The first time I met Ghulam Bhai, I wasn’t sure if I was excited or scared or worried about giving my precious silk saris to a total stranger to cut into little pieces.
I found his shop down a dingy corridor in Tardeo’s AC Market, in Mumbai and ended up spending 4 hours with the authority of dance costume design in India. We heard stories about Hema Malini’s tantrums, his first press interviews, and a sharara of Mumtaz’s that had to be stretched out inch by inch (by hand!) the night before a film shoot, using water and a steam iron.
He was silently decisive about what to do with the saris I had brought him. I tried to tell him how I wanted what, terrified that my beautiful saris would be done wrong. After listening to me patiently for a few minutes he held up a hand and said “Beta, mujhe mera kaam karne do.”
Let me do what I do best, my child.
That was over 5 years ago. Today, I have been back to this little shop multiple times and only own stunning costumes made by his experienced, perfectionist hands – that you can barely see moving when he stitches up a newly pleated sari. Thank you Ghulam Bhai! You’re a star.
Tardeo, Mumbai, March 2011.
My brother is the ultimate foodie and Singapore feeds his soul like no other city does. And if it was possible to pick a favourite dish, it would be this one – Hainanese Chicken Rice – a typical Singaporean dish; made by steaming rice in chicken stock for flavour, with boiled or roasted chicken slices. Eaten with fresh cucumber and a mouth-watering chilly-garlic sauce, this is Singapore on a plate as far as I’m concerned!
This is one of the things we eat every single time we visit Singapore.
Found in its best form at any local hawker centre!
Bugis, Singapore, October 2013.
A city girl like me, up in the mountains for 10 days? I can’t say I was thrilled. But even I felt my heart leap when the clouds parted to reveal the majesty of the snow-capped Himalayas.
Caught in this picture is Trishul – a group of three Himalayan mountain peaks in the western Kumaun region.
Uttarakhand, India, May 2016.
If moods are set by an airport, then no city in the world has it as right as Bali. This was a gateway into a city filled with the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. Not just the monuments – temples, palaces and the like – but completely ordinary ones.
Driving around the city, I asked my host (a random Balinese guy on the back of a motorcyle) what the stunning building we passed was. It had intricately carved skirting along the bottom of slanted roof, two dragons curled to face each other on either side challenging and acknowledging each other. I braced myself for an exciting answer. Perhaps the story of a forgotten princess and all there was left of her ancestral home…
“That, miss? That’s the police station.”
Nussa Dua, Bali, June 2013.
I love doors. Entrances into people’s homes, their food, their cultures…their lives and secrets. Sometimes literally, sometimes not.
A first impression, in a way.
And so it begins.
Panjim, Goa, October 2016.
I fell in love with travel through my first love – Odissi.
Being a dancer has allowed me to take my dance form – stories, concepts and experiments – to different parts of India and the world. And every space I’ve been to has given me new stories, new thoughts, new ideas.
I wanted a place to put them. And to share them with you.
Here are The Dancer Travels…
Thanks for reading! 🙂