Yes, my mum is born on the 29th of February – a leap year baby.
As a result she (forces) us to celebrate her birthday for 7 days (not even joking – it is like an Indian wedding each year)
I am aware that I talk about my mum waaayyy too much..but it is secretly because I find her really ‘cool’. I love her boho-style (I will choose her wardrobe to ‘raid’ over my sisters anyway). I love her passion for life. I love her creative spirit. I love her generosity.
(Mum and her 3 gals….)
10 Fun facts about my ma…
1. She goes crazy for tiramisu and marzipan.
2. She is completely tone deaf.
3. She was a vegetarian and did not drink alcohol….until she met my dad.
4. She loves her art studio – it is her happy place
5. She can eat a jar of aioli in one sitting – I wish I was joking…it kind of makes me sick watching her.
6. She has an impeccable knowledge of current affairs
7. She likes to watch Bold & Beautiful…and has been doing so for over 20 years.
8. She can’t move her tongue properly after eating ice-cream…it freezes up.
9. She has never drunk milk in her life.
10. She can shake her hips like Shakira (she goes crazy on a dance floor)
Next week she is having a solo exhibition ‘Asurya’ at ALL are invited to the OPENING NIGHT!!!
Her work is a convergence of her own spiritual and physical experiences. She explores the omnipresence and omnipotence of deities, within both the physical (ie. Indian temples) and imaginative space (ie. human mind). There is an application of tribal embellishment and visual decoration upon each of the spirits. Mum’s method of painting is very intuitive and itself a spiritual journey!
I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with such inspiring, creative and talented people.
It has been a pleasure going to work every day.
From a personal perspective, the last couple of years have been emotionally turbulent, however working at Indesign has been a constant. Honestly, at times it was the thing that kept me ‘going’. Whilst other parts of my life were completely chaotic, Indesign was the one thing that remained stable.
You are probably wondering; “why the hell are you leaving then?”
My intuition tells me it is time for me to take the next step onward and upward. Take on a new challenge. Start a new chapter. Push myself. Test my limit. Move beyond my comfort zone.
I will miss the Surry Hills community – Arthur Street Kitchen, Bourke Street Bakery, Gnome, Organix (best banana smoothies).
I will miss being surrounded with beautifully-produced high quality magazines.
I will miss the crazy dance parties on Friday nights (when ‘Brown Sugar’ aka my alter ego emerges…)
But, most of all I will miss the belly-laughs and ridiculous banter with my colleagues, who I now consider to be my friends (hopefully life-long).
Admittedly, I am a little nervous of what lies ahead….Am I good enough for my new role? Will my new colleagues like me? Just the usual questioning with a touch of self-doubt. I guess the important thing is that I am determined and motivated to take on this new role!
I view my life as a train. I make various stops – people jump on and stay on for the ride, other’s disembark when they have taught me certain lessons. I also get off at certain stops, take a walk around and learn new things…I then get back on the train…
I am ready for my next stop.
Indesign has exposed me to so many inspiring designers, architects and creative individuals.
My friends at Indesign have taught me the importance of living a wholesome and meaningful life.
Working at a publishing company has been an amazing experience – one which I will always remember with only fond memories.
To celebrate my love for magazines (especially Habitus, Indesign and DQ)…here is a round up of some innovative ways to display magazines.
Weaving. It has woven itself (tightly) into my life (I guess there could be a lot worse things to be addicted to).
It is meditative. It is immersive. It has an element of ‘boho-ethnic-chic’. It is my ‘thang’.
The perfect hybrid of colour, texture and pattern. I find the act of weaving quite performative. Exaggerated movements, help my mind connect with my hands. It allows my fingers to dance. It allows my mind to quieten. When I am weaving, I am truly in my ‘happy place’. I feel so blessed to have stumbled across this ancient technique. It has come into my life at such a perfect time.
Thanks to social media, I have found myself a little weaving ‘instagram community’. Living (and weaving) in all different parts of the world, we are are connected with our shared love of the loom. We share videos of different techniques and genuinely share our love for each other’s creative endeavours. Inspiration, motivation and a sense of belonging…instagram facilities it all!
Last night, I attended Maryanne Moodie’s weaving class at the fabulous Megan Morton’s ‘The School’. Maryanne’s work is what inspired me to begin exploring weaving in the first place. So you can imagine my uncontainable excitement at even the thought of translating our insta interactions to real life. Admittedly, I was completely star-struck. Awkwardly, I introduced myself…”Hi Maryanne…umm…I am @nikita_sheth”. At once I felt at ease. Maryanne’s enthusiasm, passion and energy was contagious. I was to embarrassed to reveal the fact that one of her ‘weaves’ was set as the background to my phone.
Maryanne playfully taught us various techniques, tricks and tips. It was such a lovely evening and the Megan Morton school was the perfect setting. Sitting in a room with fellow weavers and my weaving idol….it was something out of my (weaving) dreams.
The class has left me completely inspired. Experimentation with new materials and application of the ‘soumak’ knot are first on my ‘to-do’ list. I am keen to develop my own weaving style….so that one day I can hopefully be an inspirational weaver…like Maryanne.
After years of experimenting with watercolour, collage, ceramics, drawing…I think I have finally… found the one. Weaving….it’s a long-term thing.
I do not know how I find myself in such strange and bizarre situations.
I cooked dinner for my sisters last Thursday night and they left at 10pm.
At 10:30pm I received a call from Waverley Police Station.
Police Officer: I am calling from Waverley Police Station, can you please confirm you are Nikita Sheth?
Me: Yes, that is me. What has happened? Is everything ok?
(I start shaking, stomach churns and I feel like I am going to be sick….I think something has happened to my sisters. I then start to wonder whether I have recently engaged in any ‘illegal’ activity…unless, you include my ‘caroke’ – whereby i place my phone on my speedometer and film myself singing whilst driving the car…then not a chance…)
Police Officer: We have a strange situation. A man has died in Bondi and we have found your drivers license in his pocket….
Me: Oh my god. Is he ok?
Police Officer: No…I just said he died.
Me: Oh yes ofcourse…so what do I need to do?
Police: We believe his death is not suspicious in anyway, it seems he was homeless and quite ill. Have you recently had ordered a new licence?
Me: Yes, I lost my licence, so ordered a new one, but then found my old one…
Police: Well, he must have stolen it from your letterbox. It is quite strange that he was carrying it around in his pocket. Anyway.. will you be at home in the next 20 mins? I can drop it around.
The police came and dropped back my license. I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking. I felt overwhelmed with emotion for this homeless stranger. I somehow felt connected to his death. He died with my face in his pocket.
I immediately make myself a warm milo and sit in the kitchen by myself just thinking…
Is this some weird omen? Was he going to sell my identity? How long had he been homeless and sick? Was he in pain when he died? Had he left loved ones behind?
I know it sounds morbid, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this homeless stranger.
Whenever I see a homeless person, my mind fills with questions. I can’t help myself, I always wonder what life events have led up to their current situation? What it would be like to live without a roof over your head? Without a sense of ‘home’. It really does make me feel sad. As I am writing this…I am honestly tearing up.
The rain. The cold. The noise. There is no protection.
We get so caught up in our ‘own dramas’ we often take our homes for granted. A place which offers us security and privacy. A place which protects us from the outside elements. A place where we can ‘let go’ of the day and temporarily escape the outside world. It doesn’t matter whether it is a mud hut or a mansion. To sleep with a roof over your head is a true blessing.
There is nothing pretty about homelessness, but it has a face and the faces of people without a home are just like yours and mine.
I just feel so helpless, last year I started volunteering to cook for the homeless once a month (Click here). I know there is so much more I can do, but I guess it is a starting point. Spending time with some of Sydney’s homeless, has presented me the opportunity and allowed me to gain a small insight into the struggles they have to fight daily. One thing that has really resonated with me was the deep irony embedded within homelessness – many of the homeless people feel invisible, yet they have no escape from the public eye. It is this ‘social invisibility’ that is so debilitating and inhumane.
Underpinning good design is finding solutions to problems. It is no wonder that designers all of the world are continually endeavouring to ‘solve’ issues associated with homelessness through addressing problems from a designers perspective. As the briefing for the DR:2-11 Homeless competition stated; “The question is what can design thinking do to contribute to averting homelessness, mitigating its effects and improving the daily life of those who are homeless and proposing different and longer term pathways to social inclusion, housing, and employment”
Check out this article from Fast Ci Design – a series of portraits that confront stereotypes and humanises the homelessness..
” As a homeless person, I do not want someone to feed me. I do not want someone to house me. I do not want a blanket, and I will not work for food! You have to ask me what it is I need if you want to have an effect”
Vancouver-based studio Molo Design came up with their concept for an easily adaptable shelter back in July of 2011: their “softshelter” system relies on stretchable expanses of kraft paper that can form soft, pliable grids of personal space that click together with magnets or collapse into a series of flat, stackable forms when decommissioned.
A designer has developed a home that fits in your pocket. The Basic House can be folded and carried around, before inflating to provide a temporary shelter for four people. Martin Azua from Barcelona has constructed the portable abode from metallic polyester. It inflates using body heat or warmth from the sun.
Bulgarian designer Georgi Djongarski makes an unique tent for homeless people. Called I-gloobox, It is made of thick fabric, which is connected together with a band attached to the aluminium of folding. I-gloobox is effective to ward off the cold during winter, and easy to maintenance. Each pocket contains a sufficient property for the needs of these vagabonds.
“Folding Bamboo Houses ” – Ming Tang’s temporary shelters “origami inspired” They were developed as temporary shelters for the homeless after last May’s earthquake in China that left millions homeless.
Tiny mobile homes that can easily be carried around by a single person, these Instant Housing Shelters by Urban Nomads consist of a metal container with a pop-out tent-like structure, fitted with wheels. The housing unit contains a retractable padded bed, a first aid kit, mirror, whistle, multi-tool, flashlight and a plastic hood with a viewing window.
Many homeless people gather discarded materials that have value, like aluminium cans, in bags or shopping carts in order to make a little bit of money. Designers Barry Sheehan and Gregor Timlin re-imagined the potential uses of that cart, creating a large, highly visible yellow push-cart that also functions as a shelter.
Portable and water-tight, this concept for homeless housing by Paul Elkin could meet the demands of a certain segment of the homeless population that prefers to remain transient. Resembling an extremely compact version of an RV, this low-impact structure contains fold-away furniture, a mattress, a toilet, and even a kitchen.
The ‘Hopetel’ proposes a transient solution for the waves of newly homeless people who have lost their homes due to foreclosure, providing a stable environment while they attempt to get back on their feet.
So there you have it…my round up of cool temporary shelter designs…hopefully some day these prototypes will go into production.
Today was a momentous day. I completed my very first ocean swim. My friend, Clauds ‘signed me up’ a week ago. No time for training. No time for pre-race preparation. However, there was time for carb-loading (….like I need an excuse…). There was also time to purchase a long-sleeve rash vest…and yes, I wore it. I can not afford to get another shade darker.
I have always believed that indians lack ‘buoyancy’ (See my post on ‘indian buoyancy’ here). I do wish to disrespect indians, but I do believe we ‘built’ for land activities. But, today I defied all my pre-conceived notions and proved…that we are buoyant.
Admittedly, I did had a minor panic attack. For 300 metres, I literally couldn’t breathe properly. I was gasping. Gurgling. Half crying. In between each gasp, I was cursing and telling myself this was how I was going to die. Sounds dramatic …but given my ‘situation’ it was totally justified.
At one point, getting rescued by an attractive surf lifesaver on a jet-ski seemed like the only sensible decision. The waves made me feel like I was in a washing machine. Every time, I tried to take a breath…another wave punched me in the face.
BUT, I was determined not to be ‘rescued’. As my panic attack started to get worse, I suddenly realised that the ‘struggle’ was all in my mind. I would have to mentally ‘soothe’ myself…if I wanted to finish/survive.
I commenced practicing my yoga breathing and made a quick decision to engage in positive ‘self-chat’; “Come on Nix, these waves are like a metaphor to your life…stop resisting and just move forward”. …”Come on Nix, you have survived been dumped before..this is just a bit of water…just keep going”. My thoughts began to mimic the water….deep and intense.
Admittedly, I swam breaststroke for the majority of the race… but as my confidence grew \ (in the last 200m), I slowly transitioned into doing freestyle. It felt good.
The swim was life-changing. It was simultaneously physically, emotionally and mentally challenging. I have not been presented with such a demanding situation in a long time. It was well overdue. It made me realise how powerful our minds are. It made me realise how are minds and bodies are connected on every dimension. It made me realise that sometimes you just need to breathe and ‘let go’….
Admittedly, I had real trouble getting back to the shore. I got dumped at least three times. My swimming cap came off. I then realised… that my legs could actually touch the sand. Highly awkward. So ….I just used my legs to walk out.
To top off the whole experience, the MC announced my name on the loud speaker…”Congratulations, Nikita Sheth”…(apparently with the new microchip technology displays your name on a screen).
I immediately spotted my friend Clauds. We hugged, fist pumped the air and… I shed a small tear from the emotional trauma, exhaustion and relief that I had actually made it to shore.
AND admittedly, I haven’t taken my medal off all day. I am going to even wear it in the shower.
It will be a long time before I EVER do anther ocean swim …but for now, I am just happy it is another item ticked off my bucket list.
Waves. They can dump you. They can disorient you. They can challenge your stability, mental strength and resistance.
Waves. They can help you ride to shore. They can assist you. They can propel you forward. They can be full of possibility, hope and elation.
But that is the beauty of waves, you never really know the amount of force they will deliver. Waves are unpredictable in shape and form, yet they all have an undulating quality. They all embody the fundamental forces of energy. They can be soft and peaceful or energetic and forceful. No two are ever the same. They are the ultimate earthly frontier.
It is no wonder that waves have been such a source of inspiration to so many architects around the globe. Look at these beauties…
The wave in Vejle, Denmark – Henning Larsen Architects.
The plan was to meet my friend at her house and then walk up King street together to grab a coffee.
Her house is located in cute lane way in Newtown (opposite the kitchen of Dominos Pizza).
Her house does not technically have a front door (the front segment is commercially-leased out and is currently a beauty salon).
Her house does have a high back gate (comes complete with tangled barbed wired).
I scanned her back gate for an electric doorbell. An intercom. A old school bell. There was nothing.
My phone had died. It was 30 degrees.
So, I began yelling out her name…loudly. I repeated this for 3 minutes. No response. I decided to change my strategy and commenced thumping the gate, first with my hand….then with my foot. No response. I then decided to try and climb the fence. I did a running jump (spider-man style). But there was nothing to grip onto. I fell to the ground. My skirt was up near my face.
The domino’s pizza delivery man came out of the kitchen, looked at me quizically and asked; “what the hell are you doing?”. To which I responded, “my friend lives in this house, my phone is dead, I’ve tried calling out and I’m not sure what to do next….”. He told me to try and walk through the beautician. Genius.
I entered the beautician and awkwardly explained my ‘situation’. She allowed me to shuffle through the salon. I smiled at a client who was getting her laser treatment done and exited into my friends back garden.
Still…there was no doorbell or sound mechanism to alert her attention at her back door. I yelled her name some more. Finally after 5 minutes….she came down, “Nix, you are late…where have you been?”.
Sweating. Frazzled. Thirsty. I just stared at her…”No coffee, we are getting a bottle of wine”.
I guess, this whole situation made me realise the way the mobile phone is increasingly replacing the doorbell. When waiting or aproaching a friends front door…you just call them. Alerting that you are out front. It is only when you go to a stranger’s house that you really need to have a door bell in place…otherwise you just call.
There are even phone apps which you can ‘answer’ your doorbell remotely.
It makes me a little sad. I remember when I was growing up (the days before phones), when people would ring the doorbell and my sisters and I would race to the door, so curious to see who it was. The suspense. The mystery. I also remember this one time, when my dad was tinkering with the door bell wiring and set it off….for 45 minutes (no exaggeration) our doorbell was on repeat. The dogs were going crazy. Mum was yelling at Dad. We were yelling at Dad. Poor Dad. Four girls just staring at him and telling him to fix it.
My guess is that it will not be long until even doorbells are completely redundant. People use their phones to call.
Doorbells are a part of the home that often get ignored and forgotten. Many homeowners simply inherit the doorbell choice by the previous owner or home builder and never think to customise or change it. Whilst it may seem like a trivial item, it can be embraced to reflect the homeowners personality or aesthetic.
The electronic doorbell was invented by an American Scientist, Joseph Henry in 1831. Doorbells have evolved from buzzers to musical chimes in the early 1900s. Musical chime doorbells even emerged as a popular fad in the 1930s! Today in Australia, majority of homes either use an electronic bell or a solid brassknocker. From a personal perspective, I prefer the look (and sounds) of old-style bells.
Whilst, they may not have the accoustic quality or technology to be ‘heard’ throughout the whole house, I believe they are the perfect addition to the front door. I love the simple mechanics that require exertion of human energy to create a rich and vibrant sound. In a world where we are constantly surrounded by gadgets, touch screens and electronics I believe that there is great value in the physical act and the ritual involved in ringing a bell. Admittedly, I am such a nerd…but I always get excited when I see a vintage cow bell or an East-Asian ‘gong’ instead of the stock-standard door bell. It is the perfect way to foster a positive experience when arriving at someones front door. It is a bit of a shame, that the traditional mechanical bells have increasingly been replaced with the electronic version over time.
Bells are beautiful. Aesthetically they embody such a strong form and shape. Vintage bells symbolically represent a certain historical period or culture. Without human touch, they remain silent. But with it…they come to life and create vibrations that sing!
In addition to my intense susceptibility to cabin fever, I always seem to attract awkward moments or situations when held captive in an airplane cabin.
One time, I honestly couldn’t wake the man sitting next to me (I had tried everything from a gentle shake to a scream in the ear). I was BUSTING to go to the bathroom….so I had no choice but to jump over him… I performed this manoeuvre and accidentally SCISSOR KICKED him in the nose. Hard. My ‘flight’ instinct kicked in and I ran down the aisle. I sheepishly returned to my seat, to find the man nursing a bleeding nose and a flight attendant glaring at me. I subsequently spent the next 4 hours apologising profusely. AWKWARD.
One time, I sat in my entire tray of food tray (I forgot I had put it on the seat when I had gone to the bathroom). I spent the rest of the 5 hours covered in chicken noodles and yoghurt.
One time, my bottle of fragrance exploded as I tried to ‘freshen up’. I spent the next 6 hours marinating in perfume for 6 hours and with people around me holding their noses.
One time, I thought my earphones were plugged into the ipod, but instead my ‘Bollywood Bhangra Beatz mix’ had been playing on speaker for the last 30 minutes. For some reason, no one told me directly, but instead had complained to the air hostess who came over and told me to ‘turn it down’.
AND, last week on a work trip to Singapore another ‘strange’ situation arose…
In a nutshell…
Went out in Sydney and bumped into a guy who I had met once in my life London (he now lives in Singapore)
Had a quick chat – and realised we were both travelling to Singapore on the same flight that week.
He called me when I was entering the airport – I saw his number come up and I screened his call. I couldn’t think of anything worse than awkwardly sitting next to him and having ‘small talk’ for 8 hours (sometimes you just want ‘me’ time).
I then get a message; “Hi Nix, I just saw you decline my call …look up, I am waving to you know, come join me at the front of the line”
So, I avoided the 2km queue and we checked-in together. There was no turning back now.
Within 2 minutes, he showed me his double-jack headphones so we could listen to music together and his 3 bags of assorted chocolates (that was a win).
…..And within 15 minutes, he told me I had something green in my teeth & that I walked like a gnome (I didn’t even know gnomes could walk)
It was going to be a LONNNGGG flight.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad. It made me realise how much you can actually learn about someone in 8 hours of captivity. Childhood, hobbies, general questions about life…. conversation never really ran dry. Although whilst there were the ups (sharing his chocolate and listening to his album of ‘covers’)…there were also times where I wanted to punch him in the face.
By the 4th hour, I felt at ease…. I showed him my homemade dance videos, weaving projects and even family selfies. When he asked about my hobbies, I did mention this blog and my inherent passion for all things design. As we conversed, my eyes instinctively darted around the cabin. Trays, chairs, aisles, overhead luggage units…I realised that the design elements of the interior of an airplane are so standardised and consistent. A monochromatic palette, which is lacklustre and quite uninspiring. My mind wandered, to the luxury fit-outs of personal jetplanes; complete with a swanky leather upholstered chairs, opulent finishes and ofcourse multiple mini-bars. My mind then wandered even further…i realised that whilst airplanes themselves can be quite standardised in terms of aesthetic and form,they can be a key source of inspiration for many facets of design – product, furniture and interior designers can leverage the form, shape and materials integrated in an airplane experience to create and explore new conceptual themes and ideas.
This plane crashed in 1974 in Chile with a six man crew and a 10-year-old son of the pilot. The boy came back 24 years after the accident, found the plane, and turned it into a house. Amazing.
Constructed from Boeing, Lockheed or Douglas aircraft fuselages, they can be applied in a home or office environment. The reupholstered bench can sit three people and has been and can be customised for client specification too. The perfect demonstration of re-use!
The whole situation taught me an important life lesson. I realised that we can be so quick to dismiss someone. I assumed it would be awkward. I assumed that he would be really boring. I had pre-built all these assumptions (based on no real fact) in my head. I guess the lesson is to remain open-minded and not too pass judgement so quickly. By doing so I have found a new friend!
Next time you are on a plane…forgot the stodgy food or the snoring stranger sitting beside you…instead, have a good look at the interior & imagine ways in which it could be ‘re-designed’ to bring about a different ‘in-flight’ experience….holograms on the ceiling, brightly coloured chairs, textured carpet…possibilities are limitless.
For me, it was defined by a massive amount of discovery.
Self Discovery. Discovery of new places. New people. New interests.
Throughout the year, I was continually pushed outside my comfort zone.
Without getting too cheesy (ewww- the thought of cheese actually makes me feel slightly nauseous…had way too much cheese and wine last night!), here is a list of 27 things I discovered in 2013…
1. The deliciousness of kale chips & coconut water & PILPEL hummous (I did a quick calculation and I have literally eaten a 300g tub per week which roughly equals over 15kg of hummous)
2. The chocolately smoooothhh voice of Frank Ocean. I also got obsessed with ‘Thinking about you’ and have proceeded to discover every ‘cover’ of the song on Youtube.
3. The functionality of the ‘video’ on my phone….from ‘caroke to bedroom dance floor sessions. Hours and hours of entertainment. Here is a sneak preview of ITEM 2 & 3 combined. ENJOY…yes, I am using a hair straightner as a microphone….
5. What it is like to live without a TV for a year.
6. That I am a ghetto gangsta gal…they call me ‘brown suga’ (who am I kidding, I didn’t just discover that this year, I’ve known it since I was a child). A definite highlight this year was seeing Jay-Z & JT concert in NYC and then Queen Bey when she came to Sydney.
12. Sometimes dressing ‘hipster’…isn’t always ‘cool’. AKA the night I looked like the lampshade.
13. The feeling of scoring a soccer goal (took me 5 years but got there)
14. My new hobby – WEAVING. It is my goal in 2014, to improve my weaving….especially now that I got a magnifiying glass for christmas (thanks mum). I am officially a 27 year old stuck in an 80 year old body.
19. How cool it is to collect glass bottles…wierd I know.
Here are somethings I re-discovered….
20. My spiritual side …. through meeting some inspiring people….learnt a lot about the ‘Moon Cycles’. It’s my dream this year to go to the Observatory.
21. Rediscovered the world of dating – speed dating, app dating (yes, tinder), blind dating, bootcamp dating (it was called Fit2date…wish I was joking…would rather erase this from my memory altogether)..I tried it all.
22. New York City – actually this was a rediscovery….but I spontaneously booked a ticket 5 days before leaving. Was one of the most spontaneous things I have done…ever.
23. Certain ‘life’ events, made me re-discover how nice it feels to be surrounded by my family and friends.
24. How much I love spending time by myself – this year I really felt content in my own company…I even went and saw a couple of movies by myself.
25. How lucky I am to have a family home (with 2 beautiful puppies) to go ‘home’ to…
AND FINALLY….my family discovered…SELFIES.
I am excited for what 2014 will hold & what new discoveries I will make…
I have decided 2014 is the year of DIY. My main NY resolution is to embrace the ‘handmade’…I want to make things, rather than buying them. Will be the year of ‘Crafternoons’. Other resolutions include:
1. Wait 1 minute to try and use my brain to remember a fact, rather than automatically ‘googling’ it on my phone.
2. Wear less mui-mui’s (my sisters had an intervention…apparently it just makes me look frumpy, not boho-ethnic-hippy chic that I was aiming for)
3. STOP wearing a high bun so much (yes, this carries on from 2013).
AND ofcourse I will be stick to my mantra of ‘Treat yo’self”
Happy New Year & all the best for the year to come.
Without fail, each Christmas…a plump tandoori turkey is placed on our table.
100% fusion. 100% delicious.
We take tandoori chicken to the next level.
We also sprinkle garam masala into our fruit cake. And make hot chilli prawns instead of the traditional cold pre-cooked ones.
We slightly ‘indianify’ everything. We can’t help ourselves.
This year was no different. The tandoori turkey was one of the best yet. Marinated and cooked to perfection (Great Team work by the Panch & Susie combo – aka my parents) See below….
Aside from the delicious fusion feast that inevitably puts me into a state of food coma, my second favourite part of Christmas is setting the table. Coloured tinsel, Christmas-shaped confetti, an old painted plaster funhouse piece, ‘borrowed’ Christmas bush from the neighbours garden, mum’s assortment of indian-inspired lanterns…there is no consistent ‘theme’…but rather an eclectic, random mix of everything ‘festive’….
This year, i decided to whip out my watercolour paints and create handmade place cards. They turned out ok. Actually…in retrospect they were pretty mediocre. I wrote personalised quotes in each. Very cheesy, but the old folk loved it.
It really made me realise how fundamental the dining table is in a home. It is mums best trick – she cooks our favourite meal and no matter what plans we may have…they get dropped and we come running to the table. So many of my memories revolve around our family dining table. It’s a place where deliver a debrief of the day. Tell stories. Share (lame) jokes. Reminiscence. Dispense advice. Announce achievements. Discuss world events (and celebrity gossip). Laughing, crying…so many pivotal moments have occurred on our dining table.
We invite old friends. New lovers. Sometimes even randoms (yes, mum has invited a few random people to our dining table over the years – like the man who came to the door trying to sell us ‘green’ lightbulbs and ended up staying for dinner). Drunken dinner parties. Impromptu get togethers. No two nights are the same.
But… it is quite funny….in all honesty, no matter who is sitting on our dining table with us…we don’t change. We still misbehave. Tell awkward personal stories. Pay each other out. Some people (actually probably the majority) think we are slightly crazed. A little nuts. A family of fruit loops.
(Above: I recently invited my good friend Alicia over to experience the Sheth madness. My sister Alisha and my Papaji are getting ready to eat….and yes, my sister, Priyanka is using the pendant light as a hat….)
If you have ever eaten with my family….I guess you would understand.
Dining tables possess a rare power. With the help of food, they bring people together. A place to share. A place to converse. A place to unwind and relax. It is no wonder, that for many, the styling of dining tables is such a carefully considered practice. People want to take pride in their dining tables. From adding in themed props for a dinning party to careful placement of floral arrangements…it is a place which embraces and encourages creativity. It is essentially a ‘blank canvas’ which can evolve into a comfortable and inviting place.
Thought I would share some truly inspirational table settings….
And yes…I was not a loner, I did have plenty of friends.
I guess you could call me a nerd. A teachers pet. I just loved the rules. The routine. The familiar safe environment.
One of my greatest memories of school was being in the choir for 13 years.
Yes…for 13 years I was a high soprano.
We went on ‘Choir Tour’ singing in churches and streets all over Europe – UK, Austria, Hungary & Wales. We sang for the Chinese President when he visited Sydney. We sang in Spanish, in Latin, in German. We sang on airplanes. We sang on the streets. We just sang. A lot.
There was something magical about singing the choir. I loved the vibrations that were created by the voices surrounding me. I loved the feeling of belonging to something so special. Where every single person amounted to a beautiful collective sound.
This time of year I always reminiscence about my years in the choir. Hearing Christmas carols as I walk down the aisles of Woolworths…I can’t help myself…I quietly hum along. Growing up, every Christmas my Aaji (my grandmother) would make me sing ‘Amazing Grace’ to the whole family. I pretended to get embarrassed…but I loved it.
HOWEVER…I remember the Christmas of 2005 clearly, I was 19 years old and cleared my throat in preparation of my annual ‘Amazing Grace’ rendition…BUT…it sounded horrible. I honestly think my voice broke. I have never recovered. Ask anyone in my family…I now can’t sing for peanuts. I officially suck. Sometimes I get really sad about it. I try to sing ‘my best’ in the shower. In front of my mirror. In my car. But, I guess I really need to start accepting that my ‘golden singing days are over.
One of my favourite experiences of the choir was when our choir was part of the “Scotland the Brave” performance in Sydney Opera House. It was a night filled with bag pipes, drums, tartan and lots and lots of singing. We trained for weeks…working on our Scottish accents.
For some reason, on this past week I have was sucked down the ‘Youtube vortex’ of scottish songs. I just had this urge. I have literally listened to Scottish songs for hours this past week. At work. In the car. At the gym. I put on all the Scottish songs that I had learnt during my years in the choir. The lyrics had obviously been lying dormant. As soon as I heard the first chord of the song, the lyrics just flowed….and so did my Scottish accent. It has genuinely made me so happy this week.
With reference to my ‘Scottish themed’ week and to my school uniform (I wore for all my choir performances ), I have a new found fascination with tartan. Plaid patterns are not reserved for the kilts of old scottish men or for picnic rugs….instead they can subtly add warmth and richness to interior spaces. Upon my research, I actually learnt that “plaid” is actually derived from the Scottish Gaelic word plaide, which means blanket. Tartan can inject a sense of history and tradition. I believe plaid can look really good when combined with timber, leather or even raw concrete. It doesn’t need to be over-bearing but can be used in subtle, unexpected ways – wallpaper, blankets, upholstery,…
Summer has officially arrived. The sun is out with vengeance.
Every year at this time I face a massive dilemma… “to sun, or not so sun…”
I lather on the SPF 50+ (which makes me go a weird purple tinge).
I wrap my entire body in a towel when I lie on the beach (resembling a human ‘beach burrito’).
I go through tubes and tubes of ‘Fair & Lovely’ cream (google it…yes, it is a cream ‘apparently’ makes you lighter)
I always get SO dark. Do not get me wrong…NOTHING is wrong with going darker..it is just that I personally, prefer to be a little lighter. I know…I bet you are thinking ; “It’s beautiful, I wish I could be that tanned”. I’m not complaining…ok, maybe I am. I just don’t like it.
Switch off the lights and you can only the whites of my eyes and my teeth.
Each time I go home my mum yells at me; “Yuck, you are looking dirrttyyy….how will you find a husband when you are so looking so dirty?”. No mum, it is not ‘dirt’ it is just a tan (I am sure all you fellow sub-continental gals can relate).
BUT look at what I am dealing with (see pic below)….this happened on thursday morning after a mere 30 min swim at 6:30am….you can call me ‘backstrap’. Gross. Although, atleast I am rockin’ the sporty look. #fistspiration.
So, I have decided today that it is time to invest in a beach umbrella. There are some amazing umbrella’s out there. My favourite are actually from Australian company, Basil Bangs. Check out their range here – a vibrant range made from high quality fabric and available in so many colours and patterns! They collaborate with various designers and artists to create bespoke umbrellas – I just love their aesthetic and philosophy underpinning their brand.
Check out some of these gorgeous umbrellas which I have come across in my ‘research’…
I will kick start with a Basil Bangs umbrella – such vibrant colours & patterns…
I have made some new friends. They are the guys that live next door to my work building.
They are African Drummers. They have dread-locks. They import & export drums. Let’s just say ….they got da riddim’
Last week, they invited me to attend one of their ‘African dance classes’.
It took a bit of convincing, but I decided to go.
I rocked up in my colourful ‘African-inspired’ pants and big hoop earrings. Only to find everyone else was dressed..in gym gear. Awkward. I then found out it was actually an advanced-level class. All attendees had been practising for years. Double awkwardness.
The 2 hour ‘lesson’ took place in a church hall in Paddington. I could hear the drums beating from half way down the street. They were LOUD. There were eight drummers who played whilst we learnt ‘the routine’.
In the beginning, I concentrated hard and approached the moves cerebrally. But the drums were too loud. I honestly could not think properly. I had no choice but to…. LET GO. I stopped trying to mentally process the moves and allowed my limbs take on a life of their own. I looked like a drunk brown octopus. My arms, hips, head, neck, ribs, legs, feet just flailing around.
I was drenched with sweat. The balls of my feet ached. Adrenalin surged through my body. I actually felt a little intoxicated.
The vibrations of the drums shot through my body….electrifying my nervous system. I felt so liberated. So grounded. So free. I couldn’t stop smiling.
I will definitely be going back for more.
There is something so raw about the sound and vibrations of an african drum. Whether it be the table, the bongos, the djembe or a DIY drum…they have the ability to activate your heart, body, mind and soul. It is a universal dialogue – one that takes place between the beat of a drum and the soul. They talk to each other. Beating slowly, it soothes…massaging the soul. Beating fast and hard, it energises…..resuscitates the soul. The beat of a drum possesses the ability to transform your everyday worries into feelings of freedom – a natural stimulant. Drums have been sewn into the history of man-kind. I predict that they will continue to live on…in all forms – electronic, tribal, sensory touch systems…
It is no wonder that drums are continually be up-cycled and integrated into spaces. I believe that even when static, they a positive source of energy. I definitely am on the ‘look out’ for a tribal drum that I can place in my living area. Here is a random assortment of drumspiration..