Monday, 11 April 2011

Firefly meets Ms Russell

So, a couple of weeks back, I'm sure everyone read the mad posts and comments on the Quarter Final in Bangladesh. I just wanted to let out a couple of disclaimers. :D

a) I'm not a die hard cricket person, BUT I really felt the essence and charm of the match, watching it live in  Mirpur Stadium against the West Indies!

b) I did not go to Bangladesh for the match, I went to study textiles and craft traditions.

Apart from getting published in the Bengali Newspaper and being on Live Tv for a few matters of a second, I had the  time of my life drooling over Naqshi Kantha, the running stitch of Bengal and seeing the beautiful natural dies, and pseudo Batik-Wax Resist printing. Everything I have read about in the collection of books sitting on my study shelf, came to life before me. It was precious. I learned so much. Watching the Jamdani weavers in Tangail was epic... well so were the people themselves. Remind me to post about their taboos some other time. :p *hint hint... disturbing imagery* Sonargaon was interesting. Slightly freaky with all the idols.. but the boat ride was bliss.

Anyhow, we had the honor of being welcomed at the mansion of the Komudini Foundation, we had a morning demonstration with natural dyes at Aranya Craft Center under the supervision of THE WOMAN herself, Ruby Ghaznavi. I bought her book and got her to write in it too. *gets all giddy* We were given a full tour of the Aisha Abid Foundation. Their set up is massive. What is more pleasing to know and witness for ourselves is the workforce. It is 80 + per cent women! Women screen print, dye, stitch, block and so much more. Their block library was out of this world, too. Thousands and thousands of blocks! God, I just wanted to bring some home. Aisha Abid Foundation has it's flagship Aarong. Pronounced Aa-RUNG. Which no one seemed to pronounce, even after we gave our Salaam to it almost everyday. Literally.

We went to see the  Bangladesh Institute of Textiles, was that the name? *thinks* This place was like walking into a historical museum, their equipment and facilities were awesome! BUT.. they needed to hire housekeeping. That place wasn't dusted since the partition I tell you! Anyhow, they treated us to patties, apples and tea.. AFTER serving themselves. We all slid the apple into our bags to make it look like we ate. :D

The reason this post has made it's long entry here is actually Bibi Russell. Everyone talks about her as THE model from Bangladesh for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and what not... but that's not the point! What she is today, is nothing any of us could dream up or imagine. She is the  Designer for Development, a part of the UN, she has so many mentions and honors to her name and humble personality, it's striking! She isn't at all boastful. Nor is she what you would expect to see in a designer with a name as grand as hers. Bless her, she's given all that she has for the crafts people. She works with ethnic identity. And simple traditions of Bengal. She's doing some amazing things. And May Allah Kareem give her even more to take forward the dream she's dedicated her life to.

When we met with Bibi Russell, we went to her office... or rather studio. It was totally funky! It's walls were covered with clippings and photographs along with little handicrafts from all over the globe. We all sat with fascinated faces and mesmerized vision. She was enthralling. She was really hospitable too, we had these local samosa thingies. Well.. most of us had at least 4. :P They were tempting. She was so easy to talk to. We could ask her anything. I'll post her responses in another post very soon :)  Her outlet had some kick arse accessories featuring Rikshaw Art local to Bangladesh :)

Before leaving, she gave us her cards, and we can write to her and everything! She even gave us little messages in our sketchbooks. I couldn't leave without giving her something... so I left a bit of the Firefly with her. :) That's a part of my dream.. My Firefly.

There's so much to see in this world. I wonder if I'd get to. It'd be so cool to travel. My brother teases me, saying he can so see me backpacking through Europe. :P I should start saving now. :) inshaAllah!


I forgot to mention! Bibi Russell loved the magnet! She said it was beautiful :D



  1. oye! what's that thing about Tangail *totally confused* imagery? what imagery? such sweet, shareef loag. veeery down to earth. i'm sure you know what i mean ;)
    and FYI Farrah and I just ate 4 samosas each. Fifth lete huay sharam aarahi thee :P
    so where will our next destination be? can i tag along to Hong Kong? You can take me to DisneyLand. i wont mind. no nakhras, no draamas. promise.

  2. Wow what an experience :)

  3. hahhaa Varah..this is just great :D
    its a great way to summarize the whole trip and your observations :P...mazaydaar :)...that university..hahha..:P they needed more than house-keeping...if u knw what i mean ;)
    *hugs*..and Ms.Russell thr..held tht magnet...woohoo!!
    Firefly is on a roll...


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