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Posts Tagged ‘life’

a life lived

DSC_0116My grandmother died a little over three weeks ago. She was sick for about a month before–not really sick but her body was failing. But until five months before she passed away she was living alone at ninety two — proudly and fiercely, taking each day as it came despite the fact that she could barely see and was almost deaf and needed a walker-frame to get around. Sure she had help: my father, my sister, and her youngest sister lived not too far away and showed up the minute she called in sick. But the choice that she made to live independently was her own, a choice which she protected right until the very end, when a fall in the bathroom required hospitalisation and then a permanent move to my parents’ house.

To live independently is one thing, but as I look back what was most admirable was the generosity of her spirit. Every few days if not every day, people would drop in to have a cup of tea, to chat or just to be with her. Mind you, this is to share the company of a woman who refused to wear her hearing aid, which meant the entire neighbourhood heard your conversation because the visitor always needed to sit close to her and yell so that a conversation could be carried out. These conversations could be about anything: from world news that she wanted to be filled in on to a recipe that someone needed from her, or simply her observations on child rearing. A lot of it was also about her sharing memories of times long gone. But people came by, and looking back I am amazed to see that they were all friends. My grandmother doesn’t come from a generation where friends were a priority; it was always family that was supposed to be the centre of her world. But even here she made friends, and when we gathered one evening shortly after her passing away it was a joy to realise that everyone there was precisely that – each a friend of hers.

I spent a lot of time with her growing up so perhaps it is not surprising that I was close to her; many in my family say that I look like her. I don’t know if that is true or not but what I think I came away with on that evening is the realisation (yet again) of how much she was loved, and that the true basis for this love was really the generosity of her spirit. She wasn’t always the most kind, most loving, or uncritical person out there; in fact we all had at some point or the other gotten into major arguments about her. But nothing was personal and this woman did not love anything more than a good chat, time spent together and coffee/ tea or nimbu pani (or panha!) to accompany it. I miss her dearly.

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a journey into past

Four months is long time even for me, the otherwise somewhat intermittent blogger, to be away from my blog. Except for my super short post sometime in February, I admit I almost gave up on blogging. Lured by Instagram, I considered making use of my account which I opened sometime ago, but then it seemed too complicated and I retreated. (I am sure in reality Instagramming–if there is a word like that–is actually quite fun, and I love looking at what other people make. But for now, I have no head space for figuring out how yet another social media platform works and so I gave up on that idea too. At least for the moment.). Interestingly, what this longer than planned break made me realise that while I do miss posting about my latest sewing, what I miss even more is the writing part. And so here I am, with some determination to give it another chance.

And so without further explanations here is some news of the past few months.

In early March, around the time of my birthday, my husband and I went on the much anticipated trip to Tokyo. It was short (only 5 days), and we didn’t do a whole lot, besides eating, walking, and meeting a few old friends, but it was tremendously soul nourishing and absolutely lovely. For one, my parents were very generous to come all the way to Delhi to take care of the kids, and it was the first time Mr. M and I were travelling anywhere sans children. And then, it felt like a homecoming of sorts. I hadn’t been back in close to a decade, and although of course I have been there many times before, this was the first trip where there was no agenda as such. All in all I came back feeling rested and nourished–not very different from what trip to a familiar and well loved place feels like, I suppose.

Here are a few favourite photos from the trip:DSC_0056A shop selling pickles outside Sendagi station  DSC_0043Aoyama cemeteryDSC_0021The ryokan where we stayed in HongoDSC_0004A bakery in KagurazakaIMG_20170305_093351009And finally, one of my all time favourite places in Tokyo–the Nezu Shrine. Most of the week had been bitingly cold, but the day we walked to the shrine, after meandering through the lanes around Tokyo University, was beautiful and sunny. We mostly sat in the sun for long and reminisced about all the earlier times I had been here.

Besides eating and walking we did some shopping too, and I myself bought a fair bit of fabric from Okadaya in Shinjuku. In my current life, which I cannot envision without sewing, it is, in retrospect, strange to think that before this trip I had never even entered a fabric shop in Japan! My interest in sewing is only about seven years old, and so initially I had no idea where to go. A quick Google search brought my attention to this blog, which was particularly useful.DSC_0062It’s all knits and double gauze, as you can probably tell, and not exactly inexpensive. Of course! Thankfully the cost, and the fact that we went to Nippori, the official “fabric town,” on the day when all shops were closed ensured that fabric shopping was limited. Still I love what I got; N oooh-ed and aah-ed over it after we got back and immediately put in a few requests.

That, in short, was our trip and the highlight of 2017! I can’t believe it’s already been two months since we went. I have sewn up a bunch of stuff in this time and will be back in a few days to show what I’ve been making.

Asmita/xx

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a trip

A little less than two weeks ago we got back from a trip to Jodhpur, the famed “blue city” of Rajasthan. By we, I mean my sister Shalu, her old and my relatively new friend Ekta, N and me. It was a lovely trip, the kind of which I dream about and would like to have more of. We did all the touristy things like visiting the famous Mehrangarh fort and going for a camel ride, but also some not very touristy stuff such as taking a tour of the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park. And, of course we ate the most delicious kachoris and jalebees, of which I wouldn’t mind a few as I write this post! All this in only three days, but somehow it felt much longer. In a good kind of a way. If I were to think of the “best part” of something as N and I often discuss, my best part of the trip would be the park and the jalebees, and the beautiful hotel that Ekta chose.

Here are a few photos from our travels, the memories of which will stay with me for many years.[Warning: this one is a picture heavy post, but I do hope you get to the bottom of it :-)]

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Asmita/xx

 

 

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Considering the going-ons of the past few weeks, these last few days have been positively quiet. For me it has meant coming to terms with Trump, figuring out ways to live with seriously bad air quality after days of panic, and now dealing with our latest drama of demonetisation. Things look unsettled, but I think this is about as settled as they will be for a while. For some reason this morning as I was bemoaning the fact of Trump (yet again), I suddenly thought to myself – would I rather be in 1916 instead of 2016, and my answer is a clear no. Because that means being in the middle of one war, then yet another one and by the time I want to live which is the early 1970s I would be dead anyway. So, I guess this becomes a roundabout way of saying -I think I need to settle down into into things as they are at this moment.

Here is some things that brought us cheer during last week.   dsc_0200

dsc_0110dsc_0132dsc_0206dsc_0198This last thing, a mobile of starts and moon something N made in her pottery class. Passing by it when going from one room to another is making me quite happy.

During the past crazy few weeks I also made something. Or rather, I finished a project – yet another one that has been sitting unfinished in my list of to-do pile for long.dsc_0142It’s a  bag is for me to carry my yoga mat to my newly joined yoga class. As it turns out however, the class provides these really lovely straw mats. And they are so much nicer than the generic rubber ones like what I have, that I am inclined to leave my mat and the bag at home. But still I like the bag.dsc_0154It has a cute little pocket and a strap to carry it across my back. Carrying it makes me feel almost sporty!

I am not sure why this one took so long really because the construction of this couldn’t be any easier.  The fabric is canvas weight, and the pattern on it bring peacocks to my mind for some reason. If I remember correctly, it was purchased at Ikea in New York many moons ago. The pattern, if you can even call it that, comes from this book, one of the first sewing books that I ever purchased and still my favourite. As the title says it is really “simple sewing” and just the kind that can make you forget current worries and let all noises recede in the background, even if temporarily.

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a find

I didn’t plan to disappear so completely on my Pune trip, but as it so happens, and has happened before I did just that. It’s been super busy last few weeks, really months, I should say. We had a good, (“full” is perhaps the word) summer vacation from which N and I got back almost ten days ago. Baby m and Mr. M followed soon thereafter, and now we are in hot humid Delhi.

At this moment as I am writing this, I see a drawing on the wall behind my desk, and I think of some good memories from our summer vacation.

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N made it for me when we were in Pune, and it is, as you can probably tell, a picture of a sewing machine. A few years ago, after I had started sewing on my mother’s old machine, I inherited yet another one. Something even older than my mom’s, a Singer, which was then sold under the name Merritt in India.

(Very quick research suggests that there are quite a few websites documenting the birth and growth of Singer machines. I found this one most interesting, but still cannot figure out why the Indian ones are called Merritt. So if anyone has an idea, please do share).

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Truth is, I didn’t need a second machine but I am so glad I did not say no when it was offered to me. It belonged to my parents neighbour’s mother, and while even she can’t recall when it was purchased I suspect it is at least 50 years old if not older! If you look closely enough you can probably tell that outwardly it is showing its age-the ply is peeling just about everywhere….

But the machine? The machine works like a dream. And it is gorgeous!

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I have barely sewed on a machine with a foot pedal before. But I realised that once you get a hang of it it can go really fast and really well.

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I left the machine, extended family and the lovely weather back in Pune quite sadly this time, and while I have my old Janome (well not as old compared to Singer),  here, I miss it already. So it’s nice to have this lovely visual reminder in form of N’s picture!

Do you also have any old models that you can’t part with? I would love to hear about them.

Asmita/xox

 

 

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The other day I made a quick little skirt. That morning N mentioned pompoms and I vaguely recalled that a skirt-a dress-a something with pompoms had been in demand for quite some time. So after I put baby M down for his afternoon nap I got to work. By the time he woke up (an hour and half later) there was a skirt.

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N wore it immediately to an afternoon tea party that we were heading out for, and for some reason I felt like I had accomplished sewing that felt meaningful to me after a really long time.

Which brings me to sharing some things that I have been thinking about recently. Lately everything just feel like a rush. Whatever little time I get from M, I want to spend it with N, which leaves too little time to embark on anything. Actually perhaps what I am really talking about here is energy. Baby M goes to sleep, we eat dinner, N goes to bed and then all I want to do is lie on the sofa and watch meaningless TV before crashing out. With what I do manage to get done, I feel like I am not really into it. I guess what I saying is that, one the one hand I am eager and almost desperate to sew, but on the other hand, when it actually comes down to doing it, the word that comes to mind is “chore.” And the minute I actually think that, I feel, no-no-no that is all wrong, it is not meant to be like this, because really it is the one thing that gives me so much joy.

So I tried to figure out what some of the issues are. And perhaps it is these: I plan very little because I enjoy spontaneous sewing and embarking on a project. Which means that when I can’t plan I hardly sew anything that feels new or challenging to me. Again because that would require some planning. And then sometimes things stay in my head for so long that by the time I actually get down to do it they are over-thought and don’t seem all that exciting any more.

What to do? My couple of new year resolutions then I think are going somewhere along these lines. 1. Think of something new, previously un-made for every few weeks or perhaps every month and really plan this well in terms of what each step really consists of. 2. Keep working space clean, so that the next time  I have a bit of time I can get into things quickly (otherwise clearing up last times mess takes forever!) 3. Hand sewing projects (which in any case I love) to accompany the meaningless TV watching. 4.And, if present mood demands a quick gratification project, give into that demand rather than getting caught up in a situation where I spend a huge time feeling indecisive about whether to indulge in this small quick thing or to work on the larger project.

Which essentially means I want to have three things going on at one time:

  1. large (as I see new, and for that reason possibly a time consuming) project
  2. hand sewing something
  3. instant gratification project (as and when the mood strikes).

Somehow writing this down feels much better, and not so complicated.

And perhaps this skirt came out of such quick and unconscious acting upon that itch to stitch and make something fast. I have to say, love it as much as N does!

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The pattern I had in mind is the Lazy Day’s Skirt from Oliver+S, which I have used before but which I admit to not consulting at all this time. It is essentially two rectangles stitched up. I added a separate hem facing at the bottom and encased the pompom ribbon between the two layers of fabric. The fabric is Lotta Jansdotter, but I am afraid I don’t remember what it is called anymore.

So that’s that from me for this last week. Oh yes, and I also finally sent out my Secret Valentine Exchange package. Did you get a chance to participate?

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Putting it together didn’t come so easy this time, but that’s for another time.

So, how do you organise sewing, or motivate yourself when time and energy seem to be on a wane?

Asmita/xo

 

 

 

 

 

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stormy

It’s been a stormy few weeks with lots going on, so much so that I have no energy or time to sew.

I am trying to find some calm by reading and doing some mundane stuff like mending, and I thought I’d share with you what the to-be-repaired pile looks like.

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Plus a teeny bit of hand sewing.

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I will have more of the latter to show you soon…I hope.

In the meantime a hello from this part of the world. I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of Sunday or (in my part of the world) what’s left of it.

Asmita/xo

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