India is my home. Every mile is a memory and every sight is extraordinary and ordinary: This is what India does to people, what it always has done. From the shimmering grandeur of mountains and rivers and fiery sunsets to the chaos of train stations and city nights, there’s a gravitational force of condensed hope in its astonishing variety of sights. You have to see it to believe it. And even if you have devoted a lifetime here, you are driven onwards by the certainty that there’s always
more to see.
Peak Moments of Joy
We carry an accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally, our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias. The India I love is somewhat similar; it reminds me of naïve and innocent summer vacations spent in hill stations with picnic baskets; homemade tiffins and grandma’s snacks: the days endless, the sun always at its zenith, turning the sky white with heat like a sheet of tin, the earth yellow and cracked with aridity. The hill station holidays, undoubtedly, were a part of my childhood. It could be Shimla or Mussoorie, Naini Tal or Ranikhet, Darjeeling or Dharmsala; each with its tiara of lights to crown the hilltops in the dense darkness of the Himalayan night.
A Cultural Landscape
India’s architecture offers a poignant lens on life here. The monuments are whimsical and offer curiosities set in the awe-inspiring design language and a sanctuary of stories. When you first visit Kailasa Temple, you’ll be humbled by its magnitude. It covers twice the area of the Parthenon in Athens, being two and a half times as high. It's an engineering marvel that was executed straight from the head with zero margin for error. Meanwhile, there’s also the massive, breathtakingly splendid sight of Konark Temple, which was constructed in the mid-13th century and conceived as the cosmic chariot of the sun god Surya. Or, the magnificent ruins of Hampi dotting an unearthly landscape with heaps of giant boulders perched precariously over miles of undulating terrain.
The Heart of Art
As I grew up, I started acting worldly but I believe I felt safest when I went inside myself and found a home…in English, they call it ‘Hiraeth’, a place where I belong and maybe the only place I really do.
India’s treasure trove of art captures my sense of home and my heart. I was mesmerised when I first heard Ravi Shankar’s music, the sitar virtuoso and composer with his melodically flowing ragas. And the kinetic energy of Birju Maharaj, who was revered as an exponent of one of its most ancient and established classical dance forms, and choreographed steps for several cinematic hits by directors like Satyajit Ray. Needless to say, India enriches my experience each time I pass a different corner. Each time I discover a land of stories — each time I discover my home.
I started Label Earthen’s journey as a quest to find a home away from home that despite coming from different walks of life we have in common a shared longing to belong.