I FELT I WAS CAUGHT IN A WILDFIRE OF BANTERS THAT BATTLED QUIET STUNNINGLY WITH THE PRINTS. SUCH AUDACITY OF COLORS, A CATACLYSMIC RUN OF LINES LOOKED NOTHING LIKE THE MINIMALISTIC CLOTHES I USED TO SEE IN EUROPEAN MAGAZINES.
I once sat in a very cramped stall, and watched a young girl selling textiles. Quite naturally and embarrassingly, the shy eleven year old me looked at her intently. For she could have been in school, perhaps meddling with her last minute assignments, racing the pressing iron through her school pinafore or even tightening her braid. But today I watched her jaunty arms quickly fold textiles that soon became a mountain of riotous colors. Her sinewy arms attuned to a brave composure, it painted a certain maturity. She was blessed with her mother’s instincts, I suppose. Here I was sulking with how much my mom made me walk through the aisles of Dugbe* market. The aftermath of that was cornering myself in the matchbox shop with this young talent. I think mom’s sole intention was to teach me a lesson of hard work. But, I picked on something entirely different.
My uncanny taste for flamboyant textiles hailed from a land of curious glances. Markets always stir these peckish desires in you to experiment, it’s the one place where you can tailor your dreams. But that’s not what I loved about markets; there was a certain apathy in fashion.
The young girl stretched out a new textile, aqua blue paired with magenta and orange bulbous flowers, outlined by emerald green. Each time the creases were unfolded, there was a surprising speckle of orange and purple. Many women streamed in, and in seconds, these textiles were flung, boisterous little allegations amongst themselves, how their jades and corals would look horrid with these textiles. In that corner, I felt I was caught in a wildfire of banters that battled quiet stunningly with the prints. Such audacity of colors, a cataclysmic run of lines looked nothing like the minimalistic clothes I used to see in European magazines. Though colonization had left its mark on the bricks, this market roared back with her rebellious prints.
My uncanny taste for flamboyant textiles hailed from a land of curious glances. Markets always stir these peckish desires in you to experiment, it’s the one place where you can tailor your dreams. But that’s not what I loved about markets; there was a certain apathy in fashion. Women sometimes wore unflattering and mismatched blouses. There were days when their skirts were swiftly wrapped and some of them retired to an old tee shirt with a casual gele*. It had its fashionable mood swings, and I found that rather quite flattering. Many times, I used to sit on a rickety stool and watch this confusion. Amidst the entire mismatch, the market relished in colors from their stalls, to walls and all the things put out for sale. And never once these colors were washed out, despite the regal downpour of rain in my humid hometowns.
It soon became a hobby of mine to explore textiles around the world, and naturally my souvenirs would be some running laps of cloth or a striking win at a flea market. When I came back my suitcase had to bear something odd, this time it was a skirt from Gambia. While unpacking, the skirt floppily jutted out of my suitcase, that welcomed the infamous and murderous eyebrow contortion of my sister’s. Her eyes simply said, “How hideous!” I have never seen myself as a fashionable woman, I rather have been complimented for being whimsical at times, and often one says, quite a careless but contemplative dresser. And just before, Riya had time to comment on my cacophonous skirt, I told her I would invade her wardrobe and make her stay away from the safe solids and dive into prints. Recklessly pair her clothes and welcome her to random jewelry, whisk her away to a spontaneous city and just wear clothes for the whim of it. It took no longer than a few weeks for this to brew, we packed our suitcases and boarded on a bus to Pondicherry.
Follow Atheena to Perhaps at Pondicherry N°2
Here's the lingo guide:
Dugbe* - A market situated in Ibadan, Nigeria
Gele* - A type of head scarf commonly worn in many parts of Southern and Western Africa
Malayalam* - The native language spoken in Kerala, India
Rickshaw* - A wheel operating vehicle in India
Chappal*- Colloquial term for sandals
Bharatanatyam*- A major genre of classical dance that originated in Tamil Nadu, Kerala
Chechi*- Colloquial term for sister in Malayalam
Ammachi*- Colloquial term for grandmother in Malayalam
Mutta* - Colloquial term for egg in Malayalam
Run parallel, meet at intersections, skip a few lines, the line of thought has journeyed across a few latitudes and longitudes. To more miles before the big sleep. Cheers, Atheena
While he is searching for the right frame, he believes, that art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Perhaps he is lost in Pondicherry or found in Cochin.
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