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Who Am I?

I had an Epiphany today and for some reason I feel the urge to talk about it.

What YOU see as yourself can be considerably different than how others see you. And it is usually this disconnect which leads to a lot of issues. Who am I? A person who is very conflicted in answering this question. Depends on the day. There are days when I feel I am Indian, proud of the free country and the rich heritage my birth country gave me. There are days I only feel American, equally proud of my adopted country where I truly found myself, and grew up as a woman. Some days I feel I am Chinese while other days Japanese. I even feel Greek on some days. There are days I only feel like an artist. And then there are days I feel NOTHING AT ALL. Why does the color of my skin define me to others when I certainly don’t define myself by it? I define myself by my actions and nothing else. Maybe one day I will get tired of fighting for the things I believe in but until then I have got to try.

Am I am misfit in most places? Yes, and I just have to come to terms with that. I wish I could be a Citizen of the Universe like Ruth Asawa.

I was 12 years old…

I was 12 years old when I was molested by my neigbor’s son.

My great grandmother had passed away and my family had left me in the care of my neighbor’s family for a day. Their house next door was like a second home to me. Our families were very close and I looked up to my neighbor’s two daughters and their son as my older sisters and brother. My mom often sent me there with food she had made and they did the same. Compared to our modest household, they were affluent and everything about their lifestyle and home was  glitz and glamour. Going to their house was always a treat for me. To play with fancy toys, to eat in fancy dishes and just overall, it was special. Until. that. day…

My great grandmother was almost 100 when she died and her passing was a long celebration of her life spanning maybe a couple days. All the adults in my family had to be there and because I had exams the next morning, I couldn’t go. So my parents asked me if I would be okay staying with my neighbor for an evening. “Of course!” I said, thinking what an amazing time I’ll have with them. Once there, I had a really nice meal with my neighbor (she adored me and I called her Auntie) at their house and later we watched some movies. And then… her son took me to the balcony of their house and started acting funny. At first he asked me to sit on his lap. Why? I asked. He said “Its okay, it’ll be fun”. What followed next is not something I still feel comfortable putting in words but I remember the details of that evening like it happened yesterday. My instincts told me what was happening was not right and I pushed him aside and ran away. Luckily I had the keys to my house.

I hate that I was the victim.

I hate that I did not have the courage to kick him in the groin. I hate that I did not run into the other room and tell his mother what he did. I hate that years later when he got married, I did not tell his wife what kind of man she married. And most importantly I hate that I was betrayed by those I trusted.

But that night, I realized I have something within me which will guide me throughout my life. My instinct. I have learned to follow it. If you think its wrong, IT IS WRONG.

I wish instead of those stupid sex ed videos we had to watch in school, they would invite people to talk about real life experiences and we would get educated and informed about inappropriate behavior. I wish my mom could have warned me about this.

I wish it didn’t happen to me. But it did…

I never told a soul about this.

Not my mother or my father, not even my closest friends with whom I shared my deepest fear.

So why am I talking about this 30 years later? And that too so publicly?

Because I have a 7 year old daughter and I am not going to let her be the victim. I am educating her about inappropriate behavior and the world we live in. I am empowering her to take action if she notices anything wrong.

I am talking about it, because I want to appeal to all parents of young boys to raise them to respect women. I am talking about it, because what happened to me was wrong and 30 years later I am still affected by it.

Today I salute my Mother in Law who has raised not one but three amazing men who treat women as their equals. They are kind and have empathy. They care.

And I am married to one of them. This man has my heart and my respect!

Dia is rocking her glasses!

Dia has prescription glasses! tunic_4


Of course she is my daughter so just any frame wouldn’t do. She also has a tiny face and most kids glasses in stores were too big for her. Thanks to some suggestions from friends on Facebook we bought this cute frame from Zenni. It was a long process though because the first frame we picked ended up being too big for her. Then we took her to Costco where she tried on a few frames and the optician told us to get a frame which is between 30-35. There are a lot of numbers and things which don’t make sense but they do now. So if you’re looking to order your first pair online, be sure to research and measure. We are very happy with this frame. Its sturdy and cute both of which are important at this age.

I started wearing glasses when I was 8 or 9 I think (maybe a little later) and I’ve lived most of my life hiding behind the glasses until I could get contacts. I don’t want that for my daughter so it is important for me to educate her and think of them as a good thing. “They help you see better and you look so cute in them“.

I am writing this post because I want to point out an amazing experience at Dia’s preschool today which warmed my heart and made me smile. I also want to document this because I want Dia to realize how awesome her school and friends were today.

Today was the first day she went to school with her glasses. The kids were having circle time. Dia was a little shy and just clung to me. When I asked why, she said “Mom, my friends won’t know its me because of the glasses“. Before I could answer, the teacher said something to her in her ear to which she nodded.

Everyone, Dia has something to share with you all today“, said the teacher. “Go on Dia“.

I got new glasses!” She said. The kids were really excited for her. And started asking questions.

Not like this“, teacher said “Raise your hands if you have a question, and Dia will answer them.

How civilized  I thought. tunic_2

Sure enough one by one the kids asked questions and Miss Dia happily answered them. I tried to remember the questions because they were all so cute.

Q: “I really like your glasses

Q: “Did you know that your glasses have hearts on them

Q: “Why do you wear glasses“.

Dia: “Because I see better with them

Q: “Do you wear them at night“.

Dia: “No, but sometimes my daddy wears his. He forgets!” We all had a big laugh at this one.

Q: “I think you look like a pretty princess“.

Dia : “Thank you” (with a big smile)

I wish I had taken my camera with me to capture some of this in photos but after this little exercise she was so confident and back to being herself. I wanted to hug each and every one of those kids. So adorable and so kind.  A big thank you to the teachers not just in her school but to all the teachers who truly care and understand kids and make an effort.

BTW I think more than the glasses, she loves the eyeglass case!!! tunic_7

Fall Photo Dump

Today I decided to step away from my desk for lunch. What a novel idea right? 

And wowza! Its like a painter’s canvas out here. Fall is pretty much at its peak here in my beautiful New England town. With temps in 70s and the sights which I’m going to show you, I pretty much feel lucky to be alive. 

Some lunch ha! 


Sewing For Kids

I don’t know why people spend so much time sewing for their kids when they outgrow the clothes so fast

This is what I used to wonder. *BEFORE* I became a mom. And even though I still didn’t sew for Dia too much in her first year, I now know WHY. Well at least I know why I sew for her. And this blog post is MY answer to the question above for anyone who may be wondering like I used to.

This post is also a little bit about gushing… you’ll see why.

The First Year

In their first year babies do outgrow their clothes every 2 to 3 months, so I didn’t sew too many things for my little one. However I still wanted to, so upon a friend’s suggestion I decided to sew for special occasions and events. I made birthday clothes, and one for each age bracket (0-3, 3-6… you get the idea).


Jalie 3133


Minikrea 20003 (Thanks to my friend Maria of MariaDenmark)


Ottobre 04-2008-02


Pattern Hacked from a free Ottobre t-shirt


When it comes to patterns for kids, there are two pattern companies I absolutely love and admire. Oliver & S and Jalie. Both of these indie companies produce REALLY high quality patterns with EXCELLENT instructions and sewing techniques. Not only that, I admire the people behind O&S and Jalie. Both are family owned businesses who have a passion for sewing. Like us they SEW!  Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with them personally and I like them even more.  I guess this is one of the perks of running PatternReview. I have made some lovely friends!



A Learning Tool

As I was finishing up a Swingset Skirt (elastic waist twirly skirt) for Dia, following the instructions and making the drawstring, it struck me how much I learn with each and every pattern I have sewn using Oliver & S. Even though this is a simple elastic waist skirt, but the fact that there are channels of narrow elastic on both sides of a drawstring casing, combined with a lining which can be totally reversible is what sets this apart from millions (ok maybe not millions) of patterns out there.



I’ve always been terrified of making jackets for myself, but I made this gorgeous unlined, jacket for Dia using liberty bias bound (self made of course) seam finishes. Pattern – Oliver & S Sunday Brunch Jacket.



I think of sewing kids clothes as mini-lessons.  Even if they don’t work out, its less investment in time and fabric 🙂 And if they do? Your child is probably going to be the best dressed kid in school (like mine).IMG_5752


Faced hem and piping was a first for me when I sewed this Tea Party Sundress.

IMG_1193_comp IMG_1201

This Ruffled Halter – a Free Pattern was my basis for many gifts.





Every summer, I make a new summer hat for Dia and up until this year, I used the Bucket Hat pattern. I practiced my topstitching skills with rows and rows of concentric circles.


I did my first Vent Hem in a skirt when I made this thanksgiving outfit for miss D. Also my first time making a partial elasticized waistband. Pattern Sunday Brunch Skirt.


Oliver & S Sunday Brunch Skirt

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used the Hopscotch shirt pattern.


This may be simple PJ bottoms but the addition of contrasting bound hem and casing takes it to a whole different level.


Oliver & S Bedtime Story Pajamas

I’ve been a Tea Collection Fan for years so imagine how thrilled I was when there was a pattern hack post on Oliver and S blog for hacking their library dress to make the famous Wrap Dress. I’ve made two already and on my way to the third. This is one of my favorite dresses on Dia.



Hacked Oliver & S Library Dress

Here’s another project I made for her following a tutorial on Oliver & S blog. How cute are these leggings?

Oliver & S Playtime Leggings

Taking it slow

I have my #mommysweatshop moments when I am cranking out leggings and basics for her (because I love it) but when I am sewing with Oliver & S patterns, I take my time. I enjoy each step and do it leisurely, taking care to press each and every seam, making sure everything lines up. Carefully pressing the bias tape. There is no need to rush because I know when I am done with the project, I am going to be proud of it. So don’t look at Oliver & S patterns if you are in need of some quick and easy sewing. But do try them if you want to create a quality garment you’d be proud to claim as me-made and when someone asks “where do you buy your girls clothes“, tell them with all the smug you can manage “Oh I make them myself” and then watch the expression on their faces 🙂 Precious!

I LOVE Jalie Patterns

Because they make some of the best knit garment patterns out there. And I know my knit patterns. I’ve used Jalie for years for myself but did you know that they come in teeny tiny sizes also? In the same envelope! What a bargain! After gaining confidence in hacking patterns, I hacked the 2805 knit t-shirt so many times, the pattern is in tatters..

A Shrug


Peplum Top

Fit and Flare Dress,

Elsa Dress – Costume


Circle Shirt



Another winner is the Dolman Sleeve Top – 3352 for a quick t-shirt. I’ve also used it to make Mom-n-Me Matching outfits 🙂 because they have 22 sizes in one envelope!


Most recently I’ve used Jalie pattern to make applique gymnastics leotard and I can’t believe how easy it was. Not to mention so cute.



Jalie 3138


Rewards are great when you sew for kids!

Its definitely rewarding to sew for your kids, especially when they “pay” you in hugs and kisses but its also a GREAT way to learn and practice new sewing techniques. Things which I am hesitant to do for grown up clothes, I can always “try” them out on her. Now that she is growing up… (almost 5 years old), I take even more joy in sewing for her because not only can she wear the clothes for a longer period, these are the clothes I will save and cherish and perhaps pass on to a dear friend or her cousins.

So thank you Oliver & S and Jalie. Please don’t ever stop making patterns for kids.

I hope this post encourages some of you to sew for kids. Even if you don’t have any kids to sew for, they make great gifts for friends or even charity!

Yay for Kid Sewing! On another note – Kids Clothes Week has just begun.

Are you participating?








A 7 letter word, we toss around almost every day.

As we board the plane for our vacation we post on Facebook, “FREEDOM for a week! No dishes, no cooking no chores!

Last day of school. Kids tweet “FREEDOM from school. Hello Summer Vacation

Moms night out! FREEDOM from kids” – We share when we enjoy a nice meal withour girl friends.

After a few tearful months, empty nesters plan to travel the world now that they finally have “FREEDOM” from their kids.

When the boss is away, the employees enjoy a long lunch and think “This is what FREEDOM feels like, when there is no one watching us“.

Yes, we talk about FREEDOM a LOT. But only a handful of us really appreciate the REAL meaning. Yes, I’ve read my history books and memorized the facts and figures and watched the movies but I certainly do NOT know what it feels like to be NOT FREE. Growing up in India my grandmother used to tell me stories of the time when they would huddle in their homes in the early evening with all the lights off. What it meant to not be able to voice your opinion on anything.

I shudder to think who I would be if I had not been born in a FREE Country and to live in one.

Today I enjoy freedom of speech (the biggest freedom of all), Freedom of religion, freedom to WORK! And last but not the least, sleep in peace knowing that I live in a FREE country. A country so great that I fail to find words to describe it. A country where I discovered and re-invented myself. Where I found friends for life and mentors who will always guide me. A country I call HOME.

My friends, I may talk about freedom loosely every day, but I know that FREEDOM is a privilege which is denied to many. And today, on July 4th, 2014, As I take family portraits and bake a Red-White and Blue dessert, I salute all the brave men and women who have made it possible for people like me who enjoy the FREEDOM all day every day.

Happy Independence Day to ALL! IMG_8259

My Dad

I 109

My Dad didn’t read me princess stories. He didn’t ooh and aah over my every word and accomplishment. Despite being an award winning photographer he didn’t take 1,001 pictures of his first and only daughter. He was never present at any of my school events or even award ceremonies. We didn’t go on many vacations either. He never took me shopping! Or even a movie. I don’t remember if he ever took me to school either. Heck… he wasn’t even in the hospital when my mom gave birth to me, or so I’ve been told 🙂

He was never around… At least not in the traditional way. I remember those nights when my brother and I would sit up waiting for him to come to us and perhaps read or even talk. He would come… but he would be too exhausted to keep his eyes open and my brother and I would take guesses on how long it would take him to doze off. It sort of has become a family joke now 🙂

My Brother and I (1981)

Us again… 33 years later!

While other dads were taking their daughters to plays and movies, my dad was on his scooter driving more than 100 miles in the sweltering heat to his factory… working.

Other dads would spend a nice Sunday afternoon with their children in the playground or take them for a picnic. Papa would not be there, because a phone call the previous night at 3:00 AM changed his Sunday. The furnace broke down and he needs to take the engineer to the factory to fix it, otherwise the production would get delayed.

Mumbai, 1987. One of the few vacations we took.

Mumbai, 1987. One of the few vacations we took.

Why can’t Papa ever be home?” I would ask Ma. “Why doesn’t he take us on vacations?” Mom would make excuses for him. Or try to distract us with her yummy cooking. I didn’t understand then why sometimes her eyes would get moist. She missed him too of course.  But never said anything.

1973 – Mom and Dad on their honeymoon!



1998, My Parents' 25th wedding anniversary. We celebrated at home.

1998, My Parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. We celebrated at home.


Yes, My Father is a businessman. To most people having a business directly equates to having boat loads of money and a comfy life. Far from it! Because you see… having a business means you have to work for everything. You need to start from the bottom, even scrub toilets if need be. It means you are responsible for providing for not only your own family but the family of those who are employed by you. So we didn’t take many vacations. Because Dad had to be at his factory. In the 24 years I lived with him, I think I remember that he only took time off when he was sick. And sometimes even then he would not.

No he didn’t make a bed of roses for me. But he did teach me how to smile and survive when it gets rough.

For my 12th birthday, he gave me a gift of 100 Rupees in an envelope which had the picture of Rose on it. Dad wrote “I smile among the thorns. Can YOU?

2005 "Smile among the Thorns"

2005 “Smile among the Thorns”

He taught me how to drive a car! But how many Dads teach their daughters how to change a flat or check the oil? Mine DID!  As he was teaching me he realized that I was afraid of driving with trucks. So that’s where he taught me! “Anyone can drive fast. Show me how you can drive slow in 1st gear”  He would say. When he visits me in August in the States, I’ll return the favor by teaching HIM how to drive my car 🙂

He taught me how to appreciate and learn from our experiences. When we did go out, he made me write an essay about the place we visited! Now I blog about my travels..

2010. Dad and I took a road trip to Jaipur, India. The only way to spend time with him, was to get him in a car!

2010. Dad and I took a road trip to Jaipur, India. The only way to spend time with him, was to get him in a car!

Dad and I don’t agree on a lot of things. I always reasoned with him… He would say “I don’t have it in me to reason with my parents.” For him, his parents are everything. Guess what? I have a payback child, whose favorite question is “Why do I have to do this?” And “Because I said so” isn’t cutting it anymore 🙂

Vermont, 2004. Dad and Mom visited me in the States.

Vermont, 2004. Dad and Mom visited me in the States.

We did go on walks every once in a while, and I would say “Papa, you need to change with the times. Things are different now“. To which he would say “Dear, the world can change, but there are some things which will always remain right and others which will always be wrong.” And then he would go on to elaborate… He is a very principled man and I love that about him. And yet, he always wants to learn. He was the first in our family to embrace technology. He never bought me a dress but he did buy me  a computer so I could learn! I wrote my first computer program to help him track his inventory. I hope you’re not still using it Dad! The other day he told me “Whatsapp is great! Now I take photos of the samples in the factory and send it to my vendors“. Its never too late to learn he always says.

But the best advice he ever gave me was on the eve of my wedding. “Dear Deepu” he said. “Remember beta, respect is not something you demand. It is something which needs to be earned. And the ONLY way to do that is to GIVE respect. You are not just marrying a man. You are getting another family, and you have to embrace them as your own and love and cherish them for the rest of your life.”  I hope I’ve made you proud Papa!

March 1999 with Papa on my wedding day.

March 1999 with Papa on my wedding day.

I don’t like to talk about this but when I was 23, despite everyone else’s advice, he took a bold step and got me out of a terrible engagement which would have crushed me and my spirit completely. He faced the world for me and helped me bounce back. He. Saved. Me.

Today I am married to the most wonderful man who is my best friend.

Gagan, my husband, my soulmate and my Best Friend.

Gagan, my husband, my soulmate and my Best Friend.

I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that there are times when I wish I had more memories of “normal girl” childhood but then again, my dad is not just a normal guy. He is an extraordinary man who wants his children to be the same. Would I trade my childhood for anyone else? Never in a Million Years!

My Dad didn’t raise me to be a Princess. He raised me to be a Real Woman, who can face the world with a smile on her face. Someone who knows how to pick herself up and dust herself off. And for that Papa, I LOVE YOU. And I wouldn’t change a thing about you,  not now, not ever. You’re one in a million!

In 2009, Papa became a Dada (Grandpa) when my nephew was born. He taught me to laugh like you don’t have a care in the world.


2011 he became a Nana when Dia was born.

2011 he became a Nana when Dia was born.

With both Grandkids. He was present for both their births!

With both Grandkids. He was present for both their births!

And today, when I see you with Dia and Aditya, I feel blessed that you are not only my Dad but also their GRAND DAD, touching their lives just like you continue to touch mine. Love you Pops!





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