Like a leaf in the sun

Growth is not a battle to be hurried, but a slow walk down the road from home.

We’re musing on the idea of growth, especially at times like this, when things seem to have been brought to a halt. Looking at plantlife—living things that are synonymous with the idea of growth, despite being rooted in one place—we realise that it’s about simply working at something slowly, while staying in focus. This plant at the Rithihi store tells us to channel our energy and resources, as they come, without losing sense of that wonderfully warm sunlit spot where we want to be.

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Endless

Nature is probably our greatest inspiration in life. We have always been moved by its colourful exuberance, honesty, and perseverance to simply be. At times when this incredible source of inspiration seems violated, hurt, or beaten by our thoughtlessness, it almost seems as if we are at the brink of losing an extraordinary treasure. But, then again, looking back at what we know about the history of our world, we remember that nature has always persisted and survived forces much greater than us humans; We remember that she is endless, ageless, and perpetual. But, us? We are fleeting, and standing on sands that crumble as we race and rage in our hopeless scramble to grab a little bit more.

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The forever fibre

This beautiful linen portrait of a woman, which is currently housed at the Cleveland Museum of Art, is thought to be from Egypt and goes as far back as c.138. It’s a funeral portrait, also known as a mummy portrait. Such portraits were drawn and hung up on walls while the subjects were still alive. When someone passed away, their portrait was taken down, cut out of the frame, and trimmed to fit the deceased’s mummy. This particular one was drawn on linen using the encaustic painting method and gives us a glimpse of what ordinary folk art may have been like all those centuries ago. We find it truly beautiful. But, what impresses us about this is the durability of the material; how, long after the people, their faces, names, bodily remains, and even memories have vanished from the face of the Earth, this incredible material continues to live on. This is the magic of linen.

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Home is all you need

Ranee never thought she’d host her only daughter’s wedding with no formal ritual, no impressive hotel, and no guests. But, here she is, on the eve of a humble home wedding adhering to the latest health guidelines issued by the PHI, cutting long-stemmed pink flowers from her much prided rose garden to make a simple bridal bouquet. She made sure that the evening cool had settled upon the city before she cut the flowers; this is so they wouldn’t wilt before the auspicious time to sign in front of the marriage registrar—the most significant photo of the nuptial procedures that she wanted to Whatsapp her oldest and closest sister in Australia. Ranee admired her roses as she placed them in a tall vase. She felt her heart well up at the thought of her treasured roses making her precious girl’s bridal bouquet. Ranee had spent a good part of the day perfecting the spice mix for her son-in-law’s favourite yellow rice—it’ll be the first meal of the newlyweds tomorrow; She smiled at the thought of his sweetly exaggerated compliments on her cooking.

Ranee took out the lovely silk saree that her daughter had gifted for the occasion; not showy, nor extravagant, yet an absolutely beautiful celebration of her favourite colour blue. She hung it under the fan to be aired out overnight.

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Let it rain


Blows the thaw-wind pleasantly,
Drips the soaking rain,
By fits looks down the waking sun:
Young grass springs on the plain;
Young leaves clothe early hedgerow trees;
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
Swollen with sap put forth their shoots;
Curled-headed ferns sprout in the lane;
Birds sing and pair again.

There is no time like Spring,
When life’s alive in everything,
Before new nestlings sing,
Before cleft swallows speed their journey back
Along the trackless track –

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The blossoming of flowers

In the blossoming of flowers, there’s a magical moment. This is that instant when it suddenly trembles awake from the perfect stillness. The beginning of music from the silence. When out of nothingness, the cells in the petals spring into action— simply because it is no longer possible to stay an unopened bud. It is at that point in time when, for the flower, it becomes far too painful to remain closed than it would be to open up into the light. We see this moment not only in flowers, but also in people— when they finally decide to unfold open, coming into a beautiful process of becoming their most beautiful self.

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For the love of kurtas

So simple, that its genius is invisible; so ubiquitous in eastern histories, that its exact roots are impossible to pinpoint; so functional, that its beauty deserves its own definition; the kurta is undoubtedly one of South Asia’s most recognised sartorial symbols. With its basic silhouette constructed upon the shape of the human torso, kurtas carry a degree of androgyny that lends well to all work settings. Kurtas are probably the most widely worn work outfit across the subcontinent. But, it is also much more than a staunch work garment. Like the saree, the kurta too has its many manifestations adding to a complex history. Thickly starched in cottons, it is the strong, durable uniform of the working woman or man; made in fine silks and adorned with embroidery, the kurta is a stylish, and culturally appropriate garment admitted to any formal occasion. In breezy cottons or linens, it is an indispensable part of the preferred at-home ensemble for many. A clean, crisp and well-pressed kurta upon a political stage is a statement of cultural dignity and authority with a definite nod to the working classes. These many layered sensibilities of the kurta and its profoundly uncomplicated beauty is precisely what draws Rithihi to curate an evolving collection of these beloved tunics.

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Woven from the wild

‘What is that?’ you would ask in astonishment as a thing that is clearly of magic flutters by. Its sheer size would be a spectacle of its own. Most likely, no one around you would know; and you would have to dig through Google to discover the name of this incredible creature. If you’re blessed with company that would recognise such an unusual insect, they would tell you that it is the tussar moth— the creature that makes the beautiful tussar silk fibres that lead to one of the most treasured textiles here at Rithihi.

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