Throwing back to a time of sepia-toned pictures, here's a treasure trove of rare Bollywood stories and 19th century artwork
@daakvaak: When they met at the Young India Fellowship Programme at Haryana's Ashoka University in 2013, Onaiza Drabu and Prachi Jha bonded over their love for nostalgia and literature. This mutual interest took shape as a poetically-named email newsletter project called Daak in 2017. The same year, the newsletter evolved into a website (daak.co.in) and, as is wont, into the Instagram handle @daakvaak. While the newsletter and site continue to remain active, it's the Insta handle that's thriving with nearly 29,000 followers. Drabu and Jha share photos, artworks, poems and old print advertisements that hark back to an era gone by. Whether it's an early 19th century painting of Radha and Krishna or a picture of the ever so cool Ismat Chugtai standing #likeaboss in her trademark sunglasses alongside Majrooh, Ali Sardar Jafri and the dapper Kaifi Azmi, the captions under each are detailed, well researched and always insightful. It's the kind of #ThrowbackThursday we can get behind.
@brownhistory: For most part, the narratives of the subcontinent's diaspora have been recounted from the margins. Sure, a Rushdie here, a Divakaruni there and a stray Gurinder Chaddha slash Mira Nair movie have translated the brown experience on paper and screen but it's @brownhistory that's taking this story forward. Founded in late 2017 by Ahsun Zafar, 31, the handle offers a fascinating mix of landmark events that have defined the diasporic experience and stories of forgotten brown heroines and heroes. But the most heartwarming (and, occasionally, heart-wrenching) posts are the personal histories that come from its followers who share pictures and stories of their parents who left their homes for a better future. It's difficult to not have a lump in your throat and, at the same time, it's also impossible to tear yourself away from the sepia magic unfolding on your phone.
@rarephotoclub: Neena Gupta looks seductively at the camera in an undated picture, and Mehmood balances half a dozen cups on a movie set. @rarephotoclub is that slippery slope that takes you down Bollywood's memory lane. The handle has forgotten pictures from newspapers and magazines and often unheard of stories from Bollywood that run alongside the pictures. The anonymous 28-year-old creator of the handle says that much of the information he posts in the captions is from memory, interviews he has watched or articles he read in magazines years ago. On the stray occasion that @rarephotoclub doesn't feature Bollywood stars, cricketers and politicians make it to the feed. Scroll a bit and you'll likely find a young Vijay Mallya raising a glass and drinking, or an embarrassing AF double spread shoot of Rahul Roy in a pair of swimming trunks.
The pluses in this apple
There is a new streaming platform in town, Apple TV +, and we couldn't help but get a subscription. It's because we are OTT addicts. We did the sorting, so you can decide if you want to get on the wagon. Here are the shows we feel you should log on for, or not.
The Morning Show: Now, the star cast—Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell—is brilliant. The plot, America's most popular morning news show plagued by #metoo allegations and a new host who threatens the status quo, is promising. But the show, exciting in the first episode, fails to keep you hooked, even degenerating into boring. The one bright spot is Billy Crudup, who plays a manipulative, ratings-hungry network head. The acting is so good that you can't help but love this ever-smirking shark. Watch it for him.
Dickinson: It's a tale that follows poet Emily Dickenson's early years, played as a teenage rebel by Hailee Steinfeld, who wants to be seen more than just a homemaker. Dickenson has supposedly pissed off literary buffs and critics everywhere, but it could be a war cry needed in a world plagued by injustice against women. This woman is woke, and is fighting for her rights. Relatable? Hell, yeah.
See: This one stars the beautiful Jason Mamoa, and is set in a future where humans don't see anymore. Ambitious in its scope, and promising, it disappoints thanks to an underdeveloped world. So, like all the other shows, it's mindless watching, but won't leave you asking for more.
For your #sareegoals
Why do you need to see the face, when your handwoven sarees and statement chokers can do all the talking? That's the biggest takeaway of @kitakaturi, run by Ankita, who prefers to be known by her first name. At a time, when it's mostly pouts and curves that win all the followers on social media, this fashion handle is like a breath of fresh air. With over 136K followers, Ankita, who otherwise heads a marketing agency, uses her neck-selfies to flaunt everything from Maheswari, bead-work, organza, chikankari, and kota to kalamkari.
We like her choice of colours, mostly soft pastels, white and blue. The standout reds and bold blacks, are there too. All of this paired beautifully with chunky silverware and gemstone cuts—neckpieces, bangles, and earrings—makes the page a total delight to scroll through. And if you see it as an Insta grid, it looks like a piece of art, really. There is also that occasional mirror selfie, where Ankita flaunts her #ootd, giving you a sense of the style she likes to go with, when not draped in nine yards.
Make in India
Eva Power's love for silk goes back to when she was little. The Dubliner remembers her grandmother wrapping a silk scarf around her mother's hair. "My mother did the same for my sister and I when we were kids. Silk is good for your skin and hair." Power's aunt is a Presentation Sister in Chennai and has lived in India for most of her life. "She'd send us beautiful silk scarves as gifts. It gave me the idea of making silk pillowcases." Power has no training in textiles, and studied Greek and Roman civilisation at the University College of Dublin.
The Ethical Silk Company may be Ireland based, but it uses Indian silk. Power says she found mulberry silk from Rajaiah Kusuma, who owns Ahimsa Silk, and has been working with it since. Mulberry silk extracts silk from the cocoon after the moth has left it. It is not a wild variety and is farmed through a production known as sericulture. "The result is a beautifully rich mulberry silk which, because of the way it is made, is like fine linen with a beautiful matte lustre."
Mulberry silk scarf
After starting off with silk pillowcases and accessories, Power now also designs lounge and sleepwear. She works with a fairtrade tailoring unit in Jaipur, where all products are printed and tailored. "We create original prints and designs in Ireland and work with a block printing team in Jaipur."
Imagine if you could make your own soap with ingredients that you like. Three months ago, friends Darshneet Gandhi and Priyal Shah launched an organic soap-making workshop in Juhu, and since, interested participants have been visiting their Juhu home to attend the six-hour-long sessions using ingredients as varied as lemon zest, orange zest, cinnamon powder and desiccated coconut. The two say why buy soap when you can make it?
"Participants enjoy the sessions since they are free to use any ingredient they like," Gandhi says. According to season, a theme is locked. During Christmas, the duo will teach DIY soap making to kids. "We will use green and red colour in the base to keep with the Christmas theme." You get to experiment with fragrances, herbs, colours and essential oils that suit your skin type. Each session allows you time to make six different varieties, with a shelf life of three months.
Charges: R1,800 (inclusive of materials)
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