Grays & Greens

As I look out of my window sitting in the most polluted capital in the world with an AQI (Air quality index) of above 1000 (for perspective, at this very moment, Toronto’s AQI is 15 and Beijing’s, considered one of the most polluted cities in the world, is 94), I see the faint silhouette of my neighbouring building which is less than 20 feet away. The dense smog that hangs in the Delhi air, kills not just the visibility but the very spirit of its inhabitants. But all is perhaps not lost! That India is diverse, and changes North to South, East to West is a known fact, but never did I imagine that the change could be so radical! I am talking here about my recent trip to the North East.. to Meghalaya in particular… to picturesque Shillong… to clean Air and an enviable embrace of nature’s greens … to its stark contrast to most of India. I wish I could tell you more about Shillong…or about the North East, but i cannot and maybe, even will not…simply because a regular rant about how picturesque it is will sound incredibly boring and perhaps even grossly inadequate.

The reality that both such places exist in the same country is both, gratifying and disturbing. I find great solace knowing that there are still places that remain where man has chosen not to destroy what God has given to us in abundance… yet, it is distressing to see what is happening to the ones where the same species has shown abundant disrespect towards their priceless gift.

Delhi, and most of India’s larger cities are sadly a living (dying?) proof of this sad truth.

I can only hope now that good sense prevails sooner than later, and that the untouched continues to remain virginal (though there were hints of the smell of burning diesel in Shillong) whilst the tormented lands are gently nursed back to good health and purity.

Its the least we owe to the planet.

I hope you enjoy the images and I sincerely hope that someday, you get the chance to visit this hidden jewel of India.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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Karan.

Lets be predictable and start with the obvious. Karan Kapoor’s father is Shashi Kapoor, his grand father was Prithviraj Kapoor, his uncle was Raj Kapoor, his cousin is Rishi Kapoor, his nephew is Ranbir Kapoor and his niece is Kariena Kapoor Khan. Overwhelming…isn’t it?.. and given India’s manical obsession with all things filmy, enough to steal the thunder from any individual’s sincerest efforts in self expression. The reason I chose to bring this out in the very beginning is because, by default, most would join these very dots to arrive at due conclusions about the man, then swoon over his demigod looks… and all this, before (and for some unfortunate souls, even after) seeing what he has magically created on his own…from his spirit. Therefore, I have chosen to introduce his family in relation to him and not him in relation to his family… so whilst he may also be a grandson, son, brother and uncle from ‘the’ first family of Indian films, he is, for me personally, one of the finest constructers of some of the most original imagery that I have seen in a long time!

‘Time & Tide’, his show of photographs, currently on at the Bikaner House in New Delhi, is based on (primarily ageing) Anglo-Indians in Goa. An Anglo-Indian himself, and having spent a considerable amount of time in Baga in Goa, Karan’s interest clearly arises from immortalising the last of a people caught between a racial divide. The works, in luscious silver gelatine prints, show the viewer an unseen and perhaps, for today’s generation, even a visually unrealised and unknown India. They express curious unspoken words through a candid and delightful honesty.. and also from the heartwarming humility of the artist.

Karan now lives in England with his family, and only recently surfaced in India after a hiatus of 25 years. He also indulges in commercial photography and the fact that his website does not show his artistic works is testimony to the fact that the man knows and respects the difference between money and the ‘spiritually’ material.

This show is a must see… you have until the 29th of this month to savour the goods;  the taste of which, I assure you, will linger in the deepest recesses of your core for years to come.

There’s a book too, for purchase, but don’t be boring, invest in a piece of artistic history instead!

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Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

 

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Vayu

 

 

A few days back, an over-estimation of my driving time for a meeting and the resultant spare time at hand, bestowed upon me a princely 30 minutes of bliss amidst a beautiful space called VAYU, albeit, housed within another exalted one: Bikaner House.

Post India’s independence and the subsequent disposal of the Indian royal era, Bikaner House lost its noble residents and instead was bequeathed with government offices and alas, even a bus depot. It suffered its unfortunate fate until Vasundhara Raje, the artistically inclined first woman chief minister of Rajasthan petitioned the courts to move such agencies elsewhere. Furthermore, my dear friend, Malvika ‘Mala’ Singh (publisher of the legendary Seminar magazine), decided to get involved in putting together the ‘ new’ Bikaner House, now considered Delhi’s ‘it’ place for interesting experiences… be it Art, Fashion, Cuisine or just about any discipline which exudes a degree of pedigree. Priya Pall, who is the curatorial Director there ensures that quality is maintained over quantity and I am confident that this incredible bunch of women will continue to positively redefine Delhi’s style quotient to its maximum.

Coming back to VAYU… there’s a fair amount of reading that you can do on it because its had its paeans sung quite impressively across print and pixels…. the coveted New York Times & edgy blogs such as the Brown paper Bag will tell you all and more, so what can I add to a space which has already been accepted and appreciated?

To me, what matters most is the energy of a space… and the love and detail that has been put in to ensure that the energy never stagnates. Between owners Vivek Sahni and Dave Chang, an inherent sense of style and evolved aesthetics is almost a given, yet what this quaint shop has working in its favour (besides the environs) is the fact that its not quite a shop at all. Instead, its a leisurely set of rooms, with a warm and chic ‘air’ about it (wish they’d popped in a cafe though; what I’d give for that perfect cup of latte!) where one can amble, relax, take in a beautifully curated India and never want to leave. You’ll rarely be jostling for space, or feeling cramped (the high ceilings…sigh…) because VAYU simply seems to understand the joy of experiential shopping. The attention to detail is admirable as is the team; the manager Jimmy Golmei is a sartorial delight and VAYU amicably, and sophisticatedly, drives home the point that for any space to be special, all things (animate and inanimate) need to come together holistically to define its ethos.

But then again, don’t take my word for it… As always, I’ll let the images speak and as always, I’ll insist that you visit it yourself for self interpretation and perhaps, for that overwhelming sense of gratitude that one often feels when surrounded by good taste.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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Italy

 

I’ve always been biased towards Europe…. the fact that this delicious pie is made up of so many parts, each slice with its own delightful and distinct spirit…the fact that the old and the new coexist within the same geographical boundaries with such ease … the fact that history romances modernity is near perfect proportions… and the reality that one can literally hire a car and drive from one experience to another on the most scenic routes known to man are perhaps amongst the few ingredients that enrich my penchant for Europe. And yet, there is much I have to see there… there is much to be absorbed…much to be shared… and these are the journeys I much look forward to.

Italy! A country I have visited several times and yet, it fascinates me more each and every time. I do however believe, that I still have to take in the true soul of this country… yet, i must admit that it remains one of my most favourite destinations in the world… for within (and besides) the usual suspects i.e. its Architecture, Art, Style and History lie several of its hidden secrets. You need to simply walk in its cobblestoned alleys, manoeuvre its mysterious canals, drive through its usually gratifying countryside and feast on the multitude of all that satisfies one’s senses, (and never in the garb of a tourist.)

Much more to be said and shared when i actually visit Italy next and soak myself in its magic once again, but till then, thought of sharing a few images made in Florence (Firenze) and Milan (Milano).

Have a Pizza today ! Celebrare!!

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Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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The Royal Nomad. 2.

More from the series. Dusky India meets auspicious India. Macchiato meets Vermillion. Exotic meets passion. Rich chocolate meets fiery Red.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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The Royal Nomad.1.

I consider myself so incredibly privileged to be able to create the kind of grandeur that I can… and India is the sole reason for it. For this beautiful country of mine provides me both, the craftspersons to create and the connoisseur to consume these elaborate and elegant interpretations of my sense of timeless style!

I’ve always believed in opposites when it comes to inspirations year after year… imbibing the crafts and culture from one exotic part of the world and then infusing it with the unrelenting mystique of my own country eventually gives birth to what i call the look of Valaya for that season and to my constant, The Royal Nomad. There is great magic in both, the Royal and the Nomad, and yet, no greater contradiction exists…and it is this difference that i revel and give shape to my dreams in real time.

At present, I am working on my couture collection for the 25th year of JJ VALAYA which happens to be this year; till the drama unfurls in a few months, I thought I’d share these images that I made very recently featuring two of my favourite creative expressions in a singular frame….. My Couture and my Home lines.

Oh Glorious India… I love you so….

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

 

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Sky ~ II

Take away the colours of the Sky (and its inhabitants) and the monochromes heave a collective and triumphant sigh before proceeding to create grayscale magic in Whites and Greys albeit with an occasional dalliance with Noir.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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