Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The 420 Brand

The above are pictures from a series of postcards called "Pairs of Shoes" that I have designed and produced this year.

They are the first set of products I have made under my label "420". The idea of using shoes (which are screen-printed) juxtaposed with a background made up of a collage (with objects like bus tickets etc.), is to encourage the viewer to step into the footsteps of an Indian to take a journey around the country, in the most authentic way possible.

Using elements of kitsch, street art and funk, this set of four postcards aims to make people look at everyday objects in a new and fun way.

Currently retailing under the brand "420" at People Tree (Delhi), Either Or (Pune), NIDUS (Ahmedabad) and Om Book Shop (Ahmedabad.) Do let me know what you think. Inquiries can also be forwarded to

4th June

Rainy day women: Love & the Monsoon

Finding the way back to Ithaka

June: Goodbye to the travelling bag

May: in memory of The Clash

London calling to the faraway towns
Now that war is declared and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls
London calling, now don't look to us
Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain't got no swing
Except for the ring of that truncheon thing
The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running but I have no fear
Cos London is drowning and I live by the water
London calling to the imitation zone Forget it brother, you can got it alone
London calling to the zombies of death, Quit holding out and draw another breath
London calling and I don't wanna shout,
But while we were talking I saw you noddin' out
London calling, see we ain't got no highs
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes
The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running but I have no fear
Cos London is drowning and I live by the river

- Joe Strummer and Mick Jones

A city in a desert: Part 3

A city in a desert: Part 2

Imagine, a city
By the borders of a bay
in the midst of a desert.

A city that one cannot belong to,
a city that one can only be born into.

The sole city of a country,
where almost all its citizens live.

A city of glass skyscrapers
and humming air conditioners.
A city where few walk outside in the day.

A city still rising higher
on the backs of outsiders,
who come for but a while to stay.

And ask yourself if you would live here
amidst heat of the sand and black gold.

And listen carefully for your reply.

A city in a desert: Part 1

International airports in India are difficult to see. It is not that the government is torturing passengers (well not intentionally anyway), but it is the kind of people you see there that makes you stop and look, and wonder. And look back at yourself.

I was invited to Doha, Qatar for a film festival, where my documentary film "Words in Stone" about the poet Wali Gujarati was being screened. My flight was at 4am and as such, I was told to reach the airport by 1am, latest. This was the first time I was returning to Ahmedabad International airport since my return from France in 2004.

Age does not necessarily make you wiser, but it does change what you chose to look at and what you choose to see. Entering the waiting room of that airport, after the security check-in, I looked around to find a place to sit. My eyes were drawn to a certain corner, where there were many old people. Grandparents, perhaps great grand parents, aided by canes and wheel-chairs, waiting. At 2am. Wide awake. Ready to board a flight. Travel for many hours. To meet someone they love.

Many reasons convince people to leave their homes for other countries. Education, opportunity, lifestyle, economics, glamour, idealism, foolishness, love, murder, cowardice. But to the visitors these people receive, there is usually but one reason to travel.

And as I sat, watching these very people, I wished that money, that borders did not exist, at least for a few of us. I wished that we did not have to ask permission to meet our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. I wished that there could be no one who would refuse us this permission. I wished for idealism.

The clock ticked on. The TV continued playing at mute. And I turned to look out towards the tarmac, waiting, alone amidst a crowd of people, for my flight.

April: Distant shores

Are some of us eternal travelers?
Forever in transit,
hoping to reach an unknown destination?

Or are we all ceaselessly moving,
even as we think we are content to stand still?

Content as we stand still.

As we grow older, in one of the rare instances
of circumstance reflecting reality,
Family gives way to the self,
and we find ourselves making journeys in the silence of solitude.

Do we even then, really wish for moments past,
in a time when it was common
to encounter a magician on a train
with your parents and your sister by your side?

Onto Mumbai, Khandala and Pune

I set off to help my friends Aneeth and Chinar, as they showed a fall/winter collection under their label "Gaba" at Lakme fashion week. If you see my previous post 'Under the Mahua Tree' you will realise that these are the same two friends with which I made the trip to Chanderi with. Do check out their collection online, as well as on

It is called 'Kala-safed' (black and white) and is quite beautiful. Wearing their clothes is like wearing a drawing, the lines and checks of the Chanderi and Maheshwari silk are combined in various sizes and thicknesses on a single garment. As the wearer walks, the checks seem to shimmmer and come to life. Really.

On my way, by a stroke of luck, I travelled to Mumbai via a sleeper berth on a bus for the first time. The rains had come early, and as I stretched out on my birth to look outside, I found that I could really see a panorama, since the window was almost as tall (or long) as me. At night, as the lights in the bus switched off, and the rains feel, everything became enveloped in a dreamy mist. I noticed the shadow of the sticker on my window falling across my body, labeling me as 'Mumbai' and drawing a line across my leg. It seems incongruous to describe, but I watched that line and read those mirrored letters till I fell asleep.

And early in the morning, just before dawn, I woke up to see sap green trees dancing in and out of the cloudy air.

At that moment, I wished that the morning would never come.

Snapshots of March

It has been a very long time, since this blog was updated. This is not to say that my life came to a standstill, rather it became too busy. I travelled on and off, non stop for almost three months, touching base in Ahmedabad for a few days between trips, to catch my breath, and assure my room-mate that I was still alive. Over the next few posts, I will try to bring things up to date. Please do stay around for the ride.