The Eccentric Teapot : A Design Narrative

This evening, just as I was drinking my tea, I read about the most valuable tea pot in the world which according to Guinness Book of World Records is valued at an astounding three million dollars.

The Egoist

I looked at the teapot in a tray in front of me – a lovely specimen of blue and white delft pottery which I recently bought at an artisan shop in Amsterdam – hugely unlike the teapot on my screen which is made wholly of diamonds and rubies and is called “The Egoist” ! Indian-origin British billionaire Mr Nirmal Sethia designed & created this teapot in the loving memory of his late wife. After the initial oohs and aahs, I couldn’t help but wonder why would he call something he made for love an Egoist? Unless he is egoist about the love he had for her … hmmm, that’s very odd indeed. And why is it that Indian men – starting with Emperor Shahjahan – undertake these extraordinary projects after their wives are  dead and gone? Why not now, my dear men, whilst we are still living .. so at least we too can enjoy these wonderful tokens of your love?

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Soak in pleasure : my favorite dreamy bathtubs

Baths have an evocative sound to them. Perhaps because from time immemorial, baths have been a lot more than a hygienic activity. Ancient Egyptians bathed twice a day as a religious ritual to honour Isis. Romans used their public baths as social hubs and spent several hours in them with wine, women and friends. Cleopatra is said to have done her best thinking whilst soaking in her honey and milk bath whilst Agatha Christie constructed her plots eating apples in a large Victorian tub.

No wonder Sylvia Plath said “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them”.

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Discovering my own design language, across 18 homes & 5 countries

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this obsessive need to use my living space as a canvas – a physical expression of how I feel within.

I remember driving my parents nuts because I wanted a round-shaped bed (inspired by a Bollywood sequence where the heroine reclines in her round, luscious bed and sings a beautiful melody for her love, something I very much wanted to do for my first crush). Or, adding fairy lights to soften the crevices of peeling paint in a humble room I’d rented when I started working in Mumbai. I was determined to find beauty in every struggle and I did.

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Of unrequited love

Just Google it and you’ll find 12.4 million results for unrequited love. Starting with a Wikipedia entry, to beautifully designed Pinterest quotes, books of poems, essays, journals – one gets a distinct feeling that this brand of love is even more popular than ‘real love’.

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Another Brick in the Wall

Last night I had a vivid, larger than life but a really strange (strange!) dream.

I’ve come to a top-notch, pretty chi-chi, super luxury resort, spread over the length & breath of an island. Everywhere I look, I see beautiful things and glamorous people. I am so chuffed about being here – after all the years work and clever thinking – I am finally at the place of my dreams. Wide-eyed and delirious with joy, it took me a while to realise that everyone at the resort looked similar. At first I couldn’t see it but then boom, it struck me. Everyone is wearing a ‘crown’- a conical contraption made of gold and shiny jewels. Some crowns are super shiny and large, others either a bit jaded or small but every guest is wearing one. That is, everyone except me. 

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Thinking the ‘unthinkable’ : My experiment with Anti-Excess

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Almost everyone who knows me, knows this – I am a material girl. Infact I am so materialistic that even materialism needs a pair of sunglasses to look at me. No kidding!

Perhaps which is why I should be surprised at my own surprise when I saw two double door wardrobes, a 6-feet clothes rack, two side boards and one chest of drawers bursting at the seams when I moved with ‘just my essentials’ to my new, even if temporary abode in Bambolim, Goa.

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A heady rush of magic & satisfaction

I remember flying down to Jodhpur in January (2014) to meet the organisers of a new festival on the horizon – they took me on a tour of the venue (the majestic Mehrangarh Fort) and told me about their amazing programming idea: Jodhpur Flamenco and Gypsy Festival which was scheduled for March (2014). The only problem was that while they had it all planned out in their mind  – the sponsors, partners and therefore artists were yet to come on board! Not one. Nada.

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My Gypsy Journey

In the midst of all the usual chitter chatter of a Delhi party,  my friend Ramon Blecua asked me “do you know where all the gypsies in the world come from?” I responded with a blank look! “I’ve never really thought about it” I said. As the conversation progressed, I learnt that gypsies all over the world trace their lineage to India, with a significant wave which migrated from Rajasthan. “Is it a surprise then”, he said, “that even centuries later, the Rajasthani folk music and Spanish Flamenco resonate with common threads?” As Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of Spain in Delhi, he is involved in many projects to build cultural bridges between India & Spain, and his most recent baby was the Jodhpur Flamenco & Gypsy Festival (JFGF) – a project dedicated to bring musicians from Spain, Rajasthan & other Gypsy traditions to collaborate, learn from each other & create beautiful music! In a ‘aha’ moment that followed, he asked me the golden question – would I like to meet the organizers of this global project and perhaps work for JFGF? “You are perfect for it” was the last thing I heard before he walked away to join his partner, the very lovely Nupur, on the dance floor.

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