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The idea came from a friend, Kunal Chopra. His curiosity was piqued by the origin of Indian shoes. He expressed a wish to see The Indian Trumpet create an edition on the various aspects of the Indian shoe, so here we are. As always, we began with a blank canvas, but by the end of the making of this edition - we realised how little we knew of the humble shoe. We build the edition, delicately, almost like we were learning to tie shoe laces for the first time. How does it feel to be a shoe? We answer the question. Weaved into a garland, hurled in anger, and removed outside a temple (before seeking blessings). There is a lot more to the shoe than what meets the eye. Bollywood has always had a fascination towards the shoes. From songs to film titles (even plots) - the shoe has stamped its footprint on the 70MM. Moments that define life revolve around little girls slipping into mum’s heels and dad’s taking pride as they watch their son slip into their shoes. But, do things change when we grow up? Perhaps, the shoes are too large to fill. We spend a few moments on the streets, under the trees: getting to know the life of the cobbler, the humble man, whose single stitch can save your day. We got nostalgic as we thought of the annual ritual of buying shoes before the new school session. Who doesn’t remember the rubbing of chalk powder on white canvas shoes to keep them clean? Or the shopping trips to Bata. Or the shoes that lit up, the Disco Shoes, as we called them then. Weddings and shoes go hand-in-hand. Explore the varied rituals with us. Shop for Jutties and Mojaris with us, while you discover more about the colourful, elegant, and traditional fashion item. From the shoes to the feet - the touching of feet to seek forgiveness is there a logic behind this Indian act? We find out. In the end, we leave you with a melody to hum.

editor’s note

Mera Joota Hai Japani...Yeh Patloon Englistani...Sir Pe Lal Topi Rusi, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. Rights: All rights reserved. The writing, artwork and photography contained herein may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of The Indian Trumpet. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of The Indian Trumpet. All efforts have been made while compiling the content of the magazine but we assume no responsibility for the effects arising there from. We take no responsibility of the availability of the products mentioned in the various sections of the magazine. Reprints as a whole or in part can be done only with written permission from The Indian Trumpet quoting “The Indian Trumpet magazine” for texts and pictorial material. Signed articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor. No responsibility can be taken for the loss of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. Contacts: Purva Grover, founder & editor theindiantrumpet.com All queries to be addressed to theindiantrumpet@gmail.com The Indian Trumpet Magazine is released four times a year. It is available to the readers absolutely free of cost on the portal theindiantrumpet.com.

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Until we meet next, happy tooting.

Purva founder & editor editor@theindiantrumpet.com


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footprints we leave...


Dear Trumpeteers, I will be very honest when I heard that you were coming up with an entire edition on the Toilet, I thought you would lose plot! What would a magazine on toilet look Iike, perhaps gross an distasteful. As for the topics, I couldn’t think of any! However, once again I was in for a very pleasant surprise! The edition looked classy and was full of such interesting, informative, and entertaining stories. Keep it up you guys. I look forward to reading many such editions of The Indian Trumpet. Cheers! Jyoti Lalwani, UAE ............................................................... Shit, Shit, Shit! That was my first reaction to the edition. I loved it, every page and story. I thoroughly enjoyed the feature on ‘toilet-inspired’ illustrations. The young parents and pooping topic was a fun read. So, was the Bollywood piece on toilets, showering, etc. Keep up the good work. The surprise element for me was the Indian Belly, who could have thought of a piece on digestives in a Toilet Edition! Sheer brilliance.

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likes on Facebook, facebook.com/TheIndianTrumpet

Shreya New Delhi, India ...............................................................

trumpet followers

This is your space. We’d love to know what you have to say about the magazine. Drop us a line at: theindiantrumpet@gmail.com

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Our shoe special is filled up with many lovely tales... little girls slipping into the high heels of mums, dads teaching little boys how to polish up the shoes (and tie laces!), the sight of the good ol’mochi (cobbler), the Bata ki chappal, the mandir ke bahar waali chappal... Superstitions associated with the shoes... to go barefoot, or wear socks; certain dilemmas. Who could have thought that the topic of shoes could be this warming!


Indian the

a bi-monthly e-magazine for NRIs

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A SPACE WHERE WE MAKE NOISE ABOUT ALL THINGS INDIAN

AN E-MAGAZINE THAT CAPTURES THE COLOUR, CULTURE AND CHAOS OF INDIA THAT NRIs CRAVE AND MISS, ONCE EVERY TWO MONTHS

JUST CLICK AND READ FOR FREE Blow the trumpet with us!! To advertise, mail us at

theindiantrumpet@gmail.com 70 MM. INDIAN BELLY. TRUMPET LEAD. FASHION FRY. DIARY OF AN INDIAN. DESI LIT. TAX-FREE ENTERTAINMENT. TRUMPET BAZAAR. THE GLOBE & THE GULLY. HORN OK PLEASE. OVER A CUP OF CHAI. TRUMPET TELLER. ANGRY TOOT. OUR SHABDKOSH. IDHAR UDHAR. LOUD TOOT. LAST WORD. TRUMPET TASTES.

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BOLLYWOOD & THE BOOT A small tribute to the beautiful melodies and foottapping chartbusters that mention the shoe - a metaphor of much more than a mere footwear 18

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TO PARLE G, WITH LOVE Ever since I have read about the closure of the oldest Parle G manufacturing unit in Vile Parle in Mumbai a wave of nostalgia has taken over... trumpet lead

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A SHOE? What is it that you like to hurl at offensive people, or weave a garland to adorn hated persons or their effigies, use as a weapon to beat people up as ultimate punishment or remove from your body at the threshold of temples, shrines and even homes? It’s the lowly shoe.

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STEPPING INTO MUM’S SHOES As little girls, we aspire to be like our moms - dressing up like them and often slipping into their heels! But, as we grow up, we realise perhaps the shoes are too large to fill!

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SCHOOL SHOES They came in all types and sizes. “Regular” and “Rainy”, canvas, and black. They were a constant source of punishment for us — we had to keep them clean to stay out of trouble!

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SHOES THAT LIT UP! Remember this? Joota hai ya light? Joote mein hai light! La-la-light woh bhi shoe mein, kaisa hai yeh system?

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JOOTE DO, PAISE LO Shoes are a significant part of the big, fat indian wedding. from sitting barefoot during ceremonies in certain cultures to stealing the shoes of the groom... we bring to you the big, fat shoe & foot stories from indian shaadis!

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WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION Long before they invented the pepper spray, the good ol’ juti has been Indian women’s weapon of choice against eve-teasing

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I AM SORRY The Indian tradition of touching the other’s feet to seek forgiveness is deeply rooted in our culture. There’s science behind it too...

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NAZAR BATTU We know how our country is full of quirks, with superstitions leading the way for everything good and bad. We take a look at those related to the footwear.

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THE LIFE OF A MOCHI We address the role and situation of a cobbler or mochi in India in today’s age, and how he’s underpaid, yet content with his life.

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FATHERS & SONS An emotive tale of the sweet, vicious cycle of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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fashion fry

JUTIES & MOJARIS The elegant, colourful, and fashionable living tradition dairy of an indian

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THE WOES OF BIG FEET When you can’t find your shoe size!

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SHOES THAT SQUEAK... And tell you that your little one is safe...

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desi lit

SHOE WARS The Boots versus the Barefoot Battles. Scenes from a home, where an Indian and Dutch live together. Will they reach a compromise? 80

bharat darshan

TO SHOES, WITH LOVE An artist leaves her footprints... as she creates works that reflect the journey of the shoe... in India... 98

last word

follow the noise

MERA JOOTA HAI JAPANI... A song, a tribute, a memory.

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The

Indian Trumpet Loud, louder, loudest... Let's make some noise! We'd love to hear from you. Write in to us with your suggestions at

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bollywood and the boot! A SMALL TRIBUTE TO THE BEAUTIFUL MELODIES AND FOOTTAPPING CHARTBUSTERS THAT MENTION THE SHOE - A METAPHOR OF MUCH MORE THAN A MERE FOOTWEAR words BHAVNEET BHATTI theindiantrumpet.com

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From Raj Kapoor’s Japaani Joota and Dilip Kumar’s Suit Boot to Salman Khan’s banter over Jootey do Paise lo or Naseerudin Shah’s rendition of Ibn-e-Batuta, Bagal Mey Joota: Bollywood has given us a fair share of shoe melodies. Movie titles too have been dedicated to it – Remember the classic, Boot Polish or the recent critically acclaimed That Girl In Yellow Boots – shoes have been an important part of our filmy culture. In fact, there are numerous dialogues, sequences, plots, climax, and scenes where the shoe gets a special mention, but it is the songs that remain etched in the memory forever. The Symbol In the course of time, the shoe as a symbolism has evolved to a large extent. Back then, the lyrics often depicted a social set up where shoe-polishing is the means of survival for the street children. In some cases, an entire song is dedicated to explaining the nuances of bringing about a shine on the shoe and how a well-polished shoe adds to status. These songs also bring about the stark social and economic divide in the society where the destiny of urchins on streets is compared to the shine on the polished shoe. Boot Karoon Mein Paalish Baabu Movie: Nai Duniya (1942) Lyricist: Tanvir Naqvi Singer: Suraiya Music: Naushad Ali One of the earliest mention of shoe in the Bollywood melodies comes in this song from Nai Duniya. The film released before Independence and the lyricist effortlessly brings about the social ethos of the era as he speaks about the significance of polished shoes as a status symbol and how the street kids earned their livelihood by polishing shoes. Boot karoon main paalish babu Boot karoon main paalish Is paalish ki chamak niraali Taaro ko sharamaae Set in the times of the British Raj, where well-polished shoes were an essential element of the formal get up and a defining feature of upper social class and strata, the song explains how important it is to let your shoes shine.

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Boot Polish Karwaa Le Baabu Movie: Ghar Ki Izzat (1948) Lyricist : Ishwar Chandra Kapoor Singer : Meena Kapoor Music : Govind Ram Depicting a social set up where shoe-polishing is the only means of survival for the street kids, the entire song narrates the situation of an urchin pleading the rich to get their shoes polished. The lyrics expresses his agony further as he compares the urchin’s destiny to the shoe’s shine.

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Jyun jyun chumke boot tumhaare Kismat meri jaage The song brings out the stark divide in the social strata where the poor child confesses the fact that as the shoes shine with polish, so will his fortune when he is paid for bringing that shine on the shoes. Mera Joota Hai Japani Movie: Shree 420 (1955) Lyrics: Shailendra Singer: Mukesh Music: Shankar Jaikishan Raj Kapoor makes this masterpiece an evergreen memory in the minds of audiences. You may have hummed the song as a kid without lending a deeper thought to the lyrics, but it is only when you pause to appreciate the underlying sentiment of the song, do you realize the magic of it. Set in the post-Independence era where India


is developing its nationalist character, the song has several undertones to it. The strongest being the spirit of being an Indian. The song reiterates the sentiment of Indianness and patriotism as the protagonist points out to the fact that despite him donning clothes and accessories that are from across the globe, his heart remains Indian.

Mera joota hai japani Ye patalun ingalistaani Sar pe laal topi rusi Phir bhi dil hai hindustaani

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The song has not only been immensely popular with the Indian audiences for all these decades but also has a fair share of international acclaim to it. From featuring in the opening chapter of Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel The Satanic Verses to being a part of Bengali author Mahasweta Devi’s popular address at Frankfurt Book Fair; the


song has featured at several places in the international arena. An instant click with the music lovers for its simplicity and melody, it is also an admirable piece of poetry where simple words conveyed deeper emotions of patriotism. Paalish Kara Le o Babu Movie/album: Dekhi Teri Bambai (1961) Singers: S.Balbir, Sudha Malhotra Song Lyricists: Aziz Kashmiri Music Composer: Vinod

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Set in a comic sequence with the male and female protagonist (dressed as males) go about the streets urging the rich ‘baabu’ to get his shoes polished. The song in a comical way explains why is it important to get the shoe polished.

O topiwaale baabu O pagdi waale chhaila Kyun boot hai tera maila Tujhe love na karegi teri laila While a polished shoe is already seen as a status symbol or a measure of social class, adding another comic dimension to the song, the lyricist mentions how the

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lady love would lose interest in his man if the shoe was dirty or unpolished. The mention of topiwale babu and pagdi waale chhaila shows how a clean and polished shoe is important for men of all class and strata and irrespective of the attire being western or traditional, a polished shoe is a must for a man of class. Boot Chappal Sandal Movie/ Album : Kaarigar (1965) Lyricist : Rajendra Krishan Singer: Asha Bhonsle and Usha Mangeshkar Music: C. Ramchandra Another Bollywood song of the yesteryears that uses shoe-polishing as a means of livelihood. Set on young kids who earn their bread and butter out of polishing shoes, the song shows how it is a symbol of daily income for them. The lyrics bring out the meaning in simple words,

Boot Chhapal Sandal Mardana ya janana Hai sab ka ek hi khana

Na mange Babu Chanda Palish karte Special Again set in times where India as a country is defining its character. Where it has social issues and problems to tackle on one hand and has a spirit and vigour to face the world with its new found Independence. The sequence showcases a sentimental portrayal of street children polishing shoes, slum life and the poverty at that point of time in the society. The shoe’s companion During the course of time, shoe symbolism undergoes a change. From the popular trend of shoe polish being a source of livelihood or a well-polished shoe being a symbol of social class and status; the shoe now finds a companion - in suit. The famous suit-boot companionship becomes a popular trend in many Bollywood songs thereafter. Be it Dilip Kumar in 1970’s feeling sahiblike with suit and boot or Anil Kapoor in 1990s rejoicing in his suit boot; both dressing up in shoes and suit is a symbol of being upmarket.


Saala Mein Toh Sahaab Ban Gaya Movie/album: Sagina (1974) Lyricists: Majrooh Sultanpuri Singer: Kishore Kumar, Pankaj Mishra Music: S.D. Burman

Saala Mein Toh Sahaab Ban Gaya... Ke ban ke dekho kaisa tan gaya Ye Suit Mera Dekho… Ye Boot Mera Dekho… Jaise Gora Koi London Ka Another foot tapping number mentioning the shoe, the song is a powerful reminder of how clothes and accessories can be a metaphor for class. Set in a time where ‘suit, boot’ was synonyms with class and status; the song mentions - ye suit mera dekho... ye boot mera dekho...jaise gora koi London ka’. While the song uses simple language and lyrics, it conveys a meaning that is a product of culture and lifestyle of that time.

Suit Boot Mein Aaya Kanhaiya Movie/album: Kishen Kanhaiya (1990) Singers: Amit Kumar Lyricists: Indeevar (Shyamalal Babu Rai) Music Composer: Rajesh Roshan

Suit boot mein aaya kanhaiya band bajane ko Naye geet pe nach nachane naye zamane ko Again the mention of ‘suit-boot’ here is a symbol of status. The protagonist takes pride in dressing up and the song showcases the culture where suit-boot is an exclusive dress up that is peculiar to the West and a matter of pride when donned in this part of the globe. The shoe & culture

Jootey Do paise Lo Movie: Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994) Lyricist: Ravinder Rawal Singer: Lata Mangeshkar, S P Balasubrahmanyam Music: Ram Laxman An indispensable item in the wedding albums, this chartbuster of the 90s, is a foot-tapping number that mentions

the shoe as it describes an important tradition of the Indian weddings. Featuring Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit, the song describes the tradition where Dulhe ki saaliyaa (sisters-in-law of the groom) hide the groom’s wedding shoes and later bargain their return with dulhan ke Devar (brothers-in-law of the bride) in exchange for the shagun (money). Set in a typical Sooraj Barjatya family setting, the song is a friendly banter between the two parties over exchange of shoes for money. Such was the popularity of the song that ‘jootey do paise lo’ became a popular phrase in each wedding scene conversation.

Kass Ke Joota Khons Ke Belt Movie : Tare Zameen Par (2007) Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi Singers : Vishal Dadlani A peppy and narrative number from the Bollywood Blockbuster Tare Zameen Par, the song ‘Jame Raho’ is like an anthem of an average school going child in India who is overburdened with the workload and the expectations at a tender age. The use of shoes here is again a metaphor of being dressed up. Kass Ke Joota Khons Ke Belt is the typical morning routine of the school going kid as he rushes through his morning routine. Joota Kasna or tightening of shoe lace becoming a metaphor for getting ready to face the world full of competition.

Ibn e Batuta Bagal Mey Joota Movie: Ishqiya (2010) Lyrics: Gulzar Singer: Sukhwinder Singh, Mika Singh Music: Vishal Bharadwaj Another popular number from the recent times is Ibn- e-Batuta…Bagal Mey joota’. Penned by the legend Gulzar, the song sets the tone for the film about the two run-aways. Making a mention of the famous ancient traveller Ibn-e-Batuta who is believed to have travelled all the way from Turkey to India on foot, the song juxtaposes the historical tales to

the present day movie sequence. The lyrics for the song also saw a controversy as they were claimed to be inspired by the famous poem by Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena that also centres around Ibn-e-Batuta and his joota! Keeping the controversies aside, the song was a chartbuster and does bring back the nostalgia of the travelogues of the ancient traveller.

High Heels Movie: Ki and Ka (2016) Singer: Meet Bros Feat. Jaz Dhami and Aditi Singh Sharma Original song: Yo Yo Honey Singh Lyrics: Kumaar Music: Meet Bros The latest offering from Bollywood featuring the footwear is ‘High Heels’ from the movie Ki and Ka - set on the theme of breaking gender stereotypes. Interestingly the song ‘High Heels’ opens with the male protagonist of the movie, Arjun Kapoor getting ready in a pair of red hot heels and the female lead Kareena Kapoor tightens the black formal shoes sans heels. While the idea seems to be on the lines of breaking gender stereotypes, the lyrics of the song fail to do justice.

High heels te nache tan tu badi jache Pehli baat to ye Jo tu tik-tok tik-tok chalti hai Maana ye saari teri high heels ki galti hai Shoes and apparel do have a gender stereotype and in one instance, it does look like the song is attempting the shake the stereotypes, however the lyrics that follow take the song to another tangent where the woman’s walk in heels is highlighted along with other mannerisms. The song though peppy fails to strike a chord as the melodies of the yesteryears that made the footwear a powerful metaphor. To sum up, Bollywood and the boot have been close companions since decades and here is hoping it goes on as the poets and the lyricist continue to find new metaphors and symbols in the joota!

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If you love to eat then you’d do anything to be in the classroom of Bhavneet Bhatti. For this assistant professor at the School of Communication Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh is likely to reward you for your good performance with a lovely meal. Meals and capturing memories surrounding each is what she loves the most, followed by researching (she is a PhD) & teaching. Also, these days she is back to romancing the words and fall in love with one of her oldest passions, writing.


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TO PARLE G, WITH LOVE

EVER SINCE I HAVE READ ABOUT THE CLOSURE OF THE OLDEST PARLE G MANUFACTURING UNIT IN VILE PARLE IN MUMBAI A WAVE OF NOSTALGIA HAS TAKEN OVER... words DISNEY BRAR

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They are the oldest known biscuits in India. They are not just biscuits, but are a way of life. They were the first ever biscuits I was introduced to when I was a toddler and ever since the romance has continued. How can I forget the smiling face of the cherubic baby on the packs of Parle G smiling back at me during visits to Apna Bazaar to pick up the weekly groceries. As children we knew that mom would never say no to Parle G. It was an integral part of our childhood. We had Parle G dipped in our morning milk before we boarded our bus to school or whipped into some lip smacking shake by mom. Parle G also used to accompany us to school when packed by mom in our neon pink and green lunch boxes. It was also the perfect pick for our days’ choti choti bhook.

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Ever since I have read about the closure of the oldest Parle G manufacturing unit in Vile Parle in Mumbai a wave of nostalgia has taken over. We have never actually appreciated the brand for what it is to general households who appreciate quality with a price to suit every pocket. A lot has changed in the confectionary segments of supermarkets with new and glossy packets of new brands of biscuits taking bigger positions on the shelves leaving a modest corner for our good old Parle G. Other brands have tried to take

over the loyalty patronage, which Parle G enjoys but have failed to do so. The fact that Parle G has managed to maintain its fort for decades speaks a lot about the brands quality and loyalty. There is nothing to beat the mellow taste of the biscuits when dipped in some fresh made ginger tea or whipped into a Parle G special shake. Well in my case dozens of packets of Parle G are specially brought for my stray friends Julie, Suzy and Blacky. They start their day by munching into packs of Parle G. Well, Parle G satiates the taste buds of various segments and species. This is an ode to one of the finest biscuits manufactured in India. Biscuits, which have pepped up the dull rainy mornings, adding a crunch to our cup of tea or rejuvenating our busy evenings in the office. I vouch for my favourite brand and raise an ode to the smiling Parle G baby, who has been a friend to me since my childhood. The wave of happiness and the feeling of relief on seeing my favourite Parle G baby in the supermarket during the weekly visits now is unmatched. There is an old world charm to them. I hope the romance between both of us continues to be till both of us are around!

Disney Brar is a Chandigarh based journalist, editor, and critic. After working as a feature writer and copy editor with the Hindustan Times for 12 years, she is currently freelancing for magazines and newspapers. She also pens one serious analytical story for a Punjab-based magazine ‘Glimpse’ every month, besides tossing up interesting interviews and stories based in and around Chandigarh and Punjab. She lives in Chandigarh with her husband and two sons. She is an enthusiast for life, poetry, and spirituality. She is currently hooked on to books on the afterlife.

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HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A SHOE? WHAT IS IT THAT YOU LIKE TO HURL AT OFFENSIVE PEOPLE, OR WEAVE A GARLAND TO ADORN HATED PERSONS OR THEIR EFFIGIES, USE AS A WEAPON TO BEAT PEOPLE UP AS ULTIMATE PUNISHMENT OR REMOVE FROM YOUR BODY AT THE THRESHOLD OF TEMPLES, SHRINES AND EVEN HOMES? IT’S THE LOWLY SHOE.

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words ARCHANA R SINGH

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The shoe is considered so impure that upon accidental contact with another person’s body, you apologise and in a typical Indian gesture tap the person slightly and touch own forehead to express regret.

‘chappal’ a symbol of India’s self-sufficiency during 20th century Independence movement. He also set up a tannery in Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad. Being a shoe is a matter of privilege, you concede!

Being a shoe must be pathetic, you imagine. The symbolism of the `shoe’ as an instrument of power, piety and purpose is evident in Indian texts. In ancient Indian texts Rigveda, Yajurveda Samhita, Atharvaveda, footwear finds a mention as ‘ Upanah’ or ‘Upanat’ made from grass, wood, and leather. Later in Ramayana they came to be referred as, “paduka” and were made of wood. The story of Ramayan actually bestows much

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Cut to, inside the Indian temple, you find a pair of “paduka” (shoes) of the deity displayed on a pedestal. You bow your head before the “shoes” and seek blessings! During Indian weddings it’s the same shoe the young damsels love to steal from the groom in return for money and some banter (Joote le lo, paise de do!), creating lighter moments of mirth in the other wise solemn occasion. Gandhi made the simple


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To express extr respect, one oft refers to anothe feet as “lotus” o “charan kamal”


This is India where a pair of shoes can rule on behalf of the King!

As in the ancient text Mahabharata, Rishi Jamadagni got this gift from the Sun God himself. The legend goes that Rishi Jamdagni enraged with the scorching Sun for shining brightly on his wife Renuka started to shoot arrows at the Sun. The Sun God, then presented him a pair of sandals and an umbrella to protect against the heat from below and above. Similarly when Vishnu took the Vaman incarnation, he is depicted holding an umbrella and wearing shoes whereby shoes are symbols of asceticism. Advaita philosophy is about symbols and their significance. The “paduka” of Shiva are often used to represent Him in ceremonies. The “paduka” or Khadau are wooden footwear with one knob worn by renunciates. They symbolise the spiritual path away from family and worldly things. This is because the knob is placed in such a way that one pressure point is activated, which induces the celibate state. The “paduka” therefore are yogic instruments.

The shoe can also be presented as a peace offering or gift.

India is a land of contradictions and there lies our mystery! Despite these depictions both

responsibility on the shoe. Step mother of Lord Ram, Queen Kaikeyi, felt insecure about the future of her own son, Bharat. She asked her husband King Dasarath to exile Ram for 14 years and designate Bharat as Crown Prince. The everobedient Ram, along with wife Sita, and step-brother, Laksman left the palace and proceeded towards the jungles to spend the period of exile. Not taking kindly to this step, Bharat, met Ram and entreated him to return to Ayodhya. When his request was declined, Bharat asked for Ram’s “paduka” to serve the Kingdom as proxy king. Upon the sudden demise of King Dasarath, and for the next 14 years, Bharat continued to look after the kingdom, while the shoes sat on the throne.

espect

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reme ten er’s or ”!


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Despite these depictions both mythological and historical, India has been a land of barefoot people.

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I

rony


mythological and historical, India has been a land of barefoot people. That is why foot hygiene has always been given importance. The variety of foot scrubbers available in all parts of the country since ancient times, coupled with decorations of the feet with alta and henna, massages with scented oils and special foot jewelry such as anklets, and toe rings point towards this obsession with foot beautification. Perhaps, touching of feet, the Indian custom to show utmost respect, mandates foot hygiene of a very high standard ! In fact, to express extreme respect, one often refers to another’s feet as “lotus” or “charan kamal”! It is the same foot fetish that has encouraged the production of indigenous varieties of shoes from all over the country. That shoes have religious, spiritual, traditional and cultural meaning is apparent but the great surprise is that they are assumed to have therapeutic value too! While drinking from the shoe is considered as an omen to bring good fortune the world over, in India it is used to ward of demons. Smelling of shoes can revive a fainting spell and hanging a shoe at the back of a new vehicle can ward of an evil eye! Most certainly there’s more to a shoe than meets the eye.

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Prof. Archana R Singh has been teaching for the last 18 years and is presently the Chairperson of the School of Communication Studies at Panjab University, Chandigarh. She has a book, several national and international academic publications, conference papers, presentations and projects to her credit. She is the Coordinator of Panjab University’s community radio station, Editor of Panjab University Research Journal( Social Sciences) and Coordinator of Panjab University Colloquia Series.


stepping INTO

mum’s shoes! AS LITTLE GIRLS, WE ASPIRE TO BE LIKE OUR MOMS DRESSING UP LIKE THEM AND OFTEN SLIPPING INTO THEIR HEELS! BUT, AS WE GROW UP, WE REALISE PERHAPS THE SHOES ARE TOO LARGE TO FILL!

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words ARSHPREET KAUR

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Mom,when will I

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grow up?

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Do you remember when you were little how you idolised your parents to be your superheroes and how desperately you wanted to be like them? Nothing they did ever fell short of a miracle and you could never dream to be anything lesser than them. I remember when I was young and every time I saw my mother all dolled up in her bright dresses - salwar kameez made of silk and banarasi sarees ­- adorned with matching round bindis and bangles made out of glass, those black high pencil heels that matched almost every dress she owned, I used to be dazzled by how beautiful she always looked in whatever she wore. I so wanted to always look like her, wear her dresses, put on the her makeup on my face, get my earlobes pierced so that I could put on her earrings and walk around like a supermodel in her high heels.

As a young adolescent, my mother’s shoes held a lot more appeal to me than anything else. I would insist on wearing her heels and bellies every time I went out with my friends or had an event to attend. I apparently forced her into lending me her heels for my farewell at school where I wanted to walk the ramp in her green banarasi saree. I thought wearing her saree and jewellery and her heels would make me look more like her, dazzling like bright stars and nearly perfect. I saw my mother last month and it was almost after three years. I had settled abroad about five years ago and I remember her seeing me off at the airport. I remember her exactly as she had always been, blue salwar kameez, round blue bindi and her black heels. Those were not the same pencil heels that she always loved to wear. Her knees had begun to give up and she had switched to shorter platform heels. Yet she looked as dazzling as ever and I looked at her smiling at me, tears brimming in her eyes.

So, when I met her last

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My mother is a passionate woman and from what I remember from my grey childhood memories is that she loved to dress up. Her closet was full of beautiful dresses for all occasions; family functions and get togethers, her own kitty parties and outings, my parent teacher’s meetings and her appointments with the doctors and her beautician. She loved to look beautiful and had her own style for the same and I remember her huge collection of heels and slippers and sandals and bellerinas that remained hidden in the lowest drawer of the chest of drawers that adorned her critically clean room where everything was always at its right place and she could find everything even in the dark. I always had this peculiar

fascination to look like her, as beautiful and sophisticated as she was but I was way too young to be anything similar or even close and I remember running away wearing her slippers every time she was doing her puja or resting during the afternoons. The idea of wearing what belonged to her gave me shivers of joy as I felt myself a step closer to being her. Stepping into her shoes made me feel older, grown up and gave me a sense of authority that I never had as a child.


Image Credit: flic.kr/p/5PwKQA

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Like moth

like daugh

Arshpreet is a crazy, passionate and full of enthusiasm. Currently working as a copywriter in an ad agency, she is also working on her novel. She loves poetry and has a strong fascination for fiction. She has been writing since she was 11 and has known it ever since that she was always meant to be a writer.

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her

hter!

month I was taken by surprise when I saw her wearing sports shoes for the first time in my life. I couldn’t suppress my laughter as I hugged her and mocked at her asking her where were her heels and her face had dropped. She told me she had serious problems with her knees and she could no more carry high heels or even flat slippers and her orthopedist had strongly recommended her to wear sports shoes. I was getting ready for my cousin’s wedding that evening when I looked at myself in the mirror wearing a red banarasi saree, a round bindi on my forehead, red bangles and a haircut pretty much similar to that of my mom. I badly resembled the younger version of my mother. It was as if it was her standing in front of the mirror and not me. A lump formed in my throat as I began looking for my pair of heels as I was already running late for the function and everyone was waiting for me when my mother came calling for me. She was wearing a yellow salwar kameez paired with same black sports shoes that I saw her wearing that morning. Something broke inside me as I said, “You look lovely, mumma.” And she smiled at me and told me that everyone was running late because of me. I asked her if she saw my heels as I couldn’t find them and she told me that she had seen Arya, my six years old daughter wearing them an hour ago and left the room, limping. I stared at the spot where she had been standing before she limped out of the room wondering how time had played its game and how I had become all that I had always wanted to be and how my own daughter had replaced my role. It was not a moment of joy as fear dawned on me and I realised did I really want to step into my mother’s shoes anymore? May be a couple of decades ago I would have given away anything to be anything near my mom, but today I was scared of my own future. Did I really want to be like her? I definitely wanted to adopt her character and personality but was I ready to adopt her shoes? But somewhere inside I knew that I will have to step into her shoes, may be just metaphorically or may be in reality too. May be I could see my own future in my mother as I saw a younger version of me in Arya asking me every now and then if she could wear my dresses, put on my makeup or try my heels. I wiped away the tear that had trickled down my face and went looking for Arya. I was just too late.

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SCHOOL SHOES THEY CAME IN ALL TYPES AND SIZES. “REGULAR” AND “RAINY”, CANVAS AND BLACK. THEY WERE A CONSTANT SOURCE OF PUNISHMENT FOR US — WE HAD TO KEEP THEM CLEAN TO STAY OUT OF TROUBLE!

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words VIREN PAREKH

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Standard black shoes for “regular” school days (read non-sports and rainy days), white canvas shoes for the sports days and rainy shoes (there were the ones who wore the more functional plastic sandals and there were the snooty kids who wore the big rubber gumboots). Footwear would be bought before school re-opened, of course, and there was an air of excitement as we waited for the shopping day to arrive. At the shoe store (invariably Bata), the measurements were taken and the vaguely familiar salesman made the perfunctory and cheerful remark of how we kids had grown up. As the shoes were tried, dad would come up and press the tip of toe-end of the shoes to see if they were the right size. As a rule of thumb (toe in this case!), there should be some space to allow for the feet to grow and potentially stall the inevitable expense on new shoes as we would grow out of these quickly. All three types of shoes would be tried and purchased and at the counter, dad would buy the other paraphernalia which went along with the school shoes; socks, polish and extra strings. Looking back, the shoes bring back many memories.

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1. There were kids who struggled with the shoe laces and were always seen at the end of the day, struggling to run and walk with the laces open and trailing behind them. It was only when a helpful friend/teacher came to their rescue, that they heaved a sigh of relief. 2. The aforementioned snooty gumboot kids revelled in the fact that their ankles would always be free of muck during rains, but their revelry came at a price! The wide gumboots allowed water to seep in and soon enough, they had squishy wet socks which they had to endure through the day. And yes, they could not run as fast as the others. 3. The perennial lazy bums who got hauled up by

the classroom monitors for having dirty shoes. The instances of “haul-ups” increased on days when they were supposed to wear white shoes. As the year progressed, the shoes would get dirty and the only solution was to wash them/ apply white polish. Of course another working solution found was to rub white chalk available in the classroom before stepping out to the assembly halls. It was a source of mirth to see these kids huddle together and take turns at applying chalk on their shoes just before the morning assemblies. Even today, where the canvas shoes have arrived back in fashion, memories of the times when we protected them from dirt and how the whiter the shoes were, the happier we felt, bring a smile to our face. (This piece was previously published in the November’15 Winter Edition of The Indian Trumpet)

Viren Parekh, an internal auditor by profession, moved to Dubai in 2014. An avid cricket fan, on ‘match’ days you’d find him enjoying a drink and watching the game. On other days, he loves to read & write and play the guitar. This traveller nurtures a dream: To set foot on each continent in this lifetime. You can write to him at viren.parekh@gmail.com.

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SHOES THAT LIT UP!

REMEMBER THIS? JOOTA HAI YA LIGHT? JOOTE MEIN HAI LIGHT! LA-LA-LIGHT WOH BHI SHOE MEIN, KAISA HAI YEH SYSTEM?

Image credit: flic.kr/p/7zvmbw

Kids used to love sneakers, and stuff that lit up. And when both were brought together back in the ‘90s, life was good! My favourite memory from school days was when mom bought me my first pair of disco-dancing shoes. It was such an amazing feeling when every kid on the block directed their stares towards the lights at my feet, which would become brighter with every step I took. Hearing them plead to their parents to get them a similar pair made me feel like the coolest person ever! In fact, I hardly know any kid back then whose eyes did not gleam with joy every time they saw a pair of discodancing shoes. The shoe was usually white in colour, with red, blue and green lights radiating from them like a sunbeam. It had a glow-in-the-dark feature, which managed to make every little one feel like a rockstar!

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words NAMRATA MANGHNANI image KNAR BEDIAN

(This piece was previously published in the November’15 Winter Edition of The Indian Trumpet)

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Namrata Manghnani believes she’s a permanent tourist: she loves to explore the world and gets fascinated by the little things in life. Born and brought up in Dubai, she graduated in Finance from Manchester, and changed career paths, recently. She enjoys writing about emotions, dances for inspiration, and aspires to be an author. She possesses an eye for detail: would never miss a fluttering butterfly or a grammatical error. She is now freelancing for magazines and newspapers, and growing as a writer with each word she pens down.


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joote lo , paise do!

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SHOES ARE A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE BIG, FAT INDIAN WEDDING. FROM SITTING BAREFOOT DURING CEREMONIES IN CERTAIN CULTURES TO STEALING THE SHOES OF THE GROOM...WE BRING TO YOU THE BIG, FAT SHOE & FOOT STORIES FROM INDIAN SHAADIS! words SHEREEN ABRAHAM

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In India, a country that is steeped in tradition, it’s a joy to partake in the many rituals or watch it happening, more so at special occasions. Be it a ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’ or an ‘Intimate Lean Indian Wedding’, I have always looked forward to attending these ceremonies. Having friends from different parts of India, I found the many different traditions attached to these ceremonies particularly interesting. I used to be (and still am) fascinated by the colours, the flowers, the chants, the rituals and of course the gastronomic delights!

married to a fun-loving Christian boy. They had a Hindu wedding ceremony as well as a Christian ceremony. The groom who used to call his lady-love’s father ‘Uncle’, started addressing him as ‘Mamanar’ and got really dramatic while performing the Kashi Yathra ritual…he repeated ‘movie-like’ dialogues, much to everyone’s amusement! He even asked his prospective father-in-law for a long list of material comforts, before agreeing to marry his daughter! It was all done is jest of course.

An Indian Hindu marriage is all about rituals and customs - it is usually an elaborate ceremony, because there are several rituals that should be followed before and after the wedding…and every ritual has its own meaning and significance.

The ‘Pada Puja’ is what follows the ‘Kashi Yathra’. In this ritual, the bride’s mother washes the groom’s feet with water, ‘chandan’ and ‘kumkum’ (In some customs it is the mother of the groom who washes his feet). The bride is then ushered into the ‘mandapam’.

Having spent a better part of my early years in South India, I was invited to many Hindu weddings and I used to look forward to the ‘big day’ to watch the proceedings with fascination. Being a Christian and having also been to several Christian weddings, one of the differences that I noticed was that it was customary for the Christian bride and the groom to wear exquisite footwear to match their various outfits. But during Hindu weddings, no footwear is worn during the entire ceremony and all footwear is kept outside the ‘mandap’. In the South Indian Brahmin weddings also there is no place for footwear during the ceremony, except maybe during Kashi Yathra.

After some more rituals there is ‘Sapthapadi’, known as ‘Seven steps’, which signifies the most important part of the wedding ceremony. The bride’s sari ‘pallu’ and the groom’s ‘angavastram’ are tied in a knot and the groom holding the bride’s right hand in his right hand goes around the sacred fire seven times. In North Indian weddings this is referred to as ‘Saat Pheras’.

Kashi Yathra is a fun event in a South Indian wedding where the groom embarks on a mock pilgrimage. This happens on the morning of the wedding, after the recitation of the Vedic verses and just before the main wedding ceremony. The groom dressed in a ‘veshti’ in the traditional ‘panchakatcham’ style, wearing ‘chappals’, holding an umbrella, a walking stick, a fan and a towel containing ‘dal’ and rice tied to his shoulder, steps out of the ‘kalyana mandapam’, refusing to marry the bride and pretending to go to Kashi (a sacred pilgrimage site in the city of Benares) to take ‘sanyas’ and lead a celibate life. The bride’s father then stops the groom, persuades him to change his mind and accept his daughter’s hand in marriage instead and promises him a comfortable and happy life. After much cajoling the groom relents and returns to the ‘mandapam’ to get married. I clearly remember an incident when the older sister of a Tam-brahm (Tamil Brahmin) friend of mine got

‘Sapthapadi’ or ‘Saat Pheras’, the essence of these sacred vows lies in the fact that the bride and the groom make promises to each other and to God. It is only after this ritual that the bride and groom are ‘officially’ married, so it is considered the most significant of all rituals. Amongst the South Indian and North Indian Brahmin communities there is another important ritual after the ‘Sapthapadi’ or ‘Saat Pheras’. The bridegroom chants Vedic verses and helps the bride place her foot on a grinding stone which is kept near the sacred fire. This act symbolizes the bride’s hope that the marriage will be firm and steady like the grinding stone and their union solid as a rock. In some cultures, the groom helps the bride slide the stone forward, symbolizing the vow that they will overcome the hardships of life together. The bridegroom then puts silver toe rings or ‘metti’ on the bride’s second toe on both feet. Wearing a ‘metti’ is a sign that the woman is married and also according to Ayurveda, the pressure on the 2nd toe is related to the wellbeing of the uterus, which is good for fertility. It’s mostly worn in silver because according to the traditional custom it is forbidden to wear gold jewellery

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below the waist. In a Sikh wedding too, the footwear is removed when the couple visit the Gurdwara for Anand Karaj or “Blissful Union”. The bride and the groom complete 4 ‘lawans’ as part of their ceremony which are ‘pheras’ around the Guru Granth Sahib.

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Across India in many cultures, after the solemnity of the main wedding ceremony there is a bit of fun and laughter when the groom leaves the ‘mandap’ and finds his footwear missing. Hiding the groom’s footwear by the bride’s cousins or friends is seen as an ice-breaker, between the groom’s side of the family and the bride’s family and friends. They demand money from the groom to return his footwear and this is perhaps a mischievous way to check if he is a miser! A few years back I witnessed a rather fun episode where the groom was trying his best to wiggle out of an embarrassing situation. There were about 15 of the bride’s cousins demanding a fairly large sum of money each from the groom to return his footwear…the groom claimed he had just enough cash for 7 of them at that moment and asked for a ‘credit note’ for the rest. The bride’s cousins would have none of it, so the groom ended up borrowing from his best friend to pay the ‘ransom’! Now the most significant post-wedding ceremony takes place when the bride is welcomed into her marital home. This ceremony is called ‘Gruhapravesham’ and the bride is welcomed into the new house with love and respect. The mother-in-law performs an ‘aarthi’ and invites the bride to enter the house with her right foot first and gently push a pot filled with rice. This signifies that Goddess Lakshmi follows the bride to her new home. When the pot of rice spills inside the

house, it signifies prosperity. Entering with the right foot is auspicious for the bride and the groom’s family. If the groom’s family does not live in the same town where the wedding is held then this ceremony is performed in the ‘mandap’ after completion of all the marriage rites. The Indian Wedding is like a festival in itself with the many significant rituals, the solemnity, the vibrancy, the colours, the people and the fun.

Shereen Abraham is an artist, writer, life coach, NLP practitioner, clinical hypnotherapist, pranic healer, and devotee of all things creative. She finds inspiration in the life that surrounds her… simple things like music, the sounds & smell of nature, the colours & aroma of food, people & their emotions. She can be reached at shereen.abraham@gmail.com.

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WEA

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APONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION LONG BEFORE THEY INVENTED THE PEPPER SPRAY, THE GOOD OL’ JUTI HAS BEEN INDIAN WOMEN’S WEAPON OF CHOICE AGAINST EVE-TEASING words NASRIN MODAK-SIDDIQI

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At a self-defense workshop for women journalist that I attended a few years ago, the instructor nonchalantly asked us to leave our weapons at the security. We said we weren’t carrying any. He insisted we all were stocking a pair each. Dismissing it as some kind of joke, we all let out a nervous laughter. He was stern. We looked at each other and then he pointed at our shoes. “The sharper the heels, the deadlier the weapon,” he said with a straight face. At first, we thought of it as a nice ice-breaker, but in hindsight it was one of the best lessons of our lives. “If someone attacks you, the first thing you must do is stomp on his foot. The reflex would be, he’ll release you in pain, then run. If he follows you, beat him with your shoes,” he explained. Of course we learnt a few Krav Maga moves too, to save our lives from lecherous men, who flock the streets of India, but the guy had a point about the shoe thing. You could remove your shoe and keep hitting at his face repeatedly with the pointed heels – like in the cartoons – until he sees a halo of #$%& around his head and probably faints or something. I digress.

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SHOEGATE If you wonder why you have to do the absolutely annoying task of taking your shoes off to go through the detector at the airport, blame Richard Reid. This British citizen and Al Qaeda operative had attempted to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes. Idiot!

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Anyway, ‘chappal aur juti se marna’ is the first thing we learn from our older sibling, cousin ‘didi’ and ‘pados wali’ aunty when we as a tender 10-yearold, actually see them threaten the roadside Romeo with it. And to think of it – it’s so cool ya. Like just one or two beating and the crowd will take care of the rest. Everyone getting their frustration (personal and professional) on the ‘sadakchap’ hero who was trying to be smart. But I think it may be useful in a bit


The chappal is also every distressed Indian mommy’s favourite. Like seriously, they may never have thrown a ball to a bat in their entire life, but if they aim a chappal at their kids, it would hit the right spot. more graver situations too. Like when you walking alone, late at night on a dimly lit street and someone follows you, you just get out your stilettoes and poke the heel in his eyes. In a really, really, really, really gory way. Sorry for my sadist rant but again, it would be so damn cool ya! You know back in 2011, the BMM students of Wilson College, Mumbai started a unique ‘Chappal Marungi’ campaign to encourage victims of eve teasing to strike back at molesters. Not sure where it stands today but I believe it was a great initiative. Because chappals do speak louder than words – literally. MUMMY’S BELOVED This chappal thing is also every distressed Indian mommy’s favourite. Like seriously, they may never have thrown a ball to a bat in their entire life, but if they aim a chappal at their kids, it would hit the right spot. If not, they have been threatening their kids to behave better else be beaten by ‘juti ki maar’. But then, it’s probably the only thing that has been shaping the

future of ‘bhartiya bacchas’ since forever. JOURNO’S FAVOURITE If you think that only women use shoes, juti, chappals as weapons, well not quite so. Some time ago in 2008, during a ceremonial signing of an agreement between President George W. Bush and Iraqi premier Nouri Kamal al-Maliki, an Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi (he’s my star) threw his shoes at Bush. The guy became a cult hero and was even given a bravery award by a Libyan charity group. But then damn President Bush’s good reflexes. Huh! On home ground, remember this fun time when Jarnail Singh, a senior reporter with Dainik Jagran who threw a shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram at a press conference in April 2009? He was protesting against the minister’s reply on his question on CBI’s clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 Sikh riots case (I wouldn’t blame him. Well, the shoe did not hit the minister and the poor reporter, was taken into custody. Sigh!

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Nasrin Modak-Siddiqi is a writer, foodie, traveller, and movie-buff. She has many stories, some real, others figments of her imagination. On sabbatical from full-time scribing, her current motivators are good trips, meals, books or movies. She writes fiction, clicks photographs and edits old ones to add drama. Find her at continuumera.blogspot.com


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SORRY

I AM! THE INDIAN TRADITION OF TOUCHING THE OTHER’S FEET TO SEEK FORGIVENESS IS DEEPLY ROOTED IN OUR CULTURE. THERE’S SCIENCE BEHIND IT TOO... words SHEREEN ABRAHAM

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Forgiveness is a trait of the strong and it certainly is the root in understanding everything. They say a person’s character can be measured by how they react in times of adversity. When there is calm in your life, it is easy to be loving, cheerful, kind, and peaceful, but what happens when your world is not rosy and the core of your soul is challenged? It is then that forgiveness, love, kindness and compassion that form the foundation of peace around us. The word ‘forgive’ means to ‘wipe the slate clean’ and ‘start all over again’. When we unknowingly do wrong to a person, we seek their forgiveness so that the relationship can be restored. There are many ways we can ask for forgiveness – by saying the words while looking at the person or when holding their hands, on the phone, by a letter, email or text message or by touching the feet of the person we have wronged.

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This touching feet and asking for forgiveness is deeply-rooted in our culture. My first introduction to this tradition was through the melodramatic scenes from a few Indian movies that I watched while growing up. When a simple ‘sorry’ or a ‘please forgive me’ or ‘my apologies, I didn’t mean to hurt you’ – didn’t work - touching (at times, falling!) the feet and begging for forgiveness almost always melted hearts. On a more defining note, there are a great many beliefs and traditions surrounding feet. Touching the feet of elders demonstrates respect and submission. Traditionally, an Indian does it when meeting an older person after a long time, during special occasions, family gatherings at festivals, when leaving for an important event or assignment and when seeking forgiveness. There are always two aspects to forgiveness – forgiving others and seeking forgiveness from others. Both aspects are important to repairing relationships. Forgiveness must be unconditional, genuine, sincere and without further expectations. Touching the feet of a good person and seeking forgiveness makes us feel suddenly better in the same way that an affectionate hug or a good handshake does. There is science

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“TO UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING IS TO FORGIVE EVERYTHING. - BUDDHA


“THE WEAK CAN NEVER FORGIVE. FORGIVENESS IS THE ATTRIBUTE OF THE STRONG. - MAHATMA GANDHI

behind it. The nerves that start from our brain, end in the tips of our fingers and toes. When we bend down to touch the feet of the other person, a circuit is formed and the energies of both the people are connected. The flow of energy forms a connection between the two hearts and two minds.

before stepping on it. This is practiced because each one of us should be grateful to Mother Earth for her bounty. As we cannot help but place our feet on the mother who gives us so much, we can only ask for her forgiveness, by bending and touching the ground with our fingers.

Also, in the Indian culture the Earth is considered to be like a mother as it provides for all our needs – just like a mother who takes care of the needs of her child. For many Hindus, it is customary to touch the ground with reverence first thing in the morning

Forgiveness is such a beautiful feeling when you receive it or give it and like an anonymous quote says – “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the flower leaves on the heel of the one that crushed it”.

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Shereen Abraham is an artist, writer, life coach, NLP practitioner, clinical hypnotherapist, pranic healer, and devotee of all things creative. She finds inspiration in the life that surrounds her… simple things like music, the sounds & smell of nature, the colours & aroma of food, people & their emotions. She can be reached at shereen.abraham@gmail.com.


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nazar battu

WE KNOW HOW ARE OUR COUNTRY IS FULL OF QUIRKS, WITH SUPERSTITIONS LEADING THE WAY FOR EVERYTHING GOOD AND BAD. WE TAKE A LOOK AT THOSE RELATED TO THE FOOTWEAR words NASRIN MODAK-SIDDIQI ‘Ekdum 100 % effective – or your money back’ said the thin strip banner below a small stack of few, shining black horseshoes. In this tiny shop in the labyrinth called Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, they had all kinds of nazar battus (objects that ward of evil eye), including the modern and glistening Turkish Evil Eye and Feng Shui coins, but the horseshoe looked one of a kind. Since the ‘promise’ piqued my curiosity, I asked the owner, what was so special about it.

Getting back to totems, have you seen trucks in India, hanging a single piece of footwear in the front? It’s a charm they use to keep the evil spirits away. Considering that truck drivers are on the roads, day and night, for long duration on lonely, unlit highways, it sure is the ‘joota’ that keeps the evil spirits at bay. Then in some rural Andhra household, a garland of old shoes is hung outside the door to keep evil spirits off the limits of a pregnant woman. Whoa!

“Arre madam this is not an ordinary horseshoe, it’s from a black horse’s right leg, taken off at an auspicious time. It even protects you from tantric attacks. Also, if you perform puja on it, all your wishes will be granted,” he said animatedly. “Interesting,” I said, adding further, sounding like an NRI (although I am not one) “do people really buy this kind of stuff even now.”

But then this shoe and evil eye business isn’t just restricted to India, recently, they found a 300-year-old lucky shoe in the Cambridge University wall building in the UK that was apparently put there to bring luck and ward off evil spirits. One hell-of-a-classy-geeky bhoot it must have been to choose a university of that rank.

“Of course,” he said over-convinced but looking at me rather suspiciously. Must be. We’re so used to believing in superstitions blindly that I didn’t feel like questioning him any further. Back home, mum always insists that I wear the right shoe first. When I first asked her why in my teens, she gave me a puzzled look. “You don’t question such things,” she said. I’ve obliged all these years but I am not sure if I’d be able to thrust this belief on my two-year-old a few years down the line. I bet she wouldn’t even listen to me. Coming to think of it, this ‘right’ thing is so fed in my sub-conscious mind, I realised, I always put on my toddler’s right shoe first. Hmmm. And then there was this one friend from college who said one must never gift their boyfriend shoes as it can cause a breakup. Not sure where that came from but I’m certain that ‘gifting shoes to your date’ is not considered appropriate anyway.

But then I think it is all fun and games until it crosses the line of disgust. In the name of curing possession by spirits, women of Bhilwara are subjected to gross, degrading and inhuman rituals of drinking water from shoes to get rid of evil spirits. Some are even expected to walk with shoes on their head, in their hands and in their mouths to do so. We sure know how to humiliate the less-powerful – all in the name of belief. On that note, I remember this one time when one of my shoe was accidentally left on the other from the same pair and mum said, it means you will travel far. She was right. And this has somehow always happened before any of my big travels. Weird but true, it was a sign. At the risk of being termed superstitious, I admit that these days, I constantly keep an eye on my shoes to go one on another - but it’s not happening. Been long now that I have been waiting for my shoes to touch another shore!

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Nasrin Modak-Siddiqi is a writer, foodie, traveller, and movie-buff. She has many stories, some real, others figments of her imagination. On sabbatical from full-time scribing, her current motivators are good trips, meals, books or movies. She writes fiction, clicks photographs and edits old ones to add drama. Find her at continuumera.blogspot.com


the life of a mochi WE ADDRESS THE ROLE AND SITUATION OF A COBBLER OR MOCHI IN INDIA IN TODAY’S AGE, AND HOW HE’S UNDERPAID, YET CONTENT WITH HIS LIFE.

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words PHALGUNN MAHARISHI

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“ DEVRAJ, A MOCHI WHO USUALLY SITS UNDER A MAYFLOWER TREE ON THE MAIN STREET OF A POSH

LOCALITY IN MYSORE, ALWAYS REPORTS TO HIS WORKSTATION PUNCTUALLY DESPITE HIS HUNCHBACK. THE LOCALS SAY THEY’VE NEVER SEEN HIM FAILING TO KEEP HIS DATE WITH THE TREE.

India has widely differing cultures, practices, traditions, values, and beliefs. When venturing down a street in any part of India, two eyes are simply not enough to take in the truly vernacular sights. One of which will be among a voice calling out loudly: “Polish! Polish!”, “Shoe Repair! Shoe Repair!”

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Yes! It’s the cobbler, better known by the desi (Indian) name mochi. He can be found sitting under a tree, undertaking his work of repairing shoes and sandals no matter what, rain or shine. All he has for shelter is the tree itself. Trees have always been part and parcel of mankind’s existence. They’re tied into almost every age-old story, including those of our very origins on planet Earth. The Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. The Banyan tree takes its name from the word ‘Banya’ meaning ‘merchant’ due to the fact that business was frequently carried out under the tree’s sheltering branches, shaded from the harsh and scorching sun.

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The poverty of the common man led to trade under the trees. In villages, the mochi plays an important role in repairing shoes and sandals. Shoe stretchers, shoe stands, hammers, nails, needles, thread, wax, glue, dubbing and a variety of brushes are the items that constitute his simple work-station. These tools are spread out across thick, dusty rugs, with shoe moulds hung on nails rammed into the trunk of the tree. A mochi is genuinely Indian in every aspect because of the way he usually sits: cross-legged at his work-station all day. He doesn’t care about the dirt that permeates his body and clothing as he beats the leather into shape, as this is his livelihood. Devraj, a mochi who usually sits under a Mayflower tree on the main street of a posh locality in Mysore, always reports to his workstation punctually despite his hunchback. The locals say they’ve never seen him failing to keep his date with the tree. Devraj speaks stoically about the hardships he faces: “I came to Mysore twenty years ago from a nearby village to


earn my living when I was just fifteen. I work hard days and nights without noticing the heat or cold.” Unfortunately, according to Devraj, the work of a mochi doesn’t involve manufacturing shoes anymore; their main business has taken a lateral shift towards polishing shoes and repairing them. Another mochi by the name of Ram Prasad shares his experience as he works: “I’ve been sitting under this tree and plying my trade here for the past ten years. I have to manage during the seasons with a plastic sheet overhead. There are ants running up the tree trunk behind me, and traffic across the road is very heavy, but I just carry on working.”

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A regular mochi is usually paid very little; in fact, next-to-nothing for his services. The highest amount asked is around 10 rupees to repair a very badly damaged sandal. It’s very difficult to meet the most basic needs of life from a mochi’s wage, given the high living standards set in this technological era. It’s thus wisely said that: “The shoemaker’s children are often shoeless.”


“HISANOTHER MOCHI BY THE NAME OF RAM PRASAD SHARES EXPERIENCE AS HE WORKS: “I’VE BEEN SITTING UNDER THIS TREE AND PLYING MY TRADE HERE FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS. I HAVE TO MANAGE DURING THE SEASONS WITH A PLASTIC SHEET OVERHEAD. THERE ARE ANTS RUNNING UP THE TREE TRUNK BEHIND ME, AND TRAFFIC ACROSS THE ROAD IS VERY HEAVY, BUT I JUST CARRY ON WORKING.

Ram Prasad continues: “I learned how to make and repair shoes from my father. With factory-made moulded footwear becoming more popular, opportunities for mochi work have declined. Previously, we used to make each part of the shoe or slipper separately and then assemble them in the end. Now it’s more about patching up some part made by a machine”. He also mentions that footwear used to be mostly made of leather with wooden heels: now it’s all about lightweight materials like cork and plastic. Making money as a mochi in India is really hard: they pocket around 100 rupees on a busy day. Devraj hopes the government will do something to help: “Even a small shed for us to work in would be welcome.”

trumpet lead

Devraj, now 65, with his children happily married and settled, doesn’t depend on them and takes pride in his skills. There’s even a zing in his voice as he goes about his work! His workplace cubicle is very simple and humble, but wide open so the public can spot him easily. His shop is simple but quite organised. He doesn’t have comfortable seating arrangements and won’t leave his cubicle for regular breaks, as he might miss potential customers. He repairs shoes with very basic equipment. There are a few automatic machines in his shop: he relies on his legs, hands and eyes mostly. He has got into the habit of recycling old shoes and reselling them after minor repairs. His specialisation is fixing leather slippers, but he’ll also polish shoes and mend bags, etc. In the olden days, big trees like the Neem (Indian lilac), Banyan (fig), Peepal (fig) or Sheesham (rosewood) provided the mochi with a huge shelter space in which to carry out his work. The modernisation of cities and villages has resulted in tree-cutting to make way for road widening. Now the wealthy have million-rupee homes and the mochi hardly has any business: the rich don’t approach him at all. Hassin, another mochi, believes that God provides him with his daily bread, and what more he could ask for? He comments, “As long as I have a cup of chai (tea) in my hand, I’m content. When it rains I go home but I’m not happy at heart. I only feel at peace when I am back at my seat under the tree.”

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fathers & sons AN EMOTIVE TALE OF THE SWEET, VICIOUS CYCLE OF YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW words VIREN PAREKH

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It seemed like an eternity, but it was finally 6.30 pm. Any second now… and finally, the doorbell rang! I hurriedly tailed mummy as she went to open the door. And there he was! Papa was home. He smiled at me as he handed the bags and groceries to mum and I ran to hug his towering frame, only managing to reach up to his knees. It was our routine evening ritual. He would come home, tired but glad and would sit on his favourite chair. And before he took off his shoes, we would play our little game, where I would, barefoot, step on his shoes and he would hold me firmly by the elbows suddenly leaning back and propping his legs high, taking me by surprise and making me give out excited little yelps. I don’t know what was more fun - the actual moment when he lifted his legs up or those tense moments of looking at his deadpan expression, before he would push me up again. Now, years later, I can still remember: the combination of the smooth touch of leather and the coarse shoe laces, the few specks of dust on the brown (and black), glistening shoes only accentuating their cleanliness, Papa’s firm grip on my elbows and those moments where I was propelled suddenly off the ground, supported firmly by his shoes, looking at each other and never wanting the moment to end.

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My little boy had grown up and his feet were as big as mine! It was his 17th birthday and my timid and shy young son was slowly growing up to be a fine young man. Over the years, lot had changed. Earlier, as a boy, he would grip my hand a little firmer when we crossed the road. Now he would steer clear and give me a sheepish smile as we walked side by side, crossing the road. He was almost my height now and he seemed to be more and more excited and curious to know if he would possibly grow taller. Every few months, he would suddenly walk up to me, stand beside me and ask his mother or sister to tell him who was taller…I have to admit I would always look forward to be declared as the taller one. And now, on his 17th birthday, at the shoe store, the usual salesperson who knew us checked his shoe size. The salesperson smiled satisfactorily and told me “He needs a 9” and went to the storeroom to bring the correct size of shoes. It was only four words, “He needs a 9”. No, it wasn’t the words. It was the edge of the emotions that pierced me along with the words. The store felt small and suffocating and without excusing myself, I hurriedly walked out to get some air. My little boy had grown up and his feet were as big as mine. I thought of his first shoe, which I still have, and how it was smaller than my palm. I thought of how I taught him to tie his laces, and how tiring it was when we would both sit on our haunches, practicing and finally falling on to the ground laughing, tired, and frustrated because he could not get it right! I thought of how proud I felt, when, just the other day, I overheard him, admonishing his friend for not wearing polished shoes…”The shoes tell your story” he said my words and I mouthed them gently with him. I don’t know why I felt a tinge of sadness. It was almost as if an intruder had broken into the cocoon I had weaved around him and pulled him into the real world, from which I always wanted to save him. It was almost as if I had thought I would battle alone and keep him shielded from the worldly troubles and yet, today, here he was. Standing tall with his father. I walked in with a funny, half happy, half sad mood and there he was strutting around in his size 9 shoes in front of a mirror. As our eyes met, we both smiled at each other’s reflection in the mirror. Happy birthday son, happy birthday.

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Viren Parekh, an internal auditor by profession, moved to Dubai in 2014. An avid cricket fan, on ‘match’ days you’d find him enjoying a drink and watching the game. On other days, he loves to read & write and play the guitar. This traveller nurtures a dream: To set foot on each continent in this lifetime. You can write to him at viren.parekh@gmail.com.


jutties & m fashion fry

the elegant, colou fashionable living

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mojaris

urful, and g tradition

words BHAVNEET BHATTI & MARIA HUSSAIN

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EVERY STATE IN INDIA IS FAMED FOR ITS OWN UNIQUE CULTURE AND HANDICRAFTS, INCLUDING DISTINCTIVE FABRICS, PAINTING TECHNIQUES, AND EMBROIDERY STYLES. PUNJABI JUTTIES - IS ONE SUCH VIBRANT FORM OF WEARABLE ART - BELONGS TO PUNJAB, NOW SHARED BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN. THE LAND MAY BE DIVIDED, BUT THE CULTURE LIVES ON ACROSS BORDERS. WE SURVEY THIS COLOURFUL TRADITION OF INDIAN JUTTIES VS. PAKISTANIS MOJARIS.


Punjabi Jutties A WALK THROUGH THE STREETS OF PATIALA, INDIA THAT WEAVES TALES OF THE TRADITIONAL JUTTIES words BHAVNEET BHATTI Completes the mutiyaar look with your Patiala suit. Adds a dash of desi to your western outfit. The embellished one’s could be a bride’s pick for the D-day. And the regular ones could be a saviour for those stiletto suffered feet. Made in pure leather, embellished with traditional work ; a perfect blend of comfort and style this much loved footwear of North India is none other than the Punjabi Jutties! With a whole edition dedicated to footwear, Punjabi Jutties find their place as the popular footwear for men and women in India and of course Indians abroad. Beating the boundaries of age, gender, rich or poor, occasion or regular wear, formal or casual, Punjabi Jutties are for everyone. If you are a North Indian or have known one, you are sure to have at least one pair in your collection. With its close variant Mojari more famous in the Western part of the country, the jutties and mojaries make for a much sort after footwear for the multiple reasons. As we take you through this piece dedicated to the Punjabi Jutties we bring you all that you need to know about the jutties.

fashion fry

From gold and silver embroidery to abstract prints: The origin and evolution of the Jutties. With a legacy dating back to centuries, the traditional Punjabi Jutties have an unmistakable touch of rich heritage and culture of Punjab. Origin of this footwear takes one back to the royal corridors of maharajas and maharanis of ancient Punjab who donned this footwear, more a piece of art for the way they were crafted. While it has evolved over a period of centuries, it still has to it the old world charm of royalty which blends perfectly with a variety of apparel. The evolution in the make and look of jutties is an interesting one. The centuries old originals, worn by the royals can be adored at the museums that preserve the royal couture. Heavily embellished with precious stones, gold threads and fine detailing of beads and tilla work, this footwear is no less than an exquisite piece of art crafted with patience and a legacy passed over from generations. As precious as the rare piece of jewellery, delicate yet sturdy the royal jutties silently narrate tales of royal elegance. Over the passage of time while this traditional elegance has remained a significant feature of the traditional jutties, its evolved ‘modern’ forms have also surfaced. From the multi colour embroidered one’s to one’s with bead work, tilla work, ghungaroos and much more, the variety is mind boggling. The latest being the printed cloth variant of the Punjabi jutti. From block prints, to the abstract digital prints, from regular everyday wear to the zari cloth for occasions Punjabi jutties are now available in your choice of cloth print and customisable too with your choice of cloth being used to create an exclusive jutti to go with your apparel. While the one’s with cutwork and traditional patterns in leather work

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have been the all time favourites, the new evolved versions work as a perfect accessory to complete the fusion look. And the stylish footwear is for all. While the feminine one’s come in embroidered, embellished cutwork and print versions, the masculine one’s again range from an everyday wear to the tilla work jutties for men that go perfectly with the Shervaani or any other ethnic wear. While for some it is the comfortable everyday where for others it is the style statement to flaunt with the white crisp Kurta and Pyjama to complete the casual desi munda look! And there is a whole range for the kidos too. Starting from toddlers to the teenagers, jutties are for all. From the Jutti vali gali in Patiala to the online shopping destinations: Where to find the perfect pair? While the online shopping portals promise the product of your dreams just a click away from you, shopping for jutties the traditional way is an experience in itself. Amritsar and Patiala being the important centres for this footwear, picking up jutties from the old street markets here is definitely an experience to take. Picture this – while your GPS gives up at the thin meandering streets of the Adaalat Bazaar in Patiala you finally park your car and walk around the bazaar asking for directions to the jutti vali gali next to the topekhana mod. The names almost bring alive the times of forts and markets of the yesteryears. As you reach the jutti vali gali a whole lane of shops exclusively dedicated to the Punjabi jutties awaits you. Plain, embellished, printed - the variety is endless. As you take a seat in one of these shops the owner tells you the rich heritage of the business and how his forefathers have been in this craft for years and beyond. They guide you on everything from the fit, to the style, to the size and the colour. How they can adjust it to your feet and how you can preserve them for a longer life. The jutti buying experience turns into a story telling come a style advisor and fit facilitator session and those jutties might get worn out after a while but the memory of buying them remains. And for those who can’t make it to the buying experience there are endless portals dedicated to the Punjabi jutti shopping that will get you the footwear in the hues, materials and work of your choice. While the jutties are extremely comfortable they are equally easy on the pocket too. A regular pair from the street market starts from 500 rupees and with average bargaining skills it could be even lesser! The embellished ones could easily fall between 1000 to 1500 rupees. As for the swanky shops and online portals again a decent pair could be yours easily under 2000. So if you have a pair it is time to add to the collection and if not it is definitely time to own one!

If you love to eat then you’d do anything to be in the classroom of Bhavneet Bhatti. For this assistant professor at the School of Communication Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh is likely to reward you for your good performance with a lovely meal. Meals and capturing memories surrounding each is what she loves the most, followed by researching (she is a PhD) & teaching. Also, these days she is back to romancing the words and fall in love with one of her oldest passions, writing.


On the streets of Patiala, Punjab, India

SOME TRIVIA ON PUNJABI JUTTIES - Jutties tend to take the shape of your feet in a matter of

shopkeeper who could literally hammer one to loosen it up

few days so swap the pieces between the feet to get the

a bit.

perfect fit. - If the jutti pinches your feet a dab of Vaseline or a moisturiser would work wonders in softening it to protect your feet - Want a quick size adjustment, feel free to ask the

- Want a quick shade change, the leather jutties can easily be made a shade darker with a quick kerosene polish - Throwing away an old jutti – consider it as a traditional mechanism to ward off an evil eye by hanging it to your car, though more common for the truck valaas.

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fashion fry

Snapshots from Bur Dubai’s shops that sell mojaris

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Pakistani Mojaris

A WALK THROUGH THE BUR DUBAI SOUK THAT WEAVES TALES OF THE TRADITIONAL MOJARIS words MARIA HUSSAIN If you think India, Pakistan and other South-Asian countries are the only places that cater to street shopping, think again! Known as the world’s possible next fashion capital, Dubai is a city that is known for its evolving fashion industry. From the biggest mall to the major streets, this city develops its fashion scene every day. Dubai is best explored through its most prominent places, which also includes the various souks around. The old souk, also known as the Textile Souk or Bur Dubai Souk, is the traditional one, with a labyrinth of small stores selling a wide range of products that include fabrics, clothes, footwear, and souvenirs. At the first glance, the souk reminds us of the olden times with its arched wooden roof and wind towers in every corner. Many shops are owned by the North Indian traders, some of who arrived here way back in the 1950s. At one corner of the souk, there stands a 25-year-old shop with the colourful traditional Mojaris - flat ballet-style loafers for both men and women. An abundance of customers wait in line to get hold of these at the shop that overlooks the sea. We managed to have a quick chat with this young man. Meet Mohammad Waleed, a 21-year-old enthusiastic shopkeeper, who couldn’t stop smiling as we spoke to him about the Mojaris he sold. Coming from Pakistan’s Punjab region - Faisalabad, Waleed is well-informed of these traditional shoes. “This shop belongs to my uncle who came to Dubai in early 1970s,” he said. They get these Mojaris in stock from three major cities of Pakistan- Faisalabad, Lahore and Multan. From Mukesh and Tabka, Tilla to Dhaaga and Ganga Jamana work - this shop features all sorts of traditional handwork on the mojaris. According to historians, the Mojari originated under the Mughal Empire, where it was decorated with colours, gems, and other ornaments. They are said to have been popularised under the Mughal King Saleem Shah and are often referred to as Saleem Shahis.

are considered the best in terms of workmanship as well as matchless designs. “Mojaris are classified based on the type of leather that is used to make a specific pair. For instance, a Mojari made out of camel skin is known as Nagra, while those made out of goat skin are called Saleem Shahis,” informed Waleed. He also adds that the quality of a good Mojari depends on the leather used but some of the characteristics include thick appearance and stiffness of the leather and the colour of the upper and lower sole being the same. Nowadays, instead of the traditional leather, a wide range of other fabrics such as velvet, cotton, silk and jaamawaar are being used to modernize these Mojaris. The sole of Mojaris can either be plain or embroidered. The distinguishing feature of men’s Mojari is the sharp extended tip called ‘Áli Baba Nok’ while Mojaris for women are narrower and more colourful, decorated with different types of beads, sequins, mirrors, pearls, shells, brass nails, bells as well as gotta, ribbons, mukesh and velvet that accentuate their beauty. While Mojari is referred to a man’s closed shoe with the curled tip of the ‘Áli Baba Nok’, the other types, known as juttis, have flat fronts. In Juttis, the rear is normally covered, but Mojaris have an open look from behind. Produced mainly in Multan and Rajasthan, West Punjab, these Juttis were flat soled and there were no left-right distinctions between them. Waleed is quite happy with the number of customers he gets each day. He feels proud when he explains the mechanism and cultural value of these shoes to tourists, who are the most frequent buyers from his shop. In his words, “It’s wonderful when tourists question us about mojaris. They get extremely mesmerised with the vibrant colours and the gems and stones work on some of these. It’s an honour to spread our tradition abroad.”

The outstanding feature of these shoes is that they are made completely by the hand, which includes stages like cutting, embroidery, and stitching. The process of making a Mojari includes tanning, curing of leather, cutting and sewing the insole, outsole, sole and the vamp.

Mojaris truly symbolise our cultural diversity. From India to Pakistan, this timeless footwear is a major fashion trend popular in all age groups. While young girls put them on with skinny jeans, older women wear them with chooridaar pyjamas. The best part is that Mojaris can now be customised and be made into any specific design.

Mojaris are of various types, with Kundan work being the latest trend. Some embellished with colourful gems while some are embroidered with traditional colourful threads that

So in case you’ve never tried Mojaris, it’s never too late to incorporate it as a part of your tradition into the modern world!

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Maria Hussain is a Dubai-based freelance writer who is passionate about penning down stories of common people and their extraordinary lives. Her forte includes cultural diversities, social issues and educational topics. She tweets @MariaHussain5


diary of an indian

the woes of

big feet

When you can’t find your shoe size!

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What’s worse than being judged for being overweight? Think harder, with all your might, strain every nerve if you must and if you still can’t reach an answer then you certainly need to read the rant of this girl - the girl with undeniably, immeasurably, heartbreakingly ..... BIG FEET, that’s ME! (Woosh! There, I finally said it!) Other girls, well they can turn up looking ohso-cute in their tiny damsel shoes to parties, to dates to practically everything. But not me! I remember my childhood - literally begging my dad to let me buy a pair of white sandals with a prominent flower stuck to it. I agree they may have made for an embarrassment today, but back then, anything other than sports shoes (read-dreaded feet closets) would have been better. This part of my story is called ruined childhood. For most of my teenage life, I have never dared to as much as think of buying stilettos. I can vouch for how invisible and unnoticed an existence I have wanted my feet to have. To this date, I have the most vivid memory of the most awaited, eventful night in a hopeless romantic girl’s life - the prom night. That was the first time I danced with a guy I was absolutely smitten by. The look in his eyes, the way he walked me down to the dance floor after he tied on my wrist a beautiful corsage in a rather charming way-in that moment, everything is so gorgeous- his

dreamy eyes, your silken silhouette, and also the glances that other women steal and envy every time you waltz your way into each other’s heart. And then, when everything is going so smooth, there comes a bad, fearful, cringe-worthy moment; well, atleast for a girl like me, one that involves you stepping on his feet and then dancing. Its supposed to be a cute, intimate and romantic dance, something to bring them so close to each other that they would nearly kiss, only in my case I pitied the poor soul for having to bear the burden of my big feet. When I go shoe hunting, I sympathise with the salesman - the wretched guy who suddenly has to work at making my feet look bearably feminine. And there are always the hurtful moments some salesmen lend to my shoeshopping exercise (trust me, it is an exercise) They just choose to point towards that one lonesome shelf with crappy, old-fashioned and unwelcoming shoes and I am left cringing in my head as I fail every attempt to make a decision out of the limited choice I have. I often think to myself if I ever have a Cinderella moment in my life- you know when a handsome guy comes looking for a particular girl with a specific shoe size, and he’s right there-the man of your dreams eager to take the first look at your feet to know ‘you’ are that girl, ‘his’ girl, only you have really big feet you want to hide...

The Differently Wired is a pen name that’s driven Garima Syal to write decent pieces. Otherwise, Garima, a writer in the making, is selectively conversant. She is creative, but highly critical of her own work. She likes to be cheerful and goofy but only with those close to her. Everyone knows her as a hardworking, articulate, intelligent, topper girl who knows what she wants in life and will get it, no matter what. Yeah, she’s all that, but at times she can be just as lost as the next person, who peeps into her written world. She believes that if you can give somebody hope, you’ve given them everything.

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words THE DIFFERENTLY WIRED


desi lit

SHOE

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E WARS

THE BOOTS VERSUS THE BAREFOOT BATTLES. SCENES FROM A HOME, WHERE AN INDIAN AND DUTCH LIVE TOGETHER. WILL THEY REACH A COMPROMISE? words KRITI TOSHNIWAL

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desi lit

Barefooot IS THE INDIAN WAY

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The ensuing story is one of constant cultural contests and entertaining little showdowns. It brings everything from individual to cultural habits, beliefs, and opinions within its folds and involves both families and countries. Every confrontation brings a fresh spate of issues to the fore. Meanwhile, negotiation processes continue to take place simultaneously on the side lines. What follows below is an episodic sequence of sub-battles from this vast civilizational saga, on the particular subject of shoes. Episode 1: A New Soap It is a period of cultural war. Turmoil has engulfed the crosscultural republic. The demarcation of the home versus the street boundaries is currently in dispute. There is a growing urgency for deliberation between the involved civilizations on the limits to exercising the right to footwear within different realms. The Dutch believe in complete freedom on the issue, including the right to walk all over your new rug, let kids jump on the sofa meant for sitting, and enter your sacrosanct bedroom, all the while with shoes on. The Indians, however, harbour strong emotions on the permissibility of such unbridled use of footwear. Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade, the adamant Indian governor of the cross-cultural republic has set up a checkpoint at the doorway where all shoes can be reported and stowed away. Public messages have been rolled out and people have been informed about the enforcement of this new decree. Visitors are now instructed to bring their socks along to be able to enter the republic. In response, Dutch rebel forces have resorted to their classic means of non-violent protest: sarcasm. They make their statement by presenting funny socks as birthday gifts to the governor at a celebratory party. The statement signals to the republic the idiocy and futility of this latest law enforcement. A new soap opera emerges that will span several episodes. Episode 2: Attack of the Boots Rebel Dutch forces have won a first victory against the barbaric demands imposed by the cross-cultural regime. Falling prey to irreverent sarcasm, the shoe blockade no longer poses any real warning or threat. It is seen by most as merely a whim that will wear out with time as the Indian governor of the cross-cultural republic integrates into Dutch society. It is a dark time for the republic. Under its failing jurisdiction, Dutch rebel troops have managed to gain enough leeway to launch a fresh attack of grimy boots on the living room and private spaces. Grains of sand and countless germs invisible to the naked eye now afflict the once spotless regime. Babies oblivious to the entire state of affairs crawl around unsuspectingly and stuff the unwanted remnants of this attack into their innocent, greedy mouths. But little do the Dutch rebel forces know, that the cross-cultural

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!

Not so long ago, in this very galaxy on this very planet, an Indian woman married a Dutch man. Together they set up their own cross-cultural republic. However, rebel forces from both sides have since been constantly in motion, challenging the finer details of this alliance.


The Dutch desi lit

ARE WILLING TO

make an adjustm BY WEARING A PAIR OF SOCKS!

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h

republic is secretly preparing its own plan of attack. It intends to use several inconspicuous yet compelling guerrilla measures to counter the situation. These will include the mysterious disappearance of outlaw shoes which may be thrown out of the window onto the street, donated and if lucky eventually found warming the feet of a random stranger, or may wind up in a dark corner under a cupboard, almost impossible to locate. The rebel forces will then be forced to return to their homes in defeat, in musty socks full of little holes through which the cold winter wind will enter and potentially freeze their toes off. Once completely laid out, this ultimate guerrilla plan of attack will spell certain doom for the band of rebels seeking to defect against the republic on its ruling for footwear use indoors. Episode 3: Return of the Barefoot The republic’s guerrilla tactic plan of action has temporarily been halted. A surprising development has completely turned the face of the Shoe Wars. A new hippie product simulating shoeless-ness has recently graced the market. At dear prices that leave a gaping hole in the wallet, it is now possible to imitate being barefoot even as your feet are safely encased in what undoubtedly is footwear. The product, a suspicious-looking, rubber-soled, flexible pair of shoe-sockglove hybrids, poses an interesting new challenge to the republic. In its rather unappealing five-toed version, it defies all previous categorizations on what counts as footwear. Dutch rebel forces have immediately taken to this adequately-named option that steers it into the grey territory between a shoe and not-a-shoe. In a latest sequence of negotiations, the Indian governor maintains that the barefoot shoe is a veritable oxymoron. It is in effect not-a-shoe that is a shoe, or perhaps the other way around. The discussions, however, tend to quickly turn into elaborate tongue-twisters and the battle rages on. Episode 4: The Discourse Awakens Desperate to restore peace and justice to the cross-cultural republic, both the governors and the rebel forces have reached a temporary tacit agreement. Dutch rebel forces have made the first move by agreeing to the use of special indoor slippers and shoes and voluntarily storing their outdoor footwear in the hallway. The governors of the republic in turn have decided to be lax with the law enforcement by allowing the rebel forces to take their footwear on and off while sitting on the couch atop the rug in the living room, even though this is part defeats the objective of the law. With the first conciliatory attempts from both sides in effect, expectation prevails that further discourse will eventually result in a long-lasting accord. In the interim, the Dutch governor of the cross-cultural republic has recently procured a steam mop to rid the rug of any dirt remains and placate the Indian governor.

ment

The Shoe Wars for now have come to an end. In their stead, the republic is currently awash with passionate disputes on another front: the concept of time and punctuality. That, however, is a story for a different space.

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Kriti Toshniwal is a freelance editor and writer living in Amsterdam. Having initially studied Economics, she quit the field when she finally admitted to herself that her heart had never been in it! She took up editing then to pay the bills, and ever since, has taken up almost every related job that came her way. She’s copy-edited as well as co-written both academic articles and books on lifestyle, photography, and more. She’s worked as a puzzle editor. Recently, she completed a second Master’s, this time in Communication & Information Sciences. Writing to her is a journey of self-discovery, and she seek to write about new and different topics, to explore the many different facets that makes her a world citizen and an Indian. Follow her: writingetcetera.wordpress.com


shoes that squeak… AND TELL YOU THAT YOUR LITTLE ONE IS SAFE… words AANANDIKA SOOD

diary of an indian

Imagine this scenario. You are working on your laptop or in your kitchen (perfecting a recipe). You are a picture of concentration and focus. There is Zen like atmosphere around you. You are calmly forging ahead on your path. But then, the very silence that was helping you work dedicatedly gives you shivers. You remember that for the last five minutes maybe seven, you haven’t heard your baby. Yes, you have also come out from Zen-o-sphere and remembered that you are a parent. If you actually have baby/ babies you will know where I am getting, but for the uninitiated, let me tell you that no sound from an active, awake baby for more than a couple of minutes is a sure sign of trouble. In times like this, I think, mothers from all over the world are grateful to the fellow who invented the squeaky shoes. The ones that go chooon choooon and chooooon. These are the shoes that look so pretty and are lightweight but, have real ammo — the sound, the alarm bell. Those shoes, my friend, are real life savers in babydom. With time you learn to distinguish the sounds they emit when

they are dry (read baby is safe) or wet (you forgot to close the door to the washroom). You can gauze what room is the baby in, by estimating from how loud or low is the ‘chooon’. I have a feeling that they were basically invented to pique the kids’ interest so that they would get off the floor after having crawled and scooted; and graduate to the next level that is learning to walk. I don’t know if the said inventor then realised what boon it is for the parents, who tune themselves to the sound of those shoes and carry on with their day’s activities. They come in particularly handy in a nuclear family set up where it’s just the mom (and once in a blue moon, the dad), who has more than a couple of chores to look after. The sound at times can get to you if the baby in question doesn’t want to take her shoes off even after calling it a day or has learnt the pressure point to just make the shoe squeak. My very own cherub would repeatedly beat it on the floor to hear ‘that’ sound. But like I said, though you may find it annoying, its usefulness can win the day!

Aanandika Sood aspires to be the rolling stone that gathers a lot of moss. After eight years of writing copies and columns, editing and scripting stories and honing her PR skills, she is now playing the part of a freelance writer and a mommie. She lives in Kolkata, blogs at aanandika.blogspot.in and writes on anything that stimulates her mind and merits comment.

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MOTHERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE GRATEFUL TO THE FELLOW, WHO INVENTED THE SQUEAKY SHOES, THE ONES THAT GO CHOOON CHOOOON AND CHOOOOON!

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TO SHOES, WITH

LOVE! AN ARTIST LEAVES HER FOOTPRINTS... AS SHE CREATES WORKS THAT REFLECT THE JOURNEY OF THE SHOE... IN INDIA...

bharat darshan

artwork SONU SULTANIA

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Rewind...footwear that our ancestors wore! theindiantrumpet.com

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HEELS OF GLAM

bharat darshan

When a lady walks into a room in a pair of red, hot stilettos! It’s said that every woman should own one killer pair.

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F M

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bharat darshan

In few North Indian homes, mums are said to use a chappal to ‘scare’ the children! Chittar padega... are words that echo in these homes... (all for fun!)

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Bata, our first pair of school shoes... We loved going to the shop, each year before the schools opened... And oh yes, the price of the shoes...99 paisa was the USP!

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On the Indian streets, under the tree... he’ll repair a pair for just a few rupees... a stitch that will save your day!

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WAVES SUNSHINE bharat darshan

Carefree...waves, sun, sand castles... on the beach, moments when you leave behind your slippers and enjoy a barefoot walk...

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The li’l joy... a father teaching his son to tie shoe laces... call it a tradition or a ritual... there’s nothing more adorable than this little moment that defines our everyday life...

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SON


bharat darshan

A man is known by the shoes he wears... do you agree? Well, after the watch, it’s the next thing we look at when we ‘judge’ a man.

RETRO

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OUTSIDE THE TEMPLE bharat darshan

A sign of respect... Taking off shoes before saying prayers, seeking blessings... Sometimes, a pair may get lost too, rather someone may pick up one!

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E

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bharat darshan

The announcement of the arrival of the little one! Tiny shoes for the tiny feet. A beginning, a pair for the new in the family.

Powered by vivid imagination and aesthetic vision Sonu Sultania uses her brush to experiment and put her thoughts on canvas. Colours and textures have always been her best companions. She works primarily in concept based and expressive paintings around the themes of women: their journeys and emotions. She has participated in many UAE exhibitions; at Pro Art Gallery, DUCTAC, e Dhabi Art Hub and so on. Her works can be found here: facebook.com/SonuSultania

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f​QYe% Jh 420 / Shree 420 ¼1955½ xk;d/xkf;dk% eqds”k laxhrdkj% “kadj&t;fd”ku xhrdkj% “kSysaæ flag vnkdkj% ujfxl] jkt diwj Image: Shutterstock

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Spring Edition, February'17  

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