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Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Back into the Home & Hearth of the Himalayan Aryan People

October 2016

The kitchen is a very intimate space.

It is where many facets of my habits, my work style, my skills, my character, my thinking are revealed.

And so, if you are invited into my kitchen, you can infer hat you are a good friend and not a formal acquaintance who must restrict his or her presence to the living room.

Am not sure if all cultures follow this.

Some, especially in cold climates in India combine the living room, dining room and kitchen into one large room so that warmth from the hearth is usefully spread to all the inhabitants.

And so it is with homes in Ladakh.

And in reality,  being in the unseparated kitchen is just the natural thing to do.

**

Here are a few images of my days in a village home in which I was made to feel very comfortable  by people who are as warm as the place is cold.

I was visiting along with some villagers who have become my friends in the past 3-4 years. We had arrived from Leh after traveling over 160 kilometers through the Himalayas, to attend a festival.

The celebration involves dressing up and dancing until the wee hours of the morning, to ancient music and songs that have been passed down through the generations. But before we went out to celebrate …

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we sat around eating and chatting over cups of tea.

Soon I was offered sweet Angoori Chaang … home-made grape wine that is taken out on special occasions.

My children – now all in their twenties inform me that is what they call “pre-drinking” – drinking at home before going out to party!  They thought this was very cool!  Finally something to impress them!

The stove with the chimney in a neighbouring house..

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The room I slept in that night along with two other young girls from the family. In the morning I realised that one of the window panes behind the curtain was missing. But the October Himalayan cold did not come in to the room – perhaps because of the wooden walls / ceiling and the lack of wind -tunnels in the design of the building construction.

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My bed and a zillion quilts.

Am no ‘real princess’ (ref the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen  where the real princess could not tolerate a pea under seven layers of mattress) so I slept as soundly as I do in my own bed.

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And a great time was had by all!

jm

Oct 2016

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