Timeless Beauty meets Timeless Classics

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Having long crossed her silver, golden and diamond Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning monarch in British history on 9 September 2015. Completing 60 years in 2012, the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee celebration stated “In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness “

Friendships, and social causes meant a lot to the Queen, who served as a driver and a mechanic with the Women’s Auxiliary Service during the Second World War. It is in this same spirit that the queen continues to visit various parts of the world. During one such tour, the Queen found herself at the Usha Sewing Machine factory in Sri Lanka. A moment of pride at Usha where we continue to take inspiration from the encouraging words shared by her. Our paths have often merged in the past and will continue to merge in the future. Standing at the crossroads of history, we take a nostalgic look back between the folds of time.

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Usha Sewing Machines weave magic on Delhi streets

Source: St +art, India

Source: St +art, India

Usha Sewing Machines weave magic on the streets of Delhi with 90 kms of fabric! With the help of a very creative crochet artist from Poland and St+art India, Usha Sewing Machines literally painted the town Red in this inspiring project.

60 people, 3 weeks, 40X20X8 feet installation and around 90 kms of fabric! One of our biggest street art projects, in collaboration with the Delhi Urban ShelterImprovement Board, is now complete! Olek, the world famous crochet installation artist from Poland, covered an entire family night shelter with a beautiful crochet installation.

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Source: Polish Institute New Delhi

Spot this incredible beauty here: Before the Sarai Kale Khan Fly over, on the left side, behind this bus stop, after crossing Bara Pulla.

The mammoth project was supported by  Polish Institute New Delhi , Allkraftz & USHA International for supporting this mammoth project. Other fashion designers associated with it were Tarun Tahiliani and Manish Arora .

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Source: Polish Institute New Delhi

The HAB at Kala Ghoda Art Festival

1The HAB organised a bookmark making activity for kids at the Kala Ghoda Art Festival’s book swap event in Mumbai on 8th February, 2014.

X-change it, a popular organization that holds such barter events hosted the book swap event for kids between the age group of 4-12, at the Prince of Wales Museum Grounds. As part of the Kala Ghoda Art Festival,  the event gave kids a chance to exchange their read-old books for unread-old books. The HAB’s workstation next to the book swap stall encouraged children to make their own Bookmarks.  The venue was buzzing with several other activities from quiz workshops to a Zumba classes and storytelling sessions.

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The event scheduled for 11 noon, started on time, with The HAB workstation getting crowded right away!  As children queued to make bookmarks on the Dream Maker 120 Sewing Machine with the help of our resident sewing expert.

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As the day passed by, the number of children who approached The HAB workstation simply kept increasing. A few of them were as young as 4 and 5 years of age, but were so interested in the activity that they wanted to do it all by themselves without help from their parents or our sewing expert.The kids and their parents were all excited about learning to sew.

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Ours was the only workstation which attracted both kids and their parents. With several parents being very keen on making bookmarks. By the time the event ended around 5 pm, we had made 130 bookmarks!

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Kala Ghoda Art Festival Trivia:

  • The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, now in its 16th year, is a community celebration of the arts within one of the most beautiful and historic precincts of Mumbai, The Kala Ghoda Art District.
  • It is open to all, free of charge.
  • It has traditionally offered various programmes in Visual Art, Urban Design & Architecture, Music, Theatre, Dance , Street Acts, Heritage Walks, Literature and Workshops for children as well as adults
  • The Festival has grown exponentially, and is hugely successful, drawing over 150,000 people from all over the city to 350 events over 9 days. Tourists from all over the world plan their trip to Mumbai to witness the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
  • Funds raised from the festival go towards the restoration and upkeep of the area. Several heritage buildings and institutions in the area have benefited from this.

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Priyanka’s Kommitment

Waheeda Rehman recently voiced at Usha presents Mountain Echoes, that ” The role of women is changing in Hindi cinema, but we need more graceful, stronger characters.” Well, the aging Star got her wish in Priyanka’s portrayal of the World Boxing Champion Magnificent Mary, in the upcoming movie Mary Kom! If wishes were horses, we believe they would soon be running up the list of best performances (Fingers Crossed).

Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom

Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom

Magnificent Mary Kom

Magnificent Mary Kom

In retrospective Waheeda Rehman’s conversation with Arshia Sattar at the Bhutan Literary Festival had many other subtle associations on the changing role of Indian Women in Bollywood, which can be associated with the MC Mary Kom’s upcoming biopic. For instances Waheedaji hated most the Make-up ritual of the whole acting experience, carrying with her only a small mirror that simply reflected her eyes (By the way Rishi Kapoor had the biggest life size mirror during those Golden days of dramatic cinema). And here we have Priyanka with toned muscles and a look that would put many professional boxers to shame: Make-up doesn’t’ do that to you, hard work does. Thumbs up to Priyanka! And o’course to Mary Kom without whom nothing would have been possible.

“The most exciting thing for me in movie making is when the director says Action!” mused Waheeda, reflecting on her most memorable and treasured moments in her long and glorious acting career.  And for Priyanka, we guess it is going to be ‘Action’ from start to finito in Bollywood’s Millionaire Dollar Baby, only this time it is all true (Clint Eastwood eat your heart out.)

Both the actors, the graceful Waheeda and the pretty – make that – pretty powerful Priyanka Chopra will have another thing in common: After the ‘Actions’ and Pack Up’s’ their roles will linger in the recesses of their minds long after, for once. Waheeda Rehman mentioned “I usually step out of character once they say, Pack up! Sometimes, I end up feeling low and heavy. It happened with Khamoshi.”  We wonder what it’s going to be like for Priyanka Chopra, after all playing a legend, a boxing champion, and a mother of two from Northeast India, is a Raging Bull of an experience and no easy job.

For more of Waheeda’s thoughts, anecdotes and juicy secrets from the Usha presents Mountain Echoes 2014 watch the video below; as she, among many other things notes that unlike the twin roles of the vamp and the innocent heroine of the good old nostalgic days, both have merged into one today.

When asked about her favourite contemporary Bollywood actresses Waheeda Rehman listed out a few names from Tabu to Sri Devi, think she will have to add Priyanka Chopra to that list after Mary Kom boxes the office out, both commercially and critically!

A Little Writer Inspires

It is one thing to take the stage as a student at a School function, but to take it to entertain and inspire the audience at an International Literary Fest among writers of repute is something that deserves a standing ovation. Eleven year old Sixth grader Singye Namgyel, did just that on the last day of USHA presents Mountain Echoes 2014.

A reader, writer and Blogger Singye has been writing for quite a while (though never officially published.) He blogs on a range of topics from Television Shows, Books, Movie Reviews to his Random thoughts. Modest and honest he confesses that he forced his family to read his written works as a child, which to the delight of his parents turned out a zillion times better than their imaginations could comprehend, and thus the Eleven year old started blogging. Sadly some Internet Geeky Troll hacked the kid’s Blog and shut it down. But now he is back again, one of his latest Movie reviews reads thus ” Nowadays Frozen is the new Cinderella. Every kid cannot shut up about it -‘How awesome it is.’  But for me personally I couldn’t give two jacks about it!’. Frank and unafraid to speak his mind Singye rambles on in his blog about things – things we’ll be a little too cautious to speak up about as grown-ups, lest we are judged for them.


But the question remains “How did a 11 year old child make it to the Usha presents Mountain Echoes stage?” Apparently the Prime Minister of Bhutan asked a few students across grades and schools, to write an essay on Mountain Echoes. Most wrote about echoes one heard on mountain tops! Like his friends Singye was on the same ride, till he took the chance to ask the question “What if Mountain Echoes, is something different?” And soon with a little help from his parents he was on the right track. Churning out a piece of literature that was read by none other than the Prime Minister of Bhutan himself during the Opening Ceremony of USHA presents Mountain Echoes.

If this little story tells us something, it is that we must think beyond the expected and the mundane, towards impossible possibilities, no matter how much ever improbable they may sound at first. And once the improbable becomes a certainty, never be afraid to plunge into it. At first it may sound risky, but to win you need to give it all: ‘Risk Everything’, as one of the many recent FIFA World Cup ad taglines proved beyond doubt. So, no matter what: Take the ride, it is worth it. The last thoughts were also put to words by the famous Gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson, best known for his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Words which have recently gone viral on the internet in form of the following comic strip:

Hunter S Thompson

Creative Branding: Cool it Raphael!

Ask a room full of people to name top three classical painters that immediately come to their mind? Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael, are the most likely ones to figure. So, was this all our Marketing Research behind naming our groundbreaking acrylic series of colorfully glossy fans – Raphael? The answer o’course is no, if it were, we would have named it the thrilling Da Vinci or the pleasing Mona Lisa.

The Raphael Series

The USHA Raphael Series

When we dreamed of the Raphael series, we inspired to create art – a fan that would be glamorous enough for the Renaissance and yet be equipped with the latest technology that would make the Renaissance look cool and comfortable! The Sistine Chapel, thus was out of the question with all due respect, so was the Medici household. And thus we settled on the gorgeous Farnesina Villa, (then owned by the Chigi Banking Family). In two words the interiors of the Villa are ‘glamours and classical’. We could add a hundred more adjectives to it, but to cut it short -this was the place our fan perfectly fit in, adding both glamour and style. Incidentally the interiors were painted by who else but Raphael and hence the name.

Villa Farnesina

Villa Farnesina

But the story doesn’t end there, Raphael’s most famous painting in the Villa is the Galatea – a painting so remarkable for its time, that many consider it to be the beginning of baroque, the very genre our gloss finished fan was inspired from. Well, that was the story behind the name (Please don’t ask ‘What’s in a name?’ that line has simply been overused a little too much).

Galatea & Raphael Fan Detail

Galatea & Raphael Fan Detail

For us the Raphael Fan was a first of its kind with its: Hourglass inspired exquisite canopy design, Sparkling colours and its uniquely designed parallel blades that enabled high air displacement. And again coincidentally for ancient Rome the waters depicted in the Galatea painting was the inspiration behind most of the first Roman fountains you see today. The waters from these fountains made ancient Rome cool, their aesthetic appeal still manages to make a Roman Holiday cooler; and as for the USHA Raphael Fans they will always keep you glamorously happy – switched on, soothingly cool and switched off, stylishly cooler!

Trevi Fountaib

Trevi Fountain

We just hope that our homage to dear old Raphael doesn’t make him spin in his grave! Or do we? For these hi-tech fans can spin glamour into the simplest of rooms. But we are sure Raphael the eccentric he was, would be loving it. For flaunting was second nature to him, just like the USHA Raphael Series, would be to you.

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Sound of Silence

No, we are not here to philosophically muse about the Sound of Silence, nor wallow in nostalgia in the namesake Simon and Garfunkel song. But for a start, let the music be our master and draw us in with the lines: “And the vision that was planted in my brain / Still remains / Within the sound of silence.”

Gavin Francis in search of silence

Gavin Francis in search of silence

We are here to contemplate landscapes of silence with doctor, author, traveler Gavin Francis. The Edinburgh born Scotsman who finds the dark streets of his native land a little more quiet than that of India or Bhutan, if not for all our barking street mongrels. Francis spent about six months in India, time he admits not enough not only to see the country but to experience its silence.

He yearns to go over pathless seas like the ancient pilgrims did on leather boats, unsure where the shifting shores lie. To go on roads that are unaware of their beginnings and ends, for they know not the turns a traveler might take. His first foray into the world of silent spaces led him to the Laplands and to the lost islands that float between Scotland and Greenland. Silence called out to him from further North and seduced the doctor into a writer. Thus his first book True North came into being.

The universe conspired next and turned him into a traveler in search of a silence that is born of the land and drop from the sky. He walked under constellations and city lights across hemispheres North and South, searching for places where there are no markers of the passage of time. This pilgrim of silence found his alters in strange lands, each promised a certain degree of silence but never an everlasting one. Till silence whispered again subtly from the frozen South (on a lighter note the religious subtext is not at all intentional and no puns are intended).

Deep South, Antarctica called and Francis rushed into the very abyss of silence, which can only be comprehended, if lived, not read or visited. For Gavin Francis’ experience in Antarctica read the blog-post: A Love Letter to Antarctica. Remote and cold he recounts his experiences with penguins, ice, silence and months of nights, followed by months of daylight – he had finally lost all the markers that denote the passage of time. To watch him recount his experiments with silence watch the video below.

 

We met Gavin Francis at Usha presents Mountains Echoes 2014, the Bhutan Literary Festival. It was exciting and nice to listen to his adventures, almost like an old Victorian travel yarn; but it all sounded so cold. We only wished we had met him earlier, to gift him one of our Electric Kettles, at least he would have got his coffee warm and nice. After all, “How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup…”  (Virginia Woolf)

USHA ELECTRIC KETTLE 3217 for that Warm Cup

USHA ELECTRIC KETTLE 3217 for that Warm Cup

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Thread Art: Embroidery & Stitches in Time

American Quilt, 1840 (Brooklyn Museum)

American Quilt, 1840

“After all, a woman didn’t leave much behind in the world to show she’d been there. Even the children she bore and raised got their father’s name. But her quilts, now that was something she could pass on,” Sandra Dallas a reputed American voice once wrote. With all apologies to those quintessential Western words and quilting enthusiasts  we disagree, when it comes to the East. Especially in India thread art in form of embroidery are heirlooms – things of beauty, joy and truth, like Keats’ Grecian Urn.

The ancient Phulkari (flower work embroidery); the legendary Chikan craftsmanship (believed to be introduced by Nur Jahan); Kahsido work inspired by nature; the now trending mirror work embroidery – to name just a few. And who can ignore the elegance of Chinese Silk work embroidery. Yes, generations will come and go and your quilts will stay on, but eastern embroidery works are aesthetic creations not just pass me downs.

Eastern Emboridery work: Phulkari, Chikan, Mirror Work, Chinese Embroidery & Kashida

Eastern Embroidery work: Phulkari, Chikan, Mirror Work, Chinese Silk Embroidery & Kashida

However, times they are changing, the West has suddenly woken up to both Thread Art and Embroidery and have turned it into a fabulous medium of art – versatile and avant-garde, we are now looking at them from a whole new perspective. What punctuates our discussion now onward are a billion words, if each picture could be said to worth a thousand words.

The following piece is by Ana Teresa Barboza from Lima, Perú. Titled Suspension the artist uses Embroidery on cloth Knitted wool yarn.

Suspension

Suspension

While, the artwork of Annemieke Mein is unique. She combines fabric, paint and sewing threads to produce works that are realistically accurate. In the following piece titled Bulldog Ant, she uses Machine Embroidery along with applique, quilting and other techniques.

Bulldog Ant

Bulldog Ant

Inge Jacobsen uses thread work mostly on vintage commercial imagery using a Embroidery technique she has named ‘hijacking’ to throw new light on beauty and materialism – with a subtext that runs in every stitch. The work displayed below is a  Threaded Vogue Cover.

Vogue Cover

Vogue Cover

The last piece we present is by the Mondongo Argentina art collective, which includes artists Agustina Picasso, Manuel Mendanha, and Juliana Laffitte.The Untitled Portrait presented here uses various techniques created from Cotton threads on wood.

Untitled Portrait from 2008 Exhibits

Untitled Portrait from 2008 Exhibits

Wasn’t those thread and embroidery works breathtaking? Inspired?

Inspired enough to create your own pieces? Yes, we know most of you are not experts but like all of us yearn to be, when it comes to things we are passionate about. And here is where we can help you live your dream through our USHA Janome Memory Craft Embroidery Machines. Machines so technological developed and artistically inclined that they will help you weave your dreams come alive, be it an art piece or an embroidery work to adorn a dress. It is Embroidery on Autopilot! Well almost, imagination is a must though.

USHA JANOME MEMORY CRAFT EMBROIDERY SEWING MACHINES

USHA JANOME MEMORY CRAFT EMBROIDERY SEWING MACHINES

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The Spirit of Coffee

Our story begins in the mountain kingdom of Bhutan where people believe that, their is a Coffee Spirit! An occult being of element and air which can only be appeased by coffee! People take this custom seriously, religiously offering cups of coffee after coffee in various ritualistic forms to this airy being. Such beings that once walked the past, seems to have evolved with time – either just inside our heads or in themselves is debatable!

USHA Coffee Machines, to help you keep the magic alive

USHA Coffee Machines to help you keep the magic alive

Animism has been evolving over time as part of our culture and one cannot throw it away as utter mambo-jumbo because their very roots literally lie in nature itself. Arising from the trees, the elements and the world around us animism has a very conservative aspect to it. The slogan ‘Save the Trees’ could as well be an animist one. It puts forth a love and respect for nature in a ritualistic form rather than a scientific one – the belief that we can save ourselves by saving and appeasing the world around us, sounds like a very 21st century concern, yet it did exist when Shamans spoke to the stars and trees, and the trees spoke back.

LOTR Trees

The Living Trees from LOTR

Deep in our primal selves the sub-conscious still retains and respects the values of animism – the Box Office, talking walking trees from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy are a proof to that. Tolkien once wrote “…The first men to talk of ‘trees and stars’ saw things very differently. To them, the world was alive with mythological beings… To them the whole of creation was ‘myth-woven and elf-patterned’. And mark these words from yet another popular Television series The Game of Thrones “But there are some who still keep to the Old Way, worshiping the faceless gods of the Children of the Forest and the First Men.” The point being that animism has survived in various forms, hiding quietly beneath surfaces in our words and deeds. What is the plural for Magpies? A tidings of Magpies. Another point well made, shall we say?

As part of our culture, animism is so seamlessly and unconsciously weaved into our daily lives that it cannot be ignored, though often and always overlooked. Today’s Magic is tomorrow’s science, similarly yesterday’s superstition is today’s tradition, of which animism has become a part.

To learn more about the Coffee Spirit and other Himalayan animistic beliefs watch the session Wild Spirits: Animism in the Himalayas, where experts Sangay Wangchuk, Kunzang Choden in conversation with Manju Wakhley discuss the value systems, their merits and issues at Usha presents Mountain Echoes 2014

Living on the Edge

If you came here thinking of the screams and riffs of Aersomith’s most famous single and their Live Concert staple anthem – Livin’ on the Edge, you couldn’t be more wrong. But hold on because you are at the right place at ironic some level. Just as the legendary band put to melody issues ranging from racism to religion in the song, this too is about such social issues. It talks about communities in Bhutan who live off the map -without roads, electricity and other everyday things that we take for granted.

Tiger's Nest Monastery

Tiger’s Nest Monastery

A community neglected by media, their own suave urbanites, yet strangely not by the Bhutanese Royals, especially the Queen Mother (read/watch the session: The Travelling Eye). Remote and ‘so far from anywhere’ these communities live on the edge not just geographically (though that can be contested if one speaks of the Bhutanese terrain and settlements along or below the edges of mountains and cliffs like the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery); and economically living off a harsh land and dangerous forest; but also culturally preserving an amalgamation of wisdom that would sound strange to a city dweller.

Marie Venø Thesbjerg, Passang Passu Tshering, Dr. Francoise Pommaret in conversation with Siok Sian Dorji, discusses these issues beautifully in this namesake session at the Usha presents Mountain Echoes Literary Festival 2014 at Thimphu Bhutan.

As an added bonus it is a pleasure to listen to Marie Venø Thesbjerg’s talk about yet another kind of ‘Living on the Edge’ – that of Buddhist Nuns; not only did she live among them but also made a documentary on them.