lengthy verbose quizzes, here is a quick one to help you figure out if you're a earthy Kapha, a fiery Pitta or an airy Vata! Based on your dosha, Ayurveda will help you understand what foods are good for you what foods you should avoid to keep all your doshas balanced and in harmony, because one is always more predominant than the other. Anyone want to guess what dosha I am? Hint: impatient, hate the summer heat, stubborn!!!!

So in a nutshell Ayurveda is all about medicine and food.

But wait......have you heard of a color palette for you depending on your dosha or your constitutional type? Yes, AFM Safecoat has developed a 108 colors in three palettes of 36 colors each. The significance of the number 108 is is sacred in numerology. Each micro palette contains a range of colors that are skewed energetically meaning whether the colors are hot or cold, warm or cool, calming or stimulating, uplifting or grounding, moist or dry, etc. On a simplistic level, it exerts a balancing force in the direction opposite of that which may tend to erode an individual’s homeostasis. 

A mesomorphic fiery Pitta like me (yes, I am a Pitta, surprise surprise...) needs colors with a cooling and calming orientation, likewise an ectomorphic airy Vata is balanced by earthy colors. 

So, to recap, if your constitution is a Vata, your skin will benefit from deep hydration. Surround yourself with a palette of subdued, muted earthy tones suggestive of moisture to balance your dosha. Go with paint colors that are reminiscent of the earth, landscape, leaf, sun, cloud, nature, grass and sand.

If you are a hothead Pitta, you need complex colors with a cooling, soothing and calming orientation. This will balance you and lower the irritability we types are so well known for........ Pick green and blue toned colors that scream of evening, meditation, peace, comfort, balance, breath, restore, calm and attune. 

And then lastly, if you are a calm, steadfast Kapha, (like my better half) embrace a palette of vibrant and stimulating colors with warm overtones that will get you out of your almost inert and lethargic nature. Go wild with fiery colors like spirit, fire, revive, purpose, inspire, awake and discover.

I found this pretty fascinating, but what was a mystery is that whatever your dosha may be, you are instinctively drawn to colors that only aggravate your characteristics....for example, as a Pitta I am to veer towards calming greens and blues, but that is the one color I stay away from....instead I gravitate towards the Kapha colors of clay, fire, red, and orange. Which is just making things worse.......????

All images courtesy here, here and here.

Blogging problems....

Guys/ having some real frustrating issues with blogger. I am able to type in my posts but cannot upload any pics or even view my blog once I have posted. Similarly I am not able to view any other blogspot blogs!!!

Will be calling up BSNL tomorrow to find out what the heck is going on. We upgraded to another plan a couple of days ago...i suspect the bozos have messed up something.

Oh well, wish me luck. Have a couple of fun posts in the pipeline....including a giveaway for a birthday!!!!

Good time to catch up on my reading I guess :-(

Monday, March 21, 2011

Coloring the archives

Remember this post?

I had many readers comment on how lovely the old pictures were, and how amazing it is to look at photos taken almost 80 to a 100 years ago. The older women in their silk saris, the younger women in more modern synthetic saris with their ruched and ruffled lace borders......the men in their crisp white dhotis and kurtas.

But if you're like me, maybe you wondered....what color was that sari she was wearing? Was it a dark navy blue, a dull brick red, a soft pastel shade...? And that puffy blouse? Cream colored or dark to match the sari border? What were her favorite colors? Is that an orange sari my grandma is wearing? Did she love that color that she passed on the love of orange to me???

Black and white have their own vintage appeal, but color photos give us so many clues about that time. Today you have color forecasters that tell you what the hot color for the season is and the next thing you know everything from dinner plates to cushions to clothing is in that color. Was there a favorite color that everyone wore 60 years ago? If a maharani was spotted in pink, did everyone start wearing pink??? If the popular actress of the time wore a sari a certain way, did everyone copy that? I've always wondered......

Enter VAL ERDE! Artist, Britisher, bird lover, blogger, and more recently "old black and white photos toucher upper"!!!! Val e mailed me after she read my post, asking if she could color some of the pics I had posted. I'll be honest and admit I was a bit skeptical......would it look too artificial or "made up"? I took a look at her website and loved the few examples of her coloring work. 

So I promptly sent her 2 pics, Val did her thing on them and sent them back and I have to tell you I absolutely LOVE THEM! Here they are, tell me what you think.
This one
became this...
and this one....
turned into this....
What really struck me was how appropriate the coloring seems to that time. Not that I even have a clue as to what the original color of the clothing was, but if there had been color film available, THAT is what I would imagine the pic to look like.

This is what Val says about her work: "As you’ll have realised, I put a lot of thought into my colourings. And I try to combine my visual knowledge of the real world with my artistic experience to produce the results that I do."

Val would like to go semi-professional on this, and if you have any lovely old black and white pictures, or great family portraits from way back when, that you would like transformed into beautiful time appropriate color photos, contact her.

Val - thank you so much for doing this. I love them.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A letter from Japan.....

My tribute the brave people of Japan! If you're like me, then you have undoubtedly been touched and amazed at the courage and strength of the Japanese, in this horrific time for them....each one is looking out for the other as opposed to focussing on their own comfort. There is a feeling of "community" and "what can I do to help someone else?" The TV and news have been full of stories of people helping one another, but what really brought it home was a letter my aunt received from a cousin of hers who has lived for the past decade in Sendai, teaching English!

Al I can say is 'read on"....

Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,
First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am very touched. I also wish to apologize for a generic message to you all. But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.
Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to 
have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even 
more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend's home. We share 
supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.
During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs 
and buckets.
Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in 
lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an 
earthquake strikes. People keep saying, "Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another."
Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens 
are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.
We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for 
half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. 
But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. 
No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.
There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some 
places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. 
People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking 
their dogs. All happening at the same time.
Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No 
cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered 
with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. 
The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them 
silhouetted against the sky magnificently.
And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on,
and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from 
whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking
to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they
need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, 
They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is
a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is
better off than others.  Last night my friend's husband came in from the 
country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.
Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed
an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world 
right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now
in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I 
felt so small because of all that is happening. I don't. Rather, I feel as
part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of 
birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.
Thank you again for your care and Love of me,
With Love in return, to you all,

How? How does one come out of such a terrible tragedy and have this kind of attitude? We have a lot to learn from these people! Thank you Anne for this letter.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My tribute to Japan!

Sorry for this long delay in posts, just as I was getting my head wrapped around going back to a regular blogging routine, the horrific tragedy in Japan happened, and it seems like all I do these days is watch the terrible news on TV and really mourn the loss of so many lives of such a lovely country and such beautiful people.

No one, not even my worst enemy, deserves to have to deal with such a disaster, and least of all the most cultured, refined, polite people on the planet! I have admired the country for their incredible sense of aesthetics and design, their refined artistic talents, their whole outlook on life, their spiritual beliefs, their discipline and their capacity to find beauty in everything. These are the people who have given the rest of the world such meaningful profound simple ideas like Wabi Sabi, Feng Shui, Ikebana, Zen and Washoku and introduced us to the pleasures of matcha and green tea, mochi balls and the bento box!

So as a tribute to the people of Japan, I would like to share - via these images - some of the beauty they have brought into our lives, and pray they recover from this calamity and continue to inspire us!

I hope and pray the country will survive this ordeal, get back on its feet and regain their faith! As many of you know, my husband and I were headed there early April, but obviously now our plans have changed! I know I will visit the country some day, and I know that day will come soon. 
A lot of world aid is coming their way to help them get back on their feet, I for one am making a donation to The Red Cross. I urge you all to do the same if you can afford to!

All images via flickr photo sharing!