My friend, the famous Carnatic singer Aruna Sairam was born in Mumbai (or Bombay as she calls it) and told me many stories about South India. She said that before sunrise Tamil women adorn the thresholds of their houses with artistic dot and line drawings, called ‘Kolam’. I did not see Kolam in Mumbai when I worked there last week, but I certainly met some wonderful, strong, well educated women whose focus on Indian design opened my eyes to the optimism that hangs in the air everywhere. I experienced the scariest drive of my life (and I love to drive fast) in the back of a yellow and black taxi: no rules of the road or traffic lanes here. But I arrived safely in a wonderful hotel, refreshed and ready to work. Mumbai has fantastic collections of food from all over India: Gujarati thalis, Muslim kababs, Mangalorean seafood, Parsi dhansaak, North Indian tandooris and Goan vindaloo.
The main focus of my stay was meeting Indian fashionistas including Jasleen and Sonu from the Bombay Fashion blog. They introduced me excitedly to the traditional Indian enthusiasms for woven textiles and swathes of magical colours and I was struck by their passion to work with global and local brands to push fashion boundaries. They also introduced me to ‘cool’ taxis, with aircon and seat belts! In the market area I was inevitably attracted by the art deco lettering of the BIBA logo and the vast collection of hand block prints and vegetable dyes, Indian hand looms with intricate embroideries and other traditional techniques.
I came away with renewed enthusiasm for ‘the possible’ embodied in the many warm people I met and look forward to returning to extend the network of MSL and Semple Secrets.