Handmade in Pondicherry

I appreciate a well crafted handcraft, but I never choose fanciness over comfort. To me, a plain pair of flip-flops is always better than the leather-bound slippers with meticulous design. I wouldn’t even spare a second glance at the glittery, stone-studded stuff.

Having said that, when I saw these in Pondicherry, I couldn’t help but lose my composure. Not only did they catch my eye, but I almost considered buying a pair of these slippers. Now that’s unusual. Pondicherry is full of little shops like these where specialised cobblers custom-make footwear for customers. They measure the foot size and get it done within an hour. I was impressed by how soon they could deliver, and the fine finish in these footwear. They weren’t too cheap, but not over the top pricey either.

handmade footwear in Pondicherry

As Woolf said

Virginia Woolf said that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she’s to write fiction. Here’s how I take it: For a woman to succeed — or get any work done that’s worth talking about — she needs to have a room of her own.

When I first told my parents that I wanted to find a place of my own, they refused outright even before considering my concerns. I don’t blame them; they’ve become conditioned to believing that every girl moving into the city for work or going off to college needs a roommate who can watch out for her. And I don’t deny that’s every bit as true and that their worry is as every bit as valid.

Except that I wanted a room of my own.

Having lived all my life in a shared space, both with my parents and then with my brother, I craved something that I could call mine. It didn’t happen right away, and I ended up spending my first two years away from home in a shared home and hostel.

Now, at last, I have a room of my own. And I see what Woolf intended.

Every time I walk into my room, I walk into a space that looks and feels just the way I want it to. My clothes are right where I leave them — one day on the floor, another day on the shelf. My toothbrush nuzzles between my pyjamas so that I have to fish it out every evening, a small jar of ground coffee perches on the top shelf, pleading with me in silence for a coffee date. And the book I’m reading at the moment lies on top my favourite shirt, the sleeves clouding the title.

When I walk into such a sight after a long day at work, I have only thing in mind: there’s no place else I’d rather spend the rest of my evening.

When I first moved in, I didn’t know how having a room for myself would change me. I didn’t know that I would enjoy the sunlight streaming into my room through the thin yellow blinds, I didn’t know I’d wake up every morning feeling enthusiastic to face the world, and I didn’t know that I’d come to rely so much on the non-decorative, cream-coloured walls of my room to comfort and hold me whenever, regardless of my mood.

It’s been just over a year now, and even though I’m not the best tenant to the room, the room — my room — has been the perfect host.

There’s nothing special about my room. There’s no wallpaper, no posters of Hollywood actors eyeing me, no streamers or balloons to incite the neighbour’s kids.

My room is so plain that anyone but me wouldn’t want to live here. The mattress is my furniture, the floor my dining table, the shelf my pantry, and the doorknob my clothes hanger. In short, my room has become my abode, a place where I can think outside of my head, wake up at 2.50 am to write, and let my creativity run amok without a person to judge.

I enjoy going out, but at the end of it all, all I want is to come back to my room and stare at my walls. Or read a book with a coffee by my side. Nothing makes my day more complete.

Baker’s goodness

The best thing about travelling is travelling. The next best thing is the food. On a trip to Pondicherry, my friend and I stopped at Baker’s Street. As fun as that sounds without context, to add context, Baker’s Street is the name of a local bakery full of French delicacies and goodness. It was one of those mornings after a night of splurging, and the last thing on my mind was more food. However, after looking at the display, I couldn’t resist. I didn’t eat much, but I made up for the lack of eating with an overflow of photographing. I had so many that I decided to put them all together. Well, what can you do when you’re so overwhelmed by sandwiches?

Baker's Street

Connecting cuisines

Nothing brings people together like good food and great conversations. I took this picture when I was out with friends who’ve lived in Korea for a while. While we exchanged stories about our cultures and mused about our distinct social practices, they also introduced me to sushi. It was my first experience with everything sushi—chopsticks, pickled ginger, soy sauce, wasabi (wow!), even rice balled up. Though I grew up in a rice-based household, sushi showed me a side to rice that I hadn’t known before. Not only was the flavour rich but it was also a blend of the familiar with the unfamiliar.

That day, that sushi became the bridge that connected me with the rest of Asia’s delectable cuisine.

sushi

Moving on

When we think about change and moving from one place to another, we often think of shifting homes or shifting jobs—or laying off while in between jobs. In any case, moving from one place to another is always difficult. It’s tough to uproot yourself from a home—a place—you’re used to, a place you’re comfortable in, to relocate to a different place altogether.

With these thoughts running through my head, I stood on the edge of a street that overlooked the Rangpo river. Located in the Rangpo town of Sikkim, India, this river forms the border between the two states of Sikkim and West Bengal. The river flows downstream to meet with the Teesta river just past the town. Looking at the pristine river flowing without a ruffle, the water gushing through tiny rock beds, I mused at how effortless it is to cross the river and walk into the next state. Nature has made transitioning easy for us, and yet it’s us humans who’ve become accustomed to world pleasures that tie us to one place. That’s why we find change hard to accept; because we are too attached, and don’t flow as the river does. If only we do, perhaps our lives would be as active as the river.

Rangpo river