Thursday, April 26, 2018

W is for Wells #AtoZChallenge

WELCOME to Wells, Somerset.
It's the smallest city in England.
Wells Cathedral is the reason that this tiny medieval city is called a city.

Every inch and nook of the city is picture perfect.
So, it was hard for me to choose just a few pictures to post today. 
I tried. But, I didn't succeed. 

We stayed in Wells for a few days last August.
Let the tour begin.
Let the pictures do the talking (with a few words for company)

Wells High street: so quaint and small that by the time you've said high, it's over.
Wells Cathedral: Gothic and poetic




Ha! Do you see a W or two?
Spotted in August'17 in Wells. 
Who would've thought they'd appear in a W post in April 2018?
Such treasures come by when we keep our eyes open to see. Right?
We picked a couple to munch on. They were delicious: crisp, slightly tangy and very juicy.

The Vicars' Close
This extract has been taken from somerset-life.co.uk:
"Adjoining the Cathedral is Vicars’ Close, believed to be the only complete medieval street left in England. The houses were built in the 14th century to provide accommodation for the Vicars Choral, who sing the daily services, and this is still the case today."


The Bishop's Palace
somerset-life.co.uk tells us that its...
"Home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years, the palace is surrounded by a moat, complete with resident swans trained to ring a bell for food." 
We were exploring the caves in Cheddar gorge that morning, so by the time we got back to Wells, the palace was shut, but we managed to walk in its beautiful grounds.

We didn't see any swans. Perhaps they'd eaten and gone to bed by the time we arrived.


The Sew Vintage shot that featured in V Post was taken in Wells, Somerset.
*****
Well, that's it folks. 
Expecting to see you here tomorrow. 
Where are you planning to be this weekend? Any place special?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

V is for Vintage #AtoZChallenge

"Did you bring any body lotion with you?" asked the husband as he stepped out of the bathroom after taking a shower.

"You didn't ask. Besides, we're in a hotel. You'll be fine." I replied.

I happened to travel out of Doha to join my husband for the weekend. He'd been away for over a week. He had a free weekend in between his work commitments. 

"Why don't you join me?"He had called on Friday.

A to Z, I thought and then figured that I could carry on posting as long as I carried my laptop with me. The flights looked wide open to avail of staff discount.

So here I was. With him. Talking over the sound of running water, I was telling him what he should do with his free Sunday now that I'd made the supreme effort of joining him when he asked for the lotion. He's fond of the one he uses and usually carries it with him. This time he forgot to pack it.

The day's decisions were made, unanimously, of course. 

I entered the bathroom to shower.

"This body lotion is so smooth. It literally glides." I cooed to the tiny hotel bottle and got dressed.

Monday morning. He stepped out of the bathroom holding the almost empty bottle of body lotion in his hand.

"Is this the lotion you used yesterday?" I should've known. His honey eyes were twinkling.

"Hmm...why?"

"Well, it says hair conditioner on the bottle... thought you might like to know." He continued despite the soft chuckles that were beginning to muffle his words a bit. 

"You're so vintage Mrs. Jain." he guffawed at his own joke and almost tripped over his briefcase lying next to the desk.

Bless the Lord that I was keeping my eyes and ears open for V and all I heard was : Vintage!

He escaped to work unhurt. 

I cleaned my reading glasses and flipped the laptop open to write the T Post.
The venue of the pictures above will be revealed tomorrow with W. 
So you'll have to wait.
This one fit so well with his 'so vintage' remark  that I just had to use it today.
******
Any vintage moments you'd like to share?
Vintage wine kinda moments are welcome too.
I haven't been able to visit some of you on account of travel. But I'm back in Doha now, so I will be stopping by to say Hi:)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

U is for Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge of Meghalaya #AtoZChallenge

"We build too many walls
and not enough bridges."
Isaac Newton
(Please note that there is some ambiguity about which Newton really said those words: 
Sir Isaac Newton or Joseph Fort Newton)
I was looking for a quote (I'm still feeling quite quotish. I blame Q!) when this one caught my eye.

We're back in Meghalaya today. Back in the home of the clouds and the wise Khasi people who almost 200 years ago devised an ingenious way to cross rivers swollen with monsoon rains by planting Indian rubber trees on the banks of their rivers and training the roots of these trees through hollowed out trunks of the Areca palm to form sturdy, long-lasting natural bridges.

For a succinct and extremely well written account of the history and ecology of this unique phenomenon, click on this BBC travel story , where Neelima Vallangi's professionally taken photos will make you go wow. The extract below is from the same link:

"There are many living root bridges scattered across the dense valleys of Meghalaya’s Khasi Hills region, but the most spectacular and arguably the most famous is the Umshiang double-decker bridge, which is more than 180 years old. It is found just outside Nongriat, a small village that’s reachable only by foot, about 10km south of the town of Cherrapunji. The bridge’s two levels span the Umshiang River, and local villagers are adding a third level, hoping it will further attract tourists. (Neelima Vallangi)"

And for a wander through these dense, humid, lush forests filled with insect noises, bold butterflies, spider webs and fallen leaves, come this way...
 We have to cross a few scary bridges first.




 Almost there
 Here we are
Wave and smile:) 
They're the  best group of girls to go gallivanting with in the greens of Khasi Hills.
The next hour was spent immersed in this cool pool of water. It's a welcome relief after climbing down 3,500 steps in the sticky sub-tropicalal heat.
The first time you step in, you squeal--the water is so cold, unexpectedly so.
You settle in and then you go 'ouch' -- little fish have started feasting on your feet even before you've made yourself comfortable on the mossy rocks.
Lots of hilarity, more squeals and squeaks follow.
I followed a pair of butterflies. 
Perched on top of a rock, sitting very, very still, I clicked lots of photos and a short video which I've shared on my N post.
It was time to start the climb back. 
Yes, 3,500 steps!
So glad I packed my folding fan.




You can always stay in the forest if you like. Arrangements can be made.
But, please, please take your rubbish with you. Or better still don't bring any plastic bottles or bags that you'll feel tempted to chuck anywhere you feel like.
These are people's homes and their villages. 
The Khasi people have looked after their trees and their rivers for generations.
As a visitor, you're morally bound to leave their heaven as you found it.
******
Have you built or crossed any bridges recently?

Monday, April 23, 2018

T is a for Tales of Tailors #AtoZChallenge

If you are a saree lover/wearer, by the time you finish reading the title of today's post, your memory machine would've started churning a mini series of tailor related sagas of your own. You may have already switched off by now and started planning the title of your tailor memoir and the only way I'll be able to get your attention back is if I show you pictures or photos of beautiful sarees. Hang in there, just a few words to read. There's a picture. I promise.

For the non-saree wearer who's going uhh?, let me elaborate.

Sarees are worn with blouses and blouses are stitched by tailors.

To elucidate the importance of a tailor in a saree wearer's life (or actually any person's life who gets his/her clothes stitched by a tailor, especially in the Indian sub-continent), I'm borrowing this quote from life_in_a_saree, an Instagrammer I follow:
"Saree lover proposes, tailor disposes."
Yes sir. That's the power tailors wield in the lives of people who go to them to get their saree blouses stitched.

Looking at the picture below: do you notice anything unusual?
No. Not the dusty leaves of frangipani (note to self: wash leaves before clicking pics)
No, not even the oddity of a saree blouse hanging out in the garden with flowers. 
Have the observant among you noticed that the colourful scooters are all up-side down?
My trusted tailor obviously didn't.
"Master ji (usual term to address tailors as they are masters of their craft!), is my blouse ready?" I called my tailor last Thursday to find out about a blouse that was supposed to have been ready two Tuesdays ago: if you believed the date written on the collection receipt. 

Anyone, who's had anything to do with tailors will tell you that the date of collection on the tailor's receipt is as elusive as Yeti. You get a general idea, a teaser of a trail but you NEVER find your finished piece on that day. 

That's the day you start your follow up ritual with your tailor with phone calls and visits. With kind requests that slowly ferment into threats. If the tailor is very good and he has achieved celebrity status among your circle of friends, then the threats that have fermented inside you don't usually come out of your mouth. They just boost your acidity. Your rage simmers silently inside you. You call him in your sweetest voice and plead, "Masterji, jaldi keejeya na." Please hurry, Masterji. You have NO access to consumer rights if he messes up, so you don't want to upset him, you see.

If he's not that great and you're only trying him out, then you're not so invested for you've given him an old piece of cloth which was an unwanted gift that had been lying in your cupboard for so long you'd almost forgotten about it. Chances are the 'trial' tailor will call you on the date of the receipt and remind you to collect your blouse that's ready. 

And after you've recovered from the shock of that call, you'll wonder why you didn't pursue a career in genetics and human biology. You could've mixed Masterji's skill with the new chappy's work ethic and got yourself a perfect tailor.

ONLY in dire emergencies, like marriages etc. do these Masters deliver on time--and that too if their kaarigar (worker) is not celebrating Eid, Diwali or Durga Pooja. 

So when I called him for the third time in the two weeks after the due date, he sounded as masterful as ever,"Yes, madam....it's been ready for ages...why haven't you collected it ?"

I know better than to point out to him that just yesterday he'd given me a five minute long list of excuses about why it wasn't ready. 

I played my 'lie that's not really a lie' card (I'm sure my females friends will understand) and said, "But I have nothing to wear to dinner tomorrow!"

Thursday morning: I went. I paid. I got home. I took out the blouse. I tried it on. Something wasn't right.

Don't say it. Do NOT point to the print please.  

"But that's for children..." the surly salesman at the shop in the souq had pointed out to me when I had asked him to cut out half a meter for me, a few months ago. 

"I'm a child." I declared to counter his surliness. 

His surliness did not twitch even a tiny bit. 

I'd fallen for this colourful print and I couldn't wait to get it made into a saree blouse to welcome the hot Doha summer with.

So, when I got home last Thursday and tried it on and looked at myself in the mirror, my heart sank!

The front of the blouse looked like a scooter junk yard (with all those up-side down scooters.)

The back, however, looked exactly like how I'd imagined it: cheerful. A colourful reminder of Gregory Peck in  Roman Holiday.
The quandary I find myself in is that I bought this fabric almost six months ago. The surly salesman may have sold the rest of it to children by now. Well, I will have to go back one of these days to check. 

Why go through this drama? You'd be right to ask. 

There are many ready-made options available. In fact, I've worn sarees with shirts and tops, like so many people now do. So, it's not that there aren't any options. There are. But, there is something about seeing a print or a fabric and using a master's skill to turn it into a happy garment.

If tailors give us tales of woe, they also turn fabrics or things into wearable works of art.  

A few months ago, while clearing out my wardrobe, I came across a bag my sister had given me almost 25 years ago. It's from Kutchch and I love the earthy, hand-embroidered beauty of it. I hadn't used it for so long. An idea occurred.

The bag is now a blouse:)

You can see now why I keep going back to my master ji:)

A promise is a promise. So sharing a saree picture. 
This gorgeous grey was bought from PSR Silks in Coimbatore in July 2017.
It's a Coimbatore cotton saree with a woven black, mustard and red border.
Photo was clicked by husband.

I was not really ready for the shot, but I like the click:)
Have you ever had a testing time with tailors?
Any tales you'd like to tell?

Friday, April 20, 2018

S is for Street Art #AtoZChallenge

One of my favourite occupations is seeing, looking, staring, ogling--you get the idea. 

I've been chided by my children for admiring beautiful people openly (often with mouth agape).  I used to listen to them but I don't any more. In fact, I'm becoming bolder as I'm ageing, so now I walk up to the person who's beauty has caught my eye: beautiful eyes, warm smile, gorgeous skin or just a kind manner and compliment them. Every single time, I've been rewarded with a smile back and a thank you.

Street art can't smile or whisper a thank you when you admire it. So, I tend to click it and share it and ooh and aah forever after.

Today, my lovelies, to celebrate the end of week 3 of this challenge, we're going to wander the streets of the world and enjoy the seeing.
Beirut: the famous steps on Armenian Street
Beirut again
Amman, Jordan
Nottingham, UK: When nature plays the artist
Ahmedabad, India: Not all art needs paint to be put on,
 sometimes paint peels off  to create art
Back to Beirut for some poetry
Arshia in Amsterdam: Art peeps.
Florence: floored
Florence: David: In deep water
Tbilisi, Georgia.
There are many more streets captured and clicked, 
but I realise it's Saturday and you must have a lot to do, so I'll let you be.

Sit, stare, strut, sing, skip, sleep, stand, sigh or simply be. 
Whatever you do, smile and be merry:)

Remember Karmageddon from K Post?
Well, here's an S word from the same list: (The Washington Post's Style Invitational one)
Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
Do share how you see streets when you go wandering.
I'd like to know.