In love with everything BENGALI

It’s not said for nothing, “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.”  This is the intelligentsia of Bengal – West Bengal.

One of my favourite States happens to be West Bengal, owing to its rich cultural heritage. The culture of West Bengal is considered to be one of the richest cultures in India. Over the years, the culture of West Bengal has emerged as the perfect blend of modernity and traditions. The mention of Bengal brings forth some great names of Swami Vivekanand, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Ravindra Nath Tagore, Bamkin Chandra Chatterji, Sarat Chandra, Mahashweta Devi, Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen…

The film industry’s musical gems have enthralled the audience with their most melodious renditions in India Cinema like Hemant Kumar, Manna De, Salil Chaudhary, S.D.Burman, R.D.Burman and Geeta Dutt.

The silver screen has always seen a bevy of beauties like Suchitra Sen, Aparna Sen, Moushumi Chatterjee, Sharmila Tagore, Rani Mukherjee, Kajol and many more.  

So, when The Sari Club decided the theme of this month – The State of India. It couldn’t have been any state other than West Bengal. My love for everything Bengali dates back to my school days when I was enamoured by my English teacher Mrs. Mukherjee for her accent and her Bengali Sarees. When I was asked in school which language song, I would like to learn? Without blinking my eyelid, I replied – Bengali as I loved the language. As years passed, I joined the job, once again, I found myself surrounded by Bengalis once again. Sample this: I was mad to amidst two Bong ladies – Anita Acharya and Mamta Bhattacharya, Boss was A.K. Mitra, Top boss was Mr Basu and many more colleagues whom I can’t recollect. Now, I was amidst the thick of Bong action – Food, cuisine, festivals, sarees, language, celebrations, Rabindra Sangeet, MoviesI became a baptised Bengali. So much so, they started bringing Bengali rishte for me.

What to say of its beautiful sarees like Tangail, Jamdani, Bishnupuris and Balucharis which are the pride of every woman’s wardrobe. Exquisitely woven, striking colours on fine cottons and smooth silks are make these truly special. Bengal Handloom is famous for its unique weaves and colour combinations. Indeed, Bengal is popular for its repository of unique textiles, fine fabrics and elegant clothes designed artistically. Nothing represents their style and fashion better than Classic Bengali Sarees matching perfectly with fashion jewellery, matching accessories and amazing hairstyles.

When compared to other types of sarees, Bengali sarees are beautiful, artistic whether it is Jamdani or Taant. Baluchari saree, for instance, is popular for stunning and elegant ‘pallus’, richly embellished with depictions and motifs of mythological figures. Most of the traditional saree designs are now adapted into artsy style sarees so popular among artists and literati.

They look cool, stylish, comfortable, and if draped in free-flowing style, they may look amazing. When you wear such a saree, there is no need to deck yourself up with heavy gold ornaments or accessories. Bengalis have popularized both traditional and modern trends of sarees worn along with apt accessories and jewellery. 

Over the years, the culture of West Bengal has emerged as the perfect blend of modernity and traditions. The sanctity of Hooghly, the beauty of Eastern Himalayas, the diversity of Sunder bans and the freshness of the Tea Gardens, all blend together to constitute what we call the unique culture of West Bengal.

Kolkata happens to be one of my favorite cities – City of Joy.

The love affair continues since!

Happy Birthday to YOU for making my life GULZAR

The most celebrated and my most favourite poet, lyricist, writer and film director – Gulzar Saab, as he is fondly addressed, has his birthday today. His poetry touches a chord with one and all, he writes for everyone, captures inherent emotions of life and stitches them in beautiful verses. He digs the deepest emotions, artistically, simplistically, universally and truthfully!

Whether it was Bandini’s “Mora Gora Ang Lai le” or Aandhi’s “Tum aa gaye ho” “Kajra Re, Kajra Re” “Bechara Dil Kya kare” “Dil hoom hoom kare” “Humne dekhi hai un aankhon” “Ruke ruke se kadam baar baar chale” “Yaara Sili, sili” “Chappa chappa charkha chale” “aane waala kal” “Hazaar rahen mud ke dekhi” “Mera Kuch Saman” “Humko man ki shakti dena” “Tujhse Naaraz nahin Zindagi” “chaiyan chaiyyan” or the latest “Ae watan, mere watan” and so many others, are true literary gems. I love all his songs, poetry, lyrics and films. I have not missed even a single film of his…

He has always been my favourite, and God granted my wish many years ago when my daughter Tanya was born on August 18, sharing her birthday with none other than Gulzar Saab. She chose a creative field and is following her creative pursuits. Thus, making the day truly special for all of us. I take a lot of pride that she shares her birthday with him. Gulzar weaves magic with his words, maybe she gets to weave magic with her designs. She too shines like him in her creative & artistic endeavors.  

He has penned down many emotional and sentimental lyrics for films like Mere Apne, Bandini, Ashirwad, Anand, Namak Haram, Khoobsurat, Rudaali, Slumdog Millionnaire, Rajneeti, Raazi and many more.  He made his directorial debut with “Mere Apne” and directed many landmark films like Aandhi, Parichay, Khoshboo, Kinara, Mausam, Koshish, Libaas, Macchis and Hu Tu Tu.  

Can anyone else match his histrionics when it comes to writing and directing? No one!

He received a “Grammy Award” for the best song written for Motion Picture’s Slumdog Millionaire Jai Ho.

Gulzar Saab loves sketching, writing, painting and travelling…Tanya shares all her hobbies with him.

Happy Birthday, Gulzar Saab…

Happy Birthday Tanya…

Aap Jiyen Hazaron Saal!

I am Independent, I am a woman!

Been Independent, 
Being Independent,
Today Independent,
Tomorrow Independent! 

What Independence mean to me? 
It means nothing & everything to me. 
Born in free India, freedom was given,
I didn’t know what was it like to be 

Dependent, not independent  
Where there was no freedom of 
expression, thought, movement,
Forget, freedom for women.

Watched relatively new independent
India, laden with poverty & scarcity
India, in shambles after the partition
Struggle of the generation, gigantic. 

To lift and join the broken pieces
To evolve some pattern out of chaos 
To dream, aspire and disappoint 
To give & take, Shake & Break!

Youngsters, faced miniscule education
Avenues, Medical & Engineering colleges 
To be counted on fingers 
Getting there was like, getting on the moon.

Many had to change gears, hopelessly  
Women had to settle, well for matrimony
IAS, Engineer, Doctor, Officer boys 
Priceless and Precious.  

Society castiest, Religion sturdiest 
Leaders’ visionary, public pondering    
Dreams unrealized, Aspirations unutilized 
Who was running where? After what? 

Ours is the generation that witnessed 
Maximum transformation of technology
Complete overhaul of values 
Breaking ethics & ideologies  

We witnessed, parents as supremos 
We witness, children as supremos 
We were taught, be respectful to elders
We are taught, be respectful to children

A single generation has taken so much
In our stride, we struggled for education
We struggle for career, we struggled for 
Matrimony, we struggled with motherhood.

Nothing was served to us on a platter
We had to arrange it all by ourselves 
Parents were a support system 
The struggle was ours; time was ours. 

Yes, we were independent in our  
Head, Hand, Hearts & Thoughts
At least, these were not chained 
Our thinking, our actions, limitless. 

Today’s India, the developed, 
Modern, emancipated India
Evolved from the sweat & toil of 
Our generation & generation before. 

Proud to say, I am an independent Indian
Independent mentally, emotionally,
Physically & financially, and a woman
Ready to take on the world! 

Happy Independence Day, Aug 15, 2021 

Many "Independent Moods' this Independence Day 

Many moods on Independence Day...

My rendition of Ae Watan…Mere Watan on Independence Day…

Watch video:

Jai Hind!!


In the 75th year of independence, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has urged all of us as a nation to buy Indian Handloom products and showcase their grandeur by associating with #MyHandloomMyPride.

I am in, are you?

The Government of India endeavors to ensure sustainable development of the handloom sector thereby empowering our handloom weavers and workers financially and instilling pride in their exquisite craftsmanship. It is a sector that directly addresses women’s empowerment with over 70% of all weavers and allied workers being female.

While India celebrates 7th National Handloom Day on August 7, 2021, to showcase India’s strength in handlooms, I recollect the times when I used to own many Handloom – Khadi Kurtas from Khadi Bhawan, Connaught Place, New Delhi. While in college, I use to visit it quite often and get my fix of Khadi Kurtas to be worn with Churidars and Jeans. Leggings and Jeggings were unheard of those days. Till now, if I am in Delhi, I make it a point to visit Khadi Bhawan and shop to my heart’s content and my pocket’s discontent. But that is what I am…no compromise while shopping for handlooms.

When I started working, Emporiums at Baba Khadak Singh Marg became my permanent place to visit along with my friend, philosopher and guide – Anita Roy Di. We used to spend a lot of time looking at pieces, sarees and artefacts etc. while she shopped for sarees. As my mother loved handloom sarees, I used to pick up sarees for her. I loved everything in Utkalika, Rajasthali, Gurjari, Lepakshi, Poompuhar and many more. I loved Kashmiri firans and possessed these in all possible colours. I must say, firan is the most versatile garment for Delhi winters, easy to use, smart to look, warm, cozy…team it with anything you like.  

On my marriage, I received many UP-Handloom Silks from Lucknow, Benarasis from Benaras, Kantha work & Jamdani sarees from West Bengal and Gujarati Bandhnis. Later I inherited my mother’s Kanjiveram’s, Pochampallis, Gadhwals, Pure Silks, Temple Borders…which have pride of place in my collection.

If I have to list – These are a few of my favourite things-

Khadi Kurtas and Handloom Sarees would feature prominently.

I have immense interest in Indian Handlooms and leave no opportunity to visit such Handloom exhibitions, India International Trade Fairs, Dilli Haat, Suraj Kund Mela or any such place like Tribes India. I had the good fortune of visiting Bangkok’s Art and Artefacts markets set up amid a water body, which is a true delight for people who love handmade things.

This mindset needs to change. The onus is on us now.

I am happy to note that Government has recognised its potential and is increasingly focused on handlooms.

On National Handloom Day today (August 07, 2021), the handloom weaving community is honoured and the contribution of this sector to the socio-economic development of this country is highlighted. The resolve to protect our handloom heritage and to empower the handloom weavers and workers with greater opportunities is reaffirmed. Today, the Ministry of Textiles organized a function to celebrate the Day at Convention Centre, The Ashok, New Delhi. The event will be presided over by the Union Minister of Textiles, Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food and Public Distribution Shri Piyush Goyal.

A symbol of our country’s rich and varied cultural heritage, the Handloom sector needs an additional push from all stakeholders – Government, Public and People in business.  

The UP Handloom saree I am wearing today is from the treasure of my dear & deceased Suman Bua, who left it for me out of her collection, handed over to me by her daughter Aarti.  The set I am wearing is a gift from Aarti’s bua. So today, it’s our buas’ day.

How can we not celebrate the National Handloom day by doing something which is integral part of Indian culture like Handlooms?

Do I need to say more? Watch Video.  

Saawani kajri

In earlier times, during Sawan wedded girls wanted to visit their maika (parental home) but they did want to return unescorted from their sasural (in-laws’ home) …

…those were such times when girl’s independence was just unheard of. They were a dependent lot for all their requirements and travelling alone to a far-flung place was just out of question.

There must have been some parents who couldn’t travel to escort their daughters to her sasural due to financial or physical constraints. The Kajri is the longing of such girls who wanted to visit their parental homes, and are pleading with their mothers to send father or brother. 

So, she is singing Kajri to her mother and asking her father/ brother to escort her from her new home to her childhood home. But the mother is expressing her inability. 

The emotional & expressive song written by Ameer Khusro centuries ago is relevant even today. The song possesses an amazing quality of universal emotions and expressions. No wonder it remained alive for almost a thousand years and is one of the most loved folk songs today. 

The name – Kajri or Kajli has a connection with rains and Sawan is all about rainy season. It represents kaajar-like or kohl-like dark rain clouds The connection of the kajri style with the rains is evident from the very name, which is symbolic of the kaajar-like or kohl-like dark rain-clouds. The kajri songs describe the splendour of the rains and how every aspect of nature in fact heightens the female protagonist’s pangs of separation and hopes to unite with her parents and loved ones during Sawan. 

This treasure and heritage of folk – songs are kept alive by none other than our folk queen Padma Shree Malini Awasthi ji who has immortalised this song with her emotional & melodious singing. I am a big fan of hers…I am sure, you too are. My song is a tribute to her craft. 

My choice of song today for this year’s saawan is:

अम्मा मेरे बाबा को भेजो री – कि सावन आया
बेटी तेरा बाबा तो बूढ़ा री – कि सावन आया
अम्मा मेरे भाई को भेजो री – कि सावन आया
बेटी तेरा भाई तो बाला री – कि सावन आया
अम्मा मेरे मामू को भेजो री – कि साबन आया
बेटी तेरा मामु तो बांका री – कि सावन आया

Amma Mere baba ko bhejo reee…which is another gem by Amir Khusro like – Babul Mora Naihar choota hi jaaye!!

Indeed, serious efforts are needed to preserve the treasure of folk songs for the new generation to sustain their legacy. 

It is a pity that we are gradually forgetting this treasure of old songs and compositions.

There is continuation…what happens when a girl visit her parents and loved ones during Sawan…her joy is expressed in this sawaani geet.


About the sari 

The vibrant violet & magenta saree in pure chiffon with Gota Patti embroidery was bought from Jaipur’s famous saree bazaar when I visited for Jaipur Literature Fest last year. It was a big saree shop with traditional set up like seating on white mattresses with bolsters etc. The highlight was masala chai being served to ladies on a wintery afternoon – Gulabi Shehr ki gulabi Sardi. 

This was one of the first Sarees shown to us and even after seeing many more sarees, we selected this one. I wore it for the first time for the Sari Club program. Rightly said, a trip to Jaipur is not complete without buying Gota Patti saree! Thanks, dear Aarti and Mohit for providing this gem to my small saree treasure.