Sunday, April 22, 2012

Heena tattoos, fridge magnets & more: A little bit of fun at the Columbia Journalism School

Know the feeling when you have been wanting to do something since long and it finally materializes? Well, I wanted to put mehendi on people's hands, spread the crafts stuff I make, and share Indian trivia with people.

Questions like, "What's this dot on your forehead?" or "What's this tattoo paste made of?" can lead to conversations that go deep into Indian cultural roots. So, this little Spring Fest celebration on the college walk of the Columbia University, Graduate School of Journalism, was worth sitting in the sun for hours on a lazy Friday.

The Society of Professional Journalists helped me put this together and the proceeds I could raise went to the SPJ. I will remember the excited girl who was delighted after putting a bindi on her forehead, or the old woman who loved the salwar kameez as the sweet highlights of my *Fulbright experience.

Putting Mehendi on the hands of an Australian exchange student 

For those who have been following this blog for long, you probably know I love to spend midnight hours with scissors and papers, glue and threads, beads and needles. This time around, finding time for my pet passion was an ambitious juggle between school assignments, long readings pulped with statistics on the poor, the homeless and the drug crisis of the 90s, a Harvard Business School case on LinkedIn and professional networking sites, job hunting, and more, and more. But it was worth it. This is the kitchen table in the wee hours of Friday:

That colorful table with scissors and scraps :) 

 I made fridge magnets, something I have wanted to do since years after I saw hobby ideas on How About Orange's site. Then, there was the staple bookmarks and cards. I love to mark my readings with these bookmarks; in school I used to copy-write stunning paragraphs and poems by my favorite authors on the back of the bookmarks and get high on good writing just by flipping the bookmark over. Don't you think bookmarks are perfect little non-intrusive presents for friends young and old? And the cards, they liven up the long letters sent by snail mail.

 Some bookmarks and fridge magnets

I got mehendi cones from - no two cents for guessing - from Patel Brothers in Jackson Heights. They have a mind-boggling range of Indian products, so many desi items, sometimes I feel even a store back in Ahmedabad, India, would be put to shame. These were very good cones, it was an absolute pleasure to put mehendi with these. And Lyuda, who's a graduate Biology student with an interest in neuroscience, she loved it. In fact, she was the first person to come by the table, go back to get cash, and actually linger around while I finished decorating someone's hand. Time is such a precious commodity in NYC and that patient wait really meant something to me.

Owly Images
Lyuda loves the mehendi!

Starting with the artsy stuff, I plan to go the tummy route now. What better way to make India come alive in NYC than cooking some spicy (OK, not-so-spicy, to suit the taste buds here) Indian food? Next week I plan to make deep-fried pastries with potato-peas filling: samosas :) 

*The DEADLINE for the 2013 Fulbright scholarships is July 15. Go to the USIEF site for details.  


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