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STORES

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Sometimes unplanned weekends are all the more fun.  Just on a whim, when I go to know last Wednesday that Monday was a holiday for my son, we decided to go to Hyderabad. Booked tickets on the bus, made reservations at a hotel at a great location, packed lightly on Friday evening and off we went on a two day holiday.  Recipe for a great weekend: one day of exploring the city and one day of catching up with friends you haven’t met in years.

It’s been over 25 years since I last went to Hyderabad and this was a first personal trip for my husband and son. The highlight of the trip was that it coincided with the end of Ramadan and festivities were on to celebrate Eid. I’ve never seen Bangalore celebrate Eid on such a large scale. After a while, it felt little awkward as if something was amiss if I didn’t see a “Irani Haleem” sign board every 50 meters. There were a few streets that completely took us by surprise – a street full of paint stores, one just for wedding invitations, another for hardware and electrical stores and yet another for just flowers – flowers of all kinds, sizes and colors, and fruits.

There was so much chaos and yet it looked so organized. As we meandered our way through the old city to the Museum, the contrasts of two cultures existing effortlessly side by side was hard not to miss. This is why India is secular: it was along drive from Golconda Fort to the Museum and I dozed for a few minutes. But, while driving through one of the narrow lanes, I woke up startled by the ringing of the temple bells. The temple was  flanked by a mosque on one side and a famous haleem outlet on the other. Most of the old houses have not been renovated, at the max, just painted. So those small windows, painted wooden doors secured with a chain iron lock on the top, and STD-ISD-PCO (it’s hard to see these in Bangalore) signs, was a treat to the senses.

Sunday, we met up with old friends and had lunch at Nautanki Gali – which is what this post was supposed to be about. But, I digressed. There’s nothing much I can describe in words about the restaurant other than that it was everything Indian(rural), kitsch, adventure, happiness, colors of life, street food ( spicy chat and sinful chocolate fountain desserts), celebrating life, making memories and indulgence – all packaged into one. Over to pictures:

A view of the hallway leading up to the dining area designed as a thoroughfare with steel balti seating for waiting guests and bright street-like painting on the walls.

A closer look of the art work with some funny captions. Inspiration comes from the graffiti on the streets, back of trucks and auto rickshaws around the country.

This post introduces Maram – a solid wood furniture restoration boutique in Bangalore. Ok, let’s talk about Maram now. I saw a write up about Maram in last week’s Times of India. The name was intriguing so I went about finding more about the store. The renovation projects hooked me on, one thing led to another and this post was born. “Maram” means wood in Tamil and Malayalam (any other language?).  It may be a trip down memory lane for many of you in love with wood, as you can relate to the design and style from your ancestral homes.…

If you live in Delhi and haven’t been to The Shop, then you should check it out. The place has a rich history and story behind its creation.The Shop retails a complete range of clothing for men, women and kids, home furnishings such as table runners, place mats, bed linen, duvet covers, and fashion accessories such as totes and bags.  All the products are designed and manufactured in-house by their skilled designers and craftsmen.

I found their products fresh in design, choice of color and nominally priced. Knowing my weakness for multi-color, my favorite pieces had to be this bouquet printed tablecloth and the Chelsea printed table runner. The pieces are quite contrast in nature. The table runner with its soothing colors and natural patterns appeared as if a story was unfolding. Do check out the Samarkhand printed placemats too. I find the grape color captivating and one that is not too common to find.

A few pictures of their home furnishings/decoration range:

What a cosy corner! With the stack of books on one end and flowers on the other, it makes the perfect setting for a lazy afternoon. The patchwork quilt provides the finishing touches.

Is there anyone here who lives in Indira Nagar? There’s a reason I love the place : it’s a powerhouse of creative people who make lovely pottery and murals that makes you stop and take notice. Madhu Chandrika, an alumnus of Chitra Kala Parishath, is one such artistic lady – the person behind Earthen Symphony.

Earthen Symphony is hidden away from the much-happening 100 ft. road, though not quite far from it. It’s another sad story that beautiful bungalows and single shops on 100 ft. road have given way to swanky global retail brands like Guess.

The store stocks a impressive collection of pottery, lamps, storage boxes, Ganeshas, shades, mirrors, furniture and glass top stools. Prices range from Rs.350 for small pots and go all the way up to 40,000 for large mural installations. The wall pieces are available from Rs.1,100.

What impresses me in such stores is that the owner has an interesting story behind every piece. And it’s hard to miss the positive energy and passion of the person flowing through. All pieces are handmade at her workshop in Banaswadi.

I kept staring at every pot, clicking pictures from different angles and felt it over and over for its texture. Images of Confluence keep flashing in my mind when I see these murals. Shades or orange, brown and red are favorites among potters. But what sets Earthen Symphony apart is a whole range of things you can gift someone or deck up your home with. I didn’t see any nameplates in particular but I’m sure you can get it custom made.

Did you notice the Ganesha mural and the black and white pot?

Hope you all had a good long weekend. “dress your home” turned 1 on July 1st; so we’re officially a year-old now, and I’m taking small baby steps in growing this blog. I’ve decided to continue with the store tours as it gives me immense satisfaction to sift through dozens of home decor stores, decide which one fits in with my philosophy of serving a purpose, finally followed by the actual visit. Last Saturday, I went to Namma Angadi which means “Our shop” in Kannada. Located in LB Shastri Nagar off Vimanapura, it’s a non-assuming, stone-walled building in a neighborhood…

Nestled in the by-lanes of Indira Nagar is a studio named “Glasscrafters“. Glasscrafters was started by Asad Hajeebhoy originally in 1991 in Bombay, followed by a four year stint in Muscat, Oman,and finally at Bangalore in 1996.  A physicist by education, Asad pursued stained glass as a hobby to take it up full-time in 1996.

Contrary to most Indian interior decor sites, Glasscrafters is well-designed replete with product pictures, portfolio, and course and service offerings. But, I still prefer to visit any studio/store in person to feel the pulse of the place.

A brief chit-chat on last Wednesday evening with Asad on art of stained glass was an eye-opener for me.  Tucked away from the hustle-bustle of 80 feet road,  Asad’s studio-cum-home is a flurry of activity with clients walking in, a designer working on some new project, materials spewn around, and finally, Asad talking about his passion for stained glass totally unfazed by his surroundings.  He demystifies the common perception that stained glass art is painting done on glass. In reality, there is no painting. Stained glass works are actually different pieces of colored glasses joined together with a copper foil to create a jigsaw-like piece of work.

According to Asad, his business broke even within 3 months of starting. Initially, he got his assignments primarily through references. The fact that there were no suppliers of stained glass materials in India back then made it a challenge. Mainly people who lived abroad placed an order for a specific piece. They brought the glass and materials with them for Asad to create. Word spread and now Glasscrafters has a impressive portfolio of over 2,000 projects. 90% of them are residential including some well-known ones such as Rishi Kapoor’s Mumbai residence.

A wide ranged of glasses are used such as wavy, wispy, opalesecent for the swirls and streaks, cathedral, streaky, textured, baroque, antique, and jewel.

A decade later, things have changed for the better. Glasscrafters is now a stockist for Spectrum glass.  The amount of  work involved in making every piece is mind-boggling. So, there’s nothing called a bulk order. A single piece or 100 pieces, to create each piece, small pieces of different colored glasses will have to be cut individually and joined together.