To See The World in a Grain of Sand

I am writing my thoughts down as they cascade into my head on the way to the airport. Airports are places of transition. That’s just the gig when you go to a hub containing people from everywhere flying everywhere in big metal birds for every conceivable reason under the sun.
I have often observed that you see more true love stories waiting at an airport arrivals barrier or departure lounge than you will ever see in a church.

I sit here with tears in my eyes. Typical, honestly I am ridiculous sometimes! heart on my sleeve kind of girl that I am! If home is where the heart is, I am definitely good at getting involved with the place right where I am. I guess the other side of that coin is feeling a distance from where I have come from. Maybe that makes moments of transition stronger for me because for that moment, I belong nowhere except within myself in an infinite universe. Maybe that is why I have always travelled. I am interested in the between spaces. The edges.

It’s crazy but in the taxi on my way to the airport to leave Kathmandu, where I have been for three weeks, I looked up and saw the snow capped mountains beyond Kathmandu for the first time since I arrived. In truth it has also been overcast for much of my time here. But also, sometimes we don’t need to look at the big picture because there is so much enrichment in focusing on the depth of what is right in front of us. Like that Japanese man, Masaru Emoto, who studied droplets of water under a microscope and discovered crystalline worlds and dynamic responses to language. He saw the ocean within the droplet.

I stayed with my friend Poonam. We are the same age. We have known each other for the best part of two decades. There has been a lot of water under the bridge in that time. Isamu, (Haruka’s father), Haruka and I used to spend a lot of time between Varanasi and Kathmandu back in the days when our child was young and, in retrospect, so were we! We used to spend months at a time in Kathmandu and Pokhara. In fact a trip to Pokhara for my visa run before Haruka was born was mine and Isamu’s first holiday together. We stayed with an old couple in the middle of the lake and got around on their rowing boat. But that’s another story!

I felt a great nostalgia for our family life and adventures together returning after a hiatus of eight years. I guess Isamu did too because in a departure from his typical demeanour, he was all over me like a rash! I have never had so many missed calls and texts from him! Forgive me for joking Isamu if you read this 🙏

I am feeling an immense gratitude for my friend Poonam in my life. For the warmth and hospitality she offered me for the entire three weeks of my stay in Nepal. For the length, breadth and depth of our friendship built up over years and moments. Continents and experiences. Enduring through births and deaths. Through transitions, traumas and triumphs.

Working with Poonam was really the birthplace of the Haruka label as we know it, even though I had been designing and producing clothes for a few years previously in Varanasi. Starting to produce in Nepal with the wealth of technical and design knowledge and flair that Poonam had really helped me to up my game. It’s really Poonam and her French business partner, Clement, who was running a boutique factory with her at the time that you have to thank for the hemp silk pieces so many of you all still own and love and still wear after all these years. Poonam introduced me to that fabric. She has been a huge influence on my business. Haruka used to call her Pokinanna when he was a baby. I still do sometimes!
We made the hemp silk children’s clothes together and the Peace vests and pants. Even the ‘I love you my deer’ waistcoat and the plum blossom and moon rabbit coats. It’s crazy I don’t have pictures of them all! Phones weren’t really such a thing then! I know lots of those pieces are still knocking around fifteen years later and if any of you have any photos of my hemp silk collections and the children’s clothes I designed and produced, I would love you to send them.

Some people go to Nepal to climb Everest. But I have spent three weeks in a very small geographical area of Kathmandu. I guess those experiences are similar in that there are a lot of traffic jams in both places but, that aside, I have been very grateful for my street level view. I have seen so many small, everyday details that enrich my life just going about from A to B and occasionally to C on the back of a Moto cycle taxi

Shop doorways in ancient Newari style architecture, street hawkers, huge 4 x 4’s blocking the narrow streets that were not built for cars and honking like crazy, immense, intricately carved temples and depictions of God’s and goddesses, small mandirs, incense, thangka paintings, small local restaurants, goats, shaggy mountain dogs sleeping in the dust, rubbish piles with people making a living by sorting through them, touristy shops selling the same things as last time I was here, cheap plastic Chinese clothes shops in New Road and Durbar square, stupas, fabric, filthy river full of plastic, Swyambhunath monkey temple, monks, nuns, Tibetan people who I think have some of the best sense of style in the world, bike mechanic shops, hilarious building site Heath and safely breaches.. people working on planks precariously suspended high above the traffic.. that kind of thing, whole families on motorbikes (although I think the average number of people on a motorbike is much higher in Pushkar in Rajasthan), an old woman grilling corn on the pavement in the sun, rickshaws piled high with boxes,
People selling vegetables on the streets, incredible tangled mash ups of a myriad electricity wires, I even went to a nightclub to a rock night! Wtf! A fairly random spontaneous night out!
The longer we stay in one place, the more we see, the more we learn. Travelling without moving.

I am hugely grateful to Poonam for looking after me like a friend and like a mother hen. I have blamed her a few times for the fact that I have grown out my jeans due to her amazing and abundant cooking. But I suppose I should really take responsibility for happily eating it all. Luckily I won’t need them because as I write this draft I am landing in India and it’s going to be hot. Time to ditch the jeans and boots anyway!

I have invited Poonam to come to England and visit me this summer. I am excited about it. I want her to see my home and to come to @Medicinefestival with me and to see some of where I come from, how I live and what makes me tick. I would love her to meet my friends and also my customers who have appreciated so much of her creativity and work through my brand Haruka over the years. It’s been one side of the coin we have met on for twenty years. It’s time to flip it and for her to see the other side of the coin and I would like you to meet her.

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