Archive | February, 2012

Dolly’s Tea House

27 Feb

Other than a year-long sojourn in London in my early 20s, I have lived my entire life in the South India. I am a coffee drinker through and through. But a couple of years ago, my sister and I lounged at a tea house in Ireland every afternoon of our week long trip and this die-hard coffee lover fell in love with teas. I don’t have that much of a sweet tooth when it comes to beverages. Nor a big fan of sodas and definitely don’t like sugary bottled drinks. But there is definitely something about the bracing kick of sweet tea (especially iced teas), the balance between astringent and syrup that just makes me happy.

Scouring thorough the Kantha work stoles in Dakshinapan in the dry receding monsoon air last week, I threw a thirsty glance around to see if I could find some fresh lime soda. And my gaze fell upon a cute green and white awning with large bold writing- ‘Dolly’s Tea House’. And all of a sudden, the smell of freshly brewed tea mingled with just- out- of- the- oven bake wafted towards me. A whole tsunami of saliva filled my mouth and my legs, and my legs unheedingly followed my gaze. Teak-panels, hanging paper lanterns,tea-crate tables, hand-sewn cushions atop the rattan chairs; my heart instantly warmed to this little oasis in middle of nowhere. An eclectic bunch of people warmed the stools while two women in starchy white sarees served beverages and tea cakes to them as the regal matriarchal eyes of the owner, Dolly Roy, monitored it all.

Dollys Tea House

I might still be hunkering over the menu of 32-odd ice tea flavours, had Ms Dolly not come to the rescue, generously suggesting a taste of a few before I actually made my choice. Hand across the heart, it puts the ‘crispy and cool ’commercial iced brews to shame. The renowned speciality, the Strawberry Ice tea nearly touched the hem of heaven and honourable mentions should go to the buoyant Pineapple flavour and the delicate Passion Fruit. The Blueberry seemed to have capitulated a little too much to the sweet toothed Bengalis, but what the heck, where else in this country will you find a Blueberry flavoured iced tea. Of course, toasted sandwiches and apple pies zealously accompany the hot and cold teas.

Dolly Roy first set shop in 1987, when tea houses were still a novelty. The verdant tea gardens circling her home in Darjeeling became her stimulus and she soon became India’s first woman tea taster and the first woman tea auctioneer in the world. Travelling in a tea pot shaped vans in Belgium, ambulating through acres of tea estates in Assam, working as India’s tea ambassador in New York helped her build her idea of a tea house to share her passion with others. Dolly now sells her favourite tea from all over the country in her very own tea house; the leaves come in pretty tin boxes recycled out of London maps, soft wood mini chests and festive plastic bags. If you’re interested, she or one of her assistants can teach you — how to brew it, how to serve it, and how to recognize the degree of its rarity. Dolly says she honestly thinks Indian tea has no parallel in quality and flavour but if she had to choose from teas abroad, it would be the white tea from China. Her favourite Indian brew is the second-flush Darjeeling tea (full-bodied, aromatic and muscatel in taste)

The tea house has quickly morphed from adorable notion into a formidable influence, a small shop with a large footprint and amongst India’s best tea houses. So one of these approaching summer evening, when you don’t feel like taking out your mother’s vintage tea pots and the mulled wine is already down to its last sip, carry a book , plonk yourself on Dolly’s oh-so-comfortable stools, sip on her tea and watch the world go by…


Look at my Rocket leaves bloom!

22 Feb

Winters are busy months in my garden! Juicy veggies, at practically half the market rates, grew through the season.
The little creatures that also call my garden “home” are also busier than ever. They are everywhere that I look, doing their own thing and generally making my garden look like it is abuzz with activity and chaos. They almost ate up the Orange Marigolds and are busy picking at my baby Capsicums now.
Feast your eyes on these lush rocket leaves while I tend to them with my pesticide arsenal.
They are getting sandwiched with Parmesan and balsamic vinegar for my lunch today!

Fresh new rocket leaves

Interview with Lokesh Karekar, Illustrator and Brand Designer

16 Feb

Here’s introducing Lokesh Karekar. The rhythmic lines, popping colours and quirky with an essential nationalistic element in his designs and illustrations speak a language of their own. Corporates like Asian Paints, Vodafone and Chemistry swear by him. Her personal designs and illustrations get picked by niche` stores, design houses, magazines and museums, all alike. Rarely does one see work with output, as consistent and unique as his. Read more to know what tickles his imagination-

Indian Illustration

Illustrations for Centre Fresh

A little about yourself. Why are you an Illustrator?
I am from a middle class Marathi family. My father was an artist, I grew up seeing his drawings and doodling on floor with a white choc. I was more into typography and design when I was doing my degree course at sir jj institute of applied art. After completing art college I worked at design firms like Grandmotherindia and Aloknandacompany where I use to draw, sketch, doodle a lot. While working on projects I started using illustration as a medium of communication. After working 3 and half years as an Art Director I decided work individually not only on illustration projects but also on typography and design. That’s why I call myself visual artist and not only illustrator.There is a fine line between both. I don’t differentiate between my personal and professional work. I do pure design projects like identity design to creating Illustrations for brands, books, magazines and products etc. I do lot of experiments with graphics, materials, mediums. I try to convert my design-illustrations into products which people can use it. I supply these products to select lifestyle designer stores in India. Its nice to see my illustrations turning into 3d objects which you can touch and feel.

What is your design style?
My design style is simple, happy, sometimes bright and vibrant. It has a modern twist to the subject and touch of humor to the design. I like trying things out rather than having a fixed formula to work. I like to try new techniques to enhance the project like paper-art, clay-modeling etc.

Why did you take up typography as your specialisation?
As I said, when I was student I was more inclined towards design and typography. I see typography as a design with discipline. I enjoy the process of creating typefaces and playing around with type and balancing forms with aesthetics.. I also worked at NCST as a junior type designer when I was in art college, with my professor Vinay Sainekar.

Inspiration is in-
Alot of things. Modern contemporary design styles and colours, holidays, clicking pictures, folk art, vintage posters, miniature art, local food, local hand painted typefaces, fashion, busy bazaar of colaba, Electronic and Indian-classical instrumental music, cloth printing blocks, etc.

Which aspect of Indian culture do you find most interesting?
I think the boldness, originality, saturation and intricacy of local Indian design culture is interesting.

Your hobbies which add to your professional perspectives?
Clicking photos, listning to good Music. Aesthetically good music teaches us about compositions, rhythm, flow, timing, mood. Same principals we apply when we create any illustration piece or painting.

What gets you in the creative mood?
My sketch book, good music, good food, beer, big blank sheet of paper and pen or a huge canvas.

Your favourite piece of your own work?
Apart from that I really like what I did for THE ARK PROJECT – a bible of animals.

Lokesh contribution to the Ark project

Do you see yourself doing any other sort of design?
Umm..I don’t know.Maybe yes. I would like to learn book design in detail. Also maybe some exhibitions and installations.

If you could pick a song , movie or book (all three) to describe your state of mind what would that be?
Into the wild – I feel very much attached to nature when I see this movie or hear the songs of this movie.

Indian illustrators and artits who you admire-
Mario Miranda,Ravi Paranjpe, R K Laxman, Jitish Kallat, Dhruvi Acharya,Sameer Kulavoor

What sort of advice would u give to ppl with creative startups?
Respect and value original and good work. Good work creates good opportunities.

What sort of music do you like to listen to while creating/ideating?
Electronic and indian classical music.

What is your daily schedule like?
I reach office around 11. Usually I sleep and dream for atleast one houe after eating beautiful food made by my mother [lunch break]. After working very hard I go home around 8-9. I strictly spend Saturday – Sunday with my friends and family. Strictly Go on two big and two-three small holidays in a year.

What do you do for fun?
I watch movies.I have a Royal Enfield on which I go on rides when Im free to get a fresh air and open my mind.

If you could live in any other part of the world right now, where would that be?

Are you working on anything currently ?
Yes I am working on one very interesting project. It’s on a preparatory school and Im developing the identity, look and feel, illustrations of the brand, space design etc.

Was there any time when you wanted to quit Illustrations?
No. Never.

Interview with Sameer Kulavoor

13 Feb

I first saw his broken bangles exhibit on Halt domestic Violence Campaign in Mumbai. Following his ad campaigns with tongue-in-cheek humour and colloquial under notes became a passion. Refreshing graphics minus the cliched kitsch, it’s not hard to see why illustrator Sameer Kulavoor has been making waves in the world of graphic arts. Remember the petal faced Dove lady? Or graphics on NH7 Weekender Music Festival. Of course my personal favorite is his collection of sketches in his limited edition book- Sidewalks and Coffeshops. I got chatting with him last month and heres what I got-

Illustrator Sameer Kulavoor

Can we start with a little about yourself? Why are you an Illustrator?

I’d call myself more a visual artist than an illustrator. Maybe even a designer or a director of animation. I’ve always liked to sketch, scribble, make flip-books out of my school textbook, collect magazine cut outs and create scrapbooks and collages out of them, make weird characters with coloured paper, get my hands dirty with my favourite green sketch-pen and basically create images, some that are still, some that move. I realise I’m doing similar things now, but only in an altered context, on a different scale, and with more varied mediums.

With your work being multi disciplinary, what would you call personal and what would you call professional work?

I’d call myself as a cultural worker. The kind of projects I do, contributes to perspective of people. So all my commercial work will have an underlying story… Zerox the zeroxwallah zine is one of my favourite projects. The zerox shops in Mumbai are omnipresent and easily spottable due to their distinct yellow black “identity”. They are usually chaotic and haphazard with signboards that could drive a type-designer a headache.The interiors are equally bold and chaotic, if not more. But they are indispensable for the numerous students and office-goers who frequent them. The overall mish-mash of everything around and inside the Zeroxwallah shop makes it visually quirky and interesting. The smell of the toner combined with the sounds of a bustling tiny shop can be a heavy dose to all your senses. Frequenting the Zeroxwallahs during my art/design school (Sir J. J. Institute of applied art) intrigued me and the zine is a way to translate my experiences into a tangible product. The use of photocopy for the book was an obvious choice. And the dash of yellow screenprint over photocopy gives it the perfect character and feel. A limited edition zine was the best way to bring out the spontaneity of the Zeroxwallahs of Mumbai. This zine is one of the many parallel personal projects that BombayDuckDesigns works on so we are not completely gutted with (sometimes mundane) commercial work and it also helps to keep our work fresh and inspiring.

Is it possible for an artist to work on a fully commercial level?

Yes and no. There are some artists who can create commercial art full time but that is an ideal situation. I constantly draw. That keeps me going. That is where all my ideas come from. In mid 2009, I had taken a short sabbatical to travel and the result was a limited edition booklet of personal sketches ‘Sidewalks & Coffeeshops’.

The piece of your work that you take most pride in?

The Mothers Pride “Love blossoms here” series of illustrations that won a Cannes Gold Lion in Design in June 2011.

Your design style-

The core of my work is mostly highly inspired by the chaos of Mumbai, the city where I grew up. You could call my work edgy and eclectic.

Sameer's artwork

Your favourite design tools-

My design tablet, some beer, music and lots of seafood.

What are the biggest inspirations for your illustrations?

Cats, cycles, coffees, Connaught Place and Colaba. When I was in Rajasthan, I was visiting the Jaisalmer fort. The massive fort was a like a little village inside. It was a visual extravaganza. There were artists, sketchbooks, lot of folk art and interesting people with myriad expressions. The miniature paintings have beautiful lines and colours on the walls. The place ended up being a huge inspiration. I’m not a big fan of kitsch. It is very shallow. It is just taking a style and using it. Every second artist has taken up truck cars and autorickshaws as their muse.

Any interesting projects lines up for 2012?

Keeping up with the pace and energy of the song (and the city) we’d be creating the LOVEDRUG CLIMBDOWN music video for Pentagram in a month. Also, me and my friend Lokesh , after cribbing a whole lot about lack of art zines in India (to showcase upcoming and established visual/graphic artists and illustrators work) we took matters in our own hands. With 100% focus on one theme we have invited select artists to contribute an artwork based on their interpretation and imagination of the said theme. The project is getting more exciting by the day…

Which are your hobbies which add to your profession?

Music and travel. I feel everybody needs them to keep themselves inspired through the usual humdrum of daily lives.

Pick a song to describe your state of mind-

Lot of electronic.

An illustrator who fascinates you-

Not too many honestly. But I really admire the works of the artist Raja Ravi Verma.

Mac or PC?

Mac, anyday.

If you could live in any other part of the world right now, it’d be –


Know Sameer and his work more at Bombay Duck Designs