Tarusa: Mix of heritage and lifestyle

Embroidery at Tarusa

Embroidery at Tarusa

It is so easy for us to romanticize about living in a village surrounded by pristine locations, drinking the matka wala paani and sleeping under the stars.

It’s all very good to crave for the ‘simplicity’ and the easy pace of living. Can we find it in our minds and hearts first? Look within rather than outside.

Is the village life really such a good life at all? The day to day struggles and general lack of facilities can be unnerving from whatever very little I have seen.

A trip to a remote village and even a small town can give one an idea of how diverse the country is and how wide the divide. We are strangers in our own country.

I have often wondered why people come from villages to towns and live in complete squalor. One only needs to visit a few to realize that the growth prospects are so stunted that anything seems better. Then again is it our fault? We living in the cities are also facing our own set of problems. We have our own compulsions.

It is true that things change and evolution is heartless. What is irrelevant today will become extinct tomorrow. It is only right that this is how it should happen. But is the speed of change bringing us to a point where we will begin to feel disoriented as a group?

No one can answer that. It is too big a question and there are too many influences to be able to arrest or even align the march of technical growth.

The best option might be to create a harmonious balance. Rather than leave all of the old behind for the new it will be most beneficial blend. We think there is a fine line we can walk and save what is important by making it relevant. The human hand is by far the most complex machine ever invented. It can create and improvise like none other can.

If we can appreciate the simple things that make life meaningful, if we can just stop short of the point where our own inventions become our masters, if we can make an attempt to bridge the gaps that exist between our “heritages” and “lifestyle” then we can co exist in a symbiosis of energies.

Clutches with embroidery at Tarusa

Clutches with embroidery at Tarusa

So we let the embroidery become a part of our home décor also, and if the young girl wants to wear the Benarasi weave as a scarf and not a saree we are more than happy to facilitate it.

If we see acceptance of the intricate filigree motifs as a bookmark, as a wine glass charm or even as an everyday earring then we would have simply found a contemporary application of an ancient technique.

We believe that hand crafting stands for the finest quality in the world and does not need excuses. Yes there are always variances between hand crafted products but there lies the charm and not the error.

As long as we are able to preserve the essence, and that is always a challenging fine line, of the elements we deal with we at Tarusa are sure that the journey  will be both exciting and fulfilling.

Value Of Human Artistry

Tarusa World

Tarusa World

I think there are worlds within worlds. And we all live in a world of our own making. Part of it is real, part of it is perception. We go along our own orbits, not realizing but carrying around us a ring that includes some and excludes the other.

But, sometimes, just sometimes some peripheries intersect and our worlds expand. Two different centers collide and the horizon changes. From two sub sets it becomes one universe. Sometimes the effect happens in a second and sometimes it takes years.

The locus of Tarusa was defined many years back. NIFT, A.D. faculty in the initial years was pre-dominantly from NID with a very strong inclination towards the craft sector. To my great fortune I was part of a month long workshop organized by NIFT and Dastakar. (Dastakar is a pioneer organization that has infused life into some of the richest yet dying art forms and craft skills of the country.)

At the workshop I was assigned to work with 2 crafts. One was metal bead making from Orissa and the other was leather craft from a village in Rajasthan. It was a life defining experience but I didn’t know it then.

We did some work, presented it and that was that. A sparkling experience and another area one briefly skims over during any training phase.

After my course got over I moved from Delhi to Mumbai and there began a long struggle to find my feet in the diamond jewellery industry. Being from an accessory design background and Mumbai being a diamond hub I thought it to be the most natural choice. Rootless and without any guidance in an unorganized sector the walk was extremely challenging.

Amidst a fluctuating career graph my pride and joy knew no bounds when I found bits and pieces of my beads jewellery in places like Bombay Stores, Chetna and other premium craft oriented spaces. Of course no one knew that I had been a small part of the process that resulted in the development of those pieces. But, it mattered not. It gave me great pleasure to see those pieces selling for years.

Almost 10 years hence came a call came from NID (National Institute of Design). Mrs. Shimul Vyas, a leading and most respected professor called me to attend a workshop at the Ahmedabad campus. I literally jumped at the opportunity.

Tarusa World

Tarusa World

To my shock and surprise I found the same group of people as I had worked with approximately ten years back. The master craftsman (I am ashamed to admit that I have lost his contact numbers again) and we had a long discussion about the results of what had been done in the previous workshop.

It was not just me he remembered. He could recall quite a few of the people who worked with his group, lest I give the impression that I was the only one doing good work.

Going back to our narrative. You know what he told me ‘ aap kuch waisa hee kar deejiye, humme hazaaron pieces ka order mila tha”. (“Please do something like you did earlier, we got orders for thousands of pieces.”)

I cannot find words to describe that feeling. I cannot thank Shimul enough for making me a part of the workshop. It has been one of my most cherished moments. The kind, where destiny calls you and shows you, where you belong. The kind, that you remember when you shut your eyes, out of sheer disappointment and need a crutch.

I have no shame in confessing that I cried. I don’t know why but I cried. Not once but many times. There were tears of joy, tears of pride and frustration cause I was so completely entrenched in the pursuit of Gold (both literally and figuratively speaking).

They say that the sum total of any life can be compressed into a few moments. And for me this was one. Do not get me wrong… At Tarusa we want to be commercially successful. We want to be a very very known name. We want everything that any organization would want. But we also want to re-find the value of the human artistry.

We want that our legacy finds new expression; little tales that hide in the old local arts is retold. We so want to understand all the layers that make a technique a legacy and make a motif a symbol. Over and above everything else we want that the people we work with are just a bit happier.

Team Tarusa is happy to have taken the first stumbling bumbling baby steps. We are thrilled to be at the intersecting point of these two worlds and hope to become a nodal point that keeps them together.

India The Land Of Prayers

Stoles By Tarusa

Stoles By Tarusa

It matters not if it is the beginning of the day or the end. starting a new log or sitting for a test, whether we receive something or give something, whether we say goodbye or welcome, we pray at the beginning of each event. And if it’s a new venture then the prayer becomes ever more fervent.

So how can it be that we start a new endeavour (Tarusa) without saying our prayers! I would like to do so by sending my respects to all my teachers who loved me and supported me. They built me. Teachers who hated me (and believe me there were enough of those too) and broke me. They built me too. I would like to thank them all because in that making and unmaking, I found my World view.

As I begin a long un-chartered journey with Tarusa this year I will meet a lot of new challenges that will test my learning so far. But one learning that I hope never to let go of and which is the trigger of Tarusa is this:

Compete with self.

This is how it came to me: The first day at NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi) was a dream come true. Today so many years later the first day is clear as crystal in my head. We went to the class and the first course was “sketching” – My favourite. We were asked to sketch a few compositions, objects etc.

At the end of the day we were graded and I got a good 8/10. There were perhaps 1-2 more persons who were in that bracket and the rest were struggling with a 4, 5 maybe 6. I was enthralled.

Coming from a background of studying the way we did (boards, rankings, percentages, peaking over your shoulder to make sure others are lagging behind etc) it was an achievement that put me in the top bracket at the very beginning.

But, this is not where the lesson lies.

This continued for four weeks and we were graded again, now at the end of the course. I got an 8.5. “Not bad,” I thought to myself. I took a walk around and found that one person had got 9 but the quality of her sketches was still not as good as mine.

Potli By Tarusa

Potli By Tarusa

I was mystified and needless to say peeved. Not being a very people’s person I thought it reeked of favouritism. I marched up to the course coordinator and asked for an explanation.

In his true cryptic style (I realized later) he replied, “You have not progressed much.”

“From what,” I asked in angst.

“From your initial work” he said.

And that is it nub of it.

We can only truly compare to ourselves. We can only endeavor to better ourselves. The only measure can be the distance we cover within ourselves. The ceilings we break and the self created myths we crack. This is the only yardstick with which we can measure our success and our failure.

Fifteen years later as we (Team Tarusa) shape and work on Tarusa we hope to excel and better ourselves. And for this we seek the blessings of all our teachers.