March 23 2018
Much ado about everything
16 September 2017

The festive season is upon us and, if you are looking to splurge, the Crafts Council of Tamil Nadu’s exhibition Srishti has some irresistible surprises

No matter how many saris one has, how many resolutions one has made, how frugal and evasive one is, an exhibition finds you. I tried my best to resist. I even begged my colleague on bended knees to cover the Srishti 2017 exhibition. She refused and I was forced to visit Suguna Kalyana Mandapam where I fought valiantly against temptation. And lost.

I plan to rush past the stalls (after all Srishti happens every year and how different can it be this time). I see familiar faces. Anju of Pehchaan that makes crisp, cotton trousers in whites and creams with beautiful cut work. Then there is Kamaldeep, the acclaimed master craftsperson, who has some divine fabrics. She has married the traditions of Bandhej and Shibori and her textiles are light as air. I spot Desi Soul from the corner of my eye. I bought peacock earrings from them last year so I turn my face away. I rush past shops selling fabrics and ready-made blouses. I am having a finding-a-tailor crisis on my hands and there is not a ready-made blouse yet that will fit me.

Then comes Palash. My feet refuse to move past the stall. Saris from Odisha. Gorgeous weaves and colours of the earth and the rivers. I have to stop and stare. Two ladies from Delhi have brought the fabulous collection to Coimbatore and say they work with weavers who are perhaps the last of their kind. Happily, they have managed to convince some of their offspring to weave for Palash as well, they say. Reassured that I will once again see the saris sometime, I mosey along congratulating myself on not succumbing to temptation. You don’t know how difficult it was to turn my back on the rough-textured, dramatic black and red sari hanging first in the row!

Srishti, as we know, is the more high-end of CCTN events. So things are expensive but still worth their price. I take a closer look at the absolutely breathtaking Bandhini work that Shoel Khatri has brought along. But it costs a fortune so I have to regretfully move on. But the Ajrakh textiles, brought by Aurangzeb Khatri, are drool worthy.

There is some affordable stuff too. Like the saris I saw at Sakthi Sari Creation where jewel-toned Ilkal saris had Karnataka’s Kasuti work on them. Not too far from Sakthi is Sameeksha with its bundles of blouse pieces tied up in string and ranging from ₹300 to ₹1, 250. Sujaya, whose stall it is, taught Home Science in a college in Bengaluru before she started her School of Embroidery. Sameeksha has some interesting saris too like the Goa Adivasi weave that went into decline with the Portuguese occupation.


And so it goes on. Till now I have held on firmly to my resolve to just make notes and scoot. The handsome sturdy chopping boards from The Design Forge and Studio Taru almost get me. They are made of Babool wood and look like something I can easily spend my life with. A flash of blue saves me and I rush towards it. Gorgeous pottery from Reshma Kumar. She has worked with Indian and Japanese potters and has some stunning flatware and bowls. Don’t miss her coloured glass trays made of thick recycled glass framed in wood, but surprisingly light.


I make all the appropriate noises and am about to make my getaway when I meet my Waterloo. Multicoloured checks in unbelievably soft linen (60 counts linen, I am told) woven in Shantipur, West Bengal. As she gives me this information, Shweta invites me to have a closer look. I hold the sari in my hands, dithering. A friend looks over my shoulder and says, “It will look so good on you.” There is nothing to do but buy the sari. I snatch it from Shweta and race to the exit.



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