Dusky endings.

The month of March had not even ended and the heat already made its presence felt. I travelled to the city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India. I stayed at the NIFT campus, located on the outskirts of the city, to take a few lectures on written communication and to hold a colour psychology workshop with Fashion Communication students at the centre. As much as I love teaching, or rather interacting with design students, the constant travel to different centres does take a toll on my health.

The dry heat of the “Land of Kings” was a new experience for me. As a child, I would travel with my family to see my sister in the town of Pilani in northeastern Rajasthan. These trips would usually be short affairs, mostly done during the cooler parts of the year when the BITS campus is quite green so you wouldn’t feel the heat as much. But during this visit, I experienced the mercury rise. Transitioning into summer at this place was not easy. And I am not talking about the Delhi heat problem. Delhi feels like paradise when compared to the moisture-sucking air of Rajasthan. My days were mostly spent in air conditioning, and my walking path was dictated by following shaded spots on the ground. For most of the time I was there, I wrapped muslin around my face, wishing it was always drenched in cold water to soothe my burning skin. Still, there was no escape from the relentless heat once I left the shelter protecting me. The trees, the people, the animals, the birds, all life seemed to be asking for mercy from the ironically life-giving Sun.

Only when dusk arrives can you breathe a sigh of relief. The merciless sun now takes a softer tone. The colour of the evening is a tangerine dusk. The hot air becomes kinder, morphing into a slow breeze. You close your eyes and feel your body relax along with the mood of the sky. You can finally sit outside in the open and watch the sun go down as the earth swallows it up. Everything seems slightly easier and you don’t have to take refuge under the shade any more.

You see why the culture of Rajasthan, or even Gujarat for that matter, is so bright and colourful, why the folk music has so much soul. Because the sun, which usually gives life, can also take life. Take the calmness of water away from the land and you are left with a feeling of lifelessness. I tried to compensate for this life-sucking heat by wearing a cotton shirt with a vintage print and wide collar, along with white denims. The cotton made me feel lighter and the print made me feel hopeful and light. People in this culture compensate for a desaturated landscape through using saturated colours. That is why vibrant colours and eclectic prints became such an important part of the Rajasthani culture. Clothing is a reaction to surrounding environments, and also an opportunity for people to express themselves amidst a landscape that can often feel oppressive and boring.

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Photographs by Suryan Unni Joy.

Story by Sahdev Hooda.

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Kangra diaries

Traveling is like reading a book. Like being transported to a new world where unpredictability of life comes to life again. Giving us insights on the world around us at large and also what lies with in ourselves.

I have recently started teaching at different centres of National Institute of Fashion Technology. I studied fashion at NIFT, New Delhi and now teaching the same to the next generation of curious thinkers. Apart from being able to share what I have learned in past ten years of working, I thoroughly enjoy traveling to these different destinations, which I might not have visited otherwise.

Kangra is one of the places NIFT has established a centre at. The college is placed on a hill, just a small walk from the main city. This is my second trip to this place. It is nothing less than another set of beautiful memories etched in my mind. Conversations with young minds is truly an amazing experience. Their unadulterated personalities is a breath of fresh air. There is a certain sense of serenity in the college, a calm vibe with an under current of excitement of the youth.

The city is still away from being commercialised. It has its own charm. Charm of a world untouched and pleasant simplicity. It will be absolutely unfair to not mention the beautiful view one gets from the perspective of the hill top that the college is built upon. It overlooks the valley which is shielded from the other side by the breathtaking Dhauladhar range, vertically inclined, majestic in sight. You will see it here in the images I have shared out of a big pool of them. At times, after the lectures are done, I would walk with friend, who also teaches there, to the other side of the college hill and find a spot to sit at, over looking a river. The cover page image is the view from where we would usually sit. Our spot. We would sit and stare at the sun go down. An absolutely breathtaking view, right in the lap of untouched nature. The birds of prey in the sky would often distract us and hypnotise us with their seamless flow on the winds above. They are poetry in air, just like the clouds.

Occasionally we would skip the lunch at the college canteen and go down to the ‘dhaba’ near college, which was based on the edge of these beautiful yellow fields in the valley. Mustard was flowering then, welcoming spring. The fresh orange juice, ‘aloo paranthas‘ with ‘dahi‘ were a hit with the students and us two, the only customers. After a nice small glass of chai we would go for a brief walk into the fields. Sit their in silence, giving way to the chirping of birds and ruffle of leaves in the wind. At first when you sit down, you only see the big picture. The mountains, the sky, the trees, the big birds. After some time, the life around starts to emerge in finer detail. The bees, the insects, the little birds, the sunlight on the leaves and you see the most beautiful painting in the world. The innocence of things that are wild and free. Egoless, and pure. The most blissful feeling.

Love.

Something a modern mindset can find hard to tap into.

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I will be going back there very soon. Hopefully, I will gather some more images and make another blogpost out of them. Though I love making beautiful images, I wish I could also share some of the videos I have made of the birds in the sky. I have shared some of them on my Instagram page. It is with the same name as my blog @sahdevhooda.

Photographed by iPhone 7 Plus.

Thank You Vineet for you support and also clicking some of these beautiful images.

Sahdev Hooda

Where the kites fly.

My fascination with the sky has been like a love affair. After I moved to Bangalore, weekends and early evenings come together on the terrace, sitting and staring at the blue, endless sky and look at the kites flying above you. Majestic looking, their glide only adds to my fascination.

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Just how I love the blue sky, I also love design. And Urvashi Kaur. I think she is filled with great passion for her craft and her energy is infectious. I always want to know what her new range is like. There is a certain romanticism in the choice of weaves, textures, colours and cuts she puts together. Yet, such absolutely practical pieces that you fall in love. I picked  3 pieces from her label Urvashi Kaur (shirt and jacket) and Kapda by Urvashi Kaur (T-shirt) to shoot. The pants are my own. The shirt and jacket “touch and feel” amazing. One could live in them. I remember trying the jacket at her stall at Lakme Fashion Week for the first time and refusing to get out of it,

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These are only among the several other things that I love from her range. Out of the three, the t-shirt is the one that took me to the sky. The dye effect reminded of a black eagle. Rest all was a chain reaction from there. I hope I could marry the romance I feel for the sky and great clothes together here.

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Shirts and Jacket by Urvashi Kaur and Kapda by Urvashi Kaur.

Concept, Styling and Photography by me.

Sahdev Hooda

Suit it Indian

May life be filled with more travel plans and friends getting married at exotic locations.

I wore this look by NoughtOne (by Abhishek Paatni) for one of my dear friend’s wedding. The ‘bandhgala’ to me, is always appropriate for all indian occasions. I think it has been quite a while since I last wore a suit with a tie. Not the biggest fan of ties.

Made famous and followed by his name, the ‘Nehru Jacket’ is a style which I feel has a clear indian feeling attached to it. I recently blogged about a ‘bandhgala’ suit from another indian designer and I realise that they are spontaneously becoming a part of my personal style. This suit has a more modern edge with its crisp fabric and contemporary styling and details. One could even wear it with a mandarin collared shirt. I paired it with a bright blue shirt of mine. It was a perfect highlight for the light beige of the suit.

My friends poked fun at the look by calling it the look of Ladakh as the terrain is mostly rocky, hence beige and the blue of the sky is as clear and saturated as the shirt. I didn’t have much to argue about that and I laughed along with them.

I was once told at a French designer boutique that true luxury is reflected from the inside. Be it the finesse of the jacket lining or the way you maintained your drawers. Abhishek always scores well on that. I haven’t seen his office drawers but I am talking about his designs here. He always has a thought behind how he finishes the clothes he makes. Perfect highlights and impeccably finished insides. This is where a true gentleman would put his money.

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Shot in ‘Neh’ valley near Leh.

Photographed by Malvika Jain.

Rock and Feathers

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If life is a journey then it all happens when you are on the way.

Shot on one of the most scenic roads I have ever experienced in my life, this all Huemn look is one of my all time favourites from the brand. The sleeves are everything in this look. The white chevron stripe breaking the feathers embellishment into the all black of the whole look has an outlandish impact. I knew it deserved a certain backdrop when I picked up the look but what in particular that was, i didn’t. While driving through the rocky terrain that leads to Leh, mesmerised and humbled by the beauty and enormity of nature around, this look effortlessly found its aesthetic relationship with the colors and textures and some unclear emotion of it.

We stopped at different spots which we thought were right, driving at the height of 5000m or more.The last set of pictures was actually shot at 5500m approx.

This strong and impactful look got its place in places I had never seen before.

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Photographed by Rahul Lal.

Special thanks to Rigzin Negi. My partner in crime since 2004.

Humans of the farmland.

Going back to the farm is a perfect break from the city. Not just because of the surroundings, also because of the people, the faces who inhabit it. Our farm house has two villages on  both the sides. There are always kids from these villages who are monkeying around, taking animals for their grazing trips. The moment I told them I want to click photographs of them, they exclaimed and ran closer to pose for it. I laughed for a few seconds before I started clicking them. They made me take loads of them but I tried to pick the ones that spoke slightly different from one another.

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These kids work and help around in running the daily chores of their homes. Little bothered about their schooling, they never seem in a low spirit. Always excited about something.

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The below capture was a beautiful sight that I myself was lucky to see. It is  not always that you witness this part of the process. Farming is about planting and then nurturing for a good time to come. Three women putting the seedlings in the field by hand on a regular cloudy day of the monsoons. The wait follows after that.

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This guy is “Riyasat bhaiya” for me. He started working at the farm probably when my dad was my age. Now he pretty much runs the work of the entire farmland and at times even single handedly. He is a master of his job. He has seven children now so he works even harder to provide for all of them. To me, he almost feels like family. He is the one who gets a hug and not a handshake when we meet.

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The above two photographs were clicked on the walk around the farm house. Mum, dad and our dog “Heera”. He always follows you, when you get out for a walk. Somehow, all the dogs I have seen over the decades have had this habit. They all pick it up.

These two below are my favourites from this lot. First one is of my mom. the most gorgeous woman I know. The second one is of my grandfather. It is his Farm house. He built it up along with my grandmother. Today he is 93 years old. His body has aged but his spirit is still of a child. Even though he has lost beloved wife, he still laughs more than me when we talk. When I told him that I want to click a photograph of him, he quickly got ready for the shot with his fresh kurta. The tractor behind him is quite the old guy to talk about at the farm. That tractor is 43 years old and still functional. This photograph is a story for me. A long story.

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