Thursday 28 July 2011

Train, train hurry up....

Have you ever been on those trains? Those slow moving ones which start at okay speed, but something happens pretty early in the journey and they  gradually loose all speed, let numerous other trains to overtake them and  seem happy to move at a snail's pace, if at all. They seem to forget that some unlucky passengers are travelling in them, and have absolutely no urge to speed up and reach the final destination. They stop at each and every obscure and sleepy station and also at times in the middle of nowhere. Once the train comes to a screeching halt, you look out expecting to see a busy platform and people hurrying about, instead you see a deserted platform, the shutters down on the stalls, no sign of any waiting passenger or any porter. You can see the gate of the tiny one platform station and outside looks equally dismal. You wonder where this place is and if anyone stays here at all. But more importantly why did this train stop here? No one alighted here and there is no sign of anyone wanting to board the train. It is as if the train is waiting for the passengers to make up their minds, to journey or not to journey. As if the train is saying, 'do not worry I have infinite time, you make up your mind, I will wait for you here'.

 The train whose journey never seems to be coming to an end, neither it seems like the train wants to finish the journey. Sitting inside your blood pressure steadily rises at the inane behaviour of the train...at times you feel like throttling the driver, shake him/her hard, something, anything to make him/her to speed up. The worst part is not having any control over the situation. I know wise people would say not to freak out when you cannot control external circumstances. But easier said than done.  I agree some of the passengers seem least bothered and are happily taking a nap or reading a book. Unfortunately I am not one of them, I cannot relax while the train refuses to behave like a proper modern day train living in a busy world, carrying people who are keen to reach their destinations as quickly as possible.

Sometimes I wonder why these trains behave the way they do? It is that the driver suddenly looses all interest in driving the train? Maybe s/he had a fight with their partner or got a scolding from their boss or generally not feeling up to it. Maybe that day they want to visit every obscure station on the route so that these stations do not feel left out by their busy cousins. Who knows? The possibilities are endless and fodder for idle brains such a mine!
Cartoon train image is taken from here and the rail tracks image is taken from here.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Knitting? Who me? Couldn't be...

Lately I have been going through a lot of inspiring knitting and stitching blogs. Regular, everyday people like you and me are doing such incredible work! Imagine knitting yourself a long scarf which protects your throat from the chilly wind and goes all the way down to kiss your feet or piecing together a patchwork quilt for your bed or stitching a cheerful bunting to add a splash of colour to your window! How I wish I could do all or even either one of these. *Sigh*

There are usually two kinds of emotions which surface while I ogle at the designs and the handiwork. Deep respect for the artists who knit/stitch these dreams and a wee bit, (no, feeling self-righteous I shall not lie) even deeper envy. There I said it, I am envious of all those people who can knit and stitch and create such fabulous things. As you may have guessed by now, I cannot stitch even a button properly without drawing blood from my finger and knitting, lets not even go there. I just do not get it how the knitters poke the two needles into each other with a bit of wool and out comes a gorgeous scarf! Yes it seems way too much like rocket science to me!

As if not having any of those skills was not bad enough, I feel like I am letting down my genes by being so talentless. Okay let me start from the beginning and tell you the whole story. My grandmother is an expert at stitching clothes. I have grown up wearing her lovely creations. And she was just not any clothe maker, during my teen-ages, if I wanted to wear a particular design worn by an actress in a particular movie, she would watch that movie and soon that dress would come to me, all lovely and ready for me to wear and show off.  Her talents did not stop here, among other things she is good at complicated embroidery, crochet, knitting. You name it and she can do it and do it so very well. She is the sort who do not need patterns, she can look at a design once and knows what the pattern is.

My mother did not inherit the whole range from her but she is an amazing knitter and also does crochet stuff. Between my grandmother and mother, we never had to buy any sweaters or caps or scarves. Once the summer heat ebbed a little, my mother always had knitting bag with her, whenever she had a little leisure, the needles would come out and she would be clicking away while chatting with us, drinking tea, watching television or even talking over the phone.She got my aunt who lives in Japan to get her crotch books from there. She never could read the instructions in Japanese but just looking at the photographs she could decipher what was going on and hey and presto we had lovely pieces of crochet all over the house. When I looked at the books all I saw were designs similar to spider webs. I just loved looking at the glossy after products and the way they did the photo shoots.

 Talent is not sparse in my family-- almost all my aunts are good at all these stuff. There are so many lovely Indian stitches like kantha, Gujrati and some of my aunts got trained at the Viswa Bharati University at Shantiniketan to take the tradition forward. One of my favourite cousin sister has also started doing this work. My favourite aunt creates little pieces of handicrafts with scraps of clothes, bits of lace, odd buttons or broken pieces of ear rings. When I was young she used to make me little coin pouches, pencil bags, dresses for dolls, hair clips and many more such lovely stuff.

While growing up I loved being at the receiving end, and sadly I took all this creativity for granted. Our school being a coeducation there was no stress on knitting, there were a couple of easy assignments, but mostly we were left alone to manage traffic and fix electricity circuits with the boys. Which was a huge relief to me, as I realised early on in life I do not have the patience or aptitude to knit or stitch. I just do not. In fact I used to scoff at girls studying in girls only schools who were taught knitting and stitching. To the feminist me, girls being taught knitting and stitching was as stereotype as you could get.

This idea carried me through my life easily. In my mind there was a very clear distinction--traditional women sit at home and stitch/.knit, while dynamic young women like me went out into the world.

Now that I have grown up a little, hopefully have become a bit more mature and most importantly have loads of time on my hands my thoughts are no longer so tightly boxed.  Now when I see lovely handmade stuff, I wish that I could do these. I regret not learning the skills from my grandma and ma when I had the time and opportunity.I realise that because of my ideas, it is me who lost out on learning great skills. Had I learnt how to knit or stitch I would have not become less feminist but maybe a more creative person. More importantly I shudder to think what will happen if I ever have a daughter. It seems in our family there is a steady decline in the talent quota with each passing generation. Maybe we are slowly going back to where we came from. Now that is not a pretty thought!

All you fabulous knitters/stitchers carry on with your creativity and  I promise to admire you and your creations from afar. If you ever have a bit of a spare time and some wool or a piece of cloth lying around, please do hesitate to make me something. I maybe rubbish at knitting/stitching but I am very good at thanking kind people and taking care of the handmade stuff! So long....!

Girl knitting image is taken from here, stitching machine image from here and the basket of wool image is taken from here.