Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ira vs. Khadi

{Or, Depends What You Mean by "Productive"}

Busy painting, powwowwing with the girls about our March show, and Trying to Be Organized. One of the ways I get organized in the studio is by making a big pot of chai and listening to This American Life podcasts while I mix up my palette, because there's something about Ira Glass' voice that makes me feel nerdy and productive. And the best way to undo that nerdy productivity is by taking the local bus on a wild goose chase to hunt down the government khadi emporium. Khadi, for the uninitiated, is natural-dyed homespun cotton. The stuff Gandhi was all cuckoo over. Again, that's vegetable-dyed cotton woven by hand on a loom. Is khadi is the best discovery since duck bacon?

Why yes, Ira. Yes it is.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Clothes for Communism

{Guess Who Finally Gots Herself a Sari}

So last night whilst innocently getting a bite at the neighborhood dhaba (where they call out, not inaccurately, LILYMADAM! LILYMADAM! YOU EAT! YOU EAT! every time I cruise by on my bike) I got caught up in a mildly terrifying street rally for the local political party.

Take the motorcycle gangs from Mad Max, make them communist Muslim males, arm them with Indian flags, firecrackers and rallying cries, set a thousand of them loose on the single-lane streets of Kochi, and that's pretty much how it went down. It was cool at first, the way communism seems cool when you're in high school and all about Che, but then it got a little skurry. Needless to say, homegirl here took to the back alleys and pedaled home as fast as her rusted little spokes could carry her.

Obviously, the only way to celebrate such a rite of passage is to go out the next day and purchase a sumptuous hand-woven silk sari. That's right; I finally gots myself a sari. It's eight meters of Navajo turquoise, sweet corn gold and Payne's grey handloom awesomeness, and I can't wait to get it tailored. The traditional geometric designs kill me, and the suppleness (yes, suppleness. deal with it.) of the silk can make a textile nerdle weak in the knees. Subtle it is not, but subtlety (as well as political correctness and self-control at the cheese platter) has never been the strong suit of a Stockman.

And so. You guys finally got me to break down and get a nice sari. You and the commies, that is.

P.S. If you came over here via the goat thing, welcome. There will be more goats. Promise.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fruit in the Basket

{A Fruit Stand that Changes Lives}

The other day I shyly asked the neighborhood fruit-wallah, who must be at least eighty years old, for his Best Guava. He carefully handed me, as if it were a baby bird, a pallid, near-rotten lump of something the size of an orange and the bruisiness of an overripe pear. But when I sliced it open at home the flesh was sherbet pink, the aroma heady with tropical perfume, and the flavor, the flavor: sweet and smooth at first but marvelously piquant just as it went down, like a good poem.

Feeling braver from the transcendental guava experience, I returned the next day and declared that I needed *coconuts.* Coconuts, which are not for the faint of heart. Coconuts, which require physical violence and audible swearing in order to get at the thing it is you want to eat. The old man sized me up, deducted that I was incompetent, and cracked dem 'nuts for me. As goes the coconut ceremony of fruit stands across India, he handed me the fibrous goblet and I drank the water, which, as you may know, is quite rejuvenating when it's hotter than Hades out. Later that night I got a lesson in grating out the flesh, which, as you may not know, and which I am telling you because we're friends, goes stunningly with yogurt, pineapple and tamarind chutney. (Mine is store-bought, but this tamarind chutney recipe looks *killer.*)

So, thank you, little fruit stand man. You have no idea, and we don't even speak the same language, but you're changing lives, hombre.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Finders Keepers

{Or, I Have Your Goats}

Just throwing this out there: Does finders keepers apply to herds of live animals? My studio-mate and I came home to the warehouse after some errands only to discover that sommmeone had stashed a herd of goats in our courtyard. I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider, for a very impractical and fleeting moment, that no one would notice if I kept one. (Does only. Bucks stink like hot cat piss and gym socks.) Plus, who goes leaving their goats around town all willy-nilly anyway? Jeez.

Also, can we talk about the caprine bling? The key-to-your-heart tied 'round the white goat's neck? The jaunty red kerchief on the piebald? These are some natty ladies indeed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Residency

{A Month in the Spice Warehouse}

After a whirlwind trip to Calcutta -where a power outage-turned-power surge sent sparks and smoke from my Macbook power adapter and fried it like a hot chipati- I'm slightly crippled, computer-wise, but otherwise India has never been so good to me.

I'm finally starting my artist residency in the south of India, in the bustling, contradictory, humid-as-hell, marvelous Keralan town of Fort Kochi. Which means that for the next few weeks I'm living and working with a few other artists in an ancient Portuguese spice warehouse-turned rustic studio loft. When I'm not painting I wend my old Indian bike (it has a bell! and a basket!) down the narrows lanes of the historic Muslim neighborhood to get my spices, and I finally learned how to make a decent chai (black peppercorns! who knew?). I wake up at dawn to the song of birds and the ethereal call to prayer (and promptly fall back asleep for several glorious, mosquito-free hours), and at night, after a day of painting and a bucket-shower, I fall asleep with a quiet mind. Which is all to say that I am, unquestionably and finally (it's been hot and cold, this relationship with India), very, very HAPPY.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jaipur Wedding

{Or, The Hindus Really Know How to Throw Down}

Q: What do you get when an Irish Catholic Boston boy marries a Hindu honey?
A: The sickest wedding EVER, plus a pair of painted elephants.

You guys, we got a last-minute invite to a wedding in Jaipur from a guy we met on the plane. And we went. P. wore a turban. I wore my soiled stankass kurta and hoped no one noticed that I was woefully underdressed and that I smelled like goat+cardamom (note to self: stop putting it off and get a damn sari made already). The entire wedding party (including Various Important Personages astride bedazzled camels, horses and elephants) paraded around the grounds dancing to the insanity of the wedding band for nearly two hours before the jewel-encrusted bride finally made her dramatic entrance with a coterie of winsome bridesmaidens. Between the groom's fun-loving (if totally jet-lagged and slightly overwhelmed) Yankee family and the bride's exuberant (understatement) Rajput relatives, it was the most over-the-top wedding festivus extravaganza I've ever. seen.

Peak Life Experience, fo *sho.*

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pond Hockey

{Nothing Like a Game of Shinny}

There are two things I love in winter: spiked cider and pond hockey. Preferably at the same time. Lucky for me, I come from a family of reliable drinkers and devoted puckheads. My dad and sister played Division I hockey, and I peaked in 8th grade (in general, but especially in hockey) when I was captain of the junior high boy's team. Being the good New Englander that he is, P. grew up playing hockey, too. So when the pond froze over we all laced up and scrimmaged until the snow was too thick to pass the puck. And you can guess what we drank when we came inside all rosey-cheeked and exhausted:)