When life gave me Paper…

In the monsoon laden June of 2010, the husband is asked to take on a short term project in Mumbai and we decide that I would be tagging along. We are happily sent off by the family with exploding packets of VaggaraNe Avalakki (flattened rice) & Besan Ladoos (sweets made with gramflour and tons of ghee) stacked in an otherwise empty suitcase. After being bombarded with a list of “Don’t do this” & “Don’t do that” by paranoid relatives,  we taxi up to the airport with the silent thrill of uncertainty hovering in our minds.What transpired over the next three months is a journey even my day dreams failed to conjure up.
We drench in the sultry monsoon rains of Mumbai, savour piping hot Vada Pavs with a side of fried green chillies everyday at 8:30am and cross paths with the warmest of people ( some of whom I continue to stay in touch with). I fall in love with a city that isn’t Bangalore…
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The company offered to put us up in a nano-sized hotel room, owned by a nice Sardar couple. The A/C blared louder than the television. I clearly wasn’t prepared for the city’s soaring temperatures. A marsala maroon bedspread over a vibrant, printed Rajasthani bed sheet was my make do sofa. I had the added comfort of tucking in my feet in a cosy blanket. Midday wafts of Dal Tadka flooded the room coupled with sounds of mustard seeds sputtering in hot oil. A grey-black granite slab jutting out from the wall became a prayer corner.  While the husband was at work, I was cooped up in this tiny space and while the first few hours were spent organizing & devotedly basking in laziness, the rest of the day felt like eternity. The kind owner lady assured me that she would scour for hobby classes through her evening walk. The next morning  I enrolled in Paper Quilling classes. I knew I had found something to kill time.
What I didn’t know was this: Being cramped up in a hotel room, many miles away from home would wind up extracting oodles of creativity from me. I didn’t know was that the little granite slab would become a workspace strewn away with strips of pastels, flaming reds & ombres. I also didn’t know I would indulge in a whirlwind romance with paper & glue.
I quilled my heart away for the next three months oblivious of the rains that pitter pattered out our window….rolling, gluing and putting together flowers, leaves & abstracts. The devils workshop of an idle mind vanished deep into the recesses of my brain with every idea that sprung on sleepless nights. Reveries transformed from shoe shopping at Linking Road to gleefully idling away at the craft store in Nadco Complex.
This is where it all began….
(Mumbai holds a special place in our hearts and I hope to write & share sometime,more of the happy things we experienced in that very loving city)
A couple of months later we found ourselves in Jersey City and in the two years that followed, I quilled almost everyday (sans the days we vacationed), conducted classes and sold some creations online & at bustling art markets. Then it was Hello Bangalore! once again. Bangalore was kind & welcoming because I found myself hustling between classes at home, several happy students going in and out. I like to think that I learnt more than I taught.I also think I have a long journey of learning ahead.
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Quilling is the art of rolling paper strips into a design…simple, complicated, miniature, massive. When students perplexedly remark that it appears more byzantine than they would like, I always assure them this : It’s not as hard as it looks. Additionally, the scope it offers is  as versatile as that offered by brush and a palette of paints. This is a tangled labyrinth they won’t regret being lost in.
Quilling has taught me that Amma’s (mom) patience lending genes have indeed taken precedence over my father’s contrasting ones and have made their way through to me since every composition takes a certain amount of time to achieve. It was in that little room in magical Mumbai that I learnt the meaning of being passionate about something.
Romantic gloomy days coupled with a warm cup of tea & a plethora of coloured strips continue to be my panacea. I’m currently in the midst of getting an online Etsy store ready and rather chuffed about it. Lest I forget, I’m thankful to the teacher in Mumbai who introduced me to this world that has caught me by addiction albeit in only positive ways…

I’ll admit I’ve barred & hidden all the initially made kitschy pieces but here’s a minuscule display of my work….I do hope you like it…
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When age is just a number….

Before I begin, the two beautiful people/students of mine,  who are the inspiration behind this post, are the loveliest ladies with chubby little grandchildren to boast of. (and thanks to technology we still keep in touch) .
Now, let me a paint the background. Back in Bangalore I was busy running & managing a little art/craft school . Working from the comforts of home, it was more than just something done to pass the time. The passion for art combined with the satisfaction of teaching made the experience incredibly satiating & divine. Every morning & evening, I delightfully welcomed students of all ages, introduced them to my world  ( a possible topic for another post), invariably putting a smile on their faces. Some were kind enough to let me be a part of their lives and we went on to become friends, relationships I will cherish for life. Every moment, a coveted privilege.

Two among this family,  that remain to be special are Uma aunty & Lakshmi aunty (I call them “aunty” out of respect, them being around my mom’s age) and I unapologetically call them my favorite students. As you read further, you’ll see yourself agreeing with me.

When I first met them, hardly did I know that these two friends would gain the honour of becoming the “back-benchers” of my little classroom. Since they catered to a multitude of responsibilities at home, it almost always ensued a late arrival to class but the loud burst of energy they brought with them was infectious at the least. Always attired elegantly in the crispest of cotton saris painted in an array of pleasing colors & prints, it would be a matter of moments before peals of laughter reverberated through the walls of my living room. Rare lackadaisical mornings merely expected their presence in order to be uplifted. They beckoned us to look beyond that room, beyond art, beyond craft, beyond the paper & paint because “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” and if not for them, I probably would have been ignorant of that lesson. Their affable nature was undoubtedly popular among adults but I always thought it’s their experience that procured them the very prized attention of the little children.
Having said that, none of this hindered their progress in class. Be it paper art or painting, they were pros and constantly brimming with creativity(take a look at the pictures below). They were always battle ready to learn new forms of art, a thirst I failed to spot in the hearts of most of the younger generation. Maybe it’s because we delve in the turmoils of uncertainty and prefer to procrastinate,  that we neglect the “present” that is so gloriously offered to us. Lesson learnt.
I won’t deny that I taught them the ways of the paper strips & the brush but the truth is I learnt more from them than they did from me. I learnt that age is just a number, I learnt that being happy or making someone else happy is hardly dependent on the pitfalls of life. Although they are much older than I am,( and not that I expected it), they showered me with the respect they would offer a teacher.To be honest, it spoke more of their humility rather than anything about me. Another lesson learnt.
But, before I conclude, the one thing I am certain I will never learn from them is the magic they pour into their spicy, flavour jammed Indian Mango pickles & the myriad of chutneys, for some things can  never be replicated…..

Here’s  glimpse of their creative journey…..
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