Welcome to Carolyn Cowan Online; Designer, photographer, teacher, mother, counsellor and bodypainter.
Archive for May, 2007
It is interesting to have a day off. It has been a while since I lay in the hammock and did nothing. So long, in fact, that it is deeply challenging! Awful to admit, but the truth. Louis wants a dart board, so I have side lined myself onto Ebay and found one, then Amazon for a few filmsÄ¶..
Now I am behaving a writing weblog, but it is interesting the resistance to stillness.
I had a visit from an Indian textile merchant. He dragged really heavy suitcases all the way form Wembly to show me his wares. I have to confess to not buying much. It was old and dirty, which apparently means it is antique and the mouse eaten pieces are apparently even older. Yes, really. I chose my pile and then waved all the rupees that I had, at him. It worked fantastic. He say yes and went away happy.
My next task is to see if I can get through making cupcakes with the children and not eat any myselfÄ¶.. The challenges of being at home. The reverse was that it really felt so good to be back in the shop again yesterday and on Tuesday. My head feels clearer and I can see that I would prefer to build up my presence there than to go sideways into another venture. A good thing to know.
Unusual, but true. The truth is that I want to rant, but it is not my favourite past-time.
I will, because it is making the tip of my tongue itch.
Why can Tesco open a store in a 100 yard stretch between SainsburyÄôs and SainsburyÄôs Local? It was already insane when the Local opened, but now there are three of them. I know I should not care, but I do. The definition of insanity is to repeat an action expecting a different result. Why do we, the general public, not care? How do we keep on supporting the insanity to the point where all small retail is dammed and it is just a corporate world trashing the planet and destroying small businesses?
The next issue is the planet, again. I have discovered something really distressing, that for some reason I did not know before. Businesses do not have to recycle. Not only do they not have to, but there are no facilities for it should we desire to. I am appalled, and also heartily sick of the blame endlessly being laid against us as individuals. There is a hideous advert with a woman carrying two children through flood waters. The tag line is
ÄúBe a love, switch off your computer.Äù
What the hell difference will that make?
It is the double blind of the magician. If the government and the papers keep laying the blame fair and square against us as individuals we will not ask what they are actually doing. And the truth is we do not. We send stupid tag lines on emails asking Do you need to print this? We carefully put plastic bottles in different bins, but it is not enough. It is nothing. We are just stroking our guilt because we are incapable of acting as a collective mass and saying NO!
But also we are not responsible on a personal level for what is happening to us as a race, we have been succoured for far too long by advertising all based on the imbalance of the second chakra; that we are not enough and endlessly need more, newer, shinier, slimmer, bigger, richer, more fat filled, more sexualÄ¶..
How can we open our eyes as a mass and see what is happening? What is it going to take?
Do you remember after 9/11? Both Blair and Bush said something monumental: They exhorted us to be good citizens and carry on shopping.
No one noticed, but like blind automatons we did. And we do. It is all about shopping. And here I sit in my shop, willing it to go well.
I am tired and rather alarmingly slow today. I feel like a squeezed out piece of dried fruit. My bank account of energy is empty. An unusual state of being, but no regrets. We were showing at the Mind, Body, Spirit show in Victoria, and it was a riotous success. We had some great feedback and gave away several thousand catalogues, sold lots of mantra and DVDs and had great fun. I am blessed with assistants who have a sense of humour, thank God, or it would have been a distinctly dry affair.
I have come back to a certain element of chaos in the shop, but it is surprisingly comforting to be here alone and restore the order that I like. Little by little it is being returned to the way I like it to be.
I am taking the brazen step of some days off later this week. I am so much looking forward to it. The idea of a day spent playing with the children is so idyllic that I am loathe to ruin it with the reality of my presence! I seem to lack the gene for playing games. I say that, but as the children get older, the games improve and we did two good jigsaw puzzles this morning. That, I do enjoy. These were hard and had small pieces. It took time and effort and brought back memories of when I was a child and my parents always had an unfinished puzzle on a table in the sitting room. Monumental things that took days of patience to complete.
What ever happened to patience? No one seems to have any, any more. It is instant gratification all round. When I started Devotion, one of the first things I made was devotional tapestries. I thought it was such a great idea. No one else did. They sit in the box and wait for someone to think they are a good idea. Everything has to be instant now. Nothing can require time and patience to complete any more. If people want a tapestry now they buy a finished one made by some tiny Chinese person who is being paid a pittance to sit and fulfil their dreams of the visual manifestation of patience. Interesting times, as they say.
A last note about exhaustion. By yesterday I was struggling so I wore white. Kazam! Instant energy. Today I wore black and after five minutes had to change to white again to be able to get through the day. It is the first time I have genuinely felt the effects. I have always had enough shakti to over ride the negatives of black. But not this week. White all the wayÄ¶
A while ago, I did a meditation for 40 days. It was one where I could only say and think positive things. it was a wild experience. Really hard at first, to let go of all the judgements. Not only of myself, but of others, too, but little by little it became easier and many new things flowed from the change. I carried on, beyond the 40 days, and on day 50, found myself being totally vile and awful, as though a pressure valve had burst. it was very funny. At least in retrospect it was funny.
Now, at this point in my life I am really aware of the power and effect of words and my mood on others as well as on myself. I have a lot going on. Life continues to expand, getting more and more interesting, amusing, challenging and varied. I also have jet lag and three venues. Yesterday I did not control my words and the morning was really difficult. I let myself believe that it was too much and that I was overwhelmed. So that is exactly what happened. It was too much and I felt awful. I sat in the back of a cab, on my way to the MBS show and really had to come back into my body, to ground myself into the reality that the worst is over. The three venues are up, we have staff, it is functioning and all is good. Several long deep breaths later I was back in the poresent and smiling. But the art is remembering to breath and being able to see that one is not here, now.
I am aware that I loved to be seen to be suffering and struggling, but I don’t anymore, and it is a habit that needs to change in my speech, as well as in my responses. How I project myself is also how I perceive myself. I need to pay more attention.
On a different note, there is a great class to the Mind Body Spirit show this year. It really does have a good energy. Greatly helped by the physical space that it occupies. The soaring, high ceilings of the Royal Horticultural Hall make such a wonderful change to the energy of the Olympia venue. I find I am really enjoying myself. Which is lucky, because there are still three days to go. I dread the packing up. but again, I must stay positive in my speech, so I will re-phrase it………
I am getting some great feedback about the clothes, an unexpected avenue that has opened up in my life, and I have staff that enjoy seeing the women feel beautiful as much as I do. The main comment is that women do feel really beautiful in the clothes. Thank you God. All those years of railling agains the ridiculous sizing system in the UK. and now I am doing it myself, and I love it. The clothes that are coming for the winter are so great and gradually getting closer and closer to what I really want to be doing.
Does anyone know a Tricorn maker?
I get waves of exhaustion but I must confess I have a new addiction: Virgin Upper Class. Wow! What a difference it makes to the whole experience of flying. As my trip was so short, and I had so many airmiles I felt I deserved it. I am now hooked.
Life is good. Children are delicious, new au pair is good, if a trifle retiring, but it makes an interesting change from the out-all-night-in-hot-pants last one.
Today is the set up for the Mind Body Spirit SHow, 5 days at the Royal Horticultural Show, and tomorrow is the start of a month in Dulwich. I wish I was able to perform siddhic feats and manifest several of myself at the same time. But it is not to be. Besides, it would exhaust my husband. Must think of others. (Mental note made).
I had some new malas made in India recently. I was so looking forward to seeing them, they were going to be so pretty. What has arrived would happily sit on an elephant with no style. It is so depressing. I was so excited when the box finally came that I opened them the night I returned from India. Every time I woke in the night my mind went back them and I had to very firmly steer my thoughts away. I designed the summer clothes range instead, which I do not have to deal with until september, but malas for elephants are, as yet, unresolved. The next summer clothes look great.
Oh the joys of making in India. Not yet resolved. I am waiting with trepidation, the arrival of the skulls, the hands and lots of other delights. It all takes so long.
I am finalising my tasks here. As usual I have come with a list of things to do and only really looked at the list earlier this morning. Luckily I have done it all or today would have felt a trifle pressured.
The charming and highly amusing Malik was to have joined me at a dinner last night but he cried off with a headache. I had thought only faint hearted women did that, but in India it is all the rage. This left me to the mercies of two extremely determined Gin drinkers. Needless to say the evening turned rather blue, in the truly emotional sense of the word, and I was gagging to leave.
I finally mastered the spirit in my room and slept well for the first time since arriving. I woke at 4 to find that I had bitten my lip so hard it was bleeding. It must have been due to all that I did not say during dinner. Enough said. I do recognise that one has to be so careful. Well, I do. I never really know who will read the weblog, and they do, they do. My sister has not spoken to me since I made an indiscrete one liner, so the pen must be curbed.
Otherwise all is good. My shipment home contains ten skulls, 2 hands and some knives. It was the funniest list from Malik and left the rather charming Italian gentleman, who had bowed so sweetly over my hand, looking somewhat astounded.
The skulls are momento mire; reminders of death. The hands are the new signs for the shop and the iare ordered Kirpan. Fab.
Am I really going to be able to sell 10 skullsÄ¶.. they may well become the childrenÄôs heirlooms. I think there may be a lot of heirlooms. But I have arrived at the clothing factory today to find them all wreathed in smiles and all seems to be fine. We shall see when and how it all arrivesÄ¶Ä¶..
Wow, it is hot today. I am wilting and melting and really struggling. Lots of water later I feel a trifle lighter, but I have turned up to work at the factory and three Greek ladies have been smoking their way through their personal clothes experiences. Yuk. Heat and smoke is too gross.
But otherwise I am nearly there. Gradually the list has been ticked off and slowly, slowly, but at great speed, I am nearly through all that needs doing.
I have seen almost all of the winter clothes order and it is looking good. Phew. So much time and energy, it is quite something. I wish I had time to devote to a children’s range, but it will have to wait. I can hear you clucking that I do too much, but there is now such a back ground and body of work already in existence that all that is needed each season is the new clothes and accessories. All very do-able.
I had a delightful time this morning, visiting the big Krishna Temple and then the stone masons. Such fabulous images are pinned in my mind, one after the other. Monkeys holding their newborn and being fed bananas by the faithful, herds of cows eating methi in straight rows, widows vying for alms and sadhus in neat rows at the langhar. It was a great sight. Sadly one can not observe without altering the scene. I can see the point of the bhurqua right now, except that it was a Hindhu spectacle, (not really a spectacle unless you are an outsider as it is happening every day), and as a woman in a bhurqua I would have been, again, rather conspicuous. It was great, but by the time I had returned to the car for my camera the scene had changed and there were no more breast-feeding monkeys, no more orderly sadhus, lots of bidis being lit and the attention turned to serious begging. From me. Not good.
At the stone masons there were row upon row of Gods and Goddesses in various states of carving, different sizes, half unwrapped…. it was great. Huge rooms filled with them. A real pleasure to see.
I have spent most of the day shopping, but all the spaces in between I have been so relaxed it has been a total delight.
I had to go from one place to the next in the belting heat and managed to get quite far into my list of things to do. I took lunch at the Rambhag Palace. A wonderful marble lined edifice of great charm and high costs, but the peace and stillness is not to be beaten. Funny thing was they did not want me to have lunch outside. I was ushered into the air-conditioned dining room where I lasted two minutes in the cold, the noise and the smoke before insisting I could survive lunch in 42 degrees with no AC, and I did. It was great. Silent, but for the sound of a young man endlessly sweeping the floor with his soft broom. It was so lovely. I sat and read a Georgette Heyer novel that was so funny I was laughing out loud. I know I read it before, but cannot remember one line of it. Such fun.
This evening I am out with the Jaipur Hoi Poloi. I hope they do not read weblog. I am quite sure they would not. I have to dress well, be charming and watch how they all are. Fun. Tomorrow I am being taken to a factory outside Jaipur to see some ÄúnaughtyÄù workÄ¶. I am intrigued to see what it will be. Apparently I will want to sell it in my shop. Even more fascinating. I do so hope they remember to collect me. Afterwards I am being taken to a step well to see a ghost.
What more can I say?
Jet lag is not too bad this way. There was a firework party at midnight last night. Once I worked out what it was I relaxed, but for a while I thought it was gunshot. Indian fireworks are not like ours, all health and safety, these are lethal, firefilled nightmares with no directional control and a built-in desire to maim.
This morning I heard that a factory that I used to use all the time burned down. They have lost half a million in stock and orders. Thank God it is not mine. Awful thought, I know, but true. I stopped working withthem last year because they would not respect the designs and kept showing them to other buyers and then shifing making times depending on who ordered more. Naughty boys, but fire is too awful.
Today was good. Hot, but good. I battled with clothes all morning, making sure that sizing was good and demanding enoough of a discounty on the previously unsaleable orders that came in the summer collection. I think the next season’s clothes look great, and it was a releif to try them an again after so many months and still feel that way.
MY current awareness here is what? I am trying to think. Usually I notice something in particular each time I am here. I cannot yet say what it is. It may be funerals. I
saw a body being carried to a Muslim graveyard this morning. It must have been a young man, judging by how many young men were there. FLocks of boys with coloured hankies tied on their heads and a freshly dead body on a bier going into the desert. I have an interest in seeing a Hindu funeral pyre. Why? I think it is important to face death. I feel as though I do face it, particularly here. We screeched to a smoking stop on the motorway yesterday and gently knocked an old ma to the side. It was quite hairy, the way time slows down as the screaming of the brakes increases. Luckily it really was a nudge. He must have had a death-wish not to stop but to keep trying to run in front of a large car doing 120km per hour. Sitting there withthe heart racing thinking “thank God it was not a truck coming towards us or that we did not hit him.” Unfortunately here I would have been made responsible for the accident. Such fun.
Tomorrow is full-on shopping. I have a whole day of lovely things to see and then dinner in the evening. Delightful. I am still 95% raw, but have had chai and mango milkshake. Totally fabulous!
I am here and it is hot, hot, hot. India, I mean.
The flight was empty. Everyone stays away at this time of year, but I am safely installed in my usual hotel, but in a different room, which I have to say, I do not like. I have already organised to move tomorrow, but at 10 am I have my first trip to the factory for the wool and heavy linen clothing experience. It is just going to be such fun in this heat.
As I got off the plane it was like being slathered with stickyness. Heat everywhere. Earrings hot, bracelet hot, feet, arms, back of neck. Walking in a thick hot wind with such intensely bright light. I must say that I do love it. Why? I have minimum idea, but each time I get here it is a thrill and then some.
I have already tried the internet. Not a raging success, but if I get this posted I will retire happy. I read a rather indifferent book and finished the last page as I got here this afternoon. Tine to go and buy more Georgette Heyer. I have finally met someone else who appreciates them. Hurrah. Someone here must like them as all the book shops on MI road are laden with all manner of choice of titles.
I am also proud of myself because I have managed to be raw so far on this journey, apart from a small bowl of exquisite dhal at the Neemrana Fort for lunch on the way here. Totally delicious.
I will keep up the weblog whilst I am here. There is always so much to write about on these trips.