Diwali Gifting | Heart and craft2 min read . Updated: 22 Oct 2014, 11:43 AM IST
In the season of excesses, Srila Chatterjee, executive producer at Highlight Films, opts for beautiful handmade presents from hidden shopping havens in Mumbai
For Srila Chatterjee, shopping for presents is not a once or twice a year kind of an activity. Though the 50-year-old juggles responsibilities as an executive producer at the production house Highlight Films, as the co-owner of her new furniture shop Highlight Living, as a partner at the music venue blueFROG and as a board member at the Mumbai-based non-profit The Akanksha Foundation, she always has a stash of well-considered gifts wrapped and ready in a wooden chest at home. One source to replenish her personal gifting inventory is her neighbour, artist Banoo Batliboi, who creates intricate sculptures by folding pages of abandoned books, destined to be junked. Chatterjee says Batliboi’s works always surprise the first-time receiver while promptly selecting three. “I wouldn’t give these works to just anybody. I think for someone who loves books, these are a lovely reinterpretation of the medium," she says.
Our next stop is a vintage art and artefacts shop in Chor Bazaar on Mutton Street where Chatterjee picks out a gift for herself—an ancient black granite stone sculpture of the head of Hindu goddess Lakshmi, since “Srila is one of the 108 names for the goddess". When we break for lunch at Chatterjee’s furniture store Highlight Living in Lower Parel, she shows off the next present on her list—the “Ambrosia" armchair, upholstered in multiple brightly coloured, mismatched fabrics. “Ambrosia was recently gifted to a 93-year-old as a birthday present. She was so delighted that she described it as a throne fit for a queen," says Chatterjee.
Before we leave the store, Chatterjee also introduces us to another handmade present she loves to give—patachitras by Khadu Chitrakar, an artist from West Bengal she befriended at a handicrafts exhibition many years ago. Chatterjee makes a quick stop at a hole-in-the-wall shop on the way to buy pure sandalwood incense sticks. She likes to pack these in a hamper full of beautiful “smellies", which also include bathing bars from Fabindia, some ittar and natural essential oils.
Our final stop at the Art For Akanksha shop in Lalbaug is also Chatterjee’s most favourite since she’s been associated with the non-profit for over 15 years and is especially involved in its arts programme. The NGO’s festive range this year features the best of their students’ old and new designs and Chatterjee immediately spots a set of greeting cards and printed wooden trays with lotus motifs. She also selects a box of diyas, votives, coasters, lanterns and photo frames to complete her happy hamper.