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Between The Rustle Of Starched Cotton Lies A Song Of Atr’e

As I navigated into the lanes and bylanes. I found this quaint little store among the tree laden streets and sleepy taxi drivers of Calcutta. I feel an instantaneous connection with the city of my mother tongue. The languid noon eventually drives you to do nothing without nostalgia. The city unfolds in every nook and […]

December 5, 2018

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Between The Rustle Of Starched Cotton Lies A Song Of Atr’e

As I navigated into the lanes and bylanes. I found this quaint little store among the tree laden streets and sleepy taxi drivers of Calcutta. I feel an instantaneous connection with the city of my mother tongue. The languid noon eventually drives you to do nothing without nostalgia. The city unfolds in every nook and corner and I treat Calcutta with the reverence of a beautiful Bengali woman. It has the resilience of a warrior, tired yet compassionate and gently sexual in its spirit.

The women in this city have large eyes that speak to you even before you have heard their voice. I met the glorious Attreya Basu in her beautiful store Atr’e. She embodied everything Calcutta. An easy charm of an artist and the hospitality of the people and the city of joy.

Suddenly I found myself among racks of beautiful Bengali Taant fabric. The gorgeousness of the fabric was breathing into her designs. All reminiscent of a weave I love. It reminded me of my mother’s sari. They were soft, subtle and full of stories. Her store had the fragrance of Dhunuchi and a red door with small stools made of jute ropes. It’s called the Mora in Bengali. The scent got me hooked into a space of solace. A space I knew so well, so familiar and like a homecoming, I was already in love.

As always I am talkative and exuberant. And in my enthusiasm, I mentioned to her how I have been searching for Shiuli flowers all my life and the Dhunuchi smell on lonely evenings. I told her about my search of certain scents that never leave the senses, ever. You can’t capture scent but hold on to it and feel its all-pervading presence within you. Many times it brings a tear to my eyes. I miss my Ma’s home suddenly in crowds. She used to wake me up and tell me. Can you see the Shiuli bloom, pujo is round the corner. The goddess is coming in a chariot bedecked with flowers.

Attreya’s choice of yarn was cotton. One of my favourite fabric. She told me about the magic of cotton and how she wishes to establish cotton as the choice among designer wear. Attreya and Simonti, her partner, offered me tea and I had to stop in between my tea and “biskoot”, exactly as  Bengalis pronounce biscuits, to be enamoured with her designs sensibility. Attreya chooses a jacket and said it would look good on me. I trusted her choice instantly because I saw a passionate creative soul and refreshingly disinterest in pushing sales to her customers. She had the languid beauty of the city. Not forced yet mildly goading me with her art.

It was a silk jacket with forest flowers embroidered all over it. The yarn is cotton with an all over texture. The white flowers on my jacket remind me of the alpona my Ma does during Pujo. It’s always white like the Shiuli bloom.

Attreya said that cotton and silk share a unique bond. The richness of silk with the matte cotton yarns is like the city itself. The rich and poor hand in hand. Just like a promise for the day ahead with hope and happiness juxtaposed against the hardships and poverty around you. It is a reminder that beauty and ugly live hand in hand in this old city of joy.  The jacket, just like the city, is chic with the old world charm of floral embroidery, embedded and textured all over with the fitted style.

She told me cotton is the most classic fabric ever born. Her endeavour is to tell the world, the magic of cotton and what it can create.

I was transported into her space and even today I can smell the Dhunuchi on the jacket everytime I wear it. It is my roots and my love for a city that I call my soul home.

 

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