Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hello from India

I did not think it will take me this log to write my first post while in India. I have had the best time so far. My family has returned back home. Most of them are still in transit, considering the news of snow storms and airport closures, I hoping for their safe and hassle-free return to their final destination.

In past couple of weeks I visited many sari shops, markets and taken few pictures of life on the street side. I have been updating my instagram at SujataShah7 with daily pictures textilediary. It's been fun looking for daily inspirations.
Here are few pictures I am sharing for the first time.

This was the first thing I saw at Mumbai International Airport while walking to the baggage claim.

I looked closely and this is what I saw.

If you ever come to Mumbai, the new airport is absolutely beautiful. It is leaded with all kinds of regional art representing modern and ancient culture of India.

I took this picture last night when I dropped Kavita off to the airport. I am looking forward to my return trip just to see the rest of the airport.
Here are some pictures of my last few days on the streets on Mumbai.

It's loud and dusty, chaotic but colorful. My kids had a fabulous time. It seems like every visit they learn new things about themselves, make connections with their heritage and culture. It was fun and emotional to watch them enjoy their visit. All three of them returned home with hopes to come back soon. I am enjoying my time with mom. From tomorrow on, I plan to reconnect with old friends from grade school and college. Meet some quilters in Mumbai and learn a few things from them.

Hope you are busy creating during this winter. Me on the other hand, just collecting inspirations.. It is very easy to do!

If you haven't had chance to visit the Cultural Fusion Quilts blog, I urge you to check it out. It has become quite an eye candy.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Random Thougths at the Trafic Light

It was cold today. Well, the Sun was out and it was warmer than yesterday, but still cold enough to want to run to the car after a very sweaty Zumba class. While running to the car in the parking lot, all I could think of was to get inside and turn on the heat so my sweaty long hair wouldn't turn into icicles.
I pulled out of the parking lot and came to a red light at the traffic light. There has been lot of construction going on for past six months on the road. The city is finally doing much needed widening of the road to accommodate the recent growth.  Waiting for my left turn signal, I saw the newly installed traffic light, all covered with tarp and burlap behind old/still working, existing light. I thought to myself, ''I did not notice that before!'' 

As I drove further up, I started noticing things: Neatly lined up orange cones and cans with couple exceptions which may have been knocked over by some drivers. The cement dividers that had moved a few times and the lane markings have shifted to accommodate the construction crew and to divert the traffic. I could still see the old markings and where the lane used to be but new road is emerging. There are new sidewalks and turn lanes with clean bright concrete along with patched up pot-holes on make-shift lanes. I have gone up and down this road almost every single day. These observations were nothing new, but today there was a parallel  thought pattern that went along during my ten minutes' drive. There was chaos along with harmony. 
Contrast is a beautiful thing!

This same road used to be a one-lane highway about one hundred years ago. It was the only link between the mines up north and nearby highway. As I write, I wonder about numerous layers of tar this road is covered with up until now.

Those who have not witnessed this change as it happening, will never know the past. From them it will be a wide, clean and efficient route connecting them from point A to B.  
Layer is an interesting element. What you see on surface is not the only thing present. Every other layer from the past, may be covered or unknown to the world, remains as crucial as the one on surface, like life itself.

Life is beautiful when all those layers, old and new, combine with new textures and bring peace and calm.  

Speaking of unknowns and layers, I have yet to share many layers of my life with you all.

This might be my last long post for six to seven weeks.Layers I am about to reveal have been building up for few months now.

Do you have my book?
I am leaving for India in couple of days to attend my nephew's wedding. It is time to surround myself with colors and textures not just in the studio or my house but everywhere I turn. I will post pictures on my Instagram (therootconnection) and The Root Connection facebook page (link on the side-bar). I had planned this trip for a while but the news had to take the back seat and let my book bask in all the glory! 

After the wedding, I will travel to Rajasthan and Gujarat with few friends from college. In 2012, I traveled to Rajasthan with my family, most of them are engineers. This time it will be with my artist friends and to the cities I missed during my previous visit. That's six sets of eyes and cameras focused on all things arts! Can you imagine that? 

We met when we were 16. It's will be 30 years since we graduated as graphic designers. No matter how long the time between each visit, our friendship is still the same. My visits are hectic yet I have never left Mumbai without spending time with my best friends. Traveling together is going to be a special experience. We all will be adding another layer to our lives. 

I also plan to meet people who make Godharis. My wish is to learn from people who know it first hand. I hope I get to stitch with them. A visit to the Textile Museum in Ahmadabad and meet folk artists in Gujarat is going to be a treat! 

That's all for now! I am taking copies of my book with me. My mom is so eager to see it and I am anxious to see her face when she opens the pages for the very first time.

I will stay connected with pictures and quick posts from the land of peacocks and paisleys, I promise!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Baby Quilt for Jack

Our neighbor's daughter, Chandra had a baby boy! I could not be happier for this young mom who we all adore so much! I made this bright blue baby quilt to match the clear blue skies of eastern Washington.

42.5'' x 42.5''
I had every intention of making it before the baby's arrival but obviously that did not happen. Little Jack is now three months old. It's said that babies see black and white clearly from early weeks of their lives. He is pass that age but I think if the front didn't appeal to him, he will certainly be entertained with the back.

I used the rail fence blocks from my book. The same block I used to make the bag for Houston Quilt Market. ''Does this make me look too patriotic?'' The quilt could ask but I believe it looks fun and playful, perfect for a baby boy.  

These blocks remind me of Gumby! Do you remember that show? I wonder if it still runs on TV. My younger son loved watching that show. Gautam was not happy with those googly eyed characters with stretched out arms and legs sliding all over the town!

I found this image of these collectible characters here .

I found Dr. Seuss fabric for the backing and I think it is perfect because the memories of the books go back to the times when Chandra read those to kavita. 

Check out the wedding gift I had made for her here. 

First finish of the year is on its way to a new home!

Maria asked me to post the full picture of my Driftwood quilt.

Made with used clothing.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015!

Life continues to be fluid.

My children and have come and gone back to their business. We had the best few days together. On their last day at home we spent few silly moments taking our annual family photograph. Always so much fun to fit everyone in the frame. Thank goodness for that boy on the left who has long arms!

I even managed to sew a bit while they were here. This quilt is still in progress but I will post the pictures of finished quilt soon.

Set of mug rugs.. Well, let's say I made few sets of mug rugs this season.

My first day of 2015 began with a sweet email from a blogger friend who had just received her copy of my book. From there on, my time decided to flow in completely different direction than what I had planned for. Did I say life is fluid? I ended up going to one of the local quilt shop to buy wool batting and found this instead!

Imagine my joy! This is the first time I saw my book on a shelf of a quilt shop! Something fun had to happen today. After all, it is the first of the year! On my way back I also stopped at my local Barnes and Noble to see if my books had made it on their shelves...  

Yes it did! What a great feeling!  Life keeps changing for better or for worse with time but something stays constant no matter how it flows.

Hope your day was filled with something bright too.
Happy 2015!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Over the years of my life in this country I have been asked by my friends, neighbors and acquaintances a question that never gets old. ''Do you celebrate Christmas?''

I distinctly remember my first time around the holidays. Imagine if you could, being 22 and in a foreign country experiencing a culture that is far modern and advanced than anything you had ever known. Shops filled with Christmas merchandise, every commercial on the radio and TV and conversations among people, who you have just come to know revolves around the holidays. You still  haven't made connections with ''your people'' and your nearest and dearest are 10,000 miles away. None of your own holidays are recognized in any shape of form and even if  you do celebrate those at home, they just aren't the same without your loved ones near you.
At this point you have two choices - Make some sense of everything that is going on around you and be part of that or shut yourself out.

Living with a tight budget like every student of foreign nationality on a scholarship does, for us two Hindus, Christmas was hardly about the religion or gifts under the tree or being around family. It was about missing our families back home, feeling lonely and waiting for it to pass. We chose to join the fun rather than to feel lonely.

After I gave birth to my first son, we bought a little Christmas tree and few ornaments and we decided to celebrate Christmas at home. For first couple of years he did not have a clue.. I'd say the celebration was more for my husband and I than for him. After my second and third child's birth, it was fun to watch them open presents under the tree on Christmas morning. In following years, in spite of having many moments of wondering about why we were celebrating this holiday that wasn't ''ours'' we continued to bring the fresh tree, buy ornaments and cook all vegetarian meals.

Slowly and steadily baking became a family tradition and so did the decorating. I enjoy decorating with my daughter. Each year I made or bought three new ornaments in hopes to collect enough for each one of them when they celebrate their own holiday at home. And just like many of you out there, we have enough stories of our adventures of buying 'just the right tree'.

Now that two of the three kids are settled with their jobs, I don't see them all at once during the year. This year they all will be here under the same roof at the same time for the first time. In fact, as I write this, my oldest is on the flight from Seattle to Philadelphia. His flight does not get in until 11:30 pm on this Christmas Eve. He almost cancelled his trip due to his busy schedule, I insisted on him being here because that was not an option just yet. We don't go to the church and have any significant meals planned. This year we decided to not exchange gifts in efforts to take the stress out of the equation.

Christmas for me is having my children at home, playing cards and board games. My husband taking time off from work and be here in the middle of the afternoons for the whole time when they are all here. It also means I cook many meals that my children have not had for the entire year and if that keeps me busy in the kitchen all day long, I say it's because it is Christmas! I enjoy watching them enjoy their favorite foods and talk about their past. My husband helps me out around the house, now grown kids take turns doing chores and there is non stop noise of  TV, video games and laughter. It is about tradition of being together no matter what.

I do celebrate Christmas for all the reasons that work for our family.

I hope you too have a very Merry Christmas with your family and friends.