Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Modern Native American Indian Artist

Did I meet my modern Native American artist?

About 15 to 20 minutes away from Sedona, if you drive down HWY 260, you'll see a badly posted sign that says "Tuzigoot" What is that?

Tuzigoot was an ancient Indian village or pueblo made by a culture known as Singua. They lived here in the Verde Valley for four hundred years, from AD 1000 to 1400 and then disappeared.



Today,as you follow the signs you find yourself driving up hill leaving a huge expanse of valley, and a thin silver line of a river called the Verde river snaking somewhere far away. You'll see some marsh land meandering lazily through the valley.

It was not like this when the Native American Singua people lived here. It was green with lush vegetation that provided habitat for many animals and birds, even parrots.

Now it is barren. As you park your car in front of the museum and climb up the stairs you reach at the roof top. It may seem like you are rather on top of a fort.

Spanning the valley you see the ruins of the old pueblo that consisted of more than hundred rooms made out of stones, and were two or three storied high.

You may feel any minute those people may return on their horse backs. Those people who were mainly farmers, knew very well how to use the irrigation from the Verde river water and cultivate corn, maize and so on.

They were great artisans. You have seen their pottery in the museum and the incredible tools they made, out of bones, to make shell jewelry. They had great trade relations with people hundreds of miles away. How can they be vanished just like that?

When they return what riches are they going to bring? What stories to tell?

Instead you hear a shrill cry of a bird - may be a blue heron or something. This place is an Audobon designated site today, for watching rare birds.

Where did those people go? Why?

May be they could not deal with the diseases that the European foreigners brought

May be it was the great drought of the late 13th century that dried up every thing and the people fled from here leaving their beloved home and village to an unknown territory. The 14th century was a time of great migration, conflict and ultimately amalgamation.

The Singua people merged with other tribes like the Hopi, Acoma and Zuni and became one of them. I read all these in the museum and other books.

When the Europeans met them in the 16th century they did not give much credit to these Indians or their art. I can visualize how the Spanish looked at their jewelry styles and workmanship- the smirks,the disparaging nods.

The Native American artists gulped it. And rather learned from the Spanish silversmiths and eventually created their unique style the squash blossom design.


The squash blossom design necklace

The Europeans decided to cultivate and educate these native people and take them to missionary schools ostracizing them from their own families and culture. When they fled the "Indian schools" they were penalized and punished.

Frustration set in. Alchohol soothed. Alchoholism broke the families.

When there was no money, no food in the house, these native artists took whatever they had, their precious jewelry to the pawn brokers which were never retrieved

These are good deals today if you can find an authentic one.

My heart feels heavy thinking why do these people always had to flee? It was theirs land to begin with, but what destiny... they had to give away their home, their art, their pride and run away to some where else.

This is when I met my modern Native American artist.


We had to stop at a rest area for a bath room break on our way to Phoenix airport.
Here, near the WOMEN sign I find a girl sitting on the floor with a rug stretched out with jewelry pieces.

I stoop down. They are made out of silver beads and semi precious stones like moon stone, turquoise chips, tiger eye, coral beads, hematite and agate.

"I use quality 49 strand silver beading thread Ma'm. Look at the clasps...This is a dream catcher and here this leaf is good luck - it chases away your bad dreams."

"Don't you go to Art Fairs? You don't belong here near the bathrooms. These are quality stuff and you have good workmanship." - I say.

Her face lit up. "I make them my self Ma'm. I can't afford the booth fees and... too expensive." She smiled sadly.

Her name is Bear. She is a Navajo. Bear has learned making jewelry from her mother, who had learned it from her mother. They were an artist family. "My great grand dad made great jewelry" she said.

In my mind's eye I could see a jewelry box that is kept high on a shelf in their home. In it lies a squash blossom necklace with sleeping beauty blue turquoise, bordered with tiny coral dots framed in beautiful silver.

That is saved for Bear's special day, when she'll be a bride. Bear's grand ma's grand ma had saved it.

When the pawn broker came in and asked -" What else do you have that is worthy? any jewelry?"- she nodded- No, Nothing. For years they remained hungry and had to put up with many hardships but she never let go of that squash blossom necklace.

Bear will give it to her daughter and it will always remain with them. It would never be sold.

I was startled - "Ma'm, please take this set. I'll make it $18 for you instead of $20."

I had seen the same design selling for $69 yesterday in a posh Sedona shop at Tlaquepaque with a big SALE sign.

"Do you take credit card or is there a ATM? I spent my last bill."

Bear's face dimmed.
Her mom came running. "The security is here, hurry baby"

Wait a minute. There is something like a crumpled piece of paper in my pocket. As I take it out and unfold - it is a $20 bill. Bear shines up.

"What would you like- the dream catcher or the dream chaser?"

Then she had to quickly roll up her rug and run to a bitten up car to flee somewhere again.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Spirit of Sedona


We were not sure if we'd make it to Sedona after all with my weird back problem. But we took a chance - rather we embraced positive thinking and bought the tickets to fly any way.

I had heard that Sedona is a magical place where artists flock from all over to catch their muses. Hurt people go there to heal and couples to find their romances.

The place has something called " Vortex". Scientists try to explain with the high magnetic fields this place possess. It is a hard concept to fathom- because I think it is a right brain , left brain concept too.

For example, we met a young waiter who was from Alaska originally. He tried many places and said Sedona has something strange- "Every time I had a problem and thought I have to quit, somehow it got resolved. No other place ever did that to me". WOW!

Sedona is about 90 minutes away from the Phoenix airport. When we landed at Phoenix a strange weather approached us. It was pretty warm and sunny, but then it started to shower and a huge rainbow greeted us with a big smile all across the sky.

With in ten minutes torrential rain, clapping of thunder sand frequent lightning scared the hell out of us. The desert city is not well equipped with this kind of strange rain. With in an hour there was flush flooding, the highways were clogged and traffic stood still. We were stuck and finally reached our destination resort seven hours later at eleven at night.

The drive was one of the scariest experience in my life. The two- lane highway, now pitch dark with high beams from the opposite lane cars and occasional lightnings made us dizzy.

Any way, through one such lightning spark I had a strange experience- the rocks revealed for a second, which I later learned was called "The Cathedral". It was magnifique!

The next few days were beautiful with lots of sun shine. We experienced the grandeur of Sedona. Red rocks and monoliths cradled by indigo blue mountain ranges far away, were splendid. The dirt is pink here, the cacti has pink rouge on their cheeks.

Tlaquepacque (pronounced as Lack pack) is a nice touristy spot with cobble stone pathways, Italian and Spanish flair. High end beautiful shops and galleries boast their tastes. I had a wish to interview a Native American Jewelry artist.

I had done my homework. Learned a lot about the basic history and designs like Squash Blossoms and so no. There was a web site that even invited to give a call to meet and speak with a real artist.

I did. The artist on the other end responded which in brief is very understandable - Ma'm if you are really not interested in buying my products that starts from $799, please do not waste my time. I have to make jewelry, write blogs, social net work, take pics, talk with dealers do marketing, bla bla bla

Exactly what I do in a much smaller less granderous scale. I understand perfectly, sir.

Still, my husband insisted that I try more.

I rather window shopped, bought myself a nice ice cream cone and enjoyed the natural Sedona that is free.

As I sat in front of those magnificent rocks and thought about the vortex, the Bell rock in front of me spoke.

Do not take Sedona for granted like a tourist, my child.


It showed me the power of nature, the beauty of nature in the darkness of night through those electrifying lightnings. There is a strange commonality and a fine message about life.

Interestingly, I realized that I could handle sitting for more than eight hours at a stretch with out pain that day! How did that happen? The vortex may be!

And did I meet a real artist? I'll tell about that in my next blog. So stay tuned and come back soon, in a week.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Promises of Blues





God has a strange way of talking to you. I'll get to that in a little while. Before that  let me answer you. I can see in my mind's eye, you all crowding around me , my dear friends, you are curiously waiting to know - How are you buddy?

I know, it's been a long time I had written.

Well, the answer to your question- good, and not so good. It's kind of strange coming from me... many of you know me as "Ms. Positive".

This time I am feeling impatient. Though I am getting better each day, the progress is way slow. It takes me at least a couple of hours to warm up in the morning. Can't do my beading for more than half an hour at a stretch, which is hard, especially as many shows are coming for the holidays.

So, what do I do all day? 70% of the time I am either on my tummy surfing the web or on my back stretched out doing exercises.

I throw out my net to see whatever catch I find in the internet ( no pun intended) and come to the conclusion that the common doctors just shut your mouth with pain killers which really do not do much to heal or solve the real problem.

So what's the cure? I look into alternative medicine and found a balm , a ball and some knowledge on "creative visualization".

I became a disciple of Sakti Gwain, befriended and became face book fans of many hot shots in this line. I became a firm believer of The Law of Attraction.

And in the process while walking in my creative visualization path I met my God.

Shh.. it is a secret. But there are some secrets you want to tell the whole world , the reason why you write as Maya Angelou had said, I have to tell you this.

She is with in me, like a tiny glowing light with all the colors of the rainbow, or a flame, that I had seen first time in the Bunsen Burner in the  Chemistry lab as a kid.

She is also like a fairy with a pixie dust wand , like a fire fly that resides in the bosom of my heart. She protects me and guides me. She is part of my mother, who has left this earth, but left this little seed for me, in me. And this is what I'll leave for my grand daughter when I am no more.

It is a hard, abstract concept to fathom, I know, dear friend. It is hard for me to explain with words. I just feel it.

Any way, now does this God or fairy of yours solve your problem?- you ask- My tiny flame with in me just smiles.

So, what am I doing these days? I write. In my head, with out a pen.

I look out side in the late afternoon, I see that the school bus is dropping the children. The new school year has started. In my empty nest there are only memories of those lovely golden afternoons.

I think of my Montessori teaching days... those fond songs that the children used to sing to get to know each other.. those Back to school nights and Open Houses.

Thank God, now I don't have to worry about getting ready in the morning to hurry, with this back, to go to teach!

The long rays of the afternoon sun kiss me tenderly on my shoulders and with all the warmth, caresses- September has come, summer is gone for the year... now the days are going to be shorter.

In this journey with pain there are times when I feel relaxed. Like, when I hear the clanks of pots and pans. Oh, so my husband is putting them in the dishwasher or unloading them. It was my job for all these years. Not that he did not know how to do them, but I was too fussy and bossy too, criticizing that it is not done the proper way ( meaning my way!)

Now I don't care any more. I know that I am not indispensable.

A bunch of blue flowers greet me. They whisper the loveliness of life.

I come back to my work shop that I call STUDIO and hunt for my bead tray. The fluorite chips with its rainbow hue agree what the blue flowers had whispered. The indigo pearls promise good luck and the tiny seed beads giggle and nod - of course life is lovely. Its delicious. Crunchy!

I name this piece - "The Promise of Blues"



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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Epidural et al

It has been just seven days since I had my epidural shot.  What a difference in pain level.  The mornings are much better, I can eat now sitting down with the help of a Relaxo Bak chair pad- not for too long but for fifteen twenty minutes.  I am walking half an hour  in  three ten minutes time slots.



Today I went for a ride with my husband to the library and grocery but in forty minutes I was exhausted .  I am not pain free yet, There are two or three attacks every day at the pain scale of 7/8 but it is much better.

One  thing - I find myself easily in tears , I get too sensitive and I am  breaking down in sobs which is
so embarassing.  I am not like that.  My mind has become so fragile too!

I am reading a log t of books because I can be on my tummy only for so long to write, right?  So these are what I am reading, all from Amazon






  I come to realize that healing has to do with the other part of the brain, not the logical side.  There has been enough treatment done  logically but the other mysterious half is totally untouched.

This part of the brain deals with emotion, intuition, imagery and it has to take part now to heal me. I was reading this book named Guided Imagery, where the author shows how our brain really works with all the neuro motors, which is fascinating to me. 

See, when you are asked to touch your nose you can easily do it.  Now you are asked to salivate.  Is it that easy unless you think of a juicy lemon cut in half,  then squeezed onto your tongue?  You have to give that imagery to your brain.

This is because while the central nervous system governs voluntary movement, the autonomic nervous system regulated salivation .The autonomic nervous system does not readily responds to ordinary thoughts,  you need to give your brain the imagery  and then  it responds. (I think I understood it right)

Similarly, if you have the keys to open the secret doors you can lead your mind to do the healing.  Of course it is not that simple but it is do able and  a highly effective, safe system and I am  sure my  healing will come through that door.

So let me go deeper and tell you next time how I am doing with that.  In the mean time I am immersed in this study.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Journey Through Sciatica



The Journey Through Sciatica

I am on this Sciatica journey, I don't know which station is this.  Lately the ride is bumpy, the climb is steep.  Are we there?  Did the return journey start?   Hope so...oh God! please ...hope so.


It is a journey of intense pain, only my husband witnesses what I go through in the morning , crawling all over the bed to find the right spot that'll pick me up.  He tries in vain and realizes that what he takes for granted is not an option for me.  He stands patiently with his stretched arms.  When I find  strength I throw my self on him.   Now he is the walker that back strides until I reach the the bathroom.  Then I am on my own.

Once I can walk I walk ( Newton's third law of motion)..I try to take advantage, fool the Sciatica monster and walk at least three hundred steps that take me ten minutes in the hall way.

The tea kettle whistles, the smell of toast is in the air.  I come down stairs to have my Earl ray tea... no not yet, I take a cup of milk and a Vicodin.  My last Vicodin was at 3 AM in the morning,. so  my leg muscles now wear out .The sciatica monster reminds me - after all you are still my slave.

I go upstairs to lie down.  An hour later I find I have some strength to be sunny side down.  Yes, I reside in the den these days, on the floor, on a child's sleeping bed  with lots of Treasure Trolls prints on it , some how it  escaped the Salvation truck donation box.

I open my lap top- ZZ on my page saver gives a big smile...You'll be fine- I hear the message.  I give her a kiss.

Friends want to come to drop food.  I push them away.  I can't sit for even ten minutes.  Yesterday it was so sweet of A (my husband) - he brought my favorite Thai food for dinner and lit a candle.  We missed a wedding today that I really wanted to attend.  This would be our way to celebrate.

I couldn't even sit to eat.  I threw a tantrum because there was no milk or something.  Why does he forget these things.  Tears  rolled down my face.  He was upset that I saw only what he could not do.

My god!  No.  My tears were coming from absolutely different source. I was touched at his tenderness, but the outburst was weird, out of my control.

My alter ego drew a chair and started defending him, how hard it is to see loved one suffering, don't you remember how helpless you felt when he had  the flu for two weeks last winter?

Ms Alter Ego  reminded me of the blog posts I read the other day from a Sciatica site, how a young 27 year old girl was suffering - not only physically, but mentally too as her marriage was falling apart, her career and self image... how the old lady in her eighties was handling it in India , taking care of her ninety year old invalid husband while their  grown up children were abroad in  U.S and Australia.... When you look down you find your misery is not so serious.

The Oriental Lilies have come out.  They peek- a boo their faces out with coy  from the Shasta Daisy bush -  Remember the October after noon last year when you planted us ? Here we are.  Where are you?.

Well, this evening if I can,  I'll go down and smell them before they wilt for this year.  It is getting pretty hot lately.

Yes, my MRI report has come.  A typical case of degenerated hernia



The gel between the two  spinal discs ooze out and  is tickling the Sciatic nerves.  The Sciatic nerves have poor sense of humor - so they made a big fuss and is flaring and trembling and throwing a fit.  A shot would be given to them soon Jul 22.  That should calm them.

66% of the patients recover with this shot.  I should too.  I pray for that.  And all who care for me when they do that too , it'll make a big impact.

To keep my sanity I do blog hopping all over the world.

The picture of the beautiful necklace is created by Emin. She  probably lives in Japan. I came to know about her work through blog hopping.  Just wanted to share her work as an appreciation of her art. Her website

Saturday, July 17, 2010

At the End of the Tunnel

 Finally I am brought in front of the MRI tunnel machine.  The guy asked - "You are not claustrophobic are you?"

Yes, that lovely lady's been replaced with this cut and dry, matter- of -fact guy.  "You are going to go in  that  tunnel" - he showed me the tunnel.  If you feel you are passing out, squeeze this ball.  He gave me a tiny rubber ball with a tube attached. " And here, take these ear plugs ...the noise may be pretty..." he made a face.

"I can hear you fine though.  So.".

"Well, whatever."- Again another "attitude" face.

He leaves me.  I go in the tunnel.  I thank my friends who have gone through it, and were thoughtful  not to scare me giving me all the strength that it's child's play... you'll be fine.

But my weakness is- I am super imaginative, easily can bring thoughts that make me cry , shiver in horror or fly in joy.  So I try to bring all the images that make me fly like a kite, play with Zoe and all those darling faces blowing candles for my birthday.

Bang. bang, (Oscar the grouch banging on the garbage can thinking of a band)...HRRR... (you are now  dropped into Niagara falls)... Dhata, ghata, ghata ...in enormous loudness shaking my whole brain  like machine guns going on   ( as if  I am invited to the Iraq war or something)

I think -what if the machine fails now?   How long has it been?  Twenty minutes seems like eternity.  I succumb myself  to my fate trying to stay calm and recite "I'll be fine...I'll be fine..."

All on a sudden it stops.  Utter silence.  Uncomfortable stillness. Did the machine really fail and is stuck?  This is really scary.  But I must not squeeze the ball. I'll be brave.

Then tringa ling ling ling...goes the sound , as if I am on a tram going to my grand pa's house in Tollygung like I used to do as a kid in Calcutta.

The tram pushes me out to light.

The guy came out and said - you did good.

I knew it.  There is always light at the end of a tunnel.  No matter how much I am suffering soon it will pass.

I make drawings of earrings when the pain is sane, these designs are  mostly extensive , extremely elaborate wire work designs,( I'll show you one day when I can sit to take pictures).  My fingers laugh out loudly-" "Are you kidding?  You expect me to make these some day?"

"Yes- says my brain".

"Just wait until I can sit, I'll show you "- talks back other parts of my body.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Work-life balance

Recently I finished the book Women, Work and Art of Savoire Faire  by Mireille Guilliano, the best seller author of the book-French Women Don't Get Fat

I did not read the second book yet but  would like to share my impression about the first one-


Women Work & Art of Savoire Faire:

Guilliano already admitted in the beginning that this is not one of those How to books - ( How to bring killer traffic to your blog or Three best ways to find the most profitable keyword..).  This is a book of stories and annectdotes.

Well, now that I am done with the reading I find with a surprise that   I can not remember a single story - not a single one  really stayed in my mind- and it is only three days.  Rather, subconsciously I noted some important points for "success" that she mentioned  (even though  she mentioned that she does not like the word "success" really.)

1. Dreams and ambitions do change with different stages of life.  While having a red convertible sports car may be the dream in late twenties, in your thirty you might find that it has shifted.  Now all you want is a family and motherhood!  Therefore, enjoy each day with style, the French way, keeping this valuable advise in mind weave your life planning in bite size short term goals.

2. Take time for yourself.  Cultivate healthy habits, stylish grooming rituals, attractive manners, proper etiquette etc all along- as these are the gold stamps on the passport for making lasting impressions.

3. Define clearly what to expect from you and what you do expect too, both to your family and business circle.  Both circles will appreciate .  Always promise less, rather over deliver if possible.

These are winning styles- the French way  for maintaining  the work-life balance.

Did you happen to read any of her books?  I'd like to know your comments.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Irony of the Wedding Bangle

So, finally my doctor is convinced that I should take an MRI and see a spine specialist. Well wishing friends are relieved- good, at last the American Medical system is paying attention to their poor, suffering friend.

-But, do poke the MRI appointment  desk, they advised.

With in an hour at 1:30 pm the phone rang. - Can you come at 3:30 pm today?

I was only half way through my lunch sandwich...my husband yelled- Take it.

Okay- I gulped.

-Did you have brain, heart, spine surgeries before?. - No.

-Are you claustrophobic?

-What do you mean?
 
-Well, your body will be put through a narrow tunnel- tube.

How narrow?  But I gather all my strength and try to think of all the known faces that came out straight after an MRI.  I take a deep breath and say - I think I'll be fine.

-Well then come, no jewelry, no make up.

I can deal with that.

So,  after a million baby steps from  the top of the roof parking lot,  ( yes, everyone and their cousins are sick today probably, all are  here in this hospital), through the green belt ( checking out sign post arrows), down to the basement, finally we arrive at the registration desk.  My thigh nerves are really flaring angry now.

In a few minutes with perfect pronunciation I hear my name called -  Anindita Basu!  - by a cute looking nurse. I am impressed.

-No bobby pins, no jewelry, okay.

-Well...mmm  I have this wedding bangle that I can not take off.  See I was much younger, much slimmer thirty five years ago and I have never taken it off.

-Oh it's beautiful...why, sure.  Look at the design, must be 22 k gold?  - she calls a friend.

-Yes, but it is iron clad. 

-What?  Her eyes popped.


-Yes, it is very auspicious.  The iron part is believed to protect my husband from evils.  It is for his well being and I have never taken it off.

-How sweet.  Does he have one for you

No, but I don't say that to her.  I remember my feminist friend's remark- They are just iron shackles.  In those days men could marry several wives and live under the same roof with all of them, each wearing an iron wedding bangle for His Highness.  Damn it. Chauvinist pigs!  Why would a modern wife wear it? I don't.

But I don't see it like that. It is a sweet, auspicious, sentimental symbol to me. - Can't I just wrap it with a cloth or something?

-Honey, It is a very strong magnet.  Come see for yourself.

She is definitely much younger than me. But I liked her affectionate tone.

As I approach my wrist close to the tube - OH MY!!!

OUCH.  I have never felt such a gigantic pull.  The monster with its red lighted licking tongue looked at me - I WANT IT!

I understand. The nurse looked at me with all her tenderness.  - See, Sweety, You don't want to get burnt.  It will scald you.  Go to a jewelry artist and take it off. Then come here. We'll wait for you.

I took an appointment four days later.- Will you be there then?  I kind of got attached to her magnetic personality.

But she drew me away gently.  No, my dear, but whoever be there will help you.

I came home and went to my studio.  (see I call it studio- I AM the jewelry artist.)  Easily with my flush cutter I could cut the gold part. But the iron part is tricky.

My engineer husband declared that there must be a split in the iron part too.  His tool box arrived. 
The blue veins in my wrist , delicate under my pale skin makes him nervous.  But I am fearless.  -Yank it out - I say.  And with all his manly force he did.

I am free. What a sense of relief.  Now I can take it off when I wish.  I have gone through every security post to be ostracized, poked and touched in all private parts - yet I took it for granted for these thirty five years.

Now I am free.  I believe I'll always be wearing the protective bangle for him - visible or not: and I trust that he has it too for me - visible or not; each couple who love each other must be wearing such protective bangles - visible or not.

Yet, I pick it up.  How can I fix it so that I can wear it easily?  The vines of hope design on the gold glisten with glee.












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Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Pain in the...

I am knocked out with a pain in the... you know what.  The name of the monster is Sciatica.  It arrived,  with out notice.  I heard that is its nature ... it will go away on its own too with out proper good bye after oh may be two to eight weeks.. some where there. It has a tendency to visit you again if it likes your BODY too much.

Well, it has been four weeks now.  It really gets on to your nerves- from the back of your thighs to all the way down.  It bites, squeezes, pinches, chews, gnaws, shakes, rattles, even numbs you until you cry, reach for more pain killers and then fall asleep.

You can't sit, you may barely walk and stand.  But you may lie on your tummy and write rubbish like I am doing now, or lie on your back with your feet propped up on a pillow and day dream.

Things are worse now than it was a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, I remember that I had a craft show.  Would I be able to make it?  Well it will take me at least three hours in the morning to get ready to be presentable in walking condition.  Mornings are the worst time when you wake up and have to go to the bathroom.  You would rather crawl than stand on your own feet!

Couple of nights before the show I came across a blog where the author was describing one of his first craft shows.  Sorry, I forgot the link now.  It was an out door show.  The day was gloomy, at one time  the sky showed its angry colors and roared every now and then.  The wind demonstrated its powers.   No buyers came.  The vendors started taking down their tents.  It was still three o clock, still two hours left before the closing.

Our  jewelry artist author, a starving artist then ( a very successful one now) stayed put.  It was his principle to  keep his promise.  To serve until the end.  He was just starting to establish his work ethics.

Around 4:50 a miracle happened.  An elderly lady with an umbrella showed up from no where.

"Good, at least some one is open.  I need to buy a bunch of gifts.  I am going to a family get together after twenty years.  Who knows if I'll see them again....Yes give me those earrings, yes six pairs for Jenny, Sally, Nina....and those bracelets -two will be fine for the two new brides and show me that necklace..."

Our staving artist made enough for his whole day's worth of waiting.

The article motivated me.  So I woke up at 5:30 in the morning next day ( very unusual for me , I am not an early bird person) and did everything I could- hot shower, massage chair, all the exercises I was taught, back and forth pacing in the hallway for twenty minutes so that I came to walking condition by eight thirty.  Yes, I forgot to mention.  I did a lot of praying.

My prayers were answered. I could make it till the end.  There were buyers in my stall. And most important- I overheard appreciation from unknown people, who did not know me and gave compliments to my work.  Now I know what people like even if they can not buy it that very moment.

I thank them with folded hands silently.  You have given me the push to move forward.  You have stretched your hands to let me stand when I need it most.

Namaste.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Healing Blue Apatite


Do you know the power of the healing gemstone- Blue Apatite?

"Isn't this Anindita?"- chime the lady next in line. I try to place the face.

"Lady Brabourne College, remember? I am Anjuli.-- she added.
"Of course I remember, Anjuli" I give her a tight hug.

My, Anjuli must have gained a hundred pounds!But I bite my tongue before blabbering out -You have changed so much. Instead I say, "How long has it been, Anju- thirty years?"

Anjuli was our college queen (like the Prom Queen, here). She was the tennis champion, college representative for Debate Tournaments, and the most popular gal in the campus. I was not in her close friend circle, rather one in her fan club.

I fancied keeping track of the gossips that hummed around her- how different suitors and young men tried to approach and catch her and how with swift swings, spins and smashes she handled them like her ping pong game.

"Remember the guy who held a bet with his friends to show off that he knew you?'- we chuckle.

"So who's the lucky winner finally? Is it Ron?"
"Yes, Ron." A shy yet strange smirk rises and fades.

"Have time today? I have to kill an hour before I pick up my child from his S.A.T. tutorial.

"Absolutely. I have to make time. There is so much to catch up"
So, we find a tiny table in Barbara's Bakery. And this is where I looked forward to find her every Wednesday for the next few weeks. We opened our lives to each other over cups of lattes and the gourmet goodies Barbara could offer.

From the best student Anjuli became the best mom, best neighborhood volunteer and the best home maker in town. Then the Supermom syndrome hit her when she found that she had nothing else left for herself.

"I was exhausted, you know." With several surgeries and health problems pounds piled up upon her.

"It was not that I was unaware. I tried different diets and each time it sank me a bit more at the end. It was like I was walking on a quick pit.

When I look in the mirror, I wonder who is this? My face has changed." I lost myself, Anindita. I hide myself from me. I choose clothes that hide my body these days,can you believe that? It was just the other way round one day, you know.

Then I hid myself from Ron. I tried to escape from him until our marriage withered and died.

It's all me, it's all my fault. I don't blame Ron a bit. But in reality, in action I did it everyday. I blamed, blamed, blamed him everyday for everything- from squeezing the tooth paste the wrong way, watching the wrong T.V.shows to spending his own earned money the wrong way.

I left him. I tore down the nest that I had built with so much care one day."

She paused. Then fixing her gaze some far away she added:

"You know- deep down I felt that Ron does not deserve this Anju. It's not fair to him. He's my first love and perhaps I love him more than myself. But he'd never know that.

Then, you know who comes to rescue, to comfort, to put emollient on my wound?

This soft cream on the warm bun." She took a long slow lick with her eyes closed. Then abruptly with a jerk she shoved off her plate across the table.

Tears rolled down her cheeks. I held her hand. It was time to go. It was time to let go.

Next week she agreed to my proposal of taking a walk around the block instead of visiting Barbaras while we caught up with our stories.

I told her about my ecstasy of doing jewelry (the career change) and the agony of the financial struggle of doing what you love to do, no matter what they say.

Next week we found a Weight Watcher meeting place that existed at the other side of the shopping center.

A month later Anju achieved her first 5% weight loss goal. We celebrated it having French manicure done on our nails. We discovered this beauty parlor only nine blocks away on our walking route.

Very soon Anju will be on her 10% loss goal. She is almost there. I am making a knitted wire bracelet for her to celebrate that. It is with blue apatite gemstone beads and mid night blue fresh water pearls knitted with silver wire.

I have studied that apatite is a balancing stone that helps suppress food craving. It helps in concentrating and meditation. It helps with anger and negativity and restores the physical, emotional and spiritual balances.

Pearl brings good fortune, love and a general sense of well being.

With these thoughts and a prayer that may the healing stones show their promises I'll offer her my humble creation.

Of course I'll make one for you too or your loved ones. Do check my etsy store. And I'll make one for myself too- I promise.

.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Most Embarrassing Moment



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"In Art man reveals himself, not his objects"- Rabindra Nath Tagore

 My most embarrassing moment?

Then I have to rewind many years. Ready?  

I was seventeen. He was probably twenty two. We lived seven houses apart. One day, with my woman's intuition I kind of felt I've been watched.

One day when the door bell rang and   my mom opened the door, it was him.   He came to see my dad, to get some official paper signed, (at a certain position as a Govt Officer my dad had this authority)

"He'll come tomorrow again- he said , when your dad is home. This young man is a neighbor of ours, lives in ... is going to USA, so he needs those papers signed."

"Oh I see".  I went back putting the mascara meticulously. I hate clumps. In the mirror I noticed a faint smirk on me - hey my dad is not the only officer in town to sign that paper. But in the process I came to know his name. He goes to the same university where I go and yes it is the same house  that I suspected is where  he lives.

Several months passed. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of each other while passing each others house. For safety sake when I turn my head to make sure no cars are coming from behind, I see he has hopped from one veranda to another. Well I admit, I was caught several times doing the same thing too.

More months passed, nothing major happened other that hopping from one veranda to another.

That October, with my family I  went to a very beautiful place named Ghatshila. The vacation house we stayed in was the most beautiful one. It was right on top of the river Subarna Rekha. Translating Subarna Rekha will sound like-  the golden line. It was exactly that, especially at the dusk.

I found a friend there too. Her name was Anita. I call her, Unto. She was exactly six months older than me. Within days we opened our hearts to each other, shared our secrets, worries, knowledge about hush- hush things, film stars, movie songs and everything. We took long walks in the ripened rice fields and dipped ourselves in the cool river and had water fights.

Soon the Durga Puja and Diwali festivals were there. The beating of the drums, the lamps shining on the Goddess' face, the smell of incenses kind of transcended us spiritually. After our prayers Anita asked me, "Were you sure exactly what to pray?" I was .

"Silly you, what does a seventeen year six month know about life? Wait till you become eighteen! Besides, prayers only work when it is combined with action.What is your mode of action?"

I don't know.

"Send him a greeting card."

Now Ghatshila was not at all a place for cards. Besides, going shopping involves grown ups - too complicated.

"Make one."

We couldn't find any art material in that vacation house. She brought me an Inland post paper with a stamp on it and a terrible dot pen. The quality of the paper was so bad she suggested not to use ink.

Here is what is so embarrassing. I could have drawn a design or something. But I found my self finishing up with a bird  - kind of an ibis looking creature with a long beak and neck standing on one leg in a swamp. The reflection of other water plants are apparent. Now why on earth did I come up with that!

"Very good." Encouraged  Anita seriously. She must have worked hard hiding her laugh. "Now write whatever you want inside and  the address on the out."

I wrote- "Bijoya greetings." My name and my address in the inside.

After the letter was out of my hand, given to the mail man, I had the worst, most severe embarrassing feeling attack. Why did I listen to her? I was a shy, proud and reserved kind of person at that age.   That image shattered right in front of me every time I faced the mirror.

Now my new prayer is -let that letter be lost. The rest of the vacation was terrible  for me naturally. Unto could not figure out why I was getting so short tempered with her. At the end we even did not exchange addresses to keep in touch.

Several months past, nothing much happened other than hopping verandas.

On the seventh month through the grape vines I came to learn that he has gone to USA.

Good. I hope I can forget the whole thing quickly now, I started praying with my ears all red and hot.

Next October I got a post card- the sky line of New York city in dusk- as if this American city is all dressed up for Diwali. There was only one  line - " Greetings and Best wishes to you and your family." His name and his current address.

Five years  and about a hundred and some letters later, we became husband and wife and I came to USA.

Thirty five years later, we share the same life with two daughters  and a grand daughter and the same home.  Today right now, I  can see him  across the same room, stretched out on the lazy boy chair, the news papers on his lap,  and the afternoon sun is glistening  on his silver streaked temple.  As  I put the last crimp bead, I try to hide the memory of that embarrassing  day,oh  that silly ibis....

Some times I think of Unto.   Where is she?  How is her life? I lost all touch with her after she was married a year later I met her, when she was only nineteen.  It was an arranged marriage.

She does not know how embarrassed she made me one day  and also what a gift she had given!

The picture you see is taken from the train in 2010 - Passing Ghatshila 42 years later.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's About Time

Let the Muse refuse
Just hold on to her shoes.

It happens.

You come up with a great idea. You can see part of it and you are so anxious to see the rest- how is it going to turn out when it is finished- but then something happens. You fail to grab the moment, the Muse leaves.

May be you just wanted a few more minutes to bask in the warm afternoon sun, on your soft couch and linger the cat-nap a wee bit more. When you wake up you find that your idea has faded.

Or, you got caught in a million of mundane things, washing the dishes, folding the laundry or wiping the kitchen counter top the 87th time. The inner child in you tugs you by the end of your clothes - please , o please, let's go and do it, let's get lost in the creative process. (I say let's because with in you exists more than one entity, You have a child self and a grown up one, who always scrutinizes and criticizes)

The child in you loves when she can lose herself in creating something. That is when she forgets about herself, her ego, the sense of time, or the fear if it is going to be a success or not. At that time there is only one thing- the process, the action or total concentration.

This is when time stands still even though the sun goes from the east to the west, from one end to the other over the horizon.

But who cares? It was a day well spent. Well worth living. You have gone through that experience and you know what it is.

Author Rice Freeman-Zachery in Creating Time and Space: Making Room for Making Art asks the readers in Chapter 1 - What exactly does "time" means to you? and then at one place comments "Dreams and ideas are timeless- you've felt that, waking up from a dream that lasted for weeks only to have the clock insist that you had slept for only half an hour."

So true.

We like it best when we can lose track of time like a child, but as a grown up we have lost it. We have learned the value of time. Understood how precious it is and how to spend it wisely!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Beg Your Pardon...


I had to yank the shopping cart hard to untangle. Succeeding, my eyes met a fellow sitting on a near by bench at the entrance of the super market. I smiled.

"Maam"

A couple of steps later I hear again - "Maam... "
I turned my head.

"I AM HUNGRY."

How old is he? Fourteen or fifteen, may be. This young Afro-American boy, his face all bundled up in a black parka hood, is announcing - "I am hungry!" - As if I am his mom or auntie or a close neighbor.

I am startled. Yet I pause.

"May be when I get back". I answered. The boy nodded his head "Okay".

Believe me, I am quite good at ignoring these "spare a change?", "will work for food" kinda messages.

I used to see a woman sitting on a low wall of a church with all her possessions in a shopping cart. She wore decent clothes. Every Friday after grocery, on my way back home I would to see her - for quite a few months.

Some times I thought of stopping and talking to her. If I bought her a sandwich or give a box of crackers would she mind? - I thought. But I never did.

I grew up in Calcutta. I have seen all kinds of begging strategies.

Once, a lady - quite properly dressed, came to our house and asked to see the lady of the house. She told my mom her story so convincingly that we were mesmerized. Her husband had died recently from a stroke. Her only wage earning son, had a car accident and is in the hospital. She is new to this strange city and had no option other than going door to door for help. She wiped her glasses with the end of her shawl.

Ma gave her a robust donation.

We smirked and ridiculed Ma for how gullible she was and how easily she could be fooled.

"Well, then I pay for her superb acting"- She replied.

When all these beggar women, with a skeleton child on their hips cluster around our car, as we are stuck in the Park Street traffic jam - they stretch their palms for "a Paisa" (coin), I can easily roll the window up and direct the driver to remember to stop at the "Flury's" - the best baking shop in Calcutta

But today something happened. It was almost 3:40 pm and I have not had lunch either. My stomach was growling. The words echoed louder and louder in my head - " Maam..I am hungry, I am hungry."

As I was snaking through the aisles picking up stuff from my list, I was also unconsciously thinking of this boy.

Finally, I picked up a bagguette and a small cup of cream cheese and asked the cashier girl to bag it separately and stick a plastic spoon too.

I came out. The sliding door closed silently.

He was no where.

This is the first time I was refused by a beggar.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Wish from A Genie


I came across an interesting term- RAS- acronym of - Reticular Activation System.

What I understood is- it is the part of the brain that acts like a strainer.

Suppose you are in a busy air port or train station and there are all kind of noise and cacophony. But you can manage to snooze. All on a sudden you hear- "Ms. Dita Basu - you have a call in the white courtesy telephone"

WHAT? Your antanaes are up. You are not sleepy any more.

So, my brain could let pass all that is not so important but just capture and hold onto what is important.

Experts say that this knowledge is applicable to any goal setting strategy. Athletes in Olympics use it, successful speakers and performers use it. They can visualize their success and train their brain to note it as a very important thing.

If you can manage this part of your brain, or rather you can understand the full power of this tool that you already have - you do have unlimited wealth and potential.

Oh My! That's why they probably say - you have unlimited potential, you just don't know about it.

So here, decide what is the one and only one thing that you can give your heart and soul and desire most? Can you dream it?

Oh No! I am in trouble. The Genie has come . "Quick Dita- Think of just one wish. One and just one thing ."

Traffic in my blog? Nah.

Clicks in my affiliate marketing? - Nah nah.

Just one wish - it must be more valuable than that.

"I want to give all that I know- Give me that wish"

The Genie smiled and turned his head. "It is all up to you. Remember RAS?"



He leaves.

I am left alone. I grab my bead box and create a necklace piece.

Knitted garnet teardrops in silver wire.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Oldest Jewellery Design



I was thinking of the oldest jewelery design on earth, as I was finishing up my latest jewelry project. It revealed some extra ordinary fascinating facts.

The oldest jewelry design goes back as far as some forty to forty five thousand years ago. If we consider that the first human dates back about six to seven million years,evidence of the first jewelry designs happened some forty to forty-five thousand years ago.

Scientists believe this time frame correlates with when humans could use language or appreciate symbolism. Jewelry was worn to show some kind of symbolism just like it is used to day - to show power, status or some thing like that.

Shell beads were found in ancient Turkey , ostrich egg shell beads in Kenya, they all had deliberate holes for designing jewelery. They all are contemporary, though far apart in geographical sense, they show the same time period - about 45,000 years old.

Recent findings shake this theory. Three beads were found that were over 100,000 years old. Shell bead found in Blombos cave, on the southern tip of South Africa are75,000 years old.

These beads all have deliberate holes, and definitely do carry symbolic message- says Prof Henshilwood of the University of Bergen, Norway (Ref: BBC News: "Oldest Jewellery" - June 22, 2006 )

This dramatically pushes back the dates for the first clear proof of using symbolism by human being. That is what sets human apart from animals.

Then, even before we could talk(which is around 45 to 50 thousand years ago) were we making jewelry designs? Why not? It is very possible that the urge to make beautiful things came even before we learned to talk.

Like art, jewelry design opens the window of the human soul just to point to the mystery of beauty!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

You Are Invited


I feel that this blog spot is my home in the web -land. Here, even though we ( you and I ) may not be able to shake hands literally, or even see each other ever in person, yet we get to know each other; know each others' passions and struggles.

Here, I may not be able to offer you a cup of tea or my favorite sherry cake, but can offer you the recipe.

This holiday season was really nice for me, (thanks for all the holiday wishes!) especially I got to see my little ZZ and her cute family. Of all the fun things that had happened to me , I'll mention one today.

It was making the wreath.

This year I did not get to buy a wreath for our door. After the Christmas tree was brought in, my daughter announced that we had quite a bit of greenery from the cut out branches of the bottom of the tree.

It was drizzling outside, besides the pine greenery had such heavenly smell we just wanted to fiddle with them inside.

I remembered the wisteria branch from last spring. Its supple, malleable nature let me bend it and twist it until I made a full circle of that lanky branch and then tossed it somewhere in the shed. Yes, it was still there!

Let that be our base for the wreath. Then with my ample jewelry practice wires we attached the pine leaves and branches. There were hollies and berries from our side yard that the birds had planted and we carelessly never attended them. Those adorned the green branches with red kisses.

It was the best wreath. And the best part was everything was from our home and natural.

Here, now I open my door. Please come in. Have a little chat. Say something, so that I'll know that you came and left your foot prints.
And please visit again. HAPPY NEW YEAR.
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