Dakshina Chitra (a post I should have written long ago)

“What was your favorite part of the trip to Chennai?” I asked my six year old.

“Dakshina Chitra” She replied without even blinking first.
I’m not surprised, it really is a wonderful place.

Dakshina Chitra is a heritage center just outside Chennai, on the way to the beautiful beach town of Mahabalipuram.
According to my dad, who is normally right about these things, the English translation of Dakshina Chitra is ‘Southern Arts’. I think the Sanskrit name sounds much better, but it is what the name says – a center showcasing traditional art and craft traditions from Southern India.

Being a history geek,  I loved wandering around the old houses from different times and places in Southern India  imagining what it must have been like to live in them. There was even one that looked just like my grandparents’ house. I was transported back in time to my grandmother’s childhood in Tirunelveli. Fascinating.

The very best thing about Dakshina Chitra however, is that it is a hands on, interactive sort of place.

My six year old made puppets out of palm leaves, learned about using a potter’s wheel, helped to weave a basket, painted clay ornaments, and inspected different types of looms, amongst  a variety of other activities. We were  there for the whole afternoon, and there was no complaining of any sort. She was in heaven.

If you like making things with your hands, and are in the Chennai area, visit this place.

A Fresh Start (again)

After my Summer of Germs, I thought it would be easy to make a fresh start and get back into work. I was wrong.

Life has been throwing rotten bananas at me for a couple of months, and despite dodging a few of them (and using them to make banana bread), most of them have been hitting me squarely in the face. But I’m still standing!

It has been a month since I last blogged, and I have really, really, really missed it. I mean, consider this:

I hauled my work to the Ballston Arts and Crafts Festival this month, only to be followed there by a bracing wind that quickly turned into a  tornado. While I held onto my tent for dear life, soaked to the bone with the wind whipping my face, and my two shocked children staring at me from the window of a nearby cafe, all I could think was “this would make a funny blog post”.
Oh dear.

Anyway. The kids are back at school, another art market beckons, and I have discovered a new skill – sewing!
I hope my mother has not passed out from shock (I am, after all, that girl who kept sewing her work to her skirt every week at school). Fusible web and double sided tape have always been my good friends.

After years of refusing to pick up a needle, I have finally realized that embroidery can be very therapeutic, and is actually  just another form of drawing. I’m just getting used to the medium, but I foresee many hours of happy experimentation.