Friday, February 19, 2010

Due recognition and a proud moment!

Tara as she stepped in after visiting Viji's mother announced: 'You must see her work, it is amazing! and added 'You must write a blog about her!'
'Fine! But what does she do?' I asked.
Tara replied 'Cross-stitch!'

I guess I would have written a blog about her just because she is Viji's mother :-).
If you are a Bangalorean, you would not be too excited about cross-stich work! Almost every household has at least one framed piece, which is displayed and is proudly pointed out to you! You politely walk up to it and say very nice! Anyway having agreed, I said 'Let us go see and talk to her one day!'

A few days later Viji, visiting from Bangkok invited us for Tea at her sister's place. As we walked in I saw many paintings all around. This did not surprise me as Viji deals with art and has a gallery Vedaarts in Bangalore.

After a while Tara asked me 'Did you see aunt's work?'
'Not yet where is it?' I replied.
Tara then pointed to what I had thought to be a painting in the alcove. It was nice, a bit grainy and not the stylised version of Ganesha we see now! I walked closer and realised it was a fine piece of cross-stitch work; delicate and with very subtle colors!

Later I saw more of her work, displayed around the hall and down stairs, where Aunty lives. Very impressed, I said to myself, this surely is worth an exhibition! Not surprisingly her daughters had recently arranged an exhibition.

Her work is truly impressive and I present them here with an apology to aunty for thinking that I would do this just to please Viji, Nandini and Dolly! She deserves this and many more accolades for her fine and dedicated work, entirely on its merits!

As my wont, I requested Ayesha to speak about her grand mother and here is what she has to say about her Kuku!
Ayesha and her mother Viji
Growing up, my siblings and I called my grandmother Kuku because she was constantly in the kitchen cooking up a storm of delicious eats. Little did we know that Kuku had a hobby beyond her role as a compassionate, attentive, and nurturing grandmother.

Kuku first learned about cross-stitching in the 1940s following her marriage to my grandfather, Abu. She was in Madras at the time and couldn’t help but notice a cross-stitch print that her sister-in-law was slowly working at. Kuku became inspired to learn cross-stitching and that is exactly what she did—reading books and practicing techniques to master the craft all on her own. She started out making small, simplistic pieces—from pillow covers to small wall hangings to table runners to blankets. The dedicated housewife that she was, Kuku mainly prepared pieces to decorate my Abu’s residence while posted out-of-station during his service with the Indian Air Force. From cross-stitching, Kuku went on to learn knitting and crochet, once again in response to the needs of her family and friends. In Delhi, she practiced knitting to make sweaters for her children during the cold winters and in Pune, she cultivated her crochet skills as a common pass time with local friends.

It was only in the early 1980s, when Kuku and Abu relocated to Bangalore, that she started cross-stitching with serious dedication and this time, for herself. Her neighbor, Madhu, had recently moved to Bangalore from the United States and had a vast collection of prints that she graciously shared with Kuku. Kuku fondly recalls their close supervision of one another’s work and regular trips to the market for purchasing wool— in Madhu she found a close friend and valuable mentor. Kuku soon completed her first cross-stitch piece of a house and garden, and after that followed many designs; from intricate flower prints to animals to children story scenes. During her visits to Bangkok where she would spend time with my mother Viji, Kuku visited many local cross-stitch stores and began building her own library of prints. She has produced over 50 works till today, many of them gifted to her daughters, grandchildren, and family friends.

Kuku’s Ganesha piece is an elaborate work consisting of over 100 different thread combinations and it is the largest print she has ever accomplished, all at the grand age of 81! In addition to this masterpiece, Kuku has created a legacy of artisans dedicated to cross-stitch, knitting, and crochet by spreading her knowledge and passion for these crafts. Her followers include her own children and grandchildren to neighbors and friends to intrigued observers across New Delhi to Bangkok!

When I asked how cross-stitch makes her feel, Kuku responded, “I like it and it helps me pass the time. When I’m at home alone, its better to keep myself busy and cross-stitch makes my time and days fly by. Just like how you enjoy reading and yoga, cross-stitch is my thing!”

We should be duly impressed! Imagine that this was done when she was 81!

My thanks to Ayesha for the pictures above. An excellent job!

Below are some representative pictures of the exhibition! The exhibition show cased both Kuku and her friend Madhu's work.

A moment of introspection before the start of the exhibition!

The traditional lamp being lit by the chief guest Mrs. Pushpa Dravid ( Rahul Dravid's mother!) She was very impressed by Kuku's talent and dedication and commended her on the same during her inaguaration speech.

Dolly, Vedavalli (Kuku for Ayesha) and Nandini at the show. Our compliments for a job well done!


Arun said...

This is great, Nidhi- your blog has become a platform to introduce interesting events and people to interested people far away!(I have just come back from shooting the video of cataract operations after another rewarding visit to the Health Camp in rural Thailand your blog brought alive to me and many more!)

Rajini Seetaram (Dolly) said...

Thank you Tara and Nidhi for writing about Amma. It is indeed an incredible achievement and now she has embarked on yet another cross-stitch project specially for Viji's new home. Kudos to the grand old lady and to you both and Ayesha to take time out and constantly think of other people...
Best wishes

Jayashree Mani said...

Amazing uncle .. some people are truly gifted!

rohini said...

wow! truly wonderful work.

Gopal said...

Amazing work of art. Truly gifted.

Maya Gopinadh said...

Mesmerized by Viji's mother's talent and dedication. She is a true inspiration! Thanks Nidhi for providing such a worthwhile forum and Ayesha for your beautiful, warm and touching narrative and pictures.

srinidhi said...

Thanks Maya. You make such wonderful comments!

srinidhi said...

Hi Arun
Thanks again for your nice comments about my blog! Now I look forward to the DVD about the Lions Health camp!

Maya Gopinath said...

Thanks so much as always Nidhi for keeping us updated and so well informed! It was a pleasure reading your blog. We had tea at Viji's place today and we were discussing her mother's amazing talents and perseverance intertwined with her sense of tranquility. Definitely something to aspire to!

Hope Tara and you are well. Looking forward to seeing both of you soon sometime.

Warm regards,


Pinky Bhusry said...

Beautiful Work !